2014 in Retrospect

2014 was actually a strange year overall for me. Sometimes it felt so fast, but there were moments when I thought that time moved at the speed of a crawling tortoise. It was not a great year personally and even to the world’s population in general, but I am reflecting on what had happened to make 2015 a better year. Despite all the challenges, I come to realize that blessings come in small packets of full of warmth, just like some of the dramas which aired in 2014.

Without further ado, the dramas that made a change (or two) in my drama watching life in 2014..

Together we walk, hand in hand, until the end.

hajiwon+allure+july14+3I am still wondering how on Earth I managed to follow this 51-episode drama closely, from the beginning until the end. Sure, it started in 2013 but had most of its episodes aired this year, so I still consider it this year’s drama. Okay, it’s just that I don’t really finish many of them this year, and Empress Ki might be the one to blame. I mean, it was a challenging ride, but a great one. So many twists and turns and I kept worrying about the recaps back then with various thoughts crossing my mind, like: “Would I be able to finish this?”, “OMG what were they saying? I couldn’t understand them!!”, and “I need new episodes ASAP ㅜㅜ”, just to name a few. But then, I managed to hang in there until the very end, part of it thanks to the amazing community of Empress Ki‘s fans. Spazzing about the drama improved my Korean by leaps and bounds, especially my reading skills since I spent most of the time scouring the Korean news portals and forums to get the latest news. I even stalked Empress Ki‘s Baidu forum despite being 99% illiterate when it comes to Chinese characters. The recaps were my labour of love, so when the drama ended, I kind of fell into some sort of drained state. No regret at all, because I am happy I have contributed something as a fan of Empress Ki through my blog.

If not for Belinda aka NewKDramaAddict, I might have put King’s Daughter, Soo Baek Hyang to my to-watch list but her constant ravings about the long, long MBC drama made me check it out in between of Empress Ki’s episodes and I was glad I did it. Beautiful, very beautiful. I have never thought that I would be able to finish a daily drama, but it was almost effortless for King’s Daughter. I marathoned 40+ episodes in less than a week, because it was that good! I loved and hated and cherished and despised and adored the characters. It was so easy for me to cry, even during happy scenes, because it was a drama full of heart. I get sentimental whenever I am reminded of the drama, and choking on my tears is still a common occurrence for me (like what I am experiencing while typing this part ㅠㅠ). I got sad whenever I tried to write a proper review, hence the draft is still marinating there silently. Another confession: I haven’t rewatched the final two episodes with subs, because I don’t want to bawl my eyes out again. Go watch it, you might find a keeper. Still not convinced to watch this gem with 108 episodes? Go read Bel’s review, because she’s the best fan to refer to for anything Soo Baek Hyang.

As the myth says; arm yourself with loads of food before you watch Let’s Eat. A wise advice indeed, because you only have one choice between stuffing yourself with food or get ready to drool when you watch Let’s Eat. Touted as a food p0rn drama, it lived up to its nickname because of those beautiful shots of dished that will make you wish you have a private jet to fly to South Korea at once to try out those yummy and mouthwatering dishes. Argh, even the mention about this drama makes me hungry! Some know-hows about living alone were also featured, since the leads were all single. Best thing about it? The pet dog with the name of Che Guevara, aside from the food.

leesangyoon+singles+sept14_1Angel Eyes was just like a comfort food, a warm blanket, and a soothing song. It was another pretty drama that seemed too pretty to be true at times, but it was very heartwarming family drama. It showed how good people, not essentially your real family members, could give you good influence and nurtured you with good vibes. It also demonstrated how love could be expressed in various forms and degrees, and it was not limited to romantic love. The OST was amazing and it might be one of the best for this year. Last but not least: thank you for introducing me to the adorable Ddong-joo, show!

It started out with a bang, but Witch’s Romance suffered setback in the middle, especially in the development of relationship between the two leads. It happened with the sudden appearance of Polar Bear, Sr., who suddenly appeared out of nowhere and jumped straight into his ex-fiance’s life, the same woman who became a jilted bride when he left her at the altar without any explanation. Little did he know that his ex’s heart had been stolen by a young man, younger than him. Glad he caught up pretty soon(-ish? Not really.) but chose to become a jerk again in breaking the relationship. Anyhow, yeay for awesome sidekicks: sismance, bromance, you name it! Bonus for cool mom!

