Writing this post took WAY longer than expected, so I’m glad that it even got published at all!
I think I watched the most number of Korean Dramas in 2018 as compared to the past just because I am anticipating a total lack of time in 2019. It’s a pretty decent list I must say – and I will slowly linked up each drama with any posts I’ve written on it. If not, there’s a short description on how I felt for each drama!
(mild spoilers ahead mostly revolving around what I thought of the endings!)
Without further ado, let’s go! (this list is in order of release date/when I watched it, not in order of merit) (*? for possibly recommended shows, * for recommended, ** for recommended and my personal favourites!)
1. Misty: the premise was interesting and the acting superb, but the ending killed it for me – it was kinda wasteful, illogical and catered just to get the ideal ‘ending’ the drama was heading for. Surely there are better ways to get there? So nope sorry not my favourite drama.
2. Radio Romance: it was fun to watch, and is actually my first Yoon Doo Joon’s drama. To be honest, I’m neutral towards Kim So Hyun and often wondered why she has so many projects, but I quite like the way she carried through with her adult persona with such conviction, despite being 18 at the time of filming. Plot-wise, it is a soothing watch but nothing to rejoice about.
3. **Korean Odyssey: one of my faves of 2018 – although admittedly, a bit of my internal hype was killed by the ending (if you haven’t already gotten it, a well-crafted ending is important to me) which was a let-down considering the great potential the story’s materials had. Nonetheless, it was interesting to see a re-take on Journey to the West and having Sam Jang as a female. Lee Seung Gi was also the perfect Son Oh Gong in my opinion – with the perfect balance of cheekiness and boyishness. I really liked the front part of the drama where Oh Gong and Seon Mi tackle different devils created by the humans, and was also super drawn into the second part of the story but nah, the ending just fizzled it out. But anyway, still recommended! Check out some of my recaps: A Korean Odyssey Episode 7 Recap and A Korean Odyssey Episode 20 Recap
4. Jugglers: I thought it was cool to have a show centred around secretaries, because K-dramas haven’t quite in recent years touched on this topic (this was before What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim aired). I also thought the description term ‘Jugglers’ was apt. Didn’t quite like it though because it felt like Nam Chi Won’s trauma was forgotten in the middle to make way for the romance. Needless to say however, I couldn’t resist Lee Won Geun’s adorable face hurhur.
5. *? Something in the Rain: Paused at EP8 because I was too busy in real life and couldn’t risk getting sucked into the show. Haven’t picked it back up so I can’t give a well-justified review, but I LOVED the 8 episodes I watched. Here’s what I wrote: Something in the Rain Episode 5 and 6 Review, Something in The Rain Episode 7 and 8 Review!
6. *Eulachacha Waikiki: I liked this! It has been a while since there’s a K-drama that just goes so intentionally over the top so it was super refreshing to watch. Some things just came so out of nowhere that I couldn’t stop laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. Overall I totally enjoyed myself with this one, although they did drag the plot towards the end and some parts became utterly boring. Everyone did well, and for most of the actors/actresses who had more than 1 project listed here, this is my favourite of theirs.
7. *Mistress: I did not watch the original BBC version but this one was tightly paced throughout. For those who have not heard of this, it is a mix between thriller and mystery, with a tinge of romance thrown in. Just a tiny pinch. There were time leaps and flashbacks, but I’m generally good with those so it didn’t strike me as confusing. The title also really haunts you from the start till the end, so kudos to the scriptwriters for staying focused! I’m not sure why there wasn’t more hype over this when it was airing but really, I enjoyed it. Just 12 episodes too, so a much shorter watch than usual. And can I just say – Han Ga In is absolutely breathtaking ugh.
8. Switch: Change The World: I kinda lost track of Jang Geun Suk since his You’re Beautiful days and this was the first of his drama I finished since then. I thought it was a fun watch – given that it was about 4 conmen ready to tackle the world (read: prosecution). If you’re a fan of Jang Geun Suk, you should like this. Otherwise, it’s probably just something that you could watch only when you’re absolutely free and bored.
