I watched quite a few dramas this year, more than last year and even now I am still trying to catch up to some of them that aired this year
I think 2014 was a good year for dramas, there was more in terms of content and variety.
Here are my top dramas for the year ( Part 1)
1. ITS OK, ITS LOVE
It’s Ok, it’s Love, is a beautiful story accompanied with an amazing soundtrack, it wasn’t the actors as much as it was the story that captured my attention.
I loved the way this drama treated mental illness and the plight of people who are affected by it
Many a times we refuse to acknowledge mental illness as a real thing, brushing it off as something that’s not something we should be concerned about, but there are people fighting battles we know nothing of, scars that are invisible and wounds that run deep.
It’s easier to sympathize with a person who has a disease that is visible, but we hardly ever think stop to consider the people have diseases of the mind. This drama didn’t sugarcoat the human self, the complications of relationships and the added burden of being mentally ill.
The first 2 episodes were hard to watch, because I couldn’t quite figure out what was happening, but after that it was a marathon of episodes that had me hooked till the end.
Sung Dong Il, is one of my favourite actors, and my main motivation for getting into this drama. Watching him in the role of Jo Dong Min, has only increased my admiration for his acting skill, I love the way he played his role, a gentle but firm psychiatrist dedicated to solving and helping the people who require help
All throughout this drama, as I was watching it, I kept thinking what his character in Reply 1997 said, that all drama is based on the reality of life. This couldn’t be truer, and it has certainly taught me a thing or two about the fragility of human life.
I loved Gong Hyo Jin’s Ji Hae Soo , even though it took me time to get used to her character, she comes off as someone practical and hard on the surface, but she mush on the inside. Initially I was surprised the way she overcame her fears so quickly, but then again everyone has walls they have built, and they are just waiting for the right people to come and break them down. Perhaps she had waited for so long and when she did find the right person who was not afraid of his own vulnerability, she found a kindred spirit and her fears didn’t seem as important nor as insurmountable as they were before.
I wasn’t expecting Jo In Sung to be the one that needed to be rescued, it was like The Fault in the Stars all over again. I thought his Jang Jae Yul was the most normal of all of them, quirky and slightly weird. His OCD plainly obvious, but it was his diagnosis that hit me in gut, his hospital episodes painful to watch. The way he rapidly changed from this independent, smart person to someone crumbling under desperation, vulnerability and raw helplessness. It was his role that really showed how crippling mental illness can be, not only for the one suffering from it, but also for the caretakers, families, and partners.
Although after watching this drama and The Winter, the wind blows, I am really hoping his next drama venture won’t get him as beaten as his previous dramas
I liked Lee Kwang Soo’s Park Soo Kwang, his honesty, and his serious concern for the people in his life even if they were people he had nothing to gain from, some people are like that, they don’t give you less than their whole selves, it’s something that is so moving and I wish I could be like that. His portrayal of the man with Tourette’s, it doesn’t stop him from being trying to live the life he deserves.
My main issue with this drama though was the way things were resolved so quickly, even though sometimes it takes years and years to treat mental illness, but I guess if we wanted a realistic solution it wouldn’t really be a drama, but the overall message of hope did stand out. Often people think of mental illness as a death sentence, something that can’t be cured, and the people who suffer from it are written of, a life wasted, but if there’s anything to be taken away from this story, is that there is always hope, even for the lost and hopeless cases, there is always a possibility and that is what makes life beautiful.
2.FATED TO LOVE YOU
I always have time for a rom-com, everyone does, especially this one
There was much hype surrounding this drama, seeing how it was a remake of the hugely popular Taiwanese drama, I haven’t seen the Taiwanese version of this drama, maybe I will get down it to later on, as soon as I stop laughing from the sound of Gun’s laughter ( huehuehuehue,… I finished watching this drama in October, but writing about it is still making me smile)
Fated to love you, reminded me a lot of Secret Garden for some reason, maybe Gun’s eccentricity and weirdness, but it was a sweet drama, and definitely one I’ll be watching again and again.
None of the characters are sane in this drama, Lee Gun is too occupied with trying to figure out what he wants, Kim Mi young doesn’t understand where she stands, and Daniel Pitt is trying to be too many things at one time, – career wise, and searching for his sister, and trying to win over Kim Mi young all at the same time ( Choi Jin Hyuk had quite a number of dramas this year, he was everywhere and in every drama) and the grandmother who is just hands down the best grandma ever.
