End-of-the-Year Review: My Favorite & Least Favorite Dramas/Movies of 2022 + Honorable Mentions

I’m getting this out a little later than I expected or wanted and I wrote this pretty last minute, but it’s finally here!: my list of my favorite and least favorite (AKA most disappointing) Korean dramas/movies of 2022. 2022 was such an interesting year for K-dramaland and the entertainment industry in general and there were definitely a few highlights from the year, but there were also plenty of underwhelming projects. Funny enough, I started off my list with just dramas, but I then realized that I wouldn’t even have enough to make a top 5 list or even top 3 for that matter so I had to include Korean movies so that I would at least have a list. I think that’s pretty telling of how I felt about the quality and content of the dramas that were released this year, but that can be another conversation for another day.

As usual, I will list some honorable mentions to give credit to the dramas that exceeded my expectations but I ultimately couldn’t advocate strongly for to make it onto my favorites list. The format for this post will be the following:

  • Honorable Mentions
  • Most Surprising (AKA the dramas that I ended up liking a lot more than I thought I would, but also didn’t make it onto the Honorable Mentions list)
  • Favorite K-dramas/K-movies of 2022
  • Most Disappointing Dramas of 2022

Also, feel free to share and add in the comments what your favorite/least favorite dramas of the year were!

So with that, this is the list of dramas that I either completed watching or am currently watching*:

  • Glitch
  • Jinxed at First
  • Alchemy of Souls Season 1
  • Narco-Saints
  • Little Women
  • Extraordinary Attorney Woo
  • Once Upon a Small Town
  • Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area
  • Revenge of Others
  • 20th Century Girl
  • Bad Prosecutor
  • Behind Every Star
  • Today’s Webtoon
  • All of Us Are Dead
  • The Forbidden Marriage*
  • The Interest of Love*
  • Alchemy of Souls Season 2*

Honorable Mentions

All of Us Are Dead

I had absolutely no plans of watching this high school zombie drama the moment it was released on Netflix. I had heard about it, I knew it was popular, I knew people were raving about it, I knew it was all over social media and the internet, and yet, I resisted the urge to watch it. I actually had no motivation to even try the first episode because I had watched other dramas like ‘Happiness’ last year that sort of followed a similar concept and wasn’t a fan of it at all. But I decided to try the first episode, and then I watched the second, and then before I knew it, I ended up finishing the entire thing.

I attribute that primarily due to Lomon Park who put his name on the map thanks to this drama which then landed him his lead role in ‘Revenge of Others.’ I saw him in ‘Revenge of Others‘ so I decided to check him out in ‘All of Us Are Dead’ and that’s how all of this started. But I also want to add that ‘All of Us Are Dead’ never changed my mind on how I felt about zombie concepts and zombie-related dramas or movies. Because it’s a concept and theme that we have seen so many times for decades, you have to be absolutely novel and creative and innovative when doing a project involving zombies. I don’t necessarily think ‘All of Us Are Dead’ did something that I haven’t seen before nor do I think it did anything better than its sunbaes like ‘Train to Busan.’ But the reason as to why I ended up liking this drama more than I thought would was because of its directing, cinematography, filming, and camerawork. It heavily impressed in the first few episodes and continued to look nice as the drama progressed. One of the scenes that definitely stood out to me was the cafeteria scene in the beginning of the drama when the zombie outbreak had just started and it was complete chaos. The sprinklers had gone off and there was water pouring everywhere, students getting bitten, students trying to escape and run away from the zombies. There was so much going on in the scene and it was a perfect visualization and preview of what was to come. You can only do so much script-wise when it comes to the zombie theme so the drama pulled its weight with the visuals and filming to offset its weaknesses.

