Robin’s 2021 Viewing List

Completed

  1. C – Love In Between

In Progress (or Abandoned)

  • K – The Uncanny Counter
  • K – Run On
  • C – DouLuo Continent
  • K – Mystic Pop-up Bar
  • Reviewing last year’s abandoned/on-hold list to see which makes it here

Next Watch?

  • K – Kairos
  • K – Sisyphus
  • C – The Long Night
  • C – Love of Fei

Looking at offerings on Netflix

This post was inspired by a Twitter conversation; the poster had just started Crash Landing On You (first k-drama experience) and no IRL friends were watching and able to dish. The next question was, what can I watch next?

The limitation is Netflix (for now), but I thought, let’s go through what’s on offer on the site and discuss what I think is a solid choice, and why… so let’s go!

From this batch, there are some clear winners and interesting choices, beginning with It’s Okay to Not Be Okay and Crash Landing On You. Both feature attractive leads (though with K-dramas, it’s safe to assume this will always/mostly be true), strong ensemble casts (ditto for this being a truism in K-dramas), and interesting and fresh stories. Okay touches thoughtfully on mental illness (a rarity in Asian topics) while the couple learns the truths behind their connection to each other. Crash flirts playfully with a NK/SK romantic entente and has fun too with life on the other side of the border. Boys Over Flowers is one to watch for its archetypal formula (hey, it’s been adapted at least 5 other times that I know of!) It’s not the best version (I prefer the Japanese and Taiwanese iterations), but it put Lee Min-ho on the map and its even more of a Cinderella tale than the cute Cinderella and Her Four Knights (which has an appealing ensemble of swains for the leading lady). Romance Is a Bonus Book isn’t perfect, but it’s a pleasure to have two leads with acting talent pine in a book-world setting.

If we’re going to talk about books, Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung is a contemporary twist on the historical genre, with a sassy, smart, career-minded heroine and a sensitive author prince. Strongest Deliveryman is a little guys against the big, with a likable cast and it makes for easy watching (unlike The Winter the Wind Blows with a charismatic cast wasted in an unpleasant story). Hospital Playlist is from the same team as the “Reply” dramas and offers up a smart, ‘you feel like you know these people’ ensemble storyline. There are others in this group worth a look, but later, okay?

This grouping features some titles that started really well but lost their way at the end; I have my eye on The Uncanny Counter because I read good things about it daily, but for my money, the winner in this group is Because This Is My First Life. The old ‘contract roommates’ trope is done right with this smart cast. I may also be one of the few who likes Cheese In The Trap, but the casting worked for me and I appreciated the difficulties of navigating university and love lives.

Oh My Ghost is a winner on 2 counts: not only does it feature one of my favorite leading men in a fun story, but one of my favorite actresses in a very amusing and touching turn as the virgin ghost in question. Kim Seul-gi makes every drama better. Hello My Twenties is a solid ensemble cast going through pretty normal romantic and not-so-romantic issues, but the young women who share the house get thru things together. Mr. Sunshine is not a sunshine-y story, but its setting in one of Korea’s troubled points in history and a top-notch cast make it work a look. Just a reminder: Korean dramas do not always believe in HEAs for everyone. Which leads me to the strongest title in this grouping: My Mister. When the cast was announced I was in a quandary: I adore the male lead and like the work the female lead has done, but I really, really did not want them in a romance. The good news is that this is a love story, in many ways, but not a conventional one where they are concerned. We’ve written a lot about this drama on this site (which is searchable), so I won’t go on too much about it, but suffice to say, this is deep, dark, complex, thoughtful, and lovely (not to mention at times heartbreaking).

When the Camellia Blooms is one of the few chances to enjoy the work of Gong Hyo-jin on Netflix, but she’s always won me over and this ‘found family’ drama is charming. I don’t know if it’s everyone’s cup of tea, but The School Nurse Files is an almost recommended one for its quirky but incomplete story. Save Me is Dark, so definitely not for all, but if you’re into stories of cult-like religion, try it!

