A Koala Reminisces: 2010 Year End K-Drama Reviews

2010 heralded the dawn of a new decade. Where’d the last decade go? I could have sworn that I took a brief nap after college, only to wake up with an entire family and a boatload of new responsibilities. On a more drama-centric note, 2010 also marked my transition from a passive drama watcher into an active drama blogger. I wouldn’t be here but for Thundie – for whom I dedicate this 2010 year end review. Now that the schmaltzy hugs and kisses are out of the way, let’s get down the business.

Most long-time K-drama watchers share a general consensus that 2010 was one of the better K-drama years. I haven’t watched long enough to support or refute this observation. As a stand-alone year, I watched enough dramas that made me quite happy, which is good enough for me to declare 2010 a winning year. 2010 started off with a bang for me with Chuno, and is ending with a feeling of warmth with Mary Stayed Out All Night.

Every K-drama blogger appears to have their own system for reviewing dramas, and I’ve settled on one that fits my style. Rather than review dramas primarily on their quality, I prefer to focus instead on their effect on me. For the most part, the two are aligned – a good drama makes me happy, and a bad drama pisses me off.

In the rare instances where these two components diverge, I will honestly let you know. Agree or disagree with me, I’m here to reminisce about what felt like a year brimming with drama pleasure (and some pain). Warning: there be spoilers ahead for some dramas, so read at your own peril.

The Beloved these are the dramas which I loved, moving me in ways happy and sad.

The Women Who Still Wants To Marry/ Still Marry Me (“SMM”)

It’s a testament to both the quality of this drama, and how many dramas came out in 2010, that I both forgot that SMM aired in 2010 and remembered that it might just be the best rom-com to come out in years. Once my memory and the facts converged, I’m here to declare that SMM is simply the best qualitative and meaningful rom-com in 2010. It was lost to the MBC Wed-Thurs curse, but those who had the good fortune of watching it will surely feel privileged to be a member of a small but elite club of SMM-fans.

SMM is the story of three friends who have reached their mid-thirties, professionally successful yet still unmarried. Each lady holds a certain differing perspective about matrimony and happiness, showing us that there are no easy answers to finding satisfaction in your life and your choices. What SMM does so well is to seamlessly intertwine four compelling stories about love and life in a way that is mature, purposeful, and entertaining.

I don’t need any caveats to recommend SMM. This drama is truly delightful – equal parts cute, funny, and poignant. While the story centers mainly around Park Jin Hee’s Lee Shin Young and her romance with the decade younger Kim Bum’s Ha Min Jae, the other romantic relationships as well as personal friendships between the women are equally are riveting and honestly written.

SMM gives you both sharp writing and emotional catharsis – the cute and the smart, so to speak. It never sacrifices a meaningful story for co-star chemistry, smooth direction for cute interludes, or an unrealistic plot for a thrilling romance. One can argue that SMM chose to highlight specific romantic situations (such as dating with an age gap, dating for the sake of marriage, dating for the purpose of enjoyment) in an obvious message-laden way. While the construct may have been clearly marked on paper, the relationships unfold on screen in organic and ordinary ways, negating the spectre of the drama delivering a message rather than tell a story

Every character in the drama is fleshed out as much as possible in sixteen episodes, and their interactions are both mundane and dramatic. All the actors were perfectly cast, and each couple had copious amounts of chemistry with each other. I’m awed at how SMM perfectly balanced so many romantic entanglements, professional developments, and friendship bonds. You get all of the above in one single drama, and that’s why SMM is hands down my pick for Best Romantic Drama of 2010.

Playful Kiss/Mischievous Kiss (“PK”)

Is there anyone on this drama planet that doesn’t know that I love Playful Kiss? LOL, while it’s pretty clear that I adore this drama, and have written reams about it, it still deserves a critical eye at the year-end reviews to make sure my opinions haven’t changed. It hasn’t, don’t worry. PK gets my vote for cutest and most exasperating drama of the year. It’s like my baby girl – the cutest thing since Knut the baby polar bear, but when she’s in a pique she frustrates the hell out of me because she makes no sense and I can’t reason with her.

PK had both the ignominy of being the lowest rated drama of the year, and the glory of being the first drama to be continued after its television run with a Youtube special that broke records for online viewership for this type of content. Rather fitting for a drama that divided fandom with a schism I can still recollect with a shudder, the screams of the “Oh Ha Ni is a mindless, spineless, sorry excuse for a female” versus the “Oh Ha Ni is a persevering, kind-hearted, dedicated example of love conquering all.”

In the end, PK became a reflection of each viewer, its strengths and weaknesses acknowledged by viewers who accepted its shortcomings, finding that the good outweighed the bad. It was never going to be a ratings hit like its manga-drama cousin Boys Before Flowers (which was the anomaly rather than the norm), but the beating it took from all corners really made me extra protective of it because it was so very innocent and pure of spirit. It never aimed for epic storytelling or slice-of-life realism. It was always just a little drama with a lot of heart, undermined by a lack of proper execution and a love story that you either loved or hated.

There was almost no middle ground with PK, and that was quite fine by me. PK gave me lots of enjoyment, some of which had nothing to do with the drama proper, but more to do with the group of drama-fans I watched it with here at the Playground. This was not a great drama, nor even a very good drama, but what it was a happy drama. The conflicts minor in scope, the comfort it brought major in impact.

Jung So Min was a revelation as Oh Ha Ni, taking an unlikeable character and making her loveable. Kim Hyun Joong improved as an actor and made Baek Seung Jo come to life. Together, they created one of the most endearing K-drama couplings in recent memory. They also took a rather unpalatable love story (it was a how-to guide in stalking your way to landing a husband), and made it sparkle with mirth and angst, leaving me satisfied with a journey that felt very young, but was destined to grow very old.

Giant

The most ambitious drama of the year, and probably the most successful production. Equal parts an homage to grand drama epics of yore, and an aspiration to take that heavy-weight genre to new heights, Giant rose up to the challenge to win both in ratings and in critical acclaim. The drama has been touted as a successor in style and scope to Eyes of Dawn and Sandgalss (I can’t confirm since I haven’t seen those classic K-dramas), bringing scale and modern Korean history back to dramas. It started off slow, and steadily found its footing. By episode 12, Giant was hurtling full steam ahead, taking complex storytelling and in-depth character development to new heights. I was mesmerized.

Giant tells the story of a family of four siblings, who are separated from one another through the wrongdoings of selfish and power hungry people. Their story is intricately tied to the economic and political development of South Korea from the seventies through 2010, taking a family and using them as participants and eye-witnesses to the dynamic changes of an entire country.

Giant is so ambitious that it has not one, but two sets of OTPs. While I was much more invested in the love story of lead Romeo Lee Gang Mo (Lee Bum Soo) and his Juliet Hwang Jung Yeon (Park Jin Hee), the other OTP gave angst and star-crossed lovers a whole new name and was admittedly the flashier and more romantic pairing in the drama. But in the end, the love stories in Giant took a back seat to the story of a family torn apart and put back together, struggling for success and justice in an era where neither was easy to come by.

My pick for Best Villain of 2010 also came courtesy of Giant – resident genius Satan daddy Jo Pil Yeon. This man was the mastermind and puppeteer for the entire drama, never once exhibiting a shred of humanity or regret for anything he did. He was in it to win it, and any human standing in his way be-damned. Unfortunately, Giant’s success also undercut its momentum, and the ten-episode extension it was granted slowed down the amazingly tight storytelling and made the second half admittedly less gripping than the first half.

Nevertheless, Giant is my pick for Most Epic Drama of 2010. It might be another 10 years before another drama of this scale and caliber comes along, and I feel enriched and sated to have watched Giant as it aired. I learned a lot about modern Korean history, and I gained a lot of insight into using dramas to both reflect on one’s cultural history, as well as subversively shed light on one’s political shortcomings. Giant had ambition and talent, using great writing, directing, and acting to create a drama that makes me wish that Korea produced a Giant at least once a year.

Mary Stayed Out All Night/Marry Me Mary! (“M3″)

This drama was my biggest (and most inexplicable) addiction of 2010. Yes, even bigger than my PK addiction. I think knowing the Itazura na Kiss story beforehand allowed me to follow PK with a mellow contentment knowing how everything will work out. Not knowing what would happen in M3 from week-to-week drove me literally batshit insane. Which is rather apropos, since the storytelling in M3 was exactly that – batshit insane, but so much fun for me to watch.

I was apprehensive before the drama aired, and the first episode left me uncertain as to whether I would love it or just find it another mindless and forgettable drama. By the end of the second episode, I was hooked, and hooked but good. I knew this wasn’t the best rom-com by any measure of quality, but it was so charming and off-beat that my mood instantly was lifted when I watched an episode. I can safely say that were the two leads not Jang Geun Seok and Moon Geun Young, this drama would have no appeal for me. It’s simply the Geun-Geun show, and everyone else is along for the ride.

I wished the story and execution was as stellar as the cast, but alas, that was not to be. By the time the story started to stall and spin in circles, I was already emotionally invested in the sweetest love story I’ve seen in a long time. I fleetingly considered cutting my losses and running before deciding that I was happy to watch this drama to its conclusion. I guess this is what loving something means, a commitment that you stay with it through the good and the bad.

I love M3, in spite and because of its shortcomings. It’s a genuinely adorable drama that sadly got progressively wackier. My consolation is that watching it gifted me with my undisputed choice of Couple of the Year in Moon Geun Young and Jang Geun Seok. Watching Mu Gyul and Mae Ri fall in love was the most satisfying romantic daydream I had all year. It was as fluffy as the bunnies on a frosty cake, but damn was that cake delicious to eat.

Joseon X-Files/Secret Investigation Record (“JXF”)

My unequivocal pick for Best K-Drama of 2010. Yes, you read it right – the best drama of the year across all genres and all offerings. JXF was so unbelievably stellar a production, it can hold its own against the best Hollywood productions out there. I can look all day and all night, and I won’t find a single thing wrong or lacking with JXF. This genre may not be your cup of tea, but the objective quality of this drama is not up for debate.

Taking sci-fi concepts and general mythology the world over, and placing it squarely into the Joseon era, JXF is a sageuk that is greater than the sum of its parts. As a cable channel drama, it had a limited budget, 45 short minutes, and no Hallyu stars to anchor each episode. By turns exhilarating, awe-inspiring in its depth and technique, and flawless in its execution, JXF blew me away with its complexity and storytelling.

When you’re watching JXF, your eyes are in constant motion absorbing every detail and nuance in every scene, while your mind works overtime to process the dialogue rife with hidden meaning and subtle undercurrents of plot reveal. Like an elaborately constructed diorama, JXF makes it look so easy for a drama to be so riveting by understanding the basic tenants of filmmaking – tell an intelligent story in a thoughtful way with capable performances. While these standards may seem quite obvious, drama after drama flop demonstrates how hard it is to accomplish.

