A few months ago, I wrote an article called Meet the Reviewers of MDL in which I interviewed 8 MDL reviewers. It was so fun to read everyone's answers, and I'm glad that the article received so much love! I can't thank you enough, honestly.
And because I promised to write the second part of it, here I am, interviewing 8 more amazing reviewers! I changed the questions a bit, and I hope you all enjoy reading the article. I, once again, hope you'll be inspired by the reviewers and decide to write a review on your own!
THE REVIEWERS INTERVIEWED FOR THIS ARTICLE
Q1: Introduce yourself – what kind of person are you, what are your interests/hobbies, how did you discover Asian dramas/movies, etc.
XingBack Hey~ My name is XingBack (it's pronounced as "Shing Back" not zingback). Well, I used to love reading and drawing, but then dramas took all my time. It's a funny story, but there was a Japanese manga I used to love called ''Skip Beat'', and after I finished both the manga and the anime, I tried my first live-action, the Taiwanese adaption of Skip Beat. Afterwards, I fell in love with the Korean actors Siwon and Donghae's representation of the characters, so I tried another of Siwon's dramas Oh My Lady, and well everything else is history ;D
AnanyaS Hi, my actual name is Ananya just like in my username, no creativity there! I actually started watching dramas in college, in 2014, when one of my good friends suggested Boys Over Flowers to me and swore it was all the rage at her college with her friends. I watched it and quite enjoyed it (I was 17 so please forgive me) and I watched a few more but got busy with my studies. It wasn't until it was 2016 after my graduation when I really, and I mean really, got into them. And the 'first' drama to pull me in was W. I absolutely loved it! By now, I have watched quite a lot of dramas, and probably dropped more than quite a lot of dramas. Some of my favorites are Goblin, Black, Prison Playbook, Chicago Typewriter, My Father is Strange.
minj99 I am Minj, born in Korea, now a naturalized American. My first memories of Korean dramas are dated and fuzzy. I remember laughing through High Kick and eagerly waiting for new episodes of Coffee Prince. Throughout my life, I would watch a Korean drama here and there before completely immersing in it in 2019. A year-long break from work gave me my first opportunity to seriously pursue personal interests and hobbies. Reviewing Korean dramas became an outlet for my love for writing and my love for Korean culture. 2020 has been an unforgettable year. I am fortunate to be working while avoiding the coronavirus, and the situation has only made it more conducive to stay inside and search for the next promising Korean drama.
Soula My name is Soula, and yes, that is my real name. I’m outgoing and tend to be pretty loud, as a general statement. When I am not binge-watching Korean dramas, I can most likely be found reading. I enjoy collecting bookmarks and drink coasters. I also really like completing paint by *sticker* books - they are WAY more fun and mature than they look. :D I discovered Asian dramas by accident - I started exploring all things Asian when I first read the manga Fruits Basket (on a whim) and absolutely loved it. This segued into me reading more manga and then eventually exploring anime, which I also really enjoyed (after getting over the cultural differences and foreign language and subtitles!). I then came across the Korean live-action for one of my favorite animes, Itazura Na Kiss (Korean Drama: Playful Kiss), and just had to watch it. It was so cheesy, and the cultural differences were really apparent (had me like this → O.O most of the time LOL), but at the same time, I couldn’t stop eating it up. My curiosity was piqued. I continued to explore Korean dramas tentatively, such as Noble, My Love until finally giving Descendants of the Sun a chance, which I binge-watched and adored! My adoration for DOTS gave me the courage to really cherish and gush over K-dramas ever since.
Richel Hello there! My name is Richel (take a wild stab at the pronunciation; but, please avoid rhyming it with “pickle” haha) and I’m your run-of-the-mill couch potato who likes cats. Aside from watching dramas, I’m very into graphic design, both as a job and in my leisure. I also casually follow competitive figure skating. My Asian drama journey began when I was in elementary school. My parents and I would watch Asian dramas together, most often Chinese dramas (our family is of Chinese ethnicity). One fun memory of this time is when we watched our first Korean drama, Jewel in the Palace, and young me was extremely enthralled by it. I would put on my longest dresses and mimic the characters’ kneeling bows with my skirt all spread out on the floor while the theme soundtrack played on the TV. I suppose my obsession took root then…
addicted2dramas Hey everyone, I am just a 20-something female from India. I am a drama lover, and I am mostly out and about working, watching dramas, listening to K-pop, watching YouTube/variety shows, or reading. I was always intrigued by Japanese culture and films. I remember being a fan of Ju-on and Memoirs of a Geisha since I was a kid. My first drama was Hana Yori Dango, in 2012, after one of my friends convinced me to watch a K-drama (I ended up watching Japanese instead of Korean lol). Since then, there has been no pause, and here I am many years later, still loving dramas.
