An Empress’s Dignity and Sky Castle are the December 2018 Surprise Hits Over High Profile Memories of Alhambra and Encounter

Right now there are four dramas doing well in their respective ratings but two are surprise underdogs that are garnering ratings far above expected and the other two are high profile big budget expected successes that are just meeting expectations. As a whole this is a great month for K-dramas in a while and it’s thanks to the runaway success of jTBC Sky Castle, the makjang deliciousness of An Empress’s Dignity bringing viewers back to prime time, the quiet sweetness of Encounter (Boyfriend), and the fantasy AR freshness of Memories of Alhambra. Encounter is doing 8-9% ratings and Memories 7-8% which is great for cable, but Sky Castle just hit 11.298% on its latest episode 10 with zero big name stars or advanced publicity. And on the big three channels, Empress nearly hit 18% with 17.9% on it’s latest episode and is officially the highest prime time K-drama of 2018 surpassing Return.


An Empress’s Dignity and Sky Castle are the December 2018 Surprise Hits Over High Profile Memories of Alhambra and Encounter — 32 Comments

  1. This can be a crazy, stressful and sometimes depressing time of the year for some, so I totally get An Empress’s Dignity and Sky Castle being fun escapism. I’m hoping a legal site picks up Sky Castle in my neck of the woods so I can check it out.

  2. People care about relatable, interesting stories and well written characters more than big name actors and cinderella stories these days. That said, PSH’s new movie will be more important to her acting career than Memories of the Alhambra if the drama continues to treat her like a cameo role. I’ve been saying, she better stick to Chungmuro for the next year and choose a drama where she won’t have a secondary role. And rabid fans, before you jump on my throat, I’m not hating on PSH, she still has some hope left. Unlike Song Hye Kyo who always, always plays safe. She’s good at what she does now. At the beginning of her career she got a lot of critique for her acting until she found her comfort zone and she’s nowadays good at what she does. The minute she steps out of her comfort zone, she doesn’t do well anymore. Doesn’t she attend acting classes? After 2 yrs, this is PBG’s comeback? Creepy fake teeth smile and ugly hair? Eww… that’s far away from Choi Taek, which might be the only character that he actually played well. HB… he will keep laying jerk chaebols turning into hubby material forever, right? Screams comfort zone too.

    • @prettyautumn did u watch her movies a reason to live, camellia and my brilliant life? Her acting and characters there are so different from her dramas. She also won an acting award for a reaon to live in Women in film korea awards and even though hwangjini didnt do well in box office she won best new actress in korea film awards and a best new actress and best actress nomination in grandbell and blue dragon awards. Imo she really tried to play different characters is just that her dramas are so popular that her film performances is over shadow. And people will easily jump on and critic her that she never tries to play a different characters.

    • eh, the last empress is literally unrelatable and cinderella-ish in the highest makjang form. Not sure if you really watch it cause Encounter is actually less kdrama-ish than SKY castle and the last empress, it looks like Jdrama so character that over the top is the trend, not relatable as sky castle also an exaggerated version of school system when everyone is miserable.

    • @Prettyautumn Oh no one’s gonna jump on your throat. Just wanna lmao that you’ve seen enough of Hyun Bin and Song Hye Kyo works to label them in such ways. Do your research first please before you come to this lame conclusion.

    • Yeah pretty auntum I hope park shin hye stick to movie and didn’t comeback to kdramaland since they threat her worst like supporting role in MOA. Since hyun bin dominated screen all the time just look at the rating now. Since moa very high budget than encounter, EC have better rating cause power of main lead. I beat next year 2019 Vagabond and Asadal drama will be flop and not well received rating just like MOA and Encounter. And jtbc will comeback with another winner drama like sky castle.

  3. You mean 2018? 2019 hasn’t started yet. Anyway, glad for TLE’s success. That and MoA are the shows I’m following now. Empress is crazy. Only downside is the slow subbing on Viki, it’s bordering on incompetence and I’m paying for VikiPass but have no subs. Grrr

  4. I love your postings koala. It’s refreshing to read what you posted on the shows etc.
    You are right – Empress is totally crazy but fun to watch

    • I can’t help watching it ! Another example that nobody can predict a success ! Sky castle is in another league and the casting is perfect. Miss Koala didn’t talk about ” Fluttering warning” . I know that some YEH fans were disappointed but script aside it was interesting as for once we saw a different kind of couple in dramaland. I’m watching yoo seung ho’s drama but something is lacking for me . Sad because i like him so much. Clean it with passion…is a forgettable one and Moon Chae won’s drama Wasn’t my cup of tea. That’s just my opinion .

      • I am also surprised Ms Koala didn’t talk about FW and CiwP after these dramas have aired because she wrote so much in anticipation before airing. It will be nice to read her thoughts on them. I have dropped FW after ep 12 and CiwP after ep 4. CiwP is a mess with much overacting ?

  5. Empress is legit out of this world (that Emperor is a NUT lmao) but I can’t look away. I guess that is the drama’s charm. Just when you think things can’t get any more wild, it’s like oh you thought? Nawh *slaps in the face* and just goes right on one upp-ing itself on the psycho-meter.

