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Top Korean Dramas of 2012: End-of-Year Review
7. A Gentleman's Dignity
When you see the promotional posters, your first impression is most likely that this looks like an older version of F4. Men(??? or boys?) will always be men, regardless of their age. The cast is hilarious including Jang Dong Gun and Kim Ha Neul. It is my first time watching them in a comedic role and this shows that they both have the capacity to handle comedies and serious roles. I love the scenes where Do Jin talks to his beloved car, Betty.
Another interesting part of this show is the opening sequences. It always starts off with the four of them bonding! My favourite opening sequence is definitely episode 16's which truly shows us how strong and deep their friendship and brotherhood is....to the point where they can drop everything at a moment when one of them requires support. Some twists are added on to make the show more interesting but in this aspect, it wasn't executed well. Overall, I would still recommend this drama!
Lee Jong Hyun (CN Blue) - (Gentleman's Dignity OST)
6. Vampire Prosecutor 2
After a long wait, season 2 of Vampire Prosecutor 2 is back with more slick investigations by the cool vampire, played by Yeom Jung Hoon. I loved Vampire Prosecutor a lot for its humorous scenes among the investigation team members. Here, we get the same chemistry, with a new coroner, joining the happy family. Continuing from the first season, Jung In still has a crush on Prosecutor Min, who however doesn't seem to show the same interest (or is hiding it real well). Suspense is always present throughout each episode and this keeps me engaged. For those who did not watch the first season though, it might be somewhat confusing though. A good reason to catch the first season now?
Xiah Jun Su (JYJ) - Nice Guy OST
5. Nice Guy or Innocent Man
Baby-faced actor, Song Joong Ki is back on the small screen. This time I am glad that he is given a lead role, compared to his less meatier roles previously (the playboy in Sungkyunkwan Scandal). Here, he also easily takes on the role of a playboy but there is more to him than that. He is especially good in the scenes where he shows warmth to his lover, and the next second shows his soulless eyes. The two female leads, Park Shi Yeon and Moon Chae Won, also impress me in their respective roles. Moon Chae Won's character, Eun Gi, reminds me of a durian. Full of thorns on the outside, hurting the people who cares for her. At first, the inclusion of Choco and Jae Gil (acted by Running Man Lee Kwang Soo) in the drama seems to be for the sake of lightening the mood. However, as the drama progresses, they serve as a parallel to the main couple of Maru and Eun Gi.Overall, I would recommend this drama although there are times when it is is really "painful" to watch.
4. King of Dramas
This drama pairs Kim Myung Min who once again takes on a role of an intensely passionate person and Jung Ryeo Won, who is equally passionate, but a total newbie in the drama industry. From the start, the drama is fast-paced and gives us a glimpse into the chaotic world of the live shoot system in the Korean Drama filming world. Super Junior member, Choi Si Won, plays a famous actor, who isn't that bright and whose biggest interest is money...and video games! I truly applaud him for leaving behind his idol pretenses and immersing himself into this role. Look out for his funny facial expressions! All in all, I enjoyed the drama especially the lighter moments and the times when there were filming issues. What I hated was went they pulled a typical twist, which I felt was a waste of time.
Yesung (Super Junior) - Blind for Love (King of Dramas OST)
3. Can We Get Married?
This is a show through which viewers can learn more about Korean culture, particularly related to marriage. If you are getting married soon, do not let the scary mother-in-laws in this drama scare you away! The show is can get pretty tiresome at times though thanks to the constant bickering but the two main characters (acted by Jung So Min of Playful Kiss and Sung Joon of Shut Up: Flower Boy Band) make such a sweet couple that I root for them. Above all these troubles, it is also a story of a single mother's love for her daughters. Lee Mi Sook puts in a powerful performance as Lee Deul Ja, the single mother. There is another subplot that I like too which proves that you are never too old to fall in love!
K.Will - You Are Love (Arang and the Magistrate OST)
2. Arang and the Magistrate
Finally Lee Jun Ki is back! He takes on the role of Kim Eun Oh, the magistrate in this fantasy sageuk which also brings a lot of laughter. Shim Min Ah is excellent as Arang, the virgin ghost, who suffers from amnesia! Although there is humour peppered throughout this drama, the best scenes are those where we can see Eun Oh trying to stop himself from falling in love with Arang, and those where the doomed couple's hearts are breaking. Look out for Lee Jun Ki's eyes which just spells out heartbreak. Sob sob! Various questions are also asked throughout the drama and this keeps viewers excited to catch the next episode. When one mystery is unravelled, more questions pop up! Yoo Seung Ho also impresses in his role as the Jade Emperor. The plot was planned well rather than a last minute rush to end off the episode or to add on additional episodes which don't add to the story. This drama is perfect at 20 episodes.
