I debated for a while on whether I should write up this post. I mean, come on – every other Kdrama blogging site is doing one. Or, the ones I read do. I also admittedly have skimmed through a lot. Yes. Skim.
I have to say that 2010 was a big year for me in terms of dramas. I have never worked so closely with dramas before, and recapping is a pure joy. As I was compiling the list, I realized that I saw more dramas than I ever have in my entire life. Some were not to completion, and some were fleeting. But I included them in the list because I get to explain why I didn’t continue a certain drama. I also realized that I watched a LOT of SBS dramas. I also saw a lot of dramas that were not made or released in 2010, but more like catching up.
So here goes, a review of dramas I saw that came out in 2010 – the good, the meh, and the bad.
I found that my ‘First Impressions’ were usually spot on – very few were way off the mark (as in, I liked it at first but then it just went into bad territory for me), but none was something starting out so badly and then ending up good for me. I guess I should really listen to my gut instincts next year.
Prosecutor Princess: Is anyone even surprised that this drama topped my list? For me, Prosecutor Princess was my drama-crack for 2010, much like how You’re Beautiful was it for 2009. I watched Prosecutor Princess despite my heavy school workload and my mini vacation to visit a friend (where I should have concentrated on spending time with her, and not on recapping). It’s possible that when I look back on this drama, or rewatch it, I’ll think, “This drama is so frivolous!” because I already think that with You’re Beautiful. But I also know that I can sit through it and rewatch it again and again because it has heart. It has this underdog earnestness about it that makes me keep watching, keeps me engaged, keeps me from falling out of love with it.
Kim So Yeon without a doubt is an underrated actress, and I certainly hope that 2010 was a big year for her. She really came back with IRIS, but I’m glad she’s broken through as leading lady in dramas. Park Shi Hoo was a new one for me – never saw him before, never knew him. And yet, his chemistry with Kim So Yeon was hilarious and off the charts. Yes he’s a little pale for my liking, but boy is he cute. What’s nice about this drama is that I never felt bored with the story, never hated the angst (OK, I did as I watched it, but the Angst was executed well, so I liked it), and the supporting characters never faded into the background. Plus, it was written by the same person who did Shining Inheritance.
Coffee House: This drama convinced me that the fun, trendy dramas that are a little more risky come out in the summer. It reminded me of Coffee Prince (which I’m sure it tried to do) in that it came out in the summer too. However, Coffee House was unique all by itself. A romantic comedy about two best friends who are so fated for each other but the timing is so wrong, and they actually end up together? What happened to the whole innocent-girl-always-gets-the-arrogant-guy-because-she-changed-him? Park Shi Yeon‘s character had 10 years to change Kang Ji Hwan and she never successfully did it like Eun Jung did. “What gives!?” says the cliche in me.
That’s why I loved it – because the beginning of the drama was changing what I thought drama couples should be like, and it redefined what “One True Pair” meant for me. (Usually, the OTP is the first guy and the first girl that I see interacting together in some meaningful way, whether it’s hate-at-first-sight or love-at-first-sight.) When the latter half became melodramatic and angsty, I liked it less and craved for the comedy. But I was also a little more understanding – I had been spoiled by the writer, so it was time to be served that bitter medicine that would balance out the rest of the series.
Smile You: This is one special little drama. Actually, not that little since it’s 50 episodes long. I watched this drama on TV rather than online, and I was in-and-out most of the time. (What?! I had papers! Give me a break!) But for whatever moment it had me, it had me gripped. After all, who can deny the cuteness between Jung Kyung Ho and Lee Min Jung? I have to say though, Lee Kyu Han as Lee Min Jung’s ex kinda stole the scenes. He’s got
a comedic face comedic expressions. When he starts inserting himself into the family and wearing the tracksuit, I was sold. I enjoyed seeing a more proactive girl who wants the guy and isn’t shy to say so. She’s not like Oh Ha Ni though – she still works hard and wants to do well career wise. The love triangle with the sister was annoying because well, I thought the sister was dry and boring.
This was my favorite family drama, because every scene was infused with warm-heartedness, despite any tension. Favorite scene? When Jung Kyung Ho felt so sick that he went to the hospital and came out with this diagnosis: “I’m pregnant!!!” Uhm – actually, your wife is pregnant, but you’re just getting all the symptoms!
Best hubby ever.