Along with the directing and visuals, I also liked the storytelling in that the drama focused on sub-groups of different characters throughout the show. It sort of reminded me of ‘Stranger Things’ season 4 where there were different sub-plots involving a set of characters and you followed these characters as they went about with their own adventures. ‘All of Us Are Dead’ was similar in that there were different groups of characters and you followed each of these groups as they tried to survive the zombie apocalypse both inside and outside of the high school campus. My favorite group to follow was actually the police detective Song Jae-il (played by Lee Kyu-hyung) and his partner Jeon Ho-cheol. They were the most entertaining to me, but it was also refreshing to watch another set of characters outside of our high school students. I also think their arc delivered a little bit more on the emotional depth and piece of things: while roaming throughout the neighborhood, they encountered random individuals such as the streamer guy and the little girl. There’s this internal conflict of whether or not to rescue these people as they could potentially have been bitten, but still risking it and saving them anyways because that’s the right thing to do and your heart is telling you to do it. With this storytelling format that the drama used, you felt like you were never really bored as there were plenty of characters and sub-plots to focus on and to keep you entertained. It was also cool to watch each of these groups do their own things and try their own ways to survive and then eventually reunite towards the end of the show. If this drama was just about our high school students and was executed differently, I don’t think the impact and entertainment would have been there.

I do have to give credit to the drama for its creativity in not turning every character who was bitten into a zombie as seen with the bully Yoon Gwi-nam (played by Yoo In-soo). He was annoying with how many lives he was given time after time and how he just would not die (I’m also not completely sold that he’s dead either.. I wouldn’t be surprised if he somehow returned for season 2), but I thought it was refreshing that he was a different type of zombie species even though he had been bitten. Sure, it wasn’t fun to see him continue to come back and haunt our high school squad over and over again (LOL), but from a storytelling standpoint, it was different and that was nice to see. It makes things much more intense and interesting because you’re left guessing who was bit and still looks like a human being and then who’s still an actual human being who survived.

The biggest strength of ‘All of Us Are Dead’ was that it looked nice, but I also appreciated that it provided some emotional depth as seen with our high school students and their teacher or our high school squad and their parents. There were quite a few deaths quite early into the drama and throughout that surprised me, but there was really only one that made me tear up and cry.. and surprisingly, it was not the “death” of On-jo’s dad (AKA Woo Young-woo’s Dad). It was actually Oh Joon-yeong’s “death” that made me tear up because of the way that it happened and the comments that he made in that moment. Throughout the whole show, you watched as our primary high school squad was running for their lives from these zombies and doing whatever they could to survive. They were coming up with strategies and ideas to map their way to escape and survival and so you were sort of used to watching this group stay together. You were used to watching the same group of characters survive over and over again.

In my case, it was Oh Joon-yeong’s “death” that hit differently for me. It wasn’t even so much that he was my favorite character (Nam-ra and Su-hyeok are my favs hehe), but it broke my heart when he got bit because of the way that it happened. The group was pushing their way out of a gym swarmed by zombies and so they’re all working together to get to the exit doors and Joon-yeong got bit while pushing onto the cage. And while there was a moment of shock for him, there was, however, never really a moment of doubt or hesitance from him. The moment he got bit, he knew that it was over, that he had to leave for the sake of his high school friends, and that he did what he had to do. He jumped over the cage to join the rest of the zombies and he helped pull the cage towards the exit doors as he constantly cheered for them and saying “let’s go home.” And he’s doing all of this while constantly being attacked by zombies himself.

This scene struck me so hard because 1) Joon-yeong is utilizing his last remaining moments as a human to still help his friends out but 2) it makes you ponder what is home and where is home? All that these high school kids have known this entire time is a place full of zombies and yet they still held onto the hope that they would survive and one day return home where ever that is and with whomever that may be (given that their parents/family weren’t alive). There’s no knowing what the outside world looks like and if there ever really is a place that is considered safe given the zombie outbreak, but they lean on one another and continue to fight because they want to return “home” and they know no other way.

With all of this being said, as much as I ended up enjoying this drama more than I thought I would (I initially only planned to play it in the background as I was studying or doing other things, but then I got way too into it so I ended up seriously focusing on the entire thing haha), there were a few aspects about it that prevented me from placing it as one of my favorites from the year. I do have to admit that I was a bit puzzled as to why the drama decided to center the location around a high school campus and actually wished that the drama would have expanded its boundaries to beyond just the high school. Similar to ‘Happiness’ and how the drama’s central location was the apartment complex/buildings, this drama’s central location was the high school, but a part of me wishes it wasn’t so confined to just that. In the end, the drama still ultimately worked, but I think it would have been cool to watch the drama focused on a town consisting of different stores, restaurants, shops, etc. Maybe that’s a focus for another zombie drama/movie, but it was a thought that crossed my mind in the beginning of the show.

