1. Jungle Fish 1 & 2
Jungle Fish is a show about students in Korea, in the perspective that they have worked very hard everyday in their studies for good results and how the society stresses the importance of it. This is to an extent where you need to be rich in order to enter a certain school and if you cannot pay for it, you will have to leave the school or to an extent where you would take pills to increase concentration. Should students study till it became their only purpose of living? The drama focuses on a group of students and their different perspectives towards studying.
2. Master of Study
Master of Study is another show about the students in Korea but it focuses on another perspective. The students in this particular school in the show are known to be extremely bad at studying and the students themselves have no will to study. The teachers too are not confident of the students to pass the exams and have allowed the students to behave in whichever way they like. Then comes a lawyer who claims that he can send at least 5 students to the best university in Korea, Cheonha University. The drama shows how he thrives to achieve his goal and how his efforts change how the teachers teaches the students.
Misaeng is show about office working life in Korea. I find the topics presented in the drama applicable to me too, even though I am not living in Korea and am not a Korean. They show the interaction between a superior and a subordinate, how colleagues of the same position interact. There are pleasant and nasty stuff in working life. There are professional and personal important things to do. Although I find the drama relevant to me, I do not agree with all the solutions presented in the show, for example, drinking to forget one’s sorrows. I have also no idea how people can drink till dead drunk and then the next morning, appear fresh and alert early in the morning. But then again, I have less than a baby’s experience in working life (and even less to say, in office life) so perhaps my view will change a few years later.
Ep 1-20 except for ep 18: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPfgU_yRcNnzTKJ1VTm5GuD-HPPIomRFN
4. Page Turner
This short 3 episode Korean drama was really interesting with no weird cliff hangers or unanswered questions at the last episode. The story is about a genius female pianist acted by my favourite Korean child actress, Kim So Hyun. She was very talented in playing the piano and her talent was discovered by her mum accidentally when she tried to teach her mum’s piano student with perfect piano skills learnt from just watching her mum teaching students. Her mum begin to focus on teaching her piano skills while placing huge hope and stress on her. Of course, things couldn’t be 100% smooth in all stories (and life too) and there is a twist at the end with a slight romantic touch between the female pianist, her male pianist rival and another male character. The part that was the most touching or thought-provoking for me might be that she said that she didn’t like to play the piano at all and only did so because of her mum.
5. Heal me or Kill me
I personally think that if you like ‘It’s okay, That’s Love’, you would like this too. This Korean drama was on my to-watch list in my 2015 drama list and I had managed to watch this year. Definitely worth watching and it has a unique story line that is different from the usual only romance or adultery sort of Korean dramas. The main character has multiple personality disorder. It is a good drama to learn more about this disorder in a less serious or boring or theoretic way but in a way that allows audience (including me) to understand it from the emotional perspective and how to look at or help or identify people with such disorders. Of course, no one can be a psychologist just by watching a drama but much knowledge or at least more understanding towards such a topic has increased in a good way. The good news is in the drama, the main character got cured of his disorder in the end. Another plus point would be after this drama, there are two dramas ‘She was pretty’ and ‘Secret love’ acted by the same main characters (I am unsure of whether the stories are related or not but I have heard good reviews for them) for fans to continue enjoy great story line dramas.
6. Love in the Moonlight
A definite popular drama in 2016 with fans continuing to show support after the end of the drama would be ‘Love in the Moonlight’. The main characters have great TV image and personality and very attractive looks too. For story line, I was really engrossed in the drama initially but after about episode 6, I find the progress of the story rather slow and kept going about how they were afraid that Ra On’s true gender would be exposed to others. The good side would be that the drama has awesome tactics in videography with special mentions on Ra On’s (acted by Kim Yoo Jung/You Jeong) dance, Byung Yeon’s (Dong Yeon) sword or dodging the arrows tactic and Yoon Sung’s (Jin Young) caring and shrewd actions. Furthermore, it is a Korean ancient drama so there will be beautiful scenery and traditional clothes too.