9. The Great Seducer: now, I had such high hopes going into this because Woo Do Hwan was so perfectly casted for this. I rarely call any actors hot, because I like more of an innocent, cute-guy vibe thing, but boy, Woo Do Hwan really lives up to the name of the ‘great seducer’. Joy (from Red Velvet) also looks so attractive. You could tell, however, that this show takes its label of ‘melodrama’ too seriously and honestly everything goes to bits towards the ending. Leads were making decisions without using their brains, things were smashing and breaking for no reason, and plot was derailing by itself. Probably only worth watching for front bit. If you want to be seduced by Woo Do Hwan.
10. Mystery Queen Season 2: I enjoyed this one, although I read that the first season is much better (didn’t watch the first season!). It had a much more Ms Marple feeling to it than Ms Ma’s Nemesis, so if you are looking for that type of jam, come here instead. Admittedly however, the plot isn’t quite so tight and many are hypothesising that this season is just a set-up for Season 3. Who knows? But wow I’ve not watched Kwon Sang Woo since…Stairway to Heaven HAHA.
11. A Poem A Day: a drama on medical staff other than doctors which I appreciate, so the bits showing us the work of physical therapists etc were my favourites. A rather chill watch and must be such an easy piece of acting for Lee Joon Hyuk honestly. The poems were a nice touch although a bit boring at times.
12. Sketch (2018): I know this ranks highly for some people, but honestly I couldn’t take it. Mind you, I hung on pretty far till at least Episode 9 but I hated how the crew had huge chunks of talking with no action and it still feels odd to me that the script unfolded that way. Just felt a bit too juvenile for me to see people talk extensively, run into a bit of action, then make slightly strange decisions. I do like the premise and Lee Sun Bin though.
13. Suits (2018): I felt like this show was meant to be a high-value production, given the cast and the vibe of the show. I didn’t watch the US version so I’m not sure how well it compares in condensing seasons of content into 16 episodes, but generally I felt like plot development wasn’t as smooth as it could be. Still an okay watch though! Read my review here: Suits 2018 (Korean) Episode 16 Review
14. *Prison Playbook: I confess – I haven’t finished this one just yet. There’s something strange about this drama in that I perfectly enjoyed each episode, but I don’t quite feel the urge to click through and go on to that next episode. Once I stop, I take a long time to get back on track. I must be around Episode 10 at this point though, and I reallyyy like the banter, friendships and camaraderie shown.
15. Lawless Lawyer: Also didn’t finish this one because life got busy. From the 8 episodes I’ve watched, the show was not bad. There were interesting characters and not-too-cliche moments. The leads were also such great visuals with good chemistry, but I think they lost me with the romance. It’s one of those that I don’t quite feel compelled/obligated to finish.
16: About Time: another baddd 2018 drama for me. I thought – here’s an interesting premise and here’s Lee Sung Kyung, what could go wrong? But I’ve come to realise that perhaps, I only liked her in Weightlifting Fairy and not anywhere else. First off, the plot was sooo draggy and fizzled out with one of the worst endings. Second, I had the show on fast-forward and kid you not, it was just the two leads crying over the same thing over and over again for a few episodes. I never thought I would have to watch old-school K-drama style again. You wouldn’t miss anything even if you skipped 2/3 episodes.
17. Secret Mother: technically not comparable but I still do like Mistress better than this one (both were released around the same time with same vibes). Also, was something lost in the translation? Because who IS the secret mother?? I did enjoy this show, especially when they were building up to the big reveal, but I thought it wasn’t as impressive as it could be nearing the end.