Unnursvana I'm Unnur Svana, and I come from Iceland! My very first K-drama love was Princess Hours way back in February of 2008 when you had to watch K-dramas with subtitles on YouTube, where each episode was cut into 9 to 10 parts. Way back in the day! Things surely have changed a lot since then. Now, you can watch K-dramas on Netflix! K-dramas are about 80% of what I watch, I think. Outside of K-dramas, I watch a lot of period dramas, sci-fi and fantasy shows, and sitcoms and that sort of stuff. I also do a lot of reading and writing.
ChineseDramaFan As my name suggests, I’m a Chinese drama fan. I watch mainly Chinese dramas from the mainland. Before I found mainland dramas, I had watched Cantonese dramas from Hong Kong and Taiwanese dramas. I even watched some Chinese dramas from Malaysia and Singapore. I had always thought Chinese dramas were substandard – poor scriptwriting, poor acting, poor makeup, poor dubbing, poor settings, etc. When I stumbled on my first mainland drama, The Legend of Mi Yue, I was totally taken by storm. The acting was marvellous, the actors were beautiful, the story and plot were amazing, the settings and costumes were breathtaking, everything was superior to anything I’d ever seen. Since then, there’s no return. I’ve been binge-watching dramas after dramas. It was a big change for me because I had always thought watching dramas was a waste of time. I’d have rather read a book or learned a new skill. But today, I love watching airing Chinese dramas and chatting with fellow viewers on MDL. I find this the most relaxing and enjoyable event of my day.
Q2: What are your specific tastes when it comes to dramas/movies? What does a drama/movie needs to have to impress you, and are you a picky watcher or not?
XingBack I'm not picky, but after almost 7 years of watching K-dramas, I know my likes and dislikes. All I need is a well-written plot and great actors. I'm not asking for too much. Usually, I keep track of all upcoming dramas, and if one of those conditions is met, I add them to my PTW list.
AnanyaS I don't consider myself a picky watcher. Not unless I have just finished a drama that I have/has become obsessed with. Because then I become obsessed with finding something 'just like it'. But I think we are all guilty of it? When it comes to picking dramas, 95% of the time, I pick something with romance. I love romance! Maybe it's not always realistic, but it makes me smile, so well, does it really matter? I end up enjoying dramas easily since I don't go in with heavy expectations. But for a drama to really impress me, it has to have good writing. Great writing, in fact. Something to blow me away. Something ao engaging that I can't help but clicking the next episode button. Of course, the actors' chemistry helps.
minj99 I always tell my friends that romantic comedies are my guilty pleasure, but I feel guilt no more! Korean dramas can get a bad rap for portraying unrealistic romantic relationships. I find that akin to people saying video games cause violence. I don’t go around looking for love triangles (I swear!). What I learn is why clear communication is important or how not to make assumptions about others’ feelings. I am impressed at how my favorite series teach applicable life lessons, especially with the recent trend to tackle more and more progressive topics, such as SKY Castle’s satire of a dysfunctional education system or Search: WWW’s empowerment of women in the workplace. On the other hand, Korean dramas can also miss the mark with tasteless portrayals of underrepresented groups and peoples. Dramas highlight the areas of society that are improving or still need improvement. Even though the doom and gloom may feel suffocating with the global pandemic, Korean dramas are proof that things are improving scene by scene, and at the very least, a glimpse of normal.
Soula I mostly watch contemporary-set dramas with action, comedy with a little bit of romance. I also have a soft spot for medical romance dramas. I used to be intimidated by historical dramas (and if I’m perfectly honest, the culture shock was deterring too - with the unique attire and political dynamics), but I’ve come to really appreciate them and have found some really amazing ones (shout out to My Country: The New Age, Romance of Tiger and Rose and Hwarang ~ |^-^| ~). Things I generally look for in a drama are well-developed plot (I'm most often drawn to the "bigger-than-you" trope) romance, comedy, and happy endings. I am not a big fan of love triangles or bittersweet endings. I guess I would consider myself a picky watcher. I like to do research on what other reviewers thought of the drama before I decided to watch it. I want to get a general idea of what to expect from a drama to determine if it’s worth investing my time.