Kim Ji Hoon was at turns solid, at times stellar, and always always a sight for sore eyes with his handsome yet beaten down look in this drama coupled with his trademark wry dialogue delivery. The entire cast, down to the most insignificant throwaway part, somehow fit perfectly into the world of mystery wrapped in political and cultural intrigue. The ending baffles me, and I tend to like my endings more sentimental rather than enigmatic (think how Lost ended rather than how Battlestar Galactica ended).

I saved the best drama for last in this category. A big round of applause to JXF, for giving me the biggest feast for the eyes, mind, and creative spirit in 2010. It’s not that watching JFX was life-changing, but more that it makes me thankful that there is still talent and attention to the craft of drama-making in Korea, leaving me confident that the industry has more opportunities to produce exquisite dramas like this.

The Satisfying – these are the dramas I enjoyed, entertaining and worthwhile.

Gloria

The quintessential fifty episode weekend drama was a breezy and emotional ride. I liked every episode, even loved many scenes, but ultimately it never left me quaking with anticipation. Nor did it ever inspire me to write about it. It was solidly constructed, if completely predictable and pedestrian in concept and execution. As a family drama, I liked that it was lower in scale on the family histrionics, and decidedly mature in approaching discussions about both love and marriage.

The best part about Gloria is that it gave the world two rock solid, chemistry-laden OTPs that would easily take over any drama on its own. Together, they elevated Gloria to heights the drama itself could never accomplish by its mediocre writing or lackluster directing alone. The story was exceedingly straightforward and predictable, but the acting was across-the-board excellent.

The romance in Gloria was mature, deep, meaningful, and soul-searching for both sets of OTP. Illegitimate rich and repressed Kang Seok (Suh Ji Seok) and his opinionated, stubborn, and brash songstress love Jin Jin (Bae Do Na) was the perfect blend of opposites attract and make each other whole. Soft-hearted tough guy Dong Ah (Lee Chun Hee) and his frail and delicate ballerina love Yoon Suh was the discovery of two needy people who found their soul mates in one another.

Depending on how Gloria wraps up in the early part of 2011 (it’s up to episode 38 as of the time this post is published), it has a chance to stay solidly in the satisfying category. The tail end of any long saga is always when viewer and story fatigue sets in. I hope both my OTPs get their deservedly happy endings, and all the horrible villains of the story get eaten by a pack of feral chihuahuas.

Flames of Desire/Flames of Ambition (“FoD”)

Famed drama writer Jung Ha Yeon’s masterful approach to doing a makjang was a sight to behold. Starting off all hellfire and brimstone, it settled into a tightly wound knot of lies and half-truths, held together by hope and the possibility of a better future for everyone. A story where darkness and light co-exist in seemingly every person, and the bonds of family and ambition drive one woman to keep clawing her way to the top.

This is a very heavy drama, the story, the characters, the dialogue, the execution – all of the elements are firing on all cylinders, and it’s a take-no-prisoners approach to storytelling via dramatic license. I loved how it forces the viewer to take a critical eye to characters and their motivations, finding everything rather distasteful and sordid, but you can’t stop watching it.

As a completely different type of fifty episode weekend drama than Gloria, FoD is just hitting its stride in setting up a sweeping family saga, and I wait with bated breath to see how it will all unfold. FoD is a story set into motion by a very human desire for wealth and security, centering itself around Shin Eun Kyung’s character of Na Young, a person who defines the very essence of never being either black or white in any of her motivations or actions. Her performance was so intense and nuanced that she gets my vote for Best Female Performance of 2010.

FoD may be makjang, but it’s not stupid, proving that the crux of creating a dramatic moment doesn’t mean foregoing sense and brain cells. The dialogue is riveting, and he interaction between the lead actors crackling with chemistry both overt and subdued. Yoo Seung Ho, as the sole beacon of warmth and light in an otherwise dark dark world, is so adorably and man-boy like I sometimes need to chant “remember that he’s just 17!” so I don’t mentally break any laws. I’m enjoying FoD immensely, finding that it’s a great counterweight to all the light and fluffy dramas I am watching at the end of 2010.

OB/GYN

The only procedural medical drama to air this year, and surprisingly better than I expected. Going in with no expectations, I found myself enjoying the predictable baby-or-expectant-mother of the week story anchored by a crabby, aloof, and exceptional female OB/GYN lead character. The acting was across-the-board competent, but no one stood out to take the story to new heights. But it worked as a medical emsemble piece, and Jung So Hee anchored the drama on her capable and pixie shoulders.

This is nowhere near being my favorite K-medical drama, but it was much better than the piddling ratings it garnered. It tried to be intelligent (though rather simplistic) and aimed to discuss social-medical issues (albeit veering towards the preachy at times). I liked that the OTP had a gender reversal whereby the woman was prickly and unemotional, and the man in the relationship was considerate and attentive.

I thought long and hard about whether to drop this drama into the middling category below, but ultimately decided that it deserved to be here. OB/GYN had a very straightforward concept that was executed successfully and delivered with heart and skill. I don’t like it nearly as much as the other dramas that occupy this category, but it’s definitely a drama I have no qualms about recommending as decent and satisfying.

*Secret Garden (“SG”)

This was my second most anticipated drama in 2010 prior to airing (the most anticipated being Athena: Goddess of War – which is not included at all in this year-end review since it has just premiered last week). My first impression was that the drama did not disappoint. The early episodes were everything I had hoped for and more – intense and riveting, funny and playful, quirky and surprising. It was well-made, well-acted, and exceedingly intriguing in every way. I loved the quirky characters, the chemistry-filled interactions, and the funny beats interspersed throughout.

Butbutbut, this drama lost me around the mid-way mark. As a viewer I was sustained purely on chemistry and quirk, but couldn’t find the purpose or the point. Yes, M3 is way worse in having no plot, but SG aims much higher than M3 in constructing a fantasy-melodrama premise that has a lot of mythology it needs to unravel if I am to accept that two people can change souls and then change right back under a precipitous shower of rain.

I put an asterisk in front of SG, because the latter half will either keep it in this category, or drop it in the middling, or even worse, exasperating pile. I think I am much more generous with SG as a whole because writer Kim Eun Sook’s last drama is my favorite drama of all time, and because both Ha Ji Won and Hyun Bin are obsessions of mine. Not afraid to reveal my partiality here, so take my recommendation of SG with a grain of salt. This is a polarizing drama, with two equally polarizing sets of OTPs. Whether it has legs to go the distance depends on whether the script can sustain the weight of the story.

The Middling – these are the dramas that gave me a split personality, the good parts I loved, the bad parts I loathed.

Wish Upon A Star/Pick the Stars (“WUAS”)

Man, what the fraking frak frak went on in this drama? The first episode was a valiant attempt by someone to produce the single worst episode of a K-drama ever made. Starting from episode 2 onwards, the drama took a drastic and immediate upswing, sprinting from good to near great in sheer enjoyment value alone. For the first ten episodes, WUAS was hands down the crackiest drama for me in the early part of 2010, the one drama I would wake up every Mon-Tues and immediately watch the raws.

The story of a flighty and materialistic girl who loses her parents and becomes the surrogate parent to her five step-siblings took a clunky premise and imbued it with heart and soul. Courtesy of some adorable children, a mad hot Kim Ji Hoon (and his unfortunate incredibly receding hairline), and a breakthrough for Choi Jung Won, WUAS was my addiction of choice for five weeks running. Like all good crack dramas, it built the story layer by layer using an addictive mixture of cute, funny, and touching. Until it all went to hell in a hand basket.

While WUAS was never going to win any awards for great storytelling, the writer decided in the second half to try to win the award for worst storytelling. And boy did it try very hard. What was a promising romantic lead couple completely sputtered in romantic development in the latter second, ending up together only because it was supposed to happen. Never did I wish for more pointless fan service OTP moments in a drama, and gotten less of said moments, than in WUAS.

Along those same lines, the adorable kids got less screen time, and the crazy second female lead and her equally crazy mother got more. The second male lead, who had unclear motivations throughout, simply lost his way and become completely unhinged in behaving like a rational person. If WUAS had an OTP with crackling chemistry or the drama spent more time on their relationship, this drama might be M3’s fraternal twin.

Sadly, with a story that went to hell, and without a strong OTP, I finished this drama for the sake of goodwill and being a completist. Unlike M3, this drama didn’t have a midway writer switch, yet it was equally as bipolar. I would never consider spending time watching Kim Ji Hoon onscreen as a waste, but this drama really tried my patience. Thankfully, Mr. Choco-Abs redeemed himself with Joseon X-Files later in the year, and I wash my hands of WUAS with this opportunity to rant a bit.

Chuno

Without a doubt the one drama in 2010 that made me increasingly upset as I watched it. PD Kwak’s follow up to his masterpiece debut Conspiracy in the Court was highly anticipated by me, moreso because it starred one of my favorite K-actors, Jang Hyuk, in his return to the sageuk genre since Daemang. It also reunited him with Lee Da Hae, also an actress I’ve always liked. What could go wrong? Oh, just the complete betrayal of the story in ways I could not accept.

I loved episodes 1-12, had my guts torn out in episodes 13-14, and then proceeded to increasingly hate each remaining episodes with the heat of a thousand blazing suns. This drama would go in the Exasperating pile if it weren’t such a stellar production overall, with Jang Hyuk hands down winning the Best Male Actor of 2010 award. Actually, Jang Hyuk’s performance of Dae Gil really ought to nab him a Best Acting of the Year award regardless of gender. It’s that mind-blowingly good.

I fell in love with Chuno immediately, defending its uber-stylistic visual style and heightened bombastic tension as a welcome respite from the dreary of the court intrigue sageuks where everyone sat around for 3/4s of each episode plotting and then re-plotting when their original plot fails. I saw Chuno as taking all the delicious romantic angst that was wasted in Queen Seon Deok, and making that the focus of this drama. The story is about a former-noble-turned-slave-hunter chasing his former slave and love of his life, within the historical context of a grand drama inquisition into slavery and political upheaval in Joseon-era Korean.

What killed me is not that the heart and soul of this drama, Jang Hyuk’s Lee Dae Gil, did not end up alive or with the heroine at the end of the story. I pretty much knew he was going to bite it from episode 1, and that hell would freeze over before he got his happy ending with Lee Da Hae’s Un Nyun in this lifetime. What pissed me off is how the story was unable to properly resolve the emotional angst between this pair of star-crossed lovers, doomed by birth to never be together.

