Blue’s 30-Day K-Drama Challenge

And so I noticed that many K-drama bloggers have lately taken on the 30-day K-drama challenge. Initially, I took one look at it and gave it a no-go after reading the first day challenge – your favorite drama. Me? The indecisive and fickle Blue given the mission of selecting one answer for each category? Impossible! (Take a look at my all-time favorite list and see how I’m (still) struggling to narrow down the list to my top 10.)

But it did look like it would be loads of fun, and I was curious about what my final answers would be as well. Seeing Thundie’s answers to the challenge was my last straw as I realized, “But wait, who says I have to pick one answer?! No one can make me!” Ding, ding, ding! The light bulb went off in my head.

I decided to approach these questions not as a challenge to pick one “correct” answer, but as a topic for discussion and let my train of thought take me wherever it wants to go. With my tendency to go off tangent, this may turn out disastrous. For any potential damage control, I’m going to copy adopt Thundie’s method of “confining” all thirty answers into just one single post here.

But before I begin, here is the list of the 30 challenges:

30-Day Kdrama Challenge
Day 01: Your Favorite Kdrama
Day 02: Your Favorite Male Lead Character
Day 03: Your Favorite Female Lead Character
Day 04: Your Favorite Male Third Wheel Character
Day 05: Your Favorite Female Third Wheel Character
Day 06: Your Favorite Song from a Kdrama OST
Day 07: Your Favorite Line/s by a Male Lead Character
Day 08: Your Favorite Line/s by a Female Lead Character
Day 09: Your Favorite Line/s by a Male Third Wheel
Day 10: Your Favorite Line/s by a Female Third Wheel
Day 11; Your Favorite Dialogue
Day 12: Your Favorite Story
Day 13: Your Favorite “I Love You”
Day 14: Your Favorite Kiss
Day 15: Your Favorite Ending
Day 16: A Kdrama you started but can’t finish
Day 17: A Kdrama you’ve watched more than once
Day 18: The Worst Kdrama that you’ve watched until the end
Day 19: Your Best Actor
Day 20: Your Best Actress
Day 21: Your Worst Actor
Day 22: Your Worst Actress
Day 23: Your Best Couple
Day 24: Your Worst Couple
Day 25: Your First Kdrama
Day 26: Your Recently Finished Kdrama
Day 27: A Kdrama loved by many but you don’t seem to like
Day 28: A Kdrama not loved by many but you seem to like
Day 29: A Kdrama which made you so happy
Day 30: A Kdrama which made you so sad 

Now let’s begin!

Day 01: Your Favorite Kdrama

Favorite? What exactly is meant by “favorite”? I mean, I understand that it should be the one that I subjectively like the most. But since we’ve already established that I’m incapable of choosing just one, should I include under my favorite dramas (plural!) the ones that I enjoyed greatly while I watched them, but immediately forgot about right thereafter? (ex. Prosecutor Princess)  Or how about dramas that I may not have been as obsessed with while I was watching them, but made me continue to think about or want to re-watch, perhaps even more so, days, months, and years after the first view? (ex. Goodbye Solo)

Well, I decided to weigh how well some of my top dramas measured up in both of these criteria and come up with a cumulative “score” to see which dramas would come out on top. It should be noted that no matter how good a drama is, I can never love it if I don’t either crush on at least one male cast member, or at the very least, find him attractive/sexy/charismatic. Otherwise, to quote the ever-so-wise dramaok, “What’s the point?” Any drama that fails here can never rank high with me. But frankly, considering how my criteria for finding an actor attractive is not based purely on looks, but on other factors, including his smile, gaze, voice, etc. that depend greatly on his acting skills (shoot, I think Ryu Seung Bum, who is a terrific actor but not exactly strong on the looks department, is sexy as hell), if after 16 or so episodes I don’t have a crush on anyone, then, well, only the cast can be blamed. For as Bella can testify, I am ALWAYS ready to fall in love with someone new.

Funny how if you had asked me this same question 10 years ago, my answer would have been much more straightforward. Until then, I used to tell everyone that I had a top ten list, but that there were only two dramas on it- Eyes of Dawn (1991-1992) and Sandglass (1995). Two dramas made by the same director/write combo of Kim Jong Hak and Song Ji Na, there’s still no doubt in my mind that objectively, they are the two greatest Korean dramas ever made.

The root of the problem is, of course, Mama Blue. Around 10 years ago, I was having a conversation with my mom and complaining about how Korea just can’t seem to make dramas that match up to those two classics. Then she said, “Yes, they were very well-made dramas. But, Blue, you seem to have blown them out of proportion of how great they are in your memory and have a much-heightened opinion of them. Honestly, I wonder how well they would stack up if you were to re-watch them now.”

Dang, touché! I think this is a phenomenon that can be often seen in the K-drama community where people hold some of their earlier dramas with particular fondness. You may then ask why I don’t just watch them over again to decide once and for all. Well, as a general practice, I rarely watch a drama more than once. But in particular, these two, and especially Eyes of Dawn, are the last dramas that I’d want to re-watch. I’m simply afraid of going through the “torture” of seeing the hardships faced by the characters again. Frankly, it’s too traumatizing.

