We’re having guest posts from the lovely folks on Patreon, to help us take stock of our drama years, kinda-sorta like what we had last year, woot! 🥳
We’ll be seeing about 2 guest posts per week, and this will unfold into January 2023, and that’s perfectly ok. AND, my annual year-in-review, which usually comes out in December, will also come out in January (or thereabouts 😅), after all the guest posts have been published.
Today, I’m pleased to announce that David is sharing his drama year!
David’s been more of a silent supporter over on Patreon, so I’m super pleased that he offered to write this year-end post, because what better way to get to know him better, yes? 😁
I hope you guys enjoy!
Hmm – Kdramas – how’d I get here? It’s really a long story and without going through (a lot of) minutiae, here’s a short version.
I travel a lot in my profession.
I did my first Asia roadshow 16 years ago, traveling to Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and Seoul. Seoul was the last stop and by the time I landed in Seoul, I was exhausted.
I remember a lot of new buildings where I was staying and as I roamed the city, other areas looked gritty.
My first meal in Seoul was at night on a side street from an elderly man who was BBQing chicken over a makeshift garbage can.
Getting to my flight back to the US was very memorable – I learned Seoul people were very heartwarming (it’s a long story).
My overall memories of Seoul were that it was a city on rapid expansion.
My next trip to Seoul came in 2015.
Aside from learning about Korea’s history, I thought I’d learn about Korea from its movies, primarily over the last twenty years.
Not sure if that premise held up, but I realized I really liked Korean movies.
My favorite Korean movies from this era are: My Sassy Girl, The Handmaiden, The Classic, Oldboy, Memories of Murder, Mother, and more recently, Seoul Searching, Beauty Inside, High Society, Burning, and of course Parasite.
The Classic OST You to me, Me to you
If you want to see IU earlier in her career, she does a great rendition of You to me, Me to you
I registered for the Seoul 2020 Marathon and looked forward to visiting Seoul again.
Of course, we know by that time, all travel was not permitted.
I finally got back to Seoul twice in 2022.
I met a friend and went to several of the markets, revisit palace visits, noraebangs, and of course experience the food. For me nothing compares to Seoul, not even NYC – maybe Paris.
In 2022, I did not see many Kdramas as compared to 2020 and 2021. I wanted to focus on learning Korean, so I try to keep an even keel of watching Kdramas.
I am pickier on my drama watching now – I try to do some limited research before I watch a drama.
I found KFG’s site a few times in 2020. My favorite review was The Light in Your Eyes. I would have never found that drama and it’s one of my favorites. And, if you haven’t noticed, she does an excellent job on her reviews.
Top Picks of the Year 2022
I fell in love with this show in the first 10 minutes, which is very unusual for me.
The interaction and story of the two main characters sets it apart, and of course a great supporting cast.
The Show did have its tropes but doesn’t solely rely on it – and puts its own twist on it.
Overall, the Show executed extremely well – acting, writing, storytelling, and editing. I originally had this show an A-, but when I rewatched it, I skipped the 9/11 reference.
There were many iconic moments, but the last 10 minutes were beautifully done – a breakup is hard to go through, one says things in the heat of the moment – but this final scene allows the audience to come full circle on its relationship.
2. Our Blues
I saw the list of actors and thought it was too good to be true.
The format is an omnibus drama with several stories intertwined.
I skeptically watched the first episode. At the end of the first episode – daebak – that last scene was done with style and flair – mic drop.
I was hooked. I appreciated the masterful acting and the story telling with the interwoven characters through the episodes. There were numerous notable scenes that were well crafted. And, of course the scenery is a huge plus.
3. Little Women
I saw two of the lead actors in the trailer and was intrigued at what this drama had to offer.
Based on the title, I thought this would be like American Little Women, perhaps Korean style.
Was I wrong. Oh, it has its subtleties, but packs a punch with a high creep factor supporting characters and many twists and turns.
One critique I’d have is there were a touch too many of those twists and turns. In the end, it does deliver an entertaining action packed suspense thriller.
When one of the main characters is a chaebol, I’m pretty dubious of the show.
Usually a lead chaebol character is pretty stiff for the first several episodes with the usual tropes. It still occurred here, but Kim Se-Jeong (aka “Aegyo Queen”) carried the show.
Her physical comedy, mannerisms, and facial expressions keeps one engaged. I’ve not seen this type of comedic acting in many Korean dramas.
Excellent supporting couple – I could have easily seen this duo in its own Kdrama.
Once Upon a Small Town
This isn’t in my top 5, but it’s an easy breezy “starter” Kdrama.
The story line is a straightforward plot, of course with the predictable events.
Sometimes I need a simple rom com Kdrama – simple yet still satisfying. And at 12 episodes at 30+ minutes, it’s easily digestible.
Bonus – I am a sucker when animals are portrayed respectfully and in a good way. You will get your fill on this one.
Not a Kdrama, but certainly entertaining.
Host Jong-won ssi (chef) is a master in this series, having several guests talk candidly while drinking and eating.
I am not into soju but the background stories about “spirits” were well crafted.
Like many Kdrama actors, Jong-won ssi is plastered among some of the convenience stores and this makes sense to me now.
I remember this show kept popping up on my Netflix home screen.
Until I watched a few minutes, I hadn’t realized it’s a Korean reality show. Having dated a South Korean after college, I knew virtually very little about Korea back then.
Does this Show help the uninformed in this case? It would be a stretch to say so. It was interesting to see a different side of Korean pop culture.
As for the show’s concept, it’s perplexing but I found it entertaining nonetheless.
I kept this pretty simple. Who was the one actor I’d want to see again in 2023 – Kim Tae Ri.
She, along with the directors/writers/producers/actors, had many memorable scenes in Twenty Five Twenty One that were done with such emotion, style, passion, and grace.
Though there were minor inconsistencies in the writing of Yi-jin-ssi’s character, it was undeniable the onscreen chemistry, timing, and delivery between Kim Tae-Ri and Nam Joo-Hyuk that made this my #1 OTP.
Best Supporting Actress
Lee Jung-eun has been in several amazing series/movies primarily as a supporting actor – she was one of 8 “leads” in Our Blues.
It was good to see her have some major screen time and a love interest. She always plays her roles with convincing realism done effortlessly.
Supporting actress Jung Eun-hye has Down Syndrome.
In the series, she plays a character with that as well. As the show’s writer stated, it was important that an actor with Down Syndrome play this role.
She delivered a very powerful performance done with authenticity. I hope to see her in other roles.
So Not Worth It (2021)
It would be too easy to make a pun on the title – I just didn’t get the concept – too many actors, the laugh track wasn’t needed, the jokes seemed very corny.
On the plus side, it was fun to watch the first 15-20 minutes with so many different ethnicities speaking Korean.