There are just so many best and worst moments that we just don’t have time to cover everything. So to close out our end of year reviews we thought it would be fun to do our own little random list of what we liked and what totally sucked. So come join us as we say goodbye to 2017 and look forward to a new year of drama.
Kmuse: I think that for me I have to give this award to two dramas. The first was the creepy cult drama Save Me. The directing made so many normal moments become scary beyond all bearing just by adding some visual reminders of the religion that was trying to enslave them all. Rarely has the adding of a cross in the background been so terrifying. My second choice is Tribes and Empires. The cinematography is so unique and interesting. I couldn’t stop watching the first couple of episodes just for the sweeping landscapes and the intriguing fight sequences.
Clkytta: I liked how they did Because This is My First Life, I loved how they incorporated so much of the background into the story. This drama did a really good job using the setting to tell us about the characters.
Drama Geek: Kmuse picked the first two that come to mind, but there are a few others that I loved as well. Chicago Typewriter did a wonderful job establishing the past sections with the way they were filmed. It was both sad and exciting with everything that was going on back then. But they also used Writer Han’s house to create a beautiful present backdrop for his friendly ghost to reside in. I thought the use of the typewriter was also very well done.
I also have to say that even though we are only 6 episodes (today we get 7!!! woot) into Just Between Lovers the director has an almost poetic way of framing shots. There is a scene with our gangsterish hero and a drug dealing ex-loan shark halmeonie sitting on swings. They leave us with a shot from the back that incapsulates their relationship and brims with emotion. I look forward to many more wonderfully shot scenes to come.
Karie the Maknae: The cinematography in Tribes & Empires wooed me as well. The sweeping, gorgeous geography reminded me so strongly of The Lord of the Rings that for a moment I wondered if it had been filmed in New Zealand. And then I realized I know nothing about China’s topography. If T&E is any example, there is some breath-taking wilderness there.
One of my favorite moments in Because This is My First Life was when Ji Ho and Se Hee were sitting on a dock in her hometown. Se Hee shows her how to kiss properly, and the crew caught the setting sun behind them, lighting the whole scene up in a bright golden glow. That was particularly well done.
Goblin had a few excellent shots as well. The bloody palace scene where Kim Shin walks forward to his doom was brilliantly shot, as was his temper tantrum on the ship and his battlefield scenes. Truly, those were some of the reasons I stayed with Goblin despite the buckets of blood. And then Reaper showed up and I was done for. I especially loved the pull-back shot (I’m sure there’s a technical term for that) in Reaper’s tea house that shows his giant wall of tea cups. It was gorgeous and overwhelming and great symbolism for his life as a Reaper.
Which drama do you wish you could recast and why?
Kmuse: My Shy Boss (Introverted Boss) — Park Hye Soo was just a total disaster in this drama. She didn’t mesh well with her co-star Yeon Woo Jin and her inexperience as a leading lady was very obvious. If I had my choice of casting I would have switched in Kim Seol Gi. I think she could have made what looked awkward with PHS amazing and hilarious. When you think about it, what doesn’t become better with the addition of Kim Seol Gi?
Clkytta: A Seven Faced Man — While Ji Sung is a hard act to follow, I could have picked several Chinese leading men who could have pulled off this role. Zhang Yi Shan was just wrong for this role; his face just wasn’t expressive enough. I was completely bored by his acting. Also, not a criticism of the actor, but of the directing choices, ZYS is short, and it was painfully obvious in so many scenes as the other actors towered over him, which I felt was a huge distraction.
Drama Geek: I honestly just looked through the whole list of 2017 dramas and everyone that I dropped or skipped all together was because of writing or premise. Yeah, Two Cops might have been better with a different actress. Or Bride of Habaek could have been better with both leads recast, but I think ultimately if the writing was better then I probably would have stuck it out and liked them.
Karie the Maknae: I think I would have recast the lead male role in The Liar and His Lover. Lee Hyun Woo was just not memorable in that role, and I can’t put my finger on why. It may have been a lack of chemistry with his co-star Joy. He absolutely shone as the conflicted Cha Eun Gyeol in To the Beautiful You, so it’s definitely not his acting skills that were at fault.
Best Idol Actor Role
Clkytta: Park Hyung Sik in Strong Woman Do Bong Soon. I seriously loved him in this role, his playful nature and expressive face really sold me on this character. I felt like he did a great job, and I think he’s really growing as an actor.
Kmuse: I know that Lee Joon has officially stopped being an idol and now just does acting. But he got his roots on the idol circuit so I am going to count it. His performance in Father is Strange was perfect and I could not get past how amazing an actor he really is.
Drama Geek: I have two choices — my latest idol crush is now Junho because of Just Between Lovers. I need to go back and watch Chief Kim for many reasons, but one of them is because I just need to see this boy in more roles. I would have to put him in the category of an actor who happens to be an idol instead of idol actor, though. And Key in Lookout. He has amazing onscreen charisma and I loved his side romance with Kim Seul Gi. Please, can she have a full drama with either him or Doo Joon in 2018?