The entire premise of the drama was as funny as it can be, and their visualizations were completely over the top, I stopped counting the various parodies within the drama, but the parody of the movie ” The Classic” Run in the rain was the one that stood out for me.
Mostly though I like the way they dealt with the miscarriage and it was nice to learn the reasons the characters were the way they were, why they had become that way, with Lee Gun’s laugh to the way Kim Mi Young becomes her own person, tough and capable. It was nice to see them have a second shot at their relationship, although the whole hero’s act of self-sacrifice and nobility did drag out a bit ,but it was worth it.
Jang Nara never disappoints, I loved her in School 2013 and I loved her here even more, there is a sense of sincerity with the characters she plays. She seems to really bring out those characters, naive and small, but there is a sweetness about her that is really special. I love her interactions with Jan Hyuk’s Gun, the way she falls for him, and the way she does her best to be supportive of him, I like her transformation, too, because it was so real, and something everyone relates to.
Jang Hyuk, this guy is just something else. If not for anything, his entrances are just the very best I’ve seen. Jan Hyuk’s Lee Gun is somewhat complicated on the surface but very simple on the inside, but like most Kdrama leads his character suffers from being rough and bad at the beginning, then becomes all sweet and nice in the middle and then suddenly he’s the playing the nobility card the I-can’t-be- with-you-but-I-love-you-so-I-am-going-to-torture-everyone-bit, that aside he was an amazing, his heart was in the right place and you couldn’t hope for a better ending.
Choi Jin Hyuk, man, I dream of the day you don’t have such hard time and such stiff competition for the girl.
All in all, this is a fun drama, one that doesn’t really take itself too seriously; it’s just a fun ride all the way through
3. YOU’RE ALL SURROUNDED
Bromance. Enough said.
This is the only reason I adore this drama. I have always said no one does bromance better than Kdramas and You’re all surrounded hit it home with their bromance. I’ve loved Lee Seung Gi since Gumiho, and then in King 2 Hearts, but I wasn’t expecting him to take the route of the indifferent typical Kdrama lead so seriously as he did with this drama, and even though I got into this drama because of Lee Seung Gi, it was the suppporting cast that caught my attention and the way they became a true team by the hurdles they face.
The story of You’re all surrounded was more of a game than anything else, and all our newbies seemed to be puppets on a string, I loved the shows portrayal of the struggles and internal politics of the police force, the way they have to follow rules that make no sense at all, all for the sake of hierarchy and societal and political pressure, something that we all know too well and seen over and over again, where good intentions and right decisions have to be sacrificed, where people have to compromise and make choices that they think will help drive their cause, but ultimately it all gets caught in a spiral of bad events that you have no control over, it shows how sometimes the hero’s you hold on a high pedestal are often the most flawed people you will ever know.
The long time suffering Eun Dae Gu ( Lee Seung Gi) has only revenge on his mind. He is the guy with a one track mind, rebel who cares not for anything else other than to avenge the murder of his mother. He is a tortured person, and every episode breaks through the bitterness that he has built up. I like the gradual transition his character takes, he isn’t all bad, there is still some goodness and humanity within him, something that needed to be dug out, one that does get out once he interacts with the people around him, once he comes to the realization that he isn’t the only one that’s hurting. I love his interactions with his leader Seo Pan Suk, one that goes from absolute hatred to something liking and respecting him.
Cha Seung Won as Seo Pan Suk is a workaholic Team leader of repute but also someone who is deeply haunted by the one case that he hasn’t been able to solve, every part of him is governed by his past failure. As a seasoned member of the crime branch, he has seen it all.
I loved the way the show portrayed Seo Pan Suk as one of the best detectives in the force, but internally he is someone else all together. Forced to work with newbies, forced to bend of political pressure, sacrificing many important aspects of his life just for the sake of work he deems important and then the way he ultimately warms up and takes care of his team, instructing them and teaching them and becoming their source of inspiration
The one thing that seems weird initially was the motive for the murder of Eun Dae Gu’s mother’s murder. At first it seemed like a grand scheme, fraught with high level politicians playing dirty games, but it all came to be manipulation and misplaced jealousy. Sometimes you expect everything to be like that, extraordinary and complicated especially when it comes to crime shows, but it isn’t always like that, sometimes it’s just a small thing, an argument, wrong information or just intentional manipulation that becomes justification for behavior, and this drama does that very well, showing us how fickle and dangerous human behavior can truly be.
