[Soompi 2011] Soompi Recommends the Following Dramas!

There are many many awesome kdramas in 2011 that we would love to recommend, but if you absolutely don’t have the time to catch up on all, we definitely recommend the below five as your must-see dramas this winter break!

(Scroll through the gallery by clicking on the page numbers at the bottom of this article!)

Secret Garden

2011 dramaland started with a bang with “Secret Garden,” and catapulted Hyun Bin’s popularity around the world. “Secret Garden” single-handedly started the fantasy craze in the world of kdramas. The plot, the original soundtracks, the actors were all fantastic. While it’s ultimately a Cinderella story – the poor girl ends up marrying the prince – “Secret Garden” went about it with a refreshing take, involving body switcheroos. If you thought switching bodies with Mom was freaky in “Freaky Friday,” guess how scary – scratch that, hilarious – it was when a couple find themselves in each other’s body!

Stars: Hyun Bin, Ha Ji Won, Yoon Sang Hyun, Kim Sarang, and Phillip Lee

49 days

“49 Days” was a compelling melodrama that allowed viewers to reflect back to their lives. If you had the chance to look at your life after you died, would you be satisfied with the way you lived it? Are your friends truly someone you can trust and depend on or superficial acquaintances? “49 Days” started with death. Everyone at one point in their lives has probably wondered who will mourn for them after their dead. Well, this drama is a story about how a young woman, Shin Ji Hyun, looks through her life from someone else’s eyes and realizes the betrayal of her friends and fiancé.

The drama focuses on the fact that, instead of a switheroo between lovers, two compete strangers change souls. The plot that a person is possessed by another person’s soul and that three drops of tears can reincarnate the soul’s corpse is truly a fantasy. However, the central theme is still deeply rooted in reality – it’s a story about interpersonal relationships and life and death.

Stars: Jo Hyun Jae, Lee Yeo Won, Jung Il Woo, Nam Gyuri, Bae Soo Bin, and Seo Ji Hye

The Greatest Love

Hong Sisters have done it again. “The Greatest Love” was funny, pun-ny, and witty, as expected from the Hong Sisters, and one of the most beloved rom-com dramas of this year. For two months, Dokko Jin brought smiles (and chills) to his fans with his cheesy lines and uniquely Dokko Jin’s arrogance – no, charms.

Gu Ae Jung was once the most popular member of girl group “National Treasure Girls.” Fast forward to ten years, she’s a washed out celebrity who everyone loves to hate. Despite her friendly and hard-working personality, she has a hard time warming up to the public. With so many idol stars these days and ever-increasing voice of the public with the widespread use of the internet, the drama showed viewers how netizens/fans’ actions (and comments) can deeply hurt celebrities.

Stars: Cha Seung Won, Gong Hyo Jin, Yoon Kye Sang, and Yoo In Na

City Hunter

Based on a Japanese manga by Hojo Tsukasa, “City Hunter” was so much more than a simple vengeance drama. It had a complex web of stories – that were dark, thrilling, heart-wrenching, and romantic – that built Lee Yoon Sung into the City Hunter he is today. It also alluded to some of the society’s current issues like half-tuition for college students and industrial accidents all the while emphasizing the significance of our basic principles – faith and justice – and the importance of upholding them.

The show had it all – great actors, great plot, great cinematography, great score, the works. Not once was there ever a “boring” moment or scene where you wanted to press the fast-forward button. All the relationships between Yoon Sung and the characters, and not just the one between him and Nana (btw Lee Min Ho and Park Min Young liked the love line between their characters so much, they decided to become a real life couple ^^), were enthralling. Yoon Sung and daddy dearest Jin Pyo shared and realized that their bond was thicker than blood – once they were able to get pass the fact that Jin Pyo kidnapped, lied, and manipulated Yoon Sung. Shik Joong ajusshi was more of a confidant/motherly/wife(?) figure to Yoon Sung. While they constantly, and quite amusingly, “fought” over all the home shopping like a married couple, Yoon Sung could always count on Shik Joong to be there when he needed him. Yoon Sung and Prosecutor Kim Young Joo had so much in common – both were victims of the previous generation’s actions, both tried to break free from their father’s shadows and control, and both had a strong sense of justice – albeit difference ideas as to achieve justice. Despite being “enemies,” the two genuinely respected each other, and had they met in any other circumstances, they could have shared a great bromance. Yoon Sung and Nana? What more is there to say…^ ^

Check out the final episode recap here!

Stars: Lee Min Ho, Park Min Young, Lee Joon Hyuk, Goo Hara (KARA), and Hwang Sun Hee

Heartstrings

“You’re Beautiful” fans rejoiced when they heard CNBlue’s Jung Yong Hwa and Park Shin Hye reunited for “Heartstrings.” While the drama was plagued with single digit ratings in Korea, “Heartstrings” built a strong fan base overseas. Earlier this year, it edged out “City Hunter” and “Secret Garden” to win the title “Best Korean Drama” on squidoo.com.

There certainly was a fresh, youthful vibe to the drama with beautiful sceneries and great looking cast. For most of its run in Korea, it was overshadowed by the pure epicness of “City Hunter.” However, the predictable storyline allowed viewers to enjoy the mindless hour of eye candy. Don’t take me wrong, I’m not being sarcastic. It was a nice break from all the thinking involved in predicting “City Hunter’s” plot and recovering from the whiplash of its unexpected twists and turns. “Heartstrings” starred Jung Yong Hwa and Park Shin Hye as campus sweethearts in an elite arts and music college.

Stars: Jung Yong Hwa (CNBlue), Park Shin Hye, Song Chang Ui, So Yi Hyun, and Kang Min Hyuk (CNBlue)

[Make sure you check out Soompi’s 2011 review on the “Most Shocking Scandals,” “Celebrity Love,” “Variety Shows,” “Soompi Editorials,” and “Most Noticeable Trends” too!]