Onto currently airing K-Drama and K-Variety programs. Although lately, I haven’t been watching very many K-Dramas but I am keeping my eye out for a few new dramas that are expected to start airing soon.
The rating system – the karaoke edition:
Must Watch – Perfect score!
Watch – You could have a great career in singing.
Just OK – It’s not that bad.
If you’re bored – Please put in a little more effort next time.
Pass – *covers ears*
CURRENTLY AIRING K-DRAMAS
THE KING’S FACE (왕의 얼굴)
Right off the heels of Secret Door, it’s another sageuk drama in which our main character has daddy issues. They also happen to be the prince (Seo In Guk) and king (Lee Sung Jae) of Joseon but I couldn’t watch past Episode 4. It felt as if the drama wanted to ride on the success of Secret Door and the movie, The Face Reader, the storyline had a lack of uniqueness. The acting is over exaggerated that I didn’t know if I was meant to laugh or cry and ultimately it took away my attention from plot itself as I was too focused on ridiculing their acting.
SUNAM GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL DETECTIVES (선암여고 탐정단)
It’s a tween drama so I don’t think many adults will find the drama entertaining as it deals with teenage girls issues. However, Jin Ji Hee is very talented actress even at her young age and I enjoy watching young talent evolve and reinvent themselves. The drama incorporates the themes of School 2013 with the mystery of a Nancy Drew novel. It’s all very PG but the young talents are entertaining nonetheless. For Girls’ Day fans, they can enjoy watching Hye Ri repeat her cute aegyo that was all the rage this past autumn after her appearance in the female edition of Real Men.
Verdict: Just OK
CRIME SCENE (크라임 씬)
I didn’t quite make it all the way to the end of the run of this program. The Clue concept of the show was what attracted me to it but it’s a very talky program which made the show feel very expository. Nice idea in concept but very difficult program to do visually.
STARGAZING (별 바라기)
Stargazing was another program that missed the mark this year. I liked that we got to have Kang Ho Dong coming back to do what he does best as MC after his scandal the previous year but I felt the issue was the celebrities. In a lot of way, this show felt a lot like Strong Heart but the entertaining thing about Strong Heart was that if one guest was boring, you could focus your attention on someone else. However, with its limited guest list, you had to really enjoy the guest that was being featured that week. I also think that towards the end of the series run the producers weren’t researching the fans as much as they did in the first episodes so we got to hear the same kind of stories, which doesn’t sound so crazy after you’ve heard it several times.
Verdict: Just OK
JESSICA & KRYSTAL (제시카 & 크리스탈)
Despite the crazy K-Pop year we’ve had, I liked seeing Jessica and Krystal outside of their broadcast life. Seeing how they behaved with each other or at their “home” made them feel relatable, especially since we got to hear some insightful comments about their feelings on fame, work and life in general. It made them more approachable that I couldn’t help but feel sad when the news of Jessica broke out shortly after its run.
KIM BYUNG MAN’S LAWS OF THE JUNGLE (김병만의 정글의 법칙)
Early on in the year, I stopped watching this show. I’m sure Kim Byung Man is still just as fabulous as ever but the show itself felt repetitive with Kim Byung Man doing the same things over and over again in different settings. For anyone who hasn’t watched this show before, it’s definitely worth giving it a try but after the 7th trip, it all feels the same even though the scenery is different.
Verdict: Just OK
OUR NEIGHBORHOOD VARIETY SPORTS (우리동네 예체능)
This show definitely has a difficult format. The hosts may try their best but if they are not able to adapt to a certain sport then they are a burden to the group. I felt that during the soccer edition of the show as the running and the team play was a hard thing for the members to grasp in such a short time. Many of the amateur clubs have been playing for way longer than these celebrities have. I also worried about the tennis edition as well but it seems that Kang Ho Dong does play the sport and I was surprised to see how the members have approved over time. I’m eager to see how they will perform in the upcoming national games.
Verdict: Just OK
REAL MEN (진짜 사나이)
On the one hand, this program is supposed to showcase the honor of serving for your country but on the other hand, it’s a television program that’s supposed to entertain us. Despite how clueless Henry can be, he’s proven to be a hilarious edition to the show. However, my favorite episodes were the ones featuring female celebrities. I can’t get over the scenes in which the troop instructor can’t believe G.NA’s long lashes are real so much so that she tries to pull them off. And Hye Ri’s aegyo video has probably been seen around the world. Back to the men, I’m a little concerned as to how the dynamic between the members change as Kim Su Ro, Sam Hammington and Seo Kyung Suk prepare to leave the show.
