Hot off the presses, I have for your reading pleasure a quick round-up of my 4 most current Kdrama watches! Some I would recommend more than others, but either way, I hope that perhaps you find my thoughts interesting to read, even if you have no intentions of ever spending as much time on them as I do!
(Although, to be fair, there are two ladies who run an entire website devoted to picking Kdramas apart and writing about their tropes and themes, so… At least I’m not there yet! (It’s called dramabeans.com, if you’re interested. They also publish a series of e-books on the subject, if you have some money to spend and want an interesting read on subjects frequently visited in Kdramas, plus Korean culture!))
So, let’s get started then, shall we?
1. Hong Gil Dong
This drama is based on the stories of Hong Gil Dong, obviously, who was a Robin-Hood figure in Korean stories–you know, stole from the rich, gave to the poor, fought the injustice of the system, etc. Not for the faint of heart! You need to either be okay with ambiguous, skewed-toward-not-happy endings, or just like it when your dramas end on a sad note. I’m not that kind of person, but I didn’t know beforehand, so… I’M WARNING YOU!
Anyway! In this drama we have the protagonist, Hong Gil Dong, who was the offspring of a Minister father and a slave. (Takes place in the past, for clarification–a historical fusion drama, since I don’t think they had glowsticks in old Korea…) Although he is a genius and driven, society tells him he can’t be his father’s successor, so he gradually gives up his dreams and becomes the town troublemaker, existing on the fringe and dreaming of the day when he can leave and go to China, so he doesn’t have to care about his father anymore. These plans are thwarted when he finds a dying man, thus tangling him up with a group of thieves and gradually keeping him in town until he realizes he wants to fight against the system that told him he could be nothing.
On the side is Yi Nok, a girl wandering with her grandfather, who has just come back from China. While trying to make money with questionable medicine, Yi Nok gets involved with Gil Dong, starting one of the best friendship-based romances (and saddest) I’ve seen. As in, you can actually kind of see why these guys like each other, besides that the plot demands it. There is also a whole plot about a crazy king and the legitimate brother he tried to assassinate coming back to claim the throne, but I mostly considered that a nuisance that just got in the way of the main romantic interests.
A good drama, but the ending was NOT my cup of tea… Plus, I was so invested in the main couple that I couldn’t seem to care about anything else in the drama, which resulted in a lot of skipping towards the end. (I’m terrible.) Also, be warned that you WILL cry when Yi Nok does–she might come off as frightfully simple, but that girl is all heart. And second-female-lead is annoying as HECK. (Also: Jang Geun Suk was cute as the prince fighting for the throne, and seeing him in a more humble second-fiddle role was refreshing, but it’s hard not to hate him at the end…Boo.)
2. The Master’s Sun
Beware: gushing ahead. This was DEFINITELY the run-ahead winner of this batch. I was hesitant, since the Hong Sister’s had just totally screwed me over with Hong Gil Dong, but I’m SO GLAD I watched this one after! I was literally crying my eyes out, and I just needed something to provide a balm to my open wounds–and Master’s Sun fit the role beautifully.
Joo Joong Won is a money-hungry jerk who, you know, owns a shopping mall. (Who’d have thunk it?) All he thinks about is numbers, and how they equal cold, hard cash. So imagine his distaste when a crazy-looking woman attaches herself to him at the hip, claiming to be able to see ghosts, and that only his touch can make them go away? You have the recipe for an AWESOME drama, and lots and LOTS of skinship! (So, so much touching. <3) Tae Gong Sil is the woman, who was in an accident that left her seeing ghosts. Although she tries to hide from them, they keep coming to her, wanting her to do things for them… Which is why she is so ecstatic to find Joong Won, and carve out a slice of normal life for herself. But he has a ghost of his own haunting him, as well as a missing necklace worth thousands–hence the beginning of their partnership together.
I’m now going to spam you with gifs, because the things Joong Won does with his hands are HILARIOUS and MESMERIZING.
I could go on, but I think you get the idea. xD One of the best things about this drama is the I, personally, found the side-stories and filler stuff OUTSIDE of their relationship to be worth watching–I never ONCE skipped anything in this series, and if you know me, that’s a HUGE DEAL! The secondary-relationship was cute, if not amazing, but they spent just the right amount of screen time on it so I didn’t get bored. And the ghost thing was pretty cool–the first few episodes are a liiiiittle scary, though, so I wouldn’t watch them at night!
Probably my only critique would be about the lead-up to the ending. Not the ending itself–unlike Gil Dong, this has my kind of ending, aka a happy one–but the conflict BEFORE the ending. It seemed kind of vague and drawn-out. Like the writers knew there SHOULD be a conflict, that they couldn’t just have the main characters get together yet, but that their attempts at keeping the two apart were half-hearted at best. Even the characters themselves seemed to be wandering around going, ‘I don’t understand. Why aren’t we together yet?’
