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.
If you missed our earlier posts, you can check them out as follows: phl1rxd, j3ffc, Uyen, Sean, Martina, David, Natalia, MC, Leslie, Reem, Elaine, Kun.
Today, I’m pleased to announce that lotusgirl is sharing her drama year!
I’m so glad that lotusgirl was able to make time to write this post, because she is one busy (and talented!) lady!
Besides her love for her family and for dramas, she is also an artist and photographer – and you can browse her work on her blog here! You can also find her on Instagram @lamosscreative.
I hope you guys enjoy!
Thanks to KFG for allowing us Patreon junkies the chance to share our thoughts about our favorite Kdramas for the year.
Patreon is such a great place to get “bite size” reviews (covering 2 episodes for Kdramas and Jdramas and 4 episodes for Cdramas) where we can discuss our insights with her and each other as we watch.
I love that it is available in the process of watching and not just at the end. This helps me better enjoy my watch.
I also really appreciate the rundowns KFG gives us for upcoming shows with trailers attached (with English subtitles unless they are nowhere to be found), so we can figure out our plan of attack for what shows to watch and when to watch them.
It’s so wonderful of KFG to do all the legwork for that.
Plus, there are the special fangirling posts where she helps us appreciate the many different aspects (ahem!) of our favorite stars.
Of course, I’m talking about things like learning how much Lee Junho loves his cats.
For a little about me here’s a brief intro: I’m a former Latin and French teacher who is now a photographer.
and painter—mostly in oil.
I love to read (mostly audiobooks in the last couple years because I can read and paint at the same time), sing, knit (These are some of my newest projects for grandchildren and my god daughter so far.),
hang out with my family, especially my 5 grandchildren, and, of course, watch Kdramas. I live in the southeast of the US.
I found out about Kdramas in 2016 when my youngest daughter was sucked into the Kpop scene. Thank you, BTS! Her ultimate bias was and probably still is Kim Namjoon.
She kind of pulled me along with her. Here’s the more complete story from last year’s post if you’re interested.
I think of Kdramas as cinematic books. I like just about any sort of drama as long as they keep me entertained, aren’t excessively steamy, violent (the line is somewhere in between My Country: the New Age (which I could watch)
and Irum (which I couldn’t) or gross (Zombies—except I really liked Happiness).
I tend to like the shorter shows. 12-16 episodes is kind of my sweet spot.
On to my 2022 faves!
I was thinking there weren’t as many great shows this year as in years past, but, when I actually wrote out the list of all the shows I’d watched completely, it ended up at 39 Kdramas and 1 Jdrama.
I was surprised. I think it was that the good shows came in bunches with many of them toward the end of the year that gave me the impression that it was not a great Kdrama year. I had a hard time eliminating down to my top 10.
So here we go…
Let’s get the problem shows out of the way!
There were quite a few shows that lost me up to a couple episodes in.
One that lost me around episode 13 of 16. Never happened before. I just lost interest, which is not me. My commitment to needing to know the end of the story niggles at me once I’m interested enough to go that far.
Alas, Woori the Virgin lost my attention just like the American show that inspired it. I think I enjoyed, then endured, a couple seasons of that before I gave up.
I was hoping Korea could do a better job with it. Alas again! Almost made the Razzies but no.
That glory (not) goes to…
1. Forecasting Love And Weather=FLAW.
I should have suspected when the first letters spelled out “flaw,” it was a bad sign.
I attempted to watch this so many times. I kept thinking, “The actors are pretty good. I’ve liked them in other things. Surely it will get better. They must be going somewhere with this.”
Alas, after 6 episodes I gave up. Nothing was driving this show forward for me. It was just dull.
I love musicals! I was so excited for a Kdrama musical! They are so rare.
TSOM did have some good parts, and I was engaged enough to watch it all the way to the end. It was good that it was short.
This razzie is more because of my disappointment. It could have been so much more.
Whew! Now that that’s over on to the good stuff!
Pachinko, Extraordinary Attorney Woo, Reborn Rich, and Little Women—All great shows that were quite unique. I would definitely recommend them all if they align with your preferences.
