Top 10 K-drama recommendations of 2014
Happy New Year! What an incredible year for K-dramas here at DramaFever. If you're looking for some K-dramas to marathon while we wait for 2015 to deliver us more of our favorite addiction, here's a list of recommendations from our very own experts at the DramaFever Drama Club.
Wendilynn: This was an amazing show that dealt with people who have mental illness in a loving manner and with respect. The twists kept you guessing, and the love these characters had for each other made you excited to watch each episode. (Keep tissues handy.)
Aunnie: Great and original storyline is the first thing that comes to mind, and the sheer amount of surprises the story threw at you (ex. the end of episode 4), and the cast was amazing and the characters even more so.
Zombie Mamma: Easily the best drama of the year, as everything about it was well done. The casting, the characters, the writing, the story, the romance, the humor, the wit, the heartbreak — it was all there, and it was phenomenal. The prime example of a drama done right.
Unnichan: With one of the most raw and realistic performances of the year (Jo In Sung), this drama salves the bitter taste of mental health shows of K-dramas past by delving beyond the shallow and managing to cover and depict almost every aspect of lives touched by illness in way that felt fresh, genuine, and sincere.
Drama Debussie: A perfect example of when great writing, directing, and acting produces an overall satisfying experience. Very similar to the human dramas that Japan does so well where the lightest and heaviest of life experiences are explored effortlessly. This show will ruin you for whatever drama you watch next, but only in the grandest of ways.
Caroline: I truly enjoyed the cast. It felt like some of the most controversial issues were brought up in this show, but in the most elegant way possible. It’s definitely a drama to be reckoned with this year.
Hallyu Tanya: This drama was striking... Not only because of the way it was written, taking on many difficult topics including mental health, but it was also filmed with a more cinematic style which made the story seem more fluid. The ensemble cast was extremely dynamic without being over-the-top. Just perfection at its finest.
Only of Noonas Over Forks: A good-looking drama with great pacing, interesting characters, and a lead couple whose chemistry is off the charts. As frustrating as her character was, I particularly enjoyed Gong Hyo Jin as the contrary and selfish Ji Hae Soo. This drama has its flaws, particularly in how it played fast and loose with mental illness and psychiatry as a profession, but for a change it addressed both in a way that was neither stigmatizing, nor pedantic.
Powerz: Strange, strange drama, but I just had to keep watching because it was strange! Not in a spooky way, but in a peculiar way in that I had to find out what would happen to our leading man Jang Jae Yeol (Jo In Sung), whose life is spiraling out of control.
Wendilynn: Another well-told story. Lee Jong Suk's ability to have heart-stopping chemistry with his costars makes him a joy to watch no matter what he’s in.
Zombie Mamma: I’m completely engrossed in this drama at the moment; there’s just so much to love. The story of these two brothers is breaking my heart, and I’m dying to see how this one ends.
Jazmine: This drama progresses well without too many plot holes. It’s a wonderful and intriguing story that will have you coming back for more. Not to mention, Lee Jong Suk is in it.
JK of Noonas Over Forks: Park Shin Hye finally purses her lips to kiss Lee Jong Suk. It must be seen to be believed.
Unnichan: A great soundtrack, a mental standing ovation for a Park Shin Hye kiss, a Lee Jong Suk drama/performance I actually liked, and the most tragic but perfectly created and portrayed character of the year (Yoon Kyun Sang's Ki Jae Myung), coasts this heart-warming story straight to the top!
Caroline: Two things: Park Hye Ryun. Lee Jong Suk. Nuff Said. PS: Park Shin Hye doesn’t look like a goldfish while being kissed in this one; it’s like one level up right there!
Powerz: For once, our main leads, Choi Dal Po (Lee Jong Suk) and Choi In Ha (Park Shin Hye), look great together, and strangely, they have an uncle-niece relationship and a one-sided revengeful relationship as well. Park Shin Hye’s character is just too cute for revenge, and we get to see Lee Jong Suk’s character fight himself to be by her side.
Taleena: I loved the mystery of this. The supernatural element was not overwhelming to the story, but neither was it incidental. Yang Jin Sung did well with the dual roles, and Lee Hong Ki is just so likable, even playing the aloof guy.
Zombie Mamma: I absolutely loved this drama. I loved seeing Lee Hong Ki shine in a leading role, I loved the story and the characters, and I loved that here was a slightly creepy supernatural twist that kept things interesting.
