Looking Back At K-Dramaland’s 2015: A Couch Kimchi Roundtable


The new year is here, so, we’re waxing nostalgic about our K-drama experience in 2015. Just how good was the past year for K-dramaland? Here’s our take!


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What Will You Miss About 2015?

What Won’t You Miss About 2015?

Were the Dramas Better in 2015? Has It Gotten Better Since K-Dramas Came Into Global Prominence in the Mid-2000s?

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2015 Shows That Should Have Been Cut

Favorite K-dramas of 2015

Best K-drama Moments of 2015

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Cringe-worthy and WTF Moments of 2015

Best K-drama Endings of 2015

Worst K-drama Endings of 2015

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Best K-drama Characters of 2015

Worst K-drama Characters of 2015

What Are You Looking Forward to in 2016?


What Will You Miss About 2015?

Clockwatcher: To be quite honest, 2015 wasn’t my best drama-watching year, but I found some great shows on cable. So, I’ll say what I’ll miss most about 2015 are cable dramas. It’s a good thing we’ve still got 2016 to look forward to.

Rinchan: This year was pretty much a mixed bag, but there were still some noteworthy, albeit underrated, dramas.

Leila: This year is totally different because only a few K-dramas stood out for me. I will definitely miss Jo Jung Suk‘s as Chef in “Oh My Ghost.”

Goodange: What I’ll miss about 2015 was the anticipation that was building for a few 2016 dramas — namely, for “Cheese in the Trap,” “Descendants of the Sun,” and “Saimdang, The Herstory.” 2015 had been devoted to drumming up interest in them, and it was like foreplay — without the sexual part, of course. LOL. There were a few spoiler stills every few weeks (or months), and that stretch of campaign time before the 2016 air date certainly heightened the eagerness for the shows. As a viewer, I like looking forward to something new and different, and my propensity for this stokes up towards the end of the year. So, yeah, much of 2015 had been about setting up a promising 2016.


What Won’t You Miss About 2015?

Clockwatcher: There were some fun shows but none to add to my must-watch list. My closest was probably “Oh My Ghost,” which isn’t even on my top 10 list.

Leila: I won’t miss the dramas that should not have been made — ever! Haha. This past year was slow, but it’s always a challenge for the networks to produce projects that are better than what they offered the previous year.

Goodange: There were a few shows that I liked in 2015, and the one that tanked was the one I still enjoyed: “The Time We Were Not In Love.” What I won’t miss about the last year was certainly the negative publicity that surrounded the show before and during filming — from plagiarized teasers to the shuffling production crew. Sadly, I don’t think this is a drama that Lee Jin Wook and Ha Ji Won can boast as among their best works even though they acted their butts off in it. The issues behind the scenes didn’t bode well for the drama’s success and how it would live up to the original.

Another Lee Jin Wook drama, “Goodbye Mr. Black,” was also beset with problems in 2015, as it struggled to find a channel that would air it, so, I hope 2016 will be its year.

Rinchan: I won’t miss the debacles associated with live shoots. To this day, I am certain “Hyde, Jekyll, Me” suffered the way it did because the writers scrapped their original script likely to distinguish the show from the simultaneously airing “Kill Me, Heal Me” and from Hyun Bin’s past dramas wherein he played an insensitive chaebol heir.

Goodange: The webtoon writer behind “Hyde, Jekyll, Me” also turned off netizens with his persistent plagiarism accusations, so, consequently, he was only doing “Kill Me, Heal Me” a favor as viewers gravitated towards it more.


Were the Dramas Better in 2015? Has It Gotten Better Since K-Dramas Came Into Global Prominence in the Mid-2000s?

Leila: There were shows that raised the bar story wise and with their leads. I discovered Ji Chang Wook and Ryu Jun Yeol this year.

Clockwatcher: I think it’s unfair to use 2015 to gauge the overall quality of dramas; as I’ve said, it was a pretty slow year to me. I do like that there were some high concept dramas like “Oh My Ghost” and “The Girl Who Sees Smells.”

Goodange: That’s true, but even with better technology, more actors, fresh concepts, etc., there is an underlying feeling that there is a lull in K-dramaland. There is a quiet sentiment that there needs to be a revitalization that will capture the similar feelings viewers had towards K-dramas back in the early/mid-2000s. The fact that Japanese broadcaster NHK won’t be airing K-dramas anymore means that the same luster of the Hallyu wave has diminished. Every so often, I come across comments from people who express their inclination to step away from K-dramas because they don’t feel as refreshing as they used to. As trivial as it sounds, I would find it revolutionary if we didn’t get a scene of a piggyback ride in a K-drama. LOL.

I do think that writers, production, and networks are trying to make things better. Cable channels seem especially gutsy about what stories they’ll tell, how they’ll be told, and how they’ll be marketed. Or whatever formula worked for the big Hallyu wave then might just need the right conditions to make it feel fresh again … Maybe?


Rinchan: The dramas are not necessarily better, but I am noticing a trend in which more actresses are moving away from playing roles in which they are simply pretty or cute. They are going for the characters that are less candy and more sassy, owning their unique personality and background. For example, Park Min Young‘s role in “Healer” was probably the best she’s had; she wasn’t trying to uphold the image of a beautiful, reserved girl that I felt hindered her acting in her previous shows. With “Healer,” I felt like she was free to immerse herself into the character.