How to start this? What to say? How to even do this shizzle?
Whitecarrot and I are faced with the monumental task of looking back on the crazy year that was 2012. We had some pretty wonderful moments this year, not least of which was the start of our Patch. It’s difficult to believe that nearly a year has gone by since its inception… Somebody needs to find a time slooooow dooooown machine stat!
Bloggers have been mad posting their year-end reviews/thoughts/reflections/wrap-ups/you-name-it the last several weeks, and we wanted to chime in as well. But where to start? And how exactly are we gonna do this? To be honest, we still don’t really know what in the world we’re doing in the blogosphere. We’re both just drama lovers, not connoisseurs. And seriously, some of the stuff I watch shouldn’t be allowed to see the light of day. Oh, the loveliness of guilty pleasures.
But back to this year-end review or look back or reminiscence or whatever label you wish to apply.
Ia Ia, I do
Whitecarrot: Sweet, cute, and generic. The usual Taiwanese formula of poor girl + rich guy. Tai Ai Ya is the orphan in this case, and Ji Xiang En is the rich boy. There’s an island involved. It was great to marathon the first episodes, but a memory loss device killed the ending. Not much to say for this one. Just mindless entertainment. But I do think more highly of actress Chen Yi Rong. She really pushed this show forward.
Whitecarrot: I didn’t feel the chemistry between the main couple here. As much as I think Roy Qiu is gorgeous, it just couldn’t keep me hooked on Miss Rose. The premise was still the same aforementioned Taiwanese formula. But the main couple quickly acknowledged their feelings for each other, which is always a good sign. However, there was just a lack of conflict to keep the drama moving forward. The main evil girl just kept trying to hang onto Roy Qiu even though she didn’t love him. Her motivation was just lacking and questionable. Plus the she is really bad at acting. I thought the 2nd lead in Oohlala Spouses was bad until I saw this chick. She’s downright barbie. Like can’t even move like a normal person. Skip this one and watch Office Girls from 2011.
Whitecarrot: This is the daily Mon-Thurs drama on SETTV. The romance between Annie Chen and George Hu is sizzling hot. The first episodes were really paradise (princess marriage to gentlemanly prince). But that all came crashing down back to reality, when Lan Shi De (George Hu) found out Yang Yi Ru (Annie Chen) lied to him. This drama is still airing but, as all dailies do, it is starting drag. Lack of plot and conflict. This drama would have been great in a 20 episode format. Highly recommended that you watch the first 6 episodes for a slice of drama heaven then stop. Really just STOP at episode 6.
My Daughter Kkotnimi
pinkblossom: The earliest taste of my guilty pleasure this year. As expected, things got really whacked over the course of the show, but My Daughter Kkotnimi still goes in the OK page of my book. The standard for the OK page? I don’t cringe when I think of the show. Jo Min-soo has always been a favorite of mine, and she just rocked this baby like no other. It was so sweet watching her and Park Sang-won have another chance at love (after The Hourglass), though if you think about it hard enough, it doesn’t really make much sense. Them not being the same characters and now doing a different drama and all that, ya know. But logic aside, I was absitively posolutely guiltily pleased, and Choi Jin-hyuk actually getting the girl was just icing on top.
An Angel’s Choice
pinkblossom: My guilty pleasure, round 2. This one does make me roll my eyes a bit (or a lot), but the absolute squeeness – what do you mean that’s not a word?! – of the OTP during their happy times overshadows all the madwhatintheworldmakjangness that was the drama. Or, to put it more precisely, Wang Min-jae (Jung Sung-woon) I wub you.
Can’t Live Without You
pinkblossom: Guilty pleasure, round 3. And the third time is most definitely not the charm. This show had so much potential, and it just… argh I’m still so angry. This one doesn’t even deserve a cringe. But meeting all of you wonderful CLWY family members makes this show a special one in my book that I won’t be able to forget for a long, long time. I haven’t forgotten my promise: the finale recap will be up for realsies.
