| LADIDA’S DRAMA LIST

❤ FOREVER FAVS ❤

These are the shows I love and love and love. The first time I watched them I was awed and amazed, and now I return to them again and again, my appreciation for them growing. Each new viewing is a delight that reminds me why I fell in love in the first place or deepens my understanding of the show. I’ve realized the unifying theme in my love for all these shows is that I absolutely adore the heroines (or the hero, in the case Natsu No Koi) and feel a personal connection to them.

The Melody | Polly | from the Coffee Prince OST  

Series

Beloved 

What if I say I love you?

[Kdrama] This is a gem of a show that is greatly under-appreciated. A melodrama that’s more drama and less melo (as in less indulgence in improbable events), tightly scripted, with complex women characters, fully realized relationships, and a handling of marriage and infidelity absent of the heavy hand of moralizing. It’s a drama I like to watch over and over again because there is so much going on in each episode, and it’s communicated so gracefully, and the story is so lean, that each time I return to it I understand more and feel even more satisfied. [2.5x]

Can We Get Married?

A modern day family drama that explores the relationships between 5 intersecting couples and the obstacles they face, from meddling mothers and unfavorable families to cheating and secret pasts. It takes a bit of time to get into this drama, but once you do it offers you so much more than it’s premise would have you believe. Yes, there are screeching mothers and improbable reasons for being against a marriage, but there’s also intriguing family dynamics, romances to root for, great dialogue, and lots of kissing! But best of all, it has women characters who have real depth and agency. [1.5x]

Coffee Prince

[Kdrama] The first drama I ever watched, and I feel so grateful for that. It’s beautiful: it stands on it’s own, creating this complete world that seems so authentic–the music, the writing, and the acting all come together to create a particular atmosphere that stays with you long after it’s over. Yoon Eun Hye is spectacular, Gong Yoo is hot, the romance is so endearing and heart-rending, and the story is fresh. Also the secondary characters are well-rounded. It’s like that extended part of your family you visit over the summer and never want to leave. Love love love. [1x]

Dal Ja’s Spring

Since when did women’s fantasies become shameful?

[Kdrama] A classic. Another great romantic comedy with one of my favorite heroines. It’s about finding true love when we live in a world that keeps on trying to sell us fantasies about what true love should be. Best parts are the romance (Kang Tae Bong is one of my favorite romantic men, always asking Dal Ja what she thinks and never dismissing her), the friendships (women being friends and not romantic rivals! Men and women being friends with no romantic undertones!) the irony, and Dal Ja’s fabulous wardrobe. [2x]

Flower Boy Next Door

Have you been well, Ajumma?

[Kdrama] It is entirely too early for me to summarize this show, but I love it, I love it so. I have a tumblr devoted to it. [2x]

In Time With You

Because possession…is the beginning of loss.

[TW Drama] This drama wrecks me every single time I watch it. And I watch it a lot. The most common description you’ll come across will be something along the lines of two best friends making a bet about which one will get married first, but this is just a shallow frame the show uses in the very first episode. In Time With You is about coming to terms with the passage of time, about appreciating the wisdom that comes with age, about family and friends and how who you surround yourself with defines your life. But most of all it’s about two cowards fumbling around each other, too scared to admit they’re in love because the possibility of devastation is just too much a risk for what they already have, which they treasure. The actual premise of the drama isn’t about a race to the altar: it’s about a crisis in a 14 year friendship that can only end in two ways–either our leads become lovers or they become estranged. And Li Da Ren may very well be my favorite romantic hero. [3x]

Kimi Wa Petto

[Jdorama] Mmmm, I’ll take Matsujun as a pet any day. I love that we have a heroine who is Type A and straight forward and jaded and tired of men’s bullshit, but is also so insecure and almost naively romantic. There’s a symbiosis to the main couple, where they care for each other and together create a safe space where it’s ok for them to be vulnerable. I actually think there’s a lot of interesting psychological stuff happening in this drama, and would love to read some good meta on it. It’s as much about romance as it is about healing and learning to trust. [1.5x]

La Dolce Vita

[Kdrama] Dark and psychologically complex, though at times I felt it was trying a bit too hard. I love Lee Dong Wook, but he felt a little out of his depth here. The highlight is Oh Yun Soo, who brings a fragility and composure to her character that makes her kind of ethereal in her surroundings. But she’s got a strength, the kind that expresses itself in forbearance rather than violence, and Oh Yun Soo is so generous an actress that she lets us see her character unfolding, let’s us see her breaking free of her confines with a subtlety and delicacy that’s just heartbreaking. You want her to be loved and you want to destroy all the people hurting her. [2x]

Me Too Flower

Why is it so easy for people to say ‘I love you’?
Because it doesn’t cost anything.