RUNNING MAN (런닝맨)
It’s been a rollercoaster year for Running Man as some weeks the episodes good but other weeks the episodes were incredibly boring. It’s the same jokes, same games that is now making what was originally an entertaining show come off as played out. Having said that, this show has done a lot to promote Hallyu as it is a show that entertains an international community. In that way, I would have completely not minded if Yoo Jae Suk won the Grand Prize for SBS’ Entertainer of the Year, making him a triple crown winner across all three major networks. Hmm, I suppose there’s always next year.
Verdict: Just OK
SUPERMAN RETURNS (슈퍼맨이 돌아왔다)
At first, I was unable to watch this show as I was watching too many other shows. Through the tragic Sewol ferry accident which caused many broadcasters to go dark, I suddenly had time to catch up on just a few episodes. Unlike Dad! Where Are You Going?, I like that this show features younger kids (with the exception of Jun Woo and Jun Seo) with their dads in their home environment. In many ways, we see the camaraderie of the family unit instead of just the dads. Right now, I can’t get over Song Il Guk’s triplets. I’ve asked my cousin to get me their calendar and I can’t wait to get it! Also I’m completely looking forward to seeing Uhm Tae Woong and his daughter, Ji On. Will we also get to see her aunt make an appearance on the show as well?
Verdict: Must Watch
DAD! WHERE ARE YOU GOING? (아빠! 어디가?)
Season 2 of this travel variety series brought us new dads and new kids. It doesn’t look like there are any plans to change the current lineup except for changing out individual members when needed. It’s had a hard year as its main competition has been Superman Returns but the beauty of this series is that we are a fly on the wall as we get to see kids not only interact with their dads but with each other as well which makes it pretty unique.
WE GOT MARRIED (우리 결혼 했어요)
In terms of interest factor, We Got Married was quickly on its way out for me but this latest group of couples is pretty entertaining to watch. You have the expressionless Hong Jong Hyun with the cheery Kim Yura. There’s the aegyo-tastic Hong Jin Young and Song Jae Rim. And their partners who are on the receiving end of that aegyo, Namgoong Min and Kim So Eun, respectively. At first, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Hong Jin Young and Namgoong Min but I’ve warmed up to them over time. So much so that at their age, I think it may be best if they just get together in real life.
YOUTH OVER FLOWERS (꽃보다 청춘)
In true Na PD fashion, he ups the game when it comes to tricking unsuspecting celebrities. This time he takes a group of three friend to go backpacking in a foreign country. Yoo Hee Yeol, Yoon Sang and Lee Juck to Peru while Yoo Yun Suk, Son Ho Joon and Baro go to Laos. It’s kind of interesting to see the difference in traveling styles between the middle-aged and the young but it seems like the stars are catching on as they’ve adapted Lee Seo Jin in order to help make their trip a little bit smoother.
Verdict: MUST Watch
THREE MEALS A DAY (삼시세끼)
Right on the heels of Youth Over Flowers, Na PD bring Lee Seo Jin and teams him up with 2PM’s Ok Taek Yeon to work on the farm. Like the title suggest, they must make three meals a day using the ingredients from their farm. Each week the show features guests who either just eat the fruits of the Seo Jin and Taek Yeon’s labor or actually help out. The funniest moment has got to be when Na PD actually helps them harvest the sorghum plants and apologizes to cast for giving them a hard task. Priceless.
Verdict: Must Watch
ABNORMAL SUMMIT (비정상 회담)
Although I got into this series a bit late, I was able to catch up. I think the beauty of this series that you get to hear different cultural perspectives about foreigners’ experiences in Korea but also about life in general. The only comment I have about the show is that the foreign panel is made up of only men. Visually, there is something about having this UN camaraderie of men but I think the show is sorely lacking the female perspective. I wish there were more female guests to make up for that lack of perspective as there are many Korean-American, Korean-Japanese and Chinese artists performing in Korea.
Verdict: Must Watch
BEST K-VARIETY OF THE YEAR
SUPERMAN RETURNS – Similar to videos of cute puppies, I’m helpless in front of cute kids. Even in the 8 months since I’ve been watching this show, I’m surprised to see how much the babies have grown. I’m in awe every time they learn a new phrase or behavior. What’s even more important is that dads across Korea are becoming more involved in raising their kids. I’m totally in support of that.
BEST K-VARIETY ENSEMBLE CAST
ABNORMAL SUMMIT – I don’t think you can do a debate talk show without a good natured bunch of foreigners who have to talk about difficult topics and not only respect each other after having disagreeing opinions. It’s hard to come back week after week to continue working with that person if you don’t respect each other but it’s also nice to see that they’re friends off-camera. Despite a recent scandal involving one of the members, it’s hard not to ignore the chemistry of this group.