by Bloom C, October 28, 2020
132


Sometimes I look back at a few of my favorite dramas and find that they aired in 2012 which is almost a decade ago and my heart refuses to believe it. Can you believe it has been almost a decade since 2012!? That's crazy! A baby born when the drama was airing is now doing fractions and playing little league baseball. The market for K-dramas has expanded exponentially with the evolution of technology and the emergence of streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Personally, it feels less lonely knowing that I have more people to discuss my favorite drama with at work compared to back then. Therefore I thought I would give a refresher on some dramas that aired before the massive exposure that K-dramas now have in the world today. I made sure to list dramas with pretty good quality so viewers are able to focus on the plot without worrying about picture quality.



1. History of the Salaryman (2012)

I recommend this drama especially to those who are feeling overwhelmed with the state of the world today. The humor that is showcased in History of the Salaryman is very unique in quite a refreshing way. I can't actually tell you a specific genre this belongs to as it can be considered Comedy/Melo/Murder/Mystery. It's almost like a modern Game of Thrones but centered in the corporate world(it actually parodies the story of the Chinese historical events behind the fall of the Qin empire and the conflict between the Kingdoms of Han and the western Chu that followed).

The reason I make this comparison to Game of Thrones is because when you think someone is a bad guy in the beginning you may not necessarily think so in the end. When someone starts off with no power and influence, then gain it only to lose it again. It is filled with twists but remains easy and funny to watch simultaneously. What's most unique is that it teases the audience with some historical battle sequences - I am telling you that you won't regret watching this drama.


The relationship and interaction that each character (whether major and minor) has with the other is about the most hilarious thing I have ever experienced in a Korean drama. Each character is fully fleshed and you come to see how each experience they are faced with was able to affect their development and fully understand the person they become at the end.


Cast

Oh Yoo Bang played by Lee Bum Soo is down on his luck as he is broke and must care for his sick mother. Yoo Bang has big dreams and is willing to do almost anything, even if that means keep the wild and erratic heiress Baek Yeo Chi in line. His role is inspired by Liu Bang, the first emperor of the Han Dynasty.

Baek Yeo Chi played by Jung Ryeo Won is a spoiled heiress of Chunha Medical Group with a bad temper and a potty mouth who refuses to have anything to do with her grandfather’s company. That is until Yoo Bang comes into her life and puts her in all sorts of predicaments. Her role is inspired by Empress Lü Zhi of the Han Dynasty.

Cho Hang Woo played by Jung Gyu Woon is determined to get revenge against Baek Yeo Chi’s grandfather for the role he played in the suicide of his own farther. Hang Woo infiltrates Chunha to take him down and encounters Cha Woo Hee a researcher of the company who he fals for. His role is inspired by Xiang Yu, the king of Western Chu.

   

Cha Woo Hee played by Hong Soo Hyun is a researcher at Chunha pharmaceutical who becomes close to Yoo Bang but ends up being romantically involved with Cho Hang Woo. Her role is inspired by Consort Yu.






2. Giant (2010)



I know this might be hard to believe but I was today years old when I found out the same male lead in History of a Salaryman is the male lead in Giant! He looks so different or maybe he is just that good of an actor. Giant is a periodical EPIC masterpiece about three young siblings in the 1970’s who tragically lost their parents which results in their separation. I hope that if I mention that a young Kim Soo Hyun is one of the siblings, then I won't have to do much convincing for you to give this drama a chance. Yeo Jin Goo plays his little brother in a dream cast and ensemble. The three siblings are able to meet again as adults and a plot to avenge the death of their father, by the men responsible, is formed.

Giant centers around the politics of construction in Korea which, considering how real estate is a big market there, was a pretty interesting subject to follow. The drama is a dramatic Melo/Action/Thriller, as shown by the summary above, and one that is  masterfully written - let me tell you, they don't make them like this no more. In case you dread "revenge melos" for their predictable cliches, prepare to meet the drama that is the exception. Amazing storytelling from the main plot to the subplots, everyone is tied together in such an interesting way that is not at all complicated to follow. My personal favorite is the chemistry between the characters who are romantically involved. It honestly amazes me that such a drama exists.



Cast

Lee Kang Mo played by Lee Bum Soo(adult) and Yeo Jin Goo(teen). The second child of the Lee family, an intelligent little boy who grows up with a hilarious temper. After losing his parents and being separated from his siblings, he ends up being adopted by Hwang Tae Sub who, unbeknownst to him, played a role in his father’s death. He grows up to become the man’s righthand man.