[Kdrama] I love this drama. It isn’t the best in terms of narrative, but in terms of the characters and their interactions, in terms of how it makes you care about Bong Sun and Jae Hee, this is right up there. It’s more of an emotional experience than anything else, where you just have to give in to who the characters are and ignore all the plot shenanigans. My third Kim Do Woo drama, and it just made me love her writing (love is a choice, ladies and their imaginations, ladies who yearn for love but aren’t willing to compromise themselves) even more. [1.5x]

Natsu No Koi

[Jdorama] Actually, I’ll just take Matsujun any day. (Hey, I sat through both Hana Yori Dangos and the movie for him. *Shudder.*) This is just a really sweet little drama, with a narrative arc that is tight and well executed. It’s got romance, but it’s more about Taiga’s emotional and professional maturation than anything else. It’s like a tall glass of cool water on a hot day: crisp, clear, and so much better than the soda you thought you wanted. [1x]

OB/GYN Doctors

[Kdrama] A ballsy, know-it-all heroine? Check. A kind, “I love you in all your glorious arrogance” hero who doesn’t ask our heroine to change? Check. Song Joong Ki being cute? Check. Ahn Sun Young stealing scenes? Check. Add interesting medical cases and a charming secondary couple and you’ve got the perfect drama for when you’re sick with a cold or when you just want to watch something with adults in it for once. [1.5x]

Ojakgyo Brothers

Not particularly innovative, but so full of heart and warmth. The perfect introduction to family dramas, because it doesn’t have too many makjang elements. UEE and Joo Won will steal your heart, and the rest of the cast will make you happy to spend 50+ hours with them. [2.5x]

Queen In Hyun’s Man

When I listen to you talk, it seems that everything in this world was made for kissing. What kind of lustful world is this?

[Kdrama] Don’t let the time traveling fool you–this is pure romance. There’s action and intrigue and supernatural forces and mystery, but the real story of this drama is the romance between Hee Jin and Boong Do. There’s this strange dichotomy to the drama that is handled very well: it’s a simple story (girl meets boy, girl wants boy, girl gets boy) but the plot and execution are complex; the scope is very focused but the romance is sweeping; it’s a bright, fluffy romcom but it has a depth to it that just begs for analysis and discussion. And I’m not exaggerating when I say this is one of the most feminist dramas out there. I love how cheeky and petty Hee Jin is, and how calm and collected and patient Boong Do is, and how much they both are willing to be in love. There’s no denial or rejection, just kissing, kissing, and more kissing. And a solid story, of course. [1x]

Queen of Reversals

We should love. And love again. Love the moment.

[Kdrama] For me this drama is like that special corner in your couch that you fit perfectly into, or the lipstick you buy in threes because you don’t know what you’d do if it suddenly stopped being made. It’s familiar, warm, and homey. This is the most traditional of all the dramas I keep coming back to, but it has a few of my favorite things: a headstrong heroine, an earnest hero who is all about her, relationships of substance between women, and a heartening  conclusion. One of the many dramas marred by Park Shi Hoo’s presence. [1.5x]

What’s Up Fox?

Can love begin without a fantasy?

[Kdrama] The second drama I ever watched, and I fell in love with Byung Hee and Chul Soo. I don’t care for the secondary romance between the younger sister and the fashion importer at all, but Byung Hee and Chul Soo’s romance take over the drama and absolve it of all faults for me. Byung Hee is so immature and cowardly and aware of what’s expected of her, and she’s stuck in this stage of arrested development, of finding more satisfaction in dreaming about the kind of life she’d like to have or the person she’d like to be than in actually working to have those things. Her journey is about moving away from the fantasies she has, which are brought on in part by her awareness of society’s expectations and constraints, away from this constant deferment of responsibility and her future to accepting her past decisions and finding happiness in her present and realizing that her desires don’t have to exist only in her mind, in her imagination. This drama acknowledges fear—of the future, of the past, of loss, of expectation—and how much power it has over us; it takes all those fears and shows us how they can incapacitate you. It’s funny, cute, optimistic, and it’s got my favorite kind of romantic hero: the kind who’s kind and is totally, head-over-heels in love with the heroine from the get go. [2.5x]

Writers
Kim Do Woo | Song Jae Jung | Ha Myung Hee | Omori Mika | Song Ji Na | Hsu Yu Ting | Noh Hee Kyung

Actresses
Yoo In Na | Park Shin Hye | Park Min Young | Ariel Lin | Kim Sun Ah | Moon Chae Won | Kim Nam Joo | Jung So Min | Lee Si Young | Oh Yun Soo | Song Yoon Ah | Park Eun Bin | Park Hye Soo | Nam Ji Hyun | Jeon Do Yeon | Go Hyun Jung

Actors
Yoon Shi Yoon | Hong Jong Hyun | Lee Dong Wook | Gong Yoo | Song Joong Ki | Matsumoto Jun | Takeru Sato | Chen Bolin | Jung Yonghwa | Park Seo Joon | Ji Chang Wook | Yoo Seung Ho | Jo In Sung

Heroines
Go Byung Hee (What’s up Fox?) | Chen You Qing (ITWY) | Go Eun Chan (Coffee Prince) | Go Dok Mi (FBND) | Yoon Hye Jin (La Dolce Vita) | Lee Soo Kyung (Let’s Eat) | Kim Nana (City Hunter) | Kim Pil Suk (Dream High) | Seo Chan Joo (Beloved) | Choi Hee Jin (QIHM) | Seo Eun Ki (Nice Guy) | Cha Bong Sun (Me Too Flower) | Ban Ji Yeon (Witch’s Romance) | Belle Epoque Girls (Age of Youth) | Nam Da Jung (Liar Game) | Okitegami Kyoko (The Memorandum of Kyoko Okitegami)