 High School King of Savvy was a surprise for me. I was skeptical about it at first, because the premise was so wacky and people would be so high not to notice a high school student cosplaying as his brother. Trust Seo In-guk to sell his character like no one else could and prove his ability to pull off two characters in one drama. Lots of office and school hijinks to keep me glued on the screen and stay with the characters until the end, witnessing their perseverance. If you need one more reason to watch, there’s Lee Soo-hyuk too!

threemusketeers+vogue+aug14+1

I’m still reeling from the bad news I heard about Three Musketeers…but let’s talk about the good things first. It aired once a week and it was a painful wait each week! I had to restrain myself from thinking too much about it and sometimes waited to watch two episodes at once. Maybe it was just me, but the format made me lost focus at times, because I missed some details due to the gap between the episodes. I guess I was to be blamed for not paying attention while watching it. The romance bits were worth the (loooong) wait, not to forget the bromance! It was originally planned for three seasons, but tvn announced that there would be no Season 3 before deciding to nix the remaining seasons altogether. I am disappointed since I was looking forward for the following seasons, plus with the sort-of cliffhanger of the first season that suggested more excitement in store for next installment…but then, I might have to put aside my hope and be content with the broadcasted episodes (truth to be told, I’m not ready to be content at all :()

leejehoon+singles+sept14_3I might seem to be so mad at Secret Door through my review (which certainly looked like a rant more than a review) but I am still fond of the series. I had high hopes for the drama because of the star-studded cast and the potential decent storyline from the scriptwriter, but the drama went down a safe road, but still enthralling until the end. Maybe if I decided to marathon it, I might be more forgiving but I couldn’t help myself from following it while it was airing. The stars of the series were Lee Je-hoon, who carried the soul of Sado with all his heart despite being restrained by the script, and Park Eun-bin, who channeled the smart and layered Princess Hyegyeong. Not to forget, the mad king Han Suk-kyu and the cool ministers. It deserves all the love from the viewers who enjoy political debates and conflicts in dramas.

This was another surprise of the year for me, because watching Bad Guys might be one of the best decisions I made last year. Lots of fighting and some gory scenes since there were murders included in the series. It was more crime than procedural, with a dose of thriller. Yum. The ensemble cast, the plot, and the behind story were all engaging and it was a feast for the eyes because of its movie-like shots. So beautiful. I don’t want to spoil anything but it’s definitely a keeper, enough for me to consider it a replacement for the thing that did not happen in 2014: TEN3.

yumi_bazaar_jan15_1I guess marathoning dramas once in a while can be a good thing to do, just to break out from the usual live watching I prefer to do nowadays. Discovery of Romance was one of the few dramas I watched after it finished airing and yeah, I am still glad I decided to wait back then! Jung Yu-mi’s Han Yeo-reum might be one of my drama crushes of the year for 2014, because she was that awesome and real, as if she was a friend of mine. There were moments when I disagreed with her thoughts, but I had never hated her; in fact, she grew on me, to the point of feeling ashamed when I doubted her during one of the scenes in the drama. Girl power had been put into good use here, but that does not mean the guys were less than stellar! I rediscovered His Royal Hotness of Eric Moon in the form of smoldering Kang Tae-ha, and discovered the charms of Sung Joon through the lanky plastic surgeon Nam Ha-jin. A warning from me: don’t fall too hard for the side characters!

misaeng+cosmo+ost14

Truth to be told, I hesitated and had to think for hundreds of times before deciding that it would be better for me to marathon Misaeng after it ended. It was because of the potential tear jerking fact due to its realistic depiction of office life, and I didn’t really want to cry out loud. It turned out to be a good decision after all, not only because of the crying part, because moving on from the drama is damn hard! Although I binge watched the entire 20 episodes in less than one week, I still got attached to the characters. I cannot imagine how those who followed it closely coped with the post-drama feels (can someone tell me the exact term? I’m totally blank over here!!). The characters made me feel like pulling them into a big hug and also caused my blood to boil, as if I was sitting in a hot pot, but they were all proofs how good the drama was. Watch the specials and you will see the hard work behind creating the series, and do not forget to catch the cast in the talk show TAXI. You won’t regret it!