Birth of a Family
pinkblossom: Guilty pleasure, round 4. This one will probably be included in my 2013 list since it just started this month, but I wanted to include it here because it’s actually quite cute. I only started watching because I have a soft spot for Lee So-yeon, and I mentioned this already, but nothing groundbreaking is goin’ down here. Seriously, I guessed all the ‘secrets’ after the first episode. But I find myself unable to let go of my guilty pleasure, so here I am, at Episode 17, eagerly anticipating all the madness that’s to come.
Whitecarrot: Big disappointment. Big waste of time. I can go on and on. I was so stoked for this summer drama but it ended up being the worst drama I’ve watched all year. If Gong Yoo wasn’t so hot, I might have just dropped it completely. The story line was just so wishy washy, and it just ended up being a repeated back and forth between the two “self-less” leads. I don’t even want to get into it. Lee Min-Jung, I still love you but this was just a FLOP.
pinkblossom: Big hopes. Big disappointment. Big waste of talent. Umm, should I continue? I have a soft spot for the Hong Sisters, but this drama really did nothing to help itself win me over. Or at least turn a blind eye to the absolute nuttiness and still wub it anyway. One thing salvaged: Gong Yoo. Ironically enough, this drama is the one that made me wub you. Lots.
Color of Woman
pinkblossom: This one actually makes me quite sad, because it was just So. Good. That is, before it went into crazyland. Jae Hee, Yoon So-yi, Shim Ji-ho, and Lee Soo-kyung, all so winsome and adorable and quirky and just fantabulous? Seriously, there wasn’t a single character you could hate, and the show was so breezy, fresh, flirty, and fun fun fun. I don’t know what got into the writers and convinced them to turn it into some melodramatic weepfest, but I hope someone finds the bug and squashes it.
Feast of the Gods
pinkblossom: Oh, this show, how wonderfully crazy you were. I for seriously don’t know where to put you in my book, because you did some fantabulous things and some pretty darned horrible things as well. I found an entry I wrote after the last episode but never got around to posting. Since it’s time to say goodbye, I’ll lay it to rest here.
And so it comes to an end, whether you welcome it or not. I’ve gotta say, Feast of the Gods was… not my most favorite drama ever. It probably doesn’t even fall into the “favorite” category, or even “highly recommended.” But I’ve gotta say it gets MAJOR PROPS for being the first drama I’ve seen in a loooong time – if EVER – where the secondary OTP won out. I’M STILL IN SHOCK AND GIDDINESS. Okay, so maybe it was a super awkward transition from Joon-young loving Jae-ha to her loving Do-yoon, but my transferring of ships from Joon-young+Jae-ha to Joon-young+Do-yoon certainly wasn’t all that smooth either. I vacillated between the two, and at times I just didn’t want anyone to be together with anyone – they were all idiots!
Personally, I’ve been a fan of Joo Sang-wook since his Choon-ja days, but my love waned until he endeared himself to me again on his Running Man stint. Lee Sang-woo was a cutie since Bottom of the 9th with 2 Outs (aka 9 Ends 2 Outs – HORRIBLE translation), and I loved him in Don’t Hesitate. I’ve loved Sung Yuri since Hong Gil-dong. So yeah, I was SUPER excited for this drama. The whole birth secrets child switcharoo shenanigans at the start were off-putting, to put it mildly, but I hoped for much more once the adults took charge. Joo Sang-wook was adorable as his dorky Jae-ha, and I have to say I was disappointed with Lee Sang-woo’s performance for the first third (at least) of the drama. So no problem, right, Joon-Ha ship all the way? But they didn’t have the chemistry I was looking for, and you’ve gotta admit, Jae-ha ditching In-joo for Joon-young is a bit… messed up. Yeah, yeah, Joon-young is the real In-joo and fake In-joo’s an evil liar, but Jae-ha did spend time with fake In-joo and ultimately fall in love with HER. It was, admittedly, based upon his belief that she was In-joo, and their childhood played a part in their relationship, but if he had hated the fake In-joo, he wouldn’t have spent so much time with her. Their lives post-baby-switch were what they were, and you can’t just upend all of that simply because the real In-joo is somewhere else. I can buy (with much reluctance) that Jae-ha felt something for Joon-young from the start, but his abandoning of the woman he’s loved (and believes is In-joo) was definitely harder to swallow.