Seriously, I don’t know why you haven’t watched Stranger (there are now 2 seasons) yet — what are you waiting for? This is complex, Korean politicking and corruption and murder mystery-ing at its finest, and lead actors Cho Seung-woo and Bae Doona are incomparable together. This is another I’ve written about in detail, so search here for more. I am also very fond of the history-driven, winning ensemble casts of the ‘Reply’ dramas: Reply 1994 and Reply 1988. The mixture of ‘who ends up with whom’ and the period details formula works in all 3 settings. (And btw, note the Xs on some of these non-K-dramas, some are even dreadful!)

Misaeng, this remains one of my favorite K-dramas of all time, for its perfect casting (Im Siwan and those Bambi eyes…) and the slice-of-life setting in the workaholic business world in Korea today (aka Hell Joseon). Much more info is available about it on this site. Also, I didn’t highlight Hymn Of Death because it’s on the war/bad things happen spectrum, but it is well done if you’re curious, and it’s short. [An aside, when searching for Korean dramas on Netflix you’ll see recommendations for other titles, often Chinese. I enjoyed the Love O2O drama and movie adaptations, even though I’m not into gaming.]

I hope you’re still reading, because there are some real winners in this grouping! Another Miss Oh has a couple with Chemistry in its leads, and it feels very contemporary in its telling of a couple who think they’re doomed because of misunderstandings. She’s also very good in (not pictured) Let’s Eat 2 (aka outstanding Korean food porn disguised as a romance, like the first Let’s Eat). Reply 1997 is the first of the ‘Reply’ series (in spite of the year) and is a fun start to the formula, touching on the early days of Korean music fandoms. Finally, don’t sleep on the writer-with-a-haunting problem in Chicago Typewriter with its excellent cast and a house all of us envy.

Some really good dramas are really great bromances and Prison Playbook is that (as is the yellow boxed Chinese drama The Untamed). An unconventional setting and an unforgettable cast are always a winning combination in my playbook. The other I’ll recommend is Dear My Friends for its focus on the difficulties of making life and love work and dealing with older relatives and friends as they age. This is a great introduction to some of the best mature actors in Korean television if you’re new(ish) to the genre. Every single actor in this drama has a long resume of great works.

That’s all for this post! There are many titles available that I did not discuss — some because it’s kinder to say nothing at all (and hey, some people may like them) and in some cases I’ve not yet seen them and/or they’re not my cup of tea. But there are so many choices that are very much worth your time — I hope that you have a lot of fun exploring them and discovering what tickles your fancy!

#because-this-is-my-first-life, #chicago-typewriter, #crash-landing-on-you, #my-mister, #netflix, #reply-1988, #reply-1994, #reply-1997, #stranger-secret-forest

Chingu’s 2020 Viewing List

Completed

  1. K – What Lies Within (Entertaining, but you need a strong stomach!)
  2. K – Vagabond (Disappointing)
  3. K – Tomorrow with You (so..so..so…)
  4. K – Chief of Staff (Felt a little incomplete – obviously due to scheduled second season)
  5. K – Live up to your Name (my favourite of the bunch!!)

In Progress

Meaning, I checked them out and wasn’t in the mood, so they are on standby

  • K – Melting me Softly
  • K – Fiery Priest
  • K – Liar and his Lover
  • K – Welcome to Life
  • K – Rookie Historian
  • K – The Tunnel

This list will be updated throughout the year.

 

 

#2020, #viewing-list

Yolette’s 2020 Viewing List

Completed

    1. Cinderella and the Four Knights ❤
    2. The Legends ❤❤
    3. Crash Landing on You ❤❤
    4. Life on Mars ❤❤❤
    5. Live Up to Your Name ❤❤
    6. Joy of Life ❤❤❤❤
    7. My Mister ❤❤❤
    8. Medical Examiner: Dr. Qin
    9. Her Private Life ❤
    10. Guardian
    11. Story of Ming Lan ❤❤❤❤
    12. Itaewon Class
    13. I’m Not a Robot ❤❤
    14. Eternal Love — 10,000 Miles of Peach Blossoms ❤❤
    15. Princess Agents
    16. Hello My Twenties/Age of Youth ❤
    17. My ID is Gangnam Beauty ❤❤
    18. Dr. Romantic Teacher Kim ❤

