I generally prefer comedies to melodramas, so that's mostly what you'll find here. Or, at least shows described as comedies, though some are definitely more dramatic. Also, I have come to love sageuks, but I have a short attention span, especially after the OTP gets together, so I sometimes drop dramas that seem to drag too much. I'll rate things out of 10 points (5 is still on the positive side, but not by much) and give my recommendations on viewing.
9 End 2 Outs
This is a sweet and funny drama about two longtime friends who are turning 30. Hong Nan Hee is suddenly apprehensive about this next stage of her life, and worries about facing it alone. Byun Hyun Tae is dealing with issues surrounding his past relationships, but is uninterested in marriage. They end up cohabiting, and have to learn to deal with each other in ways they haven't experienced in their 15-year friendship. They also learn new things about one another—for instance, Nan Hee has a significantly younger boyfriend (Lee Tae Sung before he went all Tae Moo on us). Cohabiting and dating other people are okay because our couple have never and will never have feelings for each other. Right? Right?!?
Recommendation: Watch it. Especially if you want something moderate on the angst scale and high on cuteness.
A poor girl (Nam Jung Eun) lives in her dream attic apartment and is trying to get her dream job. She meets spoiled college student Lee Kyung Min, who forces his way into her house when he gets kicked out of his own and completely mooches off her. She decides she's in love with him and they end up drunkenly sleeping together. However, he's interested in his dream girl, and constantly blows her off. Jung Eun's boss Yoo Dong Joon is the other leg of the love square here.
Recommendation: Not worth the time. Unless you don't mind watching Jung Eun belittled and toyed with for 16 episodes. I didn't find the ending very satisfactory, either.
Baby Faced Beauty
Lee So Young pretends to be her much younger sister in order to work at a fashion house. She has talent, but hasn't had a chance to develop it. She attracts the attention of the young Choi Jin Wook, a mid-level manager, as well as Ji Seung Il, the lead designer and head of the company. She also has to deal with a great deal of opposition from other designers within the company to prove herself, and eventually has to deal with the backlash that comes when others find out she lied about her name and age.
Recommendation: Worth watching. Choi Daniel is adorable as the entirely smitten Jin Wook, and the story is cute. I would say it's more mildly amusing than funny, but still cute.
Du Ru Mi is a violinist who decides to try to form a community orchestra in her town, but finds that the musicians in her town are varied in their background and experience. She meets Kang Gun Woo, a young trumpet prodigy who dreams of becoming a conductor and who is opposed to her idea of forming her orchestra. She also manages to accidentally trick a famous and incredibly prickly conductor (also named Kang Gun Woo) into heading the orchestra. However, the two Kang Gun Woos bitterly dislike each other and are forced to live under one roof. They also compete in power struggles over the orchestra and are rivals in love.
Recommendation: I wouldn't recommend this generally. Jang Geun Suk is great as the younger Gun Woo, and if that's enough for you, you may like it. Also, there's great classical music and the side stories of the other musicians are good. However, this drama gets bogged down in angst, and I disliked the ending. And even though this didn't end the way I wanted, I could have been okay with it if it didn't feel so unresolved.
Kang Kyung Joon is an eighteen-year old caught in the 30-year old body of Seo Yoon Jae. Only Gil Da Ran, the fiancee of Yoon Jae and teacher-for-a-day of Kyun Joon knows about their body switch. She tries to help Kyung Joon deal with things while his body lies in a coma. Also, Yoon Jae's intentions and motivations are called in to question. Kyung Joon tries to help Da Ran deal with her own issues. They also begin to develop more romantic feelings for one another in the process of their journey.
I'm still not sure how I'd rate this/10
Recommendation: I wouldn't generally recommend this drama. If you decide to watch, keep in mind that this is the story of Kyung Joon and his development. Throw out any idea that this is at all about Yoon Jae. I love all the characters, and Gong Yoo is fabulous in his roles (he plays Yoon Jae and Kyung Joon). However, this is a Hong Sisters drama (though not typical of them), and the ending leaves many many loose ends.
Sung Mi Soo wants to be a top professional golfer, but can't pay for proper coaching despite her amazing natural talent. Min Hae Ryung is the privileged daughter of a golfing company whose mother brings in an unorthodox coach to help her begin her career. Coach John Lee decides to also take on Mi Soo's golf education.
