Year in Review – The Dramas That Surprised Me for 2014


It is not very often that I blindly go into watching a drama just because someone recommended it to me. Why? Normally, it takes at least one or two actors that will pull me into either watching the drama or having any expectations about the drama. However, these four dramas represent the “surprises” for the year. As I rarely watch romances, these four represent the best romances that I seen for the year! Surprised? I sure was.


For the first time since I began watching dramas almost 4 years ago, this was the first year that I struggled in finding interesting K-dramas to watch and hold my interest. Sure, there were a lot of popular ones (most I dropped), ones with big names (had no interest) and a lot of highly anticipated ones (that turned out to be duds). But, for the first time ever, my top dramas are all romance dramas! Unheard of! This was also the year that I watched a lot of other Asian dramas more than K-dramas (J-dramas and Chinese/Hong Kong).

This also was the year that I was introduced to Thai Lakorn dramas! Thanks to my twitter friends, I’ve amassed a collection of dramas to watch that I downloaded which introduced me to Plex Media Server (a godsend for downloaders with InternetTVs!!). So, those who’ve followed my writings over the last couple of years, you have to be curious what these dramas are. Not only are these some of my favorites for 2014 but some are destined to be added to my all-time favorite dramas ever! Here they are:

Hotel King Come! Jang Bo Ri Bride of the Century Beyond the Clouds
Hotel King
Come! Jang Bo Ri
Bride of the Century
Beyond the Clouds

Sadly, none of my favorite actors and their dramas made it this year to this list. Click the links for more information on cast members.

Beyond the Clouds
Beyond the Clouds

I don’t know anyone who was watching Beyond the Clouds when it was on the air. I admit to being hesitant as neither leads are favorites of mine. Yoon Kye Sang, I had an interest in watching because of his previous roles in “The Greatest Love” and an earlier drama, “Crazy For You”. Han Ji Hye has always been a hit or miss actress with me (more misses than hits). However, these two as Jung Se Ro (Lee Eun Soo) and Han Young Won, respectively were excellent together!

The chemistry of these two together was amazing and totally unexpected. There was no doubt of the love and affection that the main OTP had for each other. As Jung Se Ro had gone to prison for killing Han Young Won’s fiance, this was an impossible relationship from the start; there was no need for a “third” wheel, so to speak. Their love was already complicated because of their past. But the writer did a great job of meshing the two together and resolving their conflict in a nice way. I started this drama on a Friday and was done on Sunday. Awesome drama, believable romance!

Bride of the Century
Bride of the Century

As this was airing, I read a lot of tweets about Bride of the Century. I purposely waited until the drama ended because my list contains several other dramas that I had planned to watch but so many complained about them, I figured if they couldn’t finish/watch them, there is no way I would. However, Bride of the Century continued to receive praise and imagine my surprise to find out that the praise was justified. Lee Hong Ki played Choi Kang Joo pretty decently. It is always nice to watch a transformation of a character as he falls in love with his leading lady. Kang Joo was no different. To go from a stiff, uncaring man to one solely in love was nice to see. But I must give BIG props to Yang Jin Sung playing a dual role of Na Doo Rim/Jang Yi Kyung. She did an excellent job in convincing you that these two characters were distinctly different. I’m always impressed with anyone who can do this effectively.

When it came to the romance, even I was pulled into the story as Kang Joo fell hard for Na Doo Rim. Be warned, as many did, the story line where Jang Yi Hyun (played by Sung Hyuk) fell in love with his half sister’s doppelganger, Na Doo Rim was high on the “icky” factor. I couldn’t get over a man falling in love with his sister, basically. But I’ve no complaints on his acting though! The supernatural aspects of the drama was just enough. I was happy that the story of the curse was explained well and thoroughly enough but not so much that it overshadowed the main story.

Hotel King
Hotel King

With hesitation and trepidations, I watched Hotel King. I have watched a lot of Lee Dong Wook’s dramas but it is not always Lee Dong Wook that is the reason I liked the dramas. So, it was with shock and amazement that I LOVED his portrayal of Cha Jae Wan. As Jae Wan, he was stoic and well knowledgeable of his work as well as a perfectionist. But at the same time, there was this darkness that lingered in the background of his character. As the story progresses, you get to realize and see the reason behind that darkness with the main reason being his father, Lee Joong Goo, played brilliantly by Lee Duk Hwa. I’m sitting her writing chuckling as I remember the many times, Joong Goo would recite “It’s a misunderstanding”. That truly became Joong Goo’s catchphrase of the drama. But I am saving the best for last; Lee Da Hae. As an actress, I don’t have anything personally against her but she has been an actress whose dramas I’ve avoided like the plague. Sure, I’ve watched some but it finally got to the point that I’d consciously decided to just avoid her altogether. However, I must say, for the first time EVER, I love this actress! As Ah Mo Nae, I loved her character portrayal. She took her character from a rich, spoiled brat to a woman in love and willing to do anything to support her man.

