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WWATD?!: 2010 Kdrama Awards

February 1, 2011

Ok, some might argue that we’re about a month late with this review, but Lunar New Year, when Koreans celebrate the new year, is just around the corner. So we’d say the timing is absolutely perfect, and we’re sticking with that!

2010 was a mixed bag for the dramas we watched. While there were many we really enjoyed, there just didn’t seem to be that one that really grabbed us and made us uber-obsessed. For every disappointment like Marry Me, Mary and Cinderella’s Sister, there were gems like Dr. Champ, Prosecutor Princess, and High Kick Through the Roof. If nothing else, 2010 was a year in kdrama that saw Sunnie’s Park Shi Hoo infatuation grow to new heights!

So with no further ado, here are the first annual Vegan8Korean Kdrama Awards!

The Triple Shattered Hopes Award:
Named in honor of 2009’s Triple, a drama with the same director and writer as the brilliant Coffee Prince, this award celebrates the kdrama that we couldn’t wait to watch and then gave up on in total frustration.

Winner: Dong Yi
Dong Yi

Runner Up: Cinderella’s Sister
Cinderella's Sister

Dong Yi is the natural winner for this award because it was directed by the same director as Dae Jang Geum, a firm resident in our best kdrama of all time list, and the best historical kdrama of all time. Dong Yi was a big commercial success and starred Han Hyo Ju, who we really enjoyed in Brilliant Legacy, but it was literally unwatchable for us. We tried several times and getting through an episode was excruciating and ultimately proved impossible. It just never connected with us at all, and we gave up on it pretty quickly, despite multiple attempts to re-engage. We had high hopes for Cinderella’s Sister largely because of the brilliance of the lead, Moon Geun Young, one of our very favorites. And she was very good again, in a role that was a departure for her. But there was just no movement in this drama. The characters remained forever stuck in their respective spaces, and ultimately it proved too frustrating to endure. We watched over half of this drama before resorting to reading recaps.

The Gong Yoo Hottie Award:
Gong Yoo Hottie
Named in honor of Sunnie’s first kdrama hunk infatuation, Gong Yoo in Coffee Prince, this award quite possibly should have a new name next year, thanks to the burning hotness of this year’s winner. You wouldn’t believe what percentage of the hits on our blog come from people looking for his picture and to date, we’ve only posted about him once. So in the interest of accurately representing Sunnie’s frequent comments while watching Prosecutor Princess and Queen of Reversals last year, as well as the continued growth of our blog’s readership…

The winner: Park Shi Hoo (Prosecutor Princess)

Park Shi Hoo kdrama hottie

Runner Up: There can be no runner up to such total hotness. Maybe I get to be runner up…sigh.

The High Kick Through the Roof Pull-the-rug-out-from-under-you Award:
highkick ending

Winner: High Kick Through the Roof

Runner Up: My Girlfriend is a Gumiho
My Girlfriend is a Gumiho

Not much suspense on this one as it is named for this year’s winner. I didn’t watch High Kick, but it was one of Sunnie’s very favorites, and she loved it. That is until the final episode when (SPOILER ALERT- skip this paragraph if you don’t want to know how it ended) two of leads suddenly die in a car wreck, with no setup, no reason, and no meaning. The director has a dark view of reality and said as much that he wanted to be true to his vision. In doing so, he took a rom-com and then literally killed the rom! And since the parting message of this drama was pretty much “Life sucks and then you die”, he did a pretty good job of killing the com too! Sunnie’s fond memories of the previous 125 episodes allowed her to still like the drama, but watching her suffer to come to terms with the ending (her brother, John, still stoutly refuses to recognize that it ended that way) results in an award in its honor.

The runner up is My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, a Hong-sisters drama (a sister writing duo who have penned such rom-coms as You’re Beautiful and My Girl) a decently enjoyable rom-com that had a confusingly horrible final episode. After setting up story lines and expectations on a number of fronts, suddenly things stopped making sense, and the final episode became hugely contrived and broke its own rules, including suddenly using what looked like a bad stuffed animal tail after using CGI tails the entire series to that point. The final episode was so stupid, it left us with a bad taste.

The Eunchan & Han Kyul Best Couple Award:
coffee prince couple
Named for the lead couple in Coffee Prince, there were a number of good couples in this year’s kdrama field. Whether the overwhelming cuteness of Moong Geun Young and Jang Geun Suk in Mary or the plaintive cry of “Shep!” from Gong Hyo Jin to Lee Sun Gyun in Pasta, there were a lot of romantic pairings to enjoy.

