Someone once told me: “nothing beats watching a drama in the year it comes out.” This person didn’t mean specifically an airing drama, but that for her, a drama should be watched during its premier year, or the following, no later than that. She feels it is necessary to live the time with the drama in order to appreciate it better.
I don’t necessarily feel the same way. I think that each and every one of us (drama lovers) would be able to appreciate a drama no matter how old it is, if it touches our hearts from the moment we tuned in to that often exiting, but mostly menacing first episode. However, I do agree with her that there are certain things that may turn us from giving an old drama a chance.
For example: the fashion; the technical effects; and the schematics. Because we all know that dramas are mostly like a fashion trend. Last year it was all about the spies and the action packed, from comedies, to drama, almost all dramas had to have these elements in order to be popular. This year, I’m afraid there is not enough room in the time machine anymore!
So what makes me decide to watch an old drama or not? Mostly for me, it isn’t neither of these things mentioned, but the actors. Once I watch a drama and like a certain actor, I try to watch all of the previous dramas this particular actor has done. I know it is the same for most of us, right? We follow directors, actors, writers… but from time to time, we get caught up in the trend and ignore the forgotten jewels, that in one way or the other carved the path for the new gems.
Here is the list of dramas in a decade that I chose for this highlight. I think these dramas tend to be easily overlooked, and I hope that in my humble appreciation of them, you are drawn to at least give them a try… we have time to obsess over them later 😉
For the sake of my OCD (it works in mysterious ways) I have divided the list in four groups: Melodrama; Comedy; Romance; and Mystery. Furthermore, I have only picked a few dramas among the list of dramas I chose for the polls. If I had time to talk about each and one of the dramas I have picked, I would do them justice, but as it is, I have to limit myself to only the ones that took a 10 from my list.
This is the list of dramas with elements of mystery:
Homicide Detective Kang Oh Soo is working on a case without concrete evidence, just a weird tarot card that appeared in the scene. When another murder happens, Oh Soo is able to connect the two as he finds yet another tarot card in the scene; strangely enough, it links him to the murders –he received the same tarot cards –but he has no idea why.
He meets Seo Hae In, a young woman with supernatural abilities. When Hae In comes in contact with an object, she can see the past it holds. Despite his skepticism, Oh Soo starts going to Hae In for help, and fair enough she reveals that the killers were different in both murders, but the victims are connected to an old case that happened 12 years ago.
Things only get more complicated when the mysterious lawyer Oh Seung Ha claims to be the lawyer to both suspects.
Now Oh Soo has two murders on his plate; two tarot cards that hint to a secret buried several layers deep, and a lawyer that shakes his conviction.
This drama is one of many on my list of “underdogs”. Being a drama with two actors that are not very popular at the moment; Ju Ji Hoon, who has come back with Five Fingers, but still holds a very low position as a popular TV actor, possibly because of previous incidents that put a stain in his -then- blossoming career. Fighting Ju Ji Hoon!!
The other actor is Uhm Tae Woong. He has been around for a while, and even now, Uhm Tae Woong continues to be one of the best television actors in Korea of his generation, but he is not as popular as other actors that aren’t as good. Whether I attribute it to him not being eye-candy or not, will be left for another post. Still, I think a lot of us in the drama community appreciate his acting. If you have not seen this drama with him, you are missing out on one of his best characters! <- this will be my best attempt at an unbiased opinion.
I have no drama to reference The Devil to, not because it is unique, but because not a lot of modern Korean dramas have followed the same kind of plot. In turn, I think The Devil is in par with many Japanese dramas that gear more toward the exploring of the human mind, and how a given situation might turn an individual into someone completely alien from whom he is. The psychology that plays in this plot is something deserving of attention for the mystery addicts! ^^… there is actually a Japanese version of this drama. Some of us think they did it best, but I would like to differ on that.
Son Il Gun is a poor artist that lives with his daughter. After he dies in a car accident, he feels miserable that he left the world of the living in bad terms with her. The Death Angel gives him a chance to mend the things he left unfinished with his daughter by granting him the 49 days period: Son Il Gun will have a chance to interact with his daughter in someone else’ body, for a few hours each day, for 49 days.
