100 Percent Love – Top 10 Feel Good Dramas

Everyone Feels the Love in a Classic Feel Good Drama

There are a LOT of great romances in K-World.  But sometimes my favorite romances are the ones that are just that – romantic.  And not much else.  This is not the list for Goblin (too many tears!), Love in the Moonlight (political plotline rather dull), While You Were Sleeping (serious crimes), or Will It Snow for Christmas (dude… so melodramatic!)… though all of those are stupidly romantic.

This is the list of the FLUFFY BUNNY SLIPPERS variety… the ones you start smiling just thinking about it.  Though there may be some drama (well, there’s gotta be a little conflict for plot), it will not distract you from the ultimate plot, which is love sweet love.

Top 10:

  1.  Coffee Prince – a joy ride from start to finish
  2. Sungkyunkwan Scandal – Sageuk cuteness
  3. Shopping King Louis – gaaaaahhhhh so adorable
  4. 1% of Something – a classic premise of contract love
  5. The Greatest Love  – zany and fun
  6. Beautiful Gong Shim – weirdos in love
  7. Cinderella and the Four Knights  – fairytale romance
  8. Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo  – slice of sweet life
  9. Flower Boy Next Door & Me Too Flower! (tie of Yoon Si-Yoon, king of cuteness, dramas)
  10. Which Star Are You From?  – opposites attract

Runners Up:

  1. My Girl – an oldie but goodie
  2. Tomorrow’s Cantabile / Naeil’s Cantabile – quirky proteges in love
  3. You’re Beautiful – a staple of K-world silliness and fun
  4. What’s Up & Dream High (tie of musical teen group  feel great dramas)
  5. Cheer Up Sassy Go Go – aerobics love
  6. Twenty Again – ajumma!  I love you!
  7. Reply 1997 – nostalgic sweetness
  8. Queen In Hyun’s Man – grinning like fools in love
  9. Oh My Venus – so adorable
  10. Marriage Not Dating – cuties falling for each other

Hm… I didn’t realize I hadn’t reviewed some of these until now.  My goodness.  How did I forget to review My Girl???  That was one of the first romantic comedy K-dramas I watched, many moons ago…. gives me an excuse to watch it again, I guess.

What about you?  Do you have a favorite 100% Feel Good drama that didn’t make it to the list?  Let me know!  

Best Korean Drama of 2017

The new year is approaching and with it, lots of lists are popping up everywhere… best dramas, best couples, best kisses, and so on.  It’s hard to get into a new drama right now when instinct propels you into “year in review” mode.  So I find myself rewatching some of my favorite dramas instead of investing in new ones.  The new year will pull me back into new dramas, but for now… let’s savor the last few minutes of 2017.

I’ve sat around and attempted to compile a few  “Best of 2017 Lists” of my own – my journal is a mess of notes about bromances and genres and kissing and whatnot.  I honestly put some time into it, but in the end it was all futile.  There’s only one show that completely won me over this year.

GOBLIN.

I have rewatched this show at least a dozen times.  It’s funny, it’s romantic, it’s supernatural and melodramatic and interesting and totally unique.  Though other shows may have had better elements – this is the show that stands above them all for combined effort.  Goblin got me back into the swing of watching K-Dramas after a long hiatus.  If I had to recommend one show this year… it would be this one.

So… thank you, Goblin, for being the bright light in a rather dim year.  There were other great shows (quite a few, honestly… lots of great dramas came out in 2017), but you reigned supreme.

Full Review of Goblin.

My Favorite K-Drama Tropes

A trope is a storytelling device or convention, a shortcut for describing situations the storyteller can reasonably assume the audience will recognize.  K-Dramas thrive on tropes – from the piggy back ride for romance to the embrace after saving someone from a collision with oncoming traffic – these plot devices are tried and true signals of the developing relationships.  If you see two people pass each other in slow motion… you know they’re bound to hook up or tear each other apart, for example.  Everyone has their favorite tropes… including yours truly.

