Saturday, February 6, 2016

My Top 10 Kdramas

Wait a minute... not about books? Did I read that right? Why am I still here?

I'm sure you've thought at least one of those statements and to be fair, I'm cheating you of a review on a book on a blog dedicated to books. The only excuse I can offer is that I wanted to share my top Korean dramas somewhere without having to make a new blog. While this is a departure from the purpose of the blog, I hope you can forgive me and I'll work on getting a new post up that you might find more relevant. As for now, let's get started.

I can't necessarily say these are in order from least to most favorite, but these are the ones that come up first to mind.

1. Boys Over Flowers (2009)
This drama is my first K-drama love. Why? Mainly because I've rewatched it more than any other drama and is currently the only one in my TV collection. While I don't really fancy high school dramas, this one and maybe two others are the only ones I can tolerate. A classic, it's one of three (Japanese Hana Yori Dango and Taiwanese Meteor Shower) to be adapted into a TV show from the Japanese manga. I checked it out since I always heard how great and popular it was (and still is), and since it was one of the few Korean dramas available on Netflix. One of the few long dramas that actually don't feel like it drags after the half way point (that happens more often than I like). I love this drama since it intertwines friendship and romance almost equally throughout the series.

It follows the story of a headstrong female student from the working class survive an elite high school run by four prominently prestigious "flowers" (handsome men). It follows her life from high school to college.

The drama has 25 episodes and can be found on: Dramafever, Viki, and Netflix.

2. Coffee Prince (2007)
Apparently the classics are coming to mind first. I heard about this drama for a while before I gave it a chance. Initially the premise didn't interest me, however the acting won me over, turning me from an outcast to a full on fan. I choose this drama because like Boys Over Flowers there is a strong element of friendship and romance throughout the series that is naturally depicted through the delivery of performances by the actors. I'd have to argue that the female and male leads have the most authentic and natural relationship I've seen in a K-drama and are the reason why people have continued to love this show so long after it's aired.

The story follows a tomboyish woman work at a coffee shop revered for by many for the "flower" boys that work there. We follow how she struggles to support her family and how she tries to manage her feelings for her boss (who thinks she's a man), while trying to achieve her dream of becoming a barista. 

The drama has 17 episodes and can be found on: Dramafever and Viki.

3. Healer (2014)
Alright perhaps you're looking for something more recent, and maybe a little more action. Well then look no further because this drama's a gem. There is romance in this story (pretty much unavoidable in every drama sorry) but it doesn't outweigh the other elements of the story, such as the action, focus on family, comedy, and mystery. The main characters were really fun to watch and they each had their own charms that helped each episode progress and not feel like it was dragging on to reach the final episode. Also the relationship between the female and male lead wasn't oscillated for dramatic effect, very refreshing compared to most.

The story follows a well-known reporter try to discover the truth to a mystery stretching back two decades, employing the use of a cheerful though steadfast journalist and a night courier known as Healer.

The drama has 20 episodes and can be found on: Dramafever and Viki.

4. The Master's Sun (2013)
While I don't particularly chase anything horror, once an avid fan of the TV show Supernatural (2005), I have to admit an interest in the darker fantasy shows involving ghosts, monsters, mythical and religious creatures--- and especially those that intertwine comedy with it. There aren't many Korean dramas that involve the supernatural, so when I kept hearing about how great this great was, ultimately I had to check it out and give it a chance. 

The story follows a buoyant woman with an unfortunate gift of seeing ghosts that finds a ghost deterrent when she's in contact with a haughty, money-obsessed CEO of a mall. However over time, the cold CEO begins to thaw to the sweet woman who in turn helps him to overcome a traumatic scar from his youth.

The drama has 17 episodes and is available on: Dramafever and Viki.

5. Shut Up Flower Boy Band (2012)
Friendships are really important to me and since 80% of the time in Korean dramas the relationships are usually put on the back burner to focus on the main lead character's relationship, I really admire ones that take the time to focus on the instability of friendships when things begin to change. Over time we meet new people and fall in love and friendships weaken, sometimes they strengthen, and this drama explores it in the lives of these high schoolers as they begin their journey to becoming a famous rock band. Remember what I said about high school? Yup this is the second one I love. Ironically enough, every drama that centered on the lives of high school students I dropped and gave another chance later--- ultimately loving. Well, at least the ones on my list. What I really admired about the series is that there are twists early on in the series not commonly seen in Korean dramas, as well as the focus on friendship is equal with the focus on their ambitions and the focus on the romance.

The story follows the lives of five "flower" boys with a bad guy image and a passion in their music compete against their new school's rival band in a chance to becoming famous and successful. 

The drama has 16 episodes and is available on: Dramafever and Viki.

