2016 is closing out on a terrific year of dramas. This year felt like an embarrassment of riches.
Enhancing each series was the sense of community your insights and feedback built throughout the year. I thoroughly enjoyed these conversations and loved interacting with you! Nothing like watching together with like-minded lovers of kdramas.
I’m going to group the dramas I watched or blogged in 2016 in a straightforward manner:
Dramas I Loved:
* Descendants of the Sun – excellent story, standout couple (I fell for the smile and cool vibe of Song Joong Ki), with a strong secondary couple. This show was a ratings mega hit and deserved it.
* Good Doctor – strong and touching story brought to life by a superb ensemble cast. Leading man, Joo Won, gave a flawless performance as the autistic gifted medical doctor, Park Shi On. Leading lady, Moon Chae Won, had a challenging role and hit a home run balancing friend, co-worker, and romantic interest. This 2013 drama was a reader recommendation.
* Scarlet Heart Ryeo – I loved this drama for one reason – the leading man Wang So was brought to life by the compelling and charismatic Lee Joon Gi. The story was flawed, the actors were not all high quality, but this drama emotionally gripped me like no other due to Lee Joon Gi’s portrayal of a swoonable leading man. I am a fan for life.
Dramas I Liked:
* Come Back Mister – This back from the dead body switching drama kept 2 sets of leads – primary (Oh Yeon Seo and Rain) and original (Kim Su Ro and Kim In Kwon) – engaged throughout. It was clever production when both sets of leads were shown morphing from one to the other. Yeon Seo and Rain had fun with these roles and it translated to the screen. Alas the story undulated from funny and light, then meandered and then tightened as the leads’ destinies intertwined in surprising ways.
* The Merchant Gaekju – Jang Hyuk headlined this 41 episode historical drama. He was superb. The accountability for wrong doing (e.g. the bad guys/gals got away with murder (literally)) was sadly lacking in this drama. To the drama’s credit, it didn’t end horribly, it didn’t end murky, and there was hope at the end!
* Remember – Classic good versus evil drama. Leading man Seo Jin Woo (Yoo Seung Ho) was determined to right the wrongful imprisonment of his father for a crime that evil, rich, cruel Nam Gyoo Man (Namgung Min) perpetrated. He was hampered by his own medical issues in the pursuit of justice. Park Min Young’s female lead was secondary for the majority of the series but blossomed in the final episodes.
* Another Miss Oh – This show was about facing fears, unlocking yourself, and opening your heart to love. The combustible leading couple Do Kyung (Eric) and Hae Young (Seo Hyun Jin) were a satisfying combination of intensity and sizzling passion. Their kisses made me feel like I was a voyeur. I have not forgotten this couple. The story line for our couple was unique and laden with raw emotion.
* Beautiful Mind – Jang Hyuk was mesmerizing as the genius surgeon with limited emotion and empathy. I cared for the emotionally wounded, discriminated, and targeted leading man and was “all in” in wanting this character to discover the potential that he’d not thought possible. Unfortunately the initially gripping mercurial story morphed into a happier clone of its early darker self and left unanswered questions when the network, KBS, eliminated 2 episodes due to low ratings below 5%.
* Uncontrollably Fond – strong story in the second half of the series. Many kdramas start out strong and limp to the finish with unsatisfying results. Uncontrollably Fond was the opposite of this. Kim Woo Bin and Lim Ju Hwan were standouts as they tried to right the wrongs done to Bae Suzy’s character. Shout out to the cutest young couple, portrayed by Lee Seo Won Ryu Won.
* The K2 – Ji Chang Wook got shorted by the writer. His leading man character, Kim Je Ha, was overshadowed by the compelling evil yet vulnerable Choi Yoo Jin (Song Yoon A). On the positive side, Ji Chang Wook’s body rocked, his fight scenes were committed, and his adorable smile worked it’s magic on me. Unfortunately the romance was subpar and felt like puppy love.
* Cinderella and the Four Knights – The core cast could not have been more likable showcased by the hardworking Cinderella (Eun Ha Won (Park So Dam)) and the good guy four Knights (Prince Charming / Kang Ji Woon (Jung Il Woo), Kang Hyun Min (Ahn Jae Hyeon), Kang Seo Woo (Lee Jung Shin), and Assistant Lee aka Lee Yoon Sung (Choi Min)) were fun to watch. Jung Il Woo still has the magic touch. The story was had insufficient depth and execution and lowered my overall enjoyment of this series.
1. Lee Joon Gi, Scarlet Heart Ryeo – I fell in love. Lee Joon Gi portrayed the most romantic, swoonable, committed to his woman, but wounded by a horrific mother leading man. I elect myself President of the “Just Discovered Lee Joon Gi in 2016 and I Love Him” Fan Club.
2. Jang Hyuk, Beautiful Mind – The writer claimed Young O didn’t feel empathy or emotion, but Jang Hyuk revealed the humanity of this character. I loved the intensity and possibility of this character. Jang Hyuk never disappoints me. He elevates every drama he is in. I long for a superior writer, cast and director to fuse together a top notch drama for Jang Hyuk to amaze me in. He deserves it. We deserve it too.
3. Song Joong Ki, Descendants of the Sun – Song Joong Ki was perfect as Officer Yoo Shi Jin. I loved this character. He was cool, funny, self-aware, charming, strong and fair leader. He saved the girl, people, and made the world a safer place, all while being a good guy. Shi Jin appealed to women and men viewers both. Women wanted to date Shi Jin and men wanted to be Shi Jin.
3. Eric, Another Miss Oh. Eric has a physical intensity when he’s on screen. I am drawn to him. Yet he portrays tenderness and vulnerability so well, that I melt watching him.
1. Oh Yeon Seo, Come Back Mister – Oh Yeon Seo did a terrific job portraying a man stuck in a woman’s body. She nailed the physical comedy of trying to be manly and struggling to be feminine. She embodied the heart of the character Gi Tak who turned out to be a man that cared deeply and was willing to sacrifice for those he loved.
2. Seo Hyun Jin, Another Miss Oh – Hyun Jin had me love an obsessive, not complete until I have a man, sloppy drunk character, and I loathe all those characteristics. Hyun Jin boldly committed to this role, this character, and generated magic with Eric.
3. Song Hye Kyo, Descendants of the Sun Hye Kyo, portrayed Doctor Kang Mo Yeon with a soft but strong stance. Mo Yeon was the voice of reason and caution in the romantic relationship with Shi Jin. She did not make the choice to have a romance with Shin Jin lightly. Should she get involved with a man that could die any day in the line of duty? Her heart said yes, but her brain cautioned her to say no. I loved watching her decide and relished it when she committed to the relationship.
4. Song Yoon A, The K2. Yoon A was the star of this series. Her character, Yoo Jin, was cruel and repelled me but her vulnerability drew me to her. Her strength and strategy made me root for her. She ruled a male dominated piece of this world. And I loved her for it.
1. How Can I Love You by Xiah Junsu, Descendants of the Sun, embodies the easy vibe of this show.
2. Like a Dream by Ben, Another Miss Oh, was showcased from the 1st episode to the last and will always make me remember this series compelling couple.
3. When Good by Suzy, Uncontrollably Fond, is quietly beautiful.