In Progress / On Hold / Dropped

    1. Arsenal Military School (dropped)
    2. Legend of Fuyao (in progress)
    3. Reply 1988 (dropped)
    4. Startup (dropped)

This list will be edited throughout the year

#2020, #viewing-list

Robin’s 2020 Viewing List

Completed

  1. C – The Untamed ❤️❤️❤️
  2. C – Guardian ❤️
  3. K – My ID is Gangnam Beauty
  4. C – Bu Bu Jing Xin (Scarlet Heart) (R)
  5. K – Hotel Del Luna ❤️❤️❤️
  6. K – Another Oh Hae-young (R)
  7. C – The Ghost Bride
  8. K – Stove League (aka Hot Stove League) ❤️❤️
  9. C – Joy of Life (part 1) ❤️❤️❤️❤️
  10. C – The Untamed Special Edition ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️
  11. K – Dear My Ex (aka XX) ❤️❤️❤️
  12. C – Dr. Cutie
  13. K – Oh! My Emperor (Xiao Zhan ❤️❤️)
  14. T – Someday or One Day ❤️❤️
  15. C – The Bad Kids ❤️❤️❤️❤️
  16. K – It’s Okay to Be Not Okay ❤️
  17. C – The Longest Day In Chang’an ❤️❤️❤️❤️
  18. C – Murderous Affair in Horizon Tower ❤️❤️
  19. C – Hikaru No Go ❤️❤️
  20. C – The Wolf (Xiao Zhan ❤️❤️)
  21. K – The School Nurse Files

Currently In Progress or On Hold/Abandoned

  • C – My Roommate Is A Detective
  • K – Tale of Nokdu
  • C – Under the Power
  • K – Crash Landing on You
  • C – Love and Destiny
  • C – Love Yourself
  • C – Fairytale Lovers
  • K – The Lies Within
  • K – The Uncanny Counter (Active)

#2020, #viewing-list

Yolette’s 2019 Viewing List

I’m starting a list, too, because I’m feeling confident I will manage to dive back in this year, at least somewhat:

Completed

    1. Nirvana in Fire 2 ❤  ❤ ❤
    2. What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim ❤❤
    3. While You Were Sleeping ❤❤
    4. The Story of Yanxi Palace ❤❤❤❤
    5. Lawless Lawyer
    6. Overprotected Kahoko
    7. Attention, Love
    8. Search: WWW ❤❤❤
    9. Takane and Hana
    10. The Untamed ❤❤❤

In Progress / On Hold / Dropped

  1. Memories of Alhambra (on hold)
  2. Ever Night (on hold)
  3. Well-Intended Love (on hold)
  4. Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace(dropped)

This list will be edited throughout the year

#2019, #viewing-list

Chingu’s 2019 Viewing List

Of course it’s early days but here it is:

Completed

  1. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes

In Progress / On Hold / Dropped

  1. Mr. Sunshine (in progress)
  2. Love Alert (on hold)
  3. Here to Heart (on hold)
  4. Miracle we Met (in progress)

This list will be edited throughout the year

#2019, #viewing-list

Robin’s 2019 Viewing List

Completed

  1. C – Love O2O
  2. J – Caution, Hazardous Wife ❤️
  3. J – Pretty Proofreader ❤️
  4. C – Here to Heart
  5. J – Overprotected Kahoko ❤️
  6. J – May I Blackmail You?
  7. J – Fukuyadou Honpo – Kyoto Love Story
  8. J – Tokyo Tarereba Girls ❤️
  9. K – The Last Empress
  10. J – Criminologist Himura and Mystery Writer Arisugawa
  11. J – A Sharply Graceful Girl
  12. K – Page Turner
  13. J – Stay Tuned!
  14. C – Ever Night ❤️ ❤️
  15. K – He Is Psychometric ❤️
  16. C – She Is Beautiful
  17. C – I Hear You
  18. C – Well-intended Love
  19. K – Her Private Life ❤️❤️❤️
  20. K – The Fiery Priest ❤️
  21. K – Beauty Inside ❤️
  22. J – Sumika Sumire
  23. K – Search: WWW ❤️❤️❤️
  24. K – Watcher ❤️❤️
  25. K – Angel’s Last Mission: Love
  26. K – Healer (R)
  27. K – Sungkyunkwan Scandal (R)
  28. K – 1% of Something (R)
  29. K – Abyss
  30. K – While You Were Sleeping
  31. C – Nirvana in Fire (R2)
  32. K – Extra-ordinary You ❤️
  33. K – Rookie Historian, Goo Hae-ryung ❤️
  34. C – Triad Princess (season 1)
  35. C – Arsenal Military Academy
  36. K – The Secret Life of My Secretary
  37. C – Once Upon a Time On Lingjian Mountain
  38. J – Midnight Diner (season 2) ❤️