Drama Debussie: All of the actors gave unexpectedly strong performances in a world that was very similar to any dark fairytale you may come across. There were so many chances for the story to topple over itself like Humpty Dumpty with no chance of ever being put back together again, but thanks to the strong writing, we were given a succinct treat that kept us engaged.
Caroline: I think this drama was mentally stimulating. I hardly understood what was going on in the very beginning, but it does come together. A slow starter, wonderful performances, and a simple happy ending, Plus Lee Hong Ki. As far as I’m concerned, that was one of his best dramas since You’re Beautiful.
Hallyu Tanya: This drama was a lot of fun for me. Not only was it fun to see this drama take on a bit of the supernatural without being overly done or corny, but we also got to see a strong story that was engaging. Lee Hong Ki really proved that he could do more than comedy with this role, and watching Yang Jin Sung grow through her dual roles in this drama was amazing.
Powerz: I always wondered if Lee Hong Ki could carry a drama as the main lead, but he handles a serious drama so well. Bravo to actress Yang Jin Sung, who plays dual roles as the lovable Na Doo Rim and the evil Jang Yi Kyung. Yang Jin Sung’s crying scene on top of a hill towards the end of the drama had me crying out out of control! The drama’s mysterious “bridal” curse kept the whole drama interesting.
Wendilynn: This chaste but quirky story is a longtime favorite. I felt the cast portrayed their characters with a lot of heart and sincerity. The music is excellent.
Taleena: I loved the music in this and how relationships affect art and vice versa. Joo Won is one of those actors who can do wonderful things if he gets the right director. I am happy to see how dynamic and compelling he is in this.
Aunnie: Originally I was invested in the drama for Joo Won (can you blame me?) but the rest of the cast helped in making the story fun and light even as it dealt with some serious situations. But really, the fun and frivolous is what kept me loving every episode.
Zombie Mamma: Any drama based on a manga is a good one in my book, but this one is one of the best. It’s sweet, funny, and has one of the most undeniably adorable second leads, but what really makes this one shine is the music. Wow! The music gave me chills, it was that good.
Hallyu Tanya: I’m a huge fan of the manga/anime that this drama was based on. I love that it stayed true to the source materials. The characters as quirky as they should be, the music as dynamic as it was meant to be, and that gave this drama a well-rounded feel.
Powerz: For a person who loved and watched the Japanese drama, Nodame Cantabile, numerous times, I had to see the Korean remake of this drama. For the most part, the story line seems to be spot-on with the Japanese drama.
Wendilynn: A solid story that shows the growth of two people who have to learn how to empathize with each other.
Jazmine: This drama made me fall in love with Song Ji Hyo. I loved the chemistry between the two main leads, and this drama takes an interesting spin on the whole love-hate relationship thing. The story is great too, and I found myself surprised quite often during this drama.
Aunnie: Definitely the cast. I liked the storyline more and more as it went on, but originally it was Jin Hyuk and Ji Hyo that had me pressing play for the first episode. They were great to see together as the show progressed, but it was mainly just those two that kept me watching.
JK of Noonas Over Forks: A medical drama about combative exes that did not have an excess of doctoring nor bickering. The small, inappropriate details made this series delightful: Chang Min’s post-elevator erection, Chang Min taking a shower while thinking of Cheon Soo, etc.
Unnichan: The first "exes redux" of the year became the best at its resolution and reunion and also goes down as the most fun to watch, with an ensemble cast that truly gave the story heart and meat, maturing its leads, creating a well-structured journey for all.
Drama Debussie: “You’re the sh&%%y car of my life!” Any show that features comebacks like that deserves to be watched.
Caroline: This is my favorite drama of the year. The chemistry, the bickering, and the obstacles they needed to face to finally understand one another brings you back to the normal human side of the K-drama world. No amnesia, no main character dying, but 5 stars for crazy mother-in-law. It’s simply a wonderfully lighthearted drama to enjoy.
Powerz: Why watch Emergency Couple? The cast was so much fun to watch. I suppose 2014 is a year of “break-ups become make-ups,” but this drama is one of the tops in that category. This drama is where adorable Baby Gook or Baby “Soup” (Kwon Joon Young) became famous.