So for this purpose, I’m going to exclude these two dramas and others from pre-2000. I’m just not sure how reliable my memories are of them. But for those curious, besides these two, the honorable mention for my favorite dramas from pre-2000 are Seoul Ddook Bae Gi (1990-1991), Kyoto 25th Hour (1991-1992), Three-Day Promise (1992), Walking All the Way to Heaven (1993), Pilot (1993), General Hospital (1994-1995), Jjak/Pairing (1994-1998), The Most Beautiful Farewell in the World (1996),  Medical Brothers (1997), and Pado/Tide (1999), minus its poor WTF ending. Most of these titles have since been forgotten by many, but I just wanted to at least give a shout out to them for the great joy they brought me during the 9os. Also, again this may be because of my heightened opinion of the older dramas due to my poor memory, but it is of my personal opinion that the 1990s was the true “Golden Age” for K-dramas.

For dramas from post-2000, I pick the the following five to be my favorites: Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy (2005), My Girl (2005-2006), Goodbye Solo (2006), Sungkyunkwan Scandal (2010), and Jejoongwon (2010).

I’m not sure whether my taste has changed or it’s largely owed to the change in the industry, but I just noticed it as I worked on this list that in contrast to the majority of my favorite dramas from the 1990s being the serious, no-nonsense types, I now tend to favor lighter, “feel good” trendy dramas that leave me with the warm fuzzy inside. Ah, you learn something new about yourself every day!

So there you have it, folks! Umm, did I even answer this challenge? Doesn’t matter because I’m moving on… (Reminder to self: Talk/write less! You’re becoming like the Energizer bunny that just keeps going and going and going…)

Day 02: Your Favorite Male Lead Character

It’s ridiculous how I can’t seem to wipe off this silly grin from my face from staring at the above collage. So cute, are they not? If you haven’t figured it out yet, they are that of JUNG KYUNG HO’s Kang Hyun Soo character from Smile You, MICKY YOOCHUN’s Lee Sun Joon character from Sungkyunkwan Scandal, and PARK YONG WOO’s Hwang Jung character from Jejoongwon.

Coincidentally, two of these dramas made my top five list above. I suspect that most women’s favorite male lead characters are those who they themselves fantasize about being with. And like many others, I confess that I too have a soft spot for the cold/rich, but misunderstood Mr. Darcy-type male leads.

But what really gets to me, or stirs up my loins as Bella so aptly calls it, are awkward/naive male lead characters who are completely steadfast like a rock in their love for the girl. Enough with this giving up the girl for her own good B.S. Real men beg and plead! And of course, having good looks can’t hurt! *scrolls back up to stare at the photos*

Oh, and this just came to me as I was staring into the beautiful contemplative eyes of these three actors, but I like nerdy male leads who are in pursuit of a scholarly goal, whether that be learning how to make better cars, pursuing Western medicine, or using the red book to learn how to *ahem* in order to *ahem* his wife. (Fill the “ahems” as you see fit.) Personally, I think the last one is the most practical, but hey, what do I know! *runs and hides*

Day 03: Your Favorite Female Lead Character

I debated between HAN JYE JIN’s Yu Suk Ran character from Jejoongwon and YEH JI WON’s Choi Mija character from Old Miss Diary. And boy, they are two very different characters! Yu Suk Ran is beautiful, kind, intelligent, ambitious… a modern woman in the Joseon era. In short, the kind of woman who I’d aspire to be like. Choi Mija is a klutzy, single, “past her prime” everyday woman on the lookout for her marriage partner.

In the end, I went with Choi Mija because she’s a female lead who I can most relate to. What other female lead character weighs her two “options” when she becomes involved in a love triangle? For the younger man option, she imagines how she can brag to her friends about having a young lover. The other is a lawyer, and she imagines how she can brag about having a lawyer bf. She delights in her situation and wonders aloud how she ended up being like a female lead character in a drama (LOL), as she imagines the two men physically fighting over her. Mija’s not perfect, but she’s played endearingly by Yeh Ji Won. And all throughout watching the series, she’s the only female lead character to whom I found myself saying, “Girl, I hear ya!” (Note: This only applies to Choi Mija from the TV series, and not from Old Miss Diary: The Movie. Mija from the movie version suddenly became a pushover, unfortunately.)

Day 04: Your Favorite Male Third Wheel Character

I’m not one to suffer from the second male lead syndrome. In fact, I hardly ever give them much thought, no matter how much better they would be for the girl than the male lead himself. The one and only exception was LEE JUNG JAE’s Baek Jae Hee character in Sandglass. And well, I fell for him, and I fell hard. Still to this day, I’m confused as to whether it was for Lee Jung Jae, the actor, or for Baek Jae Hee, the character.

Funny because most of the time, Jae Hee was just standing there as Go Hyun Jung’s bodyguard and confidant, without hardly any lines. But there was so much sadness in his eyes, the all-knowing look that knew not to step out of line. In my 20+ years of watching K-dramas, Baek Jae Hee is the only male second lead character who I cried for.

Day 05: Your Favorite Female Third Wheel Character

To borrow Thundie’s words, “I don’t normally get as enamored of female lead characters as I do of the male ones.” If that’s the case then, your suspicion would be correct that I pretty much never bother to give any thought to the female third-wheel characters. As far as I’m concerned, as long as they don’t become too annoying, too clingy, or too evil, I just choose to ignore them because I figure it’s a waste of my time to outright hate them. Unfortunately, most of them choose to be one of the above.