Recommendation: Not worth it unless you really really like golf. I ended up skipping through most of this drama. Uee is much better here than in You're Beautiful, but the story just isn't there. Also, this isn't really a love story. Well, it kind of is, but it isn't at the same time.
Boys Before/Over Flowers (a friend once called it Boys [preposition] Flowers, which I like best)
An addicting drama about a poor girl named Geum Jan Di who is allowed to attend a private high school for the uber-rich. She meets and stands up to F4, the ruling group of students who terrorize all the others. Their leader, Goo Joon Pyo eventually decides they should be in a relationship, and Jan Di goes along with it. They have to face overwhelming obstacles for their. . . whatever (I really struggle to call it love).
Recommendation: Watch it. Most people love it, and it's really a big deal in the world of kdramas. I had my first case of Second-Lead Syndrome watching this drama, and I could never truly get behind Jan Di and Joon Pyo as a believable couple. Plus there's just so. much. angst. And it's a bit long. But, I was addicted the whole way through, so there's that.
Political drama about a low-ranking government official in a local mayor's office (basically, she's one of the mayor's secretaries). Shin Mi Rae knows everything that happens at City Hall, but has only the lowest duties. She doesn't really like government, but sees where it needs improvement, and she's passionate about helping people. Jo Gook is sent by the leader of his political party to clean up the messes the current mayor has caused and to create a path for himself towards the Blue House. On the way, he decides to make something of Mi Rae.
Recommendation: Watch. I know I'm a sucker for anything with Kim Sun Ah, but this drama is pretty great. She and Cha Seung Won have such an amazing and weird chemistry that works perfectly here. This drama is very funny, and the political and romantic storylines have a good flow. Plus, we get to see the leads tango (although it's not quite as steamy as Kim Sun Ah's tango with Wookie in Scent of a Woman).
Another Gong Yoo drama. He plays Choi Han Kyul, heir to a coffee empire. However, his grandmother wants him to be more responsible and dedicated to the company, so she makes him take over a run-down coffee shop in order to turn it around. Go Eun Chan is a tomboyish young woman most people (including Han Kyul) mistake for a teenage boy. He hires her to pretend to be his boyfriend in order to scare off blind dates. When he takes over the coffee shop, he decides that all the employees will be "princes". Eun Chan begs to work there, and continues to hide her true identity despite their growing attraction. There is also Han Kyul's first love Han Yoo Joo, who dated his cousin-who's-practically-a-brother Choi Han Sung. Han Sung is also attracted to Eun Chan, but he knows she's a woman.
Recommendation: Watch it. This drama may have a lot of angst, but it handles it in the best way possible. Gong Yoo and Yoon Eun Hye are fabulous, and Eun Hye is very convincing as a girl who could pass as a boy. Plus, the coffee shop has plenty of eye candy in the other "princes".
Two young adults are forced into an arranged engagement. They hate each other. Their families conspire against them.
Recommendation: Don't watch. This is a long drama, and the leads are quite stiff (even Eugene, who is decent in other roles). Ki Tae Young basically has two facial expressions here—one angry and condescending, and the other blank. I tried to keep watching past episode 12 or so, but just couldn't.
Kim Yeon Woo is an orthopedist who takes a job at the Olympic training camp. She meets Lee Do Wook, the medical director of the training center, and Park Ji Heon, a judoka training to go to the olympics, who is pretty old for the sport. Yeon Woo is attracted by Do Wook's aloofness, and Ji Heon is determined to win her over, despite all his mishaps in the process. Also, there is a lot of drama involving the judo and Jung Suk Won plays Ji Heon's teammate/rival in judo.
Recommendation: Watch it. I think this drama may be underappreciated. It's a bit slow, but there is good chemistry between the actors, and there are some really hilarious moments. Also, I learned a bit about judo in the process of watching this show.
Ga Young has a dream to become a great designer like her mother, but is repressed by her adoptive mother. Young Gul is the head of a small sweatshop who also has talent but no funds. They try to take on Jae Hyuk and his family's established fashion house. Lots of angst, drama, and machinations ensue.
Recommendation: Never watch this. It has way too much angst and a terrible ending.
