Rating: Fanatic (4)
Synopsis: Ultra wealthy suburban Seoul families live in a gated type community and the bickering and competitive nature of the parents as they use their children as trophies to show off their abilities gets heated up when one of the families brings in a coordinator to ensure enrollment at a prestigious university in Korea. Tragedy strikes and the families try to figure out how to navigate their lives half believing that pushing their kids to be A+ students is the ONLY way to operate vs. being humans with actual feelings with differing dreams and capabilities. The drama delves into each family very well, so you really get a sense of the dynamics in wealthy families.
What I have to say: This one had a huge ratings in Korea so I had to see what the fuss is about. I highly recommend it and believe the "extreme" side of this is of course very dramatic, but it does serve as a warning to modern day South Korea in it's limitations as a society when it comes to the belief that kids only have a chance at happiness if they get into prestigious universities and jobs as adults. Every episode was amazing for this drama. Highly recommend. The comparison that it's like Desperate Housewives feels very off to me. It's in an entirely different cultural context from my perspective, so I would not go into it with that in mind.
Addictive Rating: 3
Synopsis: This drama explores the corruption among prosecutors and the police force in Korea. A serial murder case opens up the possibility for prosecutor Hwang Shi-Mok and detective Han Yeo-Jin to further investigate what led to the first murder and the terrifying actions of the culprit from there on forward.
What I have to say: This drama did what I now insist dramas do, and that is to suck me right into the world that these characters inhabit and only allow me to turn away when sleep, parenthood and work is required. My husband and I sped through this 16 episode series in just over a week, so it was certainly a good one. It's found on Netflix as "Stranger" but actual translation is Secret Forest. It kept me guessing and I did not find it easy to predict who was guilty of doing what. In that way, it would be one to watch again, simply to see if I notice any more clues now that I know who did it. However, there are so many more dramas to watch that I probably won't. But, I recommend watching this one if you like suspense and a "who done it" kind of genre.
Addictive Rating: 3
Synopsis: Burdened with the "gift" of having dreams in her sleep that then turn into reality, Nam Hong-Joo, a news journalist, has her life drastically changed when Prosecutor Jung Jae-Chan has a dream of his own while sleeping that makes him want to change reality, too. Both are able to have dreams that predict the future, and often times it's mutually beneficial to line up their dreams' details to help prevent tragedy. Their friend Han Woo Tak who is a police officer in Seoul also gets involved and has this ability.
What I have to say: This was a mostly fast-paced drama that brings in terrible scenarios, but uses the psychic abilities of these 3 to help solve and prevent things from getting worse. Both Hong-Joo and Jae-Chan have tragic histories with the death of their fathers that provide melancholy for the plot, making you want them to really bond and heal together as they move forward in life. I enjoyed the sweet moments between all the characters, the crime-scene drama, the slightly thriller aspect to this, and the good acting and writing that made this very, very watch-able and binge-able!
I'm over half-way finished with this one. I'm invested enough to finish it and see how they decide to end this train wreck, but I admit that so far, it won't be getting a 4/4. Maybe a 2 or 3 at this point. What I like is that it's different, a little sci-fi and there are minor plot shifts that keep you guessing. Like that grandfather/CEO! He is full of tricks!
Addictive Rating: 3/4 Bibimbap
Synopsis: This drama is the 3rd of 3 "Let's Eat" dramas. The main character Gu Dae Young remains consistent in all 3, but each one unravels different times in in his life. Though this is the 3rd one, this one toggles between 2018 and his college years, so many flashbacks of equal value to his present life. In both then and now, he is neighbors with Lee Ji Woo, a charming foodie. He claims Ji Woo is the person who first influenced him to see eating in an informed light and turning a simple meal into a masterpiece. His college friends are entertaining and funny with their awkward behavior around women, and present-day Ji Woo is still charming, though more tired and less innocent in her approach to life. She has a mother with severe dementia, an estranged relationship with her step sister, and a busy job as a nurse. It's easy to root for her, and for the possible romance to FINALLY blossom between her and Gu Dae Young.
