Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Kdrama Reviews and Ratings

Looking for something to watch but don't know what to pick in the endless sea of kdramas? Do the released posters and summaries tell you absolutely nothing about what the drama's about? Unwilling to waste your time on a drama that goes nowhere for 14 to 30 episodes? Well you're in luck, because I've cheered through the great dramas and suffered through the nightmare ones for you.


After the jump, I've listed all the dramas I've watched with a brief, spoiler-free summation of the plot and my feelings about it. I've also given each drama a rating out of 5 stars (★★★★★). If I post a star that looks like ☆, consider it a half star (so ★★★★☆ would indicate 4.5 stars). As a bonus, I've also included my Top 5 Favorite Kdramas (which will change as I watch more series).

This list is in alphabetical order and will be updated as I complete kdrama series.
Last Updated October 2012


Kdramapedia's Top 5 All Time Dramas
  1. Gaksital/Bridal Mask
  2. The King 2 Hearts
  3. Shut Up Flower Boy Band
  4. Boys Over Flowers
  5. Goong

Drama Ratings


49 Days/49일 (2011) - ★★★★
20 episodes
What I love most about the show is the concept: you have 49 days to find 3 non-related people who will cry genuine tears of loss for you at your death. Heavy, right? Acting by Nam Gyu-Ri is flat, but thankfully she gets few lines. The drama gets spastic near the end, but that initial concept keeps it in my Top Dramas list.
Did I laugh?: Not a comedy, so no, but it did make me think.
Did I cry?: Cry? No. Touched? Yes.
Would I watch it again?: Yes.

A Gentleman's Dignity/Gentleman's Dignity/신사의 품격 (2012) - ★★★☆
20 episodes
Affectionately known by viewers as the F44, this story centers around 4 ajusshi playboys and their love lives. The best part of the show are the openers, which are glimpses into the F44's past, showing how they grew to be the close friends that they are today. The story starts to get draggy with the same plot points running around in circles, and random "problems" thrown in just for the heck of it. Would've been better at 16 episodes. I still liked it, though, as it shows that love isn't always easy as they make it seem on tv. And of course, I want all of the F44 to be my oppas!
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: No
Would I watch it again?: Maybe

Answer Me 1997/Reply 1997/Answer to 1997/응답하라 1997 (2012) - ★★★
16 episodes
This became a national favorite for obvious nostalgia reasons, but for the non-Korean viewer, there are many references that you just won't understand unless you lived in or had ties to Korea in the late 90s/early 2000s. What the show does extremely well, however, is portray life as a teenager in a realistic, true-to-life manner. It's not the typical glossy high school drama; it actually shows the ups and downs of growing up from adolescent to adult. I do think it dragged out the second secret for wayyyy too long. But the series ended with everyone's stories tied up well; no forced pairings, no character left behind. Even the secondary characters had full story arches. Good writing, great direction.
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: Yes
Would I watch it again?: Maybe

Arang and the Magistrate/아랑사또전 (2012) - ★★★
20 episodes
I really loved this drama from the beginning. But something changed in the second half that I can't quite put my finger on. And I'm really not happy how our strong heroine fell into the damsel-in-distress more than once, mainly due to her own stupid decisions. Still, our OTP was cute and I was rooting for them the entire way. I thought the final episode was cute and very fitting for the story. It wasn't earth-shattering, but it was appropriate.
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: No
Would I watch it again?: Maybe

Bachelor's Vegetable Store/총각네 야채가게 (2011/2012) - ★★
24 episodes
This drama had so much potential, but got lost in a sea of birth secrets and chaebols. You would think that a story about bachelors running a vegetable store would focus on bachelors running a vegetable store, but apparently that makes too much sense. Characters become frustrating and redundant, and the ending leaves so much to be desired. Should've been 14 episodes instead of 24.
Did I laugh?: Yes, the 5 bachelors are the saving grace of this show whenever they're briefly on screen.
Did I cry?: No
Would I watch it again: No