Flower Boy Ramen Shop
Eun Bi is a high school teacher and former volleyball phenom who doesn't inherit her father's ramen shop. It goes to Kang Hyuk, a young man who was taken in by her father when he was younger, and has an ability to sleep anywhere and any time. Chi Soo is a student at Eun Bi's school, but when they first meet Eun Bi thinks he's older than her. He becomes obsessed with her but can't figure out why.
Recommendation: Give it a try unless teacher-student relationships creep you out. Although I didn't really like this one, it's another drama that many people love. There are many amusing moments, but the only part I really enjoyed was the scene where they reenact other dramas.
Not like the American version. Ji Eun gets conned out of her house, which is bought by superstar Rain. Er, I mean, Young Jae, who is played by Rain. He agrees to give her back her house if she will live in a contract marriage with him to diffuse his scandals. What will happen? Will they manage to fall in love for realsies?
Recommendation: Watch, or don't. I didn't think it was that great, but many people adore it. It's not awful, not great. It's a little okay.
Get Karl! Oh Soo Jung
Soo Jung is in her late 30's and unmarried. She works as the manager of a jewelry shop, and when she decides to try a dating service, she finds out that she is not a very desirable prospect. Karl is a star golf player who was cruelly jilted at the altar by Soo Jung fifteen years earlier, and has returned from abroad seeking revenge on Soo Jung. He has decided to make her fall in love with him so he can crush her like she once did to him.
Recommendation: Watch. I liked this drama, not least because I find Oh Ji Ho incredibly attractive. I really loved how Uhm Jung Hwa makes Soo Jung seem like an absolute witch, and yet is still totally likable (not necessarily at first, but she definitely grows on you). You see her motivations and come to appreciate why she does what she does. Also, it's a funny show, and I loved seeing Soo Jung and Karl try to one-up each other. I think I need to go rewatch this.
In Fictional Monarchy South Korea, the crown prince Lee Shin is forced to marry, even though he is only 17. His grandfather made a promise to Chae Kyung's grandfather that their descendants would marry. Chae Kyung and Lee Shin don't particularly like one another. Lee Shin's cousin Lee Yul comes back from England to try to win back the position as crown prince that he feels is rightfully his. He also begins to have feelings for Chae Kyung and feels that she should be his crown princess if he regains his position as heir apparent.
Recommendation: Watch it. It's drama crack. The pacing is slow, and the plot goes over the same thing multiple times, but I loved watching every minute. Yoon Eun Hye is always mesmerizing in her roles, and this is no exception. There's plenty of political intrigue, and many fish out of water moments, but everything really comes down to the love triangle.
Adoptive brothers Lee Sung Chan and Oh Bong Joo are heirs to a restaurant that has carried on the traditions handed down by the royal chefs of yore. Bong Joo seeks to modernize the restaurant and make its cuisine more accessible to international visitors. Sung Chan wants to maintain the traditional ways and recipes the royal chefs left behind. There are many cooking competitions throughout the series as the brothers vie for the inheritance of the restaurant and to prove their point of view. Joo Hee is the restaurant manager both brothers are interested in and Jin Soo is a reporter that is trying to get her big break.
Recommendation: Watch. This series is based on the movie Le Grand Chef, and if you wanted that story fleshed out, this is your answer. There's plenty of food porn in this drama, so be warned that you will need to have a Korean restaurant on hand to answer your cravings. The acting is good, the plot decent, and the food looks delicious. It does slow down a little in the last half, but picks up again at the end.
The Greatest Love
Ae Jung is a former idol who is still striving to be relevant 10 years after her girl group broke up, a breakup in which she was cast as the villain. She is willing to do anything in order to recover her lost fame, including humiliating herself on reality tv, hoping desperately for a new break in her career. Dokko Jin is the top action star who feels an inexplicable attraction to Ae Jung, which is somehow related to her group's song "Pit-a-Pat". He fights this attraction, but things get complicated when Ae Jung is cast in a dating show with the Perfect Man Pil Joo.
Recommendation: Give it a try, especially if you like the Hong Sisters. I lost interest around episode 10, but I picked it up again later and decided I liked it overall. Cha Seung Won has a talent for creating leading men who are attractive even if they are seriously odd. Even when he gnashes his teeth, he's attractive. Plus, there's a symbolic potato and a gorgeous car-inside-a-house.