I also didn’t care enough for all the characters and their stories. I think the drama would have sufficed without the Assemblywoman character and everything that came with her story because it just felt a bit random at times and even unnecessary. I also think the drama could have done without the two rooftop characters and their storyline though they at least made a bit more sense given that they actually had a connection to our high school squad.

To add onto the characters who I think this drama could have done without, I have to add Lee Na-yeon (played by Lee Yoo-mi) to that conversation. I don’t know why zombie dramas and movies do this, but why is there always that one character from the rest of the group who’s the “villain” or the mean one? The one who has no issue or problem with sacrificing others to the zombies? The one who’s the most desperate to survive, but does absolutely nothing to help or assist and really serves no purpose in the group? Lee Na-yeon is that character in this drama and she was there to just be there. She didn’t really do much to help the group nor was she a good teammate. She singled out certain people and she always fought the other characters and she never got along with anyone. It was irritating to watch her at times because it was so unnecessary. For some reason, it just seems as if zombie dramas and movies cannot exclude characters like Na-yeon and I just don’t know why. They’re not necessary. You can do without them and yet these zombie movies and dramas continue to implement them for unknown reasons. Get rid of frustrating characters like Na-yeon and instead just focus on your primary set of characters/supporting characters.

Overall, ‘All of Us Are Dead’ didn’t hit the mark for me as much as say ‘Train to Busan’, but I applaud the drama for trying to get us to understand the characters and providing us with insight on how they were feeling or showing us how they would survive. Safe to say, I will definitely be tuning into season 2 of the show (I need to see more of my Su-hyeok and Nam-ra!) and also would like to know what happened to Lee Cheong-san (he really can’t be dead, can he?!). And if the show impresses, I might – just might – recap it on my blog 🙂

Little Women

The last episode to this drama could have ruined it for me, but I still ultimately placed it on my list of honorable mentions because of everything else leading up to the finale. This drama still had good enough moments for me to feel fondly about it which is why it made it onto my list.

‘Little Women’ does a good job of centering its drama around money, wealth, and power and the endless possibilities that comes with those things. What are you willing to do for money? Would you sell your soul for millions of dollars or would you be rather have integrity and do what’s right? ‘Little Women’ explores these questions and more through our characters of sisters who are all poor and grew up without much money. They struggle with finances and money, but they still make just enough to get by but even then that’s not enough. Along the way, they get caught up and intertwined with other characters who have what they either want or despise (depending on which sister you’re referring to) and we witness the complexity that is involved with each of their stories.

Each sister had their own character arc, but I enjoyed Oh In-joo’s (played by Kim Go-eun) storyline the most because I felt as if her story was the most multi-dimensional. There was a lot more to her story from the beginning starting from her relationship with her co-worker Jin Hwa-young to her discovery and eventually management of the lump of sum that she inherited to her interesting and fascinating relationship with Choi Do-il (played by Wi Ha-joon). And if I’m completely honest, the thing that I enjoyed the most about this drama was her relationship with Choi Do-il. He was such an interesting character because of how mysterious and semi-scary he was. Was he someone she could trust? Was he all in in helping her only for the money? What were his reasons and intentions in rescuing her and helping her every step of the way? Why was he doing all of these things for her? I liked that the drama didn’t make their relationship outright romantic and instead treaded this fine line of being partners-in-crime but also posing the question of if there could be something more. I think that was one of the biggest charms about their relationship: Do-il was so charismatic but it was also a little frightening at times because you didn’t know if In-joo could trust him completely or if he had other intentions of helping her out. What is their relationship and connection built upon and is it one that is genuine and sincere?

With ‘Little Women’, you were always on the edge of your seat and you never felt like you could be comfortable. In fact, you were always uncomfortable because you never knew what was going to happen next or what the villains in the show were going to pull. This level of discomfort added layers of suspense and intensity as you witnessed each of our characters unravel the mystery behind the blue orchids and the corruption behind the villains. Though the ending was a bit too makjang for my taste and, in my opinion, ruined the flow of all that the drama had been building up until that point, it still delivered oddly in many other ways. ‘Little Women’ isn’t the most enticing and engrossing drama out there, but it did just enough to keep you satisfied and intrigued and entertained. It’s an example of a drama that does everything on an above average level whereas other dramas might excel phenomenally in one category and then underwhelm in other ways. I can’t say that ‘Little Women’ was my favorite, but it also was just good enough for me otherwise.

