K-drama Ratings

The following is a comprehensive list of all the Korean dramas I have watched, along with my rating and a brief description. For professional reviews/ratings from the Queen of K-Dramas, check out dramabeans (my inspiration for this list).

(This list will be updated as I pursue my goal of Watching All the Dramas.)

Note: * = dropped / ** = currently watching

Adolescence Medley (2013) – 8/10

A 3-episode mini drama about high school country kids that packs a lot of heart. Really enjoyable. Also nice that they got an actor who is actually high school age to play the lead – shocking!

Age of Feeling (2014) – 5/10

It starts off strong – love the historical setting, the cute romance, the general vibe – but rapidly loses its storyline and becomes a violent, dull, senseless mess (there were multiple issues during filming, including changing writers and about half the cast dropping out midway through, which could explain things). Somehow I stuck through to the end, but it wasn’t worth it. Disastrous.

Answer Me 1997 (2012) – 7/10

Cute at times, frustrating at others. I really wasn’t a fan of the heroine, Shi-won’s, behavior (that was where most of the frustration came in) – but if nothing else, this drama introduced me to the talent, adorableness, and handsome face that is Seo In-guk.

Big (2012) – 3/10

Ugh, don’t get me started. Such a disappointment. If you’re going to do a body-swapping drama, at least put in multiple body swaps! (See: Secret Garden.) Plus, I’m not really a fan of Gong Yoo; he’s just not my style.

Blade Man (2014) – 8/10

The level of weird and random here was right up my alley. Truly hilarious IMO. The plot flagged a little at the end with unnecessary conflict and angst, though (they should’ve stuck with what was working for them – random hilarity!), and the ending was purely bizarre, which is why it’s not a 9 or 10. Still, definitely worth a watch if you click with this kind of humor.

Boys over Flowers (2009) – 6/10

A classic – the definitive K-drama that every K-drama lover should attempt to get through. If you’ve seen some of the really good dramas already, though, it might be difficult. (Sorry, BoF fans!) I think the main reason this one is so beloved is that for many, it was their introduction to K-dramas – a gateway drug, as it were – and therefore it carries many fond memories and is the object of much affection regardless of the fact that it’s simply not very good.

City Hunter (2011) – 10/10

Definitely in my top 10. Suspense, action, romance, revenge, true love, giants, miracles – oops, that’s something else. But seriously, this drama will make you feel all the feels, and if you’re anything like me, it will also give you a thing for guys in black surgical masks. Specifically, Lee Min-ho in a black surgical mask.

The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince (2007) – 4/10

In my opinion, waaayyy overhyped by the K-drama community. The chemistry did nothing for me, the humorous moments were few and far between (if even existent), and the jajangmyeon eating contest in Episode 1 turned me off almost before I even got started. I honestly actively disliked this show. I’m not sure why I bothered to finish it; I guess because it’s a classic. Not recommended. (I feel like I’m alone in Kdramaland on this one… anyone out there who agrees with me?)

Doctor Stranger (2014) – 9/10

This one is rated highly purely out of my enjoyment in suffering from Extreme Second Lead Syndrome. I shipped the Quack Couple so hard that I fell under the delusion that this drama would break Kdrama Law and bring a non-canon couple into canonship. If not for the great fun of shipping a hopeless ship (and the brilliant zany weirdness of Lee Jong-suk as Park Hoon, at least for the first half), this drama would be a 3/10 for disastrous plot (or lack thereof). Recommended for any Lee Jong-suk fan; otherwise, skip.

Flower Boy Next Door (2013) – 6/10

A nice, cute, fluffy drama with plenty of eye candy and little in the way of memorable acting, dialogue, or directing. Still, easy to watch and plenty of humor thanks to Yoon Shi-yoon’s character, “Enrique.” It could be worth the watch just for him and the speaking-Spanish-but-pretending-to-be-the-Italian-mafia scene in Episode 14.

Flower Boy Ramyun Shop (2011) – 9/10

Love this drama. Cute and hilarious in all the right ways. The noona romance is sizzling, the chemistry is sizzling, the flower boys are sizzling… and this is one of the few dramas I’ve seen where the ending was not only satisfactory, but triumphantly perfect and couldn’t have gone better even if I had written it myself.