In any case, I just mentally checked out halfway through the drama. There was nothing new to the storyline or character relationships, and everyone was being a stupid boo-hoo-hoo. And I really couldn’t care less that everyone had mommy issues. Literally everyone. But suddenly with only four episodes left, the scales tipped in favor of Do-yoon. And I went: NO WAY THIS IS NOT HAPPENING. Drama, you are just evil, making me hope for something that’s not gonna happen. Then Episode 29: Do-yoon kissed Joon-young and she didn’t slap him. Episode 30: She comforted him in his pain. And I went: oh noes, this better not just be a pity party. She better not be planning to go back to Jae-ha. Episode 31: she made a dosirak for Do-yoon. And episode 32: SHE LUUUUBS HIMMMM~!!!!! AAAACKKKK!!!!!
And there abruptly I ended my thoughts and so I will end my eulogy that isn’t quite a eulogy. Feast of the Gods, you will always be remembered for giving me a reason to continue loving the poor dude who won’t get the girl. ’Cause one day, he will.
A Gentleman’s Dignity
pinkblossom: This show really had the push-and-pull down to an art. It was cute, then boring, then adorbs, then not, and on and on the cycle went. But for some unfathomable reason, the ending really hit a sweet spot for me, so much so that I let out a deep sigh of contentment as the final credits rolled. They say the finale is what matters most, and I think they’re right: When I think of this show, the happy tickles from the end are what I remember.
I Miss You
pinkblossom: I’m not quite sure why I’m still watching this drama… Seriously, I don’t. I initially started watching because I love me ze Yeo Jin-gu. After seeing the previews for Episodes 3-4, I skipped those. And then tuned in for Episode 5 since I needed to get my Yoochun fix. Since then, I’m not really sure why I’ve been watching… The genre is indeterminable, the pace is so slooooow, everyone cries all day – and night! – at the slightest prompting, the things that go down seriously scare me… And yet I still watch each week. This is not one of my guilty pleasures, that’s for sure, since I certainly don’t feel guilty or pleased. Umm, if anyone figures it out, please do tell. I’d like to know.
The King 2 Hearts
pinkblossom: Disclaimer: I didn’t watch this show from the start. I hopped on The King 2 Hearts about halfway through, after hearing and reading all about the adorkable Eun Shi-kyung, and I truthfully only watched his scenes. Talk about a lovely way to repay me for my loyalty. I honest to goodness bawled in front of my computer while watching the last episode. It was embarrassing. Though the drama was snubbed at the MBC Drama Awards this year, and though it ceded its ratings throne over the course of its run, I think the drama was a big one for many of its actors. Lee Seung-gi has always been the cute boy-next-door figure in the K-ent world, but for the first time he looked like a man in this show. He ain’t a little boy no more. Jo Jung-seok had a phenomenal year with breakout roles all over the place, and he made his mark with TV viewers through his Eun Shi-kyung. Lee Yoon-ji, too, made her presence known through Princess Lee Jae-shin. She’s always been a wonderful actress, and I think she’s finally getting the accolades and attention she deserves. Perhaps Ha Ji-won benefited the least from this show, because Secret Garden was just so big in Korea. But there is no doubt that she continues to be a force to be reckoned with.
The King of Dramas
Whitecarrot: I actually haven’t watched any episodes of this drama. Just been following recaps on Dramabeans. I really just want to marathon this baby when it’s all out because it looks awesome! My review isn’t legitimate, but from reading the recaps I’m loving all the characters. This show seems to break past all the usual cliche devices dramas use to push the plot forward. Like in episode 15 when Anthony actually hears Lee Go-eun’s love confession. This NEVER happens! Just love that the whole show is totally meta and makes fun of the drama production industry. It really seems to be one of the best comedies this year. Thank you for being awesome. I promise to watch you soon.
pinkblossom: Love love love love love. Words can’t do this show justice. Comedies don’t have a very big place in Kdramaland, and it isn’t often you see one that so deftly balances wit, humor, and heart. All the way through, to boot. The performances the actors have turned in have just been lights out across the board, and I truly truuuly appreciate the smartly written script. In the end, it’s the little things that count, and King of Dramas hasn’t let go of those tiny details that make its world so real and palpable. It’s just a beautiful, beautiful show to watch, on every front. Absolutely beautiful. One of the best of 2012.