I Love You
Chul Soo is a cartoonist struggling to keep his career going, when he meets Na Young Hee through a series of awkward mishaps. He manages to seduce her (somehow), and she gets pregnant from their one night stand. Byung Ho is Chul Soo's neighbor, whose girlfriend Lee Young Hee is also pregnant. Both couples have to decide where to go with their relationships. Also, Na Young Hee's sister and her husband Min Ho have to work things out while facing his cheating ways.
Recommendation: Worth trying out. This was my very first exposure to kdramaland, so I'm quite partial to it. It does lose some steam towards the end, but I think it picks up again. It's a cute story, and there are some very funny scenes. It follows many cliches found in dramas, and I objectively know there are flaws, but I still love it.
I Really Really Like You
The story of a deep backwoods girl Bong Soon who suddenly comes to Seoul to make a new life for herself, while looking for the family she has never known. Before coming to the city, she manages to save Dr. Jang Joon Won's life after he falls while hiking. Joon Won hides the fact that he's the President's son, and it's because of him Bong Soon meets Bong Ki, a secret service bodyguard sent to bring him home safely. Bong Soon manages to get a job working as a kitchen assistant in a cafeteria for employees of the Blue House, and ends up living in Bong Ki's house, since he's responsible for her losing her only source of money.
Recommendation: Try it out. Another drama that will make you hungry. There's plenty of angst in this story, but Eugene is cute and sweet as Bong Soon (warning, her accent may drive you crazy), and the rest of the cast is good. It's not a stellar or groundbreaking show, but it's lighthearted fun.
The Lawyers of the Great Republic of Korea
Min Gook is the wealthy president of a company involved in a high-profile divorce with Ae Ri, a major celebrity. He chooses Yi Kyung as his lawyer to settle his divorce and alimony case. Although Yi Kyung is good friends with Ae Ri, Min Gook is able to convince her to take the case. Ae Ri even gives her approval, as Yi Kyung has only recently started her practice and needs the money. Ae Ri hires a top lawyer who comes from America to start a new job in Korea. This becomes awkward when Yi Kyung realizes her opposing counsel is none other than her ex-boyfriend Byun Hyuk, who abandoned her with no explanation six years earlier.
Recommendation: Watch. After Kim Sun Ah, Lee Soo Kyung is probably my favorite comedic Korean actress. She's feisty and hilarious as Yi Kyung, and I love Lee Sung Jae as Min Gook, here, too. Also, some of the attitudes represented in this drama are somewhat progressive for kdramas—for instance, Yi Kyung and Byun Hyuk lived together before he left Korea. This is a funny and light-hearted series.
Lie to Me
Ah Jung tells an old college friend she's married, which turns into the rumor that she's married to Ki Joon, the chaebol son of a family that owns several hotels. He gets wind of the rumor and demands she quash it. However, things don't go as planned, and the two decide that they can mutually benefit by keeping up the pretense for a while. They enter a contract relationship. However, Ki Joon's ex returns from abroad to complicate things.
Recommendation: Watch. Sure, there are plenty of problems with this drama—the plot is thinner than the paper it was written on, some of the second leads are forgettable, and the ending is a bit of a letdown—but Yoon Eun Hye and Kang Ji Hwan make this drama. Their chemistry is awesome, and they're able to turn this silly little drama into something much better than it should be. It doesn't make sense, but it's true.
Cute drama about a divorce lawyer and a matchmaker who seem to be polar opposites—one gets people together, the other splits them apart. (However, both are really just trying to help their clients find happiness, even if that happiness can only come from divorce.) After ruining her reputation in her field, Kang Hyun lies that she is divorced in order to get a job at the only matchmaking company that will take her—one that matches up divorced people. Hyun Soo is the divorced divorce lawyer in the adjacent law firm. (How many times can I use the word divorce in one paragraph? Answer: lots and lots.)
Recommendation: Give it a try. I enjoyed this drama quite a bit. The leads are cute, the story moves along quite nicely, and I remember minimal angst. I mean, there's some angst, but it didn't usually feel gratuitous. Anyway, overall this show is well done, and is pretty light fare.