Gaksital (Bridal Mask) (2012) – 8/10

Prepare for the long haul with this drama (28 episodes! – that’s long for a Korean drama, the average being 16-20), but overall it’s worth the time commitment. It’s a really well-done historical drama, great plot, great acting, that will pull you in and keep you going back for more. Personally, this genre isn’t my cup of tea, but it was still so good that I can’t help giving it an 8.

Healer (2014-15) – 10/10

Healer takes the bar and the legacy left by City Hunter and raises it to a whole new level. This drama is just about flawless, with very little unnecessary angst and just the right combination of action, suspense, humor, romance, and family bonding. Highly, highly recommend.

Heartless City* (2013)

-Want to get back to this one. It just wasn’t the right time, or I wasn’t in the right mood. I’ll try again someday.

Heirs (2013) – 9/10

Rated highly because it was the 2nd drama I ever watched and at the time, I thought it was the best thing I’d ever seen. As far as K-drama tropes go, this one has it all. It was a huge flop in drama circles and probably one of the most condemned dramas of all time by drama critics everywhere. However, here are my reasons that you should watch it anyway: 1) Eye candy feast (hello, Lee Min-ho, Kim Woo-bin, Kang Min-hyuk, Choi Jin-hyuk, Kang Ha-neul, Park Hyung-sik – ALL IN ONE DRAMA). 2) Lee Min-ho speaking Engrish. 3) Jay the surfer. 4) Humor. IMO it is a very funny drama, albeit sometimes without intending to be.

High School King of Savvy** (2014)

I Hear Your Voice (2013) – 9/10

Fantastic story. Lee Jong-suk is a puppy and how could you not love him? I recall being a bit frustrated with Lee Bo-young’s character’s hesitancy and lack of affection at times, but given the noona romance, it’s understandable. The main conflict has a great arc and resolution. Really well-done show.

Kill Me, Heal Me** (2015)

Liar Game (2014) – 10/10

Possibly my favorite/the best K-drama I’ve ever seen. Plot, acting, and directing are amazing. I even convinced a couple staunch anti-K-dramaites to watch it, and they enjoyed it. It will grip you and keep you in the edge of your seat each step of the way. Watch it. Now.

Marriage Not Dating (2014) – 9/10

A fun, light romantic comedy that had me laughing out loud. This wasn’t a particularly popular drama, and the actors aren’t well-known, but I really enjoyed it because of the characters and the acting (and, yes, the love triangle – which tends to be a major pull for a lot of K-dramas).

Mask** (2015)

Mr. Baek* (2014)

-Dropped after suspecting that my OTP ship was not gonna happen, looking up spoilers, and confirming my fears.

My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho (2010) – 7/10

If I hadn’t watched You from Another Star first, I might’ve enjoyed this more; however, in my opinion, You from Another Star did the whole supernatural love story thing much better. Nevertheless, it was funny and intense and sweet, and it made me laugh and cry, so it was a good drama. Plus I love the OST (“Fox Rain” is gorgeous).

Nice Guy (2012) – 10/10

My first melo, and it was a gorgeous first excursion into the genre. I can’t recommend Nice Guy enough if you like melodrama and crying and romance and stories of broken love. I love, love, love this drama, and I don’t even have a specific reason for it. It just spoke to me and touched my heart in all the right ways, and so it earns a place on my Top 5. (Also, Song Joong-ki… omg.)

Nine: Nine Time Travels (2013) – 9/10

I feel like this is another drama that could appeal to a broader audience. It’s not your typical romance-y cutesy drama. The time travel plot requires brain work while you watch, and I like that. Also, Lee Jin-wook is so handsome. The only fault I have with this drama is the way it tried to wrap up the ending – too many open-ended questions! – but you can draw your own conclusions about that.

Personal Taste (2010) – 7/10

The hilarity and fun of the first half of the episodes fades towards the middle and the end into tears, angst, unnecessary conflict, and pathetic cliche plot devices. Still, not a bad show overall, especially if you’re a Lee Min-ho fan.

Pinocchio* (2014)

-I just have to say that I really tried to watch this one because I love Lee Jong-suk, and objectively I know it’s a good show… but I strongly dislike Park Shin-hye and I couldn’t get past that. I dropped it around Episode 12.

