grub + travels + perspectives

K-drama Faves I've Seen in 2017

Forever missing Ssangmun-dong!

It's been 2 years tops since I got into the whole Korean entertainment scene -- 'Korean entertainment' because it's not just K-dramas anymore, I also am helplessly hooked on Korean music lately (that's for another post). A word of advice though, if you do not tread carefully, it will consume you whole. At least that's what I thought happened to me the past year. 

I got to hand it to K-ent supporters from the very start. Balancing everything is not an easy feat. What started as curiosity turned into a full-blown obsession addiction habit and I've only managed to knock some sense into me lately because I was losing sleep and I was losing focus on more important matters. LOL. It started with watching old K-dramas, one after the next, then took on the challenge of actually keeping up with the ones currently airing and halfway through, I waved the white flag. I tried watching Because This Is My First Life, 20th Century Boy and Girl, While You Were Sleeping and Temperature of Love every time each of these had a new episode, but I had to give up. I managed to finish BTIMFL but I dropped the others. I just can't do it. It's taking over my life. 

I always thought that you'd need another entire lifetime to fully keep up with everything. When you find something good to watch (or listen to), there's tons of other shows and songs that can be linked to it. The Korean entertainment industry is like a 24-hour operating machine that constantly spews out new content. It. Just. Keeps. On. Giving. And. It. Won't. Stop.

I don't mean to sound all sullen because I absolutely have no regrets. Hahaha. I loved every minute spent on watching these dramas (except My Secret Romance and The Bride of the Water God LOL) and I'm going to share the ones that I think (again, my opinion) are worth losing your sleep to. The first draft of this blog post totally had a different set of titles, and some of the greats I will recommend, I've managed to see at the tail end of the year. So here we go:

(P.S. I've excluded Goblin and Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo because I've already justified here why you should watch them. AND the list contains K-dramas I've seen in 2017, not necessarily only those aired that year.)

1. Individualist Ms. Ji Young

This 2-episode drama TV movie did so much more for me compared to other dramas I've seen in the past. It centers on 2 characters with personalities on the opposite ends of the pole. Min Hyo-rin's character, Na Ji-young, is an individualist and believes she doesn't need relationships to be happy, while Park Byuk-soo (Gong Myung) is a pushover and overall people-pleaser. This really hit close to home because I had the same mentality as Ji-young way back, I even had this thinking that I shouldn't get close to people because anything they knew about me, they could use against me. I never really understood why I thought that way back then. Also, I relate to Byeok-soo because I could be passive at times. The two also had great chemistry together. I would've shipped them if I didn't know MHR's with Taeyang. Hehe. Gong Myung was excellent here. That's why I was a bit sad with how underutilized he was at Bride of the Water God. And for a 2-part series, it did not at all feel rushed. Spoiler (highlight to read): I just had teeny tiny problem with the diary-reading scene. I value my privacy a lot and keeping a journal would translate to a safe and personal space for me. I don't think I'll get over that easily, too. I was pleased with the way the topics of sex and depression were handled, and it was just as real as it can get. Everyone's got emotional baggage that we carry throughout our lives. And it breaks the happily ever after cliche because we all know that falling (AND STAYING) in love is never easy like that.

2. Cheese in the Trap

I love, love, love Kim Go-eun so I finally decided to watch this. I've been consciously avoiding seeing this (for no apparent reason, I just felt it's not yet time LOL), but then I just decided one day to get it over with. As usual, KGE did not disappoint! Cheese in the Trap, to be honest, is not the most comfortable thing to watch (translation: not a feel good drama) since it shows humanity's duality and I love how there's some sort of mindfuckery injected throughout the series. It'll keep you guessing and at the edge of your seat. And that's what made me stick to it until the end. The story line was not spoon-fed and predictable. I loved Lee Sung-kyung's 'extra-ness' here. Some people said her acting was too much but I actually enjoyed it, it made her an unforgettable character. Seo Kang-joon's In Ho -- where do I even begin with that? He was lovely to look at (hehe) and he was really good in this drama. A lot of people complained about the ending and I just have to toss in my 2 cents. Yes, it was disappointing. Yes, I would've wanted more, something more crisp and concrete. There was just so much development, complexity and layers to the characters all throughout then PD-nim just gave it an ending like... that. I don't get it. But I still maintain my ground that it's worth the watch.