The Moon that Embraces the Sun
pinkblossom: I hate to be predictable, but I absolutely LOVED the younger cast. Seriously. Enough to go out and spend some big money on the novel the drama was based on. Why do Korean bookstores charge so much?! I fell hard for this show when it first began to air, so much so that I raced to the nearest Korean bookstore to purchase my own copies of the two-part novel. I needed to knooow what in the world happened. Did Hwon end up with Yeon-woo? Did he die? Did she die? Did everyone die?! Surprisingly enough, I loved the drama more than the book during the story of the early years. I know, how can that be, right? And then… they transitioned to the adult story… and… the book became better. I personally have no qualms about this story revolving around a king’s first love – and nothing else. Sometimes, it’s enough to give me an epic love story and nothing more. But what prevents me from naming MoonSun my top pick of the year was the palpable drop in storytelling quality. The magical element was gone, and I don’t necessarily blame the performances of the actors. Even Han Ga-in, who wasn’t all that bad as some make her out to be. The story just didn’t quite work, and the lack of chemistry between Kim Soo-hyun and Han Ga-in didn’t help. Nonetheless, I give the show props for its gorgeous cinematography and for creating one of the most adorable adopted families in dramaland: Hwon and Hyung-seon.
Whitecarrot: This drama started out great for me. Hilarious. I really Laughed Out Loud. But the portrayal of Go Soo Nam was just so evil and bad. How can you make the main male lead such a low-life of a man? I couldn’t even root for him toward episode 5. This is honestly one of the few dramas where I felt the male lead did not DESERVE the female lead. He did not redeem himself and barely made any character changes. Second male lead wasn’t much better. I don’t know if he got too much botox or what. But Jung Hyun-Woo was absolutely plastic in his expression, and his character was so 1-sided and flat that I couldn’t relate to him either. This drama started falling apart, and the arguments between the main couple were really a turn-off. Pass on this one.
pinkblossom: One of my personal favorites of the year, for reasons completely unrelated to the show. I am fully aware that this adorkable drama had its many issues, but it was just so darned cute and laugh-out-loud hilarious to boot. Yoochun and Han Ji-min were absitively adorbs in the bestest way possible, which is prolly why I’m having a hard time feeling the nonexistent chemistry between him and Yoon Eun-hye in I Miss You. But back to the time-traveling Joseon F4 and their adorable adventures in modernland with Bak-ha. Their relationships were what made this show work, and I will always remember these cuties fondly. As for my cutie friend who made watching this drama a precious experience: I will forever cherish our times squeeing and laughing and crying together. You know who you are! 😀
To the Beautiful You
pinkblossom: Fluffy and sweet, like cotton candy. And pretty to boot. As for depth? Uh, cotton candy on that count, too. But still, you can’t really hate on this show – it’s just too cute.
Answer Me 1997
Whitecarrot: I’ve said enough about this show. Thank you, 1997, for making my 2012 perfect. You are the best drama I have ever had the honor of watching.
pinkblossom: As a favorite song goes (abridged): What to say? I can’t explain just how much you mean to me.
pinkblossom: I am, by nature, not one to pick a single favorite. Of anything, whether it be color, food, song, movie, or – yep! – drama. Which is why I can’t choose a single drama as the best of the year or my absolute favoritestest of the year. But. The Chaser is as close to the top as I can humanly make it. Most shows drum up interest and anticipation in the weeks – and sometimes even months – before their premiere. Most weekday primetime shows have A-list stars to tout and use to draw attention. Nobody cared about The Chaser – until they opened the box and saw what a brilliant gem was inside. I can’t wax lyrical enough about this show that was both highly intellectual and deeply emotional. I can’t express how vindicated I feel that veteran actors Sohn Hyun-joo, Kim Sang-joong, Park Geun-young, and Kim Seong-ryeong finally got some attention from the public at large. Simply, I just can’t say enough about this amazing drama that was one of the brightest stars of the year.