Seoul-sucking TV: My 10 Favorite K-dramas of all time (Part 1)

Hi! It’s been so long since I last wrote something related to one of my most favorite things in the world: Korean Dramas! (Re: 10 Most Heartbreaking Scenes in Korean Dramas)

It’s crazy how much bigger it is now compared to when I first started to watch it back in 2009. The Korean Drama world then was pretty big, but not as huge as now. Still, it’s kind of fun to know that a lot of people are starting to appreciate these shows because trust me, they have lots of good stories there.

Anyways, this was a particularly difficult list to make since I’ve seen TONS of dramas and it’s really hard to just pick a few out of them. I mean, it’s a total miracle that I even finished this list!

Hence before I start, I would just like to reiterate that the dramas below are my personal choices so if there is a Korean Drama that you love which didn’t make it to this list, you have to forgive me. However, feel free to leave a comment about your favorite dramas so that I can also check it out. Well then, let’s start!

9ac892debbcb935af5263bb3f2518867c2aaba5c_hq

Source: Amino Apps

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10. Circle: Two Worlds Connected – tvN, 2017

Source: koreandrama.org

Summary: Set in two different timelines, Circle is a sci-fi mystery drama directed by Min Jin-Ki. The show is divided into two parts: The Beta Project (2017) and Brave New World (2037).

In the Beta Project timeline, Kim Woo-Jin (Yeo Jin-Goo) gets entangled in a series of suicide cases in his university while searching for his missing twin brother, Kim Bum-Gyun (An Woo-Yeon), who mysteriously disappeared while investigating the said case which he believes is caused by an alien named Han Jeung-Yeon (Gong Seung-Yeon).

Meanwhile, in 2037, South Korea is divided into two places: Normal Earth, a heavily populated place where crime and pollution are prevalent and Smart Earth, a peaceful version of South Korea with zero crime rates. Kim Joon-Hyuk (Kim Kang-Woo), is a violent crimes detective from Normal Earth who believes that Smart Earth isn’t totally what the government advertises it to be. Additionally, he believes that the answer to a case in 2017 involving the mysterious disappearance of twin brothers lies inside the protected city.

Reasons why I love it: 

Circle is heavily paced with lots of mystery lying here and there that will make the audience hold their breath most of the time. There is a certain amount of urgency in each episode that constantly puts the audience on the edge of their seats, which is great because that’s exactly how I want mystery dramas to be. I also immediately fell in love with the writers’ writing style and their ability to mind their audience. Most of the Korean dramas I’ve seen (especially the ones with mysteries) fails to deliver this kind of connection and ends up undermining the audience’s ability to think and theorize about the show on their own. However, Circle managed to address almost every fan theory as quickly as it surfaced. This led to amazing plot twists and totally admirable characters who don’t work one-dimensionally.

Lee Gikwang as Lee Ho-Soo (Brave New World) Source: Amino apps

Kim Kang-Woo as Kim Joon-Hyuk (Brave New World) Source: tumblr.com

Aside from that, Circle also tackled philosophical questions such as what makes us who we are, can we really achieve a world free from crimes, do our emotions make us weak, and is there really happiness in forgetting? In a nutshell, I love the way Circle made me really think as an audience and I even ended up questioning my stance on the issues the show has presented.

Besides its well-crafted plot, I think the cast deserves an applaud, too. Yeo Jin-Goo is amazing as ever and paired with Kim Kang-Woo’s natural acting skills, I’m 100% sold. I personally pick Circle as the best K-drama for 2017 since some of the shows I’ve seen wasn’t as beautifully told as this one. So, here’s to hoping that they receive well-deserved daesangs!

9. Kill Me, Heal Me – MBC, 2015

Source: DramaFever

Summary: Cha Do Hyun (Ji Sung) is a third-generation chaebol who secretly suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder. When his grandmother ordered him to go back to South Korea in order to manage their company, he accidentally meets Oh Ri Jin (Hwang Jung-Eum), a first-year psychiatry resident. After some confusing encounters which include Oh Ri Jin meeting Cha Do Hyun’s other personalities, she agreed to be his personal psychiatrist. Unbeknownst to both of them, their little “meeting” will be the start of their battle towards their personal demons and childhood trauma.

Reasons why I love it: 

-Ji Sung! Honestly, do I need to say more? He portrayed seven different personalities excellently which made it easier for the audience to sympathize with his character’s struggles. Anyone who has seen the show will agree with this fact and seriously, who didn’t love Ji Sung’s accurate portrayal of Ahn Yo Na?!

Ji Sung as Ahn Yo Na (Source: Soompi)

-The writing. The show managed to balance the right amount of laughter and sorrow in such a way that wouldn’t tire the audience. I think it’s amazing how they pulled it off since the drama has a bit of a heavy backdrop and it’s so easy to fall into the darker side of it. However, writer Jin Soo-Wan did a spectacular job in balancing the drama’s emotions which allowed me to enjoy the show without any particular bumps.

I was also totally swept away with the meaning behind Cha Do Hyun’s personalities. Each personality was carefully written and crafted which makes the audience understand (and dare I say, relive) the kind of pain that Cha Do Hyun went through. All in all, the show hit all of the right buttons in my heart.

