South Korea produces a large number of TV and Cable dramas each year, many of which are never seen outside of Korea. However, thanks to streaming services such as Kocowa, Netflix, Viki and others overseas fans are getting to see far more than they did a few years ago. This is a good thing on many levels, but it means that some mediocre Kdramas sometimes slip through and appear on our screens.
How then to tell which, of the over 100 dramas already shown in Korea in 2019, we should watch? Maybe we like a certain actor or actress so we’re happy to watch whatever their current drama is. Or the writers are known for their fantastic stories. Perhaps we look at recommendations or ratings from people or websites we trust. We all have differing preferences, likes and dislikes that determine what we choose to watch, but hopefully you will find at least a few kdramas to enjoy from the ones discussed here.
As the years have gone by I have become more ‘picky’ in the ones I watch all the way through. After a decade watching Kdramas I now pick and choose rather than watch everything available so my choices have perhaps become much more personal. I only watched 7 from start to finish, 6 are ongoing or I have watched the majority of the episodes and 11 dramas fell into the watched a couple of episodes but couldn’t keep my interest category. So that means I’ve only watched some to all of only about 20% of the Kdramas produced so far in 2019. If I’ve missed your favorite please let me know in the comments section below.
If one goes by the Neilson viewing statistics, and awards then everyone should watch Sky Castle which won 4 awards at the 55th Baeksang Arts Awards and had a viewership rating in the 20% range. That means over 1 in 5 Koreans watched it when it aired on TV. I watched a few episodes and I can see why it was so popular in Korea. It is about what wealthy parents are willing to do to ensure their child’s academic success. This is actually a very polarizing topic in Korea as poorer people can’t go to these lengths and so their children are at a disadvantage in a country where education is king. As for me, well it was well acted and everything but I didn’t finish it.
Another well received drama was The Last Empress a 52 episode alternate universe drama which had viewership in the mid teens percentage wise. It also received 2 awards at the SBS drama Awards. Now for me to give a 52 episode drama a chance it has to really grab me and 4 episodes in it still wasn’t doing it. It was an interesting premise with the Korean Royal family still ruling Korea into current times, the cast was solid, Jang Nara, Shin Sung Rok, and Choi Jin Hyuk, so if you have the time you might very well enjoy it.
So by now you are probably asking what I did enjoy. Probably my favorite so far this year has been Search:WWW, a show I almost passed on as the synopsis didn’t really grab me. In fact the first couple of episodes were a little difficult to watch as not all the characters were particularly nice. But I found myself caught up in their lives and the reasons why they acted the way they did. In many ways it is a ‘grown up’ drama following the lives of three powerful women showing the sacrifices and the things they had to do along the way to get to their current positions. There are two romances in the drama although they are not the main focus. There’s also betrayal, redemption, friendships and Scarlet, perhaps my favorite female character of the year in any Kdrama. The cast did an amazing job showing all the emotions of their characters and Lee Da Hee stood out to me as an actress to watch.
Another cast member to watch is the male lead Jang Ki Yong who has been on a roll lately with his drama roles. Perhaps not conventionally handsome and with a slight understated acting style he slowly grew on me. He also appears as the male lead in Kill It a much darker and intense drama where he plays the role of an assassin.
Kill It was fairly popular placing 14th on Ranker last time I checked. I enjoyed it even though the subject matter was quite grim. There was a love story of sorts between the two leads, but it was the crime and mystery that was the main focus. It also focused on how the family you make for yourself is often healthier than your blood family even if you were drawn together by bad circumstances. Nana did a good job as the female lead and the story held together well.
For those days when I wanted something softer and more romantic I found myself watching Her Private Life. Although I have somewhat mixed feelings about Park Min Young as sometimes she comes across as being a little smug she has an impressive resume to her name and is a favorite of many. She was fairly well suited to her role but it was Kim Jae Wook who stole the show. We all deserve a boyfriend like his character, Ryan Gold. He was sexy and understanding, and he talked about his feelings. He was an adult and acted like one which was a pleasant change from the male lead in so many dramas. And the kissing scenes, well there were plenty of those too. Overall a pleasant easy Kdrama for when you don’t want to think too hard and want to just enjoy something ‘easy’. Her Private Life was ranked 4th on Ranker last time I looked so quite a few other people enjoyed it too.
I have to admit that I didn’t watch Kingdom, the period zombie series on Netflix because I’m not a huge fan of horror, but it got great reviews and was popular with many people. I did hear that people didn’t particularly like how Netflix showed a certain number of episodes as ‘season 1’ and then after a while releasing another set number of episodes as ‘season 2’. For Kdrama watchers this seems like they are unnecessarily dragging it out. But that hasn’t taken away from the fans enjoyment. Just from my friends talking, if you like horror/zombie movies you should definitely watch Kingdom.
Wow I’ve written quite a bit and haven’t talked about all the other Kdramas that I wanted to recommend so I guess a part 2 will be coming shortly. Please wait for it.
Have a great day everyone.
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