If I had to choose, the only one I can think at the top of my head is LEE HONEY’s Oh Sae Young character in Pasta. There was an element of surprise in that one because if you cast a tall, beautiful girl like Lee Honey as a third wheel character, there’s an expectation that she would turn out to be bitchy. But instead, although she was the male lead’s ex-gf who re-entered his life, she never once got in the way of the main couple even though she still had lingering feelings for the male lead. Instead, she was a character who just simply needed to work out her past mistake and come to learn to forgive herself. It was a refreshing twist.

Day 06: Your Favorite Song from a Kdrama OST

Oh, there are so many! In my opinion, the dramas with the best soundtrack are Sandglass, Shinhwa (a.k.a. Legend), Soulmate, Her House, Que Sera Sera, Damo, and On the Green Prairie. I’ve never watched Alone in Love, but I fell in love with its soundtrack and listen to it quite often as well for its instrumental music. And how can I forget Jo Sumi’s “If I Leave” from Empress Myung Sung? That song is in a league of its own.

But if I have to choose one to showcase here, I’ll go with the song “C’est Tout” from the drama On the Green Prairie soundtrack, simply because it’s probably the least well-known.

Day 07: Your Favorite Line/s by a Male Lead Character

Seol Gong Chan’s (LEE DONG WOOK) lines from My Girl. Pretty self-explanatory, but upon hearing them, my heart dropped and I had butterflies in my stomach.

“(핸드폰 닫으며) 보낸다.
(핸드폰 열며) 보내지 않는다.
(핸드폰 닫으며) 보내야 한다.
(핸드폰 열며) 보낼 수 없다.
(핸드폰 닫으며) 보낼 수 있다.
(주유린 보며) 보내기… 싫다.”

“(closes phone) I’ll let her go.
(opens phone) I won’t let her go.
(closes phone) I must let her go.
(opens phone) I can’t let her go.
(closes phone) I can let her go.
(looks at her inside the elevator) I don’t want… to let her go.”

Day 08: Your Favorite Line/s by a Female Lead Character

SHIM EUN HA’s famous line from Trap of Youth has been parodied many times over in other comedy/variety shows and TV dramas. I love the fierceness of writer Kim Soo Hyun’s word choice.

“당신, 부셔버릴꺼야!”
“I’m gonna tear you to pieces!”  or
“I’m gonna demolish you!”

Day 09: Your Favorite Line/s by a Male Third Wheel

There was a tie for this category.

Both the opening and the closing lines for Damo, as spoken by Jang Sung Baek (KIM MIN JOON). They really are a work of art, so beautiful are his words. My translations simply do not do justice.

“길이 아닌 길이라…
길이라는 것이 어찌 처음부터 있단 말이오.
한 사람이 다니고… 두 사람이 다니고
많은 사람들이 다니면 그것이 곧 길이 되는 법.
이 썩은 세상에 나 또한 새로운 길을 내고자 달려왔을 뿐이오.

내 오늘 이곳에 뼈를 묻겠지만,
내가 죽은 후에도 수많은 사람들이 길을 내기 위해 걸을 것이오.
언젠가는 그들의 피와 혼이 계곡을 메꾸고 강을 메꾸고,
반드시 새로운 길을… 반드시 새 세상을 열 것이오.
나는 지금 죽어도 죽는 것이 아니오.”

“A road that is not a road…
How can a road be from the start?
One person takes it, then two people take it…
And when many people come to take it, then that becomes a road.
In this wretched world, I too had simply worked to make a new road.

Though my bones will get buried here today,
even after my death, many people will walk this path in order to make a road.
Their blood and souls will one day fill the valleys and the rivers,
and they’ll surely make a new road… they’ll surely make a new world.
Even though I die now, I will not be dead.”

*****

Jung Soo’s (LEE JONG SOO) lines from The Most Beautiful Farewell in the World. This is the scene where he first learns from his sister the news of their mom’s cancer.  I completely lost it here and then, and just sobbed uncontrollably (tears pouring and nose running) for the rest of the drama. In fact, I started tearing up once again as I worked on translating the lines below. (Note to self: The film version has been released. Need to get at it pronto!)

“넌 내 맘 몰라. 누난 재수도 안하구, 일류대학도 나오구, 취직도 해서 엄마 용돈도 줘보구, 다 해봤지? 난 뭐야. 난 아무것도 못 했잖아. 아무것도 해준게 없잖아. 맨날 술처먹는 꼴만 보여줬잖아. 난 이대로 못보내! 누난 보낼수 있어도, 난 못보내!”

“You don’t understand how I feel, Noona. You didn’t have to retake the college entrance exam, you graduated from an elite college, you landed a job and even gave mom some spending money. You were able to do everything, right? What about me? I wasn’t able to do anything. I haven’t done anything for her. All I did was show up drunk everyday. I can’t let her go like this! Noona, you may be able to let her go, but I can’t!”

Day 10: Your Favorite Line/s by a Female Third Wheel

Sorry, I really can’t think of any. So pass!

Day 11: Your Favorite Dialogue

Writer Noh Hee Kyung’s dramas always have great dialogues, but she really outdid herself with Goodbye Solo. In particular, BAE JONG OK’s Oh Young Sook character was spitting out quote-worthy lines one after another, that while watching the drama, I actually picked up a pen and a paper to jot some of them down. After much contemplation between all the possible choices, I finally settled on this as my favorite. Hurrah for Noh Hee Kyung!

