We close 2020 with our final review! Come find out who were our favorite actors, our favorite dramas, and much more.
Kmuse – Cho Seung Woo as Hwang Shi Mok in Secrets season 2 was my absolute favorite performance of the year. A close second was Lee Joon Ki in Flower of Evil.
Karie the Maknae: The brothers Moon were SPECTACULAR in It’s Okay Not to Be Okay. I’ll leave Drama Geek to extoll Oh Jung Se’s amazingness while I applaud Kim Soo Hyun. That man brought me along with every emotion he was feeling in such a genuine, authentic way — sometimes I felt like I lived that story. He was fantastic.
Telzeytalks: I’m not sure you would understand Cho Seung Woo’s character in Stranger 2 (aka Forest of Secrets 2) if you hadn’t seen season 1. He portrays Shi Mok so well with only little changes of expression and body language. When the corrupt bosses try to control him, we just sit back expectantly waiting for them to find out what Shi Mok is really like.
Clkytta: I am a fangirl and my bias had a drama this year, so the only choice for me is Hyun Bin. I loved his acting in Crash Landing on You. He does such a good job at being tsundere and then melting when he falls in love.
MiataMama: It’s a tie for me! Hyun Bin was excellent as a straight-laced North Korean soldier with an artist’s soul in Crash Landing on You – I was SO happy to see him in a drama this year!! And also Lee Joon Ki, who was absolutely fantastic in Flower Of Evil – he kept me guessing the entire show. . . was he actually good or very, very evil???
Kmuse – Seo Yi Ji’s performance in It’s Okay to not be Okay was absolute perfection. She made me laugh, cry, as well as a bevy of other emotions during the show’s 16 episodes.
Karie the Maknae: I have to give it to Seo Ji Hye. She went from playing the cool and calm Seo Dan in Crash Landing on You to the warm and funny Woo Do Hee in Dinner Mate and was brilliant in both.
Telzeytalks: Bae Doo Na is such a wonderful actress; she was the heart of Stranger 2, with her energy and sincerity. It was a big relief when the two leads started working together, even though they didn’t trust each other’s boss. That long hair didn’t suit Yeo Jin though, and I was glad when she got it cut.
MiataMama: I really enjoyed Yoo In Na in The Spies Who Loved Me. She was able to strike a wonderful balance between being strong, capable, and brainy, while still maintaining a warm and vulnerable sense of femininity. I just adored her character!
Kmuse: King: The Eternal Monarch had its ups and downs but when it comes to bromance, it can’t be beat. The king (Lee Min Ho) and his trusty sword (Woo Do Hwan) were the best.
Karie the Maknae: I second the bromance in The King: The Eternal Monarch. Lee Min Ho and Woo Do Hwan’s friendship and loyalty were funny and #goals all at the same time.
Telzeytalks: In War of Prosecutors (aka Diary of a Prosecutor) all the prosecutors on Team 2 were very different, and yet they were pals and supportive of each other, especially when problems came up. And especially when they united against Team 1.
Clkytta: I have a second vote for King: The Eternal Monarch. I loved the relationship between the king and both versions of Woo Do Won.
MiataMama: Well, I’m totally going to be a broken record here, because The King: The Eternal Monarch really did have the two best bromances of the year. The only thing that could outshine Lee Min Ho and Woo Do Hwan’s life-long relationship was Woo Do Hwan’s bromance with himself! So, so funny!!
Kmuse: I am a huge fan of smart females working together and the sisters in The Blooms at Ruyi Pavilion are both smart and coming together to keep their family safe. I still have a few episodes until I finish but I hope they stay strong until the end.
Karie the Maknae: I ended up really loving how the Seo family females in Start Up came together and made their own family again. Their dynamic — separating all at once and then trickling back together — was an interesting subplot and I really enjoyed seeing the sisters learn to work as a team.
Telzeytalks: I nominate Se Ra and her two friends from the comic book cafe in Into the Ring (aka Memorials). They were longtime friends and yes, she had a hard time talking them into helping her at first, but after that they were solidly in, and went to a lot of effort for her.
Favorite Secondary Characters
Kmuse: At first I thought that there were way too many characters in the drama Hospital Playlist. But, amazingly, they managed to have different levels of character development for all of them and interconnect their stories with the main six leads. It was a brilliant performance by everyone involved.
Clkytta: I have to say that my favorite secondary character was our Hottie Agent from It’s Okay to Not Be Okay. He was dedicated, he was goofy, and he was sooo hot.
Karie the Maknae: I loved every single secondary character in Missing: The Other Side. I think the village and the found families created there gave so much life to the narrative, and Thomas, as the head of that village, was charismatic and compelling.
Telzeytalks: I loved the law clerk, Sung Mi Ran, in War of Prosecutors. She was usually very reserved and didn’t attract attention in the office, and yet she was also a gamer with a famous powerful avatar. When interacting as that persona, she was very impressive, and it was fun to watch the other gamers react.
MiataMama: Ugh, this is hard!! While I completely loathed the ending of this drama, I absolutely LOVED each and every one of the secondary characters in Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol. I was very invested in each of their stories and it gave me warm fuzzies to see how they all came together to create a beautiful ‘found family’.