And now on to the Top 10
My list includes shows that ended in 2022. Some may have started in 2021, but I have to see the ending to know exactly where I stand on how much I like it.
This was my big comic relief show through all the seriousness I was consuming from Kdramadom this year.
The very funny Kim Se Jeong plays Shin Ha Ri, the female lead. I’ve come to appreciate her skills over the last couple years.
I loved her in The Uncanny Counter last year. She is so great at comic timing. After watching BP I searched out some of her other shows and enjoyed them as well, especially Today’s Webtoon.
Ahn Hyo Seop plays Kang Tae Moo, the obligatory tall, dark, and handsome Chaebol, who falls for the extraordinary regularish gal, Shin Ha Ri and her alter ego.
Yes, the show is tropey, but in the way they lean into the tropes makes it all feel very cheeky instead of stale.
Our couple first meet on an arranged date where Shin Ha Ri is filling in for her best friend and doing everything she can to make Kang Tae Moo lose interest in her friend.
Except that she achieves the opposite. He’s intrigued.
Then she finds out that he is the grandson of the owner of the company she works for who has been abroad and has now come back to work for the company.
Lots of hijinks ensue.
I laughed a lot through this show and it relieved a lot of my stress at the time. Thanks, Cast and Crew! I needed that stress relief. The whole Archeopteryx schtick was one of my faves!
The second couple, played by Kim Min Gue as Cha Sung Hoon and Seol In Ah as Jin Young Seo, was also very amusing and quite sweet.
Although, it could be problematic in places, as Reem pointed out in her post a couple weeks ago. I thought they were meant as a contrast to the OTP.
Seo Hye Won, who played Young Seo’s cousin, was the serious comic relief in this comic relief show.
The expressions when she and her cousin were dressed alike, had the same purse or the same jacket and the arrogance and shocking humility on occasion in her confidences with Young Seo.
Her hysteria that was too much and yet just enough to keep me chuckling. This is me trying not to give too much away. I’ll just add she stole a lot of scenes.
Here is KFG’s review.
9. Alchemy of Souls (Season 1)
This was a totally different type of show than I’ve seen in the Kdrama world and was so interesting to watch with cool ideas and pretty cinematography.
The special effects were often slick when they included them. It’s a very big show with lots of pretty colors and costumes.
The mythology is quite involved, so you really have to be paying attention.
KFG has a comprehensive review of this show here.
Basically, it is a Fantasy Drama with a group of mages and their families trying to keep people in their kingdom safe and maintain peace when other mages are working some pretty evil sorcery that ends in a lot of people dying and being exploited.
There is a lot of soul shifting going on. It was a very intriguing and fun watch. There is a nice mix of seriousness and humor.
This was from the writer of My Mister, Park Hae Yeong, and so I was hopeful it would be good.
It’s a slice of life drama about three siblings, Yeom Mi Jeong played by Kim Ji Won, Yeum Chang Hee played by Lee Min Ki, and Yeom Gi Jeong played by Lee El, who still live at home in the country and take a long commute into Seoul every day to have better jobs than they can get in their hometown.
The monotony of this is getting to them, and they are looking for something more.
Enter the Mysterious neighbor known only as Mr. Gu, played by Son Suk Ku, who is always drunk except for when he is working for their dad. They watch Mr. Gu from afar. Then one day Mi Jeong talks to him.
The three siblings and Mr. Gu are all seeking escape from something and to be fulfilled and have a meaningful life. This is the story of how they go about trying to make that happen.
This was really well done and compelling.
We had lots of great discussions about it on Patreon. I loved hearing everyone’s thoughts as the story was in progress. It made the watch so much more interesting. And a lot deeper.
I was very surprised by the way things progressed, especially with who changed the most through the story.
Here is KFG’s most excellent full review.
7. Summer Strike
Based on a webtoon, this stars Seolhyun who plays Yeo Reum (her name means “summer”) whose life appears to be going very well. She has just achieved permanent contract status in her office job.
However, her life shifts drastically when her boyfriend dumps her, and her beloved mother dies in an accident.
She reevaluates how happy her life makes her. Her superior at work harasses her. He and other coworkers take advantage of her and her gentle nature.
