[Memories] The Best Kdramas of 2018: My Top 5

Yes, I’m still there and I’m still watching Korean dramas! It’s been a tough year, and I really missed being able to write. This is why I will try my best to start writing again in 2019!

Because of many difficult issues in my personal and professional life, I had to stop updating this blog for quite a long time. But still, nothing could prevent me of watching my Kdramas! Dramas have been my sweet escape for many years now, and I’m really grateful for that.

Maybe because of everything that happened, my reactions to dramas slightly changed this year: I’ve become more sensitive about certain topics, and this impacted which shows I chose to watch and how I felt toward them.

Fortunately, nowadays there are plenty of options out there, so it’s easy to avoid specific genres or topics. Maybe too many options, actually… as The Fangirl Verdict said:

I used to try and keep up with Dramaland, especially after I started blogging. I’d try to stay on top on what dramas were airing, and which ones were good, and I’d try to watch all the reportedly good ones, because I’m a curious cat and FOMO is real, yo. Well. I think 2018 is the year that I realized it is humanly impossible to keep up with everything that Dramaland is putting out, and there is just not enough time in one person’s world, to watch all the reportedly good ones, and take time for the ones that you wanna watch, whether anyone else is interested or not.

Indeed. Sometimes it’s frustrating, for example when I find out about a drama by chance, and I think it’s amazing and I don’t understand why nobody seems to be talking about it! Imagine what other gems I could have missed! Unfortunately, I don’t have time to read daily Korean drama news so it’s hard to stay up to date.

On the other side, well, there’s really something for all tastes and moods! I used to watch 2 or 3 shows at the same time, but this year I’ve been often juggling with 5 or 6 dramas… so I can choose what to watch according to how I feel! (well, to be honest… it’s mostly because I always watch dramas as they start airing and I become frustrated waiting for episodes… so I keep watching new ones while I wait!)

After updating my Drama List for 2018, I found myself a bit confused as it felt like most of these titles were shows I watched rather recently. What happened during the first half of the year? Either my memory is distorted (uh oh…) or I’ve started the year watching 2017 dramas. Or maybe a bit of both.

Without further ado… here’s my top five!

5. Misty

misty

Misty is not among the most popular dramas of the year, and it’s not a show everyone would enjoy. It’s dark, mysterious, captivating and definitely not your average Kdrama. The show’s main asset is the amazing performance of Kim Nam Joo and the complexity of her character, Go Hye Ran.

The theatrical, mysterious vibe of the drama and the older lead couple is what made me decide to watch. To be honest, I’m not getting any younger and I must say that sometimes all these Kdrama couples in their early twenties are a bit annoying. Here, our main couple was older but sexy and captivating, and it was quite refreshing to me.

All reviews of Misty mention the disappointing ending, and I completely agree with them. However, for me the strength of the drama was Go Hye Ran, regardless of the ending.

misty2

I strongly relate with Go Hye Ran. I’ve always been working hard, wanting to be successful at all costs. I’ve never been as bold and confident as her, however, but I understand her motivations.

Here’s what made her character even more complex: for her whole life, people never believed what she said, and always misread her intentions. As a result, she grew tired of explaining herself and gradually shut herself down, which actually made the situation worse and contributed even more to people misunderstanding her. Eventually, she reached a point where she didn’t even know how to express her real feelings, and she remained stuck in that vicious circle, getting even more misunderstood and hurt, shutting herself even more. I thought this was very interesting and unusual for a Kdrama character, and it fell very real, very human to me. Actually, looking at her made me understand a few things about myself. She was truly a fascinating character.

 

4. My Mister

my-mister-2

This one was a tough watch. I’ve read many reviews before finally deciding to give it a chance, and I liked it, but unlike many viewers, I was unable to get rid of the creeping sadness and hopelessness, even after it ended.

Everyone would agree that this drama is sad, even depressing at times, but it’s also very human and very beautiful, in many ways. However, the somewhat happy ending didn’t erase the sadness for me. Although he’s now successful and independent, Park Dong Hoon is still alone and looking at him still somehow breaks my heart. Lee Ji An may now be a permanent employee chatting happily with her colleagues, but her past that has been haunting her is still there. Therefore, for me, this “happy” ending looked more like “let’s pretend to be happy” ending… The main leads are not happier, but simply go on with their lives as they are expected to. After all, there’s this quote from the drama (thanks to Dramabeans):

“If you think about it, each and every interpersonal relationship is quite fascinating and precious. You must repay them. Live a happy life. That’s how you can repay the people in your life.”

