Ten years of Korean dramas, and you'd think we would have watched a record amount for the anniversary. But no. We only watched six Korean dramas this year. It's a combination of having been through a difficult year and not feeling like watching anything stressful, and not coming across many Kdramas that appealed to me. We are not fond of romcoms with serial killers included, and we've been burned by dramas that started out well and then tanked halfway through. So, we tended to wait for a while to get the buzz on a show before we tried it.
Avengers Social Club
Probably the Korean drama I enjoyed the most this year was one that originally aired five years ago, Avengers Social Club. It's about three women (and the stepson of one of them) who decide to avenge themselves of some rankling injustices. I'd heard that it was a fun show back when it aired, and now that it appeared on Youtube, I was happy to try it. Very fun, especially in the first half.
A story about a girl who becomes famous for fencing, and a boy who becomes a reporter. The main story is framed by a secondary story of the girl all grown up and her teenage daughter, which takes places in Covid times and everyone wears masks. The friendships all through were good but the ending was disappointing.
The code word for this show is "archaeopteryx." A chaebol heir is tired of the blind dates his grandfather arranges and decides to marry the next person he is set up with. The lady in question pays her best friend to take her place. The first part is very fun, especially the grandfather, who just wants grandchildren. But the last two episodes fall into some annoying tropes and are sadly lacking.
Lovers in Paris
The owner of a car dealership and his hapless nephew both fall in love with the same woman, who is working as his housekeeper to be able to afford to live in Paris. The humor is run through by the first five episodes, the rest is very soapy and drags badly. The ending is confusing, with two alternate versions being shown.
A loyal employee of a chaebol family is killed for political reasons and is reincarnated as the youngest grandson. He is smart and remembers a lot of important events from his life the first time around, and is able to make money big time. The boy who plays this character as a young teen was very good. The grandson interacting with his grandfather was the best part.
A detective chasing a serial killer runs through a tunnel and comes out thirty years in the future. The detective tries to figure out all his cases, which are still unsolved. Eventually he figures it out and goes back and forth several times. Show is well done but I kept a running count of all the dead bodies every episode.
We watched only one of these this year, but it was maybe the best drama all year.
There's this bus. It explodes, and then time resets. It's like Groundhog Day, the two main characters are caught in a time loop. They use some of the time loops to figure out what is going on with all the passengers on the bus, and some of the loops to figure out how best to get help from the police. Very well acted, and tightly written.
We watched fourteen Japanese dramas this year. Not all of them were really good, but they were at least relaxing and easy watches. Just what we needed this year.
Very fun drama about creating mangas. A woman who was an athlete training for the olympics is injured and has to change careers. She chooses to be an editor for a manga publisher. Her introduction to the CEO and her boss are priceless! Her supervisor with the man bun is the favorite character. She learns a lot from him as she copes with the artists of the mangas, some of whom have to be cajoled to do their jobs.
Only Just Married
A career woman suddenly needs a lot of money to help her grandmother, and agrees to a contract marriage to get it. The guy offering her 5 million yen is so nitpicky and such a neat freak, that she wonders if she can do it after all. He is covering up a case of unrequited love, but is quite clueless at how to interact with other people.
Rurouni Kenshin Origins
A movie about a samurai who has killed so many people he decides to not kill anyone anymore. He still fights, but holds his sword backwards so he hits people with the dull side.
An elegant fashion editor marries an ace member of an air force rescue squad, without really knowing each other very well. They have such different styles that they decide to divorce almost immediately, then discover that their parents are ready to split up as well. The man has a horrible harsh voice, but the two of them have great chemistry. It took a long time to get through the first couple of episodes, but we binged the rest on one Saturday.
A Girl and Three Sweethearts
A woman who is a skilled baker is laid off, and gets hired by a man she knows from school who runs a restaurant with his brothers. She seems to have crushes on different brothers at different times. One is friendly, and one is critical of her, and one is casual. A family secret is exposed and threatens the restaurant.
Oh My Boss Love Not Included
A woman applies for a job at a large company and is hired by the fashion department, which she knows nothing about. Her boss is like the boss lady in The Devil Wears Prada, very capable but hard to work for. Nevertheless, the fish-out-of-water girl starts to do well, and has two guys that like her.
Don't Call it Mystery
A university student (with a huge head of fluffy hair) is detained as a suspect in a murder. He proves to be so good at solving mysteries that the police start asking him for help in other cases. All he really wants to do is eat curry.
Heaven and Hell Soul Exchange
A female detective investigates a serial killer and during a full moon the male suspect swaps bodies with her. He talks her into cooperating to an extent so they can solve both their problems. We have to get into a backstory to understand what is happening. Very well acted, very engrossing show.
Full-Time Wife Escapist Movie
A sequel to the drama on which it was based, which came out a year earlier. A couple who had a contract marriage rethinks their situation, but end up together. He is shy and she is outgoing.
Why I Dress Up for Love
This is about a group of people who live in a share-house. A woman is an Instagram influencer who is obsessed with making lots of posts wearing different outfits all the time. A man wanted to be a chef but now has a food truck. They both help a roommate who is an artist and having an exhibit.
My Cuteness is About to Expire
A man who trades on his cuteness to succeed at work and with his girlfriend, is told that he will soon lose his cuteness. The person telling him this is an unattractive man who claims to be himself from thirty years in the future. There is a love interest with a woman who is very stoic and never smiles.
A musician has written one song that was a big hit, but can't seem to come up with another one. A woman from a cleaning company tries to help him because his song has been a big encouragement for her over the years. She has an ear tumor and there is a possibility that an operation could leave her deaf.
A high school student is going deaf and tries to hide it from his friends, so he cuts all contact. Years later they come across him again. His old girlfriend has another boyfriend, but dumps him because she is is still interested in this guy. He slowly becomes more comfortable, but remains quite depressed.
Hold Me Back
This is a movie about a woman who lives alone and talks to a voice in her head that give her advice when she doesn't know what to do. She starts to fall for a man she meets at work and worries about coming out of her comfort zone. There are story layers about loneliness, mental stress, and even magic that may be connected to folklore creatures called kappas. Very cute and thoughtful.