The Man Who Can't Get Married/He Who Can't Marry
Jae Hee is the titular bachelor, and while the title indicates otherwise, he's not married because he chooses not to be. He hates the idea of marriage and mocks Moon Jung because she really wants to be married, but isn't, even though she's over 35, gorgeous, and a doctor (which is a big part of why she isn't married, since she has always focused on her education and career over dating). A close friendship soon develops between Moon Jung and Jae Hee's young new neighbor Yoo Jin, and Jae Hee gets pulled in to their lives.
Recommendation: Watch. Ji Jin Hee is excellent in the role of Jae Hee, and Uhm Jung Hwa is her usual luminous self. The show is cute and funny and sweet. Also, Yoo Ah In has a fun role as a second lead who is smitten with Yoo Jin. You can find my full review here.
Kim Yi Han is a top nanny who has one rule—never get involved with a client/client's family. He comes to work for Seo Do Young and her sister Janice ("Don't you know who I am? I, I am JANICE.), taking care of Do Young's adorable yet mischievous children. He and Janice take an instant and strong dislike to one another, but Janice's feelings soon change. Both sisters develop feelings for Yi Han.
Recommendation: Either way. You could try it or not. I couldn't handle more than 5 episodes—it was just too slow for me. But the acting is decent, and the kids cute. The story is typical of single parent/kids-with-new-nanny stories, with a possible love rivalry between the adult sisters thrown in.
Mary Stayed Out All Night/Marry Me Mary
The man who once loved Mary's mom wants his son Jung In to fulfill the destiny he feels he missed out on, so he arranges for Jung In and Mary to get engaged. However, Mary is completely against the idea and manages to convince Moo Kyul to pretend they are in a relationship.
Recommendation: Maybe? There are people who love this drama for the chemistry between the leads alone. However, I struggled with this one halfway through and ended up skimming the recaps of the last few episodes. I don't know if I even watched the episodes in between. It starts out okay, but the writer completely lost the story and was swapped for a new one around episode 10. Things didn't get better after the switch, either.
Me Too, Flower!
A "depressed" police officer meets an undercover self-made mogul. They try to deal with their attraction and their issues.
Recommendation: Another maybe. You may really enjoy this drama, but I didn't. Bong Sun's "depression" really seemed more like an anger problem than depression. The story is really slow. I keep telling myself I'll finish this one, or at least read episode recaps, but I haven't mustered up any desire to do so.
Mischievous Kiss/Playful Kiss
Oh Ha Ni confesses her feelings for the school idol Seung Jo, who publicly humiliates her by giving her back her graded (and very low-scored) love note in front of the whole school. When Oh Ha Ni's home collapses, she and her father are taken in by his grade-school best friend, who also happens to be Seung Jo's father. Oh Ha Ni doggedly pursues her love for Seung Jo, who cruelly strings her along, just giving her enough to keep her on the hook. The moral of the story is that hard work and determination will get you anything.
Recommendation: Definitely watch. This show is wildly popular and is extremely addicting. Much like Oh Ha Ni's feelings for Seung Jo, once you start, you can't help but be drawn in by the pretty. And no matter how often your heart is crushed, you just keep coming back. And although I hate the idea of anyone being defined by their love for a person, Jung So Min makes Oh Ha Ni's devotion so winning and adorable. You can't help loving her and cheering her on.
A talented con artist named Yoo Rin meets the chaebol heir to a mall named Gong Chan. Gong Chan's grandfather wants to find his estranged granddaughter in order to make reparations to her before he dies. Gong Chan has the brilliant idea to pay Yoo Rin to pretend to be the granddaughter for Grandpa's dying moments. Things take longer than expected, and fauxcest develops between the fake cousins. Gong Chan's rebellious best friend Jong Woo develops feelings for the bright and sweet Yoo Rin.
Recommendation: Give it a try. It's a Hong Sisters drama, and has many of their cliches throughout. I dropped it, but came back to it after falling in love with Lee Dong Wook in Scent of a Woman. Even with an awful haircut, the man is swoonworthy. Also, Lee Jun Ki is pretty good as Jong Woo, and Lee Da Hae is extremely likable as Yoo Rin. However, I feel that none of the main actors' skills are very developed at this point in their careers, though they give a good effort.
My Girlfriend is a Gumiho/Nine-tailed Fox
Another Hong Sisters drama. Shin Min Ah plays the titular gumiho (a demon of folklore who eats men's livers, and in many stories wants to be human) who just wants to be loved. Imprisoned in a painting to keep her from harming mankind, she tricks Dae Woong into releasing her. She then follows him around in her quest to become human and find love. They enter a contract relationship, since he needs her to help him in his career. In return, she'll lose her tails and eventually become human.