In Progress or Abandoned…

  • K – Ms. Ma, Nemesis
  • C – Nirvana in Fire II *
  • K – Prison Playbook *
  • C – A Love So Beautiful
  • C – My Huckleberry Friend
  • C – With You
  • K – Memories of the Alhambra *
  • K – Orange Marmalade
  • K – Kingdom *
  • K – Persona *
  • C – All Is Well
  • C – The Longest Day in Chang’an *
  • C – Before We Got Married
  • K – Designated Survivor *
  • K – Melo Is My Nature *
  • K – The Great Show
  • While some of these have been in viewing limbo for a while, I really do intend to finish these. As for the others… well, time will tell!

#2019, #viewing-list

Chingu’s 2018 Viewing List

Completed

  1. Hwayugi
  2. Because this is your first life
  3. Are you human too?
  4. Familiar Wife
  5. Mother
  6. My Ajhussi
  7. Falsify
  8. Pretty Noona who buys me food
  9. Should we kiss first
  10. Whisper
  11. Fight my Way
  12. The Package
  13. Just between Lovers
  14. Mad Dog
  15. Stranger (Forest of Secrets)
  16. Missing Nine
  17. Thirty but Seventeen
  18. What’s wrong with Secretary Kim?
  19. Suspicious Partner
  20. Strong Woman Do Bong-soon
  21. Chief Kim
  22. While you were sleeping

Incomplete (Abandoned)

  1. My Husband Oh Jak Do
  2. Sketch

I’m sure that I’ve forgotten others…

#2018, #viewing-list

Robin’s 2018 in Review

I didn’t watch as many dramas as I have in some years (curse you, demon overlords who killed Dramafever), but I am so glad that I managed to finish a few in time before the axe so unexpectedly fell, particularly My Ahjussi as it was one of my year’s favorites. Dark and realistic, the ensemble cast delivered something poignant and touching, without ever straying into unsuitable relationships territory. Another tale of unhappy people finding happiness that hit the right chord with me was Just Between Lovers. Kim Junho (who we’ll miss while he’s off doing his national service) has demonstrated that he’s more than promising as a young actor.

I also mightily enjoyed (even if a good chunk of it was fan-service) What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? because a) I’m a sucker for indulgent romance and b) I have a thing for Park Seo-joon and him romancing anyone is a treat to be seen. Also in the sweet, sweet love category is Thirty but Seventeen Again, which would make a favorite’s list purely on the strength of teenager-in-love Ahn Hyo-seop’s pure smile and tender heart,  but also had a thoughtful, what if/what is romance with two charming performances by Shin Hye-sun and Yang Se-jong.

But fairytale romances aren’t everything; there are so many enjoyable, frustrating, surprising, and heartwarming moments in Matrimonial Chaos that I couldn’t possible name them all. The series featured fresh plots, several contemporary angles on relationships and friendship, and a talented cast, anchored by Bae Doona. This is one I’ll enjoy revisiting multiple times in the years to come (provided some other evil internet overlords don’t ruin that for us too).

For a look at the other drama I’ve watched this year, check out my My 2018 Viewing List.

Disappointing – 🍄
Passable, not special – No hearts
Better than average – ❤️
Pretty darn good – ❤️❤️
Good cast, good script, all gels – ❤️❤️❤️
Exceptional – ❤️❤️❤️❤️

#2018-drama-favorites