Winner (tie): Park Shi Hoo & Kim So Yeon (Prosecutor Princess)
prosecutor princess couple

and Jung Kyung Ho & Lee Min Jung (Smile, You!).
Smile, You! couple

Runner Up: Kwon Song Woo & Ko Hyun Jung (Daemul)

Okay, a tie. Lame, I know, but a treasured tradition in Korean network awards shows, so back off; we’re just being traditional! Sunnie votes for the Princess Prosecutor couple and the determined self-centeredness of Kim So Yeon’s character paired with the blazing hotness of Park Shi Hoo. I go for Froggy and her skinny man in Smile, You!

The Painter of the Wind Losing Steam Award:
Named for one of the biggest disappointments in our kdrama history, Painter of the Wind. We loved this drama so much. Moon Geun Young was better than she’s ever been. It was funny, sad, it made you think, it used traditional Korean paintings in a brilliant way, and then it just started to lose steam. It’s not uncommon for dramas to lose steam down the home stretch, but this one really hurt. It was an all-time favorite for us until it started to fade around episodes 11-12 (when we convinced Sunnie’s parents that they had to watch it). It started to become boring and the characters started to change and ultimately we were left feeling hollow and confused. This award is for a kdrama that we started off just loving and ended up feeling mostly sad about because it could have been so great.

Winner: Mary Me, Mary!
Marry Me, Mary!

Runner Up: Cinderella’s Sister

A clear winner this year, we blogged about how much we loved Mary, and it quickly fell apart after that. It’s ratings weren’t great, so they switched writers, went for cliche and the whole thing fell apart. We went from being obsessed to not even finishing it. Everything we loved about the early episodes: the hipness of Hongdae, the music, the interesting stories of the four leads, just fizzled and became cartoonish or vanished altogether. Things made no sense, there was lots of running around in the drama and running in place in the plot. Aaaarrrgh! Cinderella’s Sister had solid acting but NEVER. DID. ANYTHING. THE. ENTIRE. SHOW.

Best Job of Making us watch a mediocre drama Award:
This award goes to an actor or actress who did a good enough job to hook us into a drama and keep us watching even though the drama might not have warranted it.

Winner: Shin Mina – My Girlfriend is a Gumiho
Shin Mina Gumiho

While Gumiho was pretty good, and we enjoyed it until the final episode, Shin Mina took a character who could have been highly annoying and made her endearing. Playing a gumiho with no knowledge of modern society, her lack of understanding (and constant whining for meat, I mean c’mon, we’re vegan….) could have been really obnoxious. Instead, she was believable and you pulled for her character.

Biggest Waste of Talent Award:
This award is for the kdrama that wasted its great talent.

Winner (tie): Personal Taste
Personal Taste

and Marry Me, Mary!

Don’t get me wrong, we enjoyed Personal Taste, and we loved the first half of Mary, but Mary went down in flames, reducing two of our favorites, Jang Geun Suk and Moon Geun Young, to weird robo-cuties and  Personal Taste kept the wonderful Son Ye Jin, and kept her in a static character with little room to do much of anything other than act like a wet puppy.

OMG! Life Imitating Art Award:
This award goes to kdrama celebrities whose real lives mirror their onscreen characters’ lives.

Winners: Lee Chun Hee and Jun Hye Jin (Smile, You!).
Smile You couple engaged

We’ll have to name this award after this couple from here on out, I think. But after watching their characters in Smile, You! fall in love, face the typical refusal from the parents, and discuss getting pregnant to overcome the resistance from his family, older Lee Chun Hee announced that he is engaged to his onscreen love Jun Hye Jin! And it seems that their offscreen romance played out much like the onscreen one, with the families being against the relationship, and while Lee Chun Hee’s character was unsuccessful in convincing his love to get pregnant to solve the problem, evidently, in real life, he was successful as she is pregnant! Congrats to the couple!

The Kim Chang Hwan Joy to Watch Award:
Kim Chang Wan
Named after Coffee Prince‘s Kim Chang Han, who we are currently enjoying in Queen of Reversals, we wanted to give an award to an actor/actress who is overlooked but really did an excellent job in a kdrama.

Winner: Ryu Seung Ryong (Personal Taste)

Ryu Seung Ryong

Runner Up: Kim Gab Soo (Cinderella’s Sister)
Kim Gab Soo

Ryu Seung Ryong brought such depth and character to a show that while ok, was pretty lacking in both. He played a gay man who falls in love with Lee Min Ho’s character, who is pretending to be gay. His grace and understated performance was the best thing about Personal Taste. Kim Gab Soo, a good option for the Hardest Working Man in Kdrama Award, was likewise the soul of Cinderella’s Sister, playing the father who dutifully takes care of his family, even as he knows his wife does not love him.