Lee Sung Mo played by Park Sang Min(adult) and Kim Soo Hyun(teen). The oldest of the three siblings, after being separated from the others, goes under the care of director Jo Pil Yeon whom he knows is responsible for his father’s death and mentors under him as a KCIA agent with plans of vengeance in his mind. He becomes a henchman for Jo Pil Yeon and fully intends to be used so he could gain resources to avenge his father.

Lee Mi Joo played by Hwang Jung Eum(adult) and Park Ha Young(child). The third child of the Lee siblings, ends up in an orphanage after being separated from her brothers. She begins to work as a housemaid and is taken in by the family she works for who provides her with an education. She eventually becomes a famous singer and encounters Jo Min Woo along the way.


Jo Min Woo played by Joo Sang Wook(adult) and Noh Young Hak(child).  The child of one of the two men responsible for the death of the father of the Lee siblings Jo Pil Yeon. Unbearably arrogant, and how could he not be with a father like that, Min Woo has human moments we see when it is shown how difficult it is to grow up with such a tyrant as a father. He also comes to be involved with the innocent and youngest Lee sibling.


Hwang Jung Yeon played by Park Jin Hee(adult) and Nam Ji Hyun(teen). She is the daughter of Hwang Tae Sub, who is Kang Mo’s foster father, and is also the object of Kang Mo’s affections. Hwang Jung Yeon is stubborn, strong-headed, and very intelligent, all characteristics that help her succeed as heiress of Manbo construction. In the world of men, Jung Yeon holds her own with strength and sass so basically she is girl power.







3. Rooftop Prince (2012)

Before there was Crash Landing on You there was Rooftop Prince, a hilarious story about a Joseon Crown Prince accompanied by 3 friends who finds himself to have accidentally traveled to modern day South Korea while chasing a lead on the mystery behind his wife’s death. The four have an encounter with the hard-working Park Ha who lives on a rooftop apartment and ends up sharing the space with. Life already being complicated by trying to figure out the modern-day advancements ,Crown Prince Lee Gak also discovers he looks identical to a young chaebol, and has a run-in with a woman who looks exactly like his dead wife.

Again, if you need a little escape from reality this is a great drama to watch because tears will come out and your cheeks will hurt from laughing, this one being more lighthearted compared to the two above. The fish out of water situation the four gentlemen find themselves in is quite a predicament with Joseon looking very different from what they are used to. The drama has everything I love: bromance, great chemistry amongst the cast, and especially the humor and the murder mystery.

I love how the show showcases how there could be a possible parallel in lifetimes and in fate. The female lead and her sister contrast in the same way they do in the Joseon dynasty. The death of the Crown Princess is a mystery whose clues we follow throughout the drama even when the Crown Prince himself is the 21st century. Now when it comes to time-traveling dramas, the endings tend to be a little messy, to say the least, however rooftop prince wraps up everything in such a beautiful metaphoric and satisfying way. More than anything, this drama is a pure comedy to extreme heights.


Cast
Lee Gak played by Park Yoo Chun is the intelligent crown prince of Joseon who ends up in modern-day South Korea while chasing a lead regarding the mysterious death of his wife. He looks identical to Yong Tae Yong, a young chaebol of a rich cooperation. When Tae Yong ends up in the hospital, Lee Gak must take on his role in the company which is a very difficult task for a young man adapting to modern times and its advancements. However, he must do it if he hopes to get closer to Se Na and marry her to solve the mystery of the death of his princess.
Park Ha played by Han Ji Min is a struggling and hardworking young lady who lives in a rooftop apartment and takes in the Crown Prince and his out of touch friends, taking on the responsibility of helping them to adapt to modern society. Park Ha resembles Lee Gak’s dead wife’s sister Boo Yong in Joseon in both looks and well-nurtured kindness. Park Ha has been separated from her family for years after getting lost while in the U.S.
Hong Se Na played by Jung Yoo Mi is Park Ha’s mean spirited sister who resembles Lee Gak’s dead wife, Crown princess Hwa Yong in Joseon. She is manipulative and antagonistic towards Park Ha in modern times and Boo Yong in Joseon. She is romantically involved with Yong Tae Mu, as well as his secretary, and runs into her long lost step-sister as adults. Se Na was responsible for deliberately losing Park Ha in the U.S as a child.
Yong Tae Mu played by Lee Tae Sung is the cousin of  Tae Yong in modern times and Lee Gak's half brother in Joseon whom he competes for leadership in both eras. Tae Mu holds a skewed moral compass and is not afraid to get his hands dirty for power. He kills Tae Yong on his visit to the U.S and is surprised when he comes back to life 2 years later with memory loss.