Richel My tastes depend entirely on my mood at any given moment. When I’m sad, I want a tearjerker. When I’m bored, I want something foolish and illogical. When I’m feeling exceptionally more single than usual, I want a romance. Generally, I don’t rule out any genre when choosing what drama to watch (unless it’s horror, in which case my cowardly self treads carefully). I’m not sure if I would call myself “picky” (…this sounds exactly like something a picky person would say, doesn’t it?). Open-mindedness is something that I’ve learned to deeply value in the context of consuming media, and I actively try not to dismiss a drama until I give it a fighting chance. I would say, though, that characters are both where I set the bar for good dramas and where I draw the line for bad ones. I adore dramas with well-written characters, even if the plot may be subpar; but I do not hesitate to snub dramas where characters are developed poorly, regardless of how creative the story may be.
addicted2dramas I really love romance dramas and sageuks. Over time my preference has branched out to "anything good with decent acting or my favourite actor in it". The mood or genre of the drama needs to keep me occupied, and I need to be entertained. If the drama doesn't seem interesting enough, I don't give it many chances (goes straight to my Hold or Dropped list). However, I have been trying to finish and appreciate most of what I watch lately. Also, overall I prefer dramas compared to movies.
Unnursvana I do have certain genres I gravitate to the most; such as youth dramas such as Age of Youth or Reply 1997, cute rom-coms, and historical dramas like Six Flying Dragons and Rebel Hong Gil Dong. And recently I have really been enjoying some of the horror dramas that the cable networks have been putting out. But I will give most genres a try if an actor that I like is in it or it sounds interesting and I have nothing else to watch. You can really stumble upon some gems by just giving something a chance once! I never thought I would like a show like Misaeng, but it’s one of my all-time favorite K-dramas. The only type of dramas I cannot watch are medical dramas and most dramas about lawyers or something too procedural. For some reason, they really bore me. But with some actors that can be tolerable. Also, too much melodrama kills the mood for me.
ChineseDramaFan In the old days, I hesitated to watch historical dramas because I found them depressing – children have to obey everything the elders say. They have no say in their own marriages, and many young couples end up heartbroken, and their stories end in tragedies. However, after The Legend of Mi Yue, historical dramas became my favorite which includes wuxia, xianxia, and palace politics. I find the language used in historical dramas very refined and cultured. I love the Chinese language, in particular, Mandarin. I love Chinese culture, philosophy, medicines, etiquette, and everything related. In recent months I’ve also watched some contemporary romance-comedies that I find very entertaining and relaxing.
Q3: How did you start writing reviews on MDL, and which is your first written review? Is there something particular that motivated you to write it?
XingBack I've been a member since 2016, but I only started writing reviews in 2019. I started off with episode reviews, and I used to think it should only be done by "experts" or someone who's great at writing. But then I saw the guidelines for reviews "Write why you liked or disliked" and that gave me the courage to write. Even when I used to read, I loved to write down my thoughts on that last blank page and, on MDL, I use the ep update feature daily, plus I also write my final thoughts after the dramas' end. So I thought: why not convert them into the review. ;D I'd also like to convert my daily rants into episode reviews, but I'm slightly too lazy for that. xD I Can See Your Voice: Season 6 was my first official review, and now I have written 118 reviews in the span of a year, and I have a lot more to say.
AnanyaS The first review I wrote was for Duang Jai Akkanee, which was my first lakorn, and I had really enjoyed it, but when I went out to check the MDL page, there was no review. I wanted people to know that it was a drama worth watching. I just wanted people to give it a chance because someone else might love it.
minj99 My interest in drama reviews started with reading them, trying to find the next one to watch. So, I was originally motivated to guide others to and away from certain shows. One of my first reviews for One Spring Night tried to bring in skeptical viewers, while my very first review for Angel’s Last Mission: Love tried to warn potential victims. As I write more reviews, I find writing reviews is similar to keeping a diary. I often go back to my old reviews to reminisce about one of my favorite scenes or recoil from a trainwreck of production or plot. I know I will save this article and hopefully look back at it fondly.