Baker King Kim Tak Goo/King of Baking, Kim Tak Gu/Bread, Love, and Dreams/제빵왕 김탁구 (2010) - ★★★★
30 episodes
Cute, cute, albeit frustrating story. Solidifies my love for Yoon Shi-Yoon (Who kinda reminds me of Jung Il-Woo at times. Just me? Okay.) who runs the gamut of emotions. The raw story is touching, and the way things are connected makes me believe that the writers knew where they were going from the start, so I don't mind the corporate issues so much. Secrets/surprises aren't dragged out for endless episodes and are dealt with swiftly, which I appreciate. There are several frustrating pieces in the second half of the drama, and I'm not satisfied with the ending. Warning for child abuse.
Did I laugh?: Yes, especially at all the zoom-in close-ups of fists. There's oh so many!
Did I cry?: I marathoned this series, causing me to cry for hours straight at sad back-to-back episodes.
Would I watch it again?: Yes

Big/빅 (2012) - ★★☆
16 episodes
Talk about a disappointing ending! The end totally ruined the series for me. I tried to ignore the crazy mother and the eternal loop of secrets, but the feeling that the writer didn't trust the viewers to get what had been built up for the previous 15 episodes just irritated me. Gil Da-Ran is a bit too naive for my liking, but I like the love/infatuation that was built between her two love interests. I also enjoyed figuring out Seo Yoon-Jae's true feelings from the third person perspective. It was like a little mystery mixed in with the main conflict. But of course, the comedy got lost along the way with the love square and overbearing parents. Sad.
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: No
Would I watch it again?: No

Boys Over Flowers/Boys Before Flowers/꽃보다 남자 (2009) - ★★★★
25 episodes
In reality, this should be the worst drama ever, but it's so bad that it's great! It's such a craptastic, spastic mess... but in a good way. There's enough plot holes, character inconsistencies, chaebol drama, and makjang to make your head explode, but yet we keep crawling back for more (It doesn't hurt that F4 is deliciously hot either). Does the ending make sense? No, but neither does the rest of the series. It's a must-watch in the way that it somehow deeply effects Korean pop-culture. It's like 6 Degrees of Boys Over Flowers. Seriously.
Did I laugh?: Oh, how I laughed!
Did I cry?: I laughed so hard that I cried.
Would I watch it again?: Adding up the hours, I've literally spend a week of my life watching and re-watching this drama, so I'd consider that a yes.

Bridal Mask/Doll Mask/Gaksital/각시탈 (2012) - ★★★★★
28 episodes
GAKSITAAAAAAL! This drama is pure win. There's just nothing more to say. Yes, there are a few downsides, but they are so completely overshadowed by the epicness of it all. This show's not afraid to "go there" and talk about things that really happened in history, things that will rip your heart out, and things that will throw you for a loop. The good guys are smart, the bad guys are smart, and all of our main characters can seriously kick some ass. 
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: Get your tissue boxes ready now, you're gonna need them.
Would I watch it again?: Yes

Dream High/드림하이 (2011) - ★★★★
16 episodes
The Korean version of Glee, doused in awesomeness. The soundtrack was stuck in my head forever. Inspiring story of high school kids just trying to make it in the crazy kpop world. Both the faculty and the students were well portrayed. I also like how they keep the mystery of who is going to win until the very end, with each of the main characters being strong contenders.
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: No
Would I watch it again?: Yes

Dream High 2/드림하이2 (2012) -
16 episodes
Sometimes you just need to leave well enough alone. If I could give negative stars, I would. Dream High 2 was a slow-moving train wreck, and by the end, it basically turned into a mock music variety show, complete with lyrics in the lower corner and random graphics. All of the characters were frustrating (Actually, 2AM's Jinwoon wasn't so terrible, but if you're standing in the middle of flames, you can't help getting burned) and had identity crises midway. The ending made zero sense, and each episode was like nails on a chalkboard.
Did I laugh?: It was hilariously bad.
Did I cry?: I should at the loss of many brain cells.
Would I watch it again?: NO!