Dr. Champ: Who’s surprised at this one too? Yes, it is easy to say this drama was boring – but that would be SO UNTRUE. A slow pace does not equate to boring. This was one slow-paced drama that I don’t know if I would have stuck through with it had I not been recapping it. However, I’m really glad I did because the characters were the draw. If Koreans want to call their dramas a “human drama” whatever they mean, then Dr. Champ was a perfect “human drama.” It’s all about the people – not the surroundings. Sure, they’re in extraordinary circumstances (they’re Olympic athletes for God’s sakes!) but the drama reminds us that they’re still people who are very much in need of relationships and connections.
This was also the drama where the good guy actually gets the girl. Whoa whiplash! Is the Bae Soo Bin Syndrome coming to an end?! And then on top of that, this drama had the best OTP ever – Ji Heon and Sang Bong! (Don’t think for a second I would have said Ji Heon and Yeon Woo.) You want a bromance? You got it here. And it didn’t even have to a be a war drama either.
Jejoongwon: I call this an honorable mention because this medical-historical drama was really underrated. I’m drawn to surgery in general (Thank You topping my list) and to see how these doctors, in early 20th century, learn Western medicine and perform surgery was really interesting. I admit that it had quite a slow start, and I think things only got more interesting once Sean Richard came on the scene. That’s when things began snowballing, and I love dramas that have the mentor training his young apprentices and the whole school setting. I did grow tired of it at points and fast forwarded whenever Park Yong Woo‘s character had to suffer some stupid setback because of his birth (he was a butcher, which was considered the lowest of the classes). It all got righted eventually because the king elevated his and his family’s status. Nevertheless, outstanding quality, quiet drama, foreigners speaking perfect Korean (wooo!), and charming leads.
Sungkyunkwan Scandal Why am I not ranking this popular, fanatical drama any higher? Two reasons: I skimmed through the drama, and the leading pair was not doing it for me. I skimmed the drama because I had no patience to sit through an hour of “Do I like her? or do I not?” and all the drama that came with being poor but smart while living with two hot boys and battling the school president who just has a grudge. The plot was good, except I felt a little draggy at parts. I was one person not enthralled by Micky Yoochun either. Sure, he was decent, but how could you compare him when he was next to Song Joong Ki and Yoo Ah In? Who, in my opinion, were infinitely better. I think it was an easy drama to skim through, albeit sometimes confusing because, well, I just didn’t pay attention to all the details.
Stars Falling From the Sky Yes, I liked Stars. And you might think, how can you like Stars, when Sungkyunkwan was so much better?! One word: kids. The scene stealers were Choi Jung Won’s siblings, especially Chun Bo Geun as Pa Rang. His relationship with Kim Ji Hoon’s character was probably the first bromance of the year for me. Endearing and sweet. Terribly cliched drama, so Sungkyunkwan definitely outranks it in the storyline. But the “Micky Yoochun” of this drama was for me Shin Dong Wook. Sorry man, you just don’t rock the “I’m so angry!” look.
Joseon X Files This series had serious ups and downs for me. I enjoyed some parts, got bored at others. But the storyline was well done, the uniqueness of it not to be forgotten. It’s definitely an unusual drama for me to watch, as I’m not prone to watching these kinds of sci-fi dramas. I get lost eventually (hence why I stopped watching Lost and Fringe). But I cannot disregard the quality of this drama, and hence, “honorable mention.”
This category covers all the dramas that I ended up being indifferent to, or never finished watching because it was just so boring. It’s not that it was bad – it was just, I couldn’t bother to finish it.
A Man Called God: I really wanted action. I really wanted a good story too. A Man Called God didn’t do it for me. Maybe it was Song Il Gook‘s hair. Maybe it was the story line in general. Nice surprise was the fact that Song Il Gook’s character eventually found his sister, whom he thought to be dead, but the ending was cheesy. I kinda watched the first five episodes and then skipped to the last fifteen minutes of the last episode, so yeah…
Chuno: Four episodes in I was gagging. The violence was not enough to spur me on any further. I might pick it up in the future, though don’t count on it. I had found out that Lee Da Hae‘s character doesn’t even end up with Jang Hyuk, which for me was kinda interesting because I would expect the first loves to be reunited. But then again, it just makes the drama all the more tragic.
The cinematography, however, was beautiful! And the music score? Let’s just say every time I hear it, my heart starts pumping and I get really excited for no reason (because it would just be scenery, or the credits.)
Pasta: Want a drama where it’s all dialogue and no action? Watch Pasta. Sure, there’s a lot of food porn too, but in the end the shots were repetitive, the characters a bit bland, and the dialogue just blah. I literally watched the entire drama on fast forward and mute, and I still understood it. However, if you ask me now what happened, I’ll be like, “I don’t remember.” Because the story is not memorable enough. I do remember several competitions (always fun), but not the exact details.