Heroes
Lee Da Ren (ITWY)| Seo Jae Hee (Me Too Flower) | Enrique Guem (FBND) | Park Sul Choo (What’s Up Fox) | Choi Han Geul (Coffee Prince) | Go Jin Se (Beloved) | Jung Hoon (Can We Get Married) | Yamada Shoto (Zenkai Girl) | Momo (Kimi Wa Petto) | Goo Yong Ha (SKKS) | Yoon Dong Ha (Witch’s Romance) | King Louie (Shopping King Louis) | Yeon Ha (Dear My Friends) | Yakusuke (The Memorandum of Kyoko Okitegami)


✭THE LIBRARY ✭

This is a comprehensive list of the shows I’ve completed. It’s tiny because I’m so fickle and drop dramas like too many marbles in an overstuffed pocket. I also have a difficult time quantifying things, since taste accounts for so much, and the way we appreciate things is so varied and complex, but I cooked up a ratings system where they’re based on a mixture of the experience I had watching the drama, meaning the enjoyment and satisfaction I got out of it, and the critical evaluation of the drama, meaning how “good” I actually found it in terms of narrative direction and cohesion, character development, acting, etc. The ones I absolutely adore have hearts next to them; DR is a Definite Recommendation, TR is a Tentative Recommendation, S is for shows I suggest to skip, and DNW are shows that I could find no merit in at all; Best Beloveds are the shows I adore but didn’t quite make it to my Forever Favs.

Lee Sang Kyu | Like Me (Byung Hee & Chul Soo Theme) | What’s Up Fox? OST

Korean

Age of Youth (2016) | ✭✭✭✭✭ ♥♥♥ | Forever Fav

Beloved✭✭✭✭1/2 ♥♥♥| Forever Fav | DR

Bride of the Century | | S

Imagine every single possible cliche, bad acting, bad directing, a nonsensical plot, an annoying male lead, and an otp you don’t even care about. Now imagine still watching the show live. I don’t know what happened, but this somehow became a crack show for me.

Can We Get Married? | ✭✭✭✭1/2♥♥ | Forever Fav | DR

Can You Hear My Heart | ✭✭✭✭ | TR

A lovely, solid family drama. Highlights are Nam Goong Min’s portrayal of Bong Ma Roo/Jang Joon Ha, the relationship between the brothers, and the relationship between the grandmother (played by Yoon Yeo Jung) and her mentallydisabled adoptive son (played by Jung Bo Suk). The family dynamics were awesome, but I was never very invested in the romance.

City Hunter | ✭✭✭✭| DR

An addictive watch, fast paced and fun. I especially loved the romantic comedy elements in the first few episodes and thought it’s mixing of genres was great; it unfortunately falls apart narrative  wise in the last quarter and treats our heroine dismissively.

Coffee Prince |  ✭✭✭✭✭✭ ♥♥♥ Forever Fav |DR

Dal Ja’s Spring | ✭✭✭✭✭ ♥♥♥ Forever Fav | DR

Dear My Friends (2016) | 

Dream High | ✭✭✭1/2 | TR

On the fluffy side, with surprising moments touching on actual problems idols might face. I wasn’t that much of a fan of Sam Dong because I found him overly clingy, but I loved the friendships between the girls. And Pil Suk is one of my favorites heroines. She’s shy and thoughtful and talented and has this courage in her that people around her overlook, but it carries her through. Sometimes I have to remind myself she’s not the lead of this drama, teehee. The music is mostly super-processed pop fun, but you’ll be sure to find one you like. Mine are Pil Suk’s cover of “Video Killed the Radio Star” and her song for Jason.

Ex Girlfriend Club | ✭✭✭1/2 | Best Beloved | TR

Falling for Dojeon | ✭✭✭ | TR

Flower Boy Next Door | ✭✭✭✭✭ ♥♥♥ Forever Fav | DR

Good Doctor | ✭✭1/2 | TR

I often felt like I was being clubbed over the head by the medical terms and the cases were expectedly sensationalized; how autism is handled is superficial, cloying, and offensively inspirational; and grand attempts at pathos left many of the human relationships feeling shallow and forced. The strength of the show, though, lies in that even as it makes Park Si On an inspirational supercrip, it does see him as a human being. The show asks too much of Si On, as if he’s some Jesus figure, ignoring the structural prejudices he faces because he’s disabled, and makes as if he can overcome them and “cure” himself (itself a problem; autistic people don’t need to be cured of being autistic) through hard work and dedication. But it also allows him to fail, to dream, to fear, to question, and to love. Best of all, he has his own moral compass, which is guided by a fierce dedication to preserving life–incredibly poignant when you consider the overwhelming belief is that disabled people shouldn’t even exist. Moon Chae Won brings her lively charm to Cha Yeon Seo, and the character herself is refreshingly intelligent and capable, with the respect of her colleagues, a leadership position at the hospital, and the admiration of her patients. The romance is sweet and well paced, and while I wish we could have spent more time exploring the challenges the two face as a couple, Si On and Yoon Seo’s respective confessions have become two of my favorites ever. Some surprises: Kwak Do Won gives a great performance as the mysterious vice president, and Yoo Chae Kyung is almost deliciously contrary as a rebelling step-daughter. 

The Good Wife (2016)

Hanoi Bride | | DO NOT WATCH

Worst thing I have ever watched. I sat through it all for my love of Lee Dong Wook. It was painful. Run. RUN!

Healer✭✭✭✭ | Best Beloved | DR

Her Lovely Heels

High End Crush | TR

I Am Legend | ✭✭ | S

It could have been so great, but instead got bogged down in our heroine’s divorce proceedings and the romance never developed. It does have some cute lady friendships, though.