미리: 내가 양씨를 잊을 수 있을까?
영숙: 못 잊지, 어떻게 잊냐?
잊는다는 건 어느 날 그 사람이 나타났을 때 어머, 누구세요? 아니면 그 사람 이름을 들었을 때 그게 누구더라? 하는게 진짜 잊는건데, 살부비고 산 사람을 그렇게 잊을 수 있냐, 미치지 않고선? 사랑하는 사람을 버릴 순 있어도 잊을 순 없어. 안그래?
미리: 내가 양씨 없이 살수 있을까?
영숙: 인간이 얼마나 독한데 못살아, 살지.
미리: 잘 살아야지, 괴로워도 슬퍼도 웃으면서.
영숙: 니가 캔디니? 괴로워도 슬퍼도 웃게. 내가 장담하는데 그렇게 살면 안돼, 병나.
캔디 만화 끝이 어떻게 됐는지 모르겠지만 아마 캔디 걔 정신병동에 갔을껄? 너무 참아서.
울어, 울고싶으면.

Mi Ri: Will I be able to forget Mr. Yang?
Young Sook: Of course not. How can you forget? Truly forgetting means going, “Omo, who are you?” when that person shows up in front of you one day. Or saying, “Who’s he?” when you hear his name. How can you forget someone whose flesh you rubbed against, unless you’ve gone crazy? You can leave a loved one, but you can’t forget one. Isn’t that right?
Mi Ri: Will I be able to live without Mr. Yang?
Young Sook: Humans are so tenacious, why would you not be able to live? Of course you will.
Mi Ri: I’ll live well then. I’ll smile, no matter how miserable or sad I feel.
Young Sook: Are you Candy, for you to smile when you’re feeling miserable and sad? I can guarantee it, but you shouldn’t live like that. You’ll fall ill. I don’t know how Candy ended up in the manga, but I bet she ended up in a mental ward for holding it in too much. Cry. If you want to cry, then just cry.

Day 12: Your Favorite Story

I like stories of long-time friends slowly developing into lovers. As I don’t really believe in love at first sight…

But since 49 Days has been pretty awesome lately and since it has one of the most unique stories I’ve seen in a drama, a quick shout-out to 49 Days! Now that I think about it, 49 Days also includes a story of a high school friend who had been secretly harboring a crush on the girl. Sigh, I’m so predictable.

Day 13: Your Favorite “I Love You”

Another tie. No surprise.

The first is GONG YOO’s “I love you” in Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy.

“사랑한다 사랑한다 무엇을 더 말하리…
사랑한다 사랑한다 무엇을 더 말하리…
사랑한다! 사랑한다! 사랑한다! 사랑한다!”

“I love you, I love you, what more shall I say?
I love you, I love you, what more shall I say?
I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you!”

*****

And the second is PARK YONG WOO’s “I love you” in Jejoongwon.

“아씨, 사랑합니다.”
“Miss, I love you.”

Two things to note. In both cases, the male character doesn’t say it directly to the female character. In Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy, GONG YOO’s Park Tae In character says those lines in a narrative form as he runs toward GONG HYO JIN’s Na Bori character. In Jejoongwon, PARK YONG WOO’s Hwang Jung character says it in his head while looking toward HAN HYE JIN’s Yu Suk Ran character as he waits for his execution.

Another thing to note is that the form of “I love you” is different in the two cases. Park Tae In says “saranghanda,” which is a formal/not respective form of “I love you.” (Compare this with “saranghae,” which is an informal/not respective form of “I love you,” and “saranghaeyo,” which is an informal/respective form of “I love you.”) It’s not as often used and I can’t explain it myself, but it always gets to me when a male lead says “saranghanda” as opposed to other forms. In this particular case, the form he chooses has a pretty poetic effect.

In contrast, Hwang Jung says “saranghapnida,” which is a formal/respective form of “I love you.” Isn’t it so fitting of Hwang Jung that he would even whisper the “I love you” to the love of his life in the most formal/respective form possible? (Ahh, Hwang Jung, what have you done to me?!) Later, during their wedding night, Hwang Jung explains that as much as he loves his Suk Ran, he respects her even more. (Hwang Jung!!!!!)

Day 14: Your Favorite Kiss

Many people complain that there isn’t much “action” in many K-drama kisses. Personally, I don’t care too much for the total “let’s make out” kisses. If I want to watch that, I can always tune in to American TV. As long as the girl doesn’t do the stiff, deer stuck in the headlights pose, I’m okay with it. The kisses that really get to me are more concerned with what happens before or after the kiss itself. For instance, I have a thing for when the character swallows/gulps before or after the kiss. If done before, it is a cute way to express the anticipation for the kiss. If done after, it has the effect of showing the lingering sensation of the kiss on the character. And as I type this, I am very much aware that I sound like a total perv.

My Girl

The kiss itself wasn’t too bad either, but what really makes this kiss unforgettable is the short pause Gong Chan (LEE DONG WOOK) takes to softly whisper “I love you” to Yoo Rin (Lee Da Hae) before continuing with the kiss. Kyahhh!