18. **Are You Human Too: Oh boy, I can’t say enough about this show. After Korean Odyssey, this was my next obsession (in chronology; in scale though, I’m not sure, this might take the win). I know some people just can’t get into it, but I guess obsessions also have to strike you at the right timing? For me, there wasn’t any show I was particularly interested in and I just picked this show out of boredom to start. I binge watched 6 episodes and was hooked at one go. But honestly, this show had some of the best cliffhangers I’ve watched in recent YEARS in terms of twist-value, while providing thought-provoking moments at the same time. Seo Kang Joon and Gong Seung Yoon really nailed their roles here; Seo Kang Joon’s dual role-playing remains one of my favourite performances out of all K-drama dual roles. Also wrote a super long verbal vomit on the finale: Are You Human Too Episode 35&36 Recap (Finale)
Still unsure whether you should watch it? Read my post 7 Reasons to Watch Are You Human Too!
19. **Life on Mars: I thought this was such a well-crafted and executed drama! I think it deserves a two-star rating, but I’m just not quite sure whether they had the time-loop/time-travel thing nailed down. Acting was top-notch, there was good chemistry between Jung Kyung Ho and Park Sung Woong, as well as Go Ah Sung. I also liked how they subtly touched on sexism in workplace, while developing the main plot. By deliberately making the answer of whether Tae Joo was in 2018 or in the past ambiguous, the show also keeps the viewers on their toes. The ending seems to gear the show for a Season 2, which I really hope they will carry through! I really wanted to write a finale review but had no time, so here’s my: Life on Mars (Korean) Episode 8 Recap and Life on Mars Episode 1 to 6 Review!
20. *? What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim: I really couldn’t get into this show after the mid-point towards the end, when it felt like they sacrificed actual plot for fan-service. As mentioned, I like it when shows portray leads in a realistic, physical relationship (e.g Something in the Rain) but not quite when the kisses take place in a rather contrived/dramatic manner i.e this show. The ‘sex’ scene was a nope for me (although they were both objectively pretty darn hot there). I actually got so bored with the last episode, I watched it in three tranches.
Sidekicks were rather one-dimensional, and didn’t help build a world. Only giving one-star because I actually did enjoy the plot of what happened to them when they were young. Also admittedly I am biased because this was on-going at the same time as Are You Human Too and I felt like that show deserved way more, or at least equal, attention as this one. You can read my What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim Episode 12 Recap which was the last episode I was still fairly sympathetic to the show.
21. *? My ID is Gangnam Beauty: the leads were cute and Cha Eun Woo has such a perfect face?? But this isn’t a drama which could showcase acting, other than Jo Woo Ri’s performance. Interesting premise touching on beauty standards in Korea, but at the same time, didn’t like some of the dialogue they had on skinny people. Worth watching nonetheless I guess if you are a sucker for campus dramas like I am. Here’s my finale recap: My ID is Gangnam Beauty Episode 16 (Finale) Recap
22. Lovely Horribly: There was some potential in the ideas but the execution was uncertain. The show didn’t really nail down the rules of the game (i.e the two leads’ fates and destinies) and sorry, Song Ji Hyo, I never thought this was possible but you looked so tired and not at all like a goddess as you usually are. The chemistry was a tad non-existent too.
23. *Witch’s Love: okay this is like one of those guilty pleasures you know you shouldn’t have but still enjoy. It was a little nonsensical but somehow I really enjoyed the whimsical nature of the story. I mean, who wouldn’t like some flourish of magic and a fairytale? Also, it’s only 12 episodes so it’s over in a jiffy. Just don’t take it too seriously.
24. *Life (2018): This show has a very strong cast, which is also one of the highlights. I enjoyed watching some of the power struggles and how in the end, most people are ‘gray’ rather than either being in the black or white camp. However, its biggest downfall is in constantly setting the story up for some pseudo-climax, but fizzles out into nothingness right after. Multiple times. Read my finale recap here: Life (2018) Episode 16 (Finale) Recap
25. *30 but 17/Still 17: the first show I could get into and hype about after Are You Human Too ended. The characters are SO DARN CUTE UGHH and it’s just nice to see how two characters who for various reasons are still stuck in the age of 17 slowly mature after meeting each other. My first drama of Shin Hye Sun, Yang Se Jong and Ahn Hyo Seop as leads/supporting leads and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Every character was so sweet and supportive and my favourite bit was the couple reuniting on bridge. My only gripe is Seo Ri’s backstory which I felt was poorly done. Here’s what I wrote on the drama! Thirty But Seventeen Episode 16 Recap (Finale) and Thirty but Seventeen Episode 15 Recap
26. *Let’s Eat series (in the order of what I watched): Let’s Eat 3 was my first of the series and I thoroughly LOVED the idea of a mukbang-like drama. I remembered being sick for a while and how watching this drama brought my appetite back in its full glory. Didn’t like the annoying sister at all and I wished they had brought the couple together in present life, but ugh anyway the couple in their university days are super cute.