What I have to say: The main actor was suddenly drafted to serve in Korea's army, and this drama was reduced from 16 to 14 episodes. That is the only reason I gave this a 3/4 instead of a 4/4. Truthfully, all 14 episodes were spectacular and held my attention very well. I couldn't wait to watch another episode. However, the sudden ending was unfortunate. Let's hope they make a Let's Eat 4 to make up for the sudden ending! Maybe it'll be of Dae Young and Ji Woo married in the future running an amazing food business?
Addictive Rating: 4/4 (Fanatic!)
Synopsis: This is a time travel with alternate universe plot. A man is miserable in his marriage as his wife grows increasingly more angry and less pleasant to be around. Instead of examining what he could do differently as a husband, he takes the "easy way" out and decides to use a special opportunity to go back in time via a mysterious toll booth. He changes a pivotal day from his past, and bam - he wakes up in 2018 next to his college crush, an attractive, wealthy and high maintenance wife. Over time, we see him in this alternate universe marriage and while at first, it seems wonderful, of course it turns out to be full of challenges as well - just different challenges. Meanwhile, his actual wife from his real life, the one he originally lived comes into his life again - only this time she's not nearly as angry. They are colleagues at a bank and he finds himself doing things for her because it's obvious he still loves her. The story continues to unravel from there...
What I have to say: This is a somewhat formulaic "go back in time" fantasy drama. It's not realistic, but that's why I watch dramas. To imagine what can't actually happen in my life. I would be lying if I told you I never once considered altering my own past to possibly have a "better" life now. I loved that in altering his future, he was basically more miserable with the college crush wife. It goes to show that the grass is never greener on the other side, and that often in life, what seems better only seems better because we don't know enough to recognize what really is. The acting was awesome, and the writing kept the plot moving along at the speed I like - which is not killing the drama with useless scenes. While this is a fantasy-based drama, the story line was otherwise very realistic and relatable for anyone who has experienced challenged marriages in their lifetime. Unlike many dramas that end with the happy ending, this one also went on for 2 episodes to show more of what that "happy ending" really means.
I got sucked into a drama called "Familiar Wife" which is similar to "Confession Couple" in that a person goes back in time and changes the course of their life. In Familiar Wife, going back in time results in a different path and different wife for the main character. I am an easy target for alternate universe "what ifs" and time travel dramas, so this one, which is rounded out with romantic sentiments is right up my alley. I am speeding through the episodes, both of which are on DramaFever and Viki. There are supposed to be 16 episodes total. 14 are uploaded onto DramaFever right now. I'm on episode 11, and if work, parenting and sleep didn't get in the way, I would have marathoned it!
I am almost finished with Let's Eat 1. I did complete Let's Eat 3; will review it soon. I don't like Let's Eat 1 as much as Let's Eat 3. However, the ending is actually more engaging and endearing than the beginning, so I'm glad I stuck it out so far. I will probably end up recommending it but likely it won't get a high rating because some episodes felt contrived. All food scenes though, as expected - are AMAZING.
Addictive Rating: 4/4 (Fanatic!)
Synopsis: Two strangers end up living together due to their friends assuming that the other was the opposite gender. This leads to a contract marriage for convenience, followed by actual feelings. Supporting characters strongly round out the plot in a way that makes the viewer care about all 6 of the main characters and their relationships.
What I have to say: This is one of those dramas that I watched so quickly, that I marathoned it in less than a week.
