5 Years of DWASOK: Favorite Dramas

We come to a close on our week of celebration! Which means it is time for the Fangirls to answer the toughest question. What are our five favorite dramas of the past five years? Come find out which shows made our list!


Stranger & Stranger 2 – It would be a crime to separate these into two different dramas since they really are one huge epic story of corruption and justice. Brilliant writing and the equally brilliant acting make these a must watch.

Joy of Life – I love political dramas and this is one of the best… maybe only beaten by Nirvana in Fire, which is also on my top five list. The characters are memorable and the story sucks you in. I can’t stop talking about this show and think that everyone should give it a try.

Prison Playbook – Never did I think that one of my favorite shows would include a whole plethora of prison inmates but here we are. Prison Playbook shows that with the right director/writer duo anything can be made into a brilliant drama.

Nirvana in Fire – My all time favorite historical political drama had to make my list. The gorgeous directing and epic bromance has my heart fluttering just thinking about it.

Reply 1988 – A story of four families that grow up together on the same street. It might seem like a boring synopsis but this drama brings all the family feels


Ho Goo’s Love– Ho Goo’s love is my number 2 drama of all time. I love everything about Ho Goo. He’s not your usual hero, and I get the warm fuzzies every time I watch this drama. It’s the perfect mix of sweet and serious.

What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?– Perfect casting, a great storyline, and I was glued to the screen every week. He’s so conceited, so conceited, but she gets him. Her understanding and acceptance of who he was, and his love for her makes this such a great drama.

Come and Hug Me-I never thought that I’d love a drama with a serial killer. Na Moo and Nak Won’s love for each other is so pure that you find yourself becoming completely invested in their happily ever after. This was also a drama that I fell for the side characters too. I don’t think I have ever fallen for a bad guy quite like I fell for Hyun Moo. His redemption story helped launch the actor’s career.

Shopping King Louie– How could you NOT love a sweet and goofy guy who can’t remember who he is? Louie makes you want to cheer and cringe in equal parts. He’s so naive, but he’s also so very GOOD. Louie is one of those characters that you can’t get out of your head. People want to do nice things for him and he deserves everything good that comes to him. Who could ever resist a man who adores you as much as Louie adores Bok Shil?

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay– She hides behind a ton of bravado and awesome outfits; he hides his emotions. The story within the story is what really hooks you when you watch. My favorite part of this drama is that ALL the characters show amazing character growth. Are they perfect? No. This one will always live in my favorites list because I adore this little made family. They fall in love not only with each other, but they create an extended family that is simply amazing.

Karie the Maknae

Go Ahead – I connect so profoundly to the found family in Go Ahead. Li Haichao (Noodle Shop Dad) is the kind of parent I aspire to be — he has a huge heart and is so completely humble about what he’s done for his kids. I will watch this drama over and over again.

Goblin – This was my first kdrama, and I still love it. It’s a beautiful blend between a sad love, an epic redemption arc, and strong characters doing what’s required and not just what they want to do. The fantastic humor keeps it from sinking into melancholy, and it was the perfect story to draw me into Korean entertainment.

My Secret Terius – The story of a man who is the ultimate spy and the very ordinary woman who leans on her own capabilities to become his match and protect him resonates with me on a deep level. I love that he never looks down on her, and that she never idolizes him. It’s a match of equals in an adventure that is, at times, humorous and heart-pounding.

Still 17 – I’ve defined this story as whimsical, and I think there is not a better descriptor for it. The whimsy of this drama saves it from the sad depths it could have gone to, given the very tragic backgrounds both of our lead characters come from. Instead, they are sweet and funny and turn to each other instead of running away to better opportunities. This is my happy place.

I’m Not a Robot – The cleverness in this story, along with the heartbreaking situation our CEO finds himself in, drew me in and kept me in. Abounding in humor and sizzling chemistry, this drama feels like one-of-a-kind even as it follows some romcom tropes. I can, and have, watched it over and over again.

Drama Geek

Be Melodramatic – There are very few Korean dramas that pull off this type of humor. There’s a rhythm to the set up and pay off. It’s a bit like standup comedy, you have to follow the story thread until the end. There are also not a lot of dramas that have quirky, yet extremely likable characters that can be selfish and silly, and also very real while they’re being TOTALLY out there. Melo managed to do it all. Props to the show for making product placement hilarious.