Let’s Eat 1 was a totally different vibe – a lot more eccentric, and focusing on the leads in phases of life (jumping to Christmas, New Year etc), rather than going through a linear line of events. The noona romance is pretty cute but didn’t like Lee Soo Kyung at all for the first half of the show. Also, there is some inconsistency in Dae Young’s character – because Dae Young in his university days was more alike to Dae Young in LE3, as opposed to LE1. How on earth did Dae Young end up so quirky in LE1?
Let’s Eat 2 was a bit more similar to Let’s Eat 3 in that there is a singular chronology (for present life). I suppose in terms of the story that does not revolve around the food, I probably enjoyed this the most. I also quite like Dae Young’s character because I always appreciate a lead who is nice to everyone and not just his love interest.
In short, just watch if you like food. Let’s Eat 3 is a lot more dramatic and pompous (haha!), Let’s Eat 1 focuses more on daily, normal food.
27. Your House Helper: it’s an okay drama. One of those chill ones that you could watch when you have nothing better to do. I must say though, it did put me in a mood to clean and that’s quite a feat.
28. Let Me Introduce Her: super makjang which is kind of refreshing. The premise is also very interesting and I’m glad they actually found 2 different actresses to do it instead of trying to push through with -what do you mean they are the same person- kind of agenda. The only thing is that my interest completely waned when leads developed in a very stupid manner, working separately when sharing information would have made more sense.
29. Time (2018): gave it a try out of boredom. It’s interesting to watch Kim Jung Hyun and Seo Hyun in completely melodramatic roles. I get that the show is trying to talk about how reality works and how the world spins with money but I genuinely don’t understand half the decisions Min Seok makes in the drama. Dropped it mid-way but for anyone who is curious, I think Kim Jung Hyun as Soo Ho did appear until rather far back into the show.
[we now enter this miraculous phase between Sep/Oct to Nov where there was a flood of interesting dramas]
30. *100 Days My Prince: a cute show with interesting and hilarious banter between the leads and their sidekicks. I always knew Do Kyung Soo is a good actor and he doesn’t disappoint here. At the risk of offending fans, I can’t quite get into Nam Ji Hyun’s acting though – it’s good, but I find her persona too similar to that of Suspicious Partner, so I’m hoping I get to see something different soon. Don’t watch for the politicking because that’s definitely not the show’s strong suit. Covered it quite extensively, check out some of my posts: from 100 Days My Prince Episode 1 to 6 Review to 100 Days My Prince Episode 16 Recap (Finale)
31. *Beauty Inside (2018): so, so darn cute, everyone!!! The main couple is super sweet and I love how they bring ‘need each other’/’complete each other’ premise to another level (because they really do). Am also a huge fan of the second couple – Sa Ra and Eun Ho who sometimes melt my heart more than the main couple and brings some comic relief to the screen. The reason why it’s not ** is because for some reason, I lost grip with the show and didn’t feel the urge to catch up with it as quickly. But the acting is top-notch too so go watch it people.