Imaginary Cat (2015) | TR

Kim Sam Soon | ✭✭✭✭✭1/2 | Best Beloved | DR

A must watch for any kdrama fan: you’ve got a spunky, snarky heroine who’s a complete romantic. She falls for the cold chaebol type with a traumatic past. For me it was more about believing in love and giving love a chance than about the actual romance–I loved Sam Soon as a heroine way more than her romance. It’s also about trying to find you way through the professional world, and coming to terms with who you are in the face of societal dictates of who you should be. Also the noona romance that started the craze.

La Dolce Vita | ✭✭✭✭ ♥♥Forever Fav | DR

Let’s Eat | ✭✭✭1/2 ♥♥ | Best Beloved | DR

This show has a certain warmth to it: it lends it to its characters, to the delicious food they eat, and to the small world in which they interact. I wouldn’t call the characters quirky, but they are all distinct and have an element of the ridiculous about them that makes them simultaneously relatable and objects of gentle ridicule. It’s so charming and so cute: I often find myself rewatching my favorite bits, which, unsurprisingly, are the moments between our leads Lee Soo Kyung and Goo Dae Young, whose relationship progresses from indifferent bickering neighbors to ridiculously cute lovers. 

Liar Game | ✭✭✭✭ ♥ | Best Beloved | DR

Love Marriage | ✭✭✭✭ ♥♥ | Best Beloved | DR

A delightful little romcom with a lovely, lively heroine and a sweet, gentle hero. It’s light and fun, but it has its poignant moments. I loved the focus on the importance of communication and on moving on from past love without bitterness. What touched me most was how hard our leads worked to be good to each other. There are no villains, our lead couple seem great as friends as well as lovers, and it has one of my favorite final episodes ever (Intertextuality! Ordinary people being superheroes! Choice!).

 

Mask | ✭1/2 | TR

Me Too Flower | ♥♥♥ | Forever Fav | TR

My Beautiful Bride 

My Fantastic Funeral [Drama special] |  | R

Nice Guy | ✭✭✭✭ | DR

Riveting, infuriating, more fecund than it has any right to be.

Nine: Nine Times Time Travel | ✭✭✭✭✭ | DR

Nine: This isn’t a romance. It’s a mystery and a thriller, and it’s brilliant on both those fronts, weaving together a clever and propulsive story that doesn’t trip up on details and never suffers the fate of so many kdramas, the mid-episode slump. The romance in the show is more of a framing device than it is a driving force behind the narrative–it gives the story a beginning and an end, and if even gives Sun Woo, the hero, motivations and desires, but it’s not a romance in the way QIHM is a romance; the significance of the story doesn’t lie in the relationship between Sun Woo and Min Young. Sun Woo and his story are ultimately driven by a need to avenge his family, and his most compelling relationships are with his best friend, who serves as a kind of sounding board and voice of conscience for him, and his brother, whose one fateful act 20 years prior sets the story in motion.

Nine has some flaws: the music can be garrish and there’s some dalliance with incest that I wish had been avoided. The one major flaw I find hard to forgive, however, is that the women in Nine, the few that there are, are mostly just bystanders in Sun Woo’s story. Things happen to them, sometimes people have the couresy to tell them things, and things are done to them, but they never act. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Min Young is a puppet, but I will say that Min Young has close to no power, and the little she exerts is only because Sun Woo offers it to her. In a story that cared more about her will and her thoughts this would have meant more, but as it stands it just seems like something very small in comaprison to all that is done to her. Only Sun Woo, his brother, his best friend, and his nemesis ever feel like they’re not just some part of a puzzle. All the women–Min Young, her mother, and Sun Woo’s mother–feel like they’re just being moved around, with no will of their own, to fit into a game Sun Woo’s chosen to play, hoping he can land on an ending where he feels he’s won.Min Young only ever suffers the consequences of Sun Woo’s decisions and actions, with little input of her own. And Sun Woo’s mother–oh, she breaks my heart. Nine is engaging and fun, and certain visual and narrative touches reminded my of QIHM, one of my absolute favorite dramas, also written by Song Jae Jong, but I often found myself missing Min Young, and wishing there were more of her and more for her to do.

OBGYN Doctors | ✭✭✭✭ ♥♥ | Forever Fav | DR

Ojakgyo Brothers | ✭✭✭✭ ♥♥ | Forever Fav | DR

Operation Proposal | ✭✭✭♥♥ | Best Beloved | TR

The value of this show lies in its parts, not in its sum. Yoo Seung Ho’s performance, the likable hero, how wonderful Yi Seul is as our heroine, the charm of the friendships, the lovely second lead, the lowkey, leisurely atmosphere, how cute Baek Ho and Yi Seul are, the aspects of their romance that are moving, like their mutual longing and dedication to one another, and the potential that lies in what little the show gives us with Baek Ho’s family–these are the best things about Operation Proposal.

The worst things are the very premise of the show, which inherently undercuts the heroine’s agency (though Yi Seul manages to shine and rise above it in so many ways,much more than with the heroine in Nine); how the show never manages to overcome the formula of each episode by giving some kind of credible forward motion; and the gap between all the potential for exploration family and the failure of realizing that potential–the show cleaved to the Japanese original, though its goal were set on a much larger scale. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though, and it has one of my favorite couples.