Soula I don’t actually remember which is my very first review because I started writing my reviews in a burst of motivation. I discovered MDL and the review function way after I had completed a good number of dramas. One night (really, REALLY late at night XD), I just kinda decided to catch up and write reviews for all the dramas I had completed up ‘till that point. I knocked out about 45 reviews in a couple of days. It was exhausting, but it felt really satisfying to have my voice out there. While these “first couple” of reviews were short and brief (based on notes I kept from when I had initially watched the dramas), I think they are fair all the same, as they reflect the general idea and my impressions of each drama. I think what prompted me to get these reviews out there was that I came across a drama I had just finished that had very few reviews, and I decided that I really needed to add mine to the mix to give an additional perspective. But something just didn’t feel right in only writing the one review for the one drama, so I decided to take on the massive endeavor and catch up.
Richel Oh, dear…I’m kind of scared to walk down this memory lane. I’ll check – just for you: my first review was for Twenty Again, and it’s…let’s just say, I’ve come a long way, and I’m proud of myself.
I’ve had a hobby for creative writing since I was a tiny girl in pigtails; and when I was an adolescent, I used to write reviews on Amazon for books that I read. As time passed, the urge to return to that reviewing mode welled up when I got back into dramas. I don’t think the drama itself was the driving reason behind why I wrote that first review. Rather, it happened to be the first one I crossed paths with after rediscovering my love for writing.
addicted2dramas I think my first review on MDL was on Boys Over Flowers. I think I just wanted to document what I felt about my viewing experience and ended up writing many more reviews after that. Also, I wanted to share my views so no better place for it than MDL!
Unnursvana I have been writing K-drama reviews on my blog (in Icelandic) since 2009. I then started to run a Tumblr blog alongside that blog where I would translate those reviews into English, and then as I started to use this site, I just decided to post those here.
ChineseDramaFan I started writing reviews when I realized that some dramas I have enjoyed tremendously had not captured the attention of many viewers. I figured that if I wrote some reviews, maybe this would help viewers to decide if they want to invest their time in the dramas.
Q4: Do you follow a certain pattern when writing a review? For example, do you talk about the story first, then the characters, etc. or do you just list your likes and dislikes? Or maybe something different?
XingBack I mix and match, sometimes I start with a simple introduction or an analysis of the drama/movie, and, sometimes, I go ahead and start with my likes vs dislikes. ;D
AnanyaS I try, try being the keyword, writing a short review. It doesn't always end up that way, but I still try my best. Whenever I read a review of a show, and see paragraphs and paragraphs of something written, I end up skipping it. I know people put a lot of time and effort into writing something that elaborate, but I can rarely read something that long. I'm just not a reader!
That's the reason that when I write a review, I sort of put it in different points. It's a trick my school teacher taught me, to write long answers in bullet points, so it doesn't appear that long and highlights all your points simultaneously. My reviews mainly consist of what I liked and what I didn't like about drama. I do include the story, the writing, the acting, anything that I think might help a viewer decide whether or not to watch this drama.
minj99 As much as I criticize dramas for being formulaic, I write my own reviews with a strict outline that follows the rating criteria on MDL: Story, Acting/Cast, Music, Rewatch Value. My rating standards are also strict and usually land well below the average rating. Therefore, I structure my review so that it is easy to locate where a drama earns and loses points. It is not perfect, so I preface my reviews with an introduction/summary and sometimes use the “Rewatch Value” section as a pseudo-conclusion. Like most students and working professionals, I lean on the crutch of non-fiction report writing, but I aim to be a more entertaining writer with each review.
Soula I definitely don’t use a template or pattern when writing my reviews. Usually, I am able to write my reviews right after completing a drama (rarely do I need time to sit and consider). Often, I have a notebook next to me while watching dramas that I use to record big plot “AH-HA” moments (especially plot twists) or things that really ticked me off so I can refer back to my thoughts after completing the drama (I’d likely forget if I didn’t write my notes LOL). When I go to compose my review, I tend to briefly list the big points that I want to make sure I don’t forget. I then organize/clump my list by topic to keep the review organized and clear. Then I start writing. I just go with it. I then spend a bunch of time proof-reading for grammar mistakes as well as clarity. Then I post. The majority of my reviews are a reflection of the plot, as this is the part of a drama I value the most. While OST, actors, cinematography, etc. are essential and can definitely impact my overall rating, if the plot is lacking, or worse, flawed, it cannot be easily, if ever, forgiven by a beautiful OST, phenomenal actors, or flawless visual effects.
Richel I follow the common rubric of the plot to characters to anything else that is noteworthy. I just like having a structure for my reviews that readers can follow easily.
addicted2dramas I like to follow a pattern in my reviews and mostly try to stick to it. I write a few lines on the drama, followed by snippets on the plot, acting, highlights, OST, re-watch score, etc. I like to close off my reviews by either recommending or not recommending the drama. Towards the end of my reviews, you will usually find the reason to watch/avoid a drama and the best thing to look forward to (e.g. a particular character, plot, actor, etc.)
