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Top Korean Dramas of 2013: First Review

Updated on January 24, 2014

6. Incarnation of Money

This drama stars Kang Ji Hwan and Hwang Jung Eum. This time instead of a funny hairstyle (see Full House Take 2), Hwang Jung Eum wears a fat suit at the beginning of the series. Park Ji Bin plays the younger version of Kang Ji Hwan and manages to make us care for his character. Look out for the transition from actor Park Ji Bin to Kang Ji Hwan. It is daebak! (awesome in Korean!) Unfortunately, unlike History of a Salaryman the humour here usually falls flat in the first few episodes. You will also most likely lose interest here. For me, I stayed on and was rewarded with a plot that become more and more interesting and a Lee Cha Don (Kang Ji Hwan's character) whom I can finally root for! Too bad, the first portion was so lacklustre. If not, this drama would have been ranked much higher.

Memories of You - IVY (Incarnation of Money OST)

5. Queen of Ambition

My first impression of this drama was, "Is this going to be like Nice Guy???". And yes, many parts of the story particularly the revenge arc which is revealed right from the start reminds me of the other drama. In fact, the drama starts off with Kwon Sang Woo spouting this: "The one who wants revenge must dig two graves". However, as the story unfolds via flashback, the drama seems to be lighter in mood and so far, I am enjoying the drama thanks to Kwon Sang Woo and Soo Ae. But on and off, I still am reminded of Nice Guy, and hints of Lovers in Paris too. So minus points for lack of originality. On a further note, as with the latest trend of including Kpop idols in a drama, Dong Bang Shin Ki's Yunho appears as the supporting male lead here!

Ice Flower by Ailee (Queen of Ambition OST)

4. That Winter, The Wind Blows

The first episode itself captivated me with its stunning cinematography. Then, Jo In Sung and Song Hye Gyo impressed me with their return to dramaland after such a long hiatus. Kim Bum is once again working with the same crew from Padam Padam. Unlike the other Korean F4 stars, he has taken on the most diverse characters. In this drama, he is a conman along with his drama buddy, Jo In Sung. Unlike most dramas, this is one of those dramas which I watch not so much for the plot , but more for the characters. The two leads have great chemistry and this makes me vested in both Oh Soo and Oh Young's lives, keeping me hooked to the drama. However, the last few episodes are a disappointment as the story does not flow. The drama's strongest points are definitely the beautifully shot scenes and the fitting soundtrack, from Yesung's contribution to The One's to Gummy's and up to Taeyeon's song. Just don't pay too much attention to the story itself though.

A Winter Story (Piano version) by The One (That Winter, The Wind Blows OST)

3. Alice in Cheongdamdong

My favourite thing about this drama is definitely its lead actor, Park Shi Hoo. I love the quirkyness and cuteness he brings to this role. Moon Geun Young is less dramatic here compared to in Cinderella's Sister, which is a plus point for me. One thing about this drama though is that there is no clear cut villain. Even Tommy, the second male lead, can be pitied as he seems to be someone who has given up on his ideals to fit in with the rich and to achieve his “dreams”. Initially, the drama moves quickly but from about halfway through, the plot starts to drag and that is when you start to think, "isn't it time yet for the secret to be revealed?". A saving grace for this drama is the fact that it ends at just 16 episodes. So the long drawn-out secret does not last too long. The ending is pretty well thought out too.

Daddy Long Legs by Baek Ah Yeon (Alice in Cheongdamdong OST)

2. Flower Boy Next Door

Yoon Shi Yoon and Park Shin Hye star in this third part of tvN's "Flower Boy" series. Yoon Shi Yoon brightens up the screen each time his character Enrique Geum appears. You can't help but smile at his infectious grin! Park Shin Hye takes on the role of a girl who has issues communicating with others. She prefers to stay at home most of the time. For me, my favourite part of this drama is the fact that they do not use love at first sight but instead allow the characters to learn about each other, understand each other better and slowly fall in love. To quote the drama, "To love is to know one another". Another reason why I love this drama is the meaningful conversations and internal monologues throughout the series. Sadly, the drama loses its momentum in the last 4 episodes and the focus shifts to a side plot which falls flat. However, the ending is still pretty satisfying. Overall, still a recommended drama to watch!

Wish It Was You by Lee Jung (Flower Boy Next Door OST)

1. School 2013

Similar to Answer 1997, this drama attracts me because of the amazing chemistry between the cast. You can't help but stay on to watch although you can see what is coming. When I see it playing out on screen, it is so touching, so heartbreaking all at once. The drama has so many beautifully written characters and acted out so well by the two young actors, Lee Jong Suk (whom I first noticed in Secret Garden) and Kim Woo Bin (noticed him in Gentleman's Dignity). The character of Nam Soon (acted by Jong Suk) is fleshed out so well that you can't help empathising with him throughout the drama. In fact, he stands out so much that he even overshadows his two "teachers", played by Jang Nara and Daniel Choi. The strength of this drama lies in the fact that the relationships between the characters are so well written. Not just for the leads, but also for the supporting characters. Just a caveat though, don't watch this drama expecting a typical love story.