*****

Sungkyunkwan Scandal

Most people reading this blog are probably well-aware of my new-found fetish for the Joseon era gaht (hat) because of this drama. I just simply love the way Lee Sun Joon (MICKY YOOCHUN) slowly unties and strips Kim Yoon Hee (PARK MIN YOUNG) of her hat before kissing her. Oh, and as if that wasn’t enough, yes, Micky indeed swallows once before the kiss.

*****

Eyes of Dawn

I wouldn’t call it my favorite, but the barbwire kiss from Eyes of Dawn is definitely the most memorable.

Day 15: Your Favorite Ending

Why, High Kick Through the Roof, of course! Haha, just kidding. Checking to see whether people are still reading this.

I think a lot of Korean dramas, even very good ones, suffer from poor or very mediocre endings. I like an ending that ties all loose ends, but without being too “clean” as to spell EVERYTHING out for us. Although I do have a preference for happy endings, in the end, I don’t care whether the ending is a happy one or a tragic one, as long as it is an appropriate one for the story. Here are some good examples:

Favorite romance drama ending: As will be discussed in #27 below, I was not a fan of Secret Garden. But despite so, I thought the ending, especially in tying the past story of Gil Ra Im’s father, was pretty near perfect. The scenes with the couple’s children were borderline a little too fan-servicey for my taste, but I’m sure the fans of the drama very much appreciated them, and they were not too obtrusive even for those who were not.
Favorite family drama ending: More Beautiful Than a Flower. The ending was neither an unrealistically happy one with everyone laughing and pregnant (typical of most family dramas), nor was it a complete downer. It was an optimistic one that showed that even though the family will continue having to go through both happy and difficult times, they will always make it through them together.
Favorite tragic ending: Eyes of Dawn. The final fate of all the characters just made sense to me. The last scene in the mountains, with the narration by Jang Ha Rim (played by PARK SANG WON), left a lasting impression on me even to this day.

I’m sure many would disagree with me, but I thought the ending concept for Sign was pretty brilliant as well. Unfortunately, the drama took a nose-dive midway through the series, and everything about that drama, even the what could have been a brilliant ending, just sank into the territory of the crazies.

Day 16: A Kdrama you started but can’t finish

Haha, seriously? You want me to list them all? These days, I watch the first one or two episodes of most dramas before I decide whether to continue with them. And considering I only watch 10-20 dramas to completion in any given year, that means that I give up on most dramas.

I’m just going to list the recent dramas that I went pretty far in to the series (5 or more episodes) and still quit. Cinderella’s Sister, Personal Taste, Playful Kiss, Runaway: Plan B, and Royal Family come to mind.

Day 17: A Kdrama you’ve watched more than once

As a general rule, I don’t watch a drama more than once, although I do rewind and watch my favorite scenes or episodes over and over again. Sometimes so much so that I might as well as just watch the series over again.

There are only two dramas that I did watch more than once- My Girl and Old Miss Diary. I watched each of them twice. My Girl was a special situation. A friend who was newly initiated into Kdramaland was watching it at the time, and I just ended up re-watching the entire series with her.

Of all dramas to watch twice, of course I would re-watch Old Miss Diary, a sitcom that’s over 200 episodes long! I was procrastinating one day when I found that a YT user had uploaded the entire series. I was going to watch just one episode, but before I knew it, I found myself clicking on the next and then the next. By the week’s end, I had ended up watching the entire series. But does it still count if I ended up fast forwarding through many scenes?

Day 18: The Worst Kdrama that you’ve watched until the end

I no longer hesitate to drop a drama if it’s bad now, but in the past, I tried my best to finish all dramas that I started, no matter how bad they got. In other words, I watched a lot of bad dramas.

Age of Innocence, Baker King Kim Tak Gu, Ghost, Star, If In Love Like Them, One Fine Day, Powerful Opponents, A Love to Kill, and Sookhee are all pretty noteworthy for their “badness.” Avoid them if you can.

Day 19: Your Best Actor

Interesting that the choice is for the “best” actor, and not my favorite. There are actually many talented actors who’ve impressed me and at least once made me go, “Wow, he’s good!”

The list of names: Sol Kyung Gu, Kim Myung Min, Ha Jung Woo, Kim Ju Hyuk, Ryu Seung Bum, Jung Bo Suk, Lee Byung Hun, Park Yong Woo, Lee Bum Soo, Park Shin Yang, Yang Dong Geun.

I honestly don’t know who is the best. I can already eliminate some of them because I don’t think they’d be as versatile as others. It would be interesting to give them all a same role and see how they interpret the role differently. Ooh, let’s make this reality competition show happen- Survival: I Am an Actor!

Day 20: Your Best Actress

Hands down Go Doo Shim! You can’t beat this veteran actress. From playing the gentle countryside daughter-in-law in Diary of a Rural Village, to a manipulative loan shark in Shinhwa, an everyday mom in More Beautiful than a Flower, and a gray-haired grandma in Dancing Gayageum, this woman is a chameleon!

Day 21: Your Worst Actor

Yikes! This question is potentially asking for trouble, but better to be honest, right? Many people criticize the acting of these newer idols-turned-actors, but honestly, you can’t beat some of the older veterans when they were starting out when it comes to bad acting. Choi Soo Jong in the early 90s, Cha In Pyo when he was starting out, Ji Jin Hee in Juliet’s Man, Ryu Si Won (*whispers* throughout most of his career), Song Seung Hun (*whispers* throughout most of his career) were all seriously cringe-worthy. From a more recent example, Lee Sang Woo in First Wives Club was pretty terrible as well.