Recommendation: Totally worth it. This is my favorite Hong Sisters drama of all those I've watched. Shin Min Ah is fabulous at playing quirky, otherworldly characters, and nails the role of Gu Mi Ho, making her completely believable and lovable. Lee Seung Ki also shows signs of his future awesomeness in his role as Woong-ah. Their development is beautiful to watch, and their relationship is delightful fun.
My Lovely Sam Soon/My Name is Kim Sam Soon
Sam Soon is a Paris-trained patissier who is looking for work in Korea. Jin Heon owns a French restaurant and is suddenly in need of a new patissier. Fate brings them together, but Jin Heon struggles to keep Sam Soon in his employment, since they are constantly butting heads. Sam Soon needs money and Jin Heon wants his mother to leave his personal life alone, so they agree to a contractual relationship. Jin Heon's ex returns from America and wants to pick up where they left off. Hot Henry follows her and tries to be a supportive friend even though he is completely besotted with her.
Recommendation: Um, watch it again? Are there still kdrama fans out there who haven't seen this one? Even though it's not perfect, I'd say it deserves all the hype. Kim Sun Ah is great in her role as Sam Soon—she's hilarious, independent, intelligent and sassy, and overall a great heroine. Binnie is great as the proud Jin Heon, and I love the progression of his character in this drama. Also, there's Hot Henry—I mean Daniel Henney, who only speaks English and who makes me drool every time he's on screen.
Lee Seol finds out she may be the last descendant of the last king of Korea. Park Hae Young's grandfather sends him to find Lee Seol in order to reinstate her as a figurehead princess on order to right the wrongs committed long ago. Park Hae Young openly opposes all attempts to recognize Lee Seol as princess, but believes in doing his duty to his country. Lee Seol also has a crush on her professor Nam Jung Woo, who is kind and supportive of her.
Recommendation: Not for everyone. I'm partial because this was the first full drama I ever watched. The premise and plot aren't that complex or deep, but it is a fun and light drama. Also, this drama features a pre-Dr. Jin Song Seung Hun, who should really stick to romcoms—although he's stiff, they fit him much better, especially if he can play a stiff character.
My Sweet City
Another noona-younger guy drama. Eun Soo meets Tae Oh one depressed night, and they end up kind of living together, but are still in a somewhat casual relationship. She's embarrassed dating a guy his age, although she likes him. She also meets the much more age-appropriate Young Soo who is instantly drawn to her. She tries juggling both men, but Tae Oh is much more forward and aggressive in his pursuit of Eun Soo and Young Soo is more reserved. Tae Oh is dissatisfied with the lack of progress in their relationship. Young Soo also has a major life secret.
Recommendation: If it sounds interesting to you, try it. I felt that this one was okay. Not great, not bad, just okay. There were things I really liked about this drama, but it's not one I remember much about. Young Soo's secret comes out at the very end, and it's definitely THE most interesting part of this story—I think it would have been really interesting to see that character development more (like a drama centered on his character), but I still liked what we were given.
Ob/Gyn Doctors/Obstetrics and Gynecology Doctors
Hye Young is sent to a hospital outside Seoul after damaging her reputation by an affair with her superior. She reunites with a playboy Ob/Gyn she went to school with and meets a compassionate neonatologist who falls for her. Song Joong Ki plays an intern doing his clinical rotation in the Obstetrics unit who wants to start an aesthetics practice.
Recommendation: If you like medical kdramas, with the requisite graphic material, and won't be too disturbed by rubber babies, it's worth giving a try. Especially if you're a fan of Son Joong Ki. The medical stories typically span 2 episodes, and sometimes tie back in later. The main romance is. . . interesting. Not necessarily swoonworthy, but engaging enough. However, the best story line goes to Joong Ki's character and his secret relationship with a nurse, Young Mi. That story is really a 9.5/10 for me, and if there's somewhere a video of just their interactions (with subtitles, preferably), please tell me. Another thing about this drama is that it deals with many reproductive issues in a very progressive way (especially for Korea), and generally deals with them in a very mature and careful way.