Playful Kiss (2010) – 10/10

My first K-drama, ever, and hence forever my favorite drama. I might be the only person who thinks Playful Kiss is flawless and perfect, but I don’t care. It’s my first love. I felt like I was Oh Ha-ni and I fell in love with Baek Seung-jo right along with her. I had never experienced such an intense addiction to anything before. I spent all day waiting for the moment when I could watch the next episode. I thought about it constantly. (By the way, these are common symptoms that any K-drama addict will recognize.) I have watched this drama five times and plan to revisit it on a yearly basis, on my K-drama “anniversary” in October. It never gets old.

(Disclaimer: This drama is widely disliked in the K-drama community for being too bland, too “slice of life,” lacking in plot, bad acting, “not as good as the Taiwanese/Japanese version,” and what have you. I’m aware of these perceived faults, but I refuse to acknowledge them. It will always be the perfect drama for me. I love every character and every bit of every episode. As my sister pointed out whenever I would say “Oh, this is my favorite episode!” – “You say that about every episode.” Yep.)

Queen In-hyun’s Man (2012) – 10/10

Combining time travel with romance is a fantastic idea. Adding humor is even better. This drama is sweet and fun, but with just the right amount of sadness and tears. I love Ji Hyun-woo in the lead role because of his giant calmness and gentleness paired with Yoo In-na’s tiny energetic defiance and attitude. They have lovely chemistry. This is an OTP worth shipping.

Scent of a Woman* (2011)

-I want to return to this one eventually. I want to see the famous tango scene.

School 2013 (2012-13) – 10/10

Absolutely love this drama. The only drama I’ve watched to date with zero romance or even hint at romance, but it doesn’t even matter because you have the greatest bromance there ever was. It’s a very real-feeling show with characters that are relatable and heart-warming and raw. The scenes are simple, mostly shot in and around the school, yet so powerful and moving. And, now that I’m a middle school teacher in Korea, I feel even more kinship with Jang Nara’s character, Jung In-jae. ^^

Secret Garden (2010-11) – 10/10

A must-watch. This show is hilarious. Yes, it is a bit tropey what with the poor but fiercely independent girl and the snobby rich guy who needs a change of heart, but the body-swapping premise makes it so much better. (It takes a while to get going, but once it does the fun lasts for quite a long time.) The chemistry between Hyun Bin and Ha Ji-won is fantastic. The ending gets a little funky, but that’s pretty status quo for Kdramaland.

Shut Up! Flower Boy Band (2012) – 8/10

Worth it just for the OST. Seriously. Also worth it just to watch Lee Min-ki’s cameo as Byung-hee, because he gives a fascinatingly charismatic performance – like a Korean Jack Sparrow, IMO. I enjoy the general atmosphere and the coloring as well, and the fact that they manage to bring each member of the titular band to life and make you care about each of them.

Soulmate (2006) – 9/10

This is such a unique, little-known drama. (If not for Dramabeans, I probably wouldn’t have even known it existed!) At 22 episodes mostly 1/2 an hour long, I easily squeezed this one into a weekend. It utilizes a lot of Western songs, and the connection is so strong that to this day, if I hear one of those songs, it takes me back into Soulmate’s atmosphere and energy. It’s a more adult look at modern relationships and heartache, and a thoroughly enjoyable one. What I love most, I think, is the show’s ability to build chemistry for the main OTP before they meet. It’s a very unconventional drama in many ways, and I really appreciate that.

Surplus Princess* (2014)

-This one was a little too weird even for my standards. Dropped at Episode 4. (And seemingly I wasn’t the only one who thought so, because the show’s planned 14 episodes were cut down to 10 after it started airing.) It’s very campy, but who knows? You might enjoy it.

The King 2 Hearts (2012) – 7/10

At times intense, at times cute, at times bizarre. This drama was kind of all over the place (I guess what would you expect in a drama about modern-day Korea being ruled by a king and a royal family?), but in a lovable way that made me keep watching. This is one of those dramas that I wouldn’t ever watch again, but when I think of it, I get warm fuzzies. My OTP isn’t even Hang-ah and Jae-ha, though; it’s Jae-shin and Shi-kyung.