Unnursvana I just write down my thoughts on it as they sort of come to me. Then, I try to organize it somehow, so it flows well together, and everything is somewhat concise. I don’t try to go too much into dislikes. Just what I thought worked for me, what I liked, and what I think might have worked better.
ChineseDramaFan I normally like to describe what makes me watch a particular drama, how I had felt about it while watching. Then, I would describe how some of the main characters are being portrayed by the actors, what the underlying messages the writers are trying to tell us.
Q5: Do you read reviews often? And do you have favourite reviewers here on MDL?
XingBack Usually, I mostly watch ongoing dramas, so they don't have any reviews, but if I decide to pick up something old that I'm not sure of, I like to skim through the reviews, and I look for both the praises and the criticism. It's hard to pick favorites, but I like reviewers with similar tastes or watch history.
AnanyaS I do read reviews, yes! As for my favorite reviewer, I have to go with @kingsqueen. I have found out that we have quite similar tastes so when I have doubts about any drama, I check out her review (if she has written it, of course). Also, one other reviewer I enjoy is @Jeana. I just find hers really unique!
minj99 I started as a reader before becoming a reviewer. Reviews are how I filled most of my pre-2019 watchlist. That’s doubly true for dramas without the romance tag, Chief Kim comes top of mind for a drama outside my regular viewing genre. I did not have favourite reviewers as a reader, but now I definitely look up to many; many of them were featured in the first edition of Meet the Reviewers. I would like to shout out @kingsqueen for encouraging me to review and for being one of the reasons to participate in this edition. I am not particularly active in the forums or comments; however, my few interactions with the community have been mostly great (and you will have to reach out to me separately if you want to hear about the bad ones!).
Soula I read reviews all the frickin’ time. I rely heavily on them to get an idea of what a drama is like, as well as how the drama was received by my MyDramaList peers. I also enjoy reading reviews to feel not so *alone* in my private adoration of Asian dramas. Reading through others' reviews gives me an opportunity for conversation to share and embrace my impressions of a drama. I actually do not have a favorite reviewer - I enjoy reading through each review regardless of the reviewer, taking their impression with a grain of salt as our own experiences color our interpretation of a drama very differently.
Richel I read reviews almost every single time I’m about to start a new drama or, on the flip side, whenever I finish one. It almost feels like a necessary extension of the drama-watching experience to read others’ opinions. There are countless styles of review-writing, just as there are countless viewers with perspectives that differ from my own. It’s fascinating to see others’ thoughts! I have too many favorite reviewers. Everyone’s my favorite. Is this a copout answer? I know it sounds like one, but all I’m saying is: every single reviewer that I’ve read has their own unique tone that I adore for unique reasons, and I can’t force myself to pick favorites. Also, I may have some problems with decision-making.
addicted2dramas Yes, I read reviews to decide to watch or skip a drama. I might not always watch currently airing dramas, so reviews are quite helpful when I need help on deciding what to watch. I like reading reviews from @palak and @manicmuse.
Unnursvana I don’t read a lot of reviews here, but it happens once in a while. I am not active enough on this site, I think. I have other platforms where I pay more attention to those sorts of things.
ChineseDramaFan I like to read others’ reviews before I decide on a drama. I normally prefer reading negative reviews first. This way, I can see if the reviewers dislike something similar to what I usually dislike, therefore filter out those I think I wouldn’t enjoy. I have several favorite reviewers, including @PeachBlossomGoddess, @liteulkwin, @pammo1949, among others, though I don’t share all their viewing interests.
Q6: In your personal opinion, which is the best review you’ve ever written?
XingBack Lol, that's hard, I like my reviews for underrated dramas the most, like Nobody Knows, Black Dog, and Money Game. For popular dramas, I either agree or disagree with the other reviewers but for underrated dramas and movies, it's like I'm giving a fresh outlook to them. And if someone decides to watch them based on my reviews, that will make me happy/proud.