The drama failed for me when it cast Oh Ji Ho as Song Tae Ha, righteous ex-general extraordinaire, and the world’s most manly block of wood. Tae Ha was already a flat character with no depth (“I believe in honor and loyalty and everything is black and white”), but essayed by Mr. Korean Stoner With A Surfer Accent, Tae Ha literally made fall asleep during each of his scenes. Whenever Tae Ha and Dae Gil would have a mano-a-mano scene, it would be like one guy acting circles around the other. Un Nyun was boring and Lee Da Hae’s acting was surprisingly flat in this drama, so it just became the Dae Gil show for the latter part of the drama.

Except the writer refused to properly resolve all the lingering issues between Dae Gil and Un Nyun, instead spending the last third of the drama carrying out the world’s lamest and most pointless slave revolt anchored by the flimsiest political conspiracy. I got progressively more and more pissed off, until I finally had to not watch the final two episodes of Chuno until months had passed and I could watch it without seeing red. Memo to writer – it’s not what you choose to do with the characters, but how you do it. Chuno lost me in the “how” column.

Pasta

Until I watched Mary Stayed Out All Night, Chep and his Yoo Kyung would have hands down won my best chemistry between an acting couple of the year award. Lee Seo Kyun and Gong Hyo Jin were the sole sustaining force in a drama that was as pointless as pointless comes. Really, I still don’t know what the point of the story was? And unlike M3, this drama didn’t have the zany laughs or adorable escapades to alleviate some of the doldrums. It only had Chep and Yoo Kyung, and by the end even that wasn’t enough for me to tune in week after week.

Don’t get me wrong, this drama was decent, non-offensive, rather smartly written, and overall a solid production. But just wasn’t very interesting, in good or so-bad-its-good ways. Story-wise it had a steady diet of restaurant-related plots, but it didn’t hook me or entertain me. I was hanging on only for the OTP and their each and every interaction.

Sadly, individually the lead characters weren’t all that interesting or sympathetic either. The entire drama rested on the acting chemistry between the two lead actors, and that wasn’t enough at the end of the day to make this drama memorable or worthwhile an investment in time to watch. I wasn’t watching a lot of dramas in the early part of 2010, and I am glad I watched Pasta since spending time watching Lee Seo Kyun and Gong Hyo Jin flirt, bicker, and sass each other was absolutely a treat.

The Exasperatingthese are the dramas that just plain pissed me off.

Personal Taste

This is the drama I hated the most in 2010. I can even make a credible argument for it being the worst drama of the year, but I don’t want to go there. That would require more brain power than I want to spend on it. I wrote a First Impression review of PT that was actually much much much nicer that it ought to have been. I was less blunt back then, and also my hatred of PT seems to grow with time, like a single mushroom that became a dense patch.

PT was the only drama I watched during the heated PT-Cinderella Unni-Prosecutor Princess three-way battle back in Spring of 2010 (a friend coined these dramas “The Trifecta of Suck”, which still makes me giggle to this day – I can only speak on behalf of PT, which by itself has enough suck on its own to be a trifecta). I know Serendipity, Dahee Fanel, and myself each wrote a review of one of these dramas, and the results were not pretty. Too much hype for CU and PT, and not enough quality all around. PT offended me by being so blatant with the gender and sexual orientation stereotypes, at the expense of character development and story.

Son Ye Jin is one of my favorite actresses, but she was uncomfortable in PT, making her performance as awkwardly constructed as the character she played. Lee Min Ho started off fine, but his performance and character both started to unravel for me midway, and by the end when the story got both stupider (didn’t think that was possible), and didn’t seem to go anywhere, I just checked out. Months later I went back to finish PT, and wished I could get those hours back in my life.

The only sympathetic and mildly three-dimensional character was the gay museum director, played with tenderness and aplomb by Ryu Seung Ryong, who got an ending that was akin to a bird chirping all alone in the forest. In the end, I could care less whether the OTP got together, whether the clingy second leads got their comuppenace or learned any lessons, or whether the random story line actually made sense. I kinda wanted everyone, other than the nice gay museum director, to fall into a volcano and never offend me again with this drama.

The “Game Over” kiss may have been hot as heck, but the drama was deader than road kill, which with more time that passes, emits that foul odor of mediocre acting, herky-jerky directing, plot development which I loathed, and a concept that I found offensive. The less pretending to be gay dramas Korea puts out, the better for my sanity. I caught a couple episodes of the sublime Life is Beautiful just to wash the stench of PT off myself. A good drama friend of mine wrote thus: “The drama I most like to pee on – Personal Taste”. @nycgrl, you owe me some new pants, because I peed myself when I read that.

I am Legend (“IAL”)

This was the one drama in 2010 that gave me the biggest whiplash in a multitude of ways. (1) I had barely above zero interest in this drama once Kim Su Nah dropped out and Kim Jung Eun took over, and (2) ahjumma rock band doesn’t exactly call out “oh Koala come and watch me!” But the first episode aired, and I read Javabeans’ very intriguing review and decided to check it out. I was blown away, by a great first episode that made me re-evaluate both the acting talents and the charisma of leads Kim Jung Eun and Kim Seung Soo.

IAL took a very iffy but full of potential premise, and started off with a steady and confident hand. The acting of the two leads were top-notch, especially in any scene between the two of them. THIS was chemistry between two actors I had rarely seen before – heat, pained, hurt, frustration. This was love that had turned to something dark and dysfunctional, but made you glimpse that it could have been so wonderful and happy had something not gone wrong.

After two episodes, I was hooked on IAL. I tuned in episode after episode waiting for Seol Hee and Ji Wook (aka her rat bastard of future ex-husband) either to have a mad passionate break up make out session, or at least get all touchy feely for my benefit. It really hurt the drama when the other male lead Lee Joon Hyuk (whom I adore and actually was interested in IAL solely because of him) had no chemistry with Kim Jung Eun, and she had truckloads with the guy who was playing her rat bastard ex-husband. I contend that is why the story went to hell, and the drama completely faltered in the second half.

It couldn’t decide if it wanted to be “How Seol Hee Got Her Groove Back” or “Soel Hee Brockovich”. The first half focused on her divorce, and the second half focused on her providing legal assistance to a group of taken-advantage of market folks. In between balancing these two storylines, the writer forgot to develop a credible romantic one. Seol Hee neither gets back together with her husband (not that she should) nor does she get herself a cool new boyfriend. In the end, neither the romantic angle nor the story went anywhere, and the drama ended on a whimper.

Bad Guy (“BG”)

Ha. Haha. Hahahahahahaha. Man, attempting to write a year end review of Bad Guy is tough. On one hand, I can go the straight route and just analyze why this drama was just one giant whirlpool of disjointedness. On the other hand, I can have fun with it, making my review match this drama beat for beat in increasing levels of craziness. I should at least tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed watching BG. Even when the drama went to hell, it went in such WTF ways that you can’t help but be amazed by all the mindfuckery going in. If the point of BG was to entertain, then I was definitely entertained all right.

The beyond excellent cast, the sleek production values, the directorial touches, the hyper-elegant cinematography – BG had it all, except for a cohesive and rational story. Too bad BG absolutely needed to have a tightly constructed story to make sense, because it’s not a fluffy rom-com, it’s a noir revenge thriller. Motivations are important, character behavior needs to be consistent, and above all these, the core revenge plot needs to make sense.

The blame could be laid at the feet of the writer, but BG was hampered by poor publicity from SBS, airing during the World Cup and getting preempted multiple times, and finally (the kiss of death), having its leading man Kim Nam Gil get called to report to military services BEFORE the drama finished shooting. The writing took giant leaps of logic in the end to accommodate Kim Nam Gil’s filming schedule, and I took a headdesk to my keyboard that still today has an imprint of computer keys on my forehead.

Do I regret watching BG? Not in the least! Even when it went crazy town on us, it remained an entertaining to watch and gorgeous to look at. This drama also showcased a breakout performance by Kim Jae Wook as Hong Tae Song, so wounded and feral, yet so childish and starved for affection. BG also changed my perception of Han Ga In from one-dimensional pretty doll actress to luminous muse. I shipped her with second lead Kim Jae Wook so bad, because they had mad chemistry, and because I knew the other pairing couldn’t possibly end well.

In the end, BG became the drama that went out with a whimper and a giant worldwide resounding gasp of “WHAT WAS THAT!?!” I know my noir and revenge genres, and like one of my quibbles with Chuno, when you go dark and deep into the recesses of human frailty and foibles, you must deliver an ending that may be hard to accept as a viewer, but ultimately rings true for the character at hand. BG….did not do that. But no, I’m not bitter, because this drama was like a Monet painting – gorgeous from far away, but a giant mess when you see it from up close.

The Droppedthese are the dramas that I couldn’t continue watching. Chances are these dramas may be good, but all bored or annoyed me quite early on, so they and I are simply not meant to be.

Coffee House – five episodes and out. Kang Ji Hwan’s acting was off for me, and I didn’t like any single character in this drama. Any. In fact, I may actively hate every single character in this drama. If I had watched more of it, I may have hated this drama more than I hate PT. I stopped myself, because I was already in pain. Love the OST though!

My Girlfriend is a Gumiho – two episodes and done. I was really bored with the story, and found the acting cute but passable. I have an inkling based on other people’s watches that this drama is qualitatively much better than both Playful Kiss and Mary Stayed Out All Night. Too bad I have no interest to watching it.

Sungkyunkwan Scandal – ten episodes and sayonara. This is the one drama I admit to checking out because I didn’t ship the OTP. Not that I wanted Yoon Hee end up with Jae Shin. In fact, I didn’t like either Yoon Hee or Sun Joon, the characters or the actors, so their getting together was fine with me. But I got bored with the story as well. Without either an interesting story or OTP to anchor me, I felt no compulsion to continue.

Kim Soo Ro – 20 eps and bye bye. It was a 36 episode drama, so I dropped it a little past the midway mark. A meandering, plodding sageuk that was neither fusion nor traditional. It fell into the dreaded East of Eden trap, whereby the hero had a first love with the second female lead, and is supposed to end up with the first female lead at a later juncture, except the writer keeps on writing the first love story until the canon love story becomes superfluous. I tried valiantly to continue, since it was the only sageuk available to me in early 2010, but eventually even my brain lost the ability to process what the hell was going on in this drama.

A Man Called God – 12 episodes and toodles. This is a silly drama with more style than substance. But it was fun in a tongue-in-cheek way in the very beginning, entertaining to watch and make fun OF it, chuckling at the self-aware corniness during the weekends when the offerings were slim and I had nothing better to do. Except it got serious midway through, promptly becoming bad and boring, which is when I checked out.

Final Thoughts:

In case it wasn’t abundantly clear, these are simply my impressions of all the K-dramas I watched or attempted to watch in 2010. I may make validations or dismissals of certain dramas, but in the end that wasn’t what brought me the most pleasure or kept me going back. JXF may have been the best drama I watched this year, but M3 was the drama that I re-watched each episode the most times.