6. King 2 Hearts (2012)
I'm really glad this list isn't ranked from least favorite to most because as I'm reaching the end I'm struggling to find the dramas that make the cut. One of the things I loved was the relationship between King and Prince, both brothers regretful for having the responsibilities of being royalty though they accept their responsibilities differently. Out of all the dramas I'm listing I might say this one drags at parts for being an action drama, it's definitely a watch and I think is highly underrated.

The story is set in an alternate reality where there is still a royal family ruling in South Korea, where the spoiled carefree prince is tricked into joining a World Officer Championship with a select few North Koreans in an effort of goodwill between the two nations. One of the North Koreans is a tough though innocent special forces officer who is forced to enter into an arranged marriage with the South Korean prince.

The drama has 20 episodes and can be found on: Dramafever and Viki.

7. Triangle (2014)
It's amazing that I just give a chance to a drama in my queue that I honestly forgot I'd added who knows how long ago to find that this drama is excellent and I only wished I'd seen it sooner. As is the case here. Another drama I feel is underrated, there's action, suspense, mystery, and focus on family. 

The story follows the lives of three brothers separated for twenty years, reunited as strangers as a detective, a gangster, and a cold heir to a prominent company. When two of the brothers fall for the same girl, they must overcome being each other's enemies before accepting the truth about why they were separated in the first place. 

The drama has 26 episodes and is only available on: Dramafever.

8. Secret (2013)
I don't care for melodramas since 9/10 times each episode drags from the beginning until the end where the cliffhanger makes you anxious to find out what happens in the next episode. I think what makes me able to bear this one is the fact that both female and male leads realistically learn to move on from unfair and heart-breaking events in their pasts and the mystery slowly coming to reveal itself is so cleverly done I feel I can't not add this to my list. I feel most melodramas can be a little superficial and a little unfounded in the excuses people make to one another to make the episodes drag on, however this drama actually has substance to the sadness the characters need to learn to overcome.

The story follows as a woman takes the fall for her fiance after he accidentally kills a woman in a hit-and-run and serves time in prison in his place. Years later, the man who was in love with the woman who was killed seeks revenge by making the recently released prisoner's life difficult and as unbearable as he's felt for years. Over time, the male lead finds a companion in the woman he sought to peeve and hassle and discovers she can help him learn to move on from his grief and learn the truth to his resentment. 

The drama has 16 episodes and is only available on: Viki.

9. Liar Game (2014)
So maybe none of these interest you because even the action-focused dramas involve romance. Well look no further! This thriller is full of suspense and mystery and while there are subtle romantic moments, it's never explored and focuses entirely on how their complex relationship can manage the stresses and risks of the televised reality game show.

The story follows a kind, naive woman as she's selected to participate in a reality game show in a chance of winning ₩10 billion won (roughly $10 million). She progresses through the challenges with the help of a former college professor and genius liar who reveals his own reasons for helping her.

The drama has 12 episodes and is only available on: Viki.

10. Emergency Couple (2014)
This last spot was tough to fill because I really have a lot of other dramas I wanted to be in this list but unfortunately they just didn't have enough pros. The reason I'm choosing this is because it explores the life after infatuation, love, and marriage. That's right it centers on how a divorced couple. This was my first post-marriage drama and also my first medical drama and while there may be other excellent series that follow the same themes, I found this to be a hearty show to watch as a break from the million other melodramas between single independent people which are a dime a dozen.

The story follows how a divorced couple must learn to cope with working together for three months as interns under the stressful and life-staking atmosphere in a hospital emergency department.

The drama has 21 episodes and is available on: Dramafever and Viki.

The End?

Alright now, I've come to the end. I'm sad. There are so many others I want to recommend and you know what, what else have I got to lose? I won't go into depth but I just can't resist talking about these dramas.

You're All Surrounded (2014)                                           
20 episodes - Dramafever, Viki, Netflix 

The Moon That Embraces the Sun
20 episodes - Dramafever, Viki

Goong (Princess Hours) (2006)
24 episodes - Dramafever, Viki

Bride of the Century (2014)
16 episodes - Dramafever

Answer Me 1997 (Reply 1997) (2012)
16 episodes - Dramafever, Viki

Que Sera, Sera (2007)
17 episodes - Dramafever, Viki

Secretly Greatly (2013) 
Dramafever (requires membership)

Splash Splash Love (2015)
Viki (2 episodes but basically the length of a movie)

If you've stuck through it and read up to here I applaud you. I hope if you're bored you'll check out one of these because Korean dramas really have a way of being beautifully constructed and everlasting. And the wonderful thing is that you can watch dozens upon dozens of addicting dramas like I have at no cost since Dramafever and Viki are free (though of course you will have to sit through ads). See you in Dramaland! 

Until Next Time,
Nicole Ciel

*None of the images are mine and are borrowed from Google images.

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