4. A Gentleman's Dignity (2012)

It's a story about four high school best friends in their forties as they navigate through their careers and romances while maintaining the bonds as bros. Kim Do Jin is a successful architect with a rude personality running a firm he created together with one of his best friends. He encounters a no-nonsense high school teacher, Seo Yi Soo, who happens to have a crush on his best friend and partner. Complicating things is the fact that Tae San whom Yi Soo crushes on happens to be dating Yi Soo’s roommate and friend Hong Se Ra, a professional golf athlete.

When this drama aired it was very unique and it is still very much unique in the fact that it gathers together four middle-aged actors and pairs them with three older actresses. It definitely discusses more mature topics than your typical drama and depicts that life in your 40's can be just as exciting and youthful as life in your 20’s, especially when the men are at the age where they have grown their careers and can afford the time to focus on their personal lives. The women in this drama are no pushovers and any drama that showcases a woman actually doing the work and being a boss even while struggling with it is amazing to me. 

Not to make it sound serious because it is absolutely anything but that, the drama is very funny with some mature comedic elements and I can welcome the change. The boys, as I have mentioned, know how to enjoy their lives. I enjoyed how each of their stories are well written and intersect in ways that our own stories intersect naturally and without too many unrealistic coincidences. Each friend has a very interesting storyline so this is definitely one of those dramas that won't be fast-forwarding. It's a male version of Sex and The City but not at all raunchy but rather sophisticated with hints of nostalgia as it does some fun flashbacks to when the boys were younger which ties into who they are now as adults. They have a genuine ride or die friendship, and have stuck with each other through hard times in life and become rather more like brothers than friends. BTW a young Kim Woo Bin is in this show too, so plenty of eye candy and plenty of humor.


Cast
Kim Do Jin played by Jang Dong Gun is an arrogant architect who shares a firm with his best friend. He suffers from memory loss when dealing with stress, thus recording everything about his day with a pen. He encounters and is enamored, by a no-nonsense teacher Seo Yi Soo who he begins to pursue.

Lee Jung Rok played by Lee Jong Hyuk is a married playboy who owns a cafe and bar and is also married to a successful rich woman with a strong personality. Jung Rok is a huge flirt, which results in many conflicts with his wife, but is a good-humored soul.


Im Tae Sun played by Kim Soo Ro is Do Jin’s best friend, who comes from a wealthy family, and also his business partner. He is also an umpire of an amateur baseball team and the object of Yi Soo’s crush, but he is dating her professional golf player roommate. Tae Sun has a younger sister, Me Ri who has a crush on one of his best friends.

Choi Yo On played by Kim Min Jong is a lawyer and a widower. He is level headed and the most mature of the four. He is also the object of Me Ri’s affection, who he relentlessly avoids despite her constant attempts to get him to notice her as a woman.


Seo Yi Soo played by Kim Ha Neul is a strict highschool teacher who is a member of Tae Sun’s baseball team, who is also the object of her affections. She catches Kim Do Jin’s eyes and begins to pursue her. She is also the roommate of Se Ra, Tae Sun’s girlfriend. Yi Soo has a good head on her shoulders and is not one to fall for Do Jin’s ladies man tactics easily.

Hong Se Ra played by Yoon Se Ah is a confident professional baseball player who is in a relationship with Tae Sun and also lives with Yi Soo. Because of her over-confidence, she clashes quite a bit with Me Ri, her boyfriend’s sister as well as most women she interacts with aside from Yi Soo.

Park Min Sook played by Kim Jung Nan is a wealthy businesswoman who owns several buildings in Seoul, including those run by her husband Jung Rok. Min Sook conflicts with her husband over his flirtatious playboy ways.


Im Me Ah Ri played by Yoon Jin Yi is the spoiled sister of Im Tae Sun and a former student of Seo Yi Soo. She returns to South Korea from studying abroad and is determined to gain the affection of her brother’s widower best friend.