Oh! My Lady
Min Woo is a mid-20's megastar who finds out he has a daughter after she's abandoned at his apartment. Gae Hwa, divorced and desperate for a job to support her and her daughter, tries to get a job at a talent agency. They tell her she can have the job if she can land a big client. She agrees to help with Min Woo's daughter if he'll sign with her company and help her get the job. However, Min Woo wants to keep the little darling a secret, which is difficult with his very public life.
Recommendation: Try it. I hesitated on this one for a long time, but I enjoyed watching it. It's a light, fun story, and the romance—which I thought wouldn't work—was actually somewhat believable. I really enjoyed Siwon's portrayal of Min Woo, even if it took me forever to like his character. I felt that his growth was pretty well acted.
Based on the jdorama Operation Daisakusen. Baek Ho regrets that in 15 years of friendship he has never expressed his feelings for Yi Seul, and wishes he could do something about it—on the day of her wedding to their old teacher/coach Kwon Jin Won. A mysterious Conductor comes to help him change the past, one regret at a time. However, things don't go as Baek Ho expects, and he's forced to work very hard at each trip to the past to try to change his future/present.
Recommendation: Not for everyone, but worth trying. I watched about 5 episodes of the jdorama first, but it just wasn't my thing. However, the Korean version somehow worked for me. I got very frustrated with it sometimes, especially because the premise lends itself to being formulaic, and it often felt like no matter what Baek Ho did, it couldn't really change things. Except then an episode would come along when things drastically changed in his life and/or the lives of his group of friends. I really liked how, with every alternate present, he still seemed to remember all the other pasts and presents, but the current past and present was more solid. It's hard to explain, but it's a fascinating time paradox that is ever-present in the story.
Painter of the Wind
The famous Shin Yoon Bok is reimagined as a woman pretending to be a man in order to paint in the king's school. She is apprenticed to Kim Hong Do, the master painter of their time. She develops romantic feelings for Kim Hong Do, and also for the gisaeng Jeong Hyang, which is very confusing to Shin Yoon Bok. The subjects of Shin Yoon Bok's paintings are often considered scandalous, and she and Kim Hong Do frequently have to prove themselves. There are also many painting competitions.
Recommendation: Worth watching. If you like gender-benders and/or Korean art, especially. It's a fascinating take on historical figures whose life histories have been shrouded by time. As a gender-bender, it deals with many of the issues other gender-benders tend to ignore. Like what happens when the woman-dressed-as-a-man, develops a romantic attachment with a woman due to influence of her male persona (instead of that woman falling for the oblivious heroine, a la Sungkyunkwan Scandal). The story is quite good, and the acting is wonderful, but the ending is sad, and the whole tone of the drama is a bit melancholy.
Panda and Hedgehog
A cute story filled with cuteness and cute. Did I mention it's cute? However, while the story is mostly based on how cute Panda and Hedgehog are, there's more to it than immediately meets the eye (but it really takes time to develop those aspects of the story). Ostensibly a story about the prickly Hedgehog who is cuddly and sweet when it comes to Panda, and his rivalry with Won Il, it's really a story about family. The kind of family you create for yourself, whether or not you have biological family around.
Recommendation: Watch for a sweet drama when you aren't looking for depth and great substance. There is some substance there, especially when involving the family aspects. And while the title couple has a cute relationship, the one to really watch for is that between the male leads. Also, I'd say my biggest complaint is that some of the development of side stories (especially romantic relationships) is left to our imagination.
An underdog law firm fights against the powerful an corrupt Big Law Firm, not only vying for clients, but often going head-to-head in cases. Eun Ho is an idealistic widowed lawyer who goes to the big city to make a difference in the world. She's also trying to build a class-action law suit around her husband's death while raising her son and dealing with the brilliant but difficult Tae Jo, a fellow lawyer and "mentor" who wants nothing to do with her.
Recommendation: Meh. It's a series I enjoyed while watching it, but it's mostly forgettable in the end. The main draws for me were the fact that it starred Wookie, and that it reminded me a bit of the British procedural New Street Law, which I loved. I liked the idea, and the story worked well, but it felt as though they anticipated a second season and never got it (just another way it resembles New Street Law).