So, without further ado, these are my Favorite K-Drama Tropes:

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Global Domination

It’s been six years and I still haven’t met another living soul, in person, who watches Korean Dramas (other than the ones I have forced to watch a few – and none of them have taken to them to enough to watch unprompted).  Maybe you are in the same boat, finding your K-Drama connections online, who knows, but regardless… you are here… so I just wanted to say…

“Hey, there, friends.”

 

ON AIR – and on point!

There are two shows currently airing that are, in my opinion, good enough to keep up with on a weekly basis.

My favorite is While You Were Sleeping – an adorable mysterious supernatural rom-com that finally matched up Lee Jong-Suk with someone he looks cute with… Suzy!  These two are, in my opinion, a match made in heaven.  The plot is still unfolding – but basically she’s always had dreams about the future that are unchangeable… until she meets our leading man.  And suddenly he starts having dreams about the future… and together, they are able to rewrite what’s coming.  It’s spellbinding and exceedingly romantic.  (update – sixteen episode in now – wow… just… loving every second of this show!)

The other show is called Temperature of Love, about a TV writer (Seo Hyun-Jin) and a Chef (Yang Se-Jong) who fall in love… but due to age differences (the dreaded noona romance, sigh, but whatever… I’m going with it) and circumstances, their relationship fell apart before it really got started.  Now they are meeting again five years later – more secure in their careers but more insecure in their feelings.

The story line is solid and interesting, but I’ll be honest and confess one of the biggest reasons I am sticking around (for a show that will apparently run for 40 freakin’ episodes) is because Kim Jae-Wook is playing this mysterious, cool badass CEO who is interested in our lead female.  Of course, that will go no where, cause… duh.  But I’m just fascinated by his odd, reserved and loner character.  Plus… whoa.  He is looking mighty fine… just… better looking each year, in my opinion.

The Temperature of Love is hot.  Fan me!

Full reviews once they both finish… in a month or two or three or four… whenever.

American Remakes of Korean Dramas

So, this weekend I sat down and watched some experimental television… aka, some American attempts to remake Korean Dramas.  There were pros and cons.

First up was The Good Doctor.  The ABC remake stars that cute, odd kid who played Norman Bates (to perfection) on the Bates Hotel.  I figured he could pull off the role and I was correct.  He’s a believable savant.  The first episode has promise, though personally I didn’t feel the emotional connection to his tragic backstory quite as much as I did in the original.  The drunk father, the trauma of loosing the pet rabbit, the horror of finding himself without his only lifeline – his brother – at such a young age… we got the same backstory, more or less, with a few new embellishments that seemed unnecessary.  The doctors seem great, so far, and they’re the most important thing.  I really liked the casting of the female doctor – she’s gorgeous and has the wide eyed innocent face required for the part.  Her boyfriend, the current top dog, is also excellent with his confidence and capabilities currently unchallenged.  And I’m willing to watch more to see how it plays out.

Will we get those same super-sweet, painfully sincere moments that the original gave us?  Will there be piggyback rides and drunken confessions?  There better be my favorite character -the lovable male nurse who always had the new doc’s back and took care of all the kids in the hospital… I can’t wait until he’s introduced.

Honestly… there’s a lot to look forward to.  The dude who remade this was also responsible for HOUSE, the only other medical show I actually liked in the history of medical shows… so I have all my fingers and toes crossed.  I’m hoping he won’t be too jaded to see how important the sincere and kind moments were in the original and try to crop them out of this remake.

UPDATE:  A few weeks in… and I’m not in love with the American version.  It just feels like another generic medical show… somehow they’ve stolen the skeleton of medical plotlines from the original but left the heart far behind.  Eh.  

 

Next, and also by ABC, was the remake of God’s Gift: 14 Days.  Retitled Somewhere Between.  It started out pretty strong – with the first two episodes moving along well… but then started dragging its feet and I admit I didn’t finish it.  They stuck to the story line, however, almost exactly, which was a pro.  Unfortunately, the intensity required for the roles was somewhat lost on our American actors.  Especially in certain scenes… when our male cop-turned-investigator was supposed to show us real sorrow, regret, or pain… eh, didn’t pull it off.  He seemed really uncomfortable.  When our lead female, the wide-shouldered mom with the awkward bangs is supposed to be frantically searching for her daughter, near desperation to save her, and running wild… she came across as wild, but I didn’t buy the fear.  The daughter was delightful, the political husband great as the conflicted man with secrets.  Supporting cast was all decent.  But without the fire under their asses, it’s hard to keep running through the plot with these actors when you feel like you could just slow down and walk.  The editing was somewhat awkward with the crime/action scenes as well, making them feel unthreatening and unsuspenseful… murders are happening!  I should be biting my nails off, not somewhat confused.