5.  The Bridal Mask (2012)

Gaksital is a periodical drama based on the Japanese occupation of Korea. It tells a story of a young Korean man Lee Kang To who is a Japanese loyalist working for the police in the oppression of the Korean people. He is hated by his neighbors but would rather live in the fame and glory of the oppressor than suffer in his family poverty while being loyal to his motherland. Known by his Japanese name - Sato Hiroshi - he is ambitious and good at his job, one of his responsibilities is to catch the rebel named Gaksital who appears adorned in all white wearing a mask and disrupts the Japanese government’s agenda as well as the leader of the rebel faction associated with a dance troupe. When Gaksital is finally brought down, Kang To’s world spirals resulting in his loyalties and outlook on life changing. It is really hard to give a summary of the drama without spoiling it. However, as his loyalties change and new alliances are formed, Kang To finds himself making enemies with allies and losing the people whose friendship he once enjoyed.

If you are like me and enjoy content from the time period in which Korea was colonized by Japan, then this is a great drama for you. It really gives a glimpse of how Japan was able to utilize the Korean people who were loyal to them to oppress their own kind using their greed as a tool. It also showcases the brutality endured by Korean locals during these times and also the viewpoint of the police themselves was interesting to watch. This drama was my introduction to this specific time period. Other dramas have come after it but it still remains a contender to newer dramas like Chicago Typewriter, Hymn of Death, and Mr. Sunshine.

It takes a serious topic and a devastating time period and depicts it in a fun and humorous way. This is after all the early 1900s when flapper girls reigned and the roaring ’20s that soared in alcohol consumptions and the clubs were hopping. All of which is elegantly showcased in a bridal mask. Most of all I enjoyed its balance in humor and heartbreak. The comedic moments made even the most horrible people in the drama actually a bit enjoyable to watch.
Cast

Lee Kang To/ Sato Hiroshi played by Joo Won is a Korean citizen working for the police, which is under the colonization of the Japanese government, whose job is to control and oppress the people of Korea. Lee Kang To is ambitious and hopes to rise above the ranks and gain wealth. His family lives in poverty and his brother suffers from brain injury due to the brutal torture he suffered from the government.

Oh Mok Dan played by Jin Se Yeon is the daughter of the leader of the rebel military who, like her father, burns with patriotic fire in her heart. Oh Mok Dan hates traitorous figures like Kang To while she admires those who stand up to him and the Japanese military like Bridal Mask.
Kimura Shunji played by Park Ki Woong is Kang To’s best friend who comes from a prominent Japanese family of warriors. Unlike his older brother, Shunji wants nothing to do with following his family’s footsteps and joining the military to brutalize people. Instead, he rebels and becomes a teacher to Korean students much to his family’s disapproval. When his older brother is killed however, Shunji becomes his father’s heir and avenges his death.





6. Moon Embracing the Sun (2012)


As the crown prince, Lee Hwon, has come to age, the royal family holds a princess selection process for him, bringing all the young ladies from  prominent families into the palace for testing. The Crown prince, having a previous encounter with Heo Yeon Woo, the daughter of his father’s ministers, becomes friends with her while having an infatuation for her. Much to his luck, she becomes his family’s choice for a Crown princess and thus they are married. Shortly after the marriage though, a conspiracy leads to the illness of his young bride who he is separated from for the duration of her illness and she quickly dies. Lee Hwon grows into a serious King with weak health and remains sad for he still remembers the young girl he once loved. This is until he meets a palace maid who brings him much familiarity and who he is drawn to.



                     

Moon Embracing the Sun was possibly the beginning of the evolution of amazing cinematography in South Korean periodical drama history for it is saturated in beautiful colors. Everything from the drama set to the Joseon fashion was mesmerizing and lets not forget the eye candy! The child actors are beautiful flowers to watch and it might be the one and only drama where the child actors outshined the adults in their roles. The cast in this drama is premium level and skyrocketed many names including the already famous Kim Soo Hyung, Han Ga In, Kim Yoo Jung, Kim So Hyun, Yeo Jin Goo, Jung Ill Woo, Jin Ji Hee, Im Shi Wan, Jang Yung Nam, and Song Jae Rim!!!! What casting Gods came through to make this possible!?  

Another thing to be appreciated in this drama is that it might have been the first historical drama that actually showed the young actors getting married as well as the main leads showing sweet romantic affection to each other in swoon-worthy moments.