Most Surprising

I wanted to throw this category in here because I wanted to give credit to these next 2 dramas that exceeded my very low to non-existent expectations. I wouldn’t necessarily describe these dramas as hidden gems, because they weren’t all that great as a whole, but they did have a few sparks here and there that made me like it a lot more than I thought I would.

Today’s Webtoon

This drama was a ‘feel good’ type of drama that actually made me feel good as I was watching it which isn’t always an easy feat. Sometimes, there are dramas that try to sell you on the ‘feel good’ story that doesn’t make you feel all that good while you’re watching it, but ‘Today’s Webtoon’ actually accomplishes what it was set out to do. There wasn’t a whole lot going on in this drama as it primarily followed our characters who work in the webtoon editorial department of a company. You have newcomers On Ma-eum (Kim Se-jeong) and Goo Jun-yeong (Nam Yoon-soo) along with producer Seok Ji-hyung (Daniel Choi) and you follow these characters as they do their work of interacting with different artists and getting these webtoons edited and published.

Though not a drama that I seriously paid attention to every single second in every single episode (I often played the drama as I was working out), it still made for a good and easy watch. I still was able to grasp a general idea of what was going on or what was happening and it was easy to follow along. It was also easy to root for the characters and the team as they were seen as the underdogs in the show. Ma-eum also sort of had her own thing going on as she moved forward in her life as a judo athlete to pursue her dreams of becoming a webtoon editor (to the dismay and dissatisfaction of her dad). There’s a bit of innocence and naivety that is associated with her character as she leans more on the “I-can-do-everything-and-anything-as-long-as-I-work-hard-and-follow-instructions” mentality which she realized is a lot easier said than done. It’s not always as clear-cut as it seems and there are people behind the scenes who have other intentions and plans behind their actions and words. It was nice watching her learn and navigate this situation with the mentorship and guidance from her senior, Seok Ji-hyung.

I also enjoyed watching Ma-eum’s conflict between achieving her dad’s dreams of being a successful judo athlete to do what she wanted to do in life. There are people who can definitely relate to Ma-eum’s story and that’s something that I appreciated about the drama: the ability to present to you realistic characters and workplace situations that viewers could relate to and understand. ‘Today’s Webtoon’ is far from being an amazing drama, but it definitely was ‘feel good’ and that was good enough for me.

Behind Every Star

If you’ve been following my blog, you would know how I initially felt about this drama: I did not like it. I was not feeling it. I was not impressed. Episodes 1-4 did not do it for me. I was close to dropping it and I was pretty sure I was going to drop it. But then I hung on and I thought – maybe, just maybe – the drama could turn things around. Maybe it’ll get better, maybe it’ll pick up, maybe it’ll be better than I thought. And in the end, it did. LOL.

Now, ‘Behind Every Star’ didn’t do anything differently in the second half of the drama compared to what I saw from episodes 1-4. In fact, it was the same thing throughout all 12 episodes. Each episode was primarily the same thing: cameo appearances of actors and actresses who faced issues on and off set and our main group of characters swooped in to problem solve and save the day. In that aspect, the drama was procedural and the premise pretty much remained the same. But it was everything outside of this structure and format that I eventually warmed up to. I think the drama just needed more time to set up the character arcs and I just needed more time to settle in and warm up to the characters. Because once the drama finally built the foundation on each of our characters, I became invested in knowing more about them beyond just their work life.

My favorite part was watching our lead female characters, Chun Jane (Kwak Sun-young) and So Hyun-joo (Joo Hyun-young), navigate their struggles and difficulties in the workplace and find solutions to overcome them. For Chun Jane, she is proactive and she’s very much a leader who likes to do things her own way because she knows what it she wants and how she’s going to get it done. This then gets in the way of her love life and so you watch as she struggles to maintain her work responsibilities and demands with her boyfriend. I sort of felt for her because work is extremely important to her and she’s a workaholic, but she also wants to love and be happy with her boyfriend. How do you balance the two? Is there a way to? Or do you ultimately have to sacrifice one for the other even though both are important to you? Eventually, things worked out for Chun Jane and her boyfriend, but I really enjoyed her character arc because it posed the question of balance. We often talk about work-life balance and how it’s healthy in life to separate the two as their own entities and in Chun Jane’s case, it was the question of how to balance her work life with her love life.

