This year had some clear standouts for me, in terms of dramas I really connected with, and conversely, those that left me cold. Without any doubt, the top 2 were Stranger (Forest of Secrets) and Because This Is Our First Life, and I’m going to declare it a tie because they were very different in tone and concept, but had exceptional ensembles and stories.
I also appreciated a number of others for the way they excelled at creating mood and characters, such as Dokkaebi, Fight My Way, Chicago Typewriter, and the light, but charming The Package. Go Back Couple also managed to work it’s way into my affections, as did the super cute couple in Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo. I felt the struggle of the junior employee all over again in Radiant Office. What makes this list of successes so gratifying is that several of them are by first-time writers. I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Can I pick best performances from a crop of really good ones? I don’t want to slight anyone, but Lee Minki was just so unusual and yet so compelling in his super internalized wounded nerd in First Life that he goes toe to toe with the hunky goblin Gong Yoo with ease. Park Seo-joon is certainly one who heads the pack when it comes to top skinship (with Nam Joo-hyuk coming a close second thanks to his definite attraction to then leading lady on and offscreen in Fairy). Mark Chao wins the prize for sexiest use of hair and taciturn stares in 10 Miles of Peach Blossoms.
Choi Kang-hee charmed my socks off in Mystery Queen and I hope she does again in the second part yet to come. Lee Yeon-hee also was serene and charming in The Package. Chae Soo-bin has really caught my eye, both in Strongest Deliveryman and now in I’m Not a Robot; I like her face and her personality leaps off the screen (in a good way). But the real winner has to be Jung So-min who was so lovable in both My Father is Strange and First Life — with 2 very different leading men.
The biggest duds for me were Hospital Ship and Shopping King Louis. Even my appreciation of Ha Ji-won in past roles and my affection for Seo In-gook couldn’t make these tolerable. Better luck to them on their next projects!
Here’s the link to my complete list of completed (and in-progress to be finished… or not) dramas in 2017.