AnanyaS My favorite review that I have written is for Go Back Couple, I was really emotionally moved by that drama. When I wrote the review, I wasn't sure that I was able to give it justice of just how beautiful that drama was. But it did help some people decide, so I guess it was alright. :)
minj99 My best reviews are for dramas that I love watching. As I write a review, I rewatch, relisten, and research and only find more things to love. Check out my review for Be Melodramatic. I knew after the first four episodes that “Be Melodramatic” would be one of the best dramas in 2019. From there, it continued to deliver, and I had my entire family hooked by the time it ended. With around 10,000 watchers on MDL, Be Melodramatic went criminally unnoticed in 2019. 2019 was a quiet year for romcoms with Her Private Life being the other highlight, but the superfluous conclusion to Her Private Life caused it to rate below Be Melodramatic. Angel’s Last Mission: Love built frenzied hype up to its 2019 release, but it fell apart dramatically. Finally, Crash Landing on You was must-watch television/Netflix with over 40,000 watchers, but it should be considered a 2020 drama since it aired so late into 2019. Even so, the relatability of the characters of Be Melodramatic is what makes it stand above them all, even the powerhouse, Crash Landing on You. From dynamic relationships to meta-humour, Be Melodramatic is an absolute gem from 2019.
Soula Ooh this is such a hard question...So while my highest up-voted review is for Something In The Rain, I don’t think it’s my best review (I think this one just gets a lot of attention because of my severe low rating and the obvious rage I feel toward that drama XD). In reviewing my reviews, I notice I really vary in how I write my reviews, and that makes it way more difficult to decide which one is the best. Personally, I think *objectively* my best review is for the Korean drama My Country: The New Age because it is very organized and provides clear evidence for it’s good and weak points. But sometimes it’s hard to use real tangible reasons as to why you liked/disliked a drama - sometimes it’s about *feel*. Which brings me to my review on the Korean drama Go Back Couple - this review is all about the “feels” you get from watching it, not any particular scene, OST, actor, or other mechanics that made the drama tick. I guess my reviews vary depending on how the drama impacted me personally as well as what the context of the drama is.
Richel I hold my Hotel del Luna review in pretty high regard; it effectively communicated my feelings about the drama and as concisely as was possible for me then. I remember it being a fairly difficult review to write because I had a lot of conflicting emotions and thoughts to sort through while watching the drama itself. Being able to round up all my thoughts in an organized fashion within the review was a satisfying personal experience. [If you asked me what my “favorite” review was (helpfulness aside), I still find great joy in the ones I wrote for dramas that I despised. Writing each one of those was a cathartic experience in which I cackled to myself with every word that I typed. Sometimes a person just needs to metaphorically BURN something, you know?]
addicted2dramas I think all my reviews are written in a similar way, but I vividly remember writing the reviews for the Korean movie Hope and the Korean drama Reply 1988. I was very emotional when I wrote them.
Unnursvana I really can't pick one, I think. There were some that I thought were easier or more fun to write than others, such as my Age of Youth, Psychopath Diary, or Six Flying Dragons one. But I think my feelings toward those reviews are also just tied to my feelings to the drama and not how well it was written. I find it hard to critique how objectively good they are if that makes sense.
ChineseDramaFan One of my reviews that I’m rather proud of is the Serenade of Peaceful Joy. I normally do a little research before I write a review of historical dramas that are based on true events. This review (Serenade of Peaceful Joy) has helped me learn quite a bit of ancient Chinese history, and I had thoroughly enjoyed the process (writing the review).
Q7: Do you have a rating system? And are your ratings subjective or objective?
XingBack Yes, I recently finalized my system, and it is different from others, but it works for me. Basically, anything that falls in 7 or bellow was a chore to finish. Although, to be honest, we all have favorites (and dislikes), whether it's favorite actors or favorite plot device, and those can affect our views so, it's okay to be subjective, but I also like to admit it: "I watched this for my favorite actor/actress, so my rating is higher" or "I loved the strong female character representation or the romance and even though the plot was lacking, I enjoyed it" kind of a feel.
AnanyaS I rate solely on whether or not I enjoyed the drama. But in reviews, I try really hard to be objective. I might have given it a high rating, but if I think that it has a certain "thing" that people might not like or agree with, I make sure to include it in the review. A drama could be trendy, have good actors and good writing, but if I didn't enjoy it, I don't rate it high. But I also don't write a review about it either. Because I know I'm completely subjective in that case. The only fault of that drama was that it didn't engage me, and that doesn't seem like a good enough reason to write a review.