For So Hyun-joo, it was more about the challenges that came with being a rookie or hoobae working in a company that is new and foreign to you. She left her hometown of Busan to pursue her dreams of becoming a manager in Seoul and it wasn’t easy for her along the way. However, she was able to eventually settle in just fine and learned so many lessons. But what really got me was her character arc towards the end of the drama where she had this conflict with her co-worker who she had built a good rapport with and she felt lost and confused and heart-broken. She talked to her mom via video call and her mom told her that she could come back home anytime if she found it too difficult to be alone and this just absolutely broke my heart. It broke my heart because I could completely relate to Hyun-joo; I know what it’s like to work away from home and to have to adjust to a new lifestyle and to a new workplace with new faces and rules and guidelines. Just like Hyun-joo did in that moment, I also have cried when work was too stressful and challenging and when I was homesick. Hyun-joo’s character arc was one that I could relate to and resonate with and I think that’s one of the reasons as to why I came out enjoying this drama a lot more.

‘Behind Every Star’ wasn’t a star at anything honestly, but it really helped once the drama set up the characters because then it was so much easier to follow each of their stories. I ultimately ended up caring more about our main/supporting characters working in the entertainment company more than I did about the cameo appearances (though I do appreciate that with each episode and cameo appearance, there was a certain message or lesson that the drama was conveying). I also thought the addition of CEO Koo Hae-jun (Heo Sung-tae) halfway into the drama was a nice little switch-up and change. His character definitely made things a lot more interesting and spicy. If not for him, the drama would have dragged on a lot more than it needed to. With the way that the drama ended, it seemed as if the drama sort of rushed its finale so that it could set up for a second season. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case and if that does turn out to be true, I may just give the second season a try.

Favorites List

I’m gonna try my best not to rave too much about these next three projects or else I’m never gonna stop and this post will go on forever. LOL. As seen with my list above, I’ve seen a decent amount of shows this year, but these 3 were the ones that ultimately impressed the most and came out on top. Drum roll please!

Extraordinary Attorney Woo

This one shouldn’t come as a surprise to many if you followed my blog. I think I recapped the first episode on the same day that it aired because I was impressed with what I saw and I was excited for what was to come. Now that I’ve seen plenty of dramas since the drama has aired and I reflect on it at the end of the year, I do think the quality of the show dropped a bit towards the end of the drama. But ‘Extraordinary Attorney Woo’ still deserves its flowers and credits for doing something different that not many dramas have done before and for hopefully paving the road for similar dramas and movies to follow in the future.

One of the many strengths that ‘Extraordinary Attorney Woo’ provided was its focus on representation and providing visibility on the subject of autism and individuals who have autism spectrum disorder. The drama did not shy away from providing honest insight and comments about what it’s like for those who are autistic and how difficult it is for them in society. That’s one of the biggest things that I appreciated about this drama. It was so honest and it not only helped you learn more about autism itself, but also made you reflect on yourself and how you will act going forward. And sometimes the commentary that the drama made did not make you feel good; it made you feel not so great and it hurt whether it was watching people react to Woo Young-woo or the clients like how we saw in episode 3. But at the same time, these social commentaries are necessary. They’re necessary if we want to make progress in society; they’re necessary to get people to think about themselves so that those with autism aren’t mistreated or judged unfairly.

Of course, the other aspect about this drama that I will always appreciate are the relationships. The drama was very procedural with each episode focused on certain cases so that wasn’t always the most fun and entertaining (especially for someone who was recapping the drama), but I liked the relationships that the drama focused on. Young-woo and her Dad have a very special bond with each other and it was interesting to watch how the two interacted. Dad doesn’t baby Young-woo and doesn’t treat her as if she’s someone who needs to be protected all the time. He let her grow up, he lets her learn by herself, he cares for her but doesn’t overprotect and overstep. Dad is strict with Young-woo, but he also showers her with love and care in his own ways. I also loved watching the little tidbits we got of Dad taking care of Young-woo when she was a little kid and how he was able to raise her and the context that the drama gave us. We got a little glimpse into their lives as Young-woo was growing up and how that has impacted them in the future. Some things will never change regardless of how much time passes by and the relationship between Young-woo and her dad remains a testament to that.