For me, the most noticeably enjoyable thing was the diversity of the cast members.  We’re talking a rainbow of colors, and I loved it.  But not enough to actually watch the whole show, mind you… it just wasn’t good enough to devote hours to.

Still – here’s hoping they keep trying.  Why?  Cause there are more unique plotlines happening in Korean dramas than American dramas, for one.  Cause American’s need to practice their acting skills and start stepping up their game with giving us believable emotional range.  And cause, if nothing else, it may cause people to seek out the Korean versions… and become K-Drama fans.  We could always use more, honestly.

P.S.  Super NOT excited to learn that there are several American shows getting K-Drama makeovers… though who knows.  I will reserve my judgement until I watch the K-Drama version of The Good Wife and tell ya then.

 

Trip to J-World

Trip to J-World

So, I took a small vacation to J-World, merely out of curiosity.  The series Million Yen Women intrigued me, so I thought… sure… and started it up.  I have to say, I did enjoy it.  My K-World viewing habits totally skewed my expectations – and the whole time I thought I knew what was going on (and if it had been a K-Drama, I would have been right, most likely)… but I was dead wrong.  About everything, really.   The show is basically about a struggling writer who finds himself living with several beautiful girls who show up mysteriously at his large home.  They say they’ve been invited, give him enormous amounts of rent, and keep their secrets while attempting normalcy in this strange household.  A few of them were very interesting, though most were just stereotypes.  It was a weird, dark little show with no real character development other than the male lead… and honestly, I am not sure he developed at all, he just finally got his small publication books to sell through a series of scandals that skyrocketed him to public fascination and fame.  And yet, despite the lack of reality and strange plot holes, I really liked it.  The whole thing was very short, with 20 minute episodes that flew by at a fast pace… the surreal story unfolding in layers.

I especially liked that ridiculously cute cat… which our author named Cat.  Cause that writer is a creative genius, I tell ya!

So I thought… maybe I should give J-World some love and try out some J-Dramas.  I mean, I’ve been a fan of plenty of anime series.  And there have been some great Japanese movies over the years.  Let’s try their television!

Mistake.

HUGE MISTAKE.

I tried to watch Last Cinderella.  I gave it my best.  Six episodes was all I could take.   I tried Mischievous Kiss:  Love in Tokyo.  Sigh.  Of course, I didn’t even like the Korean remake of this, so I’m not sure what I was thinking going in.  I tried to watch Switch Girl.  Groan.  I did manage to sit through most of Liar Game, just because it was fascinatingly horrible… and yet kinda interesting.  I absolutely ADORE the Korean remake.  In my opinion, they did that show a huge favor.

Maybe there are great J-Dramas and I just chose to sample some crappy rom-coms.  Perhaps their historical dramas are awesome.  Or their action/thriller dramas.  Who knows?  But geesh… the ones I tried just left a very unfavorable opinion of them.

I did have to rewatch the entire Rurouni Kenshin trilogy again because apparently I can’t make a trip to J-World without visiting Takeru Satoh.  Those movies are so fun.

If you have suggestions… let me know.  I would be curious to see what J-Dramas you have enjoyed.  Of course, if you liked the ones I turned off, then we may disagree on quality.  Million Yen Women seems to be a rare exception – and honestly, I’m not sure that it was that amazing, it was just… interesting.

K-Drama Awards

It’s time for a little K-Drama Awards Show!

I’m currently watching Save Me as it airs and rewatching Goblin inbetween… so in my down time, decided to make a few lists to amuse myself.  And possibly you.

Funniest Drama – Winner:  GREATEST LOVE.  Other nominees:  Master’s Sun, Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon, Beautiful Gong Shim, & The Sound of Your Heart.