It all becomes more than she can take, so she quits her job, takes her savings, and moves to a small coastal town to go on strike from life for a year to figure out what she really wants to do with her life.
She meets Dae Beom played by Im Si Wan who is already on strike from his former life. He has moved back to his small coastal hometown and works as a librarian in a library that only has a few patrons.
The show is an ensemble piece with a vibe similar to Our Blues but on a smaller scale.
I loved the older characters and the interactions that Yeo Reum has with the people of the town as she tries to heal from being shellshocked by what happened in her Seoul life.
It is a thought-provoking story about what makes a happy life and how the attitudes of the world at large can lead us away from what will make us truly happy.
It is up to us to find and choose what is right for us even if we have to go against what others want for us.
Dae Beom and Yeo Reum help each other find room to breathe as they conquer their own personal demons, search for their own way to live and help those around them.
There is also a murder mystery woven into the story. An old murder case spills out into the current day and creates havoc for certain people living in the town. It was fundamental to the plot and helped us understand the characters motivations.
However, if you are anti murder mysteries this may not be for you. It’s pretty pushy in parts, but it doesn’t take over the show. Plus, it has some unexpected twists and turns in it.
I have a real soft spot for Kim Seong Chul ever since I heard him sing.
It’s a crying shame he doesn’t do it more on screen. I have bought all the music he’s done that I can find in the US. Alas, it is not a whole lot.
Anywhoooo. I digress.
Needless to say, when I saw he was in this, I was excitedly anticipating it. I also have a soft spot for Choi Woo Shik, so it was even more a definite watch.
A viral documentary about a high school boy and girl falling in love resurfaces 10 years later and producers want to make a new documentary—a “Where are they now?” type show.
Choi Woo Shik plays Choi Ung and Kim Da Mi plays Kook Yeon Soo. The couple had broken up and promised to not see each other again.
The PD for the project, Kim Ji Ung, played by Kim Seong Chul, is Choi Ung’s best friend and also friends with Kook Yeon Soo.
In fact, he has had a crush on her since high school, but has never acted on it. He convinces Ung and Yeon Soo to participate in the new documentary against their better judgement.
This series shows the impact of the complications that arise by these three main characters being thrown together in such close proximity while still having high emotions and love for each other.
I loved a line I saw written about this show. “Romance is revealed in many small, unnoticed acts” (Wikipedia synopsis). I felt it really captured some of our characters’ actions like in this photo.
Our three leads stumble their way through accepting their grown-up selves and what they will choose to do with their love.
Here is KFG’s review.
Season 2, though I didn’t love it as much as season 1, was so spot on in how people think about things and in the way the cells showed what was going on in Yumi’s head that it still won my heart.
Meeting Babi’s cells was a highlight. This one particularly cracked me up. You gotta love that hat!
Yumi and Babi’s romance was very interesting to watch develop.
The highs were high and the lows snuck in little by little and in sometime unexpected ways. We had so many great discussions about this one on Patreon. I absolutely loved getting everyone’s insights on what was happening on the show each episode.
I ended up reading the entire Webtoon for this.
It was my first time reading a webtoon. I had to know the ending. Seeing Yumi’s choices in the Webtoon helped me understand what the author saw as right for her, and I could understand and agree.
I fully hope there is a season 3. I thought it would happen in 2023, but it seems slow in coming. There needs to be closure for those that haven’t read the Webtoon.
Here‘s KFG’s full review.
I found the ensemble of this series very compelling. Kim Tae Ri did an amazing job. The story of young love with all its stops and starts
and re-ups and downs was pretty true to the ages of the characters.
What made this story so engrossing to me was the adoration/hate/friendship relationship development between Kim Tae Ri’s character, Na Hui Do and her fencing rival, Ko Yurim played by Bona.
They helped each other grow throughout the series and expand their views of the world.
Friendship reigned. I love this picture because it shows that.
3. Our Blues
A true omnibus series. There are so many stars in this show that it sparkles.