Yoo Kyung is the maknae kitchen assistant in a popular Italian restaurant who gets fired on the day she moves up to line cook. Along with all the other women working in the kitchen. The new head chef Hyun Wook refuses to work with women and gets what he wants because he's one of the best in the world. Yoo Kyung relies on determination and hard work to get her job back and work up the ranks in the kitchen, despite Hyun Wook's fierce opposition.
Recommendation: Try it. The awesome goldfish rescue-mission meet-cute shows a soft side to Hyun Wook's character that simmers underneath his rude and overbearing exterior. I also love that although Yoo Kyung isn't your typical cute girl, Hyun Wook is attracted to her from the beginning. I also like that she works so hard not because she's supporting a dead-beat/imperiled family, but because she genuinely loves cooking and wants to be the top of her field. The kitchen/restaurant politics may not be especially interesting, but they're a good addition to the story and manage to create plenty of conflict, although a bit too much of that conflict goes in circles.
Lee Min Ho. Oh, is there more to say? Fine. He plays a young architect who lies about his sexual orientation in order to live with the daughter of his idol and study their house, which is legendary and very secret. But his lies have greater consequences when he develops feelings for his roommate.
Recommendation: Worth checking out. Even if it's just because it's a kdrama that openly acknowledges homosexuality, even if it's not in the most positive way. Also, Lee Min Ho not playing a rich spoiled brat trying to ruin everyone's life. Cold and ambitious, yes. Petty and obnoxious? Less so than in Boys over Flowers, at least. Actually, I rather enjoyed getting to see Lee Min Ho show humor and smile genuinely in this role.
Protect the Boss
No Eun Seol desperately needs a job, and gets one as the mothering secretary of the chaebol man-child Cha Ji Heon. This sparks a rivalry with his only slightly more mature cousin Cha Moo Won, who decides he should inherit the company and get the girl. Many many hijinks ensue, including childish fights which are flat-out hilarious.
Recommendation: Even if this drama isn't your thing, you should watch this video of the boy-fights. Although it's probably not as funny out of context, it's still hilarious. I dropped this drama around episode 9, but came back to it later. And I'm glad I did, because I really came to enjoy it. Who knew utter childishness could be so endearing and fun? Also, Jaejoong got to be in something before Dr. Jin made its best effort to demolish his career.
Scent of a Woman
Yeon Jae is diagnosed with terminal cancer and decides to finally start living her life. She meets Ji Wook who has gone through life with ennui—never really living for himself, but not doing anything for others, either. Under her influence, he too learns to live and to love. The story involves a number of people who are influenced by Yeon Jae's new enthusiasm for life, including her mother, best friend, and oncologist Eun Suk, who also happens to be a long lost childhood friend.
Recommendation: Watch. It's no secret that this is my favorite kdrama of them all. Kim Sun Ah is her usual awesome self, and I came to absolutely love Lee Dong Wook as Ji Wook. There are some episodes of extreme angst further into the drama, but it generally has a light touch and treats Yeon Jae's cancer with a touching care and humor, so the show doesn't feel weighed down with its own seriousness. The acting is exceptional across the board, and the characters are mostly lovable. Did I mention it stars my Wookie? And that there are the most sultry tango scenes on film? And the ending is really perfect—it's believable and totally in keeping with the tone of the series. In short, I love love love this show.
The Thousandth Man
Gu Mi Jin is a gumiho, with a responsibility to become human by eating the livers of 1000 men in 1000 years, or she'll disappear into foam. Her mother and sister have already accomplished this goal, but Mi Jin is a bit picky—she will only eat the livers of men who love her enough to give their liver willingly to her. She needs one more liver, and has 100 days to get it. She meets Eung Suk, who resembles her first love from the Goryeo period, and struggles with her desire to become close to him and her hesitation to use him to make herself human. Eung Suk's best friend is also the chef at his restaurant and competes with a weepy and neurotic Secretary Park for the affections of Mi Jin's mother.
Recommendation: Watch. At only 8 episodes, this drama doesn't have the feeling of dragging or filling time that so many others struggle with. It's light and breezy and incredibly hilarious. It has this amazing ability to make you simultaneously crave Mi Jin's success and resist that craving, because it would probably mean the end of Eung Suk. But you really want them to be together forever and make adorable half-fox babies. Each regular character is fleshed-out and lovable, and the cameos are fun and it's fun to see Mi Jin's homme du jour in each cameo (in the first half, anyway).