I was talking to Kchat Jjigae friend, Jacqueline the other day about dramas that she, as a relative kdrama newbie, should check out. Now, as someone who has immersed herself in the the Kdrama fandom culture, she knew about the big ones, the big names that in order to call oneself true kdrama fan, one needs to hit. The ones that everyone talk about. But there are other, lesser known or less successful dramas out there that are worthy of more attention or acclaim. The unsung drama heroes who have plenty of cracky stories to share and are just waiting for someone to notice them. Now these dramas may not be perfect, but really, how many are? However all of these dramas have a little something which begs you to take a look. It kind of sounds like “Over here! Look at us! We’re interesting too! Come on, guys!”
Here’s my top 5 list of Underrated dramas.
I can understand why people skip over this drama–it’s 50 episodes long, the synopsis makes it sound dumb and with the exception of Bae Doo Na (who has now moved to movies) there aren’t really any super big names attached. But if you like a strong underdog drama that is so cracky you literally can not put it down, and you don’t mind hearing the song Gloria over and over again? This drama is for you! I picked this drama up because I didn’t really have time to watch a drama that weekend so I chose this because it seemed…ahem…dumb and thereby easily put down. Little did I know it would then take over my entire weekend. Gloria is tightly plotted with brief stops in Angstvillle, Did That Just Happen Town, and Lack of Sleep Town. So don’t be fooled by the synopsis (which I think is so brief and dumb because it’s really hard to find a paragraph or two which encompasses all of the different plots of this drama) and give it a try. I truly think you won’t be sorry.
Life Is Beautiful
Another 50 episode family drama! Except this drama was so popular in Korea it was bumped from 50 to 68 episodes–now that’s some extension! As with any weekend drama, there are a lot of plotlines (a lot of plotlines) and not all of them are as good as others–some may even make you want to pull your hair out. But you know why you watch this drama? For Tae Sub and his boyfriend.
This is the first drama featuring a main couple who were gay. Through the eyes of these characters we’re able to see the different spectrums of acceptance within families and the society as a whole. Plus, it has one of the best sets of Kdrama parents you will ever see in a drama.
This drama isn’t a big important drama. It easily slips past the everyday kdrama watcher, but with it’s beautiful camera and cinematography, Doctor Champ is worth the watch for the ascetics alone:
However, it also has an adorable beta hero with a troubled past and desire to win gold and his girl, an epic bromance which will tear at your heart, and lots and lots of shirtless judo champs. What more could you want from a drama?
Here’s another drama that has a great looking camera–but it’s cable so you kind of expect that. Yes, the camera is great, but you’re really watching it for Doctor Han. The main character and also Ryu Deuk Hwan the actor who plays him. If I had a list of my top 5 characters in kdrama, Dr Han would definitely be on that list. But then again, I’m partial to impish, smartass crime solvers.
Yes, the plot is mostly episode of the week fare, but the overarching storyline regarding Dr Han and what’s in his brain is fascinating. Yay, Dr Han! God’s Quiz is now in it’s 4th season, but, as expected, season 1 is by far it’s best.
When It’s At Night
This drama isn’t really like the others on the list, I can’t tell you why I like it so much. I just know it’s got Kim Sun Ah playing against her usual type, and with it’s workplace drama/crimefighting feel, it’s not your regular kdrama. I enjoy the relationship between the hero and heroine and really love seeing him fall in love with her. For some reason this is one of my comfort watch dramas and I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve rewatched it–which is funny considering most people have never heard of it before!
Stars Falling From the Sky (With the exception of the murder/secret baby plotline, this is a great show), Me Too, Flower! (with the exception of the crazy coworker/codependent this is a great drama), History of Salaryman (This is just a great drama, I’m just not sure how under-appreciated it is.), Thank You (with it’s HIV plotline, Thank You is not drama you’re going to see all over the place, the only reason it didn’t hit the top 5 list was the fact it got so secret baby angsty.)