As a viewer, I am both discerning and pedestrian in my tastes, as long as it satisfies my watching requirements. I aim for a wide-selection of dramas based on an ever-evolving criteria. Breadth and depth comes with time and a desire to expand my K-drama watching horizons. In 2010 I also watch plenty of old K-dramas that have either vaulted into my Top-10 or quite simply were excellent in ways the new fare didn’t provide.

I look forward to 2011 with a few key takeaways: (1) lower my expectations, (2) go into everything with an open mind, and (3) have fun! Hope my humble little walk down the memory lane of 2010 K-dramas was as entertaining for you to read as it was for me to write. Until 2011, everyone have a safe and happy Holiday Season! Finally, a reminder that AKP is on hiatus until I get back from vacation.

© 2010 – 2012, ockoala. All rights reserved.


Comments

A Koala Reminisces: 2010 Year End K-Drama Reviews — 93 Comments

  1. Haha, “Man, what the fraking frak frak went on in this drama”? Oh Koala, I love you so much. Watching a drama is so much more entertaining when I know that the next day I’l get to read your hilarious recap of it.
    Pasta was aired this year? Wow, it feels like I watched it forever ago.
    On a completely-unrelated-but-still-has-to-do-with-K-drama-actors note, I just found out that I have the exact same birthday as Jung So Min and I think that’s fricken awesome!
    Merry Christmas Mz. Koala, We’re all very grateful for your blog.

  2. A wonderful review! Yay for the Giant and JXF love, two of my faves this year. Completely agree w/you on the second half of Chuno (seriously WTH was that! And OJH ::sigh:: so hard to watch). I agree about KJW’s performance in Bad Guy (though I dropped it somewhere in the middle). Looking back I think the only rom-com that I finished this year was Coffee House and now I wonder how I managed to watch the whole series when I had issues with the characters and how the story was written.

    I’ve been meaning to watch Gloria for LCH and BDN but no time at the moment. If you are in the mood for a sageuk, I would highly recommend King Geunchogo–it’s really well written and GWS is awesome. Thanks for the great review!

  3. Bad Guy and Personal Taste rank up there in shows that will set me off like Pocomoco – “slowly I turn, step by step, inch by inch…” etc. in to a raving rant. The farther away from PT I get in time, the more the thought of it insults every fiber of my being.

    BTW, from the teenagers who I had here for a while, all BOF & YB fans – Lee Min Ho’s PT – omg he’s hot – from the girls, this is stupid from all of them; PK – this is cute from the girls – teenage boy went WTH?; SMM – Bummie? that’s our Bummie? from the girls , this is stupid. from the boy, change channels.

    Their favorite – My Girlfriend is a Gumiho. And I’m banking M3 for them.

    Have a great vacation!

  4. Hi, Happy Holidays!….and thanks a bunch for ensuring that all your minions have a great one as well…. i still can’t stop shaking w/ laughter about the PT pee thing….hahahahahahahahahah…. i swear i love you more than the dramas…..and i love them something fierce….hahahahahahahahaha more power ….Bossing.

  5. Interesting.I enjoy watching pasta,PT but that drama not making memories in my mind.cinderella sister was a great drama,I adore MGY there until I have m3.this drama is mood changer for and I know they have the lacks in lots place but MG&MR is so cute,Geun2 couple make me believe they have something behind their chemisty,their little gesture show it and I hope my insting wont fool me.
    BG,I drop it after watching ep1 although it got KJW that I love,the end unreasonable.
    I don’t watch SG,GIANT etc..somehow my instinct prevent me.I love GUMINHO,makes me think the OTP chemisty is good again until m3.
    for me m3 is best drama,give me satisfaction and what I need in drama,not the plot.
    I’m just watching drama not a critics for a drama..I watch for my pure enjoyment.I hope next year we can have more great drama.

    • SG is the BEST…!!! chemistry, acting writing and directing.. best drama that started this year..!!!
      well that is for me..
      still gonna watch GIANT…

      • well some people have that. when I 1st saw the stills I didnt think much of her but i was still gonna watch since HyunBin is there. Loved him ever since I say him in the rom-com “My Lovely Samsoon” & the movie First Love of a Billionaire. Anyway I was so glad I watched the 1st episode cause HyunBin is super SUPER funny.. he is crazy hilarious. Gosh never knew about he has this side of him, his comedic timing & body gags are insanely funny.. anyway that is my opinion anyway, some people don’t seem to like this drama the way I like it, but that is the beauty of having a unique self… ^___^

  6. ockoala you sure know how to make a collosal pee-in-pants, make sure that @nycgrl send me new ones too haha
    thank you for your beloved recaps on m3 :) m3 made me find your playing ground and indeed in no time i fall for your recaps. looking forward for your pee-in-pants recaps ockoala, and have a happy hiatus-holiday :)

    I took a headdesk to my keyboard that still today has an imprint of computer keys on my forehead.
    lower my expectations,

  7. Hy ockoala~ U should try watching my girlfriend is a guminho again.. its one of my fav.. The story line was properly constructed, even better than M3. But yeahhhh, M3 is still the best. HEHE. It’s funny that PK actually bored me.. I stopped watching at episode 5. I don’t know why.

    Anyway, have a great holiday.. :) You’ve been doing a great job. I hope you’ll choose a very good drama to recap after M3!!!! But wait.. Are you still doing for any new korean dramas? I love you writings.

  8. Buahahahaha :lol:

    I’m certainly waiting for Lee Ji Seok to be “eaten by a pack of feral chihuahuas”
    …and several writers of this year’s dramas need to be subjected to a similar demise. :P

    Have a great vacation, Koala sis! :D

  9. OMG. Koala, you and me must’ve been the only one who had dropped SKKS. I did it at Episode 10 too, it just didn’t have enough romance going on (plus, I couldn’t care less about what will happen to the freakin’ jisa). But I did made the best drama discovery for 2010 –Yoo Ah Innnnnnnnnnnnnnn *sigh*

    • LOL. Count me in. I did at ep12. All this while I thought Im the only one that dropped SKKS since . I went O____O when few of my friends ask about the ending plus few scenes that they dont quite get it or yet to watch since during the airing period its exam weeks here. I didnt ship the OTP as well so I care less both characters and actors but interestingly I found new heartthrob, YAI. I went on searching and watching all his old work like He Who Cant Marry and Boys of Tomorrow. Then I realized he was the boxing boy in one of my favourite kmovie – Antique. LOLOLOOL. and ROFL for KJW in there. ;P

      YAI and JSG are sweethearts and M3 is my sweet addiction for rom-com drama after Full House. <3 GeunGeun <3FTW!

  10. how could you have drop sungkyunkwan scandal? i enjoyed it, not because of the main leads but because of song joongki and his character. i loved his gay behaviour in that drama^^. i started to like him after seeing him in OB/GYN and can’t get enough.

    i do agree with personal taste. i got pretty bored and everything was so obvious. same for oh! my lady. i got the feeling both had the same story. dunno why. maybe siwon and minho played those self centered character. waste of time watching both dramas.
    my girlfriend is a guminho, i originally only watched episode 1 and stopped. later i had nothing to watch and picked it up again, but only to enjoy seeing no minwoo.

    i’m looking forward to 2011. hope athena won’t disappoint me.

  11. I love your recaps and posts! You are such a good writer; I always learn new vocabulary! Haha, I know weird and not on topic…but I just wanted to let you know.
    Happy Holidays!

  12. I think what I’ve taken away from the last few months of drama watching/discussion is that one person can love something and another can hate it for exactly the same reason. What an interesting phenomenon! I appreciate the time you put into this review, as I muchly muchly enjoyed reading your thoughts and views. And thanks for making the Playground such a fun place to come and play at!

    Mae-ri Christmas! ^_~

  13. Wow. Our drama tastes are almost polar opposites! e.g.I hate M3 (do not understand it at all) and adore Sungkyunkwan Scandal to bits (Sun-joon and Yoon-hee are, in my opinion, so adorable). The Woman who Still wants to Marry was also slightly paedophilic/”cougar town” for me (even though it wasn’t but anyway…). I do agree with you, however, on the brilliant-ness of Joseon X-Files, and the dreariness of “My Girlfriend is a Gumiho”.

    But I guess that it’s quite interesting to see different opinions on these dramas, even though if most of them truly vary to what I think!

  14. I have to say that alot of drama like Baker King, Gumiho and others does have a stronger plot then M3 but same as Koala, nothing was as addicting to me as M3. With M3, I just gotta watch the episode once they are out though it might be the raw(normally, I can calmy wait for it to be translated) or the urge to rewatch certain scenes again and again because the OTP (MGY & JGK) are so dynamic together.

  15. ockoala, thanks for the year in review! 2010 is indeed a year of good dramas, also the year that solidified my addiction. prior to that, i’ve never watched any drama raw nor talked about them in forums and blogs…and look where i am now. haha.

    Here’s my personal faves:
    :: Will It Snow For Christmas – not the best story-wise, but the acting blew me away. Especially Go Soo and Kim Soo Hyun. And yesss…its the drama that made me fall in love with Go Soo. I remember my first “outing” at dramabeans was because I couldn’t contain my love for his Cha Kang Jin, I just had to say it out loud. *sigh*

    :: SMM – like you, this is probably my fave rom-com this year. Its just the right amount of funny, sexy chemistry, and intelligent dialogue. Kim Bum’s Min Jae is definitely up there amongst my favorite k-drama leading men. Gotta love that cheeky boy who dyed his hair white for the woman he loves.

    :: PK – what can I say? Its fluffy and I probably won’t watch it again in the next couple of months but boy did I go crazeeeey when it was airing. haha. I think a lot of it has to do with the little PK community here at your playground, even more so than the drama itself.

    :: Secret Garden – Binnie and Ha Ji Won. That is all. I don’t even care where the story is going, I can’t get enough of these two. I’m obviously biased because they are 2 of my favorite actors but like what girlfriday said about RI, “a girl can’t help who she loves.” And yes, I can’t help that I am so in love with SG. ;)

    I’ve watched other dramas but none that made a deep impression on me as these 4. I also dropped MGIAG, despite The Cute. Personal Taste was okay, I’m shallow and enjoyed watching the beauty that is LMH. Tried watching Cinderella’s Sister and Coffee House but did not get past the first episodes. I haven’t started M3 yet but I will in the (near) future.

    And as always, thank you for sharing your thoughts. Have a wonderful holidays! xxoo.

  16. WOW, you have watched a lot of dramas this year, out of the 20 I’ve only seen 7 but then again, I tend to also incorporate Jdramas and TWdramas on my To Watch list.