Panda and Hedgehog | ✭✭  | S

If it weren’t for the last four episodes this would probably be one of my Best Beloveds. What starts out as pure fluff takes a turn to corporate-machinations-makjang territory in the last quarter, which sent my love for the show plunging. Highlights include an adorable grandfather-grandson relationship, an easy going male lead, the best response to the two-guys-in-love-with-one-girl trope, Won Yi (Choi Jin Hyuk’s character’s little sister), and general cuteness, but along with the change from frothy romcom to convoluted family drama is a change from romance to bromance, which means a great reduction in screentime and character development for our heroine. [2x]

Playful Kiss | ✭✭  | S

My greatest shame. It barely knows how to tell a story, and it’s got a heroine whose sole concern is loving a dude who seems to have no interest in her. If there were an opposite-of-feminist-kdrama-bingo game, this show would win every single time. But! Jung So Min is so good here as Oh Ha Ni, the lovestruck teenager. You know how some roles are very well written and you need an actor who is able to carry it? Well Jung So Min does the opposite here: she proves that she’s an actress that can take the thinnest, emptiest characters and imbue them with something that makes them alive and engaging. Oh Ha Ni is one of my favorite heroines, and it’s mostly because of her acting. Other good points: girl friendship, robot falls in love, lots of pink, Kim Hyung Joong’s terrible acting.

Powerful Opponents | | DNW

What exactly is the point of this show? I don’t think anyone knows. Such a waste of a good cast.

Princess’s Man, The | ✭✭✭✭✭1/2 ♥♥♥ | Best Beloved | DR

Amazing production, great acting and directing and writing. This is the kind of show where everything pulls together to give you something very near perfect.

The Reason I’m Getting Married

Sassy Go Go | ✭✭✭ | TR

Scent of a Woman | ✭✭✭✭1/2  |Best Beloved | TR

The shower scenes! The tango as metaphor for sexual tension! Post-army Lee Dong Wook!

Secret Garden | ✭✭✭1/2 | TR

It was very fun to watch live, but I’m not sure it’ll hold up under a re-watch. The highlights here are Ha Ji Won and Hyun Bin, who give hilarious performances, and Oska, who’s a great caricature of self-obsessed celebrities, but still manages to be a character with heart. I don’t remember specifics, but considering who this writer is, I’d say TW for something.

Shoot for the Stars (2002) | ✭✭✭

Shopping King Louie (2016)

Signal

SKKS |✭✭✭ | Best Beloved | TR

The story of Yoon Hee’s journey through the male dominated halls of education is engaging, but everyone knows the real romance here is between Song Joong Ki’s Goo Yong Ha and Yoo Ah In’s Moon Jae Shin; they should have gotten together. 

Twenty Again | ✭✭✭ 1/2 | DR

Queen In Hyun’s Man | ✭✭✭✭✭✭ ♥♥Forever Fav | DR

Queen of Reversals | ✭✭✭✭1/2 ♥♥♥ Forever Fav | TR

We Got Married | ✭✭✭ ♥♥ | TR

Woojung: Pure, unadulterated fluff. So much agyeo you’ll rot your teeth.
Jung Couple: He’s a brat, she finds excellent ways to make him pay for it.
Khuntoria: Victoria Song is a revelation. Nichkhun can’t cook, can’t stretch, and always wants to sleep. 

What’s Up Fox? | ✭✭✭✭ ♥♥♥ Forever Fav | DR

Wild Romance |  ✭✭ ♥♥♥ | Best Beloved | TR

Hilarious, and Lee Si Young shines in it; she is Eun Jae. The secondary couple is hilarious and lovely and Dong Ah is frankly one of the greatest women in kdrama romcoms, but the mystery is unfortunately apparent and the main romance is marred by unnecessary deferral. I suspect that the inclusion of an idol (Jessica) is the culprit here, and it’s sad because Park Yeon Sun has shown us what she can do with White Christmas and Alone In Love, and you can see all the wonderful potential for brilliance slipping away with each episode. 

White Christmas | ✭✭✭ 1/2 | DR

A great character study, with fabulous direction, acting, and scenery. I think its last episode is weak, though. Here is what I wrote about it when I finished it:

2 and a half months later…*Squints* What was that? What did I just witness?

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such inept, inconsequential police before. They were like comedic relief. And the idea of having families have therapy sessions in the open is so wrong on so many levels. One of the points of therapy is the safe space, the privacy. It’s like a basic tenant. I’m pretty sure Mr. Serial Killer became one because he was such an epic failure professionally. Also, apparently all mothers are awful unless they’re dead? Lol, ok.

I feel like this episode is a disconnect from the rest of the series narratively. It was like the writer had already planned this ending from the very beginning, but along the way the story turned into something else, but instead of following that something else to it’s natural conclusion she stuck to the original ending. I don’t know, does that make any sense?