So in the end they chose to be happy to “repay” each other for their help and support. But the pain inside remains, for sure. Those were my thoughts as I finished watching this drama, and obviously I felt quite depressed. I wish I’d be able to understand some day… maybe that’s how I can become happy? Yes chingudeul, this drama is VERY deep.

my-mister-3

But still, I liked it, I liked the acting of both leads (Lee Sun Kyun, amazing, and Lee Ji Eun [IU], finally proving without any doubts that she is a talented actress) and I liked being annoyed by the supporting characters and all their flaws. (although I really liked Jung Hee!) The cinematography and music were also gorgeous. A difficult but memorable drama.

 

3. What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?

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At first, I wasn’t going to include this one in my top 5. I now feel rather “meh” about it, because although it started very well, once we actually learn what’s wrong with Secretary Kim, it suddenly became quite boring to me. I had to force myself to watch the last episode…

However, there’s something I can’t forget: the fact that before it became boring, this drama made me laugh like very few dramas managed to do! I normally don’t really laugh out loud when I’m alone watching something, but I swear this drama had me laugh like crazy, even to the point of crying. For that, I must pay proper respect to this show. 🙂

For some reason I’m never quite sure if I like Park Min Young or not in general, but she often ends up impressing me somehow (see Queen for Seven Days). Here, her reactions  and facial expressions were HILARIOUS. Also, this is unrelated but I tried many times to copy her look but I failed miserably. Oh, that way-too-perfect ponytail…

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2. Suits

Suits-Poster3

It seems this drama wasn’t so popular, especially with people who had watched the original American series. Well, lucky me, I haven’t watched the American one and didn’t even know what the story was about.

I found Suits to be an absolutely delightful watch. Not too complicated, not too emotional, just perfectly nice to watch. I enjoyed the acting, the pace of the story, the music. I loved Jang Dong Gun as Choi Kang Seok, from the very beginning. His relationship with Go Yeon Woo was definitely the highlight of the drama. I also liked how Kang Seok, although so skilled and confident, was supported by two strong women: his boss and his assistant. As it happens with many series focused on character development, these characters grew on me and I didn’t want the drama to end. Should I allow myself to wish for a second season? Aigoo

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1. Mr. Sunshine

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There’s a lot I’d like to say about this drama, and hopefully I’ll be able to write a full post about it. I got emotionally invested quite a lot, and knew I’d be hurt (from the first episode it was pretty clear that it couldn’t end well—and it shouldn’t end well) but I couldn’t help it.

In think that in order to enjoy this drama, you need to forget about historical accuracy and political issues. Fortunately I have no problem doing that and this is probably why I was able to appreciate this series so much.

mr-sunshine3

Mr. Sunshine was absolutely gorgeous: cinematography, costumes, music… it was stunning. I’ve never been a big fan of Lee Byung Hun, but he really impressed me in this. I was deeply moved by his somewhat restrained performance, which made his character’s story even more heartbreaking. Kim Tae Ri was fine as Go Ae Shin, which is good enough as this kind of character can become annoying very easily.

The three other characters we see on the first image above, Kudo Hina, Goo Dong Mae and Kim Hee Sung, were equally interesting and their relationship with our two leads made the story even more captivating. At first, I must admit that Kudo Hina seemed to be a b****, Goo Dong Mae a cruel jerk and Kim Hee Sung an annoying idiot… but these three ended up breaking my heart again and again.

Captivating and painfully beautiful, is how I would describe this drama. I would totally put this image on my wall:

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Honorable Mentions

The following are two series I enjoyed watching, but I didn’t really feel emotionally involved and therefore consider them as light and easy entertainment. Don’t we all need that sometimes? 🙂

 

Lawless Lawyer

lawless-lawyer-korea-2018

Fast paced, fun and full of action, with super good good guys and super bad villains. You really need to forget about logic in order to enjoy this one, but once you do, it’s a very entertaining ride!

 

Terius Behind Me

Terius-Behind-Me

Uh… talking about logic… nothing makes much sense in this drama. I had to remind myself many times that this is a comedy and that I shouldn’t take anything too seriously. If you can manage to view it that way, this drama is definitely funny and entertaining. And of course, watching So Ji Sub babysitting two kids is quite priceless! I mean… look at this:

terius3

Squee is all I can say.

 

Strong Contender: Memories of the Alhambra

Memories-of-the-Alhambra

After watching 10 episodes, I’m quite certain I would include this one in my top 5… but I just can’t, because it’s not over yet! 10 episodes out of 16 is pretty safe, but still, there are dramas that manage to ruin it all toward the end… and I really hope this doesn’t happen! I hope to be able to write a full post about this series, because it’s totally worth it! To be continued…

 

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