F4: Special Edition/F4: Five Years Later/F4 After Story (2009) -
4 parts
This is the "sequel" to Boys Over Flowers, a look into the future of our beloved F4 five years later. They are extended music videos with each of our boys getting their own segment. Unfortunately, they're all pretty lame. Watch if you're interested in hearing their vocals, skip if you're looking for BOF closure.
Did I laugh?: No
Did I cry?: No
Would I watch it again?: No

Faith/The Great Doctor/신의 (2012) - ?
24 episodes
To be reviewed

Fashion King/패션왕 (2012) -
Too many 20 episodes
I'm sorry, I lied. This series is not a half-star drama. I would like to apologize to the star for insulting it, as Fashion King deserves no stars, not even if they were negative ones. This show was awful right out the gate and only got worse. This show was a waste of talent for the lovely Lee Je-Hoon and Yoo Ah-In. You will want every wasted second of your life back if you ever are deluded enough to watch even a glimpse of this series. It's not even worth reviewing. Run. Far, far away.
Did I laugh?: Yes, it was so bad that I couldn't help but laugh at everything.
Did I cry?: No, but I'm sure my heart did at this torture.
Would I watch it again?: You couldn't pay me enough.

Flower Boy Ramen Shop/Flower Boy Ramyun Shop/꽃미남 라면가게 (2011) - ★★★★
16 episodes
Very cute addition to the "flower boy" series on tvN. I like that the story stays centered around the ramyun shop, even with the school antics, chaebol drama, and love triangle. It's a funny story with heart, well acted to boot. You will come to love the Ramyun Shop family. And Jung Il-Woo throws the best temper tantrums ever. I could watch them all day!
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: I don't think so? Maybe?
Would I watch it again?: Yes, again and again

Goong/Palace/Princess Hours/Imperial Household/궁/궁 (宮) (2006) - ★★★★☆
24 episodes
One of my all time favorites; a great constitutional monarchy drama. Absolutely love Joo Ji-Hoon oppa here, and Kim Jeon-Hoon oppa isn't bad either. In fact, all the the actors are great, from the leads to the palace maids. The backdrops are hilarious static painted stills, but were pretty good for the time of production. I didn't find the love square particularly annoying, although Hyo-Rin's choices weren't 100% believable to me. I did find both Lee Shin and Lee Yul to be great potential partners for Chae-Kyung, and I found myself torn between the two. I'd be happy to be either of their princess!
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: Yes
Would I watch it again?: Without hesitation

Goong S/Palace S/Prince Hours/Imperial Household S/Goong Special/궁S/궁 (宮) S (2007) - ★★
20 episodes
The inverse of Goong, this is the rag-to-riches story of a boy turned prince. Well (I don't think it's a spoiler to say), technically, he was a prince before he even knew it. The series starts off too slow for my liking, and Se7en has a serious case of over-acting. The focus here is the journey to become the crown prince, and I do like the challenges he has to face to become one (no, really, there are literally planned challenges). This isn't so much a love story, as a competition story. If you have some free time and don't mind checking your brain at the door, watch. If you don't, you won't be missing anything.
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: No
Would I watch it again?: Possibly

I do, I do/아이두 아이두 (2012) - ★★★☆
16 episodes
I both loved and hated this drama. I think the secret was drawn out for way. too. long. And that's an understatement. Dr. Immoral (not his character name) was disturbing, and I found myself appalled at his actions. But, I love the way how the series deals with a single, independent, 30-something woman and the life choices she makes on her own terms. The end was sweet, and left you optimistic for the future. And let's not forget Ji-An's AMAZING shoe collection. The shoe closet deserves five stars of its own.
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: Yes
Would I watch it again?: Maybe

K-POP Extreme Survival/K-POP The Ultimate Audition/K-POP 최강 서바이벌 (2012) - ★★★
14 episodes 
I think of KPOP as a preteen Nickelodeon drama. The plot was basic and fluffy, but that's all a 12-year-old wants. I, myself, love watching Nickelodeon, so that didn't bother me any. This is a cross-dressing teen story that I actually enjoyed, and it wasn't overly-frustrating with her secret. I was invested in the love story and I cared about the characters making it in the music industry. Due to low ratings, this show was abruptly cut without resolving anything. It just stopped. They didn't even attempt to tie up loose ends, even if they were sloppy. Such a disappointment for the viewers. 
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: I think so
Would I watch it again?: No, but only because there's no ending. Otherwise, yes.