Seo In Gook and Jung Eun Ji (A Pink) - All For You (Answer 1997 OST)
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1. Answer 1997 / Reply 1997
Without a doubt, this is definitely my favorite Korean drama for 2012! This show primarily utilises flashbacks to the year 1997 to reveal the high school events which shaped the friendship between the 6 main characters. After watching Seo In Gook in Love Rain, and seeing him as the lead here, I will definitely continue to keep watching him as an upcoming actor-singer. He is excellent here as the blur-in-love Yoon Jae. There are also some excellent cameos by well-known TV personalities such as Shin Bong Sun as the president of the H.O.T. Busan Fan Club and Tony, an actual member of H.O.T. Throughout the drama, we also get glimpses of the tamagotchi, the"brick" mobile phone and at the start of each episode, the sound of dialup Internet! The twists are also well written so that when the truth is revealed it is believable and helps pushes the story forward. It also helps that the young cast performs well, including Seo In Gook, Jung Eun Ji (of A Pink) and Hoya (of Infinite). Anyone who has been a super fan of a boyband during their teenage years will identify with Eun Ji's character ;)
Other Korean Dramas Which I Watched
I Need Romance 2012
I enjoyed watching I Need Romance (first season). Hence, I decided to give this second season a try. The premise here is almost the same with 3 female leads. As with the previous season, one of them has a longtime on-off boyfriend who has commitment issues. Here, my favourite scenes are the ones where the three girls bond. Jung Gyu Woon (one of the leads in History of a Salaryman) has a cameo in episode 1 as a blind date.
Time Slip Dr Jin
Following up on his brilliant turn in History of a Salaryman, Lee Bum Soo continues to shine in Time Slip Dr Jin as a source of comedy within the bleak storyline. However, his presence is not enough to make this drama an outstanding one. Important questions such as whether Dr Jin should continue to save lives, knowing that it might influence and change history are recurring themes. But it is never answered and just constantly repeated in every new episode. So things get a little boring. It also doesn't help that I do not understand the "connection" between him and the female lead, unlike her awesome chemistry with Lee Min Ho in City Hunter.
I am a fan of dramas written by the Hong Sisters such as My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, Best Love and You're Beautiful. With such an awesome track record, I had high expectations for this drama. Sadly, I have to admit that this drama is categorised as "could have been better". The only character I truly care for and which is well-written is that of Kang Kyung Joon. His pain, doubts and insecurity are acted out perfectly by Gong Yoo. Too bad the sloppy writing towards the end is disappointing. I also personally did not like the last two episodes, particularly the way it ended.
I Do, I Do
Here, the main theme seems to be the theme of the older women, younger men pairing. But it is more than just that. It also highlights the social stigma of being a single mother in South Korea as Hwang Ji An (acted by Kim Sun Ah), the female lead, faces problems in her career, thanks to this status issue. Lee Jang Woo is perfectly cast as Park Tae Kang, the immature and earnest younger guy whom Ji An falls in love with. Towards the end, there are many sweet and loving scenes between the couple. Before that though, brace yourself for some stormy arguments.
This drama marks Kim Hee Sun's return to the drama world after a hiatus. In this drama, Kim Hee Sun, the modern day doctor is paired with leading man, Lee Min Ho, who plays an ancient time warrior. This is ANOTHER time travel themed drama featuring a doctor (similar to Time Slip Dr Jin). On a good note, the plot is better here and the issue of affecting the future is taken more seriously here. We are also not subjected to endless surgeries every single episode. Unfortunately though, this drama failed to draw me in and keep me excited. The ending would also have been perfect if the path to it had been planned and executed better.
To the Beautiful You
This is Korea's take on the famous manga, Hana Kimi. The cross-dressing female lead is acted by Sulli (from girl group f(x)) while the male lead is Minho (from boy band SHINee). As the setting for this drama is in a school, there are many other supporting characters featured too. For me, the standout character is definitely Cha Eun Gyul, which is cheekily played well by Lee Hyun Woo. In fact, he lights up the screen whenever he appears. On the other hand, I just skip the scenes where the second female lead appears. Overall, the best thing about this drama is definitely the cinematography. Too bad the writers fail to bring something new to this story.
Ooh La La Spouses
This drama uses the "changing soul" or "switching bodies" plot to bring us laughter. Compared to Secret Garden, this drama is fluffier. We get the usual men vs women jokes. Also, as the couple was once married, there is additional tension. Add in the part where they were linked in their past lives too and we get a lot of potentially funny scenes (look out for references to Shin Hyun Joon's previous drama, Bridal Mask or Gaksital). However, halfway through, the switch becomes unbearable with too many repetitive plots going on. Also, the body switching is a lot more obvious here, a little too much over-acting I would say so I stopped watching at episode 10.