Prison Playbook – This was the hardest choice because I also had Hospital Playlist and Reply 1988 on my short list, but I mentioned their characters in another post, so I figured I had to include PP in here. The character development in this drama is STELLAR. My favorite character from this drama had a heartbreaking ending that was just too real for my taste, but I respected the writer for highlighting how the system makes it really hard for people with drug addiction. By the end, you are just so in love with every man in that prison, it’s a bit crazy.

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay– This show is storytelling at its finest. The animation that starts the drama sets the stage for the slightly haunting tale of mental health in all the different ways it presents itself in life. The writer and cast all showed they cared for the communities they were trying to portray. It doesn’t hurt that the female lead’s wardrobe was fabulous and the KISSES were amazing.

Signal – I have to include this on any of my favorites list. There aren’t many dramas that created suspense and touched my heart the way this drama did. I grew to love all three of the leads, and couldn’t wait for the first time they all met. (Hear that writer! I’m still open to a season 2.)

The Crowned Clown – I will admit that to figure out my top five, I had to put things in categories, and I wanted to include a sageuk. The dual performance by Yeo Jin Goo is probably one of the most riveting I’ve seen. He gave me utter chills as the king, and I squealed in delight when he was the clown. The story kept me intrigued the entire way through and the romance was wonderful. Lee Se Young was fantastic as the queen, and this drama solidified her on my favorites list.


W: Two Worlds – I absolutely LOVED this drama!!! The story within the story, the mysterious villain, the swoon-worthy chemistry between the main characters – all these elements come together to make it one of my top ten dramas of all time! Han Hyo Joo’s character really resonated for me – though she may have come across as weak and insecure, when push came to shove, she was courageous and did what needed to be done! I love that kind of strength that comes from necessity – and she rocked it!

Go Back Couple – This drama completely captured my heart with its magical time jump and fated-love theme. As someone who dated and married her college sweetheart, I found myself getting very emotional as I watched the story unfold. Would the wisdom of hindsight prompt you to make different choices in life if you could turn back time and do things all over again?!

Moment at Eighteen – Oh my heart! I just wanted to give every character in this drama a much needed momma-bear hug!! I really loved the raw and poignant portrayal of navigating that difficult stage in life where one transforms from child to adult. And how the peers and adults in your life shape how you grow – for better, or worse. I also loved the tender and awkward first-love story – the whole drama evoked so much nostalgia.

Mystic Pop-up Bar – This web-toon based, fantasy drama really came out of left field and stole my heart. I’m a sucker for ‘found family’ type stories and I absolutely loved how these eclectic characters came together to support and heal each other, all while helping lost souls around them. Each episode was heartfelt and gave me warm fuzzies – excellent storytelling!

Something About One Percent – This remake may not have garnered a lot of attention when it first aired, but it is totally my go-to drama when I need a solid rom-com fix! The contract-love-turned-real-love storyline plus excellent chemistry between the two leads make for a sweet and satisfying watch (and re-watch).


Just Between Lovers – This is my favorite love story out of the bunch. It is melancholy but sweet, about two people who had been in a mall that collapsed (which was a real event), who meet again years later. She seems to have coped better than he has, but they end up supporting each other.

Melo Is My Nature – Another melancholy but sweet drama with a similar feel to Just Between Lovers. A widow becomes so depressed that her brother recruits her two best friends to move in and help her keep going. I loved her story, but the more fun couple is the scrappy screenwriter and the director who gets pulled in without wanting to admit it.

Forest of Secrets is another one that I am giving a second vote to. I loved the interactions of our loyal cop and stoic prosecutor, especially the first season as we get to know their personalities and watch how they interact. She is the only person who can read the little clues to how he is feeling, but we learn along with her.

My Fellow Citizens is probably my favorite comedy. There is such good acting in this one, with the con artist appalled that he has married a cop and trying to keep her from finding out about him. The first half of the story is the funniest, and the second half is where you feel the love story. The best lady mob boss you ever saw pretty much steals the show; my favorite villain! (If you can call her that!)

The Fiery Priest is another great comedy, although it has some slow spots and a sad beginning where they kill off a favorite character to start off the plot. A priest who had once been a secret agent tries to clean up the town. His expressions (especially his eyes) and his fighting skills were the fun part, but you should also see the scene where he and his reluctant cop-partner dress in disguise to investigate the crime.

