It is no secret that I am a huge drama fan. Ever since my best friend, Sally, introduced me to dramas by lending me her Fated to Love You disc, my world has changed. I used to avoid watching dramas and soap operas since I thought they were a huge waste of time. Little did I know the world of enjoyment that was in store for me. Without further ado, here are my top 10 favorite Asian dramas as of June 2010.
Fated to Love You
10. Fated to Love You (Taiwan) – This was the very first drama I watched. Really…once you start, you can’t stop! It’s about a mistaken identity which lead to a shotgun marriage. The twists and turns were just so unpredictable, it was pure pleasure. I remember laughing so hard and then crying within 10 minutes watching a pivotal episode. Although I did not like the additional episode they shot after the actual ending. It was still a pleasure to watch. Memorable characters include “Naynay”, the grandmother of Ji Cun Xi (Ethan Ruan) and Dylan (Baron Chen).
9. Shining Inheritance/Brilliant Legacy (Korea) – This drama is so irresistible and addicting, even my husband could not resist it. It is a heavy drama about a stepdaughter who was asked to leave her home with her autistic brother to fend for herself after her father died. She experiences many trials and along the way finds love. Don’t watch if you dislike to much crying and drama.
8. My Queen/Queen of No Marriage (Taiwan) – This is a May-December love story set in modern Taiwan. Both Lucas (Ethan Ruan) and Shan Wu Shuang (Cheryl Yang) are strong characters with past broken relationships. The progression of the story is very realistic and the challenges faced by older woman-younger man couples are well explored. Although I did not like the ending too much, I still loved the dialogue exchanges and climax of this series.
7. The Princess Hours/Goong (Korea) – This is a classic Korean drama. No drama addict has not heard of it. The story is quite unique and combines old and new Korea. I think the appeal is that this drama was able to strike a balance between old Korean values and modern sensibilities. The development of the love story is also quite interesting as the princess does not fall in love with the prince as easily as one would expect. The second prince is also a very endearing tragic character. Although lacking in skinship (touchy-feely scenes as per Korean), it is still fun to watch this drama.
Down with Love
6. Down with Love (Taiwan) – I was not impressed with Jerry Yan in Meteor Garden. In fact, the only thing I thought he had going for him was his killer looks. BUT before diehard Jerry fans kill me, I just have to say this drama completely changed my mind about Jerry Yan. He played Xiang Yu Ping with so much wit and maturity that I just fell for his charms. If only to witness Jerry Yan’s funny moments and lovesick looks, this is worth your time. I am not recommending this just because Jerry’s in it, it is really a light and fun romantic comedy which will surely make you smile. I love the episodes in China because I think that’s when Jerry and Ella’s chemistry really showed. I loved the music from the drama too.
5. Personal Preference/Ka-in’s Taste (Korea) – This is Lee Min Ho’s (Goo Jun Pyo in Boys Over Flowers) follow-up project and it was a hit. He plays a man mistaken for a gay man by a girl. He had no choice but to go along with the farce since he had to stay at her house for an architectural project. It is a story of how an insecure woman finds her inner strength and builds confidence through a friend. They later fall in love but not without challenges. Watch out for the episode entitled “Game Over”. If this episode does not make you a fan, I do not know what will.
4. Full House (Korea) – Another classic Korean drama, Full House is one of the reasons why Rain is a super star. In this drama, Rain plays a haughty super star named Lee Young Jae who buys Han Ji Eun’s (Song Hye Kyo) house. Since she was not in on the transaction, Ji Eun does not leave the house and in turn becomes Young Jae’s personal maid. Due to some twists and turns in the story, they enter a contract marriage. We all know what those lead to. This is a fun romance to watch. My younger brother actually watched all 16 episodes straight with no sleep!
For #3, there’s a tie between…
Boys Over Flowers
3. Boys Over Flowers/Boys Before FlowersÂ (Korea) – I know of 4 versions of this classic drama, the Japanese animation, the Japanese version Hana Yori Dango, the Taiwan version Meteor Garden and the Korean version Boys Over Flowers. I watched all versions and the best one is the Korean version. Boys Over Flowers tells the story of a poor and ordinary girl who enters a prestigious school only to unwittingly insult the son of the school’s owner. Boys Over Flowers shows the love-hate relationship between Geum Jan Di and Goo Jun Pyo so beautifully. It’s a picture of young love when nothing in the world can stop the couple from loving each other. This is a true Â delight to all those who have seen it.
The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince
3. The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince (Korea) – I cannot decide which one I like better, Coffee Prince or Boys Over Flowers, so I decided to give them both #3 position. Coffee Prince is an enjoyable tale of a woman who pretends to be a man to work in a coffee house. The best part of this drama is the development of the love relationship between the 2 main characters where the man thinks the woman is a man. Did you get it? Just imagine the drama that ensues when a full-blooded man realizes he is falling for a man then realizes that she’s actually a woman! The contrasting relationship shown by the supporting characters is also beautiful to watch. This drama shows different types of love and how different people express their feelings. The other coffee princes are also quite enjoyable to watch. Each prince has his own story line.
2. You’re Beautiful/He’s Handsome/You’re Handsome (Korea) – This drama entertained me so much, I finished 16 episodes in 2 days. It’s a story of a girl who pretends to be her twin brother in order to join a famous boy band. I loved the funny antics of Go Mi Nam (Park Shin Hye) and watching Hwang Te Kyung’s (Jang Keun Suk) pride collapse as the episodes progress. There are so many funny scenes that just endears the characters to you. The storytelling is also surprising so the audience is left guessing until the end about the character’s past. It is not until the second to the last episode when things beautifully unravel. I love the dialogue from this drama. A lot of funny and romantic scenes are in store for those who will give some of their time to this drama.
1. Cinderella’s Sister (Korea) – This drama just killed it for me. It has the perfect balance of comedy, drama, romance and magic realism which made it the best drama for me. If you are familiar with the story of Cinderella, this drama draws inspiration from the classic fairy tale. The story is set in a rice wine factory where Hyo Sun and Eun Jo grow up together as stepsisters. Typical of stepsisters, there’s rivalry in many areas including studies, romance, looks, etc. But the story is not as simple as that. It is difficult to describe because Cinderella’s Sister is the most complex drama I’ve seen so far. The story offers a lot of discussion points and complex characters. The characters are not one-dimensional (i.e., villain, good girl, good boy). All characters have both the yin and the yang and the audience are drawn to all of them. You feel for the supposed villain. Watch this drama, it is soooo worth the 20 hours investment.