Cast
Heo Yeon Woo played by Han Ga In(adult) & Kim Yoo Jung(teen) is the daughter of a Joseon minister who befriends the crown prince, without knowing who he is until she enters the palace for the princess selection process. She is chosen to become the crown princess and marries the crown prince. A conspiracy in the royal court results in her becoming cursed and falling ill to her death. She is saved however by a woman her mother once rescued but loses her memories while her survival is kept a secret from the world, including her young husband.
Lee Hwon played by Kim Soo Hyun(adult) & Yeo Jin Goo(teen) is the intelligent and good-natured crown prince of Joseon, who reaches the age of marriage resulting in the process to select a princess to start. Lee Hwon has already encountered Heo Yeon Woo and becomes infatuated, befriending her. To his delight, Yeon Woo is chosen to be his bride and the two are married. Not long before their marriage, however, Yeon Woo falls ill due to a mysterious illness and he is kept from her. Heartbroken Lee Hwon is then married to the second runner up, the prime minister’s daughter, and grows up to be a cynical young King.
Yang Myung played by Jung Il Woo(adult) & Lee Tae Ri(teen) is Lee Hwon’s half-brother whose mother is a concubine. Growing up, Yang Myung has always enjoyed more freedom than Lee Hwon, but has never been able to receive the same love and attention as Lee Hwon from those he holds dear. Lee Hwon also falls for Yeon Woo at a young age however she does not reciprocate his feelings and marries his brother.

Yoon Bo Kyung played by Kim Min Seo(adult) & Kim So Hyun(teen) is the prime minister’s daughter who is very intelligent and very cunning. Bo Kyung falls for the crown prince, who only seems to give his attention to Yeon Woo, and quickly becomes envious of her and the attention she receives from the Queen, the dowager Queen and from the little princess, who is enamored with Yeon Woo’s brother.

Princess Min Hwa played by Nam Bo Ra(adult) & Jin Ji Hee(child) is Lee Hwon’s little sister who is spoiled and impulsive. Min Hwa falls for Yeon Woo’s older brother but is unhappy to learn that she cannot marry him as he hopes to have a bright career in the future, especially since his sister will become the future queen. In desperation to have the man of her dreams, the princess is tricked into participating in treachery that harms Yeon Woo and disgraces her family’s name, giving Min Hwa an opportunity to have her man.

 
     




7. IRIS (2009)




Iris was one of the biggest dramas in South Korea in 2009, which only helped speed up the momentum of the Hallyu wave, as it skyrocketed in popularity in Japan. It was James bond/Nikita meets Olympus Has Fallen. It's a story about a secret government black-ops intelligence agency NSS that recruits only the best and most skillful members of society. That is Kim Hyun Jun and his best friend Jin Sa Woo, currently elite soldiers of the counterterrorism unit of the Korean military, and the person they use to lure into the agency is the beautiful Special agent Choi Seung Hee.


               

After an arduous recruitment process, the two become NSS agency, and both fall for the beautiful Seung Hee. Traveling around the world to catch the bad guys they end up falling into an international conspiracy that tests their alliances to each other and the agency.

Iris was a big-budget action drama filled with mysteries and well fleshed out bad guys. The money was well spent because I knew I had to visit Japan after watching it. It had amazing cinematography, incredible action sequences, side characters with a purpose, and an unbelievable cast and ensemble. The great Lee Byung Hun, Kim Tae Hee, Jung Joon Ho, T.O.P, and Kim Seo Yeon! An epic cast of epic proportions!!

It was exciting at every turn and by the end of the show, you are likely to feel burnt out from constant overstimulation as a result of each exciting episode. Romance is at the forefront of the show but is given a backseat in moments when important conflicts must be solved. Such conflict came with intensity in suspense that literally had you seated at the edge of your seat holding your breath waiting to see what happens next. There is just the right amount of humor, romance, melo, and action, enough for me not to feel overwhelmed with one or grow bored with another. 

The story is quite unpredictable, as it is missing in the cliche department, and diverts from using the usual K-drama tropes. I do have to say it was the only drama I absolutely loved although I was not satisfied with the ending.      

                   


Cast

Kim Hyun Jun played by Lee Byung Hun is a highly skilled special forces agent who does not take life very seriously as many things come easy to him. He stays at the military base with his best friend Jin Sa Woo until they are recruited by NSS. He falls in love with Choi Seung Hee but separates from her when he is betrayed by the agency she has sworn loyalty to. 