Kim Woo Bin (It was so wonderful to see him back healthy and swoony), Shin Min A, Han Ji Min, Lee Byung Hun, Cha Seung Won, Lee Jung Eun (who gave a standout performance amongst all these stars),
Kim Hye Ja, Uhm Jung Hwa, Go Doo Shim, Kim Kwang Gu, etc.
And the younger rising stars with so much talent in all those amazing performances. I was so impressed by Roh Young Joo and Bae Hyun Sung and loved their storyline as well.
There are so many interwoven stories in this series that I would have to spoiler out the whole description to summarize things.
Basically, this series highlights important moments in the lives of a group of high school friends from a small coastal town in Jeju and their families.
It is charming and heart rending (I totally cried) and heart-warming (I said “Awwww” a lot too) and romantic and life affirming. If you like slice of life dramas and haven’t seen this one, you should definitely check it out.
My favorite storyline in all of this is the one with Kim Woo Bin and Han Ji Min. Woo Bin was the most patient and accepting boyfriend I’ve ever seen, and yet he made it seem only natural. *Swoon!!*
Here’s KFG’s review.
Even though this show aired mostly in 2021, it wasn’t finished until January of 2022.
As a result, I didn’t include it in my top 10 list last year. I gave it a nod in the honorable mentions but couldn’t do more than that until I had seen the ending. Well, I’ve seen the ending now! Daebak! What an amazing show!
Since KFG was so enamored of it, I’d be surprised if all of you on this site haven’t heard of it before. (And most likely watched and loved it.) It recounts the life and trials of Crown Prince Yi San rising to the throne and also his undying love for Sung Deok Im.
The representation of these historical people was so compelling I watched every episode as they came out and gobbled them up hungrily.
Since this was based on a true story, the parameters for the tale were already set.
What makes this series truly shine is the incomparable performances of the actors. In scene after scene, I continued to be amazed at the passion that each actor, especially those in the main roles, displayed.
If you haven’t watched this show, you have to at least take a look even if you don’t think you would like a Sageuk. You might be surprised.
I was all about the number 2 show for this year. I was sure it would be my favorite for the year. Then sweeping in at the end of the year, a new show took over my screen and my heart.
Queen Im is a force to be reconned with even for King Jeongjo.
I love this image of her. It shows how hard she worked to protect all those she loved and even some she didn’t. So much of the action was under the surface and behind the scenes.
Her sons were the most important to her.
And she protected them with everything she had in her even if it meant a lot of trouble for her. Her umbrella covered them even if she had to get wet.
The Queen Dowager was a formidable opponent especially since she was willing to kill whoever she thought was getting in her way.
Queen Im had the guts to stand up to her. This scene is my favorite. I was cheering for Queen Im.
The contest for the heir had to be fair. Queen Im was not going to put up with the interference even from the Queen Dowager or maybe I should say especially from the QD.
The contest for the Crown Prince was also fun to watch—so many twists and turns. Let’s just say there was a lot of discussing going on on Patreon about it all.
Here is KFG’s review.
What more can I say?
Kim Hye Soo in Under the Queen’s Umbrella
Best Supporting Actor
Lee Deok Hwa in The Red Sleeve
Best Supporting Actress
Kim Hae Sook in Under the Queen’s Umbrella
Sung Deok Im/Royal Consort Uibin Sung and Yi San/King Jeongjo played by Lee Se Young and Lee Jun Ho.
Another favorite OTP
Park Jung Joon and Lee Young Ok played by Kim Woo Bin and Han Ji Min.
A slow summer song by Fromm from Summer Strike.
I showed it to one of my daughters and she said, “Yeah, that sounds like you.”
Seo Hye Won
She was in 6 shows in 2022 and such a delight in the four shows I saw her in.
She can be a bit OTT sometimes (so she’s not perfect), but she’s still great and really charming especially in her serious scenes.
May I Help You?,
and Jo Yoo Jung, the Konglish spewing cousin of the FL’s best friend, in A Business Proposal.
I didn’t have access to Bloody Heart. Hopefully in 2023 I will. I heard it was great. Her other show was Let Me Be Your Knight that straddled 2021 and 2022.
What a busy woman! She worked hard this year!
There you go—
my round up! I hope you enjoyed! I hope you are able to find something you may like among my favorites this year!