As seems to be the consensus around the Kdrama blogosphere, 2013 presented quite a few shows that started with so much potential… and then… went sad panda. And! The few shows that were good didn’t get the love and attention they deserved. How typical and unsurprising. Will I forever be fated to root for the underdog? *sighs*
7th Grade Civil Servent (7급 공무원)
Ad Genius Lee Tae-baek (광고 천재 이태백)
All About My Romance (내 연애의 모든것)
Now this one did the exact opposite. I wasn’t watching the show… until I randomly saw Shin Ha-kyun being all kinds of amaztastic and decided to finish off the series with him. I’ll admit, the story wasn’t anything worth writing about (har har) but gosh darned it Shin Ha-kyun was just amazing.
The Blade and Petal (칼과 꽃)
Empress Ki (기황후)
I can totes see why people enjoy the show and the K-netizens are eating it up. It’s got an epic romance, hilarious antics – many courtesy of a fabulous Ji Chang-wook who ain’t getting as much love from K-netizens as he deserves – gorgeous sets, and bad guys. Make that lots of bad guys. But… something just doesn’t quite do it for me. I find myself fast-forwarding through it – if I watch it at all. I don’t know what it is… Somebody let me know if they figure out what it is.
Goddess of Fire (불의 여신 정이)
Oh wait, what? Lee Sang-yoon, the hottest actor in the first half of the year? Hmm… don’t remember what happened to him.
The Great Seer (대풍수)
I have no words for how angry – yes, angry, not sad – I grow when I think of how much this show wasted in terms of potential alone. Ji Jin-hee, Kim So-yeon, Ji Sung, Song Chang-eui, Lee Yoon-ji, Jo Min-ki, Oh Hyun-kyung, Lee Seung-yeon, and all the other supporting cast? Write + PD: You deserve banishment from the industry for what you did.
Gu Family Book (구가의 서)
I include this one just for Cousin Blossom, since she called it ‘her’ show while I was in Korea – she is the makeup artist for up-and-coming Lee Yoo-bi, who played Chung-jo. Can’t say tooooo much since I didn’t watch the whole thing through… but I wasn’t all too impressed with what I saw. I don’t know, I ain’t that big a fan of Lee Seung-gi or Suzy. *ducks for cover* Glad Choi Jin-hyuk finally got his big moment in the spotlight, though!
Heartless City (무정도시)
I do believe whitecarrot and I had grand plans for this one. We’d finally recap another series together. *excitement* And then… we got behind… and then the show ended… and I just could not control my rage at a certain person (grrrrrrrr) who ruined what could have been the greatest show of 2013.
Jung Kyung-ho, welcome back to Dramaland.
All that has to be said – and more – has already been said by every other person on the planet. So. I shall not add to the conversation except to say: WHY the HECK do my Won and Hyun-joo not get their happy ending when every other stinkin’ person on the show does – even those who don’t deserve it?! *tries mighty hard to control emotions*
I Summon You, Gold! (금 나와라 뚝딱!)
As sadly expected from a weekender, this was yet another case of watchable-turned-crazees. And yet, just as unsurprisingly, the show had pretty decent ratings. Can there ever be logic in K-ent-land? Han Ji-hye was pretty good playing 2 very different characters (twin sisters), Yeon Jung-hoon was okay (his character was so weak), and Baek Jin-hee deserved better. The find of the century: Park Seo-joon. Come to mama.
Incarnation of Money (돈의 화신)
Sadly, a fabulous drama that got buried in the slew of non-interesting-ers of 2013 and was bested week after week in the ratings department courtesy of makjang-palooza Hundred Years’ Inheritance. Not perfect by any means, but Incarnation of Money was really REALLY quite good, sticking with its guns and the campy, and ultimately allowing Kang Ji-hwan to let loose. An intro here.