Hidden Gem (That drama that didn’t get enough buzz)
Kmuse – Over the last several years I have become more and more impressed with actress Kim Seo Hyung. And it is her drama Nobody Knows that gets my pick as one that needs more buzz. This crime drama was brilliantly directed and Kim Seo Hyung’s thirst for the truth and relationship with a traumatized boy have you deeply invested til the end.
Karie the Maknae: I will recommend Team Bulldog: Off-duty Investigation to everyone who will listen. Well-written characters, solid plotting and pacing, an amazing balance between comedy and drama — Team Bulldog has it all.
Telzeytalks: I really enjoyed Stove League but I don’t think many people watched it because they thought it was about baseball. It wasn’t. It was about being smart and planning ahead, and succeeding against odds. Some stories were about the players, but mostly it was about the administrative staff.
MiataMama: Mystic Pop-up Bar was so totally underappreciated!! Sometimes the webtoon-to-drama shift can be hit or miss, but this was definitely a hit! I laughed, I cried, I felt so many feels, and I just loved how the story all came together at the end. (Also, don’t let the casting cause you to waver – everyone was perfectly suited to their roles.)
Best Cinematography in a Drama
Kmuse: Flower of Evil had so many great, memorable moments, throughout the show. The directing really brought everything together and made the suspense come to life.
Karie the Maknae: Best cinematography has to go to When the Weather is Fine. I could FEEL the snow crunching beneath my feet and the wind whipping through the open spaces in that village, and the warmth of the bookstore in contrast to it all. It was beautifully, beautifully shot.
Telzeytalks: They did a good job in Stranger 2; it was very artistically shot, and I liked that it showed clearly what was going on in the night scenes. This was memorable notably in the beginning with all the fog, and then near the end as they searched the hillside.
Best Breakout Performance
Kmuse: It has been almost a year and I still stand by my opinion that Kim Da Mi was the biggest breakout of the year. Her performance of Itaewon Class was so strong and I really want to see her in something new soon.
Karie the Maknae: Kim Seon Ho seems to have catapulted onto the A-list after Start Up, and I am so glad to see it. He’s a fantastic actor and deserves the attention. (MM: I LOVE Kim Seon Ho – I have been a fangirl for years!!)
Telzeytalks: Although Jeon Mi Do has been in a lot of stage musicals, she has been in only two dramas; and the only thing I have seen her in is Hospital Playlist, where she jumped right in as a main character. So she counts as new, and I loved her.
MiataMama: I know he’s not a new actor, but Woo Do Hwan really stole the show and turned me into a complete and total fangirl with his role in The King: The Eternal Monarch. He was fantastic!!! I’m SO sad that he began his military service this past July – I guess I will just have to fan-stalk all his previous dramas in the meantime!
Worst Drama of 2020
Kmuse: Do You Like Brahms could have been such a great show. However, due to the poor writing in the second half, this drama quickly became a chore to complete. I was very disappointed.
Clkytta: Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol — I haven’t seen bad writing like this in years. It was perfect up until the last episode when the writer decided they were going to lose their mind and thrown in every single trope ever.
Karie the Maknae: I have to agree with Brahms and Do Do, and add Dating in the Kitchen into the mix. All of these dramas were such promising stories, and then all that promise was violently taken away.
Telzeytalks: It’s hard to know whether to give this distinction to something I watched hoping it would improve (Hi Bye Mama), or something I loved until it crashed and burned at the end (Do Do Sol Sol). So I will say Hi Bye Mama because it annoyed me for longer.
MiataMama: I am in total agreement about Do Do and Dating in the Kitchen. And I have to add to the list Born Again and Rugal. I had high hopes for Born Again, but the writing was truly abysmal – I felt so bad for that cast! And Rugal. This was one of those webtoon-to-dramas that totally bombed – it’s never a good thing when you hope the antagonist will wipe out the good guys so you don’t have to suffer through their awkward acting a minute longer.
Best Drama of 2020
Kmuse: Since I know that other Fangirls are going to chat some of the best Kdramas of 2020, I’ll go a different route and talk about the two Chinese dramas that really blew me away. Those are Eternal Love of Dream and Love and Redemption
Karie the Maknae: There are SO MANY good dramas to choose from! But, ultimately, my heart belongs in that little noodle shop in Go Ahead. That drama resonated with me from beginning to end, both times I’ve watched it, and the theme song constantly runs through my head.
Telzeytalks: If I have to choose one, I’ll pick Hospital Playlist, because it is mostly a happy show, everyone is friends, and they avoid tired old tropes like corrupt administrators. I also love Stranger 2 but this year especially, cheerfulness wins.
Clkytta: My vote is for It’s Okay to Not Be Okay. This drama broke all the rules and it was amazing. We should have hated the main characters, but they were so well written that we understood them. There was so much character growth in this drama and that made me so happy. Plus, the OTP could have lit ice on fire with their chemistry.
MiataMama: There were several dramas I enjoyed watching this year, but my favorite for 2020 is Crash Landing on You. It had a wonderful cast of strong characters and I enjoyed following their stories from start to finish. In fact, I’m about to embark on a re-watch, this time with my sister joining me – maybe, just maybe, this drama will turn her into a K-drama fan too!
In case you missed any of the End of Year posts, you can find them HERE!
Thanks for joining us over the past year! It has really helped us all get through the last year by feeling that we are not alone as you all kept us company. Let’s continue the conversation in 2021! Be sure to subscribe to the blog or our social media accounts so you don’t miss a moment of drama chat.
See you in 2021,
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi