As the year 2010 comes to a close, I feel a little shell-shocked at how quickly time has passed by. Pretty soon, I’ll reach one year since I first become a fansubber/translator and since I started this very blog. By extension, this is the first year-end review I’m writing so please bear with me as I try to be as objective and impartial as possible. Not only will I be reviewing dramas that aired this year that I watched, but a few that I watched for the first time this year although they aired in previous years. Brace yourselves, this is going to be a long one.
This entry will be a hybrid between the next installment of my halfway mark series and just some thoughts I have on the dramas I’m watching as of today. I’ll be discussing Gloria, Mary Stayed Out All Night, Secret Garden, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, and Flames of Ambition after the jump.
Here’s the second and final installment of my Top Ten Favorite Dramas list. Again, they’re in no particular order. As you can probably see from the first installment, I tend to ramble on without realizing how much I’m writing when I’m talking about these dramas that I love so much, so please, bear with me. 🙂
6. Dal Ja’s Spring
Many of the dramas I watched were at the suggestions and recommendations of my 선배 bloggers, especially the wonderfully expressive and insightful Javabeans. Dal Ja’s Spring was one of the ones that I picked up because of her good rating of the drama, and I never regretted watching it. Chae Rim‘s hair and makeup are a bit jarring at first but they eventually do a lot to add to her character’s loveableness. Lee Min Ki was flawlessly cast as Kang Tae Bong aka Spare Tire, the man of practically every girl’s dreams. The dynamic at Dal Ja’s workplace is cohesive and realistic, and the crazy twists and turns that occur add to the show’s appeal. Much of the script was witty and well-written, and I really enjoyed the character development all throughout the drama’s 22 episodes. Compared to many of Chae Rim‘s career choices, Dal Ja’s Spring was definitely a win.
7. You’re Beautiful
When I heard about this drama before it came out, I was determined not to come near it with a ten-foot pole. I’m not a big fan of the “idol groups” that are gaining momentous popularity in the motherland today, so the concept of a drama about an idol group was not very appealing to me. Not to mention I wasn’t familiar with or a fan of any of the actors/actresses involved. But at the glowing recommendation of Javabeans who I’ve trusted thus far and will trust way, way into the future, I decided to give the first episode a shot. Oh boy, if I’d gone along with my initial reaction to You’re Beautiful and not seen it, I would’ve sorely regretted it. The Hong sisters never fail to thoroughly amuse me, and they took a good turn with You’re Beautiful. The gripes that I’ve had about their previous dramas were not as bad in this drama, and I discovered the charm of Park Shin Hye for the first time. She was great as a nun-in-training turned idol-pop-star, but Jang Geun Seok‘s performance was what truly made the drama for me. I’m not going to lie, I was a Kang Shin Woo shipper all the way to the end, but that’s just because I’m a sucker for nice guys, Jang Geun Seok dove into this role with a fervor and enthusiasm I’ve never seen him display in his other dramas/movies, and he had great chemistry with Park Shin Hye. I saw Lee Hong Ki for the first time on an early episode of Family Outing and I didn’t glean much of an impression of him from it, only that he looked very feminine and he didn’t speak much. He took an awesome turn in You’re Beautiful though, and gave some of the best scenes, comedic and serious, of the entire drama. The cast was solid and played off each other really well which was evident in the acting. One thing I wasn’t too happy with was the editing which was meager at best, but it didn’t bother me too much because everything else was so great.
8. Legend of Hyang Dan
I debated with myself about whether or not I should include Legend of Hyang Dan on my favorites list because it’s definitely not a great drama. It’s entertaining at best, with winning lead actors and a good camaraderie with the cast, and humorous situations. But I decided to keep it in because of entirely shallow reasons, the main one being that I’ve been obsessed with Choi Si Won ever since I saw him on oldie but goodie variety shows such as Real Romance Love Letter and the not as well-known Jihwaza. He was incredibly charismatic in his aloofness, but he expressed sudden bursts of comedic timing once in a while that had me intrigued. They made me want to see him in more, my only other experience watching him having been the failure known as Spring Waltz. When I saw that Choi Si Won was leading Legend of Hyang Dan, despite its short length, I downloaded the two episodes eagerly, wanting to see him displaying his acting chops. He had great chemistry with the lead actress Seo Ji Hye which could be due to their somewhat closeness in age (He’s 22 and she’s 25), and the dialogue was enjoyable. A part of me wishes it was a little longer, but they made good use of the short time and kept the plot flowing well. This was the first thing I saw Seo Ji Hye in and I really loved her portrayal of Hyang Dan, so I’m on the lookout for any remaining download links of her 2008 drama I Love You with Ahn Jae Wook. 🙂
9. Thank You
Gong Hyo Jin is one of my favorite Korean actresses for good reason. She was wonderful in Thank You, playing Lee Young Shin, the single mother of a child suffering from AIDS. She gave Young Shin incredible depth and the sadness she felt at being abandoned by her parents and her first love and now the fact that her beloved daughter is suffering from an incurable disease is prevalent in everything Young Shin does. However, Young Shin doesn’t let her problems get her down. She instead throws herself into being a good mother and a good caretaker for her grandfather played by Shin Goo who suffers from dementia after having lost his son, Young Shin’s father, tragically in an accident. Seo Shin Ae shines as Lee Bom, a child who discovers that she’s sick with a fatal disease, and displays nuances in her acting of Lee Bom that actors and actresses old enough to be her mother or father can’t even dream of displaying. Oh and I can’t forget Shin Sung Rok who plays Lee Bom’s father. He was great in expressing the frustration at the inescapable feeling that Lee Bom is his daughter, but not knowing for sure. Thank You was the first time I saw Shin Sung Rok in anything, and his performance left me with a soft spot for the actor, although he didn’t have as many scenes as I’d have liked. There were definitely flaws with Thank You, but the underlying lessons of love, appreciation and gratitude that are under the surfaces of each spoken word undermine the problems of it, leaving the viewer (at least for me) with a newfound love of family and friends. Seo Shin Ae and Shin Goo both had scenes along with Gong Hyo Jin where I cried buckets, but as the drama came to a close, I strangely didn’t feel sad. I really appreciated Thank You for subtlely reminding us that it’s the little things in life that count most, and to never take what you have for granted.
10. My Girl
Last but not least, My Girl rounds out my Top Ten Favorites list of what I’ve seen so far. It was hard choosing my final drama because it was a three-way tie between My Girl, My Name is Kim Sam Soon, and What’s Up Fox? I ultimately chose My Girl because I have a special place in my heart for it since it was one of the first k-dramas I watched and thoroughly enjoyed, and I liked My Girl as a whole more than either of the other two dramas. My standards for what I like in a drama are simple. I dislike heavy melodramas where the plot is all gloom-and-doom because life is hard enough as it is without having to watch more difficult things happening in shows that I watch to get my mind off of the problems in my life. So despite the fact that I know there are plenty of other dramas that are great despite their loaded plots, I tend to shy away from those because I’m more into feel-good ones. My Girl is without a doubt a feel-good one. Sure, the plot takes a overly dramatic turn in the last few episodes that I could’ve done without, but my love for Lee Dong Wook and Lee Da Hae helped me plow through all that until I got the happy ending I always crave when watching dramas. Because of their wonderful chemistry, I’m still holding out hope that Lee Dong Wook and Lee Da Hae will marry and make my My Girl dream come true, but we’ll see what happens. I really disliked Park Shi Yeon‘s role in My Girl because I saw her as nothing but a plot device, but Lee Jun Ki‘s character was appealing to me (despite the horrid hair). Overall, My Girl rounds out my top ten list for now, until I get the chance to watch more dramas and make a whole new list. Thanks for tuning in, y’all! Hope you have a great day. 🙂