    It’s refreshing to see a few of the mania dramas were ones you dropped . . . because it just goes to show how varied our taste can be, hell I watched Personal Taste and although I chuckle a few times, I cannot remember anything significant about this drama (you said . . . there was a kiss . . . damn if I remember) But above all I thank you for your honesty and your choice of words always floor me.

    I actually enjoy your rants more than your praises because it makes me consider your side of the argument. I’m literally in tears watching Secret Garden (who doesn’t like Oska or the running joke with the track suit) I enjoy it for the comedy, screw the romance. I agree with you, the whole rain thing is a little off putting and all the characters talk but no one is taking what is being said into consideration (damn teenagers).

    Also, I know you said this may contain spoilers . . . but damn . . .I wanted to watch Chuno (because like you I have a think for that man “Jang Hyuk” and his acting has grown leaps and bounds since Successful Story of a Bright Girl) and now . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I still watch “he pretty”

  17. You have such a bad bad taste…. In alll of drama bloggers u might be the one that like not only itz kiss but also Mary :: gosh…. The sad thing is you don’t seem to like those 2 horrible dramas because you’re a fan girl… U seems to really like it… Horrible horrible taste…

    • Everyone is entitled to their own opinion regarding what they like and their thoughts about the drama. As they say@M, if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

    • Sunshine, I know how exacting getting out of your text message-induced dialectical brume can be, but no need to emphasize emphasize every single sentence sentence for added added effect. And what the flying fruckity flipping fudge is “itz kiss,” a new romantic comedy by the makers of I can haz cheeseburger?

      And you do know that no criticism is worth a Tasmanian Devil’s post-lunch bowel movement until you walk the walk and show how much better (better!) what this “non fan girl” likes is instead? A wonderful Christmas to you as well. Wonderful wonderful.

    • M

      Oh wow, I didn’t know that I had such bad bad taste. Here I was, thinking that my taste was so rarified and erudite, worthy of inclusion into the echelons of distinguished drama bloggers the world over.

      How about this? You first learn to spell and use proper grammar before posting another comment, here or anywhere. And I shall endeavor to develop more taste. Perhaps if you told me what you like, I can emulate that? Because you must surely have good taste to be able to spot my bad taste. :-)

      • hahahaha good one koala…
        just dont mind those people, I mean we are all intitled to our own opinion it was just her bad taste to do that thing here…!! i mean this is your playground, and you can just bump her away.. hahaha well you get what i mean.. need to go.. last day xmas shopping so kinda rushed for words..

    • the only thing i have to say is, this is a horrible horrible post by a horrible horrible person …. hope you don’t have a horrible horrible Christmas ….

      • @ M that’s so mean and hurtful

        @ Ivy I’m directing this comment at M’s rudeness, not you Ivy…keep clicking the wrong reply button sorry. Don’t want you to misunderstand me like czak. sorry!

  18. Finally! Thank you. I’m so glad to know there is someone else who hated Coffee House as much as me. I hated those self centered characters so much I just wanted to smash my screen.

    I love your blog and enjoyed reading your thoughts on all of these dramas. Thanks again.

  19. been a long time since i was here.. but i guess to end the year the review was quite interesting…
    kekekeke though I agree with most of your thought I dont quite agree with PASTA & SECRET GARDEN being only satisfying.. Hmnnnnn though I am largely, wholly & willing HyunJoong Bias, i have to say Pasta & secret garden are my Top 2 drama’s of the year. acting-wise, direction & writing. they hooked me like a bear to honey. the wacky chemistry between the leads just made me die, do to heaven, have a tantrum to God to get me back to earth just to watch them again in their little 5 year old fight about boys pulling the girls hair, they like and girls crying but still loving the boy despite their mean crap.
    Of course PK has a special place in my heart cause JSM & HJL just cant seen to make my heart go thump thump thump, and if i have to lose HyunJoong, I will only let him go to JSM & no one else…
    with M3, i have a hard time with this drama, I mean I so love MGY so i was so looking forward to this, but gosh she was just wasted talent in the chaos that was M3.
    and so agree with Still Marry me, i still drool while i rewatched that drama… kekeke KimBum is so HOT and just so present in his acting, it feels like he became bigger than the TV when he is on screen..
    still gonna find time to watch GIANT & JOSEON XFILES cause so many people are telling me how good it was…
    and dramas i hoped not to watch again are chuno, kim sooro, coffee house, I am legend, & wish upon a star…
    but for drama i’ll watch despite its hazy moments of boredom, Perfect Taste & bad guy are on my list. I’ll watch those drama purely for eye candy goodness. LMH in PT and will KNG is just too hot to not see & since this is the last drama i am gonna see him in until after 2 year. I’ll watch it over and over again…
    with SS & MGIAG, when it aired my head was clouded with my HJL bias so I wrote in stone in my head not to like it.. hahaha i know, Bias really clouds judgement. but now I after watching it I changed my mind.. I love those drama… NO SUPER Love just ordinary LOVE…
    another drama I loved is The Grudge, WOW that one was mind blowing… I highly highly recommend.. if there were child actresses to VOTE for I VOTE for those 2. they were superb..!!! i think they are going to be the new generation..!!!
    and well special mention DOngYi…!

  20. wow..i really like this year end’s review…though i yet to watch most of the drama but it will be a guides for me…so far i had watched the below:
    a) Playful Kiss – so far most entertaining drama
    b) Im A Legend – i also hooked for the 1st part of the drama but then just skipped to the ending which i find very very disappointing.
    c) Coffee House – I watched this bcoz of Kang Ji Hwan…but still unable to do till the end.
    d) Bad Guy & My Girlfriend is a Gumiho- 2 episode and i just drop it .
    e) Sungkyunkwan Scandal – just watch the ending but love their ost found you
    f)Personal Taste – somehow i quite like this drama..i find it cute but it wont be my best drama of the year
    g) Secret Garden – I like Hyun Bin and Ha Ji Won…n really like the chemistry between them but then i just unable to figure where the story is ending..so im still deciding whether to continue and drop
    h) Mary Marry Me – I like the chemistry between both Geun….and really hope Mary will be with Kim Jae Wok (though i knw that wont happen) and i totally agreed with you that the change of the writer is the best things happen in MMM as w/o the change i wont able to see the cute side of Kim Jae Wook..hahaha

    so far tts my opinion and i will try to watch still marry me and joseon Xfile as it is highly recommended by our beloved koala.

    Happy Holiday , Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!!!!!

  21. Dear Ockoala,

    Thank you very much for all the recaps you have done for M3…I really love them all…You are my Santa Claus this year for giving me joy every Tuesday and Wednesday mornings…M3 is the best K-drama for me this year…

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year….Happy Holidays…

  22. Marry Me, Mary: It is freaking scary how much time I spend on that drama. Reading your recaps and trying to use them to understand the raw video. And then actually waiting and constantly refreshing Youtube pages for the subs to come out. Jeez.

    I was kinda surprised that you didn’t like My Girlfriend is a Gumiho. It was the first K-drama I ever watched and the main couple was pretty much overflowing with cuteness:)

    Episode 1 of PK was TERRIBLE. I just turned it off. The only thing that made me come back for Episode 2 was the fact that I love It Started With A Kiss and somehow I figured that I owed it to the drama.

    SKKS was next. I don’t really know why I watched, but I did and I am so happy for it. I fell in love with Gu Yong Ha and Geol Oh. Song Joong Ki is now my serious Kpop crush who I just can’t get enough of…If you ever decide to try to finish a 2010 drama, pick this one!

  23. Thanks for such a fantastic year-end review, koala, and for your hard work in posting this before your vacation. You’re the only writer besides Terry Pratchett who can make me laugh : )

    i don’t have your flair for writing. just wanna say thanks for taking time to share your insightful and heartfelt comments about your drama-watching. It has really been fun here at AKP, and I’ve learned more about K-drama – never knew that drama discussion is in a field of its own!

    in the upcoming dearth of my idol JGS drama, i shall learn to appreciate other dramas, and your list above is a good place to start. Think i shall watch Joseon, FoD and Giant.

    again, thank you so much and have a wonderful New Year!

  24. OMG gumiho and giant wa the best among them how could PK and M3 could be the best???? jang geun suk and moon geun young.. chemistry is cute but but they`re really waste of talent for this drama. PK didn`t even bother to watch. worst drama you just watched and like it because of kim hyun joong i think. writing acting everything was poor. you really have a bad taste in dramas.

    • Wow, what’s up with people being rude in the comments to this post? It’s Koala’s playground, not yours. You’re entitled to your opinion but really? If you don’t like her taste then why are you here?

    • i think you might be hanging around in the wrong blog…. hope you spent time reading what she actually wrote, especially the 2nd to the last paragraph…

      Gumiho was good but to be honest, I watched it mainly because I knew it was from the Hong Sisters… but it didnt have the same appeal that M3 had on me..

      And your last comment was uncalled for..

    • woah, that was rude…
      so what if she liked PK & M3. so what. so what if she likes something you dont, it doesnt mean she has bad taste. it just mean you have different taste in drama…
      you don’t have the same brain so she doesnt have to like everything you like…
      I mean i also disagree with her with liking M3, but that is my opinion. and since i have a brain with a civilized mind, i don’t go around insulting people…
      all you could have done is just DISAGREE with her choices, then leave it just like That…!!!

      • @ maeri are you talking about me..?
        what is so rude about what i wrote.. i was just saying something about how people should act civilized.. what is so wrong about that..?
        yeah i believe in to each his own also.. But whatzolo wrote was Just plain RUDE. as i have mentioned, people can DISAGREE with koala but they don’t have to insult her especially since this is her Playground… just saying…

      • @ czak

        sorry czak, I keep clicking the wrong reply button LOL. didn’t mean to give you a shock! Also clicked Ivy by mistake when I meant M. Sorry guys!

    • Guys,that zolo mean to ruin this lovely Akp lovers so ignore.she can say rude thing but if no one falling into her trap the she would be pointless.don’t waste your time on her.we can spend our time with something else like m3,we still have 2last ep.does anyone already have preview ep 15?