I’m sorry we have to break up..

bazaar_jgSorry Wild Chives and Soy Soup, I only want to keep the memories of the younger cast associated with you, thus I decided not to continue watching.

Many reasons made me try out A New Leaf, but I was slowly drifting apart from the show without realizing it and soon enough, I totally forgot to catch up with it. Maybe it was all because of my own drama taste, in which law drama is among my less favourite genre?

I swear I was looking forward to Joseon Gunman back then. It was the first sageuk in the summer (if I’m not mistaken) and it had a promising start. I was not sure what made me lost interest: was it because of the slow pace, or the tiring guessing games and hiding your past behind a pair of glasses?

yooinna+sure+nov14_2The leads were my favourites, yet My Secret Hotel failed to make me stick with it until the (not so)bitter end. The murder mystery got pushed to the background and replaced with the tiring love triangle (or quadrilateral). So much potential but love trampled all things, even the potentially awesome sismance!

Endless Love’s writer was one of the reasons why people stayed off from the drama, but I thought I could survive anything..until I decided that it was too melodramatic for my taste. The leads suffered too much in the beginning and it was kind of aggravating to see the baddies triumphed over the good (and poor) leads.

I even attempted to recap Temptation but decided to stop doing so. This explanation might be a bit late, but I was so conflicted back then, torn between recapping and just following my instincts. It just felt wrong.

The Night Watchman’s Journal was another potential gone into..oblivion? The watchmen appeared a little too late and I struggled to continue watching…until I just decided to just chuck it away.

We might have a chance to reconcile in the future..

2x

A Warm Word (9/20): I already know the ending but I am still interested to know how they work it out to reach such ending.

Miss Korea (8/20): I need to give this a proper watch one day!

Secret Love Affair (6/16): I am waiting for the day I can watch the bitches bitching around without batting and eyelid.

Fated to Love You (10/20): I need to get over the impression that this is a romcom and accept the fact that it can break my heart into tiny pieces.

Marriage, Not Dating (6/16): Gimme some happy mood, new year!

My Spring Days (4/16): Gimme some sad mood, new year!

We have potential..(and I’m looking forward to our encounter!)

2w

God’s Gift – 14 Days * Yoona’s Street * It’s Okay, It’s Love * Mama * Blade Man * Liar Game * Pinocchio * Valid Love

It might work out if fate stays on our side..until the end comes.

I am a bit skeptical about Birth of a Beauty at this point, honestly. I want to enjoy the giddiness and childishness of the lead characters, but there’s this feeling of doom looming around. Maybe I’m just imagining it??

King’s Face actually gets better after it has escaped the initial (and not so pleasant) troubles pre-production. My interest still lies in Ga-hee and how she will turn into the scheming concubine in history from the supportive heroine she is in the drama timeline right now.

I don’t know what exactly makes Healer a hot stuff among drama fans right now, but I can vouch for the decent storyline. It keeps me guessing without giving too much clues at one time, yet it throws some new puzzle pieces to keep me glued to the screen. My hope is that they don’t turn Moon-ho into a bad guy, although his slightly twisted and dark expression when he’s mad with anger is so drool-worthy. Oh, don’t turn this into melodrama too~

hilleoI need to have Bong-soo/Jung-hoo/Healer and Young-shin/Ji-an on my screen!

I will keep my eye on you guys and your future projects!

junghaein+vogue+sept14+3  byunyohan+marieclaire+jan15+2

260-263 MS16-12월무비최우식ok.indd  image

tvn 만세!

May 2015 brings more great dramas, more laughter, more tears, and more eye candies.

What’s your take on last year’s dramas?