  6. Koreans must be have a thing for crazy and rich killer like in Return or Last Empress… At least, The Last Empress is so crazy that it is fun to watch.

    For Sky Castle, there is not one big name but all the actors are famous veterans actors.

    My favourite between them is MoA, the story is very orginal and interesting.

  7. Original storyline was good for Empress. Went a bit haywire after death of Dowager. Thankfully ep 11-12 has been more sane and viewers starting to feel the payback coming together for lead couple ie Empress and Bodyguard. Really requires ‘suspension of belief’, this drama does.

  8. It’s all about the pace and intensity of conflicts. The script needs to be able to capture the viewers’ attention. TLE and SC are pretty good examples of this, regardless of the actual theme of the drama.

    I think it’s possible that SBS award the Grand Prize this year to Jang Nara solely because of the insane ratings of TLE, even though her performance doesn’t really measure up to that in Go Back Spouses.

  9. peole are into over the top drama these days, not a reality drama. That’s how return, the last empress, sky castle, my golden lifr are dominating.

  10. Sky castle has great actors, the story, even it makjang and over the top, pretty engaged for korean audiences. My Empress has JNR, SSR etc, so it isnt starless either.
    They maybe dont have “popular star power” or big budget like Encounter and Alhambra, but now people watch drama not only for the pretties (actors, landscapes etc) but interesting storyline. simple things can be interesting too.

  11. I actually thought from the drama description that SC was boring . But since it has been getting good reviews , I decided to give it a one episode do-or-die shot . It is stupendous ! Now I just need to catch up on 10 episodes worth ha ha ! Thank goodness for SC while to ease the yearning for Encounter ep 9 !

  12. The Best 2018 K-drama is undoubtly SKY CASTLE!
    The rest are second best at most.

    I hope 2019 will bring the same surprise in k-dramaland.

  13. Sky Castle is popular because Korean families are obsessed with getting their kids into the best schools/achieving top grades. It stems from their Confucian beliefs that a good education is key to a successful life. As a parent, I can relate to their mentality which is prevalent among East Asian societies. To those who say this drama is over the top, trust me, it isn’t. The only thing over the top is their houses (a perk or a right to live there perhaps?). Everything else including the story and the characters are all too relatable. I too have “begged” tutors to squeeze in lessons for my child and then rolled my eyes after hanging up the phone! lol

    The Last Empress is pure escapism and makjang in the highest order. It is so crazy and good at the same time you simply can’t not watch it! Makjang is back with a vengeance!

  14. Sky Castle is amazing! Yes, it’s a somewhat “extreme” story of Korean parents’ obsession with ensuring their kids get to the best Universities, but telling it in black satire style (rather than exaggerated) to bring up the excessiveness. It works very well! The script is brilliant, the acting is amazing (mostly subtle and realistic except for some characters) and the cinematography is so beautiful! The show is addictive!

    I watched MOA cuz the story premise sounds very interesting. But find it a bit slow-moving, and now stuck at ep 4. May get back to it again later.

    Now trying out The Last Empress first episode. Now this show is really exaggerated lol, esp the acting. Will try a few more episodes to see if it’s my cup of tea.

  15. Cfpn as much as I love Kim Yoo Jung I’ve parked it at episode 9. FW left that hanging at episode 4 or 5 can’t remember. These 2 dramas and the love triangle scenario just isn’t me and it just tries my patience. Yes it’s hard to keep watching dramas that you have a keen interest in and then are finding it a churn to keep watching it’s almost out of loyalty. SC and TLE will keep when the series ends and I’m in the mood for some fun and hilarity. MOA and Encounter are still on my weekly watch fixed list. However right now I’m waiting for the subs of A pledge to God and watching 2 C dramas Story of Yanxi Palace and Story of Ming Lan. I’m so hooked I’m going squared eyed from all the bingeing. The protagonist in Story of Yanxi Palace is my idol. Gosh I’m in love with the scriptwriter/s of this gem.

    • Oh and if you want a migraine before New Years just watch Coffee do me a favour! That will seriously do your head in. I’m on to episode 9 and I ask myself why why why did I keep watching? I’m so peeved that I put myself through the wringer just to see if Lee Seul Bi would resurrect and learn to love herself but oh nooo the pretty skinny alter ego does. I give up! Watch at your own peril.

    • Yes, what’s with KYJ’s acting? Seems like she has put on reverse gear and going backwards… Too much overacting…. I am disappointed in this drama. Dropped ? Not a good sign for her comeback.

  16. Tvn promote memories of alhambra since may with very high budget 25b won. They only make park shin hye as supporting role. What a joke!! But I’m happy to see this drama didn’t did well lose popularity and rating against sky castle. Such wasted psh talent, I hope one day she can get role as chaebol or CEO like song hye kyo not poor damsel in distress.

    • What talent? She too has put on reverse gear and acts like in Heirs. I cannot see ant talent whatsoever. She was a hotel owner also in MOA, and now she is a millionaire after selling the hotel, has her acting changed?

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