Me Too, Flower!/I'm a Flower, Too!/나도, 꽃! (2011) - ★★★★
15 episodes
I may be in the minority here, but I love Me Too, Flower. First off, you have to get over the fact that Yoon Shi-Yoon doesn't look a day over 16. He's legal, I swear. If you can't get over that, then skip this drama. This is not your typical Cinderella story, as Cha Bong-Sun rebels against having a chaebol boyfriend. I like it, but the "I can't like you because you're rich" conflict gets old real quick.
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: No
Would I watch it again?: Yes

Nice Guy/The Innocent Man/The Nice Guy Never Seen Anywhere in the World/세상 어디에도 없는 착한남자 (2012) - ?
16 episodes
To Be Reviewed

Operation Proposal/프로포즈 대작전 (2012) - ★★★★☆
16 episodes
The Butterfly Effect, Kdrama Style. You wake up one day standing next to your love at the alter... but you're not the groom! If you had the opportunity to go back in time, what would you do to change the present? Kang Baek-Ho will do anything, and makes constant time leaps in an attempt to change fate. Not all of his changes are for the better, and he learns a lot about himself along the way. A couple of the leaps were pretty useless in the grand scheme of things, and probably would've done just fine at 14 episodes.
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: Yes
Would I watch it again?: Yes

Playful Kiss/Naughty Kiss/Mischievous Kiss/장난스런 키스 (2010) - ★★★★
16 episodes
I could watch Kim Hyun-Joong smile all day long. *sigh* Huh? Oh... right, where was I? Oh yeah, drama. I actually liked this show, KHJ obsession aside. Enemies learn to appreciate each other, friends grow together and apart, and families form tight bonds, as the leads travel from high school to college. There are several quiet, touching moments sprinkled throughout that make it worth the ride. I did, however, find Oh Ha-Ni extremely annoying and dumb (as in intelligence) at times. Fast forward through the first ten minutes of episode one. You'll thank me for it. 
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: I don't recall
Would I watch it again?: Already have!

Playful Kiss Youtube Version/Naughty Kiss Youtube Version/장난스런 키스 YouTube버전 (2010) - ★★★★☆
7 episodes
This is actually better than the drama. No lie, this is the stuff that should've been aired. SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN THE ORIGINAL FIRST. You have been warned! This special edition was uploaded to youtube and shows Baek Seung-Jo and Oh Ha-Ni's married life both through and after college. It is so utterly adorable and shows just how well the couple matches (which was a complaint from some viewers of the regular drama).
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: Yes
Would I watch it again?: Again and again 

Queen In-Hyun's Man/Queen and I/인현왕후의 남자 (2012) - ★★★★
16 episodes
Absolutely amazing. Best fusion sageuk drama ever. I love, love, love the relationship between Kim Bong-Do and Choi Hee-Jin. The time travel between the two periods works well in the world that is created. With a "but." The problem is that the writers write themselves into a corner and the final episode is completely contrived. Enough to ruin the magic of the series and cause my rating to go down. But the endearing chemistry between the two leads is amazing and worth the ups and downs of their time together.
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: Yes
Would I watch it again?: Yes

Rooftop Prince/Attic Prince/옥탑방 왕세자 (2012) - ★★☆
20 episodes
Affectionately known by viewers as the Joseon F4 or the Joseon Power Rangers, a crown prince and his three buddies jump forward in time to discover the truth behind his wife's death. Starts off meaningful and hilarious, but veers way off course. Too much time is spent in the company drama, which frankly, no one cares about. The heart of the show--the hilarious Joseon F4 and the relationship between past/future lovers--and the mystery solving is completely left behind. It tries to pick back up in the final episodes, but it's far to late. The last five minutes will leave you with a great, big "huh?"
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: No
Would I watch it again?: Probably not

Shut Up Flower Boy Band/Shut Up and Let's Go/닥치고 꽃미남밴드 (2012) - ★★★★★
16 episodes
Super, duper awesome. I want more, but at the same time I'm happy with it because it never got draggy for one moment. It's a wonderful coming-of-age story of a group of high school best friends in a band, facing the choice of being a real band or a "face" band. Friendships are tested and dreams are hit with a giant dose of reality. The balance between being an average teenager and a well-known band walks a thin line. Soundtrack was stuck in my head for months.
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: Yes
Would I watch it again?: Definitely 

To the Beautiful You/Hana Kimi Korean Version/For You in Full Blossom/아름다운 그대에게 (2012) - ★★★☆
16 episodes
Another teenage drama that needs a whole lot of "suspension of belief" to watch. But even with that, too many things were unrealistic for our cross-dressing heroine. Our male leads steal the show and I could watch the two of them for hours on end (Keep your eye out for [Choi] Min-Ho and Lee Hyun-Woo). Our male secondary leads get some good story lines, but unfortunately, get dropped or handled halfassed. The drama in the last episode is completely contrived and unexplained, but it is what it is. Had potential to be so much more. 
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: Yes
Would I watch it again?: Maybe, for the guys.