8. Reply 1997 – tvN, 2012

Source: creators.co

Summary: A coming of age story primarily set in 1990’s Busan about Sung Shi-Won (Jung Eun-Ji), who is an avid fan of H.O.T. (a South Korean boy group) and her five best friends.The show goes back and forth towards the past and the present. During the present timeline (2012), the class of 1997 is having their high school reunion; amidst the celebration, the whole class is waiting for a couple to reveal about their upcoming marriage.

Reasons why I love it: 

-Am I allowed to say everything? Because that’s sincerely how I feel about this show. From its nostalgic writing, realistic portrayals, and straight to the heart soundtrack, it’s perfect! 

I saw this show in 2014 and ever since then, I haven’t really able to forget about how it made me feel. The realness of it just cuts through the audience and makes us feel like we’re a part of it. I also love how the show highlighted the importance of friendship and family and how these people shape us into better versions of ourselves. It’s true that the show is a love story but I appreciate the fact that it didn’t only dwell on the romantic side of it. The friendship between the six main characters is so precious and magical and I really enjoyed watching them grow together.

Source: Amino apps

For the most part, I think Reply 1997’s magic comes from its ability to catch its audience off guard through quiet but emotionally compelling scenes. It says a lot about the writer and director duo because scenes like those mentioned are very much hard to pull off. Of course, the cast also helped in achieving the greatness of this show. Honestly, no matter how much I adored the other shows from the Reply series, I think this one will always hold a special place in my heart.

7. It’s Okay, It’s Love – SBS, 2014

Source: DramaFever

Summary: Jang Jae-Yeol (Jo In-Sung), a bestselling mystery writer with obsessive-compulsive behavior happened to meet Ji Hae-Soo (Gong Hyo-Jin), a first-year psychiatry fellow during one fateful talk show guesting. In an unexpected turn of events, Jae-Yeol began to rent a place in the house where Hae-Soo and two other housemates live (played by Sung Dong-Il and Lee Kwang-Soo). This instantly starts each of the characters’ journey towards self-acceptance, mental illness and all.

Reasons why I love it: 

-Gong Hyo-Jin and Jo In-Sung’s chemistry. I mean, damn! These two actors’ chemistry hits the roof. Any K-drama fan probably knows about them and their excellent acting skills but it probably didn’t occur to anyone how terrific they would be, teamed up like this. (Props to Gong Hyo-Jin who manages to have wonderful chemistry with any male lead!) 

Source: Amino apps

-Furthermore, what I love most in this drama are the interactions between the characters. Sure, I was deeply curious about Jae-Yeol and his past but I’m more than happy whenever the drama focuses on the housemates’ genuine love for each other. I also like how writer Noh Hee-Kyung managed to create characters who do not work one-dimensionally; each character has layers and layers beneath them which helped the audience in understanding them and their struggle with their illnesses. Most of all, I commend the creators of this drama for emphasizing that people with mental illnesses are people too and their illness does not make them lesser of a person.

6. Reply 1988 – tVN, 2016

Source: Asianwiki

Summary: The third offering of the amazing writer and director tandem (Shin Won-Ho & Lee Woo-Jung) of the Reply franchise, Reply 1988 revolves around the relationship between the families living in the Ssangmun-dong neighborhood located in the Northern part of Seoul.

Reasons why I love it: 

-After the masterpiece that is Reply 1997, I never thought that there will be another coming-of-age drama better than it. Obviously, I was wrong. I cannot begin to explain how much I love this drama and how much tears I shed while watching it. Much like the previous Reply, this one also attacked (yes, ATTACKED) the audience with quiet, emotional scenes.

Personally, I think this one is better than Reply 1997 in terms of making the audience invested to the show. At a first glance, there are much more characters in ’88 than in ’97 but I never felt like I wasn’t properly introduced to each of the characters and their backstories. And it’s crazy!!! Imagine the amount of time they’ve exerted to create such rich and realistic characters!

Ryu Jun-Yeol as Jung-Hwan and Ra Mi-Ran as Ra Mi-Ran or as I like to call it, the greatest mother and son duo dramaland has ever produced! (Source: Soompi)

On the other hand, I think the reason why this drama is better is due to the team’s familiarity with their message and content. The mystery surrounding the husband in ’97 wasn’t that much of a mystery towards the end because we have already been given so many clues as to who it was. However, ’88 literally took their audience’s breath away when they revealed who the husband was (I swear to god, half of the world momentarily stopped breathing when that episode was released). 

All in all, Reply 1988 managed again to show us the beauty of youth and the importance of the people who stayed by our side through those awkward but precious years.

Source: mydramalist

Image result for reply 1988 gif

Source: tumblr.com


Final Notes: This was supposed to be just a single post but because I cannot, for the life of me, stop writing about my insights on the dramas above, I decided to divide it into two posts. (I will post the second part of this list once I finish writing it, I promise!) Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading this one! I did my best to avoid spoilers so it’ll be safe for everyone. See you on part two!

 

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