Karie the Maknae: Clkytta stole my #1 choice! Hyungsik, with his puppy smolders, absolutely made Strong Woman shine, even though I hated half the storylines. I loved him in Hwarang too. Taehyung/V from BTS was adorable in Hwarang too — those boys, plus Park Seo Joon, absolutely saved that drama for me. I would have happily dropped the politics and the scheming among the women and just watched the boys grow into their roles as flower knights instead. And Sungjae as Duk Hwa in Goblin definitely contributed to the epic bromance vibe.
Worst Idol Actor Role
Kmuse: Sorry Go Ah Ra, but your performance in Hwarang was horrid. It was so bad I had to fast forward anytime she started crying. And if you are someone that has not watched this drama before, it was a significant amount of time…….and after I wrote this I found out she was a model not an idol before acting. Still going to keep it because this lackluster performance needs to be discussed.
Clkytta: I’m going to second Kmuse on this one. I dropped Hwarang because I couldn’t deal with the acting.
Drama Geek: I’m prefacing my choice with the fact that Kai is my EXO bias and I love him to death. I LOVE HIM. And because of that I tried really, really, really hard to watch Andante. This is only his second role and he has lots of time to grow into becoming a better actor, but for now I’ve found that I can’t watch him in dramas. It messes with my image of him being smooth and sexy. I’m hoping that, if he keeps acting, he’ll find the right role and director to play to his strengths.
Karie the Maknae: Oh Siwon. I loved you in She Was Pretty. I had such high hopes for Revolutionary Love. But the heavy-handed way he played the clown in those beginning episodes was just too much. He found his stride later and I didn’t hate watching him so much, but it just went on too long in the beginning.
Favorite Ensemble Cast
Kmuse: There were so many great ensemble dramas this year that my favorite keeps changing depending on which one was recently on my mind. And since I might be listening to this OST while I write this post, I am going to choose Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People as this year’s best ensemble cast. There isn’t anyone who didn’t have character growth in this drama from your leads to your B characters. The attention to character detail deserves to be awarded.
Clkytta: Chicago Typewriter, I loved all of the characters in this drama. I was invested in the main three of course, but I also felt like the other characters were well written. I loved the loyalty of the people who worked in his house. I also liked the other rebels who worked and played at the cafe. I’m a sucker for a good drama with good side stories, and I loved how this one was woven together so well.
Drama Geek: There were almost too many this year to pick just one, but I think Father is Strange is my pick if I’m forced to. The family was everything in this drama and I loved them to bits.
Karie the Maknae: Part of this is because I just finished watching it, but I loved the balance of characters in Fight My Way. Even the secondary characters, like Dongman’s coach and Ae Ra’s father, fit in so well. They definitely tied with the ensemble from While You Were Sleeping. As long as Suzy wasn’t crying, the whole group worked well for me.
Best good moment in a bad drama
Dramarookie: My Secret Romance – The Playground Scene. I recapped this drama all the way to its infuriatingly, drawn out end, but it had its moments. Sung Hoon exudes that indefinable something that makes women sigh, and having him slo-mo strut around a playground with a bunch of cute kids was killing us with kindness. One of my favorite parts of the scene was all the open-mouthed ahjummas watching from the sidelines. It was like a sly wink to us as audience members. Yes, girls. We totally relate.
Kmuse: Revolutionary Love has my favorite good moment in a sucky drama. Before I lost all hope for this show being the Siwan comeback that I was hoping for, I enjoyed watching his character fall instantly in love with an angry Kang So Ra. She was standing up to an entitled hotel guest and he had hearts in his eyes as she rampaged, pulled hair, and stomped trash into the carpet. It was magical. Sadly, the rest of the drama did not live up to that great moment.
Clkytta: Missing Nine, anytime Park Chanyeol was on the screen. His character was smart and sweet and a bright shining spot in this drama. I was hoping that we would see a lot of him, but sadly, that wasn’t to be. I’d like to see more of him in future dramas.
Drama Geek: The bathtub scenes in Bride of Haebok. Yes, I’m shallow. And I’ll give an honorary mention to a show I’m not watching but I’ve heard it’s all kinds of crazy, Black Knight. The scene has made it’s round on Twitter. A women sits on her pristine white couch with a bowl cut haired henchmen burst into interpretive dance behind her. I’m pretty sure if you search out Black Knight dance scene you’ll be able to find it. 🙂
Karie the Maknae: My favorite moment in a bad drama is when Joy starts singing Flying Butterfly in her class during The Liar and His Lover. The whole class joins in and the adults are blown away. That was such a fun, triumphant moment.
WAIT. I can have two, right? Because I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve rewatched the “soccer” game in Hwarang. Love, love, love it.
Dramarookie: Jugglers – The “Pucker Up and Hold It” scene. I know actors film kiss scenes from multiple angles and sometimes have to hold their positions for an uncomfortable length of time. But some hide it better than others. Daniel Choi was so horribly unnatural in this scene, from the way his lips landed on the top half of her mouth, to how back-breaking his posture looked. Height difference done right can be adorable (I reference the OTP from Strong Woman Do Bong Soon). This was not the case in the first Jugglers kiss. I actually like this couple and hope Attempt #2 will be better.
