Monday, June 6, 2011

1) Dae Jang Geum – a bit older but it, along with Winter Sonata, started the damn Korean cultural wave in the first place. It's amazing shows like this that jumpstarted the industry and rocketed it to fame. A must see. It’s simply enthralling. It’s the story of a woman in Feudal Korea, her quest for revenge for the death of her family, her triumphs as a cook and a healer and the people that want to stop her. You won’t be able to put it down.

2) Full House – a major smash hit. A woman is tricked out of her house by her friends when she goes on holiday. Upon returning, she finds a famous actor has bought her house. She makes a deal to be his housekeeper in exchange for eventually being able to work back to owning her house. Romance/angst ensues.

3) Coffee Prince – a strange little romance about a woman who works so hard to support her mother and sister that she has no time to keep up her feminine appearance. Mistaken as a boy and due to a bizarre series of occurrences, she is hired by a rich, handsome man to play his gay lover to get his mother to stop trying to marry him off. Romance/angst ensues.

4) Jumong – A period piece chronicling the life and death of Jumong, the founder of Goguryeo, one of the ancient three kingdoms of Korea. It’s a massive, eighty episode program that’s truly epic in scope. It makes some of the ‘epics’ that came out of Hollywood look like cheap sitcoms.

5) Winter Sonata – If this were five years ago, Winter Sonata would have a much higher place on this list. It has aged, but not terribly. It is the definitive Korean romance. I wont spoil the plot for you, but it has so many twists and turns you’ll be riveted to your seat. It pretty much set the standard for later dramas to come.

6) All in – an underdog, you wont find this on many top ten Korean drama lists, but this little gem deserves everything I’m about to gush about it. It’s essentially a love story, but it’s a bout a man and his inescapable pull towards the world of gambling. It’s epic in scope, goes from Korea to America and back again. It has mobsters, casinos, prison sentences. It gives the godfather a run for its money. Must see.

7) Goong – Another very popular romance about an alternative world where the Korean royalty still rules and its young prince is in need of a bride (another Cinderella story). I give it a lower ranking than its popularity deserved just because the acting in terms of the male leads (who are very pretty…) is a little jarring at times. Still a very good show.

8) Resurrection – Like all-in, resurrection is a break from the more relationshipy Korean Drama fair. It’s one of the aforementioned detective shows. It's a story about two twins, one dies and the other, takes his place to unearth the secrets that tore their families apart. I've never seen such a well-planned revenge story. It's very good.

9) My Name is Kim Sam Soon – a slight breath of fresh air from the usual drama romance fair. Kim Sam Soon is not your everyday stunningly beautiful Korean actress. She has no plastic surgery, very little make-up and her personality is a little rough around the edges. But despite it all, she is no less deserving of the man of her dreams. Very good.

10) Golden Bride – A romance, but with an interesting take, a half Korean half-vietnamese woman who marries a Korean and goes to his country. Cultural differences ensue. In this case, the couple is already together, its how they deal with their circumstances that drives the show.

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