And then we can’t talk about ‘Extraordinary Attorney Woo’ without talking about Young-woo and Jun-ho. Some people might have found their relationship unnecessary and a distraction to the overall drama, but I think it was important to showcase that people with autism spectrum disorder are also capable of romantic relationships and love and romance. The drama showed us the familial side of things with Young-woo and her dad and then it also showed us the romantic aspect by giving us Young-woo and Jun-ho. Jun-ho loved Young-woo for who she was; unlike many other people, he never judged her or thought she was “unattractive.” He loved for her and he was with her through it all. Their relationship – like many others – was not perfect by any means and their relationship – like many others – required work, patience, and communication. Young-woo and Jun-ho loved each other in their own ways and had their own definitions of love and dates (haha), but their mutual feelings for each other were always there even when they were going through a rough patch. They just needed to find a way to get over that hump and they did. I think Jun-ho and Young-woo’s relationship definitely added another layer to this drama that made it much more enjoyable. The drama dedicated a lot more time and attention to it than I originally thought, but I wasn’t complaining. The more, the better 🙂

20th Century Girl

This movie is the reason as to why I couldn’t title this post as just my favorite dramas of the year. This movie moved me in ways that no other movie has moved me in a while. This movie was so impactful that I have rewatched it a total of 4 times and even recapped it on my blog. This movie was everything.

’20th Century Girl’ is an example of a movie whose strengths is in its execution. Execution of its actors, execution in its storytelling, execution in its directing. This movie just delivered on all fronts which is why it was so easy and enjoyable to watch. The movie on paper doesn’t provide you with much, but it’s more about how the movie brought everything to life and translated that onto the screen that was so successful. I also attribute the chemistry between our two leads, Kim Yoo-jung and Byun Woo-seok, as another reason as to why this movie worked. If you got any two actors to play the female and male lead, I’m not so sure how effective and impactful it would have been. Because this movie primarily focused on their relationship, you needed two actors with chemistry who could sell you on their relationship. Kim Yoo-jung and Byun Woo-seok did exactly just that and even more and I think they did a great job in their respective roles.

There’s just this level of innocence and sweetness to ’20th Century Girl’ that’s difficult to find in other projects nowadays. It’s also all about the details in this movie. There’s innocence in the relationship between Bo-ra and Woon-ho as the two get to know each other better, there’s innocence as they eventually develop a crush on each other, there’s the nervous butterflies the more they spend time together. It’s in the way they steal glances at each other from across the street or the way they’re inches apart from each other as they’re trapped inside a room or the way they spend time together at school or around the neighborhood. You felt comfortable and at peace watching the two together and they were always so adorable. Their relationship was refreshing and it was never dramatic and they never fought over anything minor or frustrating.

Bo-ra and Woon-ho was such an easy couple to watch, love, and root for which is why the ending was even much more heartbreaking. You became attached to them as you saw how compatible they were with each other and you wished that they could have still been together. You also pondered what it would have been like if they were given the opportunity to reunite and remain a couple. There’s all the ‘what-if’s’ and the endless possibilities and that’s what kills you and haunts you in the end. We didn’t get to see what life would have been like for Bo-ra and Woon-ho and how things would have ended up for the two lovebirds. But at the same time, there’s comfort in knowing that Bo-ra remained the brightest light in Woon-ho’s life during the brief time that they were together. She was his world and he was hers. They were truly happy when they were with each other. They developed and experienced something special that will never go away or be irreplaceable. Bo-ra will always have a part of Woon-ho in her where ever she goes for the rest of her life. She will always be his 20th century girl.

Like Otters

This isn’t a drama that I have covered on my blog yet, but I hope to be able to post about it soon. If you haven’t heard about it yet, it’s probably because the drama is a one hour episode of KBS’s annual drama special. Every year, I dedicate some time to watching these drama specials because I feel as if there’s usually some hidden gems. ‘Like Otters’ was definitely one of them this year and I highly recommend you give the drama a try if you have the time.