The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry: I think I kinda had high hopes for this drama, but then midway through I realized I was just slogging along. It’s a nice modern drama about city girls trying to find love. However, Kim Bum was too perfect, and Uhm Ji Won and Choi Chul Ho were kinda irritating.
Wang Bit Na killed her role as the ever reliable best friend who seemed to be the only one with a good head on her shoulders, spouting excellent advice as the only single friend. She may be lonely – but she’s loving it and living it up.
Personal Taste: I didn’t care for this drama. Another forced living situation drama with mistaken gender identity? Eh. Lee Min Ho? Sorry – but no. (Don’t throw eggs at me!) The ending? Worst, most unmemorable scene ever. I think it was fun especially during makeover scenes or whenever Jung Sung Hwa‘s character Sang Joon acted as flamboyantly as possible, but when the angst started getting in (with Son Ye Jin’s past and father issues), the drama started falling flat. I skimmed this one too – and boy am I glad I did.
Oh My Lady: Two things won me over with this drama: Choi Si Won’s daughter, and Choi Si Won’s performance. Seeing him in this drama made me anticipate ATHENA even more, because I knew the guy could act. I think the drama started picking up for me in the latter half, when Si Won’s character began to accept his daughter more and was starting to become aware of his feelings for Chae Rim. And then his performance at the musical? Every time I come across that scene, I stop and watch carefully – because it’s just so interesting. I skimmed this drama too – although I paid a little more attention to this one than Personal Taste.
Dong Yi: I think this drama is a little better than “meh”, but not worth an “honorable mention” on the good list. It’s a typical historical drama, with all its palace intrigues and such. I watched it partially, paying attention once in a while. I’m OK if I never have to hear Han Hyo Joo say “jeonha” ever again. But Ji Jin Hee is the coolest king ever.
Playful Kiss: Yes – this is meh. I was somewhat excited and was actually thinking of sticking it out. But then life got in the way, time diminished, and I followed the recaps. Then I dropped the recaps. Then I picked up the recaps again. And the same things were still happening! Oh Ha Ni wants her man. Oh Ha Ni can’t get her man. Oh Ha Ni is about to get her man but he does something that just pisses her off. Oh Ha Ni and her Man should be the sub-title of this drama. That’s all it’s about – just when you think she’s going to get a spine and forget about Kim Hyun Joong, she’s right back in his arms. His mother was awesome though – but even she cannot save this drama for the life of me.
High Kick Through the Roof: Technically it started late in 2009 and ended in 2010. It was funny and awkward, but it was not as good as Unstoppable High Kick. I couldn’t empathize or like any of the characters that were in Lee Soon Jae‘s household, and his bratty granddaughter Jin Ji Hee was SO. ANNOYING. Maybe she was supposed to be, but I did not like her at all. Couldn’t like her. I dropped it halfway, and then tuned in to check out the last episode to watch the ending. Just like I was unsatisfied with Unstoppable High Kick’s ending, I was unsatisfied with this one. So Sopranos-esque, and yet so underwhelming.
Dandelion Family: Another family drama, like Smile You, except a little more somber. After all – what to do when one sister has an emotionally abusive husband, the mother is quite annoying and meddlesome, and the father has another woman? Kim Dong Wook of Coffee Prince and Lee Yoon Ji were a cute pairing – especially after they fell in love, but their story was so happy that the focus soon dropped on them. I skimmed the drama (hehe – I’ve used that word so many times now…) and only tuned in for their parts. The ending was quiet, and happy, but not memorable.
I Am Legend: I really thought I was going to like this drama. A single woman who reinvents herself as a rocker? Hells yeah! But the divorce case was draggy, and Kim Jung Eun always found herself knee-deep in a legal battle that would stretch on for ages! Come on! I don’t care about the legal stuff – just sing goddammit! I did enjoy it though – but it was the kind of enjoyment that lasted during the ride, and not after it. I’m glad I saw it though, because Kim Seung Soo? You just ROCK!
My Girlfriend is a Gumiho: Lee Seung Gi usually rocks my world – especially in 2 Days 1 Night. However I think after You’re Beautiful I was over all the over-the-top cute that is inherent in a Hong Sisters drama. I was excited at first, and I watched four episodes, then glanced through the rest. It was predictable in a way, although I admit I couldn’t tell where they were going with the whole losing the fox tails thing. I think the ending was a cop out, as if the Hong Sisters would have preferred to keep the lovers separate but fans dictated otherwise. Funny at parts, cute dimples at others, but the storyline in the end wasn’t there for me. And also – how can No Min Woo have the most perfect skin and plastic face EVER? He should have appeared in Robot Stories, in the segment called “Machine Love” where two robots learn to fall in love. That’s all I could think about every time he appeared onscreen. His relationship with Hye Mi also made no sense for me, in the sense that I felt it contrived rather than necessary. But hey, plastic boy kinda needs his plastic girl around so OK.