At first, I wasn't so sure I'd stick with it based off of just the first episode, but the hilarity involving Ji Ho and SeHee's first encounter followed by life-changing events hooked me in. It starts off as innocent and cute in the first 2 episodes and then pulls even a middle-aged woman like me in very hard by being sentimental, thoughtful and way too sweet and emotional in that WONDERFUL WAY that Korean dramas do their thing. I loved the stoic SeHee and his scientific way of handling the world and it's emotional challenges and to then learn more about what's underneath all of that - because with humans, there is always something underneath that lingers and holds us while we go about our "normal lives." JiHo and her dearest friends made for an excellent cast, with subplots that were meaningful rather than useless. I truly cared about both of her friends and their relationships. SooJi was this tough friend that finally let go and found her real self and I loved the vulnerability she examines. Finally, the 7 year itch couple with differing thoughts on marriage rounded out a fantastic drama. I appreciated The Graduate references and the final scene on the bus. So cute. Amazing writing and an inspiring view on marriage in these modern times when marriage can seem like a ridiculous journey to go upon given the divorce rates and unsatisfied couples. I highly recommend this drama as a rom-com that has depth and heart.
I haven't seen Let's Eat 1 or 2, but it doesn't seem to matter. Let's Eat 3 is easy to jump into, and now watching the first two seasons will be fun. I resisted this because watching all the Korean food shots is actually agonizing. Everything looks so good. Ahhhhhhhhhh! I like the mix between the plot and the food. They weave back and forth between the fabulous eating scenes with the characters with ease. I hate the tall and skinny freeloading sister and am obviously routing for the nurse step-sister. I'm about to start episode 4 of this season and am excited to see how the character's lives intertwine! Good show and now I'm craving Pyongyang noodles.
Addictive Rating: 2
Synopsis: A woman in her late 30s observes and eventually writes about her mom, and most of her mom's friends. Her mom's friends have known each other since their youth and there are some flashbacks lightly woven into the storytelling. The older characters take center stage for most of the drama with a focus on what they contend with as Korea's elderly.
What I have to say: Most dramas that garner attention focus on Korea's youth so I wanted to try something different. The relationships between the friends was heartwarming. I most appreciated the direct and honest communication between these lifelong friends. Their ability to love each other with such intensity was wonderful to watch. Some of the scenes between Wan and her boyfriend in Slovenia were kind of strange and didn't seem to capture the plot's focus but I guess they felt they had to add some young and attractive characters? I did overall appreciate this drama and am glad I watched it. It gave me some insight into Korean culture in terms of family loyalty, ageism, and how many of the elderly in Korea that are alive and living independently face unique challenges in a country that has drastically changed in a short amount of time.
Addictive Rating: 3
Synopsis: Young adults struggling to to make end's meat in a dog-eat-dog world with fierce competition for good jobs take a chance on joining the police force in Korea, which requires a few years of intense studying, passing an exam and then a rigorous training program at Korea's police academy. Once they actually get through this and are stationed somewhere, the real emotional and labor-intensive work begins. Their stories, intertwined with more experienced cops and true veterans to the field captivates the audience. The writer for this script spent a long time gathering research by interviewing many people in this profession, so one would assume it is capturing some degree of reality for what it takes to do this kind of work. While crime scenes draw a lot of action and suspense, the writing weaves in character-building of each person and makes you care for them.
What I have to say: I didn't expect to like this one as much as I did. The strong writing draws you in and makes you care about the characters immediately. I appreciate dramas with attention to small details, and this one made sure to stay faithful to the little details along the way, tying seemingly insignificant moments into something bigger. I liked a lot of the cast for this drama which is partially why it was a great drama to watch. I was disappointed when it was over because I wanted more! That's always a good sign of a well-done drama. That, and each episode moved along really well and was not boring or slow - ever.
This 18 episode drama sucked me in like a page-turning novel and within less than a week I'm about half way through! It not only packs in a lot of suspense and action about the gritty, dark side of Korea (think domestic abuse, prostitution rings, extreme bullying, mentally ill parents, excessive and extreme belligerent behavior while consuming alcohol and corruption) but it also pulls on the heart strings as the focus is on the actual lives of the people who work as police. This poster I'm using here does not elude the actual feeling of the drama. This poster makes it look somewhat comedic, for which I'd say overall, this drama is not. It's sentimental and sweet at times, but mostly full of scenes about the tough lives these police officers experience. I'll definitely be speeding my way to the end of this drama. I'm full-on addicted. Someone bring me a donut.