Day 22: Your Worst Actress

Myung Se Bin and Kim Ha Neul when they were first starting out made me switch channels.

Day 23: Your Best Couple

My favorite couples:

Jung Kyung Ho & Lee Min Jung (Smile, You)
Lee Seon Kyun & Gong Hyo Jin (Pasta)
Park Shi Hoo & Kim So Yeon (Prosecutor Princess)
Chun Jung Myung & Go Hyung Jung (What’s Up Fox)
Lee Dong Wook & Lee Da Hae (My Girl)
Gong Yoo & Gong Hyo Jin (Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy)
Song Chang Eui & Lee Young Ah (Golden Bride)
Ji Hyun Woo & Yeh Ji Won (Old Miss Diary)
Lee Dong Gun & Han Ji Hye (Sweet 18)
Park Yong Woo & Han Hye Jin (Jejoongwon)

But I have to go with Park Yong Woo and Han Hye Jin, the Hwang Jung and Yu Suk Ran couple from Jejoongwon as the best of the best. The other couples were really cute and had great chemistry together. But Hwang Jung and Yu Suk Ran shared one of the greatest love stories ever told in a TV drama. You just can’t beat that.

Day 24: Your Worst Couple

My gosh! Is it possible to put four actors who have absolutely zero chemistry with each other together in one drama? Well, On Air did. The drama tried to keep us guessing as to who would get together, but I cringed at the idea of any of them getting together. In the drama, they portrayed actors pretending to get along in front of the camera, despite the bad drama going on behind closed doors. I wouldn’t be surprised if the drama is based on the true story of this cast.

Day 25: Your First Kdrama

What exactly is meant by first? Is it the first drama that you’ve ever watched/been exposed to? The first drama that you followed regularly? The first drama that you watched completely?

I’ve already shared in another blog entry that Three Families Under One Roof was my first K-drama. But if you want to be technical about it, it gets slightly more complicated, and I honestly wouldn’t know which drama is my first K-drama.

Three Families Under One Roof started in 1986, but in fact, I don’t remember when I actually started watching it, except that I was watching it with my family by mid-1987. Further, as a long-running show, our family eventually stopped watching the series around 1989/1990, few years before the show came to a close. So Three Families Under One Roof is not a drama I watched completely either.

I do distinctly remember giving side glances to the TV as my parents watched Love and Ambition (MBC) in early 1987, so perhaps this drama should be considered my first “exposure” to K-dramas.

In 1988, I got sucked into my first sageuk, Queen Inhyeon (1988), the eighth installment of the 500 Years of Joseon Dynasty series. Marveled by JEON IN HWA’s beauty as Jang Heebin, I followed it regularly to the very end, even rooting for Jeon’s Jang Heebin, to the great dismay of my parents who worried about their young daughter’s poor judgment. But again, I jumped into watching the drama in the middle of the series.

Then the earliest drama that I know for certain to have watched completely from beginning to end is Seoul Ddook Bae Gi (1990-1991).

Wow, figuring out what my first K-drama was seems like a biography on my early life.

Day 26: Your Recently Finished Kdrama

Dream High? Sign? My Princess? Which of these was the last one to finish? It must have been Sign, right? So, yes, Sign, it is!

Day 27: A Kdrama loved by many but you don’t seem to like

I have a pretty “mainstream” taste, so when a drama is so dearly loved by many people, I usually find it to be at least “okay,” if not liking it myself. But considering Baker King Kim Tak Gu received such high ratings in Korea, does it mean that it is a drama loved by many? If so, it would qualify here because I absolutely, utterly hated that drama with all my heart. In fact, I was earlier planning to write a review on why I hate this drama as much as I do, but then I realized that I’d hate myself for dedicating even one more hour to it- an hour that it doesn’t deserve.

The following dramas are loved by many and are on many people’s all-time favorite list, but I feel lukewarm about: Winter SonataYou’re Beautiful, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, and Secret Garden. It’s not that I necessarily don’t like them, but I think they are overhyped. *ducks*

Day 28: A Kdrama not loved by many but you seem to like

That’s easy. Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy, Pasta, and Prosecutor Princess.

1. Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy has so much heart to it. The two leads were just simply delightful together, and it is most definitely Gong Yoo’s best role to date. (And yes, in my heart, it beats his role in Coffee Prince).

2. Pasta is an interesting case because it did receive lots of love in its native country. Even my friend from Korea who doesn’t watch that many dramas told me that her entire circle of friends and acquaintances have been talking non-stop about it (which would be the late 20s/early 30s crowd). But it was comparatively ignored in the international community. I’m frequently puzzled by the dramas that make it popular in Korea, but I’m with the Koreans with this one.

3. Prosecutor Princess is so polarized. Most people chose to ignore it or gave up on it after the first few episodes, but there is a small group of people who go around trying to convince everyone of its greatness. I don’t think Prosecutor Princess will blow anyone’s mind, but many would be surprised to find an addicting, gem of a drama once they get past the first four episodes. But I must admit. It’s difficult to get past those first four episodes.

