Top 10 favorite Korean dramas of all time

*Inspired by Dramabeans

Because I’m productive with unnecessary things, like this list!

My only criteria is that a favorite drama of all time** should be rewatchable through the years, because what for is an excellent drama if you can’t get yourself to sit through it for another 16 hours?

  1. Sweet 18 – A sentimental favorite. This got me watching Korean dramas at a time when all I cared for were Taiwanese dramas and Rainie Yang.
  2. Coffee Prince – No sweeter romance has graced my screen yet than Han Kyul and Eun Chan’s. The drama that made Gong Yoo my ultimate actor bias and my #boyfriendgoal.
  3. Healer  I rewatch this drama every Christmas season, which means I’ve watched it at least 3 times already, but the action still gets me holding on to my seat, and the romance still knocks me off my feet.
  4. My Girlfriend is a Gumiho  Many fantasy romance dramas have come and gone, but none of them have captivated my heart as much as this drama did. I remember falling in love with it as soon as the first episode ended, because what’s not to love about Mi Ho yaaaaa? Hoi hoi!
  5. School 2013  Probably the best school drama in my book because a good drama doesn’t always have to have a romance at the center of it. Sometimes, just a good ol’ bromance will do 😉
  6. Arang and the Magistrate  My first love from the fantasy sageuk genre. Here, Shin Min-a does spunky heroine like it’s second nature, and Lee Jun-ki shows he’s not just a pretty boy but an amazing actor as well. All their scenes together had me glued to my screen.
  7. Marriage Not Dating  This drama hits all my romantic comedy sweet spots: the OTP’s palpable chemistry, the witty banter, the honest conversations, and the fast-paced storytelling. It’s laugh-out-loud funny, but heartwrenching at the same time.
  8. I Hear Your Voice  Intense from beginning to end, with a villain who actually felt life-threatening, and a strong heroine who kept pushing the limits even when much was at stake. Lee Jong-suk is just a bonus, but what an amazing noona-romance bonus.
  9. It’s Okay It’s Love – You know you’re old(er) when you like your adult romance sexy but also unsexy, real, messy, and all over the place. Because it’s only true love when a relationship survives even after all that. 
  10. Wonderful Life  An old favorite, this show brings nothing new to the table, but its strength is in its amazing dialogue and an even more amazing chemistry of leads Eugene and Kim Jaewon. This drama is all about unrequited love (I actually learned the term in the drama) and how one can find family amid the most unusual circumstances.

**As of February 11, 2017

BONUS: My top 10 favorite Taiwanese dramas of all time! I’ll try to write a separate post about this list soon:

  1. Why Why Love
  2. Devil Beside You
  3. In Time With You
  4. In A Good Way
  5. MARS
  6. Life Plan A & B
  7. ToGetHer
  8. Hi My Sweetheart
  9. Autumn’s Concerto
  10. They Kiss Again

That December

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I don’t know what was in the air (or maybe it was the effect of the Korea trip?) but I was just incredibly happy last December, and here are some of the photos to show that.

“But [Jee], [she] smiles 100%. [She] leaves [her] bullets behind and always smiles with 100% of [her] heart.”

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My Top 10 Dramas of 2016

I’m a big fan of the website Dramabeans, and I always anticipate its annual Year in Review. For 2016, the website’s writers crowned Signal as the winner in 3 major categories: Best Drama, Best Directing, and Best Writing. 

That sure piqued my interest for the drama, but I’ve decided to watch Signal only after I finish Lee Je-hoon’s upcoming drama with Shin Mina, Tomorrow With You.

Back to Dramabeans’ Year in Review: I realized that I watch more and more dramas every year; I finished 33 dramas in 2016, 25 of which are full-length ones (meaning, dramas that are 16- to 24-episode long).

And since I watch too many dramas, I thought, why not start naming the top 10 dramas of each year? And what better year to start it than with 2016, which gave us some of the better dramas in recent years.