Addictive Rating: 4
Synopsis: A young female employee that serves as a temp employee at a big company has her life entangled with the manager at her company in riveting ways. The manager is played by one of my favorite actors Lee Sun Kyun and as always, he's wonderful to watch (and hear...I love his voice) as a struggling 40-something guy that comes from a "blue collar" area of Seoul. His neighborhood buddies that include his two brothers are loyal to each other in a way that most of us can only dream of. Because the two main characters live near each other, they are involved in each other's lives in meaningful ways and at an unexpected rate. There is no romantic shared feelings here, despite what the title may have you thinking.
What I have to say: Dark, moody, and a well-done set to illustrate the evening feel after Seoulites finish a long day at work. Loneliness, marital affairs, corporate politics, past traumas, aging family members, and family loyalty are all held together here with dialogue unlike what I've seen in a Korean drama before. I couldn't stop watching this extraordinary drama.
Addictive Rating: 4
Synopsis: A substitute teacher is triggered by her own suppressed memories when she was abused. She decides to take a child who is clearly being abused away from her awful home and try to go as far away as possible. In the process, she meets many challenges in escaping. Detectives are hot on her trails. She ends up meeting her biological mother that left her at an orphanage when she was 6 years old. We learn more about her upbringing with the woman who adopts her at age 8. We learn about her two younger sisters. We are challenged to think about the love between a well-meaning mother in a desperate situation and her adult daughter who has emotional scars as a result of being abandoned. We are challenged to think about the love between a well-meaning mother who adopted a child and tried to give her a good life. We are challenged to think about the love between a well-meaning teacher who wants to become the mother to a child that is now being abused and feels unloved.
What I have to say: As an adoptee, this show is triggering because there are the complexities in this drama about biological family, adoptive family and wanting to make a difference for the next generation. As just a drama in and of itself, this story is well-told and moves along at a good speed. It is sad and sometimes dark with the flashbacks that are slowly revealed about Soo Jin's biological mother. It makes you angry that child abuse exists. The child actress Heo Yool that plays Hye Na/Yoon Bok is amazing - and in my opinion, is what made this show so incredibly good.
Trigger alert. This one, also like My Mister that I'm watching is dark, sad, and emotional. I saw it in my recommended queue but resisted knowing it could be triggering. Because I am an easy target for dramas that are like novel page-turners, this one has completely sucked me in, despite it being triggering. The first like 20 minutes of episode one had me skeptical, but if you get through that, it starts to pick up fast from there on. And whoa...I have a feeling I'm in for an emotional ride as I continue to watch this. By the end of episode 2 I was not a fan of "the teacher" taking the child away from her abusers even though I didn't want the child to stay with her abusers either. I did not feel, in that moment that the teacher was doing the right thing. But, it's a drama and because of that I am definitely going to keep watching. It's clear that the teacher also has a history of being abused and separated from her mother, so we'll see how their stories intertwine. I just hope that the little girl feels safe and truly loved before it's too late.
Addictive Rating: 3
Synopsis: 5 young women living together (presumably near Yonsei University in Seoul) have big life lessons and we witness it. There is one episode about 2/3 of the way through that is fairly violent and not pleasant to watch. Other than that, lots of clever and feel-good moments, plus many deep and sad moments too as these young women experience a variety of things that are easy to relate to.
What I have to say: This season incorporates male characters more. It also brings up the sad reality of how so many girls and women are victims of sexual assault. It brings in themes on PTSD, heartaches after a break up, family dynamics, and finding your own voice in your early 20s. I really hope they do a season 3!
Addictive Rating: 3
Synopsis: High schoolers in Seoul attend a corrupt school where the leadership at the school seriously sucks. They are offered financial gains by the rich parents which elevates the rich kids but the rest of the kids are completely and unfairly disadvantaged. The main character is a student that doesn't perform well on tests but is an amazing artist and loves drawing webtoons. She is unfairly accused of doing something wrong and the rest of the story unfolds from there.