Choi Seung Hee played by Kim Tae Hee is a very beautiful and skilled profiler and agent of the NSS who takes part in the process of recruting Kim Hyun Jun and Jin Sa Woo into the agency. She falls in love with Kim Hyun Jun and is heartbroken after his death. She slowly begins to learn things are amiss with the agencies with whom she is loyal to.
Jin Sa Woo played by Jung Joon Ho is Kim Hyun Jun’s best friend and the more level-headed of the two. He begins to grow envious of his friend’s skills and achievements within the agency, as they both gain him recognition. Sa Woo falls for Choi Seung Hee along with Hyun Jun and, when he is given a task by the agency , he is placed in a position in which he must choose between his brother and friend and the woman he loves.

Kim Sun Hwa played by Kim So Yeon is a North Korean special force agent who is well recognized in her country’s military. She is sent after Kim Hyun Jun on her own but ends up teaming up with him to bring down Iris. Sun Hwa is absolutely badass and very intelligent.




8. King2Hearts (2012)

What happens when a South Korean Prince is engaged to a North Korean special forces elite soldier and the only daughter of a North Korean minister? King2Hearts tells you the answer to that as it tells a story of a South Korean modern royal family in search of a princess for its rebellious prince and brother to the king. The lucky princess turns out to be Kim Hang Ah who Prince Lee Jae Ah falls for, a woman who has been trained all her life in the Korean military to kill him.

       

This drama has a stellar cast made of Lee Seun Gi, Ha Ji Won, Jo Jung Suk, and Lee Yoon Ji, talk about a dream cast. The drama has a heavy focus on political relationships between North and South Korea and how their standing affects the rest of the world. The union between the two leads makes it possible to show the world, as well as the two Koreas, that reunification is possible and it certainly brings them closer together much to the unhappiness of those who enjoy profit off the separation of the peninsular. 

The drama also navigates through the military standing of the Koreas, showing how they are viewed by other military powers and where they stand with countries such as the U.S and China. Before I make it seem as if it's mostly a political drama we have some romantic moments even while the main leads are serving the military. It also covers familial relationships, friendships and camaraderie - especially when showcasing the strength exhibited by Korea when the military of both sides of the peninsular work as one.


Cast
Lee Jae Ha played by Lee Seung Gi is the rebellious prince of the S.Korean royal family who grew up enjoying life without the royal responsibilities that come attached to the throne. While a little spoiled and rough around the edges, Jae Ha is highly intelligent, has a heart for his people and country and fiercely works hard to protect his family, even as a child. His brother is the king who holds a search for his princess, a role that lands on Kim Hang Ah, a special forces North Korean Agent.
Kim Hang Ah played by Ha Ji Won is a special forces NKorean soldier and the only daughter of the NKorean deputy minister of unification. Hang Ah is very mature compared to Jae Ha, abiding by a strict military conduct. Although she has a tough exterior she has a very feminine personality and a kind heart that is perfectly suited for a princess. She falls for Jae Ha while on military training and is chosen to be his wife by the royal family.

Eun Shi Kyung played by Jo Jung Suk is a SKorean military officer chosen to lead the group during training with the North Koreans, he is also the son of a South Korea's Royal Chief advisor. Eun Shi Kyung also abides by strict military conduct and has a very straight and serious personality. He is put on the task of finding the rebellious princess and keeping her on track.


Lee Jae Shin played by Lee Yoon Ji is Jae Ha’s sister and the rebellious princess of the S.Korean royal family, who is part of a rock band. She is put under the guidance of Eun Shi Kyung who she ends up having romantic feelings for.




9. Faith (2012)

Faith is another drama that came attached with some big names including Lee Min Ho, Kim Hee Sun, Park Se Young, Yoon Kyung Sung, Sung Hoon, and Choi Min Soo! I don't know what it was about 2012 and bringing an impeccable list of talent together but I am all here for it.


Faith is a drama about the famous Korean general Choi Yeong who travels to Seoul in the 21st century and kidnaps a doctor to treat the new Queen of Goryeo, a Yuan princess married into the Korean royal family, after she is attacked by assassins. Female doctor Eun Soo is not very happy about being dragged 700 years in the past but must learn to adapt with the times or have the times adapt to her. Her outrageous behavior and personality keep Choi Yeong alert as her presence draws attention and danger to herself. Aside from the doctor, the young general must deal with a threat looming in the royal family, when the brother of empress Ki (of Yuan) challenges the reign of the new King and his nephew, whom Choi Yeong is sworn to protect.


