Dedicating the time and effort to follow a Korean drama can be quite time consuming for international audiences. K-Pop fans who are just venturing into watching K-Drama learn quite quickly that some of the biggest obstacles for non-Korean speaking viewers is locating subtitled episodes. Once that task is achieved viewers are then provided with a myriad of choices. This month, the number of K-Pop idol led dramas increased from what was previously seen in the new year. As actors such as Kim Soo Hyun and Sung Joon have departed from the screen, with Yoochun, L, Lee Hong Ki and Ok Taecyeon returning to Korean drama. Which dramas should definitely be watched and which should be left for future viewing?
Last week, Three Days starring JYJ's Yoochun faced off against Inspiring Generation led by Kim Hyun Joong. The period drama Inspiring Generation had been unable to conquer its time slot since its January premier, due to the juggernaut that was You Who Came From The Stars. However, the conclusion of SBS' You Who Came From The Stars paved the way for Inspiring Generation to gain higher ratings than the first episodes of Three Days. Both dramas are up against Cunning Single Lady which has INFINITE's L (Kim Myungsoo) in a supporting role. Cunning Single Lady, a divorce-themed romantic comedy came in behind the previous dramas.
The action-packed period drama, 'Inspiring Generation'.
Historical Korean dramas can often be daunting for viewers. Historical dramas can be entertaining and provide context for time jump fantasy dramas such as Rooftop Prince and to a lesser extent, You Who Came From The Stars. However,Inspiring Age is based in the more modern setting of the 1930s. As it is a Korean drama, the storyline is less gritty than HBO's Boardwalk Empire, but the set design and costuming are just as lavish. SS501's Kim Hyun Joong, who has previously starred in the romantic manga based dramas Boys Over Flowers and Playful Kiss sheds his trademark flower boy image and immerses himself into the role of a boxer. As Shin Jung Tae, he struggles as a Korean living through the Japanese occupation of Shanghai.
Final Verdict:'Inspiring Generation' is a must-see drama for fans of action, romance, and history.
Recommended for fans of 'The Jazz Age'.
'Cunning Single Lady', a divorce comedy that may be trying too hard.
An emerging theme in Korean drama is the divorce comedy. As divorce becomes a bit more socially acceptable in Korea, screenwriters have started to tell the stories of love that has completely dissolved to be ignited once again in the future. Emergency Couple, a tvN drama starring Choi Jin Hyuk and Song Ji Hyo is currently one of the best examples of this archetype. While Emergency Couple provides encouraging examples for viewers to cheer on the once married couple, Cunning Single Lady does the complete opposite. From a viewing perspective, there are unwatchable moments in Cunning Single Lady. K-Dramas often negatively portray women, but generally speaking the heroine is one that most female viewers will readily identify with and accept.
Final Verdict: 'Cunning Single Lady' is best watched by fast forwarding to scenes where L is interacting with Joo Sang Wook's Jung Woo.
'Three Days' has the potential to be one of the best action dramas in years.
One of my favorite Korean dramas of all time is Lee Min Ho's City Hunter. From the initial trailers for Three Days, I was reminded of City Hunter due to the complexity of the plot and all-star cast. Three Days stars Yoochun, who has made his mark in K-Drama with iconic roles in Rooftop Prince and Sungkyunkwan Scandal. With the emphasis placed on action, Three Days is a bit of a tough sell for the typical romantic comedy viewer. Hopefully, the plot will incorporate more elements that are consistent with romantic Korean dramas or this demographic will be alienated.
Final Verdict: Keep watching 'Three Days' as the action and storyline will only get better.
The weekend dramas: Lee Hongki in 'Bride of The Century' Vs. UEE in 'Golden Rainbow' Vs. Ok Taecyeon in 'Wonderful Days'.
While dramas that air twice a week can be a commitment, weekend dramas are even more time consuming. The average weekend drama can air between forty and fifty-episodes, making them twice the run of even the most popular dramas. While the drama is almost at its conclusion, Golden Rainbow is a must see for viewers who are seeking a storyline with a very sweet romance as its main plot, but with strange family dynamics included. After School's UEE stars as Kim Baek Won, the member of an orphan family, who struggles through life but is loving. She stars opposite Jung Il Woo, who previously appeared in Flower Boy Ramyun Shop and Moon Embracing The Stars. UEE and Jung Il Woo are two of the strongest actors in the drama and help to lead what can sometimes be tedious subplots.
FTISLAND's Lee Hong Ki is hilarious in Bride of the Century, as the chaebol Choi Kang Joo. The writing for Bride of the Century is brilliant in that it upends some of the stereotypes that are used in drama to distinguish chaebols from commoners, in a very humorous way. Lee Hong Ki plays the softer sides of the character well, while also perfectly capturing the disdain that Choi Kang Joo has for his imposter bride, Na Doo Rim (Yang Jin Sung). Bride of the Century also incorporates supernatural elements, in addition to its central plot.
Ok Taecyeon of 2PM took a bit of criticism for being too harsh towards Gui Gui on the scripted reality show Global We Got Married. However, he is able to redeem this image through his portrayal of a caring Kang Dong Hee on Wonderful Days. Wonderful Days is a family drama, with the story of Kang Dong Seok at its heart.
Final Verdict: If you haven't watched 'Golden Rainbow', the drama will soon be ending. Start with 'Bride of the Century', first. Fans of Ok Taecyeon will enjoy 'Wonderful Days'.