What I have to say: I enjoyed the drama quite a bit. It was perfect for watching while walking on the treadmill. I recommend it if you want an easy watch with some level of drama, but nothing over the top.
Ahhhh! Finally! Netflix USA picked up Age of Youth Season 2. My two addictions that I watch with my husband (My Mister and Heart Signal Season 2) are on hold until new episodes come out on Drama Fever, so out of frustration I decided to look and see what is new on Netflix and to my surprise, Age of Youth Season 2 popped up! I watched the first season on Netflix and when I found out another season would be made, I couldn't wait to see it. But then, Drama Fever didn't have it and I couldn't seem to find it anywhere. So, I waited. And waited. It aired last August - October so after a while I just gave up. And almost forgot about it, until Netflix DID ME RIGHT! Better late than never, as they say.
I sped through 2 episodes already and just like last season, it's quirky goodness. The first episode is pretty much hilarious, especially the coffee drink being passed from one roommate to the next! Watch for it! I'm hopeful it will be just as pleasant of a watch as Season 1. Can't wait to keep speeding through this one between watching brand new episodes of the dramas listed in posts below. As a #7 on the Enneagram, having a strong line-up of K dramas to pick from is exactly what the doctor ordered for someone dealing with significant snow fall on April 3. This is cheaper than retail therapy and healthier than overeating, right!?
Ahhhh! Why did I have to give this one a try? It's still airing in Korea so I can't marathon it as needed. I have to basically watch 2 episodes then wait a whole week. I thought about trying to put this one out of my mind until the entire series has been uploaded to Drama Fever so I can just watch it as I need to, but I also don't have the patience for that because I WANT TO KNOW WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN.
This is a dark drama. Non formulaic. Corporate politics and corruption. Loan sharks being abusive to anyone in their way. Marital affairs. Mistreatment of the elderly. Sibling loyalty. Parental disappointments. Despite this being anything but unicorns and rainbows, it really keeps you coming back for more because of the thick plot and riveting moments. I've seen 4 episodes to date and am definitely addicted.
So, this isn't a drama. It's a reality show where 6-8 people live in a gorgeous house in a fancy area of Seoul, and they look for romance. All of the people are young and gorgeous and from what we know so far, are heterosexual professionals from middle or upper class backgrounds. I watched Season 1 and found it quite addictive, so I assume I will feel the same about Season 2. In some ways it's like MTV's Real World in that it's young people all living in a house together, but being Korean and with the sole purpose to see if these singles can find romance, they are far less dramatic than The Real World.
There is a panel of people who watch the housemates evolve in their friendships and romantic feelings that try to guess who will choose who on any given day. The housemates usually have to text someone anonymously at the end of the day. Making the prediction is often easy, but sometimes tricky and even surprising. It's a bit terrible in that you feel like you're studying these people's every move, and psychologists are pulled in to analyze things from a very human instinctual and evolution perspective. Terrible, but oh so fun to watch!
I'm about 4 episodes into this one. I enjoyed School 2015 quite a bit, so I expected to enjoy School 2017, too. Similar to the Answer Me series, the School series has a similar feel to them but with a different plot and characters.
At (almost) age 40, one would think I would not find much entertainment in watching Korean high schoolers, but...I do. (Flashes a smile) The drama and storytelling is done well, so quite frankly, age doesn't matter!
So far I am not disappointed in this show at all. Each episode so far reveals a bit more of a back story for each character, giving it more depth than you might expect at first glance.
I'm sure I'll finish this one up fairly soon and will report back if it's worth my recommendation!
Addictive Rating: 4
Synopsis: A couple that met in college in 1999 are miserable in 2017. They got married young and were definitely in love then, but life and a lack of communication plus the challenges of having a baby have made them unhappy. They wake up in 1999 again but with the knowledge of their lives as 38 year olds and marvel at being young again. They begin to realize as the drama goes on that they really do love each other and they start to reconcile their mistakes as a couple. The death of one of their parents also plays a strong, emotional pull in this drama.