4. HIGH SCHOOL KING OF SAVVY
Seo In Guk in a double role, is there any other reason to watch this drama?
TvN has given us some of the best dramas of this year, this is probably one among those.
Although the concept of Noona romance is still foreign to me, there are people who actually live in that reality and I suppose there are far incredulous things that we could believe in.
When I read through the whole premise of this drama, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I suppose a kid playing a director does seem interesting and something we all dream of or wouldn’t mind happening to us ( I wouldn’t mind it one bit)
I’ve loved Seo In Guk in everything he has done, and I think this guy could read the yellow pages and I would still find it captivating. His acting is so natural, so instinctive, it’s so infused with personality; I find it hard convincing myself that it’s a work of fiction.
Lee Min Suk, forced to pretend to be his brother and be a director at his brother’s place of work, stumbling to understand the very concept of work and the corporate world, it’s something that is just hilarious to watch. Through his learns a lot about life, he is kind of innocent and wears his heart on his sleeve, seeing no reason why he shouldn’t engage in noona romance, not really trying to be anything else other than what he is, even when he is disguised as his older brother. I like his dedication and his love for his family and his game, and his sheer cockiness.
Lee hana’s Jung Soo young was a bit difficult for me to digest, partly because she seems a little too awkward. I get that she was going for this misfit, naive, simpleton, awkward personality, but the quirks were a little too much at times it was as though she was trying too hard, but maybe that’s the way the character was written, but if you are able to by-pass them, then she seems fine. I liked her better once accepts the reality of the situation she is in, and her steadfastness in that respect is sweet.
I loved the grandfather a little more than Seo In Guk (Sigh). Kdramas have a way of portraying old age that is both sweet as it is painful. It’s not something we get to see in other TV series, I suppose it’s because Asians have been brought up to respect and take care of the elderly and we don’t see that sentiment shared in other parts of the world. I loved the grandfather, and I loved how they treated him as a human being and a very important part of the family, rather than just someone who’s going through old age, the way they humoured him, and he just seemed to be the most lovable of all grandpas and nothing was as painful as the part where he died. It was one of the most painful deaths I’ve seen in a kdrama, more painful that the prosecutor’s death in City Hunter
This is just a very funny drama and I loved every part of it
The one problem I did have with this drama was the way they treated the elder brother’s issue, I truly wished we got a little more time with him, to get a little more detail on his story, rather than just being an accessory to this story. I also wished they didn’t discard the father the way they did in the end, he is one of those characters that just grows on you.
This drama delves a lot Into the whole concept of noona romance, and challenges the stereotypical set up of how relations ought to be, and I liked it for that aspect. I suppose with Seo in Guk, you always know, his performances are proved to be solid, he could sell you anything, and you know he will make it well worth your time.
There is nothing more that can be said about this drama that hasn’t already been said. Misaeng is probably one of those dramas that is going to become the standard against which all other dramas are compared to. Incredible cast, incredible writing, Incredible execution, it is going to be hard to let this go when it finally ends.
I think the reason so many people find this drama so good, is probably because of how much we relate to each and every character and every situation that has been presented to us on the show. The anxiety and nervousness of starting out on your new job and of being a salary man, of being an intern, of being a woman in the corporate world, of being treated like a rookie, of being demeaned, of failing, of winning, of trying and then having to do it all over again.
The drama is so real, its soo tangibly real, it’s just unbelievably good
It just goes to show, that in real life, the heroes in our lives are not the ones saving the world, they are the ones that work behind a screen, earning their salary, putting food on the table and starting all over the next day.
I love the interns too, and how they are becoming their own team, a group of people who can share their journey with each other, they are all different, all have their own challenges, all have their own sense of purpose, faults and own victories and watching their progress is just wonderful
There is no bad guy, there isn’t a villain, it’s just life, just people who have acted out of their own challenges, their own difficulties and I love the way the show tells the entire story, from all sides, not just the side we want to see no matter how uncomfortable it is.
There is a lot to be said about Misaeng, and I suppose I will wait for the end to write about it, thoroughly, carefully and completely, but this is definitely one of my favourite dramas of the year.
Here’s to life and Kdrama passion