       

Faith is probably the only Korean historical drama that comes with magical elements possessed by powerful warriors. It was a very interesting spin, while there have been plenty of time traveling dramas this one was cool in the fact that the female lead was a confident woman who didn't just play sitting duck. She utilized her skills to help out the people of Goryeo and she stood and fought against traditional beliefs held in society when they did not seat right with her. I absolutely loved her fire and her spunk. While her chemistry with Lee Min Ho wasn't burning fire level, it was still very fun to watch.



The chemistry that was fire to watch was that of the new King and his Queen as they start off as awkward with each other. He is initially forced to spend a decade in Yuan as a “guest” that is actually a hostage and is forced to marry a Yuan Princess before he takes the throne. The development of their relationship from awkward to swoon-worthy is an amazing progression.

Cast
Choi Yeong played by Lee Min Ho is a famous Korean renowned general revered for his bravery and leadership. We begin the drama before his rise to fame, as he escorts the newly crowned King of Goryeo, but ends up running into an assassin who leaves the New King’s wife with a fatal wound. Choi Yeong goes through a heavenly gate to find a great doctor who will treat the injury before the queen meets her end. He kidnaps Dr. Yoo Eun Sung to the Goryeo dynasty and must protect her from political entanglements.
Dr. Yoo Eun Soo played by Kim Hee Sun is a plastic surgeon in the 21st century who is kidnapped to the Goryeo dynasty by Choi Yeong. Eun Soo is highly skilled, and speaks her mind about everything she disagrees with Choi Yeong and thus making her very different from the women of Goryeo. Her knowledge of the future makes her a powerful tool to the evil uncle of the king who seeks to rule Goryeo for himself.

Princess Noh Gook played by Park Se Young is a princess of Yuan who is married to King Gong Min of Goryeo. While the princess seems to have some affection towards the king, he seems to have some hostility towards her as her family held him hostage as their guest for a decade and then forced him to marry her before taking the throne.


King Gong Min played by Ryu Deok Hwan suddenly gains the throne when his older brother dies. He has been held hostage by Empress Ki in Yuan for a decade as a guest, and is forced to marry their princess before he takes the throne. King Gong Min, having spent a lot of time in Yuan, does not have the support of the aristocrats and must rely on Choi Yeong for strength.
   



10. Midas (2011)

A highly intelligent recent law school graduate, Kim Do Hyun has now just passed the bar exam and is preparing to marry his long-time girlfriend who has been by his side through hardship. Do Hyun however receives a job offer too good to refuse to work for an influential and prominent wealthy family which fuels his ambition. His new opportunity comes with working with the daughter of this family, a woman who he has looked up to for a long time, Yoon In Hye. A little too ambitious, however, this new opportunity creates a rift between him and his fiance.
Midas surprisingly is not a very popular drama on MDL but to me, it was one of the best dramas of 2011 and with a cast that does not come by very often (Jang Hyuk, Kim Hee Ae, Lee Min Jung, Lee Sang Yeob,  No Min Woo, and Kim Sung Oh). It's a drama about the game of power in the business world of M&A so if you have an intrigue on the topic this drama is for you. I personally enjoyed the metaphor behind Kim Do Hyun ending up in the same place as the father he resented for abandoning him and his mother (Prison). Especially that being the one place they are able to come together and create an avengers like force.

Midas certainly has a romance in it but is sprinkled through each episode till passion reaches an all-time high, and while I had no idea why, I enjoyed that type of romance, it was one of the memorable things about the drama that I adored very much. Aside from the romance was the humor and you know when you are constantly hearing about the stock exchange as a major topic in a drama you literally need to pack humor in it so as not to lose interest, and humor they brought.
It certainly has some faults like the people I expected to go to jail did not and the big bad wolf was not as fleshed out as I would have preferred, however, I was too busy being distracted by the romance and the humor, especially when involving the male lead and his paternal family, so I barely minded the faults.