‘Like Otters’ follows two high school students who come from abusive households and, therefore, find a home and comfort in each other. The drama does a special job in reminding you about the two characters and their connection and relationship to otters. When otters go to sleep, they hold hands and rely on each other for support in case they get swept away. Similarly, our two main characters hang onto each other and rely on each other for support during times of chaos and waves of instability at both home and school. They have each other when they have no one else at all.

It’s such a shame that these drama specials tend to only be an hour long. Because of the time limit, there’s only so much you can squeeze into the episode to tell a story in an effective way and with the one hour drama specials I have seen so far, these dramas have done a great job in accomplishing just that. I get a little sad watching the dramas end because I wished they weren’t just an hour long and was the usual 12-16 episodes. The episode ends within an hour meaning you get the usual set-up, relationship development, lovey dovey moments, third act conflict, and finale all within that time limit. When a drama does these things phenomenally within an hour, it’s so good that you just never want it to end. That’s how I felt about ‘Like Otters.’

I enjoyed watching our two characters find love and solace in each other. I enjoyed the two finding hope in each other. I enjoyed the two being courageous by doing things together. I enjoyed the two forgiving each other because they’re still young and there’s still many things they don’t know about or have figured out in life yet. But through all of these situations and challenges, they were like otters and overcame them together. They held each other’s hands and never let go.

Most Disappointing Dramas

Revenge of Others

I don’t want to spend too much time on this drama given that it was the most recent drama that I completed and reviewed on my blog. To get to the chase, this drama had a strong beginning and middle from episodes 1-8. Unfortunately, the quality of the show dropped starting from episodes 9-12 and it felt as if the drama could just never really bounce back. In fact, it suffered with every passing episode and it just wasn’t the same anymore. Even with the disappointing finale, I enjoyed the first half of the drama and applaud it for starting off on a much stronger note than I could ever imagine. But the more that it delivered, the more I expected it to stay that way, but it just couldn’t hold on towards the final half of the show. It’s such a shame because the drama started off very well and had so much potential. I actually had this drama originally in my favorites list, but I had to remove it because of the final 2 episodes. The what could have been and what should have been with this drama will always roam around in the back of my mind and it’s unfortunate the drama didn’t grasp at all the opportunities that were there.

Jinxed at First

Similar to ‘Revenge of Others’, ‘Jinxed at First’ started off decent. I knew it wasn’t going to be the greatest drama in the world, but I enjoyed watching our female lead venture out into the world after being trapped inside of a hotel mansion for the majority of her life. The drama began to show hints of disappointment when it started to focus more and more on the dad’s side of the story which was such a huge contrast compared to what we were getting with our main couple. One second the drama’s cute because of the two lovebirds and then the next it turned all melodramatic because of the dad’s story. In the end, the drama dropped by turning just full makjang and adding in a birth secret, an evil nephew, witches and powers, and much more. The biggest surprise to me was just the drop-off from how adorable and light-hearted the drama was to the way it went full makjang in the end. And the thing is.. you never want to go full makjang. It’s a miracle that I still managed to finish this show, but I already knew well beforehand what my thoughts and feelings about it was before the ending.

I think this inability to balance the different sides to a drama is a common experience I’ve gotten from plenty of the shows that I’ve watched this year. They start off promising and then they burn out halfway and disappoint in the end. Or the atmosphere and feel of the drama changes halfway and it feels completely different by the end. ‘Jinxed at First’ is just one of the many examples of this observation from this year’s dramas so I hope next year’s dramas improve in this sense. I want my shows to deliver as best as possible from start to end. I want to watch a drama that feels well-rounded and complete.

And so that wraps it up for this year’s End-of-the-Year review! I realized as I was preparing for this post that I didn’t even have enough dramas/movies to make a top 5 list so I had to narrow it down to 3. That speaks volumes about the way that I felt about this year’s projects in that there just wasn’t enough to keep me satisfied and happy. Here’s to hoping that 2023 is a much better year for stronger Korean dramas and movies.

Also, happy holidays to you all and I hope you finish this year on a great note and start off the new year positively! Thank you all for your support and love for my blog and let’s roll into the new year healthy and strong! I love you all and take good care of yourselves!! 🙂

One response to “End-of-the-Year Review: My Favorite & Least Favorite Dramas/Movies of 2022 + Honorable Mentions”

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