Day 29: A Kdrama which made you so happy

Feel-good dramas are supposed to make you happy, and if they didn’t, well, they failed at their job. In particular, What’s Up, Fox stands out to me. Even feel-good dramas go through their mandatory angst, but What’s Up, Fox managed to breezily pass through it and I never once felt angsty while watching it. Perhaps I was just so enamored by the cute couple that I never noticed.

But instead, I want to talk here about the teen drama Sharp. What is a grown woman doing watching a drama about middle schoolers, and is there something wrong with her if she enjoyed it so much? The very first episode of Sharp starts with Ok Rim (GO ARA) as she realizes in horror that she’s the last girl in her class to have not gotten her period yet. And like that, throughout the series, we come to see her grow as she learns about her own identity, her dreams, her place in the family as the middle child, her first love, her many friends… Nothing really extraordinary ever happened, but the drama was simply realistic and endearing. And it made Blue very happy. (For all the Moon Jae Shin fans from Sungkyunkwan Scandal, you’ll also see a much younger YOO AH IN appear as Ok Rim’s first boyfriend, and nope, that’s not him in the photo above.)

Day 30: A Kdrama which made you so sad

There are many tear-jerkers in Kdramaland, but I dare you to not cry while watching any of these three dramas. There’s The Most Beautiful Farewell in the World, a drama about a middle aged woman who prepares to say goodbye to her family as she’s dying from cancer. There’s Seven Spoons, a story of five cousins who suddenly find themselves as orphans when their parents get killed in a car accident.

But seriously, I don’t think you can beat Ga Shi Go Gi (a.k.a. Daddy Fish) in this category. Little YOO SEUNG HO appears as a child suffering from leukemia, and JUNG BO SUK as his single, poet dad trying to make ends meet to pay for his son’s growing hospital bills. And then, and then… Wahhhh!

**********

OMG, am I actually done with all thirty?! And with that, I think I’m going to take a break from blogging for 30 days.

This entry was posted in Blast to the Past, K-celebrities, K-dramas and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Blue’s 30-Day K-Drama Challenge

  1. Linda165 says:

    Great list! Very entertaining, and I’m def putting some of these dramas in my to watch list.

  2. supah says:

    Ohhh… Fantastic!
    This is such a feast! You have such diverse tastes…

    I totally agree about Sandglass and Eyes of Dawn. Absolute masterpieces. And Eyes of Dawn’s ‘barbwire kiss’. That’s the moment all hell was breaking loose…

    I don’t think anyone really ‘hated’ Pasta, I did find it uneventful, and like the most dramatic it ever got was the whole BIG, major deal with the pickle. My Lee Sung-min was just wonderful as ever, even in a role as limited as that.
    Prosecutor Princess started off enjoyable, and I adore Kim So-yeon and Han Jung-soo, but then I realised how weird the writing was, I had way too many issues with it, and then bowed out in due time.

    Need to watch Jejoongwon, stat.

    • blue says:

      Yes, do watch Jejoongwon, stat! Hehe, I had to laugh at your pickle comment. You’re the first person I know who mentioned Lee Sung Min by name, and then I realized… was he in Silk Shoes? Still need to watch that movie…

      • supah says:

        Yeah… it’s ‘cos he was in Silk Shoes, hehe. (I must be that transparent.) Lee Sung-min and Min Jeong-gi are criminally underrated as actors and it pains me to see LSM play such minor roles in random shows. He’s currently one of the major reasons I’m still watching Can you Hear My Heart.

        I hope you like the film, it’s also perfect if you actually enjoy a darker humour (there are gangsters, but that aspect of it is more like an Indie and much better take on Bad Family).

  3. endodo says:

    I’m still stuck on Day 4, but you went ahead and finished the entire 30 Day K-Drama Challenge? I feel ashamed to be so lazy! Your knowledge about Korean dramas never fails to surprise me, though in a good way of course! The depth of what you know exceeds my own, which is why it’s so refreshing to read about dramas that I’ve never heard of, but should probably watch because it’s a life-changer. For years I’ve watched dramas for the sake of adding another to my check-off list, and it wasn’t really until 2009 that I started to become more nitpicky about what I watch. However, I’m so glad that I did because I’m discovering gems I wouldn’t have known about if I only chose to watch what reached international mainstream popularity.

    Sigh. Now I need more time because my to-watch list is ever-growing. Jejoongwon is one that I put on hiatus to finish something like God of Study instead. Why did I do that I’ll never know, but I swear, I’m going to finish that someday. Just like I’ll finish Comrades (starring my ILU Choi Soo Jong and back off ladies, he’s MINE MINE MINE…and Ha Hee Ra’s), Bad Family, Soulmate, Alone In Love, Mixed-Up Investigative Agency, just to name a few.

    Anyways, thanks for sharing your thoughts with the rest of us! And please, don’t take a 30-day break from blogging! Ever! Because I’d miss your writing too much! 😛

    • blue says:

      Thanks for your long comment! There really are many hidden gems that never reached much popularity and need to be discovered. But I still love my trendies too! Btw, many of the dramas on your to-watch list are on mine too. Ahh, so many dramas to watch!

  4. doozy says:

    Congrats for finishing this challenge, blue! 🙂

    High-fives on all things related to My Girl, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, and Jejoongwon.
    Glad to hear that you like Alone in Love’s OST but you must watch this gem ASAP!

