2021 Favorites: Maknae’s Choice

Healing through K-dramas

We’re in the second year of the pandemic and thankfully, we’re on our way to healing. And unlike 2020, this year I had less time to watch K-dramas as our real lives settle into a new normalcy. But that didn’t stop me from consuming every K-contents that piqued my curiosity. Among those, were these top five standouts that accompanied me in my year of healing. Presenting now are my 2021 Favorites!

Yumi’s Cells

I started this drama just to support Kim Go-eun. Never did I realize it would catapult into the top of my favorites list this year. Yumi’s Cells is not your typical K-drama. Its familiar story was perfectly mixed with lovable animation that personified the emotions of the series’ main and only protagonist – Kim Yu-mi. I really loved how imperfect Yu-mi is and that exact imperfection and humaneness are the main reasons why I love her. One would find something relatable to Yu-mi, be it her failed attempt at love, awkwardness in social situations or her introspection about her life at 3am. This series told the most genuine of stories this year.

This series is a cry fest from its first episode up to its finale. That’s what I expected from it and that’s what I exactly got. The cathartic crying over Chae-rok and Deok-chul’s story was worth it because of the beautifully written dialogues and storytelling. They even use ballet as an analogy to the characters’ progress and struggles. And despite its almost dreamy cinematography, Navillera left us with a very realistic ending, which still pierces my heart every time I remember it. Despite the sad ending, I still hold onto the series’ hopeful message: we can still “soar” in our own way and in our own time.

Youth of May

Youth of May’s powerful storytelling is what put it on my top drama list. There were a lot of scenes in this series that gave me goosebumps and lingered in my mind long after the credits rolled. Some may say this is just a tragic love story. I wouldn’t argue with that because I, too, like Hwang Hee-tae and Kim Myung-hee’s story. And I still wish they met at a different time as if they are real people and not some fictional characters I’ve met in a series. But what stayed with me long after the series ended is its subliminal messages about life, love (romantic and patriotic), family, and for yourself. Because just like Hee-tae, we sometimes keep memories (mistakes included) of our youths and let ourselves be drowned by huge waves of regrets. But just like Hee-tae at the end of Youth of May, we still could start all over. 

Mr. Queen

I think no one would argue if I say this is part of my top dramas for Shin Hae-sun’s portrayal alone. I have always liked her but my love for her doubled while watching Mr. Queen. She was hilarious and wasn’t afraid to look silly if needed. But she always delivered in emotionally heavy scenes. And those types of scenes were all in Mr. Queen. The series was a mash-up of fantasy, comedy, romance with a tinge of melodrama. It had a good build-up, a mysterious and exciting second arc, and a very much climactic ending. I’m really happy that I started my 2021 with this series.

Hospital Playlist 2

I said that 2021 for me is my healing year and Hospital Playlist 2 totally played a big role in that. This is included in my list for very personal reasons. The message in every episode hit a chord as if it was aware of my real-life woes. It’s just like what they say, ‘it was the right series at the right time.’ I would always treasure episode 6 of this season because it reminded me that it was okay to be in a transition period; and that sometimes we’re being too harsh on ourselves when we are, in fact, still learning. I could remember bawling my eyes out at dawn as I heard Ik-jun, Song-hwa, Jeong-won, Jun-wan, and Seok-hyeong repeatedly sing “it’s okay, it will be alright.” Aside from this, I also like how we now knew better the characters we loved from season 1. It shattered the notion that these fictional characters are perfect. Season 2 humanized them and it was up to us whether we would accept them still. I did. I will always do. 

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