What I have to say: As a married woman myself, with a young son, and having had a mother who has already passed away, I can admit it was kind of "close-to-home" due to the familial relationships. I could feel for the main female role in this drama, even though I met my husband well after college. I felt they kept the story moving along really well and I loved seeing the way they handled the past with the new past and the present day reality. It was also just very charming, sweet, and funny at just the right times when you're ready to bawl your eyes out. Anyone who likes a good romantic comedy with time travel will enjoy this drama!
I started 더 패키지 because I like Lee Yeon-Hee and Jong Yong-Hwa. I first saw Lee Yeon-Hee in Miss Korea and liked her and first saw Jong Yong-Hwa in Future Choice and liked him, plus he's in CNBLUE. So, despite knowing this drama takes place in Paris, (I admit I like watching K-dramas because the setting is usually in Korea) I thought I'd give it a try.
It looks to have some element of thrill, because the first episode eludes to the fact that a dangerous and angry man is trying to find Yeon-Hee's character named Yoon So-So, who plays a tour guide for package vacations to Paris for Korean natives. The supporting characters are other people on this package tour. An older couple where the wife is kind and embarrassed of her disgruntled husband. She also looks like she may have some health condition that is probably fatal, given Korean drama storylines. Another couple is younger but they bicker like an old couple. Then there's Yong-Hwa's character. He's traveling solo but has flashbacks of a girlfriend who he appears to no longer be with, but must be grieving the end of their relationship. And finally, there's the couple that's having an affair.
From what I can see, they filmed a good amount of the drama in Paris which is impressive. I love how the first episode has a scene of the main characters in a gritty sex shop in the red light district. Pretty funny. Let's see how this one progresses. It's clear the main characters are likely going to fall for each other as they are both single but sad...but hopefully the trip along the way is entertaining, with good storytelling and not TOO predictable.
This week, I got back on Drama Fever after not renewing my year-long premium status back in June (after finishing Circle). Summers in Minnesota are too short to be stuck at home watching K-dramas but winters are too long here to NOT have a thick library of k-dramas to choose from. I found that over the summer, I would try to find K-dramas on Netflix anyway, and never felt satisfied with their selection.
Anyway, I came across Confession Couple or "Go Back Couple" on Drama Fever and was sucked in immediately. I'm about to start episode 3 this evening and whether this makes a loser or not, I'm so excited. For this nerd, there's not a lot that gives me more of a cozy winter feeling than hanging out with my hubby, drinking Korean citron tea (with a splash of apple cider vinegar for good measure), and watching a K-drama we're addicted to.
As long as this drama stays at the pace and storytelling abilities found in the first two episodes, I have a feeling it'll be one of my favorites.
Addictive Rating: 4
Synopsis: Story is set in 2017 and the year 2037. An alien comes to Earth. The alien believes human's emotions should be erased and tampered with or they will have no happiness in their future. Two brothers who get entangled with the alien due to their father's science background are the main characters.
What I have to say: This is definitely a sci-fi drama. And I loved every second of it because the story was well-told. It had suspense and action, but not over the top with either. The contrast between the sterile, "perfect" world vs. the left-behind and abandoned world was well done.
See the complete list of dramas I've reviewed here.
Soju (1) | It had me coming back for more, but left me with a hangover. Worth it in the moment, but slight regret the next day.
Kimbap (2) | It moved well and often left me wondering what would happen in the next episode, but it wasn't as fulfilling as it had the potential to be.
Bibimbap (3) | I lost a lot of sleep because they knew how to end each episode with a cliffhanger! Lots of harmonious ingredients making this one a win!
Fanatic (4) | An amazing drama that was very well told and nearly every single episode ended with a major cliffhanger making you scream for more! I'm an absolute fan!
(I only put on here the dramas I actually recommend because I think it's really good. Even a soju rating means it was good and satisfying. A fanatic rating just means it blew me away and was near perfection. There are many dramas I've seen that I don't have on my recommendation list.)
Follow my blog on Korean Dramas!