The born or made monster question never really entertained me much, as I think it’s not a valid question; I was way more interested in the characters presented and how the situation they were placed in made them react, which is why I’m so disappointed in the ending, because the way they were reacting seemed so foreign to who I saw them developing into. It’s also why I was so bothered by the parents being there. Narratively it worked out for Yoon Soo, but for the rest I’m still scratching my head. I thought the point of the sessions was to see how the students reacted in this controlled environment, hence the emphasis on setting. Bringing the parents in made it seem as though it was about family dysfunction, when really their family issues simply informed the way they acted within the situation they were in, but that situation–i.e. a serial killer pitting them against one another–remained tantamount. And then we come to the doctor. I just really, really wanted him to kill one of the students. Like maybe Young Jae, because that would really bring the question of if one life is worth more than another to the fore. He was a coward and a fool and a traitor to the very end, and I would have liked to see how the others reacted to his murder. Hmm…I should probably rewatch the series, though. I marathoned it and maybe that’s why this ending is so bewildering for me.

And I really wanted more Jae Kyung!

Witch’s Romance | ✭✭1/2  | Best Beloved | TR

I had so much fun watching this show live. Uhm Jung Hwa is hilarious (and gorgeous; whoo!), Park Seo Joon is a total puppy, and there’s cute and charm in abundance. It’s an OTP drama, so there isn’t much narratively carrying the show; the joy of it comes from watching our lead couple being cute with one another and seeing the loving relationships between Ji Yeon and the people around her–the one between her and her mother is particularly satisfying. Unfortunately the show tries to have a plot by introducing Ji Yeon’s ex to the mix to give us a completely unnecessary love triangle, but the cute that comes after makes up for it. [1.5x]

The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry ✭✭✭1/2 | TR

You know, I remember watching this show, but I don’t actually remember very much about it? Hmmm…there was Kim Bum’s questionable hair dyeing choices, cute huddling in the snow while sharing a monstrous scarf, our heroine being a dogged reporter, and a parallel story between our heroine’s romance and the romance between her love interest’s mother and a younger man…pretty sure I enjoyed it!

Yong Pal | ✭✭✭ | TR

Japanese

Absolute Boyfriend |  | S

Who cares about some robot loser you ordered? Mizushima Hiro, girl, Mizushima Hiro!

A Girl and Three Sweethearts

Anego | ✭✭ 1/2 | S

What starts out cute dissolves into incoherence and a lack of commitment to the opt, unfortunately. It’s a problem I find more often in Japanese dramas than Korean ones.

Buzzer Beat | ✭✭✭ | DR

The perfect summer show: a slow burn that builds up and doesn’t disappoint. Also Yamapi, so points for that. And it’s written by the same woman who wrote Kimi Wa Petto!

Gokusen (1) | ✭✭ | TR
Hana Yori Dango 1 | ✭✭ | DNW

Why? 

Hana Yori Dango 2 | ✭✭ | DNW

Why?

I’m Taking the Day Off

Kimi Wa Petto | ✭✭✭✭✭ ♥♥♥ | Forever Fav |DR
Kurosagi | ✭✭1/2 | TR

Love That Makes You Cry

Majo No Jouken | ✭✭✭✭♥♥ | Best Beloved | DR

Don’t be fooled by the potentially squicky premise: yes, it’s about a teacher who falls for her student, but it’s also about women saving one another, escaping the violence of patriarchal norms, and confronting the challenges of adulthood. There are lots of women to love, and the romance is central to the drama’s question of achieving freedom.

The Memorandum of Kyoko Okitegami

Natsu No Koi | ✭✭✭✭✭ ♥♥♥ | Forever Fav | DR
Proposal Daisekusen | ✭✭✭✭ :) | DR

Another Yamapi classic: formulaic and predictable, but it captures nostalgia and friendship really well, and it’s a fun watch.

Wallflower, The | ✭✭ | S
Zenkai Girl | ✭✭✭♥♥| (Possible) Forever Fav | TR

Such a great summer show: robot falls in love–and it’s our heroine! It’s a heartwarming show about family that doesn’t ever veer into maudlin territory. It’s got cute kids, a savvy business woman, and a sweet and caring male lead who is definitely in my top 5 heros, but what really makes this show is the longing it portrays:  Shota wants so much for Wakaba to love him, and Wakaba stumbles around in her feelings, trying to parse out what it is she wants from him, and they both want so much for their careers and the children they care for. Naturally, it was a big hit on tumblr.

Last Cinderella✭✭ | S

Such a disappointment: Shinohara Ryoka is such a joy to watch, but the story is trite, Miura Hamura cannot hold a candle to her, and the second lead was sexist! 

Taiwanese Series
In Time With You | ✭✭✭✭✭1/2 ♥♥♥ | Forever Fav | DDDR


:D Late Returns :D

These are the shows I’ve begun but have yet to finish. One day I’ll retire rich and devote my life to these.

Humming Urban Stereo, Hawaiian Couple, from Scent of a Woman

Korean
Tamra the Island | I Need Romance | Damo | My Girlfriend is a Gumiho | Protect the Boss | 9 Ends 2 Outs | Partner | City Hall (maybe) | Flower Boy Ramen Shop | Nice Guy | Shut Up Flower Boy Band | Cruel City

Japanese
Nodame Cantabile | Ohirotisama | BOSS


✘ We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together (It’s You, Not Me) 

Adele, Rolling In the Deep

Korean
You’re Beautiful (infuriating)
Boys Over Flowers (cringe inducing)
Mary Stayed Out All Night (such a waste of a great cast)
Personal Taste (bordering on offensive, never became invested)
Greatest Love (decided to avoid my inevitable second lead syndrome)
Goong/Princess Hours (watched Coffee Prince first, never became invested)
Cheongdamdong Alice, Prosecutor Princess (Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope)


✿So Much TV, So Little Time✿

You know that time space continuum thing? Yeah, neither does this ever expanding list.