Kmuse: I think I have to second DramaRookie’s pick. Jugglers was so adorable and I like the banter of the leads. But this scene was just a hot mess. I couldn’t decide if they had just froze the screen for emphasis on the kiss. But since the snow was still falling it was pretty obvious that they had just mushed their mouths together and stopped. That combined with seeing it happen from three different camera angles one after the other made this kiss seem to go on forever.
Clkytta: I’m a third on this one. Jugglers has been a fun drama for me, but this kiss was not what I’d expect from a guy with lips like Daniel Choi. I am not a fan of the smoosh kiss anyway, it always looks awkward and I will never understand why so many dramas have the leads kiss like that.
Drama Geek: I scrolled through my list and I can’t find any that were worse than Jugglers. I’m sorry, but it was just bad all the way around.
Karie the Maknae: Yeah, I have to vote for that one too. Manners legs are a thing, Mr. Daniel Choi. They would have helped immensely.
Dramarookie: Fight My Way – The “Who’s the Boss” scene. Ae Ra tries to school her boyfriend that she is the head and he is the heel of their relationship. His response is to surround her with a delightful enclosure of arms and legs and kiss every coherent thought from her brain. The matching track pants during this scene underscored the level of comfort these two have with each other, even as their relationship evolves to a romantic level. Oh the feels!
Kmuse: I loved the double time kiss from While You Were Sleeping. Seeing the moment occur in both timelines but with small differences was a wonderful concept. And, as usual, Lee Jong Suk really brought out the best smooches with his co-star Suzy. I was very moved. I would also put the umbrella kiss from I’m Not a Robot into the best kisses category. I got those fuzzy newbie feels that I rarely get now that I am a seasoned drama addict and I can’t wait for them to have more skinship in the future.
Clkytta: All the kissing scenes in Chicago Typewriter, especially the one where she is running and grabs him and drags him with her. When she starts kissing him, it’s not so hot, but then he grabs her, pulls her in closer, and slants his mouth, and *fans self* yeah, that’s a kiss!
Drama Geek: I loved the acupuncture kiss scene in Live Up to Your Name. I actually don’t find Kim Nam Gil that attractive, though I think he’s a handsome man, if that makes sense. So the fact that I found their kiss scene really hot was even more impressive. I also really loved the rooftop kiss for Lee Joon and Jung So Min in Father is Strange. I love when the female character takes the lead on the kiss. Also, um, they’re really DATING!!!! Reel to real couples are always the best.
Karie the Maknae: I have to agree with Dramarookie and Kmuse’s choices here. All fabulous kisses. To add my own votes, the dock kiss from Because This is My First Life was perfect because Se Hee took charge and showed that he had emotions and a past and he was willing to share them with Ji Ho. Too bad she couldn’t read that situation for what it was — the drama would have ended on a much better note. Also, the romance between Goblin and Eun Tak was pretty low-key, so his last desperate kiss on the rooftop before he went to confront the Big Bad in Goblin makes me swoon every time.
Favorite drama moment of 2017
Kmuse: I have two moments that I can’t stop re-watching. The first is Kim Nam Gil discovering the joys of the modern hospital in Live Up To Your Name. Air conditioning, escalators, and water fountains have never been so funny. The second would be in Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People where Hong Gil Dong and his men are fighting for the lives of a town that have become forfeit. Behind him one peasant begins to sing and soon everyone (including some of the royal troops) have joined in. It gives me shivers every time I watch it. Very powerful moment that will stay in my mind forever.
Clkytta: The wedding scene in Because This is My First Life. I loved how they were so awkward and yet so close. It gave me so much hope that they would be able to become close and fall in love. When he sat down with her mom and listened to her worries, it melted my heart. After that, he went in where she was crying and told her that it was ok if she cried, well, I think I’m in love with Lee Min Ki now. I know he was acting, but if he can pull me in that hard with one scene it must be true love, right?
Drama Geek: I have two as well. In Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People when Honey Lee dances for the king. My jaw dropped and I replayed the final moments over and over. Her costume, makeup, every turn of her hand was awe-inspiring. There is no man that wouldn’t fall for her at that moment. Except, of course, the crazy king. In Save Me, Dong Cheul is in prison and his grandmother comes to see him. When he’s being taken back to his cell she holds her hand up to the glass and with anguish on his face he quickly kisses her hand through the glass. RIP MY HEART OUT.
Karie the Maknae: I have two also. In Goblin, when Goblin is trying to be prepared for the next time Eun Tak summons him and keeps asking Reaper to comment on his outfits and the things he’s holding to try to impress her and Reaper just cries, “Let me sleep!” I die laughing every time. Honestly, I would put all the bromance moments from Goblin in here if I could.
And this one is a big fat spoiler for While You Were Sleeping, so you have been warned. Skip to the next section if you want to avoid it. When Investigator Choi runs to save Hong Joo and Jae Chan from the burning building, I cheered out loud. And I cheered out loud when I watched it again. Best part of that whole drama for me, and I loved nearly the entire thing.
This concludes 2017! It has been a long year full of good and bad dramas. Be sure to check out all our End of Year Reviews HERE.
Wishing you a Happy New Year,
Dramas with a Side of Kimchi