What Dramas Did You Enjoy Watching in 2016?
1. HELLO MY TWENTIES (JTBC)
2. DEAR MY FRIENDS (TVN)
3. SIGNAL (TVN)
4. DRINKING SOLO (TVN)
5. MS. TEMPER & NAM JUNG-GI (JTBC)
A tough decision, but I ultimately chose Hello My Twenties because it was so consistently funny, poignant, and well-executed. Don’t be fooled by the pastel-colored poster featuring gorgeous twenty-somethings in the happy land of fluffy sheets. This JTBC show featured young women who come to acknowledge and respond to their demons whether they be devastating family matters, abusive boyfriend, hyper-competitive society that offers little hope for young adults, or lack of emergency response system that has left the survivors feeling guilty. These relatable and timely demons are significant in the context of contemporary Korean society, but what’s praiseworthy is that commentary on these social issues never becomes didactic by relegating the individual characters to mere carriers of important messages. The writer has carefully balanced the characters and issues so that together they form an entertaining yet critical tale of five distinct women living in today’s Korea. The funeral scene is one of my favorites.
Dear My Friends is next. I thank God for letting Korean television have writer Noh Hee-kyung. The show follows a writer in her late thirties who grudgingly agrees to author a book based on her particular mother and her equally particular friends. The lives that these seemingly imperfect elders reveal make you laugh, cry, respect, and love them. The show suggests that everyone’s life is full of life until it is over because that is what living is. What a treat to see such seasoned actors and actresses in one screen.
Signal was so meticulous. It’s as though I can still hear the commotion inside the detectives’ unit and feel the damp bathroom tiles where one of the victims was suffocated to death. The creators were tremendous in presenting the puzzling, often tragic cases with piercing reality. It surely set the bar high for future crime shows.
Drinking Solo didn’t seem like it was going to big in the beginning, but it proved that a show doesn’t have to boast a blockbuster plot or top-tier cast to be successful. A solid story of likable people who do things because they’ve got good reasons to do so can move the audience. And Drinking Solo tells its story very well and presents some of the most memorable characters in Korean drama.
Ms. Temper & Nam Jung Gi is on the list for similar reasons. It delivers a poignant message with apt humor. It’s so hard to be like Ms. Temper in the real world, but it feels damn good to see a great leader at the helm. A great leader who recognizes talent when she sees it and has the right heart and skills to foster that talent. The drama is fantasy but it’s the type of fantasy that I’d like to see more, even if it was just on television.
What Web Series Did You Enjoy Watching?
Hands down the funniest!!!
This short series was written and directed by Lee Byung-heon who garnered praise for his zany film Twenty (2015). It was funded and produced by Samsung. Yes, the Samsung that makes electronics and bazillion other things. There are so many reasons that make this web drama great, but when it comes down, it’s the rhythmic and hilarious lines that Lee deftly writes in.
72 SECONDS, BANANA ACTUALLY, OHGUSIL, and INNERVIEW
I discovered this hunk of talent called 72 Seconds, which is a studio that makes various web shorts and commercials. Their tag line is “We Create Fun.” It also has released original music used in its shows. 72 Seconds is one of the series that takes snapshots of ordinary moments in a young man’s life. His awkward, stream of consciousness monologues that run constantly are often witty. It’s funny because the whole thing feels so weird. If you liked The King of Jokgu (2013), you might like this, too. Oh Gu-Sil, Banana Actually, and The Innerview are other series from 72 Seconds I enjoyed. Check those out on YouTube!
What Dramas Did You Start But Did Not Finish For Any Reason?
- Baek Hee Has Returned
- God of Trade – Innkeeper 2015
- Descendants of the Sun
- One More Happy Ending
- Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo
- Jealousy Incarnate
- Yeah, That’s How It Is
- Cheese in the Trap
- The Good Wife
- Another Oh Hae Young
- My Wife’s Having an Affair This Week
What Movies Did You Enjoy in 2016?
I didn’t watch many movies because they are harder to access. I often watch drama via On Demand Korea, but movies are difficult to come by. Of the movies I watched, Dongju and Queen of Walking were my favorites. Dongju was beautiful for its people, poetry, and scenery. Queen of Walking is hilarious foremost and different in its message to young people. I’d like to watch some time The World of Us and The Bacchus Lady.
DONGJU: THE PORTRAIT OF A POET
QUEEN OF WALKING
WHAT ALBUMS DID YOU ENJOY LISTENING TO IN 2016?
SUMMER OF THOUGHS’ INTO THE FOREST AGAIN
PEOPLE AND PEOPLE’s PEOPLE AND PEOPLE
OH MY GIRL’s PINK OCEAN EP
YERIN BAEK’s FRANK
BIG PHONY’s BIG PHONY [Deluxe Edition]
WHAT SONGS DID YOU ENJOY LISTENING TO IN 2016?
In alphabetical order
- 1, 2, 3, 4 (Park So-hee)
- 1 of 1 (Shinee)
- Baby Blue (Kevin Oh)
- Bed on the Rooftop (Wilcox & Boni)
- Catch Ball (Lee Young-hoon)
- Cherry Blossom Theater (Park Sung-do) *Not the version I have but it’s the gist…
- City Breeze (Jay Park & Kirin)
- Could I Leave (Oksang Dalbit)
- Dream Catcher (Nell)
- Endless Day (Lee Sun-mi) *No MV or audio file found unfortunately :(
- Excuse Me (Cogason)
- My Neighbor Is a Witch (Every Single Day)
- Night of Wild (Blue Stream)
- Oh Ma Mind (Mixx)
- Pretty U (Seventeen)
- Russian Roulette (Red Velvet)
- SandLight (Snow Owl)
- Something Good (Got7)
- The Spring Day of Spring (Honggap)
- Toy (Block B)