  5. missjb says:

    baker king kim tak guu had been present in my country. Many people loved this drama. I will be glad reading your review about it. I have read another blog who write a good review about baker king, so it will be interesting reading different review who didn’t like it, if u don’t mind and have a free time.

    • blue says:

      Thanks for commenting! I might still do a review for Baker King, but honestly, it’s at the bottom of my priority list right now. We’ll see!

  6. thundie says:

    Best post ever, blue dear! Love it to itty-bitty bits. Thank you for always being so enlightening and insightful. I learn so much when I come here. Muah!!

  7. Softy says:

    As long as the girl doesn’t do the stiff, deer stuck in the headlights pose, I’m okay with it. The kisses that really get to me are more concerned with what happens before or after the kiss itself. For instance, I have a thing for when the character swallows/gulps before or after the kiss. If done before, it is a cute way to express the anticipation for the kiss. If done after, it has the effect of showing the lingering sensation of the kiss on the character. And as I type this, I am very much aware that I sound like a total perv.

    Ask me how many times I dropped my iPad after reading this cuz I was laughing so hard… seriously.. ask me…you won’t believe it. Still grinning from ear to ear as I type this – I don’t know what was more hilarious – that last line or the fact that you count “swallows” before and after – omg I am dying again 🙂

    I was curious who Ryu Seung Bum was so I looked him up – saw him at my hair salon once. Pretty sure he came in for a haircut, but he went out looking exactly the same way he came in except his hair seemed cleaner and less oily looking. He seriously needs a haircut to go with his new abs. Great actor tho – even if he isn’t your typical good looking type.

    As for your lukewarm picks – good lord blue – did you have to go and throw in Winter Sonata with You’re Beautiful, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, and Secret Garden? They deserve better than that – I mean winter sonata? Seriously? Before I even read what you wrote about it – I was all happy cuz you put my favs on your list and wondered why WS there- then i read what you wrote and my jaws dropped from shock. Anything else would have been better- just not WS. A drama where a grown man is wearing high school uniform that much is just wrong on so many levels. Personally, I never saw WS and I never will cuz just pics of it made me run the other way. I had to close my eyes and look away during the first four eps of DH when BYJ came out – think I might be allergic to the guy – just seeing him gives me hives.
    Great job on the rest tho. May I just say – boy you know your dramas ( bowing in awe) Had a feeling you would tackle this after reading your comment on thundie’s. Your fans will appreciate your effort cuz we were dying of curiosity. 🙂

    • blue says:

      Ok, so how many times did you drop your ipad? Hehe.

      Ooh, you go to the same hair salon as Ryu Seung Bum? Ask me again why I’m still in the U.S.

      As for my lukewarm picks, don’t let it bother you too much. Irrelevant to whether or not I liked it, I picked dramas that many people absolutely loved, but those that I never came to love like others did. So I’m probably the rare exception. If I thought they were truly bad, I would have placed them in Day 18: The Worst Drama category.

      But perhaps you’re right that it wasn’t fair for me to categorize Winter Sonata with the other three because whereas I finished the others completely, I skipped around and fast forwarded through Winter Sonata. As for BYJ in Dream High, I’m convinced that his acting “regressed” during the long break he took from acting. He was absolutely terrible… worse than any of the newbie idol actors he acted alongside with.

      • kcomments says:

        It’s botox(I guess), hey don’t laugh, his face was so stiff, my friend told me it could happen. But I’ll be checking on his new project tho, gotta give the guy a chance cuz his ‘Winter Sonata’ leaded me to Kdrama Land ^^

      • Softy says:

        Thanks for taking the time to explain.guess we can’t help loving the dramas we do. Even among YAB, MGIAG, and SG – SG stands out for me. The other two were fun, but SG had more meat to it.
        I always thought BYJ didn’t “act” in DH and he was just being his usual self -like that cold detached persona WAS him. I will never understand the appeal he wields over some women- including my own flesh and blood sister. Think I threatened to disown her or something one time cuz she was swooning so much over him.
        Since kcomments mentioned SKKS, I wondered if you saw the new Micky CF- bet you loved every second. 🙂 I still can’t get used to him with that new hairdo for his drama.

  8. kcomments says:

    Ahem, I’m going to take time reading this post, may me *cough* one challenge per day *cough* buahahaha and will be back huhu…..

    Now where is our dear Bella, I wonder. Oh come on, please enlighten us too! ^^

  9. kcomments says:

    Quickly finished your 30days, yes to JJW, SKKS, MG. My years in Kdrama are very limited, I can only share with you some dramas that I can watch again and again, cuz of the cinematography/editing/ story/scripts/ost/acting all wrapped harmoniously into (my personal) one of a kind, feel good drama in my book(not necessary perfect).

    Most recent one, ‘Dream High’ for its eagerness/youthfulness. The best ‘final episode’ of kdrama I’ve seen to date.

    Sungkyunkwan Scandal, currently in process of checking the official DVDs, only to confirm that it is ,in fact, a really good drama.

    And ‘My Girl’, need I say more?

    And for day 18, ‘Robber’ ,damn, don’t even want to talk about it.
    Again, please be aware that these are from my not so many years with Kdrama. ^^

  10. L says:

    I like your analysis on the kissing scenes 🙂

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