3. Because This is My First Life

I both love and sorta hate this one. So even though, yes, the ending became a mess, this was one the strongest dramas I've seen last year. The first 5 episodes, I felt, was really impactful and strong, and the show had so much promise, but then every episode that followed felt weaker and weaker. It was relatable and realistic than most plots these days and spoke about current issues. The last 2 episodes felt rushed and confusing as hell and meh! NGL, the reason I gave this drama a chance was because of Lee Min-ki but I fell in love with the story (at least the start) and the entire cast as well. His chemistry with his leading lady, Jung So-min, was really great! YES TO ESOM'S CHARACTER 100x! She's just so bad ass and soft at the same time. Lee Min-ki was perfect for the role and I can't imagine anyone else playing Nam Se-hee. There's a poetic element to the way the script was written and I was really impressed by it. Though towards the end of the show there was a feeling of pretentiousness na. The Wonseok-Horang pairing was so awful and everybody knows they shouldn't have gotten back together! That was my biggest HUH? moment. I'm on the fence on this if I would actually recommend you seeing it (LOL) because OMG the last 2 episodes destroyed the entire series. I guess stay for the first 14 episodes and just don't expect too much with the ending?

4. Reply 1988

Watch this. Trust me. You're going to fall in love with it as much as I did. I watched the finale episode again just to screencap that specific scene I used as the picture header of this blog post and it made me cry all over again. Waterfalls, I tell you. I have so much feelings about this drama that I don't know where to start. This show has got so many aspects to it, it's impossible for you not to relate in one way or another. The first time I watched Reply 1988, I stopped at the first episode. It got boring for me because I was still in that "I want something kilig" phase in my K-drama-watching life. I gave it a second try, and although it's slow burning, it grows on you and latches on you pretty quickly. It's such a wonderful journey to be a part of and at the end of the series, it felt like I was actually part of the whole family. I was ugly crying at the heart-wrenching scenes! It was almost like I grew up with this group of weirdos and with each episode, I was dreading the end. The show portrayed all the different types of love, not just the romantic kind. Then there's nostalgia, which is always a bittersweet thing, added to the mix. I loved how the story was told, one flashback at a time, but without being too complicated. The cast was lovable and AMAZING. I adored everyone's dynamics. You can really feel they're one big family. And I was so happy when it even translated into real life. I've watched clips of them during awards shows and they seem super close and comfortable with each other, and the main cast developed friendship outside the show as evidenced by their updates on Instagram! It just warms my heart so much! Hands down, the best K-drama I've seen ever.

5. Misaeng

God, I love Misaeng with all my heart!!! This drama is everything! And I'm so glad I watched this albeit 3 years late. This was one of the most intense dramas I've ever seen in my entire life! In some episodes, I really did have to hit the pause button a number of times because some scenes were just so overpowering and emotional. The kind that makes you gasp for breath. Everyone's just so savage in the cutthroat corporate world! I just wanted to watch something with Kang Ha-neul in it and I struck gold by picking this one. As I've mentioned countless times before, I was employed a few years back by a South Korean company and for the life of me, cannot understand their work culture. And this drama definitely explained a lot of things to me. I absolutely learned so much from this show! I can't help but be invested in the characters, especially Im Siwan's Geu-rae. I love Chief Oh, I love the entire Sales Team 3 and the friendship of the 4 trainees turned 3 full time employees! A very solid drama that was consistently great from the first episode up to the last! One hell of a ride! Definitely up there with Reply 1988 as one of the best K-dramas I've seen ever. PLEASE WATCH!

I'm currently watching The Great Seducer (love this Les Liaisons dangereuses Korean adaptation) as well as Save Me (then Mad Dog next because Woo Do-hwan is just winning me over). The only other K-drama I finished since Misaeng is I'm Not a Robot which was pretty good as well. Do you have any recommendations?