10 Best Korean Dramas (part 2) - AvenueX's Personal List

So the list continues.

I'm about to dump 3 Lee Jong Suk dramas in a row, and I promise it is not because I'm his fan girl. I don't particularly "fan" any Korean actors/actress, these three just happen to be 3 REALLY good dramas.

I Hear Your Voice 너의 목소리가 들려 2013


This drama is INTENSE. 

If you are particularly sensitive to parent-child relationship/love you are going to have a painful and emotional journey with this drama. Because for both lead roles, that's the biggest pain/arc they have to deal with in this entire story, and it gets really really really sad and excruciating to watch. But OMG it makes this drama so good! Lee Jong Suk plays a high schooler who since his childhood has developed a telepathic ability to hear others' thought due to the traumatic experience of witnessing his father's murder. Lee Bo Young plays a mediocre prosecutor who put his father's murderer in jail when she was still a teenager because she was brave enough to speak out as a witness. Yet years later, when the boy grows up to be an almost adult and the girl now close to her 30s, the murderer goes free and SHIT starts to happen. The heart and core of this drama is about the love between family, the price of doing the right thing and the deep bond people form through harsh experiences. Though it is a very much a big-sis-little-bro drama as well, it feels super natural, super genuine and not forced at all. You really do feel they are totally meant for each other and their relationship is just BEAUTIFUL. The actor who plays the bad guy and the actress who plays our female lead's mom are both AMAZING! This is a drama that will flush your system with crazy hormones. Watch and you'll FEEL what I mean. 


Pinocchio 피노키오 2014-2015


This drama was BIG back when it aired. We have Lee Jong Suk and Park Shin Hye paired up so it practically guaranteed a huge viewership. Lee Jong Suk plays a hidden genius boy whose firefighter father died saving others but was wrongfully accused and blamed for people's death due to a Pinocchio witness' testimony. He then gets adopted by Park Shin Hye's character's grandfather and grows up with her(who is also a Pinocchio so she can't lie) under the same roof as legally uncle and niece. But her mother, a famous journalist was instrumental in the destruction of his father's reputation and his family, as they both begin to pursue the journalist career, the past starts to mess with their professional and private relationships. In a way, this drama's premise is very similar to I hear Your Voice, where the lead roles have painful childhood history regarding their parents. But it is lighter than IHYV overall and certainly has more sweet and funny moments. The integrity of journalism and the pursuit of truth are at the core of the story, something very popular in k-drama land (Healer is about the same thing). This drama is well-done in all aspects and again, I can't really find any obvious flaws with the story telling (although getting a staple gun shot in your arm that causes no profound bleeding yet you still faint is a bit over the top ... watch and you'll know what I mean). If you're the fan of either lead or just interested in this type of plot, be sure to check this drama out and I don't see how you can get disappointed.


W 2016


In contemporary web language Chinese, we have a word 脑洞 (Nao Dong) which translates to “brain hole". It means something that is bit insane and overly imaginative. So the brain hole of this drama is one of the largest I've seen in recent years. Lee Jong Suk plays a made-up manga character who is a successful large business owner. He hosts a crime solving TV show W, because his whole family was murdered in cold blood and he wants to find our who did it and why. A side note, his characters just have the hardest childhood in human history (Dr. Stranger, I Hear Your Voice, Pinocchio, W...really, can his character ever have a happy normal childhood?)

A snapshot of my own tumblr pic

A snapshot of my own tumblr pic

Our female lead played by Han Hyo Joo is a young doctor whose famous manga artist father created Lee Jong Suk's character. With some disturbing agenda (not going to spoil it here), the father tries to kill his creation in the manga, and the daughter gets pulled into the manga world and saves him, thus craziness begins. This drama's first 2/3 is really insanely cool and imaginative, although it did get a bit too much and too difficult to sort out later, I'd forgive that just for the daring spirit of the writer and the crew to try making something this "out there". Again, beautiful production in every way, I noticed since 2016 all k-dramas seem to have updated their hardware in some way that the cinematography looks so much better than before (W, Goblin, The Legend of the Blue Sea). And the manga part of this drama is so COOL! I want to buy all those books and Lee Joing Suk does look like someone who can walk out of a drawing. If you love this type of crazy 脑洞 story, you HAVE TO watch this k-drama! There really isn't anything else like it out there.


Singal 시그널 2016


If you're not particularly interested in any actor/actress per se and just want to watch a page-turner story on screen. This is the drama to go for. The Leading female and male police detectives reside in present time, and through a magical walkie-talkie that can contact the past, they join force with a detective in the past to solve crimes. That's the premise, and you'll have to watch the drama yourself to see what happens, I'm not going to spoil it for your here. It is relatively lesser known because it doesn't have those BIG HOT names, but the story is GOOOOOD and everyone who has watched it is raving about it. It's only 16 episodes, I'm sure you can finish it like...in a day (without sleeping or eating or living your life).


Ok, before I put my last one out, I need to say that there are MANY MORE great K-dramas out there, and I have to put a number cap on this list or it will continue to expand indefinitely. There are some super popular ones that didn't get on this list because like I said, it's a personal list. Dramas such as Descendants of the Sun or Goblin were HUGE when they aired, yet for whatever reason I sense no particular connections to them. Either the stories didn't work for me or the chemistry didn't click, so if you're a lover of those dramas, please don't feel left out, and love what you love how you want to love it.


Jewel in Palace 대장금 2003-2004


Ok, ok, I'm eating my shoes here. I said I'll leave out the "last generation" dramas, but I just can't help it. As you can see, this is an OLD drama, it doesn't even have a large enough picture online for me to use here, and it was filmed in 4:3 ration FYI, which says plenty about its time. There's no HD version out there, the cinematography has nothing "cool" or "inventive". The sets are very standard and scenes move between a few set places; costumes are normal without elaborate embellishment. But despite all this, this THE K-drama that made K-drama known to other countries outside Korea and initiated an era that marks the beginning of the K-drama's conquest globally. The story is slow but well written, the leading roles are beautifully portrayed. Lee Young Ae is a real life vampire lady cause she never ages and her performance always gets to your heart! If you haven't heard about this one (which I doubt), it's about a palace maid of the Chongson period who through her own effort becomes a prominent chef/doctor in court. This kind of sums it up but there's so much more going on in this drama. It is very long and like I said old so it's less visually appealing than the newer dramas, so if you don't have the stamina to watch all of it, I'd completely undertand. But it deserve a special place in the history of K-dramas, and I believe in many years from now, it will still be on those lists of mile stone works in K-drama history.

That's the end of the list of my FAV K-dramas as of Oct 2017. It would probably grow and change as long as NK doesn't decide to suddenly wipe out humanity and the earth stays on its obit and unkissed by other celestial bodies. So happy drama watching and let me know what you think about anything and everything about K-dramas.