The “Hey, he kinda looks like John!” Award:
Awarded this year to the actor who made me say, “Hey, he kinda looks like John!” (Sunnie’s brother).

Winner: Jung Gyu Woon (Dr. Champ).
Jung Gyo Woon Dr. Champ

If you took Sunnie’s brother, John, made him taller, a bit bigger, and gave him weird pointy elf ears, he kinda, sorta would look a lot like Jung Gyu Woon, I’m tellin’ you….

The Coffee Prince Best OST Award:
I have doubts we’ll even have another kdrama with an OST as amazing as Coffee Prince‘s. But there are always great songs in the kdrama world, and this year was no different.

Winner: Dr. Champ

Runner Up: Mary Me, Mary!

Sunnie recently posted on the music of Dr. Champ, and Mary’s original music, setting the indie music scenes was an integral part of why we loved the drama so much early on, and the disappearance of music was part of the reason why the drama faded so much for us late.

The Queen Seon Duk Overrated Award:
Named for last year’s Queen Seon Duk, which had huge ratings, but horrible overacting and just general meh-ness, this award goes to a super hyped with massive ratings drama that we didn’t think was all that.

Winner: Dong Yi
Runner Up: Baker King

We’ve already discussed how Dong Yi was a big disappointment to us, given the director’s past work. To be fair, we barely watched Baker King, but we gave it a chance (1 episode) to pull us in, and it didn’t.

The Favorite kdrama of the Year Award:
And the penultimate kdrama award of the year, our favorite kdrama of the year! And the award goes to….

Winner (tie): High Kick Through the Roof
High Kick Through the Roof

and Jejoongwon

Runner ups: Dr. Champ, Smile, You!, Prosecutor Princess

No! Another lame tie, curses! Well, to be honest, Sunnie and I are fairly indecisive people, so what can you do? Despite High Kick’s ending, Sunnie enjoyed the rest of the show enough to rate it as her favorite. While I didn’t have a super clear favorite that jumped out at me, we both really liked Jejoongwon. If the final episode had been a bit better– it wasn’t bad, just not great– this would have been a clearer choice. A historical drama tracing the first modern Korean hospital, I really enjoyed it for its coverage of the Japanese occupation, and its solid acting.

Whew, that’s it. To quote the great Ringo Starr, “I have blisters on my fingers!” That was a long post. Thanks for making it this far and let us know what were your favorites and oh-no’s for the year!

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Julie permalink
    February 2, 2011 5:58 am

    I loved your awards! I too so hate it when I look forward to a drama and then I just can’t stand to finish episode 1. In all fairness, I have seen a few in which I wasn’t crazy about the first episode and then end up really loving the drama. So I always try to watch at least the first 3 episodes before I give up.

  2. Bill permalink*
    February 2, 2011 1:15 pm

    Thanks, Julie. We had fun thinking them up! Yeah, we usually try to give at least two-three episodes but don’t always make it. And of course, it makes a difference what network the show is on, as it takes more effort to watch if it’s not on a station carried by our satellite provider.

  3. March 30, 2011 4:27 pm

    Firstly, guilty as charged…I ended up on your page after a Google search on Park Shi Hoo 🙂 But then I stayed to see your trip to the Actual Coffee Prince Shop (Which I am so kicked about because I just assumed they used a set for some reason) and the Award Categories based on Coffee Prince which were really fun!

    My obsession with the Kdrama scene is fairly new…mostly because I am from India and the ‘Korean wave’ is still not quite here 😛 but it was really nice to read about stuff like ‘Marry Me, Marry” or “Coffee Prince” or “Prosecutor Princess” and have completely emphatic reactions of “I know exactly what you mean!”

    • Bill permalink*
      March 30, 2011 7:32 pm

      Ha, ha! Karthy, I love that you found us through Park Shi Hoo! It only validates my suspicions about our blog stats. Thanks for visiting us from India. It’s very cool to have the chance to chat with people around the world, and it’s kind of crazy how wide spread the k-wave has become. Sunnie was just watching some youtube videos of people from around the world singing and dancing to k-pop last night.

      We definitely have a Coffee Prince bias on this blog, that’s for sure. And, I’ll be sure to keep the Park Shi Hoo pictures coming! 😉

  4. Eu.As.Us permalink
    October 1, 2011 3:25 pm

    Park Shi Hoo is very handsome, attrractive and Populr.
    Park shi Hoo and JU ji Hun are very nice and lovely.


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