Korean
A Wife’s Credentials | Capital Scandal | Joseon X-Files | Investigative Inquiry Agency 49 Days | Daemul | December Fever | The Painter of the Wind | Love Hunt Thirty Minus Three | Boo Yong of Mt. Kyeryong | Coffee House | Alone In Love | Conspiracy In The Court | Que Sera Sera | Time Between Dog & Wolf | Story of a Man | Mermaid Story | Misaeng | Investigative Inquiry Agency | My Beautiful Bride | Valid Love | Miss Korea | Secret Love affair | Sandglass

Japanese
Alone In Love | Hana Kimi | Nobuta Wo Produce | Last Friends | Orange Days | Lunch No Joou | Fukigene Na Gene | Densha Otoko

Taiwanese
Down With Love | Drama Go Go Go


Film

Korean
3-Iron | ✭✭✭✭✭ ♥♥ | DR
Finding Mr. Destiny|  ✭✭ | TR
Heartbreak Library | ✭✭1/2 | TR
Petty Romance | ✭✭ 1/2 | S
Perfect Couple | ✭✭✭  | DR
Penny Pinching Romance| TR
My Girlfriend is a Secret Agent✭✭ 1/2 | DR
Seducing Mr. Perfect |  | S
100 Days With Mr. Arrogant | ✭✭ 1/2 | S
My Black Mini Dress | ✭✭✭ | TR
She’s on Duty | ✭✭✭  | DR
Green Chair | ✭✭✭  | TR
A Werewolf Boy | ✭✭✭  | DR
Chilling Romance | ✭✭✭ | DR
Oldboy |✭✭✭ | TR
Secretly Greatly |  | S
Jenny, Juno | ✭✭✭♥♥♥ | DR
Blood Boiling Youth | ✭✭ | S
The Man From Nowhere |  ✭✭ 1/2 | TR
Just Friends? [Short] | ✭✭✭ | DR
Duelist | ✭✭✭ | TR
Temptation of Wolves |  | S
Blind | ✭✭ 1/2 | TR

Japanese
Rurouni Kenshin | ✭✭✭✭✭ ♥♥♥ | DR

Taiwanese
Love Sick | | DNW
Hear Me | ✭✭✭✭ ♥♥ | DR
Blue Dragon Crossing | ✭✭✭✭ ♥♥ | DR
Rebels of the Neon God | ✭✭✭✭✭ ♥♥ | DR

Chinese
Sophie’s Revenge | ✭✭ | S
House of Flying Daggers | ✭✭ 1/2 | TR
The Grandmaster | ✭✭✭ | TR


❥❥Drama OTPs

Ok, so these are the OTPs I feel very strongly about, meaning when I see pictures of them my eyebrows go up and my eyes get wide and watery and my lips do this weird trembling thing and I have to put a hand in front of them so I don’t make an embarrassing sound. They’re my babies.

Taru, I Hope You Can Be, from the Me Too Flower OST 

Byung Hee and Park Chul Soo (What’s Up Fox?)
Bong Sun and Tae Hee (Me Too Flower)
Hee Jin and Boong Do (Queen In Hyun’s Man)
You Qing and Da Ren (In Time With You)
Go Dok Mi and Enrique Geum (Flower Boy Next Door)

Tae Hee and Yong Shik (Queen of Reversals)
Eun Chan and Han Geul (Coffee Prince)
Dong Ah and Robot (Tae Han) (Wild Romance)
Ja Eun and Tae Hee (Ojakgyo Brothers)
Pil Suk and Jason (Dream High)
Se Ryung and Seung Yoo (The Princess’s Man)
Sumire and Momo (Kimi Wa Petto)
Gu Yong Ha and Moon Jae Shin (SKKS)
Chan Joo and Jin Sae (Beloved)
Hye Jin and Joon Soo (La Dolce Vita)
Wakaba and Sota (Zenkai Girl)
Yi Seul and Baek Ho (Operation Proposal)


Feel free to ask me how I feel about any of the dramas I’ve watched or am watching, and to give me recommendations. In case you couldn’t tell, I love noona romances (What’s Up Fox?, Dal Ja’s Spring, Natsu No Koi, Queen of Reversals, La Dolce Vita, Let’s Eat, Witch’s Romance) thoughtful romantic comedies (What’s Up Fox?, Kim Sam Soon, Kimi Wa Petto, Flower Boy Next Door), gender bending (Coffee Prince, SKKS), and straight out romances (The Princess’s Man, In Time With You, Queen In Hyun’s Man). My favorite heroines and heros are the ones who are emotionally honest and can take care of themselves and who choose love, love, love, but I also have a giant soft spot for ladies who are “difficult to love” like Chen You Qing and Seo Hye Young and Ayukawa Wakaba. And don’t forget to tell me your favs! ( ˘ ³˘) ❤ ♡ ♥

16 comments

  1. Hanoi Bride got a -1 star? LOL… was that a typo?

  2. Sandra

    Mary Stayed Out All Night (such a waste of a great cast)

    Word! xD

  3. Karen

    Hi,do you have a link to download Love Hunt Thirty Minus Three?I’ve been searching for it and can’t find any.Thanks!