Scariest Psycho – Winner:  Namgung Min in REMEMBER.  Other nominees:  Song Yoon-A in The K2, Park Ki-Woong in Bridal Mask, Yeon Jeong-Hun in Mask, Shin Sung-Rok in Liar Game

  

Psychopaths You Love – Winner:  Kim Nam Gil in QUEEN SEON DUK.  Other nominees:  Choi Won-Young & Park Bo-Gum in I Remember You/Hello Monster, Park Hae-Jin in Bad Guys, Park Hae-Jin in Cheese in the Trap, & Sung Joon in White Christmas

Characters Who Need Meds – Winner:  Eric Moon in ANOTHER MISS OH.  Other nominees:  Kim Jae-Wook in Bad Guy, Lee Jong-Hyeok in Dr. Khang, Yoona in The K2, Yoon Eun-Hye in I Miss You, Everyone in Que Sera Sera.

Weirdest Lovable Character – Winner:  Jang Hyuk in FATED TO LOVE YOU.  Other nominees:  Kim Beom in Padam Padam, Yoon Si-Yoon in Flower Boy Next Door, Chun Jung-Myung in Heart to Heart, Hyun Bin in Secret Garden, Choi Si-Won in She Was Pretty, Kong Hyo-Jin in Master’s Sun

Best Cinematography – Winner:  SHARK.  Other nominees:  Lucifer,  Resurrection,  Goblin, Six Flying Dragons, & Mask

Characters That I Thought Were Hot Together & Should Have Hooked Up (even if it was a deleted scene where they got drunk and made out and neither remembered it the next day) – Winner:   Ji Chang-Wook & Yoon So-Yi in WARRIOR BAEK DONG SOO (to this day I still think they got it wrong by not putting these two together).  Other nominees: Moon Geun-Young &  Moon Chae-Won in Painter in the Wind (totally),  Lee Soo-Hyuk & Lee Joon-Gi in Scholar Who Walks the Night (some bloodsucking/hickies would have rocked), Hwang Jung-Eum & Choi Si-Won in She Was Pretty (at least once!), & Song Joong-Ki & Yoo Ah-In in Sungkyunkwan Scandal (gah, that would have been awesome!)

 

 

Why Visit K-World? – A Beginners Guide to Korean Dramas

A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO KOREAN DRAMAS

Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Korean Dramas from my friends, students and coworkers.  “What’s the deal?”  They ask.  “Korea?”  Sometimes it is difficult for me to remember there are people who have never watched a K-drama before.  I know, right?  (at this point I’ve convinced almost everyone I know to at least try at least one) So in order to help the newbies… here’s what you need to know.

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When K-World Loves You & Takes Requests

I’m on summer vacation – which means unlimited time to binge tons and tons of dramas.  I had just finished a rewatch of W – Two Worlds, and was thinking to myself… what next?  What next?

I texted my best friend.

Me:  “You know, I may watch some American stuff for a bit.  I’m in the mood for sci fi.”

Bestie:  “There’s no sci fi Korean Dramas?”

Me:  “Not really.  I mean… sorta kinda some fringe dramas, but nothing like Fringe, you dig?”

Bestie:  “Uh, no.  I don’t watch K-Dramas.”

Me:  “I’m in the mood for aliens.  Space ships and robots and futuristic worlds and such.”

Bestie:  “Ah.  There’s some shows on Hulu, I think.”

So I went to go dig around.  I poked about Hulu.  I looked around Amazon Prime.  I stuck my toes in the murky waters of Netflix.  But kept returning, like a faithful dog, to Dramafever.  I looked at my que of shows and sighed.  I rummaged around a few minutes then noticed…. like a beam of light from the very heavens of K-World…

SCI FI!  And aliens, no less.  And the show was almost complete, too… only two episodes haven’t been uploaded.

It was a sign!  K-World graciously smiled upon me and said, “You wanted what, super fan?  Oh… here you go, my little pet…”

Needless to say, I started it immediately.  Three episodes in and I am loving it thus far.  Full review to come.

But I just wanted to let you know that if you sacrifice your time to the K-World Gods…. sometimes they smile upon you and take requests.  So… just keep it in mind.