2018 Favorites: Maknae’s Choice

A Plot Twist You Never Knew You Needed

Wishing for a plot twist in our real lives suddenly became a social media thing that we carelessly imitate and re-post. Some people long to experience something different from their usually mundane lives. Some unlucky ones, though, complained about the so-called plot twist they experienced; ranting that it wasn’t the magical meet-cute or the awesome boost they were hoping for. They never expected that a plot twist could also become a conflict they should solve or go through. That is why I try not to wish for a plot twist anymore. Not because I don’t want to but because I know it will still happen whether I want it or not. Our live’s Storyteller is one unpredictable writer.

Good thing, there are fictional plot twists that could give some delight with just one click of the play button. Here I present these three K-dramas that brought beautiful plot twists to my life this 2018.

Miss Hammurabi

The first series in my list is JTBC’s court drama, Miss Hammurabi, which stars three of my favorite Korean actors: Sung Dong-il, Go Ara, and Kim Myung-soo/L. I was really nervous when the casting and the storyline were announced. I really want this to be successful because it stars the actors that I admired. The dramagenies probably heard my earnest wish and made it one of the surprisingly good dramas this year.

I couldn’t and wouldn’t stop expressing how I love the storytelling of Miss Hammurabi. Every dialogue, arguments, and conflicts were very well written. As I’ve said in my finale review, the series presented uncomfortable realities without being too imposing. The writer still let us decide which side of the argument should we stand. He let us be the judge on issues they tackled. The series made me questioned my views and challenged me to think with a bigger perspective. And for that very reason, it held onto to its place in my top three dramas in 2018.

Guilty Pleasure Recommendation: Rich Man, Poor Woman

rich man poor woman

This series is not that kind of drama you’ll expect to win a daesang award but is still worth recommending especially to those fellow rom-com lovers out there. Rich Man, Poor Woman will give you the giddy feeling you crave on a dull weekend.

Hwayugi

I don’t understand why some people hate this series. The only reason I could think of is that it was billed to follow the footsteps of its tvN predecessor, Goblin, which is really a whole different series. Hwayugi is a five-star series on its own.

The voice of Jin Seo-mi shouting “Son Oh-gong” still rings in my ears every time I reminisce about this drama. It gave me a goose-bump-inducing cinematic experience through its fantasy element but it also made me experience a roller-coaster ride of very humane emotions through its characters and their story arcs.

The ending was widely criticized but I really think it was fitting. Although the ending caused this series to be included in my “should have a season 2” list alongside Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, I still felt contended with the new normal of the characters I’ve learned to love. It teased my imagination rather than numbing my mind with trite storylines.

Honorable Mention: The Beauty Inside

This series was marked with an “unnie recommended must watch” as my fellow ahjummas-slash-unnies hyped me hard to watch this. So, it only has two ways to go – I’ll find it overrated or I’ll fall in love with it. Fortunately, it wasn’t a friendship-wrecking recommendation. It was indeed a must-watch.

tbi

I already love the movie version and the relatable misery it surprisingly told through a very unlikely conflict. The TV series version made sure they’ll use that conflict well and fill out the gaps a two-hour spectacle lacks. The characters of Han Se-gye and Seo Do-jae have strange conditions that most people won’t understand but in the end, they taught us a very timely lesson a lot of us need, whether we admit it or not. This may sound so cliché but they taught me to love oneself. Love yourself including your imperfection. Love yourself and be free to give love. The series really did well in showing that underlying theme through its characters.

Also, who doesn’t love Kang Sara and Eun-ho?

tbi 2

Still Seventeen

The ultimate advantage of Still Seventeen over the other series in this list is timing. I’ve watched it at a time where I badly needed to hear Woo Seo-ri’s words. This 30-year-old woman’s journey hit me in a deep and very personal way. Some might find it lacking but Still Seventeen was my best 2018 Korean drama.

This sounds like a Hallmark phrase but Woo Seo-ri’s story emphasized to me that life is not a race where I should run against everyone else’s pace. Life is a journey you take. Just like every character in this series, whose life was dramatically changed by a tragic accident, the path you were in right now might not be the one you’ve dreamed of. It might not be the path you’re prepared to have. But you can still be happy in a path you would have never chosen. This was what Woo Seo-ri, Gong Woo-jin, and Jennifer showed throughout the series.

2018 has been tough but still quite a good year for Korean dramas. There were series who stick to the formula and still delivered a refreshing story. There were also those courageous series who took big risks and fortunately paid off. Whether it was the tried and tested story line or the mind-blowing storytelling you want, there will always be a plot twist that will catch you off guard. That is where I’ll use my K-dramaland New Year’s wish for – some good 2019 Korean dramas that would surprise me just like these series I’ve chosen.

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