minj99 I mentioned my strict rating system earlier and will add that it is absolutely subjective. If I watch the best drama of all Korean dramas in the future, I do not want it to be limited by a rating system that only goes to 10. To counteract that, I literally have one drama, Because This Is My First Life, as my only 10 out of 10. I want all my 10’s to stand out. That leaves me with a system where I consider any rating above 8 to be a must-watch. On the opposite spectrum, I do not rate anything below 5. First, many people work together to produce a drama, and it seems ungrateful to disparage a person’s hard work. Second, I did manage to sit through it if I am rating it. Many of my favorite food reviewers on Youtube admit to excluding negative reactions which can potentially hurt the livelihood of the people cooking. The same philosophy applies to drama reviews, and there are too many unfortunate outcomes of online negativity in Korean entertainment. Moving forward, I want to be more mindful of how my actions behind the computer screen may impact others.
Soula My reviews are most definitely subjective in rating. I try to be as fair and consistent as possible when scoring, but I don't care how much other viewers loved a drama, if I can’t get over one thing or another about the plot/character(s), it can absolutely bring down the overall rating of the drama for me personally. I do use my own rating system to try to make sure that each numerical rating holds the same value consistently. The rating scale I've come up with is as follows: 10 - perfect, 9 - loved, 8 - really liked, 7 - generally liked, 6 - okay, 5 - meh, 4 - dislike, 3 - ugh, 2 - hate, 1 - really hate. I know the descriptors for my scale might seem silly, but they really have worked for me! ^o^
Richel My rating system is my heart. Haha, in all honesty, I do rate based on what “feels” right. I don’t believe that it’s possible to be objective when looking at dramas (or when considering the arts in general) since the impact that a drama has on a person depends entirely on their individual experiences and viewpoints. But when I can, I try to be as neutral as possible by acknowledging where I may be biased. Thus far, that’s the extent to which I can help viewers make their own judgments.
addicted2dramas I try to keep my ratings as objective as possible. However, the overall rating is usually the representation of much I enjoyed the drama. Anything that is 7.5 and above is something I enjoyed and would recommend for entertainment at least.
Unnursvana I just go by how it made me feel for the most part, but I try to be as objective as I can or try to list the reasons for my feelings as objective as I can. But a lot of the time, I just want to write: this drama was amazing, it made me cry. It’s great!
ChineseDramaFan I don’t have a particular rating system. Most of my ratings are subjective, i.e. based on how I have felt while watching the dramas. I have no idea how professional critics judge a drama or movie and what is the criteria they use. My rating, normally, depends on how a drama captures my emotions. Does it make me cry or laugh? Does it make me bite my nail, and yet I want more? Do I love the characters? Can the actors interpret the characters as closely as I would have interpreted them? Is the plot cohesive? Is the attention to detail done reasonably well? I’m not harsh on judging because I feel everyone needs some slacks, especially those young actors.
Q8: And finally – what advice would you give to the people who feel insecure about writing reviews on MDL?
XingBack Basically, reviewers express the feelings they felt while watching something, none of us is a professional critic, and none of us has a Ph.D. in English (some might, I don't know xD) so there's nothing to be insecure about. In some ways, you will help someone to decide if they want to watch a drama (or not watch it), and, in other ways, you are also sharing your viewpoint with others who've watched that same drama.
AnanyaS I think if you have certain thoughts, feelings about a drama, you should feel free to share it with everyone. If you're feeling insecure, I don't think anyone of us has any right to, or are even qualified to, judge someone based on how you liked a drama. Also, your reviews might just help someone who was unsure of whether or not to start that drama. You might find people with similar tastes, and become friends. And what's better than that?
minj99 Write reviews for yourself. I started writing reviews thinking that it would help others find their next drama to watch, then reviewing made me realize that writing is more selfish. I promise that I am the one who reads my reviews the most. Not only do I go back and read them to reminisce, but I also look back to reflect on my thought process and opinions. As much as each review is about the drama, they are also a reflection of the author. So, write something that you enjoy reading. Your reviews will inevitably reach like-minded people while also challenging others to expand their perspectives.
Soula Don’t wait until you’ve seen 50 dramas before writing your reviews! Just kidding, just kidding! XD My real advice: be open to other interpretations, as you might come to see things differently when considering a perspective you hadn’t thought of prior. It’s okay not to agree when comparing your impressions of a drama. It’s okay to have a minority opinion. I would just try to encourage you to be considerate and respectful when speaking out - we all come from such different ways of life, so it’s entirely possible that your perspective is not shared. But believe it or not, there will be people who come across your review and thank you and/or comment with their own shared perspectives on the drama! One of the best feelings while participating in the MDL community!