The Master’s Sun (2013) – 10/10

Love, love, love this drama. Top 10. The OST is fantastic. The chemistry is off the charts. The funny bits are hilarious, the ghosty bits are sufficiently spooky, and the love triangle is expertly done – provides nice conflict without being too frustrating or heartbreaking. (And this is perhaps the only drama I’ve seen where by the end, I didn’t want to kill the 2nd female lead and actually kind of liked her, grudgingly.) Highly recommend.

To the Beautiful You* (2012)

-Dropped after 1 episode. No amount of cute boys could convince me to stick around for such low quality.

Valid Love (2014-15) – 10/10

Top 5. Love this drama in so many ways for so many reasons. It is beautifully filmed, with a lovely OST and lovely casting. Gorgeous to look at (and I’m not just talking about Lee Soo-hyuk.) A truly intriguing, sometimes dark look into cheating and marital infidelity. I could’ve done with a few more episodes of naughty chemistry and fewer angsty ones, but given the subject matter, I suppose angst is pretty necessary. The drama delves deep into the issues that come with cheating, and it takes some unexpected twists and turns that kept me interested throughout. Highly, highly recommend.

(Also, side note, yes this is the drama that introduced me to Lee Soo-hyuk, and for that I am forever grateful.)

Vampire Prosecutor* (2011)

-A bit too campy and vampy for me. Dropped after Episode 2.

We Got Married (Global) Season 1 (2013) – 10/10

This is technically not a drama; it’s a Korean “reality” show in which celebrities “get married” and simulate marriage for the duration of filming. (Which is to say, in between shoots they go back to their normal lives and possibly don’t even think about each other much.) Nevertheless, I think this show is cute and adorable and refreshingly different if you need a break from the drama world. I particularly like the global aspect of having celebrities from two different cultures come together; the attempts at communicating through the language barrier are fun to watch.

We Got Married (Global) Season 2 (2014) – 10/10

See above. I actually watched Season 2 first and particularly ship the Hee-chul/Puff Guo pairing. I just love them. But Key and Ari-chan are cute too.

You from Another Star (2013-14) – 10/10

Undoubtedly Top 5. At first I was put off by Jeon Ji-hyun’s rough character in Song-yi, but within a few episodes she’d completely won me over. I think many would agree that Jeon Ji-hyun’s performance is one of the biggest pulls of this drama. She’s so lovably flawed and independent and stubborn. Then add Kim Soo-hyun as Do Min-joon into the mix and you have one of the best OTPs in K-drama history. (Oh and did I mention the supernatural alien love plot? And the fact that the ending is oh-so-perfect?) This is absolutely a must-watch. Like, go watch it right now. You won’t regret it.

You’re Beautiful (2009) – 8/10

Cute and sweet, probably the only Park Shin-hye performance that I’ve actually liked. Jang Geun-suk is what really sells it, though, with his hilariously immature, sulky, lip-pouting performance as Tae-kyung. And of course the whole gender-bender plot line is great fun (although sometimes a little frustrating – come on, guys, Park Shin-hye looks NOTHING like a guy. NOTHING.). While it’s far from my favorite, I do remember getting some good fluttery heartbeats and cathartic crying out of this one, so it earns itself a solid 8.

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Fantastic K-drama websites

For watching dramas…

Viki – You can watch any of the dramas for free, but a subscription means no commercials.

DramaFever – Same deal as with Viki, but occasionally the selection is different.

Hulu – Just another good place to find dramas (and my preferred site, actually, due to the least number of glitches and technical problems in my experience).

For reading hilarious recaps and discussing dramas…

Dramabeans – This site is THE place to go for all your latest K-drama news. Recaps are plentiful, witty, and well written. The comments section is always buzzing if you feel like gushing (or ranting, as the case may be).

Kdrama Laws – In case you want a more detailed understanding of how things work in the Kdrama universe, here you go. The laws are all laid out for you in very professional legalistic terms.

Problematic of the Unproblematic – These ladies’ recaps (or squeecaps, as they call them) are hilarious but probably NSFW. Particularly hilarious if you’ve suffered through some of the disastrous dramas that they’ve capped, such as Age of Feeling.

On the particular appeal of K-dramas to Jane Austen fans…

Check out this blog. I totally agree with this theory. If you like Mr. Darcy, you’ll probably like Joo Joong-won in Master’s Sun and Do Min-joon in You from Another Star. Makes sense, then, that I’m a huge Jane Austen fan and a huge lover of K-dramas.