I missed talking about things I love. It’s something I should do more often, I believe. This blog is already three years in the running, and I know that I kept everything simple by sticking with my structured theme of random poetry, mood-colored mixtapes, book-talk and the occasional film reviews. I can’t even remember when was the last time I blogged about a movie, which is ironic, because aside from being a corporate slave (read: going to work for cash), hoarding and reading books and sleeping, I pretty much do nothing in life besides watching flicks and shows.
Okay guys; brace yourselves for a much-shallower version of yours truly.
I’m a sucker for Asian dramas, see. And I can’t believe I’m just blogging about this for the first time, given how much I stayed up late downloading and watching these things in the last couple of years. I know, right? My girlfriends and my siblings are already well aware of how non-existent my social life is because of this stuff. So why talk about them? Why not?
Hence, a compilation of sorts to outline my favorite dramas of all time, because it’s essential (and not to mention, inevitable,) for every drama-lover to have one. Besides, I love lists. They make me feel coherent. A quick note though: my list would only consists of Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese dramas because I’m yet to discover sites wherein I could find subbed versions of other Asian dramas. I also limited my set to shows that I’ve finished in entirety, because wouldn’t you know, I actually have this ‘last-episode-syndrome’ where I totally give up watching dramas one episode before its finale. Yeah, it’s an annoying inexplicable quirk of mine. To cut the story short, these shows already earned additional brownie points on my book for the sole reason of my urge to watch them until the very end. And finally, I’m doing this in three parts, because it’s just too big of a mess to do everything in one monster post. I’m starting with Korean Dramas because it’s where everything started for me in the first place.
A funny YouTube commentator once said, “What do we get from Korean dramas aside from being dissatisfied with our own lives and raising our standards of the opposite sex so ridiculously high?” How true, how true. Haha.
Here’s probably the sanest reason why I held back about writing about my love for dramas for such a very long time: I’ve seen too many and I didn’t know where to start. Korean dramas are case in point. It’s so diverse and yet so distinguishable in its many facets. If you’re like me, who’ve been hooked with dramas since high school years, you’ll understand that Korean dramas have several types and categories. Asking me what my favorite Korean drama of all time would be similar to asking what’s the best-est book in the world is; it’s freaking difficult, and there can never be just one answer. It’s just not possible, you know. So for the sake of brevity, I’ll be giving my favorite drama for each genre that I’m aware of.
No one does romantic comedies like Korea, and it’s no exaggeration. The clichés and standard tropes would always be there of course: the sassy heroine and the immature-but-charming male lead, the perfect second-guy who never gets the girl, the rich and trendy, the heartfelt chemistry and the romantic bickering. To this day, I still gush over Full House, my very first Korean Drama experience back in 2005, and it’s like first love in a lot of ways. I remember avidly tuning in at its timeslot every evening and talking about it non-stop the morning-after in school with my classmates. You can’t just move on, you know?
This is probably the genre that hits the closest in resemblance to my country’s drama features. Hardcore rivalries, murderous revenge stories, birth secrets, accidents left and right. I know it sounds so unpatriotic and ungrateful for me to say that I’ve never been a fan of my own country’s tv dramas, but I guess this stuff just really never caught my interest. I don’t like it when characters are so one-sided, when they’re so black-and-white. My bestfriend Cherry lent me a dvd copy of Baker King, Kim Tak Goo last year and I initially worried a lot about how I’ll get to finish it because it has sooo many episodes than the average K-drama, (another element of Makjang), and it looks so dramatic from the onset. But wow, I found myself actually enjoying it, and eventually crying buckets of tears in the process. This drama has a big heart, that’s why. Acting is so solid too, plus directing was suspenseful and fast-paced. Never mind that you’ll probably end up with swollen and red eyes from too much crying—it’s freaking worth it.
So you ask me how is it any different from Makjang? These dramas are so much more light-hearted and deal more about the daily struggles of common families and relationships. Think makjang minus the evil. With family dramas, I got to appreciate the average life, and it’s a lot more relevant because they’re usually very realistic and funny. Smile,You wins this hands-down because the cast is so spot-on and the adorable lead couple is probably one of the sweetest love pairings I’ve seen ever.
Another one of the genres I am usually wary of. Sageuk dramas are historical dramas centering mostly on Korean Royalties from way back, and this genre usually centers around political factions, wars and betrayals. My mom had a Queen Seon-deok phase a year ago, where she spent five whole days without sleep just to finish the entire series. And when Kim Nam-Gil went to the army, she wept. For the next two weeks, she wouldn’t talk about anything besides that drama, and I was so flabbergasted when she told me, “Naiintindihan ko na kung bakit ka obsessed sa mga koreano.” (I understand now why you’re so obsessed with Koreans.) I still remember how hard I fell on the floor laughing. Anyway, on to my favorite Sageuk drama: Sungkyungwan Scandal. I loved it because of its refreshing take on young scholars at the nation’s top university during that time. Unlike most sageuks, this is fictional, but still highly structured around real historical events during this period. Plus, how fun is it that the heroine is disguising as a boy? During that time, only men were allowed the privilege of education, and it’s so interesting to see the sexual discrimination subplot unfold in the backdrop of fun, zany moments peppered with gender jokes.
PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLERS: WHITE CHRISTMAS (pictured above)
I don’t even know if this is a drama genre, but I’m putting this one up because I wanna include my most recent drama on the list: White Christmas, which is pictured above. It’s an 8-episode drama special which aired last year, and it’s a drama I feel so strongly about because of its delicate theme and its richly-layered characters. I loved it for obvious reasons: it’s set on a school for young geniuses, it’s centered around a murder threat mystery, it has a limited time-frame which sets the pace fast, it has crazy twists and turns, and what takes the cake: beautiful, wounded boys who know how to act and how to act good. I’ve been so absorbed about this drama that I immediately asked my girlfriends Ira and Cherry about it, and boy did we have a debate! Thrillers always are superb because they make you think and when they out-think your mind, you don’t feel bitter but satisfied. That’s how I feel about this drama, despite its flaws.
And that’s about everything for my Korean Drama favorites. Of course, I’m still on the lookout for more dramas in the future, no matter how busy life can get. Finding a drama you could add on your list of all-time favorites, is of course, one of the best feelings in the world. So, as they say, Fighting!