We all love good stories. We consume them in all types of formats. Here, in this little corner of the Internet, we love our Korean-made dramas. The reason is a combination of storytelling, acting, and overall production. Among these, storytelling is the ultimate deal-breaker for me on whether I’ll like a certain series or not.
Over time, I’ve built a catalog of what I like and what I don’t in a story. Of course, there are still those series that surprised me with their undetected plot twists and ending. But most of the time, my hunches about how the story will progress are correct. It’s not because I’m a fortune-teller of some sort. It’s just that when you’ve been watching K-dramas written by the same people for years, you’ll be quite familiar with styles of certain writers; especially if they use recurring themes and patterns in most of their projects
My current obsession Hospital Playlist is written by Lee Woo-jung. Although Hospital Playlist is not part of the Reply series, some similarities can’t be denied. The focus of the series is the ordinary lives of her characters. No magic, no exaggerated confrontations, no intense-running-across-the border scenes. She just always present life as it is using a narrative structure that makes seemingly mundane dialogues and actions into interesting and entertaining sequences. She’s also famous for her guessing games, so when a Lee Woo-jung-written drama is on, expect a lot of fan theories online.
Another go-to writer for me is Park Hye-ryeon. The maker of While You Were Sleeping, Pinocchio, and I Can Hear Your Voice is fond of using flashbacks and disruptive narrative when presenting her stories. Her works are also good examples of series with interesting major plots. She can hold her audience’s attention from the first episode to finale.
Speaking of sustainability, endings of Kim Eun-sook’s dramas are either a hit or a miss. She pushes her story to its limit by bringing dramatic plot elements and conflicts in the latter part of her works. But one thing that can’t be denied with a Kim Eun-sook-written drama is her ability to create detailed setups for her characters. It’s always a joy to watch premiere episodes of her series as it would fully reel you in. She could create a believable fantasy world like in The King: Eternal Monarch, Goblin, and Secret Garden. She’s also great in introducing a romantic set-up like in Descendants of the Sun, The Heirs, and Gentleman’s Dignity.
Song Jae-jung, the screenwriter of Memories of the Alhambra, W: Two Worlds, Queen In-hyeon’s Man, likes using the alternate universe trope in her dramas. Similar to Kim Eun-sook, she’s also good at world-building. What distinct her apart though is her ability to sketch strong main characters. The spotlight will always be on the main characters unlike on Kim Eun-sook’s whose adorable supporting characters sometimes overshadow the leads.
If we’re talking about strong leads Park Ji-eun’s characters will also come to mind. Her most popular works Legend of the Blue Sea, Crash Landing on You, and My Love from Another Star have memorable characters. She loves writing stories about all kinds of star-crossed lovers. And if she wanted her audience to cheer for them in every step of their rough journey, then it was just proper to introduce charismatic leads we’d love.
One of our squad’s favorite screenwriter is No Hee-kyung. Despite making us cry in every series she wrote, her dramas are automatic on our watch list. I can still feel some pang in my heart whenever I remember scenes from The Most Beautiful Goodbye, It’s Okay It’s Love, and That Winter the Wind Blows.
Hong Jung-eun and Hong Mi-ran, collectively known as Hong Sisters, also left some scars in my K-drama fangirl heart. Most of their dramas such as Hotel Del Luna, Master’s Sun, and Hwayugi, start with a fun narrative. Their story will then turn into a heartbreaking one once the second act of their plot started. They’ll trick you with fast-paced storylines and interesting episodic formats but when the character finally confronted the main conflict, you’ll know you won’t finish the series unscathed.
Both No Hee-kyung and the Hong Sisters are my squad’s classic faves but recently Jo Sung-hee has captured my attention with series like Still 17, She Was Pretty, and High School King of Savvy. All of which has main characters struggling to find their place in the world. I guess it was because I also like reading New Adult novels and I’m getting the same vibe with Jo Sung-hee’s dramas.
The dramas written by Kim Eun-hee, on the other hand, are not in my go-to genres but it was successful in getting my attention with its intense storyline and unpredictable plot elements. Her dramas can also be in a seasonal format unlike the usual “stand-alone” formats of K-dramas. Kingdom was written with two seasons in mind but I also wouldn’t mind getting another season of Signal.
There’s no denying that these screenwriters’ names are like brands we look for in an upcoming K-dramas. The expectations we have can be an advantage but can also be detrimental to whether or not we’ll like their series. But somehow, the familiarity in their works is quite comforting that even if they commit a blunder, we’ll just end up looking forward to their next works.