Be sure to comment on the post to be entered in our DWASOK anniversary giveaway! We will be celebrating all week with new posts celebrating the last five years and will be announcing the winner this weekend!

Here is to five more,

The Fangirls

Dramas With a Side of Kimchi

14 thoughts on “5 Years of DWASOK: Favorite Dramas

  1. Wait, you said dramas of the past year? Did you mean dramas of the past 5 years? And why did no one pick Crash Landing on You?!?
    1. Crash Landing on You – the whole package
    2. My First First Love – Jisoo being adorkable
    3. Descendants of the Sun – the bromance (and morning doves)
    4. Mr Sunshine – the bromance (but mostly Dong Mae)
    5. Korean Odyssey – search “bad boy from heaven Lee Seung Gi ” on Youtube. ‘nough said! (sidenote: there’s also another one if you search Woo Do Hwan instead, thought you might like to know because honestly, who wouldn’t)
    I’m not saying they’re all awesome (no. 5 failed at the end) but they’re still my faves.

  2. Wonderful lists, thank you! Happy to see some old and new favorites of mine here, and some to add to my to-watch list. I personally couldn’t live without Weightlifting Fairy, Touch Your Heart, Romance Is a Bonus Book, Jugglers, She Was Pretty…

  3. So many of my favorites are on your lists but I have to agree with Jude about Korean Odyssey, it was such a fun drama and that fan made vid is one of my favorites! I still go back and watch it

  4. These are the dramas I have rated 10 out 10:
    Chief Kim—funniest one I’ve seen
    CLOY—sweet love story with the best supporting cast
    Flower of Evil—my favorite thriller; packs a big emotional wallop
    Goblin—magical, best bromance
    Hospital Playlist—best friendships; just made me happy every episode
    Prison Playbook—great character study
    IOTNBO—great character development and growth
    I’m Not a Robot—what every rom-com should aspire to

  5. I totally agree with MiataMama: Mystic Pop-up Bar was equally emotional and funny, I loved it so much as well! Making a list of only 5 dramas sounds like a mission impossible to me, but if I have to go with the firsts that pop in my head they would be:
    – Mr. Sunshine
    – my ID is Gangnam beauty
    – 100 days my prince
    – Class of Lies
    – Find me in your memory
    with honorable mention for Dinner Mate.

    • Elena, You won our giveaway. Your email address was not working so trying to get a hold of you from here and social media. Please send us your name and address so we can send you your prize! Thanks,
      The Fangirls

  6. Wow everyone’s top five dramas are so good! If I had to narrow it down it be
    – Reply 1988
    – Prison Playbook
    – Shopping King Louie
    – Be Melodramatic
    – Scarlet Heart Ryeo
    Each drama had performances that have stuck with me. Whether it was adorable, cute or gut wrenching moments.

  7. It looks like Chinese and Korean are covered here, so I’m going to assume Japanese are accepted too. I haven’t watched many 2020 dramas yet (I wait to read everyone’s end of year lists!)
    I’ll leave out ones already listed above and add a few of my other favorites:

    Mother – the Korean version (see also the original Japanese version, and the recent Chinese version Imperfect Love – they are each different and worthy)
    My Mister – a wonderful story of redemption

    friendship, especially of women:
    Age of Youth series 1 & 2 (and the Chinese version Youth/Dearest You which is an almost line-by-line copy) five women uni students become housemates and bond through their respective crises.
    Ode to Joy series 1 & 2 – a set of very different women living on the same floor of a Shanghai apartment block, gradually become steadfast friends
    Quartet – (my only Japanese one on this list) a diverse quartet of musicians move in together and support each other as they pursue fame

    The World Between Us – Taiwanese family/media drama with a sensitive exploration of the interface of crime and mental illness (BTW I’m a psychiatrist, so I think most portrayals of mental illness in dramas are superficial and just wrong)
    A Thousand Goodnights – Taiwanese travel drama about an orphaned young woman searching for her roots

    fusion (historical with modern sensibilities):
    Moonlight Drawn by Clouds – funny, romantic, and dramatic

    A Taiwanese Tale of Two Cities – two romances, living between Taiwan and San Francisco.
    Le Coup de Foudre – this one made me laugh so often

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