  4. deduve

    oh im so happy to see the unabashed love for the noona romances here. just got into kdrama nd noticed this trend almost immediatly but due to limited time nd my extra picky nature ive watched hardly 2 of those mentioned above. btw our tastes in heroined (nd heros) r very very similar. ill be followin this blog ;)

  5. Jewels

    I like “Flower-Boy” series in general, but the Flower Boy Ramen Shop kind of dramas gives the creeps. This is going a bit overboard with noona drama. It seems pedophile-ish. Regardless of age differences, it’s a romance between a high-school kid and a teacher. Not cool in my book…. Am I prude?? Same with the “Big” – word of advise: worst ending ever! not to watch if you don’t want to invest all this time and have the crappiest WTF ending ever! (even worst than “Fashion Kin” ending!).

    It seems that cable dramas are more mature and realistic than regular network dramas. The cable dramas actually let couples kiss and hold hands without waiting 5-years of courtship ::))

  6. Lumiere

    Hello there,
    I’ve just finished watching Natsu No Koi based on your review and I’m so glad I did. It was such a breath of fresh air.
    So thank you laddida ^^

    • ladida

      It’s such a lovely, quiet, gentle little drama. I really appreciated how small it was and how well paced and thought-out the story was. And I loved that it was a story about Taiga growing up and becoming more comfortable with himself and his world. I think it shows the real strength of jdoramas, at least the ones I’ve seen: controlled and assured story telling and this really wonderful development of community. I’m so glad you liked it! I wish it were more popular, but there’s a kind of joy in it not being wildy well known, isn’t there?

      • lumiere

        Yeah it’s like it’s our (fans who liked it) own little secret :D I like how Jdoramas aren’t as obsessed with romance and they don’t shove it down the plot’s line making it the ultimate point of the show the way k-dramas do.

        I tried earlier to watch In Time With You (my 1st TW anything) but I couldn’t get pass the first 30 mins The whole time-monster thing creeps me out! .Shall I give it another try? Does it get better if I bear with it??

        P.S: I love friends becoming lovers stories which reminds me how come you don’t have Reply 1997 on your list???
        Have a nice day/night!

        • ladida

          ITWY is a full-out romance, so if you’re not really into that you might not like it. I’ve also found that for some people it’s hard to get into the heroine, but I love her. If you have to bear with it I’d just skip it altogether! Who has time to put up with tv they don’t like when there’s so much other good stuff out there? :D

          …Reply 1997. Oh boy, the guy in it is so cute and I’ve heard so many wonderful things about it, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Definitely on my To Watch list. I’m afraid I’ll watch it and become totally obsessed with it and won’t pay attention to anything else. <33

          • Lumiere

            So, I gave it another try after all. It seems I wasn’t in the mood the first time. I still have to get used to the language and all but I really like the girl’s character :D (it could have been totally me in an alternative universe :P) and the whole thing gives me Reply 1997 vibes especially the male lead ^^

            This amazing Lee Da Ren is like another version of Yoon Jae…

  7. Have you tried this season’s All About my Romance? I think it checks a ton of your (and my) boxes:

    1) Headstrong heroine with a life/interests/actual real career of her own.
    2) Headstrong heroine who does not completely lose her sense of self when she falls in love. She just gets super sassy about the situation. She’s played by Lee Min-Jung.
    3) A really very interesting setting/plot context: Korea’s parliament, with both of our leads in vastly opposite situations (one is a member of a minority leftist party, the other a member in the majority right-wing party)
    4) Very, very smartly written comedy. In general, the writing in this show is impeccable.
    5) A occasionally overbearing but not in any way domineering/creepily alpha male male protagonist, played by Shin Ha-Kyun. The ways in which he’s overbearing are mostly done for comedic effect, so that Lee Min-Jung has a chance to be all sassy. Shin Ha-Kyun is, on first blush, a bit old to be paired with Lee Min-Jung but they’re both quite strong actors (particularly Shin Ha-Kyun), so you forget about it fairly quickly.
    6) Cute side characters who interact with the mains in a very satisfying way. There’s lots of attention paid to the political aide/party member dynamic, as well as the opposition/leading party dynamic.
    7) Characters who are not, by and large, freelancers living in upscale apartments. As much as I love Coffee Prince, it’s unrealistic that everyone except for Eun Chan lives in an upscale apartment and seems to do little to no work. The majority of All About My Romance actually occurs in the workplace, and while Shin Ha-Kyun’s apartment is a bit much, he is a politician and they do earn a ton of money, so at least it’s within the financial realm of possibility for him.

    Anyways. Your blog is great, you are great, All About My Romance is great.

    • ladida

      Now I want to check it out! Thanks for stopping by, and if I ever get around to it (“real life” has been eating away at my drama time) I’ll write a little something about it.

      • No problem! Just paying it back, really :). I go through big k-drama and j-drama phases every 2-3 years, but seem to spend a huge amount of time wading through crap dramas to get at something that feels remotely realistic. I’ll be slowly working my way through your favorites list since your taste seems quite good.

        I’ll also take a moment to mention another favorite, Kisarazu Cat’s Eye. One of the few dramas I’ve watched and enjoyed where romance wasn’t a main theme. Featuring a young and very handsome Okada Junichi and a teenage Sakurai Sho. Okada’s character is a terminal cancer patient and he just wants to play baseball with his bros. It’s heartbreaking :(.

  8. Effervescence

    Have you tried Missing You? :)

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