Richel The first step is the hardest to take. If it’s something you’re interested in, then it’s always a good idea to get your feet wet and have a go at it! You can never get better at something without doing it over and over…and over again. I think MDL is great in that it’s a low-pressure and accepting environment; the reviews here are people offering their opinions into a bigger discussion where everyone has a voice, including you.
addicted2dramas I don't think one should be scared of judgment from others. I think MDL gives everyone a cool platform to express ourselves and actually keep a record of your own thoughts. Trust me; there is nothing more rewarding than people voting for 'Helpful' review against your review or getting a nice comment / DM related to one. Just go for it!
Unnursvana Write from the heart, just tell people how you feel and just know that your writing and how you go about reviewing things will evolve and improve as you continue with it and just get more comfortable with it. A lot of my early reviews on my old Icelandic blog (which I have not translated into English and posted here… cuz yeah) were not that great. But I enjoyed writing them anyway because writing about something you enjoy is fun! :)
ChineseDramaFan Most dramas carry some messages. When writing a review, the underlying message becomes clearer. For me, writing reviews is a journey to better understand my own feelings and values. Therefore, my advice is, do not feel insecure in writing how you feel. Writing reviews is a fun way to express ourselves and share our thoughts.
BONUS: Recommend one drama (or movie) to the readers.
XingBack Circle (people who know me must've seen me recommend it a million times already xD), I've watched it twice though I didn't write a review about it, it's the most unique plot I've ever seen in dramaworld.
AnanyaS A drama that I'd recommend is Go Back Couple. I think it's so so underrated. And it's such a beautiful drama! Also, Prison Playbook! Don't let the title or synopsis get in the way of watching this drama. This is a gem! The writing, the acting everything is just phenomenal!
minj99 Please just go watch Be Melodramatic.
Soula Korean Drama: Welcome 2 Life. This drama gets none of the attention it deserves. Rain was spectacular as were his co-stars! This drama is intense, and the moral of the story is truly moving. This drama has thriller, mystery, comedy, romance, family, and an amazing ending!
Movie: Juror 8. This movie is unexpected gold. Have you ever tried to avoid or dreaded jury duty? This puts it in perspective for you. This movie is not heavy at all, but incredibly humbling.
Richel One that I’ve been recently recommending to everyone is the Chinese drama The Bad Kids. And I’m going to recommend it again! I do not want to spoil a single thing, so I’ll just tell you how obsessed I am with it: I watched it the first time in marathon-style about a week ago, thought about it almost nonstop for the next several days when I was supposed to be living my life (please, don’t tell my manager), looked up far too many memes about it, and then rewatched it this past weekend – while taking physical notes, so that I could pick apart every amazing detail in it. I may have channelled my inner mad scientist a bit excessively, but I would do it all again. Some of the most phenomenal writing, acting, and cinematography that I’ve ever witnessed is in this single drama. It’s not a light watch by any means, but is 100% worth your complete attention!
addicted2dramas Everyone should watch Hospital Playlist. It is not at all boring (if it seems so) and if you finish it, you'll realize what you were missing out on. In case you happen to watch it upon my recommendation, please let me know your opinion.
Unnursvana I think shows like Misaeng and Age of Youth are a must watch! And Six Flying Dragons, if you like sageuks. I will never shut up about Six Flying Dragons. Also, more people should give sageuks a try. They are not as boring as they may sound! :)
ChineseDramaFan These are my top dramas (in no particular order):
1. Nirvana in Fire – fantastic plot, amazing acting, lovable characters, great settings and plops and costumes.
2. Goodbye My Princess – a drama that would haunt you for months, amazing story, amazing acting, great plot, beautiful soundtracks.
3. The Untamed – emotional roller coaster, wonderful acting, visually beautiful, amazing soundtracks.
4. Joy of Life – witty humor, great acting, great story, great plot.
5. Go Ahead - most endearing family drama, great soundtracks.
FINAL MESSAGE FROM THE INTERVIEWER
I just wanted to say my final thanks to the MDL users who agreed to be interviewed; you're all amazing! Thank you so, so much! And, of course, big thanks to the people who read and liked this article (as well as the previous one). Once again, I hope that this article will be a motivation for more people to start writing reviews on MDL.
Unfortunately, I won't be writing a third part of the article due to personal reasons. However, if someone wants to write a third part interviewing more MDL reviewers, I'll be glad, and I'll support them!
THANK YOU FOR READING!