Wendilynn: Once you get past that laugh, you discover a moving story about love. Watching Jang Hyuk play a man discovering aching, passionate love was a joy to watch.
Unnichan: Remakes are scary for everyone, but then comes one that doesn’t seek to reinvent or transcend its original, yet infuses it with warmth, romance, and laughter, making it even more enjoyable and much less painful than its source.
JK of Noonas Over Forks: The series started with a fast pace and a super entertaining yet complex male lead in Jang Hyuk’s Lee Gun. Sadly, it became bogged down by disease and noble idiocy, but Jang Na Ra's Mi Young improved considerably by the end.
Caroline: It’s nothing like the original Fated to Love You, and that alone makes it a great watch. If compared to the Taiwanese version, this is a lot more put together with small moments of spontaneity that keep you yearning for more. I do find that Lee Gun’s laugh provides a big chunk of the laugher experienced in this drama.
Wendilynn: A solid story about lawyers and twisted pasts. Choi Jin Hyuk is amazing, and the rest of the cast is solid.
Unnichan: What begins as your run-of-the-mill law procedural unfolds into a tangled political web, oozing with all the juicy tidbits we all know and love (coverups, murders, and money), where Choi Jin Hyuk shines in his last (3rd) and most passionate performance of the year, holding his own against powerhouses like Choi Min Soo and Son Chang Min....Talk about some great drama watching!
Caroline: I’m in love with this. I think this has been a great year for Choi Jin Hyuk. The intertwined stories of 3 very different prosecutors and a detective keep you on your toes as they unravel the secrets of each other’s pasts. If you loved Prosecutor Princess and would like to see something a little similar, yet slightly more serious, then this is the drama for you.
Aunnie: Absolutely loved this drama because of the chemistry between the two main actors despite the difficult challenge that was the storyline. I also liked it for its realism; they had struggles, and the ending was less than perfect, but real life isn't roses and perfume every day. I liked that aspect.
Unnichan: A drama based on one of the oldest practices of time that does nothing less than take your breath away, from its performances to its score and directing.
JK of Noonas Over Forks: Thanks to a satisfying finale, and amazingly entertaining secondary characters, Secret Love Affair overcomes mid-series frustration and cinematography the color of poo. Kim Hee Ae and Yoo Ah In create a lot of chemistry that easily trumps the notorious age gap.
Drama Debussie: With a labored pacing and sparse surprises, this may not be for everyone, although those that may appreciate the art of making a drama and all that it entails will love the thoughtfulness that is poured into every aspect of this series. Also, finally seeing Yoo Ah In in a role that complements his advanced sensibilities as an actor is an experience all on its own.
Unnichan: This drama is my personal Haeundae Lovers of 2014; it is a drama that doesn’t seek to take itself too seriously, with audaciously hilarious performances from its OTP (Joo Sang Wook and Han Ye Seul), which makes this a breezy worthwhile watch.
Hallyu Tanya: This drama may not be for everyone. It has a few mixed messages (inner beauty vs. outer beauty) along the way, but it is turning out to be a surprisingly inspiring story. I also greatly enjoyed the chemistry between Joo Sang Wook and Han Ye Seul.
Caroline: I’m convinced now that Joo Sang Wook should do nothing but romantic comedies. From Sly and Single Again to Birth of a Beauty, it feels like he’s the one carrying the whole drama with nothing but his wit and adorable looks. The storyline is not one of the stronger ones, but if watching something light is what you want, then this drama delivers through and through.
Jazmine: I was wary of this drama at first, but after watching the first episode, I was hooked. It’s a little confusing at first, but if you stick to it you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I’m never seen a drama quite like this one, so it’s very exciting.
Unnichan: Yoo Ji Tae was the draw for me, and even though it’s still early days, I am shocked at how wonderfully made this drama is, from the world it’s created through storytelling and visuals to being the best performance I’ve ever seen from (my personal "lost cause") Park Min Young.
Caroline: I had a small voice in my head nagging me to watch this when it first came out because of Ji Chang Wook. I’m glad I did because just the thought of an episode not airing because of a schedule change keeps me up at night. It’s super exciting with a storyline twist that keeps on twisting more and more with every episode. This drama seems a lot like Three Days to me, but with small specks of romance that make it a lot more soothing for the soul.
Which K-dramas of 2014 would you recommend to your friends?