32. **The Smile Has Left Your Eyes: very strong execution from the start till the end, with no slip-ups at all. The cast packs a solid punch and it’s just a beautifully-told story. However, I would say this is not for everyone. Even in the happiest moments, I felt some kind of gloom or dread overhanging. But if feeling happy/good is not your concern (hahaha), then go watch it NOW. Read some of my posts here: The Smile Has Left Your Eyes Episode 1 to 6 Review, The Smile Has Left Your Eyes Episode 10 Review
33: Where Stars Land: there was quite a bit of hype for this show but it didn’t really hit me because I haven’t been able to finish Chae Soo Bin’s recent dramas. I got started on it finally and really liked how the show focused on the airport crew working in the background, and how that could be tough work. I also appreciate that they chose a lead with disability, rather than supernatural powers. That being said, I didn’t finish the show because there was nothing particularly captivating about it – I generally don’t like love triangles, and the villain was getting too annoying to watch. Might still finish it one day! [note: have just started getting into sf9’s videos so I might honestly finish it just for Rowoon HAHA].
34: **The Guest: I loved how the show transformed big-screen horror execution into a drama. The visuals and cinematography often reminds me of actual well-shot horror movies and I’m really pleased about that. The cast is also really good, and the show capitalises on the tension generated by the acting to create intense, memorable scenes. My only gripes are that (1) the initial episodes didn’t quite explain the premise well and (2) the ultimate evil demon scares me more in the form of a possessed human than in its natural state which is such a pity because I was really hoping for something disturbing. Nonetheless, please give this a watch!! Even if you are scared of horror! The Guest Episode 1 – Episode 8 Review, The Guest Episode 9 Review
35. *? The Ghost Detective: another hyped drama which lost traction with me. Although it kinda makes sense later on, I didn’t quite like the way they gathered the crew in such a Scooby-Doo gang style because it didn’t feel like it was intentional. It just felt like they recruited A to fulfil a minor role, recruited B to fulfil another minor role etc and it made the crew unwieldy. Nonetheless, you could tell the cast really liked each other and that shines through in the way the crew works. They are cute, I give you that.
36. *Terius Behind Me: I loved almost everything about this show – how it’s about a spy but yet in such a comedic situation, how there are two adorable kids to lighten up the show, how the villain was hilarious from the start etc. But I really, really didn’t like Ae Rin for a good half of the show whenever she snoops around just out of her pure curiosity. I think the show lost some brownie points when it places Ae Rin/her kids in unsympathetic situations just to propel the plot further – like for e.g when the kids dirtied the handbag resulting in Ae Rin bringing it home. Oh but how can I forget the KIS? Such hilarious people.
37. Devilish Joy: I wondered, and am still wondering, which person had the guts to green-light this project haha! The premise was interesting and promised great things, but the show did not fulfil any of those promises. It just strings you along, till you realise you are in too deep to walk away. My honest opinion? Don’t watch it. It’s not worth your time unless you are a Choi Jin Hyuk’s fan, in which case, go ahead because the show leverages on this Greek god like no one’s business. It’s kinda hilarious how my views went from yay in Devilish Joy Episode 4 Recap to nay in Devilish Joy Episode 13 – 16 Finale Review
38. The Third Charm: I thought it was such a treat to be able to watch Seo Kang Joon again after Are You Human Too? and it was. His acting was just as good and he got to showcase different sides of himself, like an adorable drunk nerd. Dropped it after Episode 6 though because while the show is probably meant to be relatable, I couldn’t relate to it and I didn’t really want to watch a slice of life show revolving mainly around 2 characters only. Sorry, Seo Kang Joon.
39. The Player: Not quite sure why people thought this was good/fun because it just felt like another version of Switch to me. There was way too much fighting for me with the same choreography/fighting styles so I felt bored. I couldn’t really get into the schemes too and that might just be my personal thing. Might have been spoilt after watching so many good Japanese dramas on scams.
40. Ms Ma Nemesis: Started watching it for Agatha Christie and Ms Marple, of course, so the reason why I don’t quite favour this show is simply because it lacked that vibe I was looking for. I understand perfectly however that this is an adaptation and it probably wouldn’t do too well for ratings to have an old lady doing most of the solving from within her house. But I also did think that the show was a tad dramatic and the resolution with that back-plot made no sense to me. Here’s my review! Ms Ma Nemesis Review and the Books it’s based on
41. *Room 9: I like this!! And I’m not quite sure why it went under many people’s radar, but for me this is a good watch. The acting is great, the premise of the show makes sense; you just have to trust in the process. The reveal is confusing for sure, but I don’t quite see how they could have made it easier since that’s basically the premise. But anyway, feel free to drop me an email if you need me to clarify anything for you.
42. * Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter/Tale of Fairy: I like this eccentric, cute show but the sidekicks are sooo noisy I wish they were taken out. They also messed up the romance by having Ok Nam swing between the two male leads. I believe quite a few gave up on the show because of that. Close one eye though, and you would still enjoy the show I think. Mama Fairy and the Wood Cutter Episode 16 Review
[Here are the dramas which started in 2018 but ended in 2019]
43. *Encounter: am going to write a proper full-lengthed review for this (maybe), but I think this was just all-round a beautiful story, and it’s always such a treat to watch the leads. The show knows this and pulls lots of close-up shots so we can see Song Hye Kyo and Park Bo Gum’s performance. I also liked how this is essentially a typical Cinderella story turned on itself by flipping the male and female roles. I do know some find it boring though, so this is probably not for all. In the meantime, you can check out: Encounter Episode 8 Review
44: The Last Empress: have so many thoughts on this and hopefully a post will come soon (hmm), but essentially, this is one makjang that knows it’s nonsensical and owns it. I didn’t quite know whether the drama was intentional or just stupid, but I think (and I sure hope) the scriptwriters intentionally wrote those in for the laughs. Like how Jang Nara’s tears were so powerful, when they fell they broke her bracelet. Anyway, it was entertaining but rather unimpressed with how they dealt with Choi Jin Hyuk at the end, knowing that the royal couple was more well-received. I really hope Choi Jin Hyuk picks a better project for himself next time! As a ‘male lead’, his appearances were far too scant.
45. *Memories of the Alhambra: well, well. This was such a controversial drama eh? I think the ending only created such a stir because the front was SO so good. When the show is off to such a strong start, people inevitably expect more and hope the show will finish strong. Unfortunately, the show loses some sense of rationality and well-thought through rules. Also, if you are hoping Park Shin Hye will be anything other than a damsel in distress, I hope you will drop those hopes soon (haha). Wrote a fair bit on this from: Memories of the Alhambra Episode 1 to 4 Review all the way to Memories of the Alhambra Episode 16 Review (Finale)
46. **Sky Castle: I started on this way too late – after the show has finished its run (so technically a 2019 drama for me), but boy am I so glad I started on this at all. I genuinely think that the international community may have lesser hype on this show just because it doesn’t involve a love story but it’s definitely worth a watch. It talks about the education system in Korea and what lengths parents would go through just to put their children in the best schools. The acting from EVERYONE is top-notch and lovely to watch. The plot is gripping, even if it may be unrealistic (since it’s meant to be a satire), right till the very end. Also, I really like Chani/Chanhee after this hahaha (as you guys know, my weakness is nice guys/second leads) and it’s hilarious watching how the Korean community in general loves to imitate his Woojoo lines. Ugh, a fantastic watch.
PHEW. I initially wanted to write on the Chinese and Japanese dramas I’ve watched too but this post was getting way too long (and becoming outdated oops) so I cut it there. It took me close to 2.5 months just to finish everything and while it wasn’t as extensive as I wished it could be, I hope you guys liked the post anyway!
2018 was a great drama year for me, just because I got to know so many of you guys more, whether be it through writing over here or my twitter. It’s always such a joy to interact with readers/drama-lovers and while I don’t foresee this trend increasing in 2019 just because I’ve been so busy, I truly hope I will be able to spend good, quality time anyway.
2 months in – I’m still getting up to date with dramas, just that I no longer have the mental capacity to write about them (so I do mini-reviews on Twitter). I’ve also recently discovered sf9 (Sky Castle –> Chani –> sf9, in that order of discovery) and that’s a whole new world man since I’ve never been a kpop fan before. So…exciting times ahead! I hope you guys have had a great start to 2019, and stay happy!