Somaek Confessions: “Bad” K-Dramas that deserve a second chance

As some people would say, first impressions last. In the world of K-dramas, and motion picture viewing in general too, this is mostly the case as well. However, given the subjective nature of motion pictures and how people receive them, there are instances wherein a second look could present a different perception. While there’s no guarantee re-watching them will change people’s minds, here are some K-dramas that deserve a revisit or a second chance, so to speak.

The usual top of mind for this topic is the most recent Lee Min-ho drama The King: Eternal Monarch. Or is it every single Lee Min-ho drama? While I’m not a fan of his other works (*cough* The Heirs *cough* Boys Over Flowers *cough*), I must say I enjoyed watching this one. Perhaps it’s because of the mind-boggling, physics-induced thrill it gave me every week, but overall, The King: Eternal Monarch was not entirely bad at all. Of course, Lee Min-ho was a bit meh compared to Chungmuro elite Kim Go-eun – but I can sense some improvement compared to his last performance in a drama. Also, we all know his range is a bit limited, so there’s nothing wrong with sticking to a stereotypical role that he can confidently play rather than accept more in-depth characters and be criticized (even more) for his acting. It’s called utilizing your best assets and skills. Anyway, I understand that the criticism for The King was in the love story itself.

Fans (or antis?) said it’s a bit rushed, and there’s no chemistry between the leads. Well, it’s subjective. How you like a love story is based on your personal perception of how love is. Real people even hook up on first dates, so why question two characters falling in love in a mythical world? And the time skips in The King were obvious – which means in between those times, feelings can grow. Real people even find love online nowadays. You can fall in love with someone whom you met on Tinder three days ago, and that’s normal. Every single person has a unique journey when it comes to love, so we’re all in no position to dispute two ~fictional~ characters falling in love in a timeline that’s “seemed” rushed. In terms of chemistry, can someone tell me why it’s not okay for Kim Go-eun’s character to love someone almost her age in this story, but when she’s playing a character (who’s a minor btw!) that falls in love with an AHJUSSI in another drama, their chemistry is oozing?? WHY.

Aside from chemistry, some dramas are often criticized based on the acting of the cast. Take Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, for instance. IU was heavily bashed it hurt. She may be a bit lacking compared to the range Lee Joon-gi could give, but she weathered through the emotional scenes decently. I’ve read comments about Hae-soo being “either unnaturally cheerful or depressingly morose” but isn’t that every single K-drama lead ever? Thankfully, IU’s next performances after Hae-soo received critical and commercial acclaim – which just satisfyingly proved her haters wrong.

Another category of “bad” dramas is the one that received low ratings when it aired. Some got into a really bad state that producers even decided to cut them short. Others were just having bad luck (I guess) because their competitors are highly anticipated dramas which starred big names in the industry. Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo also fell victim to this as it faced off against Moonlight Drawn By Clouds when it aired. Putting the Goryeo princes + IU was not enough to beat a drama that had Park Bo-gum and Kim Yoo-jung. One more casualty of the low rating curse was Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo – which was battling against Legend of the Blue Sea and Oh My Geum-bi during its run. It was such an underrated gem that eventually got the attention it deserved – thanks to the international K-drama fans. Nam Joo-hyuk and Lee Sung-kyung skyrocketed to global fame, and their now iconic tandem “NamLee” became one of the best pairings in dramaland. Today, I haven’t met a K-drama watcher who hasn’t seen Weightlifting Fairy. It even evolved as a gateway drama for most new gen fans!

Ex-Girlfriends Club starring Byun Yo-han and Song Ji-hyo was also cut short during its time because of poor ratings. I honestly enjoyed watching this drama when it was an ongoing series. It was our source of laughter every week – a true romantic comedy gold that’s under-appreciated. The three ex-girlfriends were also the life of the story. It preached about forgiveness, friendship, and acceptance. The main lesson was the beauty of embracing the person you love in its totality, flaws and all.

I know the strong opinions I mentioned may irk a lot of people, but this isn’t called Somaek Confessions for nothing. My whole point here is that everyone has a different take on the content they consume. Give “bad” dramas a chance, and if it still doesn’t work out, it’s best not to waste time and energy hating on a project that other people sincerely liked. Maybe we’re not the target audience, or perhaps we just don’t like it without any particular reason. We are all different in our preferences, and what worked for me may not work for other people. But that doesn’t give anyone any right to criticize harshly to the point that it is detrimental already. We can always agree to disagree. As fans, the best we could do is be respectful of others’ choices of entertainment.

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