Pictures credit to (in order of appearance): COSMOPOLITAN | allure | Singles | VOGUE | Singles | Harper’s BAZAAR | COSMOPOLITAN | Harper’s BAZAAR | SURE | Various Drama OST Covers and Posters | Healer | ELLE | marie claire | marie claire | ELLE |

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13 thoughts on “2014 in Retrospect

  1. Awesome read…Alas, I watched less KDramas last year and a lot you mentioned I started and never went back. I’m determined to finish Angel Eyes…one day. I may even break my rule and finally watch (and maybe finish) a “I Need Romance” drama. We will see. However, 2015 is already looking better with 2-3 dramas that I will eventually watch airing. Been a long time where my KDrama watching is not exceeding by Daily Drama watching! I’ve missed it!!

    1. I feel you, sometimes it’s hard to finish a drama you have started and lost interest..maybe the best thing to do is to wait for the right mood to sink in. I really recommend Discovery of Romance as it is the best from the I Need Romance franchise’s writer, in my opinion. Hopefully, 2015 will continue to be better!

  2. Blade Man was, in my opinion, fairly strong till the writer threw in the ex-coming-back-from-the-dead plot twist (which deflated Prime MInister and I as well, so it should be banned from any future dramas, IMO). At least Healer is still going strong (both are kind of super hero stories, even though Healer doesn’t have any unusual powers). I would recommend Pinocchio, Liar’s Game, and It’s OK it’s Love.

  3. Great read….as always 🙂

    I loved Misaeng A LOT…also Liar Game and High School King were my favorites this year…currently I’m enjoying Healer and Pinocchio and I really want to marathon The Three Musketeers…
    Prime Minister And I, Fated To Love You, Marriage Not Dating were other shows that I enjoyed a lot…

    God’s Gift-14 days is a special case where I loved it for all its episodes except the ending…

    1. Prime Minister and I! How can I forget that one? I want to watch it too when I’m in the right mood for it.
      I’ve heard a lot of rants about GG’s ending but I still want to see how it was :3
      I’m sure Three Musketeers will be an enjoyable marathon for you~~

  4. Thank you for this review! Your writing style feels always really personal and warm, making your posts always nice to read 🙂

    I gotta admit, I’ve been reading some of your Empress Ki recaps, despite never actually watching the show. But now that I’ve caught the Healer-fever, I’m thinking I might watch the drama for Ji Chang Wook. I’m pretty aware of what happens as I’ve spoiled the ending for myself, but I’ve heard both Ji Chang Wook and Ha Ji Won are amazing and the drama itself looks really pretty. But since it’s 50 episodes, I’m probably gonna use the fast-forward button a lot. Thankfully your recaps will be there to guide me through 🙂

    I adored Misaeng. Gonna check out the TAXI episodes as soon as I get around to it 😛

    1. Awww thank you dear ㅠㅠ

      Empress Ki is not an easy watch but once you’re sucked into watching it, I believe that nothing can stop you! JCW is at his best here and I’m sure you’ll love him even more 😉

      Misaeng is ❤ and TAXI made me love the cast even more!

  5. First thing first, sorry this is going to be one long ass comment.

    As I’m reading your year end drama reviews, I realized I watched and dropped so many series along 2014. I think as I juggle between life commitment and what little free time I have left, I get pickier with dramas that take up my time, so I tend to drop anything that just get irritating/intolerable. The few that I recalled finishing were:

    ‘A Warm Word’ – The credit goes to my mom for claiming the timeslot as hers and forced the entire family to watch it with her on tv. I love actress Kim Ji Soo, and she won me over in ‘Women Of The Sun’ a few years back, but I just couldn’t stand the plotline here, or maybe just cheating in general. The only reason I bear with this is because of the pairing of Park Seo Joon and Han Groo. They are just too cute for words!

    ‘You Who Came From The Star’ – I initially planned to only read its recap on Dramabeans to save time, but so much ravings online had me downloaded it as the series progressed. As it turned out, it was crazily well-received at my workplace, which kind of dampened my love for it. I know, I’m weird like that, so I ended up NOT watching towards the end and only read the recap, until my sister watched it on tv a few months after it ended. It was funny to say the least, good but not THAT great.