Enter Cha Seung Hyo. He is an orphan that was adopted by Americans and comes back to Korea to manage the company he works for in United States. Cha Seung Hyo falls in a comma after crashing his car against Sun Il Gun’s motorbike. As both men are given another chance, Seung Hyo is awaken in order to provide his body as a vessel for Son Il Gun.
Both men learn to love and accept their destiny; Seung Hyo opens up to Young In -Son Il Gun’s daughter; and father and daughter mend their broken relationship. However, as the 49 days come closer to an end, they discover there was more to their accident than just fate!
What? You think is a rip-off of Big? Nah, this drama was done first.
Who Are You? is completely over-showed by two things: Young idol actors making wave left and right; and 49 Days, the 2012 Kdrama.
True, 49 Days was ground breaking for many drama addicts, not only because of the 49 day legend, but for the unique plot it brought to the drama community that year. Now, rewind several years back and would you have watched Who Are You? You would have found 49 Days was just another trendy drama. It was a good drama, and it had me at the edge of my seat until episode 11, then it just took the turn I was dreading… the “our love forever no matter time” turn. In Who Are You? This is not an issue, at least not for me.
I like that Who Are You? connects you in a more personal way. While 49 Days is more about the broken relationship among three friends, and a woman with a miserable past mysteriously linked to the main character; Who Are You? is about the love of a father for his daughter. The end.
Perhaps, it touched me deeply because I have a constant melancholy whenever I think of my father who lives far away from me, or perhaps it was just the amazing acting of Yoon Kye Sang as both father and romantic interest, and Kang Nam Gil, who remains one of my favorite comedy actors in Korean dramas.
If you think you have seen all when it comes to acting, then I will assume you have seen this drama! Yoon Kye sang was superb, and that is enough of a reason to give this drama a try… and no! I am not being biased!
Candid, and utterly naive Kanzaki Nao is caught up in the game of LIAR GAME once more after she recieves another invitation. Having been helped by swindler Akiyama Shinichi in the previous game, she seeks his help once more.
This time around they team up with the eccentric Fukunaga against three opponents to battle for truth in the series of games that form The Liar Game!
Actually I would recommend all the LIAR GAME series, but the lists were limited and I had to pick reasonably. Plus this drama is pretty popular among my circle of drama addict friends. Yet, I don’t know how popular it is out there in the bigger community of drama addicts. 😉
Based on the manga, this drama is a jewel in its own unique way. It has strange characters, and often farfetched, but careful, have you seen pictures of Tokyo fashion? I wouldn’t think it as strange then. Either way, I admit the plot is quirky, and that my friend is the reason why it is so great!
True, strange/odd not always means it will be good. But in this case it is. LIAR GAME’s plot in itself is odd, forget the characters… now, let us move on to the particularities, shall we?
Shinobu Kaitani is the mastermind behind this amazing story. He tackles the natural greed and indifference that lives in every one of us. This is yet another psychological mystery drama that will make you wonder about your own morals. It has plenty of funny moments, while it takes you to the darkest corners of human ambitions, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. The main character of this drama is the typical annoying goody two-shoes that most of us hate in romantic-comedies. However, one needs to sit back and think why certain characters exist and what good are they to the plot; ultimately why are they the main characters if we know we cannot connect with them? In this case, the main character is a bit of a stereotype, but I believe it is the essential character for this plot. If Nao wouldn’t be the way she is, the drama wouldn’t make sense.
Being candid is not always a virtue! And good writing is made from putting a flawed hero (in any way you wish him to be flawed) and setting him up to the ultimate match between himself and reality, or evil, or whatever you wish to call that which is just… life! This is exactly what happens in LIAR GAME.
If you are a manga reader, then I would definitely recommend the manga as well. It goes further into the story, and it continues to be as original.
Honorable mentions to:
Green Rose – My First revenge drama. It was really good while I was watching it. I believe this one might fall under those dramas that would be better appreciated if watched during its premier year. Although I have to say that a good revenge drama never gets old! — MyDramaList link to synopsis and info.
Long Love Letter – Japanese drama from 2002. This drama is one of those forgotten jewels I was talking about. If you like Japanese dramas, and lots of mystery, this drama might be the right one for you. Although the main actors are not very popular, they deliver exceptional acting in their roles! — MyDramaList link to synopsis and info.