The King 2 Hearts/더킹 투하츠/더킹2hearts (2012) - ★★★★☆
20 episodes
This is a constitutional monarchy drama, but not just about the pretty. No, there's always the looming threat of all out war with North Korea and various other countries along the way. A journey of crown prince Lee Jae-Ha growing from a man-boy into a person worthy of leading the nation. Love story is cute (marry me!) and the supporting characters are awesome. John Mayer is a little strange/misplaced at first, but eventually falls into place. Lee Jae-Shin is cool at first, but gets whiny later on. The last few episodes will rip your heart out, so prepare your tissues now.
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: Multiple times from beginning to end.
Would I watch it again?: Yes, definitely.

The Moon that Embraces the Sun/The Moon Embracing the Sun/해를 품은 달 (2012) - ★★★☆
20 episodes
I admit, I was so on board with this national hit. It's a fluffy sageuk drama, and I loved it to bits. But, there were too many things that didn't make sense and the ending just made me mad. The plot twists came a little too late to make an impact because you knew it had to get resolved quickly with episodes running out. But the eunuch was absolutely hilarious and the male actors were pretty to look at. I'd watch it again for Jung Il-Woo (oh, what wouldn't I watch for JIW?) and Kim Soo-Hyun, but definitely with my brain checked at the door, and stop before the frustrating end.
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: Yes
Would I watch it again?: Yeah, if nothing else was interesting.

The Return of Iljimae/돌아온 일지매 (2009) -  ★★★★★
24 episodes
One of my all-time favorite sageuks, based on the Robin Hood-type character, Iljimae, of the Chinese Ming Dynasty. It is well written, evenly paced, and well acted. There are two downsides though: the narrarator is supper annoying, but you get used to her after the first episode; and Wal-Hee becomes super clingy/needy in the homestretch. But the heart of the story supersedes that, and you get to know and love the characters. Even our comic relief have stories of substance. It is a slow story, so if you're looking for something that flies by, this isn't it. But the fight scenes are badass, so that's something to look forward to.
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: Yes
Would I watch it again?: Yes

The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry/Still, Marry Me/City Lovers/아직도 결혼하고 싶은 여자 (2010) -  ★☆
16 episodes
Watched the first few episodes and was bored to tears. Began to just fast forward to the parts Kim Bum was in. Watched the last few episodes in their entirety just because Ha Min-Jae's story was so intertwined with the others at that point. The plot? Oh, four female bffs past "marriageable age," and becoming disillusioned (or faced with reality) about marriage. Just didn't find it interesting. Not sure if it was the acting or the story itself. Maybe it deserves a second look, but the first episodes bore me so much that it's not worth the effort.
Did I laugh?: Briefly
Did I cry?: No
Would I watch it again?: No

Unstoppable High Kick/High Kick!/거침없이 하이킥 (2006-2007) - ★★★★
167 episodes
This is the daily drama the launched the careers of Jung Il-Woo and Kim Bum and started the High Kick trilogy craze. It's a family drama centered around the Lee family, and I find myself laughing and laughing at everything. Every episode pretty much stands alone, with a few plot threads weaving through the entire series. There are a few outrageous plots (Kang Yumi's later story line, for example), but it was a family I couldn't get enough of. I rooted for Min-Ho and Yoon-Ho the entire way.
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: Yes
Would I watch it again?: If I had infinite time, yes

What's Up/왓츠업 (2011-2012) - ★★★★☆
20 episodes
Super awesome musical. The writers knew exactly where they were going from day one and it shows. Great direction and acting to boot. I was so into the story and couldn't wait for the next episode week to week. You sincerely care about these characters and wish for everything to work out well. This is how college dramas should be done.
Did I laugh?: Yes
Did I cry?: Bawled 
Would I watch it again?: Yes

White Christmas/Monster/몬스터/화이트 크리스마스 - ?
8 episodes
To Be Reviewed 

Related post: Kdramas I've Watched

Last updated October 2012

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