Don't Think You Are Alone by Kim Bo Kyung (School 2013 OST)

Other Dramas Which I Have Watched

Missing You

I Miss You or Missing You is overly melodramatic and hence not really my cup of tea although the three leads, Park Yoo Chun (of JYJ), Yoon Eun Hye and Yoo Seung Ho, acted well. I loved the childhood scenes particularly the ones where they were kidnapped. The child actors were totally amazing and it made the scenes so heartwrenching and they wringed a lot of tears from me. However, later on, the drama lasted way too long for me as they moved towards adulthood. Among the adult actors, Yoo Seung Ho, stood out the most in my opinion. I have seen him in a variety of roles, from funny to serious, from smart to being and idiot, from good to bad, and he has clearly shown how versatile he is. I will definitely miss him when he heads to the army soon.

The Great Seer

This drama stars Ji Sung, Ji Jin Hee and Song Chang Ui and takes place during the Goryeo period. Kim So Yeon also appears as a love interest to both Jisung and Chang Ui. Do note that this drama is rather long at more than 30 episodes and if you wish to skip the childhood scenes, just start watching from episode 8 onwards. As in most of his dramas, Ji Sung injects a playful air into the character he plays. This makes it hard not to like his character Mok Ji Sang. However, the drama fails to make a stronger impression due to the draggy plot and repetitive use of similar themes to move the story forward. Kim So Yeon is also underutilised in this drama.


This drama was initially fun to watch generally but there is nothing which makes me "addicted" to this drama. Hence, when other dramas which were more interesting started showing, it just naturally dropped of my radar. Another interesting to note is that it resembles Superman in some ways as Jeon Woo Chi is also a reporter and whenever he changes into his real self, he becomes more powerful and loses his spectacles too.

Level 7 Civil Servant

This marks Joo Won's return to the small screen after capturing the hearts of so many viewers through drama, Bridal Mask. This drama also starts Choi Kang Hee (from Protect My Boss) and 2PM member, Hwang Chansung as spies too. This drama is generally pretty lightweight and good for laughs but not the type which will keep me engaged 100%

Advertising Genius Lee Tae Baek

This drama revolves around the advertising world and is based on a true life story of Lee Jae Suk, a famous advertiser. What he lacks in terms of education, he overcomes via his creativity. The lead is played by Jin Goo. Other leads include Park Ha Sun, as an intern, Jo Hyun Jae as a director and Han Chae Young, as his character's ex-girlfriend. Secret's Han Sun Hwa also makes her debut in this drama as Lee Tae Baek's sister.For me, I enjoyed this drama as I have always had a soft spot for stories about an underdog who rises to the top with his own efforts (and the help of friends too). An interesting point to note is that this is the first drama I've seen which features a non-Korean, and non-Caucasian in a huge supporting role, highlighting the fact that more and more South Asian immigrants are making a contribution to South Korea's economy.

Iris 2

This is a sequel of sorts to the first drama Iris. Unlike Athena which is more of a spin-off, the story utilizes some of the old plotlines to connect the two series. Cameos by Kim Seung Woo also help greatly. So far, the main cast Jang Hyuk, Lee Da Hae and Yoon Doo Joon (from Beast) are doing well. Similar to the first Iris, I tend to skip the parts where there is non-stop political talk or too much explosions/shooting. I guess that is the same reason its ratings are suffering.....

Reminds Me of You by Byul (Missing You OST)

KBS Drama Special: Sirius

Sirius is a new venture by KBS and only lasted for a total of 4 episodes. From the first episode itself you can feel the intensity of the story of the twin brothers played by Seo Joon Young (who featured in To The Beautiful You). He impresses me with his ability to play the twin brothers with so much complexity. Park Hyung Shik (of boy band ZE:A) also appears in some scenes as the teenage version of the male lead. After finishing the series, I am truly impressed with the writing, directing and cast of this mini-series. I never knew so much heartache could be packed into a 4-episode series. So stay away from this drama if you are searching for a light-hearted comedy.


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    • lilian_sg profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks Elias! Glad you found it interesting and insightful =D

      Btw, it is already pretty good that you know two Korean movie directors!

    • Elias Zanetti profile image

      Elias Zanetti 

      5 years ago from Athens, Greece

      Very interesting hub as most of us don't know anything about Korean TV dramas. I only know two Korean movie directors, namely Chan-wook Park and Ki-duk Kim.

      Thanks for sharing, voted up!


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