Jang Ok-jung: Live for Love (장옥정, 사랑에 살다)
This show had no chance from the start with the K-netizens, who thought up of every possible reason ever to hate on the show. I personally thought all the hate unfair, especially that trained at Kim Tae-hee – she’s still got some ways to go, but she was much better than Suzy, who was getting all kinds of accolades over on rival show Gu Family Book. (She just won the Top Excellence Actress Award at the 2013 KBS Drama Awards which has stirred all kinds of controversy, but more on that later.) The hoopla about making Jang Ok-jung (traditionally an evil mastermind) a ‘nice’ person was a point I tried to be open-minded about when the show started. But the writing ultimately failed to accomplish the grand goal of making Jang Ok-jung a misunderstood woman who lived and died for love. They tried to highlight the circumstances that led Jang to become ‘evil’, but they were all so weak and, honestly, not enough to move me. If we want to talk about heart-wrenching agony leading to a changed person, the 2002-03 Jang Hee-bin had a more solid story – Jang miscarried her child because of the opposing political faction, leading her to seek vengeance and to gain power so that she would never be vulnerable again. In any case, there was quite a bit of botched writing in this one, not the least of which was what they did with Jae Hee’s character. But there is always a silver lining, no? And for Jang Ok-jung, it was cutie Lee Sang-yeob, who was both adorable and heart-breakingly earnest as Dong-pyung Goon, loyal servant to the king and selfless lover of the one woman destined to break his heart. Dong-pyung Goon, I wub you.
The King’s Daughter, Soo Baek Hyang (제왕의 딸, 수백향)
I can’t believe I forgot to include this one in the 2013: Dailies post – it’s the one show I religiously follow every day! The King’s Daughter, Soo Baek Hyang has continued to impress me throughout its run: the first 20 episodes that laid the foundation absolutely blew me away. From storytelling to cinematography to acting prowess, it was just so much more than what you normally saw in a daily, and it honestly even rivaled most primetime shows. Though it has moved into more traditional daily-fare after coming into the present-day storyline, it continues to show a depth of forethought and detail to character development that I love. And seriously, Jo Hyun-jae is the CUTEST awkward-before-love prince EVER. I still remember him in his first leading role aaaall those years ago in Love Letter with Su Ae and Ji Jin-hee. Gah. I feel old. But yes, if you’re looking for a wonderfully, thoughtfully crafted sageuk daily, I highly hiiighly recommend Soo Baek Hyang.
My Daughter Seo-young (내 딸 서영이)
I have no more words to say about this show that rocked the K-ent world – and the international community, though less of the online world – during its maginormous run. Nielsen Korea reported last week that that the drama with the highest-rated average episode rating from 2013 television was none other than My Daughter Seo-young, with a 40.7% – it also owns the highest minute-rating of the year with a whopping 54.4%. Lee Bo-young and Lee Sang-yoon became the nation’s power couple, and the former followed with another hit show (I Hear Your Voice) and a wedding to boot. Park Hae-jin successfully made his transition back into K-dramaland, and all in all, everyone had a happy year.
Thank you, Patch Friends, for an unforgettable journey with My Daughter Seo-young.
Nine: Nine Time Travels (나인: 아홉번의 시간 여행)
When I first read K-reports about Kim Yoon-jin pushing for an American remake of Nine, I cracked up. A little background: Not a single one of my closest friends (bar partner in crime whitecarrot) watches Korean dramas. I know, how is it possible, right? They all watch American and British television, and I’ve tried a couple times to introduce K-dramas, but we’ve never really had the chance to sit down and watch something. After watching Nine, I just KNEW this one could definitely work for my friends because it was closer in tone, setup, and theme to what one might see on American television. You didn’t really need to know much about Korean culture to enjoy the show. And then wham bam bam, the show is being courted for an American remake! I really hope the crossover works because I’m so curious to see how it’ll turn out. But I also wish there was a way for more people to watch the original, because it was really quite darned good.
Because my mind is still bent:
Dear Nine, thank you for breaking my brain.
That Winter, the Wind Blows (그 겨울, 바람이 분다)
Pretty. Lots of it. And a surprisingly nuanced performance from Song Hye-kyo. Interesting, though, how quickly the most-talked-about-show-in-Korea was dumped and forgotten as soon as there was a new show to talk about. But so it goes in K-ent-land.
When a Man Falls in Love (남자가 사랑할 때)
The best of the 2013-14 transition for last:
One Warm Word (따뜻한 말 한마디)
I just don’t have enough words or the brainpower right now to do this AMAZING show justice. Sadly, it ain’t gonna lead the ratings pack any time soon because of the nature of K-netizens… but I sososo wish it could. It’s just SO. GOOD. Watch it. Watch it watch it watch it.
And there you have it, a little peek into some of the offerings of 2013!
Here’s hoping the less-than-stellar outings we had this year were in preparation for an amaztastic 2014!!