  25. LMAO @ trifecta of suck…..so true…lol….though to be honest PT was the only one that seriously pissed me off, CS’s poor turn just made me sad and by the time i got to watching PP all the fun had been ruined by the spoilers anyways….anyways thanx for ur gr8 review!!…dont listen to some of the horrible (horrible) commenters ur taste is ur’s and ur’s only…..we love you for it

  26. I rarely disagree with you but I must say I hated “Pasta” SO MUCH that I can’t even eat the stuff now without gagging.
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Enjoy your vacation and thanks so much for your blog.
    C

  27. I think you know by now,my Chingoo,how much I (& my K) love you. We adore your blog & ALL those wonderful recaps. If this is not the holiday season, I would let the “Kracken’ within me loose & post a few “choice words” for some folks here. *kept telling myself ‘Peace on Earth & Goodwill to all men”…So, instead, I would just say Thank you for all your love/time/effort in your recaps,blog & reviews…I respect YOUR choices of your favorite & your dislikes(Heck,we don’t have to agree(esp PT…hehe…you know I’m the only one in our little group that dare to admit I LOVE that drama)) Have a wonderful vacay with your family…see you soon ..,XXOO

  28. This was a fraking awesome end of the year review. I LAAVED it. And just to let you know, I sped-read at 2968784902 wpm, so I will be re-reading this at normal speed when I get back. <3

  29. This year i only watch 3 full dramas: Cinderella’s sister, Bad Guy and MSOAN (2 more epi)
    I’ll spend some time to watch SMM later
    I dropped SKKS after 12 eps, Chuno after 7 epi, SG after 1 ep i think only me have no interest in this drama LOL, MGIAG after 1 epi (though i love YB and Hong Gil Dong)

    Thanks Koala, what i love from you is that you express your true feelings for each drama you watch. Every person has his/her own taste for drama/movie/music, i only watch drama if it meets my taste

  30. Ockoala I caught a lot of your favourite dramas but missed some. Here’s my fav for 2010:

    1. PK : Hated the first ep, was ok with the 2nd, fell in love with the subsequent ones.Became PK addict by the end of the YT webisodes. First drama in which I came out to spazz. That’s how much I loved it. Loved the first love yearnings, the pain, the highs, the lows. Loved the kisses (so many that I stopped counting in the end). Loved the PKissers who became good buddies through the course of PK.

    2. Wish Upon A Star: Wasn’t really into it at first, but it gradually drew me in. Charming and warm, touching in parts. Ending was a bit rushed, but still, all in all ok.

    3. Bad Love: Am not really into heavy dramas, but loved Jae Wook, Bad Guy, and was charmed by the freshfaced So Min. Didn’t really like the rushed ending, but considering the circumstances, it was ok.

    So there you go, guys, my top three favs of 2010. Merry Xmas and Happy New Year!

    • Hi forest buddy….it’s been a long time since we’ve last talked. Still hanging out in the forest? LOL.

      Anyway, I agreed with your top 2 choices.

      Wishing everyone at AKP a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!

    • kn, beloved forest friend! Long time no hear! LOL
      No, I actually moved out of the forest after waiting in vain for you guys for 4 months. I’ve leased the cottage to Snow and her 7 sugar daddies. HAHAHAHA
      Merry Xmas and Happy New Year!!!!!

      • Oh yeah Prosecutor Princess! How could I forget that! It’s up there at No 2! No. 3 WUAS. Bye bye to Bad Guy.

  31. Love the blog ockoala! Definitely haven’t seen many of the “beloved” dramas this year since work has been busy but I did catch a couple on this list and for many I do agree with you. I didn’t LOVE playfull Kiss but I liked it. I watched PK for the same reason as I watched BOF which was to see the korean take on the tried and true mangas that I have a soft spot for so the plot didn’t really matter to me since I have seen the other versions. As with BOF they were both fun watches that left a lot to be desired but fun nonetheless and I liked the OTPs so I stuck with it. I loved SMM, more than I thought I would and agree with your sentiments.

    I wish you saw Cinderella’s Unni just for the acting alone (MGY’s EunJo is by far the best portrayal by an actress I have seen in a long while) but I think you probably would of dropped it in the second half because of the snail drag pace of the plot. The drama had everything: great casting, beautiful scenery, amazing music, and a plot they could of done so much with but didn’t (similar to MSOAN) . Just like KJW is wasted in MSOAN, Chun Jung Myung was highly under utilized in CU , but Seo Woo and Moon Geun Young did amazing (this was definitely their drama) and their sister relationship is what kept my interest.

    I am Legend-> liked but wish they did a lot more with it, they should of made the choice whether she was going the law route or the rock route and not try to do both and consolidated the divorce to much less episodes.

    WUAS:…Parang kept my interest..thats it.

    Pasta: The OTP = Amazing and snarky but in the end it was the run of the mill slice of life drama with really no point.

    MGIG: Cute and stuck with it for the OTP. Wasn’t great but had enough fun to keep me interested.

    MSOAN plotwise sucks but it will be one of my favorites solely based on the OTP, I adore the Geuns in this and they are why I am watching it. This drama could of been more but it isn’t and I am okay with that because the acting by the main is awesome and its pure lighthearted fun. Frankly I have to use my brain all day at work (I work in science) so I like to come home and watch something that doesn’t require me to think too much.

    Personal Taste….yeah was cute but had absolutely no point…,

    OBGYN- good acting but thats about it, oh and a wonderful dose of Joo Won and Joongki.

    Sungkyunkwan Scandal: I adore Yoochun but I wasn’t feeling this OTP at all, Ah In and Joongki were the breakouts but even they couldn’t keep my interest after awhile. Dropped at episode 15 and saw only parts after episode 15.

    Don’t know if I will watch “Giant” only because its really hard to keep my attention on something that is 50 episodes.

    Secret Garden: seen ~2 episodes, might watch when I have more time.

    wow this was a long comment lol. Anyways you definitely do not have bad taste so you should just ignore negative comments.

  32. I skimmed through the comments and was amused at the “horrible horrible” comment I stumbled upon. Meh, whateva… just ignore them… they’re just trolling around without a clue searching for some reactions. It’s how they get off.

    Anyways, I suck at reviewing dramas. Every time I did a post to commemorate my finishing a drama, I always end up rambling on and on about the male lead and then go off tangent to reminisce about other yummy smexy guys I want to watch and why haven’t they done any new drama project for this year *coughgongyoogongyoocough* ….grrrr. I also tried to recap a drama I really like (Kami no Shizuku) and ended up blathering sarcastically about the characters I just admitted in the first paragraph to be cute and adorable. I’m hopeless.

    Here’s to 2011! May the New Year bring an influx of tremendously happy and uplifting dramas for us to savour~~

  33. Great list OcKoala! Although I must say I did like My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, if only for No Min Woo and Shin Min Ah. My sister and I say they should do a noir or suspense drama, a la Mawang/Devil soon.
    I miss the PK induced craziness alread ^_^
    Hope you have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  34. too bad u didn’t like SKKS, its my fave drama of 2010.
    anyway, we do have different opinions.
    this post is such a great read.
    thank you for sharing.
    Happy Holidays!!! ^_^

  35. Thanks again Ockoala. I love your 2010 year end kdrama reviews.
    Some dramas I don’t know and did not watch.
    My most enjoyable drama in 2010 is Playful Kiss (no matter what rating or poor writing)
    not only hj and sm but also I like the cast from PK.
    Also PK gave me the wonderful present that got to know your playground/AKP and kdrama lovers.
    I like Personal Taste, I was suprise that after I read ur review on that drama.
    I did not like Lee Min Ho in BOF, I like YJH/KMJ in that drama.
    But in PT I really adore him. He is so handsome and hottttttt.
    The Woman Still Want To Get Married, I love that drama.
    KB is so cute in there.
    I am thinking to watch Bad Guy during my Christmas break, because of JSM.
    Nice to know your blog and you.
    I wish you have a nice and safe vocation.

  36. Hi Ockoala! Thanks for the year-end review for the K-dramas. I’ve to admit though that I didn’t watch a lot of them. I think I watched quite a few re-runs of yester-year dramas at KBS World and found that I enjoyed them. As for the most recent dramas, the only one I did watch in its entirety is, what else, our beloved Playful Kiss!
    I also agree with sandi about getting the wonderful present of knowing your playground and playing with the PKissers very happily and crazily during its airing. I missed those times too, J.J.!
    Anyway, don’t let those negative comments bother you! All I can say to those people is, if you don’t like ‘em, don’t watch/read ‘em; no need to be insulting about it.
    So, have an enjoyable vacation with your family, happy holidays and a wonderful New Year!

  37. oh i love your year end reviews coz for most of the dramas i feel the same as well. but i have to say i really really don’t like MSOAN seriously i have only read the updates of that drama and have watched the first 4 eps but i just can’t stand to watch it.

    and i so agree about your through on PT and gumiho. beacuse i have watched the first few episodes of PT and i am fan of lee min ho but that drama just gave me a few laughs and i stopped watching it after a while so thats that. but i am looking forward to city hunter hope that drama will be good because i like the synopsis of female parter having a one sided love for lee min ho’d character.

    as for gumiho i don’t know what’s the deal. everyone’s raving about the cuteness and i have watcted up to 6-8 eps sorry don’t even remember when i stopped watching it but i did read all of javabeans and girlfriday’s reviews and they both enjoy the show but i just can’t get into into and i am big fan of the hong sisters have watched all their dramas but i just can’t watch this one.

    giant is the drama i watched because of your review which i stopped reading mid-way because i wanted to watch it first and not spoil it for my self and i still haven’t finished the drama. reason being because i am waiting for the subs because as soon as they become available i am watching the whole drama again 60 eps be damned. coz that’s the one drama in this year that has been such a wonderful watch which i enjoyed so much and feel should have gotten even more ratings. though i know how well it performed but its such a good drama that you can’t help but want it to be on the top. i love both the OTP and jo pileyon.

    josen X files is the one drama i haven’t watched and am looking forward to watching it, and hopefully it would really be a good drama by all its recommendations.

    liked pasta watched it for the two main characters but i am keeping my hopes up for the director because other than the main leads in MP i want the sets to be good as well and because the writer has worked with on air, city hall and secret gardens writer i have high hopes for the plot.

    i have wathed both the japanese and taiwanese version of itazuna kiss and enjoyed the korean version as well but was hoping it could be much more. because although the producers followed the managa to the tee i wished they could have changed some things and give it more plot beacuse that’s the only thing that was missing in the show. INK is a lovely manga and its a wonderful slice of life but a little more drama could have made the show more successful. although i loved the whole cast and have found a gem of jung so min whose’s a wonderful actress and it was for her acting ability i watched bad guy.

    show i am looking forward to in 2011
    city hunter- lee min ho (hot)
    My princess- kim tee hee and SSH
    the Dou- han ji hye and male lead of cinderella sister (adorable)
    Midas- jung hyuk and lee min jung (love her)

    • oh and forgot to say. the biggest present santa gave me this year was finding your blog which i love and cherish for all the fan moments i have and hope it remains the same in the coming year and a big humungus Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to ockoala and all of her koala followers… wish everyone the best

  38. That was incredibly entertaining to read and I guess I agree with a lot of your reviews…(except I have a soft spot for My Girlfriend is a Gumiho XD)
    The only year-end review I would be capable of doing though is a J-Dorama review XD

  39. Hey koala,

    Love your site, and the list (all added to my “to watch” list), but could you PLEASE WARN when you’re going to include spoilers – I stopped reading the list because I didn’t want any other dramas to get ruined for me.