    ‘Naeil’s Cantabile’ – Something about Shim Eun Kyung is really endearing, I ended up finishing this without much difficulties. Yoojin’s unlikely friendship with the S Orchestra and his sidekicks made it a fun, memorable journey too. And believe me when I say I kept waiting for Naeil to say “Orabang~!” Yup, officially weird.

    ‘Wang’s Family’ – Yeah, I told you I’m scared of commitment, but I DO watch daily dramas when I get into the mood, or mostly because my mom tend to finish whatever she starts watching on tv and we’re not allowed to change the channel. But this, this was gem, it was a love hate relationship for me but I’m glad I watched it. There was never a dull moment with the Wang’s family.

    ‘A Witch’s Romance’ – I considered nixing this because of Uhm Jung Hwa, not that I hate her or anything but she tends to make me feel cringy in her past roles. BUT! Park Seo Joon saved it for me, I enjoyed him and Han Groo in ‘A Warm Word’ immensely that I was willing to give this a try, and the end result, I fell for it completely! I totally love this couple and hate anything or any reason that tear them apart. There wasn’t any slow moment for me, and I feel it’s justified Polar Bear took up much time, considering their parting was the result of a misunderstanding and they needed to work out their relationship had ended years ago. My only issue with this is they didn’t fully explore the issue of noona dongseng relationship, and it would’ve been great if they faced much criticism from the people around them because of the age thing.

    ‘Marriage, Not Dating’ – The only reason I watched this is because of Han Groo. After watching her in ‘A Warm Word’, I kind of fell for her and her bubbly personality. And this is the second drama after ‘A Witch Romance’ that I closely monitored. It was a decent rom-com.

    ‘Pinocchio’ – Let’s just say I appreciate eye candies when I see it, not that they can be the main driving force to watch a drama, but they can be a plus. The storyline was gripping at the start, but the pace fell flat after Dal Po’s brother went to jail, and I was just staring at the screen praying for the drama to end already, and maybe staring at Lee Jong Seok’s lips the whole time.

    ‘Good Daughter, Hanna” – I think I just want to pull my hair watching this, and this is another drama I was forced to watch because of my mom. I skipped some, ok huge part of it, but I loved the premise and the ending, and…that’s just about it.

    Few that I watched and dropped like hot potato:

    ‘Healer’ – Healed nothing. I don’t know why but it was kind of boring for me, even my mom flatly refused this.
    ‘Wonderful Days’ – Wonderfully boring.
    ‘What Happens to My Family’ – What happened is they get boring.
    ‘God’s Gift – 14 Days’ – I was teased of the gift/mystery for like a weeks and simply lost interest.
    ‘Secret Door’ – I waited for the secret door up to ep 16, by then I felt cheated because I never saw any door, but the door out of this drama.
    ‘You’re All Surrounded’ – Is not the right words to a woman’s heart.
    ‘Two Women’s Room’ – I better stick to my own room.
    ‘Passionate Love’ – It was really just obsessive love gone wrong.
    ‘The Woman Who Married Thrice’ – I’m not that interested in her third husband.
    ‘Angel Eyes’ – Never saw an angel.
    ‘Valid Love’ – Invalid drama.
    ‘Liar Game’ – Big Fat Liar.

    Dramas I wanted to watch but…
    ‘Fated To Love You’, ‘Misaeng’, ‘Come! Jang Bo Ri’

  6. Honestly, I found this after reading your recaps for Empress Ki (thank you for those btw!) and although I always say I don’t watch that many kdramas, I have seen quite a few of these on the list haha. Personally though, besides Empress Ki (gosh this one messed with my emotions), I really enjoyed Secret Love Affair, just cause the leads had awesome chemistry and the plot is very un-kdrama like, it was risky and kind of dark, which I absolutely loved.

    Totally agree that Angel Eyes (and Empress Ki) have amazing soundtracks, so on point.

    But Ha Ji Won!!! She’s probably one of my favourite actresses, if not favourite. She had me hooked since Secret Garden!

    1. LOL I feel you regarding Empress Ki. That was a long ride but somehow I stayed until the end ^^; I really like Secret Love Affair’s music and maybe I should pick it up again soon!

      Ha Ji-won is a great actress ❤ I hope to see her in a sageuk again!

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