When it came to chemistry on the screen, this two rocked!! From one scene to another, there was never any doubt of the feelings that these two characters, Ah Mo Nae and Cha Jae Wan had for each other. Magnetic! Sizzling! Intense! I could go all day with the adjectives to describe the screen time of these two together. Unlike “My Girl”, their last drama together, I felt that the chemistry of these two together was much, much better in this. MUCH!! I hated when they drama ended! I wanted MORE!!

Come! Jang Bo Ri
Come! Jang Bo Ri

Last but not least, I’d be remiss, no, CRAZY, not to include Come! Jang Bo Ri in my year end review. AWESOMENESS AWESOME! That is the best way to describe a 50+ episode drama that I watched over a long weekend, non-stop! I adored this drama!I really don’t know where to start! Jang Bo Ri was just a great story from beginning to end! There are so many characters to talk about in this drama that made it a stellar cast! With the main OTP of Jang Bo Ri (played by Oh Yeon Seo) and Lee Jae Hwa (played by Kim Ji Hoon), these two were just cuteness overload! Again, a story without a third wheel! I hate love triangle stories! Too taxing for my mind (and heart).

This was actually refreshing because it dove into the single mother stigmas that are so prevalent in Korean society. It was a nice change to see a subject matter that is generally avoided. In addition, this drama gave us the “Villainess of the Year”, Yeon Min Jung (played BRILLIANTLY by Lee Yoo Ri)! Talk about hating a woman with a passion not only as an adult but even as a child! I felt so guilty hating the young Min Jung! I constantly chastised myself whenever I had “bad” thoughts! Such an evil woman! I’ll never forget her! No one will once they’ve seen this drama. But no one will forget our Moon Ji Sang (played EFFORTLESSLY by Sung Hyuk). Our Moon was the only character who could thwart Min Jung and her evilness!! Everyone was cheering and rooting him on through every scene! There is no question that the stars of this drama was Moon and Min Jung; hands down!!

Last but not least, I have to mention our little Do Bi Dan (played by Kim Ji Young). When Bi Dan laughed, we laughed; when she smiled, we smiled and when she cried; we were crying buckets with her. Her portrayal as Bi Dan is so memorable that you will never forget her! In some of the scenes, she was able to overshadow the adults, easily! Great drama! I highly recommend it to those not shy of watching a 50+ episode weekend drama.

Unfortunately, K-dramas were a big disappointment for me this year. I dropped almost as many as I finished. I wasn’t crazy about a lot of the popular ones (they shall remain nameless) and after the end of my favorite daily saguek drama (if you know me, you know its name), I was having a really hard time finding dramas to like. But amazingly, this has to be the first time that romance dramas were on the top of my list! In the four years I’ve been watching, that has never happened. As 2014 comes to an end and with dramas like Shine or Go Crazy, Jekyll and Me, and Kill Me, Heal Me on the horizon for 2015, here’s hoping that next year is a better K-drama year!

5 thoughts on “Year in Review – The Dramas That Surprised Me for 2014”

  1. That’s a good review Bel! Unfortunately we haven’t finished Misaeng which I guess might just end up on your list!

    I agree most of the dramas in 2014 are not that good but I must mention 3 days and Bad Guys!
    These 2 were so good, I finished 3 days in 2 days and Bad Guys on Christmas Day!
    Yes, I know which sageuk you miss and thanks for recommending it!
    It’s now my favourite with 3 rewatch already this year itself!
    Let’s see what 2015 has in store for us^&

    1. Funny that you mentioned those dramas as I loved both but they weren’t as big surprises (ok maybe Yoon Chun was a surprise) but as they weren’t romances, definitely less surprise for me to mention. Just like God’s Gift, another I omitted. I guess the fact that I loved these for the romance is the shock for 2014. Take heed, you may never see this again!

  2. Come Jang Bori is the first 50-ep family drama I’ve watched. And you’re correct in saying that Lee Yoo Ri and Sung Hyuk stolel the show. As much as I love Kim Ji Hoon, the OTP made me very frustrated; the script (in an effort I think to make sure we all knew how good they were) didn’t give them as much agency to “do” things as I would have liked. But then again, that is what Sung Hyuk’s character was for.

  3. After reading your Ugly Alert review, I found that we definitely have similar tastes in dramas (love triangles are truly taxing haha) I’ll check out Jang Bori now, since I think if you liked it, I should too! Keep up the reviews! 🙂

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