Cast
Kim Do Hyun played by Jang Hyuk is an intelligent law student who graduates at the top of his class at one of the most prestigious schools in the country. He grew up in poverty with his mother after his father left them. While Do Hyun wants to live a normal life with his girlfriend, he is motivated to succeed to escape the circumstances he grew up in. Therefore, when he is offered an opportunity to work for the Yoo family, a prominent and wealthy family in S.Korea, he is unable to reject it.
Lee Jung Yun played by Lee Min Jung is Do Hyun's kind-hearted girlfriend who is a nurse. Jung Yun is the only innocent one in the drama and seems to be the only one with a moral compass. As she is about to marry the love of her life a.k.a. boyfriend, he is introduced to the Yoo family, greed overwhelming him, creating a rift in their relationship.
Yoo In Hye played by Kim Hee Ae is a member of the Yoo family who is highly intelligent and highly competent, making her a challenge to her brothers who hope to take over the company. She owns a successful hedge fund in South Korea and must bring the competent Do Hyun to her side if she has any chance of succeeding the company over her brothers.
Yoo Myung Jun played by  Noh Min Woo is a member of the Yoo family and In Hye's playboy brother. He suffers an illness that lands him in the hospital acquainting him to the nurse Lee Jung Yun. Myung Jun is resentful of his family's money as he sees it as the root of all evil especially when it comes to his sister.



Shut Up: Flower Boy Band (2012) - Honorable Mention

High school rock group "Eye Candy" is true to its name for it has 6 very good-looking members led by the neurotic and free-spirited Byung Hee. The six young men attend a third-rate high school,  filled with delinquency, that closes down due to lack of funding forcing them to transfer out of the school they refined over as kings. The new school they are assigned is for the posh and rich kids and it already has its own rock band called "Strawberry Fields". A rivalry between the two bands begins on who will be the best rock group and reign supreme over the high school. Another source of rivalry is the affection of the most beautiful girl in school Im Soo Ah.

The summary of the drama sounds pretty cliche with fighting for a girl’s affection and popularity, but it definitely is not your typical drama. South Korea tends to value a specific image in students and so it was refreshing to have a show that depicted struggling kids and how they turn into rebels. It's almost like an iljin version of Boys over Flowers in a way. The drama allows kids to be kids but also introduces a lot of complicated issues such as class prejudices in society. It is certainly a story about adolescence and friendships that help us get through the difficult stages of life. Lee Min Ki SLAYED his cameo as leader of "Eye Candy" a free thinker oozing with charisma and screen presence, he completely steals every scene he is present in. Unfortunately, he is only in two episodes before Sung Joon takes over as the male lead of the drama. Whoever thought to begin the drama in the way it did was genius!


Cast

Kwon Ji Hyuk played by Sung Joon becomes the new leader of Eye Candy and struggles a lot with his new position. He also gets into a relationship with Im Soo Ah and finds it difficult to balance his friendships and relationship, which creates a rift in the band. He is thrown into the role of leadership unprepared but does the best he can to keep it together. Ji Hyuk has a cool and calm personality and is on the quiet side.

Im Soo Ah Played by Jo Bo Ah becomes Byung Hee’s muse and is the prettiest girl in school who lives across from Ji Hyuk after her wealthy family loses their money. Despite all that she goes through, Soo Ah keeps her head high and is not one to be put down. She stands up and speaks up for herself when needed to.
Lee Hyun Soo Played by Kim Myung Soo is a good friend and band member of Ji Hyuk's. He has a cold exterior to everyone aside from his family. Hyun Soo was once close to Ji Hyuk however Ji Hyuk ended up gravitating towards Byung Hee who, like Ji Hyuk, had no family to rely on. The distance affects Hyun Soo who initially does not say anything about it and becomes cynical as a result.
Jung Do Il played by Lee Hyun Jae is the mysterious son of a mob boss who is a member of Eye Candy. He holds affection for Woo Kyung who has a crush on Ji Hyuk. He is very calm and always keeps his thoughts to himself.
Seo Kyung Jong played by Kim Min Seok is the sweet and funny one in the group who has a close bond with Ha Jin. Kyung Jong has a kind heart and makes him the light of his band.
Kim Ha Jin played by Yoo Min Kyu is the playboy of the group who dates older women. He is quick-tempered and quick to end up in a fight. He is also very fiercely protective of his friends.
 
   




The Innocent Man (2012) - Honerable Mention

Kang Ma Roo, a medical student finds himself in jail after taking the fall for a crime committed by his girlfriend. After serving his time, he discovers that she has moved on to an older rich man and it was for this man's benefit that she committed the crime he served time for. In a quest for revenge, Ma Roo decides to bring his ex down using the daughter of the man she is now married to. Seo Eun Gi the stepdaughter of his former girlfriend is a sharp-minded and cold woman who warms up and falls for Ma Roo but discovers that she was just a tool in his love game.



Editors: Aya97 (1st editor)

Trending