7. May Queen
I was rather engrossed in this drama after watching ‘Love in the Moonlight’ but stopped watching at episode 30+ due to Exam period. Definitely a drama for marine lovers/ship builders or just a person wanting some intense Korean drama. The story is pretty good but a little too intense or boring at the episode 33+ (total episodes 38). The love story is also intense. I mean like a guy loves a girl so much that he wants to elope with her even though this means never meeting his Father or coming back to Korea again. Then, the girl too has own problems. This story has three main characters but the many second leads also play quite an important part to the story. The good part is that audiences can expect a change with development towards the end in each episode. The great part would be the coolness of the main characters with ship building parts. There are literally blue prints, sketches and many scenes were shot at the factory and port.
1. 덕혜옹주 The last princess
I had the benefit of being in Korea for 2 months in 2016 (free-and-easy travel plus exchange) and I fulfilled one of my to-do list in Korea was to watch a Korean movie. The big bonus was being able to watch it on the second last day in Korea. Never regretted it even though I only understood 60-70% of the movie (pure Korean with no English subtitles). I definitely understood the main picture and like many Koreans watching that day, I also felt like crying at many moments especially when Princess Deokhye managed to come back to Korea at age 81 (I think so) and after that part, the movie showed the real Princess Deokhye. Very touching movie with great acting that would move someone to tears even if you don’t know much Korean.
2. Ode to my father
Another awesome must-watch Korean movie based on real life stories. The movie talks about the time after war where people were so poor that men wanted to work as miners in Germany. Women, on the other hand, wanted to work as nurses in Germany. Hence, in a country where almost no one speaks Korean beside Koreans themselves, the Korean miners and the Korean nurses very naturally often became couples. I later found out through the Korean variety show ‘Infinity Challenge’ that if the Korean miners married the Korean nurses, they would be allowed to stay longer in Germany. This is a very touching movie that I had the privilege of watching during one of my ‘Introduction to Korean Culture’ classes in Korea.
3. My boyfriend is Type B
A rather old Korean movie in 2005 (but I watched in 2016) about how Korean women like to categorize men into their blood types to know whether or not their personalities would be matching. Not sure if this is a practice now but they do still have quite a few superstitious ways of checking how good of a match couples are (for fun I think but who knows). Type B blood is said to be the hardest to get along with. This movie is a of comedy genre and good if you need a just-for-laughs movie.
1. Let’s eat with friends
I didn’t watch the Korean drama ‘Let’s eat’ or ‘Let’s eat 2’ but I love to watch this variety travelling show that I chance upon on TVN. I couldn’t wait for the next episode and watch all the episodes available online that had English subtitles till I was tired. The ‘Let’s eat 2’ cast with 2 members of BEAST and I begin to like actress Seo Hyun Jin due to this variety show. Her love for the museums and pleasant personality made me interested in her future works.
2. Battle Trip
I think my love for travelling has increased by multiple folds after Korea trip and Korean variety travelling shows made me even more excited for the next trip. In every episode, audiences can look forward to a destination that Koreans can travel easily for a short trip usually 3 days 2 nights. Based on gut feeling, the itinerary is done by the stars going for the trip themselves or at least they are highly involved in the planning. Very interesting to see the different free-and-easy trips from the stars perspective and live audiences would vote whether they would want to go on such a trip.
3. Infinity Challenge
The show has been around for so many years but I have only officially watched this show in Dec 2016. So far, I have watched more than 10 episodes and they were all very interesting especially the theme where they would deliver anything from Korea to the rest of the world (choosing among thousands of applicants). That episode was entertaining but very moving and in many areas, enlightening many issues I have never knew about. Not every theme is this heavy-hearted too. There are plenty of episodes like the one I am watching now about how the producers resolve all the complaints that the main hosts have in such an entertaining way that I just can’t stop watching.
4. 2 Days 1 Night
Still my all time favourite Korean variety show where the hosts play silly but so entertaining games in many parts of Korea. The scenery shown is so awesome and it makes me want to visit these places so much but since they aren’t so easy to find or too time consuming to travel, I am so happy to watch these at the comfort of my home.
My drama to-watch list
1. She was pretty
2. Secret love
3. The time we were not in love
4. Legend of the blue sea
My movie to-watch list
1. Pure love
2. The beauty inside