    As a fellow drama-lover, I know you understand wanting to experience the emotional ups and downs of the characters, and the plot, as they unfold. Thanks!

    Cheers and Happy Holidays!

    • @ Bada703

      Hhhm, I’m not sure where the disconnect is? I wrote this in the final paragraph before I started reviewing each drama: “Warning: there be spoilers ahead for some dramas, so read at your own peril.”

      I concur about needing warnings about spoilers, except I think I did give proper warning.

  40. Thanks for the review chingu.

    M3 is long on OTP charm but has hardly anything else (I dropped it after ep 9′s snorefest but find myself now missing JGS/MGY couple). I can totally watch these two make kimchi and just sit on a couch all day. Part of its charm is its fumbling kind of unstudied (read very, very unpolished) use of cliches that though trite and trying is unpretentious which puts you in a more forgiving mood.

    SG on the other hand doesn’t have the OTP chemistry to really sustain me and I find the acting uneven and there is a lot of manufactured forced feeling going on here. I’m way behind on watching SG but after each episode I find myself saying, “now what was the point of that episode?”.

  41. love this review! don’t agree with everything you said – that’s expected – but agreed with enough and more than that, enjoyed reading the reviews! still a little surprised you dropped Sungkyunkwan because yeap the main leads were a little flat in chemistry, but thought the script was top-notch. also Coffee House – personally i don’t love it per se as well, but thought it had some brilliant writing.

    honestly, REALLY enjoyed this review though, looking forward to next year’s! :D

    (Merry Xmas and have a great drama-watchin’ 2011! :))

  42. Thank you for the dedication, ockoala!!! Wow, I’m blushing, LOL.

    I thought this was a great year for kdramas. Looking forward to 2011 and more of your fabulous posts. Merry Christmas!!

  43. “fraking frak frak” really took the cake there!

    I watched BG in preparation for Jung So Min’s PK, but I never did get to finish PK (couldn’t get past episode 7 so I just read your recaps…haha)

    PT was such a pity, I think…I made it to episode 10 for the kiss and then continued to ep11 since the kiss continued for a bit there, but really I couldn’t take any more of it either so I quit forcing myself. (If I really wanted to see Lee Min Ho, I could always google screencaps of him, so no more reason to sit through PT)

  44. My Girlfriend Is A Gumiho is my pick for best drama of the year.
    Two episodes does not give any drama a fair chance.
    This drama is superbly written and in the ended beautifully acted.
    I know of several people who absolutely loved this drama even from the very beginning. Although I know the feeling of writing off a drama early.
    However my feeling from experience is that it takes me at least 6 episodes to figure out whether or not I will give up a drama…..

  45. thanks ockoala!!!

    just drop by to say thank you for making my drama watching this year so wonderful!
    i really had a great time reading your thoughts about the dramas that you watched and of course your recaps of Playful Kiss.

    its been a wonderful ride and for me your blog is still my happy place.
    even though, im not currently participating too much in the comments segment, i still stalk your blog like a hawk coz i feel that i did flood your thread too much during PK recaps. but i know in the near future i may not hold myself again and unleash the commentor in me (LOL!).

    but here is where i met wonderful people who shared their thoughts and feelings.
    i’ll be forever grateful to this blog for helping me realize the power of expressing one’s self. i was such a wonderful feeling to be able to shared my thoughts with others whose been understanding and accepting.

    again thank you ockoala!!! its been fun! i do hope that in 2011, it will be much fun and one hell of a ride again!

    P.S.

    can i repost some of the parts of your reviews on our blog (http://simplysomin.blogspot.com) the playful kiss part that is, i promise full credit will be given.

    thanks in advance!

    Happy New Year Ockoala!!!

    • Please go right ahead! Sorry I haven’t responded until now, been unable to access the internet for days. Thanks for the lovely compliment and well-wishes!

  46. Dear ockoala, as much as I made a promise to myself to stay off my lappie for this hols, I couldn’t resist sneaking one more peak into your blog ;-). But am
    I glad I did, I was kind of hoping that you would do a year end drama review of 2010, looks like my wish came true :-)

    Sometime this mid-2010 marks the first time that I have ventured fully into watching Korean dramas. Prior to this, I have made several attempts to try a few dramas based on either recommendations from friends, or the hype surrounding the drama. Unfortunately, after 2-3 episodes, I was either underwhelmed or couldn’t feel enough for the drama to continue with it, although I admit that I was pretty impressed by the beauty in how the dramas were executed.

    A very interesting conversation with one of my dinner chums changed by view though, and sometime mid this year I decide to give K-dramas a go again, and since I was spoilt for choice at the many dramas available, for a start, I decided to start on a fairly clean slate with dramas commencing 2010. However, with work and family committments, major time constraints means that I wasn’t able to catch all of it, but here are my views on the ones that I’ve watched so far:

    Personal Taste –
    I’ll be the first to admit, one of the reasons I watched this was Lee Min Ho. No, I didn’t watch Boys Over Flowers, but the hype surrounding the show couldn’t be ignored, and people who caught the show were so raving over his performance in BOF. The premise of PT also sounded promising, with the anticipation of the romantic and comedic hijinks that could ensue based on “My roomie can be my next BFF cos’ he’s gay and I feel safe around him” and “I’m as straight as an arrow but pretending to be gay”. For Son Ye Jin, although I have not personally watched any of her other dramas, I have heard that she is an actress with the substance to be able to carry the drama through.

    True to its form, there were some truly comedic moments in the drama, and while some may have pointed out that Son Ye Jin looked more like a noona next to Lee Min Ho, I could feel the chemistry flowing between them from initial roommates, to besties who look out and confide in each other, to the simmering romantic tension between each other. Yet, however, after the ‘Game Over’ kiss and the romantic relationship coming into full force, the drama seems to fall apart into pieces, throwing in all kinds of elements into the drama seemingly just for the main reason to introduce the angst upon angst into the drama.

    Even the chemistry between the leads seem to have taken a nosedive after that, and I sorely miss the playful bantering and bickering that had dominated their conversations in the beginning. The 2nd leads in this drama were pathetic to say the least, adding on to the toxic mix of being clingy and whiny together. I can’t say I feel an ounce of sympathy or redeeming factor in either of them, and whenever they appear on my lappie screen, I so want to turn it off, or mute them into silence. One of the saving graces of this show would probably be the character of Director Choi (brilliantly portrayed by Ryu Seung Ryong). At the end of the drama, his character was the only one I felt the most empathy with, and was rooting for a good ending for. Unfortunately, it was not to be so, and this show would be one that at first bite it seemed sweet, but subsequently let down with bitter tastes left in my mouth

    My Girlfriend was a Gumiho –
    I had never intended to start on this drama. However, reading the recaps on this show on Dramabeans piqued my curiosity on this show, so I started on 1 episode. I was hooked on this drama from then on. I began playing catch up, and marathoned the drama for that whole week before catching up with its broadcast by ep 10. The drama was fun loving, the OTP was endearing to watch, the development of the relationship and the story was well-paced, the interactions and chemistry shared between the characters believable. The 2nd leads were a refreshing change as well. Sure, they tried to keep the OTP apart, but their reasons for doing so was motivated by other agenda rather than “I want him/her for myself”. It was also interesting to see how how the elements of fantasy and legends (eg. fox bead) from past times provides the crucial tie ins in the decisions, feelings and responsibilities made in this modern-day drama

    One winning point of this drama was that of the reversal of roles played in the relationship, in which the female takes the lead in being the one who expresses her feelings so outwardly first, which allowed Shin Mina to shine in her role as innocently sweet and charming Mi-Ho ya, pivotal in the progression of Lee Seung Gi’s Dae Woong from an immature rich boy to the big man willing to take the responsibilities in life and in relationships. The other actors / actresses fit into their various roles well enough. Quite a fair bit has been commented on No Min Woo’s role as the gumiho hunter, but I think his acting chops was limited by the role scripted for him. I would love to see him in other more meaty roles for the future dramas if possible.

    While I had loved this drama on the whole, this drama wasn’t without its flaws, but what I wasn’t expecting was for it to falter almost nearing the end of the drama, where the angle of “noble sacrifice for no rational reason” is introduced. While the show had redeemed itself well right about the end, it felt like I had to eat hard and sour candy for at least 1-2 episodes before getting there. All that bring said, it was an enjoyable experience drama on the whole, and my colleague and I to this day keep joking about having prime Korean beef for lunch.

    Sungkyunkwan Scandal –
    Unfortunately, this drama came at a timing where I was facing major problems at work, and I simply didn’t have the mood or energy to follow up with the episodes of this drama. I only caught around 4 episodes of it, but I will make it a point to continue with it, only because of Song Joong Ki’s charismatic turn of his role Gu Yong Ha. Can’t say I feel very much for the rest of the characters yet, but I believe I’ll change my mind once I’m finished with it.

    Joseon X-files / Secret Investigation Record –
    I have not watched every korean drama in 2010 to make any form of comparison, but if anyone were to say this is by far the best k-drama of 2010, I would wholeheartedly agree to the fact. This drama by far was the most riveting I’ve ever watched. A testament to the fact is that I marathoned this drama in a matter of 4 days (3 episodes in one night). This is not by far the typical Korean drama that is usually presented, and I would not recommend watching this drama if you are in the mood for some light-hearted fare. Without particularly big names helming the show, it seems like the production crew are able to put aside all expectations and come up with a winner here with a visually stunning cinematography, solid acting and excellent story line. One of the major points I appreciated about the story line was that I finally get to see a female lead, who’s both brain and brawn, matching up in terms of wit, strength and courage with the male lead. The romantic undertones between them were subtle, but even then, it speaks volumes of how much they appreciate and care for each other.

    Granted, a lot of questions are pretty much left unanswered and open to our interpretation (Eg. Yoon Yi’s background, Hyung Do’s ending etc.), but I believe that has been the underlying beauty of this drama in which the message is that there is no perfectly black or white, correct or wrong explanation for everything that happens. Even with the bare facts presented before people, different interpretations of the facts could mean a different story to everyone.

    In fact, I might just watch the whole series again right up to the end, and probably come up with different conclusions as I had the first time. This drama is certainly my recommended watch for the year!

    The Women Who Still Wants To Marry/ Still Marry Me –
    Sad to say, this was one drama series I have yet to catch up with (only starting to catch ep 1-2). But I’m gearing towards this drama being the number 2 best k-drama in 2010 I’ve watched after Joseon X-files. I’ll probably try to marathon this show and give it a more proper personal view on it by end of the year, but suffice to say, I’m enjoying the friendship bonding between the 3 friends and ladies calling the final shots in their lives, be it personal or professional is a sure-win recipe on my menu for k-dramas.