One of my favorite things in the drama, besides Joong Won’s hands, Tae Gong Sil, and all the touching–the fact that, unlike most other dramas with rich jerks as the main leads, Tae Gong Sil is COMPLETELY UNAFFECTED by his blustering exterior and mean words, which takes all the bite out of them, making him a really enjoyable character from the get-go. You never have that ‘I hate you!’ moment with him for hurting the main girl, because SHE DOESN’T EVEN CARE. It’s the best. (Well, until towards the end… But you’ll see.)
I LOVED THIS SHOW THOUGH FOR REAL.
3. Me Too, Flower!
This drama made me feel uncomfortable more than once, ha ha! Sometimes that was a good thing, and other times not so much, but at the end of the day, I really enjoy Yoon Si Yoon, so I had to give it a watch. (And coming on the heels of Master’s Sun, it was never going to live up to its predecessor.)
SO! Bong Sun, in a refreshing display of being a troubled main character whose troubles were NOT superficial, but mental and internal, is depressed. Her parents divorced and practically abandoned her to raise herself at 14, and though there were probably legitimate reasons for this, it has left its mark in that she has never really felt loved. She has a job she worked hard for at the local police station, but her attitude has kept her from rising in the ranks, making her feel more malcontent… And then she meets Jae Hee, an (apparently) poor valet for a shopping mall (OH MY GOD) who keeps getting on her nerves and under her skin.
Little does she know that he is actually the mysterious half-owner of the mall, as well as a purse designer! He’s got some mental hoops of his own, however–like dealing with the guilt of accidentally killing his best friend, and the subsequent years of trying to make it up to the widow and her child. Basically, the two of them are kind of broken, and they need each other to feel normal.
Nice, solid, if nothing spectacular. Worth the watch for Yoon Si Yoon’s make-out skills, if nothing else…. That man can KISS. No cookie-cutter, deer-in-headlights kissing in THIS drama! Also wins the award for most awful and nefarious and messed-up and scene-stealing second-female-lead, at least that comes to mind. She gets Bong Sun’s SISTER to try to break up the main couple–who does that? Her only saving grace is that she seems to love her son. Good for her?
(Oh, and the creepy aspect being the side-relationship between Bong Sun’s psychiatrist, 40, and Bong Sun’s step-sister, 24. That might not bother some people, but it just made my skin crawl a little. Not a fan.)
4. My Girl
I think–although you can correct me if I’m wrong–that this is the oldest Drama I’ve watched to date. It aired in 2005, and although you can definitely tell its age–ancient cellphones, slightly grainier camera–the ideas were basically the same as any modern drama, relying heavily on the Korean family and piety ideals that can sometimes be hard to relate to from the Western world. (Or maybe I’m just a heathen that way!)
So, this is a peppy little unassuming drama about Yoo Rin, a girl who is good at lying and always on the run because of her irresponsible father’s gambling debts. While working as a tour guide, she runs across the path of hotel inheritor Gong Chan, a hard-working guy who is as straight and narrow as Yoo Rin is flexible. But he’s got a problem–his grandfather’s ailing health, caused by guilt at the exile of his daughter and her subsequent death, resulting in a missing granddaughter he is having no luck at finding.
Through twists and turns, Gong Chan asks Yoo Rin to pretend to be his cousin–which could, of course, have NO POSSIBLE DOWNSIDES. Since Yoo Rin is desperate to pay off her father’s debts, she agrees–and them immediately falls in love with him, creating no end of problems and mental anxieties. Throw in Gong Chan’s friend, a playboy who loves Yoo Rin, and Gong Chan’s ex, a tennis player who left him without a word when his parents died and has now come back into the picture, and… Well, I think you get the idea.
Namely that they’re involved in a ton of lies. And if they want to get together, people can’t think they’re RELATED. And if grandfather says no, then I guess no…?
Although cute, it suffered where many dramas suffer–at the end. Sure, it has generic-happy-ending, and that always makes ME happy, but it seemed half-hearted. They spent so much time making Yoo Rin push Gong Chan away for NO GOOD REASON, only to have them back together kind of sloppily in the last 5 minutes. Also, there was a side-thing between two other characters that NEVER GOT ANY KIND OF CLOSURE. Did they get together?? Nobody will ever know. I’m going to assume so, but hey, it would have been nice if they took a minute or two to wrap things up properly.
That is me, pretty much all the time, watching these things.
Anyway, thanks for sticking around! 🙂 I’ve realized I do one of these about every two weeks–which means I can watch 4 16-24 episode shows in two weeks. CRAZY. No life, lol. Still learning Korean. Working. Being boring. xD Really DO have a post about being productive planned–will probably post that next week.