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New beginnings

It was a mess back home a few hours before 2016 ended. Emotions ran high, crying ensued, and I kept saying in between sobs: “Are we really going to end 2016 this way?”

It could’ve ended that way. Each of us could’ve retreated to our own rooms, sulking and murmuring as the rest of the world celebrated the end of 2016 and the start of 2017. Our New Year’s Eve dinner could’ve gone cold, and we could’ve just slept the night away.

But it didn’t end that way. After everything was said and done, we found ourselves in our living room with our eyes shut and our hands clasped together, praying for the Lord to heal every hurt in our hearts and to use our family even more in 2017.

Suddenly, there was peace. And love, which has been there all along.

It was there when we tried to listen to each other, even though it’s always easier to walk away. It was there when we kept reminding each other that love “keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5), even though it’s always easier to find fault and to pass blame.

We could’ve hated each other’s guts; instead, we chose to love.

And that spelled the difference.

I praise God for new beginnings, and the many chances we’re given to try again.

Maybe we weren’t exactly the nicest person in 2016, and maybe we were mediocre in every aspect of our lives.

Maybe we could’ve done better, but didn’t, for fear of failure or rejection or change.

But you see, His mercies are new every morning. Every morning. Ponder on that. Let that sink in. Realize that only a good, good Father could be so gracious as to grant us the gift of new beginnings.

In Him, we can start over again, and this time, with more love to get us through messy fights and ugly crying.

My heart is full, because with Him in me, I can be sure of this: 2017 is going to be my year.

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Photo c/o Allan Lazaro

 

When it no longer fits

I’ve done this a dozen of times for the past 3 years: go to school, line up – check in one hand, pen in another – burn thousands of hard-earned cash on education I was made to believe will be my saving grace in the quote-unquote real world.

But today is different. Today, making sure I get to attend classes for my last year in university is not top priority. 

Today, I have to see you. I need to see you.

I’m wearing my best clothes – new, in fact, with the smell of apparel that was washed once and only once. Checkered long sleeves – “Why did I wear this it’s summer for goodness sake” – and pants that fit to a tee. You’d laugh if you’ve seen the sweat in my forehead. You’d pull out a handkerchief – you know I don’t bring one around – and wipe it off, and a familiar smell would linger in the air – that smell of you I’ve grown accustomed to.

“Are you coming?” I ask in a text message. It took me longer than expected to come up with that 3-word question, but I had many other versions before that:

“I miss you. Am I seeing you today?”

“How are you? Do you want to eat lunch after enrollment?”

“What classes are you taking? Can we take the same classes again?”

I know I shouldn’t ask these questions anymore, so I didn’t. We’re no longer together, or whatever that set-up’s called. An item? Exclusively dating? A fling? 

I don’t know what it’s called, but what you and I had, it made sense. It felt right. It meant the world to me.

But it didn’t last long.

“Sorry, I’m not going there today,” you reply. It’s a common response to a common question, but every word felt heavy, laden with too much history, too many meanings.

I’m sorry, I won’t go out of my way anymore to see you. I’m sorry, we’re just friends now. I’m sorry, I don’t have time.

I’m sorry, I don’t have time for you. I won’t make time for you.

The checkered long sleeves still sits in my closet, a survivor of my household’s yearly purge of clothes that are old, tattered, and beyond redemption.

I wore it the other day, to check if all those days of running at midnight paid off. Left arm in, right arm next, my reflection in the full-length mirror showing a face hopeful that numbers on the weighing scale have become more forgiving this time.

I’ve buttoned it up, and it looks okay. I can go out wearing this, I told myself. It would be a bit harder to breathe, sure, and eating too much is not an option.

But something didn’t make sense. Something didn’t feel right. 

So I took it off, and didn’t bother folding it anymore. This goes with next year’s purge, I made a mental note, as I dumped it back in my closet and out of my sight.

I could use another checkered long sleeves – another mental note. I’ve outgrown this.

I’ve outgrown you.