    Mary Stayed Out All Night / Marry Me, Mary! –
    What can I say? I deliberately left my view for this drama to the final one. I’m so suffering a love-hate relationship with this drama right about at this point. On one hand, this drama has been the undeniable crack of my drama watching for 2010, yet at the same time, the objective mind following the drama seriously willl like to turn the whole drama off from now and forget that I’ve ever started on it. We have a fine cast (The Geun-Geun couple, Kim Jae Wook), yet with such choppy scripting and story line, even the finest acting can only do so much. One might argue that the change of writers had hurt the story progression, and this is one fact I do not deny, considering the transit from a story that was not making any headway to one that is akin to going on a crazy roller coaster ride. Even reading the written previews on some of the latest episodes can prove to be a heart burner because of anticipating of what further angst and craziness would come out of it.

    Yet, despite all these, I still am staying faithful to this drama with all my heart, and I have the OTP for this drama to thank. From the start of ep 1, Moon Geun Young as Mae-Ri and Jang Geun Suk as Mu-Gyul have seriously lit up my screen with their on-screen chemistry. It was nothing short of sizzling and sweet, quite a potent mix that glued my eyes to this drama since it started. From the onslaught, it was pretty clear that this drama will be their show and no one else. It might be on a safe note to say, if not for MGY and JGS’s convincing portrayal of MR and MG respectively, I think this drama will probably fall flat in no time at all considering the writing is already the weakest link to this drama. Since I more or less have conceded the story line would probably get even crazier from here, the only optimism I’m going to hold on to is that our OTP can get the ending they wanted. And yes, the OTP are also my no. 1 couple pairing for this year

    Ultimately, I can only lament MSOAN was a drama that had so much potential for development, be it in terms of story or characters from the start. Given a better writing directive, I believe the 2nd leads could have been characters we can sympathise with or even ship across to the alternate pairing and the parents might not have come across as seemingly one sided villians. Alas, this was not to be so, so I think the best I’ll do is to just sit back and see this drama through to the finish, and reserve my further views (if I still have any left) till after the drama ends.

  47. Thanks for the review! It gave me so many laughs, but one look at the Kim Jae Wook picture for Bad Guy sent me to comatose swoon land. I actually loved many of the dramas that you put in the can’t-finish-cuz-it-sucked-too-much category, and I must say: you are one tough koala to please.

    • Not at all, Sunshine, I’m exceedingly easy to please. I specifically said that the dramas I didn’t finish, some of which are likely very good objectively. I simply didn’t enjoy, i.e. it didn’t connect with me for whatever reason. I hardly would call those dramas “it-sucked-too-much”.

  48. Dear Ockoala,

    Thank for the many recappings you have done throughout the year. I’m definitely looking forward to 2011.

    Have a safe and happy new year!!! ^_^

    FIGHTING!

    Respectfully,

    A Reader

  49. We definitely don’t have similar tastes, but one thing I agree with is that Kang Ji Hwan’s acting was off to me in Coffee House. I’m so glad I’m not the only that feels that way. I watched it until the end, but I wish I hadn’t.

  50. Thanks Ockoala and everyone for their opinions/insights, and those who have nothing to contribute except “U hav such a bad taste u suuuck” *ahem* go play somewhere else…

    I can’t contribute because I haven’t watched much drama, I tried PK but didn’t like, but seeing how you liked it I might give it another try, Anyway once M3 is over I’ll go over your review once again and pick a drama to feed my addiction ,)

    And this comment “I could have sworn that I took a brief nap after college, only to wake up with an entire family and a boatload of new responsibilities.” Exactly how I feel looool HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

  51. This is all the drama 2010 that I have watched:
    Love it:
    1. Pasta
    2. Playful Kiss
    3. Sungkyukwan Scandal
    4. Dr. Champ
    5. My Gf is Gumiho
    6. Bad Guy
    7. Fugitive Plan B
    8. Daemul
    9. Please Marry Me
    10. Secret Garden + MSOAN ( I put these two together because I have’nt finished watching this drama till last episode, but I love it so far)
    11. Baker King, Kim Tak Go
    12. Ob/Gin
    13. Smile You (because this drama end in March 2010, I put it in 2010 drama)

    Not too Bad drama (like it but…)
    1. Personal taste
    2. Oh My Lady
    3. Pick the Stars
    4. Prosecutor Princess
    5. Secret Agent Miss Oh/Call of my Country
    6. Chuno
    7. Cinderella Sister
    8. A man called God
    9. Becoming Billionare
    10. Still Merry Me

    I look forward to watch Athena, My Princess, Daddy’s Girl, Smile Dong Hae,Gloria, You don’t know woman,Joseon X-files and many more.. including upcoming drama Midas (look forward to watch..)

    And the last I want to thanks to Koala for her playground which accomodate me and other people who loves Kdrama to express their feelings here.. I will always read your recap for another new K drama..

    Rgds,
    vi4

  52. Dear Ockoala,

    Before bidding 2010 goodbye, I would like to extend my great appreciation for your unfaltering love and commitment to this happy playground. Visiting your place has made my 2010 drama adventure FUN. You are one awesome Ockoala!

    You and fellow PKissers made my obsession memorable! (my first drama addiction!!) Turning your playground into a PK wonderland was a gift. Meeting and sharing my love of Hyunmin with so many PK kinfolks was one HUGE party…one that I will always fondly remember…

    JOY & HAPPINESS to you and the Ockoala drama clan for the coming New Year! See you around!!

  53. surely King of Baking, Kim Tak Goo has to be in with the mix of besties of the year (im just over half way through now after putting it off for ages, but am now absolutely obsessed with it, such a great story) If the last 10 eps are anything like the first 20, it could well be my favouite drama of 2010

    i loved Chuno, mainly cos Hyukkie was on board :D plus the title track of that drama was incredible, such a great mix of old and modern music.

    A man called God was just rubbish even with the super hottie lead male. The lead female is gorgeous too but she wouldnt be able to act herself out of a paper bag if it was required.

    I am legend was ok, kindof wanted her to get back with the ex husband though in the end, like you mentioned the husband and wife chemistry was so much better than the love interest.

    I loved Bad Guy, music was great and i was totally in love with both lead males, i didnt mind the story at all and would have loved the extra episodes, and totally agree that it is about time Jae Wook oppa got a leading man role and gets the girl at the end, he deserves it.

    I didnt mind Personal Taste, it wasnt amazing but it did have a great kiss scene.

    Secret Garden although not finished yet i am in love with it, Hyun Bin oppa is incredible in it and i love the main female lead (What happened in Bali was one of my favourite Kdramas and i also loved her in Hwang Ji Yi). It has also provided many classic love/angst scenes, cant even explain how many times i said OMO when HB was doing sit ups :D, plus i believe a lot of this drama is dialogue driven, as i often watch dramas in RAW form cos i cant wait, i find myself missing out on a lot of the comedy aspects when i rewatch it with subs.

    MMM, i was super excited about it at the beggining because of the cast, two of my favourite boys JGS and KJW and my favourite female actress MGY. Although it did lose its way and ultimately fall apart in the end, there were still many enjoyable moments in the drama. MGY can seriously do no wrong in my books.

    Dr. Champ felt like a massive waste of time, got about half way through and had to give up on it, and it isnt often that it happens cos i like to know how things end, but i just couldnt be bothered with it.

    Gloria i watched like the first 2 eps and gave up, but it might be something that i return to in the future, just didnt really have the patients for a 50 ep drama at the time

    My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, ive just started watching, LSG is great in a comedy role,he needs to do more of them i think.

    Coffe House had a good soundtrack and there were some really great scenes in the drama, i finished it but again not that satisfied because i was one of the few that wanted him to get with the T-ara girl, the lead guy is hilarious in the first few episodes then like half way through it got really serious and unnecessary, was so much better when it was just lighthearted

    Cinderella Unni, was my favourite for ages when it was airing, MGY again putting in a ridiculously good performance, it was amazing until the death of a certain character, it kindof lost its way after that. Oh and of course Yesungs amazing ost track, had that on repeat on the old itunes for a good few months.

    Prosecutor Princess was another love of mine, good story but was let down by the fact that the 2nd lead male (the guy from chuno) character was developed enough and at the end of the day was no match for the perfect Park Shi Hoo (my new obsession after watching this drama). Oh and he provided the best kiss scene surely of 2010, that sexy little smurk he gave, OMO i died a thousand times watching that, cos my heart stopped everytime i rewound to watch it again :P

    Oh! My Lady was ok, mainly watched it for a bit of siwon action, i enjoyed the story at the time but couldnt tell you what the drama was about if you asked me now :s all i remember is that the little girl is super cute :D

    Birth of the Rich Man was pants, watched about 3eps and gave up

    Happiness in the Wind still watching it, got into in late after a friends recommendation, the dramas a bit long though and although it is only 30 mins an ep, it does kindof put you off watching it when there are 173 eps and the production looks so low budget :s

    SKKS, PK, Road Number One and Pasta and ones that i have still to start watching. Not sure if i am going to bother with PK though, cos i recently started rewatching the taiwan version and got bored and wondered why i liked it so much in the first place :s

    Sorry about the super long post got a bit carried away

  54. you writing kills me! no no no don’t get upset, i mean this in a good way! seriously, you have me cracking up in the middle of the night, which is always good. and truly, you are convincing me to check out dramas i had only heard about or seen their titles as i scanned for my next kdrama fix. i really appreciate all the work that you put into these posts. truly. :)

    on another note, i completely agree with the others who say you should rewatch gumiho. the hong sisters do NOT disappoint. that drama is worth it for the OST alone.

    thanks again for all your work! i cant wait to check out some of your favorites that i missed.

  55. Woshoo! I just read this. Sorry Im relatively new to your site hope Im forgiven.
    Weeh this list gives me a hint what to watch and some information of what Ive watched too. Ive seen Mary Stayed Out All Night and Im likin or say lovin it. The two leads spells PERFECTION. Dont care about the storyline . Also Playful Kiss. I like it too. It’s cute. I love the pairing of MMM and PK. OTP is really very important for me in drama. Tried watching too SKKS, well I finished it but No impact. Sorry. It’s Okay. That’s all hehe. My GF is Gumiho I tried to watch but i dont know why it also bored me and I ended in 7th I guess the Girl is cute but nothing extra ordinary special. I watched MMM because I saw him in He is Beautiful . Im not a super fan of He is Beutiful But the I’d say thank you for introducing me to JGS who I love more in MMM. I think i’d better watch his other movies. I always have a soft heart with MGY eversince.

    Guess what, here in the Philippines so long the Ber month begins, it is already Christmas..
    Hahaha. Can see many Christmas decors already in the street and Christmas carole. Let me be the first to greet you Merry Christmas!
    And after 2011, Hello 2012. I am looking forward again for your 2011 Year End K-Drama Reviews. No pressure. hehe I know you write whenever you want to.

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