These are the dramas I didn’t enjoy. ‘Nuff said.
Hyunhaetan Marriage War: Typical drama special – with all the possibilities of obstacles in a regular 16-episode Korean romcom crammed into two episodes. If I had to watch everything that happened in Hyunhaetan over the span of 16 episodes, I would have killed myself. It’s cliched, it’s mindless, it’s funny, it’s dumb. But Im Joo Hwan – you are one helluva cutie.
Cinderella’s Sister: Why did I hate this drama!?!? It was SOOOO MELODRAMATIC!!! I wanted to tear my hair off as I watched it because I couldn’t stand all the screaming, all the lies, all of Seo Woo‘s big eyes, and all of Moon Geun Young‘s idiotic “noble” suffering. Chun Jung Myung was wasted I tell ya, because the boy is usually charming. Here, he was a droll. I usually like Moon Geun Young – in fact I enjoyed her performance in “Innocent Steps” and “My Little Bride.” I liked her in Autumn in My Heart too. But this drama? I know she was trying to take a step out of the norm and grow up, and also show a different side to her…but I think it’s because of this drama that I refuse to watch Marry Me Mary. Because I don’t know if I can stand to watch Moon Geun Young on the small screen again, and so soon at that.
And also, Seo Woo’s voice was particularly grating – it’s as if she was trying to sound cute and young the entire time, even after they grew up.
I watched it. And then I skimmed it. I really couldn’t stand it.
Bad Guy: I dropped it after watching the first three episodes. After a while, I just couldn’t care less. The chemistry between Oh Yeon Soo and Kim Nam Gil was killer, and Jung So Min was really fresh here. However, the story was draggy and uninteresting. I couldn’t care less about what happened to Kim Nam Gil and his revenge plot line. I followed the recaps in-and-out, and let’s just say it made me not want to pick up watching this drama again. I saw the ending – it was dumb. That’s all I have to say.
The music was SO GOOD! If only the drama was as good as its music.
The Jury Is Still Out:
Runaway Plan B: It’s typical action, and what gets me is Lee Jung Jin. I don’t care about the gold, or the shenanigans of the other rival detectives trying to ruin Rain and Lee Na Young. Though I understand it’s really important to the story, I almost always skip those scenes with the two of them. But Lee Jung Jin and his scenes with Yoon Jin Seo are sparkling with chemistry. Daniel Henney is a sore disappointment. Another thing that’s weird about this drama is the fact that everyone talks in different languages – and they all understand each other. Last time I had to suspend my disbelief was in another Daniel Henney movie – “Seducing Mr. Perfect.”
But I’m not done with this drama (despite knowing the ending) and so I will save my complaints or praise for later.
Queen of Reversals: Hm… I like it enough to recap it, but I also feel like it’s trying to recapture the charm of Queen of Housewives, which isn’t really what it should do. There are parts that make me think it’s trying to be Queen of Housewives, but what made the first drama awesome was the catfights among the wives. Here, it’s catfights in the business world, which almost always bore me. Good thing the participants are real bitches. Chae Jung Ahn is not working for me though – and I’m starting to realize that she might have always been a bland actress – just buoyed up a bit during Coffee Prince because her costars were just so amazing.
We’ll see – I’m only up to episode 6.
Secret Garden: I am loving every minute of it so far! Episode 9 was kinda flat in that it made a turn for the melo, but episode 10 picks it right back up. I think the characters are unusual enough for me to want to keep watching. They’re outrageous, and the dialogue is whip-smart funny.
Yes – Hyun Bin is an ass. And he might be an insufferable little brat. But somehow, Hyun Bin always manages to convince me that he’s right. I won’t fall for it in reality, but for that hour that I watch it, I can’t help but understand and see his point. I may not agree with it, but that’s just how good of an actor Hyun bin is. He’s really selling these lines, really selling his character. If only Secret Garden aired and finished before the end of 2010, he might have gotten a nomination or award.
Harvest Villa: I like that this drama keeps compounding mystery after mystery upon each other. Little hints are revealed, and then covered up even more. Intentions are always unclear. And poor Shin Ha Kyun – he must be the one in the midst of all of it, and he doesn’t even have a clue!
I’m halfway through – watched 10 episodes already – so here’s hoping things keep up its brisk pace!
And finally…ATHENA – I think it’s safe to say: