I think I'll have to give up keeping a top 5 list of my favourites, since I just love too many of them.
So I'll classify the dramas I've watched into categories instead.
~ I'm Sorry, I Love You
- The story of an abandoned son adopted overseas will touch your heart. Even though it's a melodrama, it hardly dragged, if at all. And there were enough funny moments to balance out the tragic sides of the story. Excellent acting by the two leads & the supporting cast is fantastic as well. I can't even begin to tell you how good the soundtracks are...
Thanks to this drama, So Ji Seob's gonna be staying at the top spot on my list of favourite Korean actors for a very long time.
~ Sweet 18
- This is one sweet & feel-good romantic comedy. It tackled quite a few issues regarding marriage, and focuses a fair bit on family ties as well. Han Ji Hye & Lee Dong Geon became my favourite on-screen couple after watching this.
~ Full House
- It's just oozing with cuteness, with a good mix of humour & drama. The two leads, Bi & Song Hye Gyo were both excellent in it, and they had great chemistry. You'd probably be able to watch it again & again without tiring of it. I'm currently watching it for the third time, since I got the Director's Cut version.
~ Let's Go to School, Sangdoo!
- Even with a few cliches, I thought this drama was pretty unique somehow. The ending is one of my favourite endings ever. It also happens to be one of the most talked-about endings here.
~ Oh! Pil Seung, Bong Soon Young
- This one is good for a drama marathon. There are hardly any plot cliches & the pace is nearly perfect. All 16 episodes will just fly by. I suffered withdrawal for two weeks after finishing this drama. I fell in love with Oh Pil Seung & you will too, I guarantee that.
~ Delicious Proposal
- Watching it will make you hungry.
Besides the well-shot Iron Chef-like cooking scenes, the biggest pull of this series are the likable main characters. They're developed nicely as the drama goes along and each character is given enough depth for us to be able to empathise with him/her. Although the drama's main theme is a Romeo-and-Juliet type of romance, a good balance was achieved between the two leads' love story & the other characters' respective stories.
~ Dae Jang Geum
- If I could only watch one K-drama in my whole lifetime, I'd pick this one.
~ Wonderful Life
- I was gonna put it under 'Should Watch', but I'm such a sucker for family-themed dramas. And this one is full of family love.
I don't know if this drama is a realistic portrayal of a Korean couple who have a kid by accident & get married while still in college, but I enjoyed it. I did
get annoyed at the two leads several times throughout the series. However, it was easy to forgive them towards the end, considering how both their characters have developed for the better. And it'll be hard for you not to fall in love with Han Shinbi in the course of watching this series. She's way too adorable!
That tiny Jeong Da Bin became the main motivation for me to keep on watching the moment she appeared. It helps that she's a really good actress too!
~ Lover in Paris
- A sweet Cinderella-type story, with a very endearing lead couple. Although the situations portrayed in this drama are common in others as well (rich guy falls for poor girl, love triangle, scandalous family secrets, etc.), you can't help but love it, thanks to the great acting & a very unique ending.
~ All About Eve
- This one is the classic of classics. Even if you've watched 10 similar K-dramas before, this will be special in a way. You'll have a love-hate relationship with each of the two female lead characters. The female antagonist, especially, will evoke extreme emotions in you as you watch the drama. Though the ending isn't a happily-ever-after one for everyone, it's satisfying & ties up all loose ends. If you're deciding on a K-drama to start with, this is the one!
~ My Name is Kim Sam Soon
* Wish Upon a Star
- I have mixed feelings about this one. The relationships among the four leads didn't feel realistic to me, but at the same time I could identify with the issues of trust, jealousy & selfishness faced by the couples. I must say I liked the meaningful conversations between the characters; they felt very familiar to me. Throughout the series I kept being impressed by Jang Nara's acting. It feels like her talent has matured significantly since the last time I saw her in a drama. However, I didn't like Ryu Shi Won nor his wishy-washy character. His acting has never impressed me & this drama didn't change my opinion.
* Miss Kim's Adventures in Making a Million
- This was my first time seeing Kim Hyeon Joo in a comical role, and I really like her. (Somehow her character here reminds me of Han Ji Eun in Full House
. I guess it's the mannerisms & facial expressions.) KHJ & Ji Jin Hui had good chemistry here. They had me laughing & crying along. It was too bad they only got together at the very end.
* Loving You
* Winter Sonata
- What can I say? This one is quite the classic. I loved
it the first time I watched it, but after the third or fourth time, I got pretty sick of it.
Watch it if you feel like a weepy melodrama ala Stairway to Heaven
. Just don't watch it more than twice.
* The Last Dance is With Me
- A very typical love story portrayed in a way that distinguishes itself from the rest. I was surprised to find myself enjoying it more than I thought I would. I don't know what is it about this drama that pulled me in, but it did. Eugene surprised me as well - I thought her acting improved greatly since I first saw her in Loving You
* Super Rookie
- This is the first drama series I have seen Han Ga In & Eric in. (I only saw them in movies previously.) Although I wasn't terribly impressed with their onscreen chemistry, I liked their individual characters here. HGI's character especially kept surprising me by showing her quirky & tough side at the most unexpected times. The events that occur throughout the drama might not be exactly realistic, but you'll get a good laugh watching it.
* Tell Me You Love Me
- I'm not quite done with this series yet, but I like it so far despite the formulaic love triangle plot. Actually, the entire story revolves only
around the four leads, so if you prefer to watch dramas where things are happening all the time, don't watch this one. I'm gonna keep watching as the characters interest & intrigue me.
* The Nine-Tailed Fox
- I watched it out of curiosity about the story of nine-tailed foxes & also because I wanted to see Kim Tae Hui as one of the good guys. It's a good ol' love story with an interesting twist. The drama hardly drags as it doesn't focus on the love story or the main characters alone, and there are enough cool fighting scenes to keep you interested.
* Autumn Tale
- I'm a little partial to this series because it was the one which led me into the world of K-dramas. I think I watched it about four times, despite it being draggy & depressing.
If not this drama, I wouldn't have fallen in love with Korean dramas. You'll love it too, especially if it's your first K-drama!
* Beautiful Days
- I almost didn't finish this one because it dragged a little too much towards the end. But I finally continued watching when I found out it was gonna have a happy ending.
I must say this is the best Choi Ji Woo drama I've seen so far. I liked her in this one compared to Winter Sonata or Stairway to Heaven.
- I'm not done watching this yet, but it feels very much like a family-oriented drama so far. The setting of the story is pretty original, so I think it'll be good one throughout.
* Sassy/Delightful Girl Choon Hyang
- Starting out as a fun drama, it gets emotionally heavier in the latter half. The story is nothing new, but the way the lead actors play their roles makes it a little refreshing. You'll fall in love with the male lead character by the end of the series.
* Love Letter
- Almost as slow-moving as Summer Scent, but still bearable & more engaging thanks to the not-so-common plot about a priest choosing between friendship, love & his love for God. If only the ending provided some form of closure.
* My Sister-in-Law is 19
- This series starts out hilarious!
I haven't watched all of it, but the mood does get more serious later on. Yoon Kye Sang & Jeong Da Bin are a pretty good combination. In fact, they totally outshine Kim Jae Won here.
* Love Story in Harvard
- It started out kinda slow & unexciting, but it gets better & better. I like the focus on the university students' lives in the first part of the show. Kim Tae Hui & Kim Rae Won have wonderful chemistry as well.
* All In
- Didn't expect this drama to be so good, but it is. You won't be able to take your eyes off the screen. It doesn't focus on the love stories of the characters, which is good because it rarely gets boring.
Watch if you...
are a big fan of So Ji Seob: Thousand Years of Love
Seriously, don't bother watching this drama unless you're crazy about SJS (like me). The plot is non-existent & it drags throughout all 20 episodes. Kim Nam Jin's & Seong Yu Ri's acting are just so
bad as usual.
are looking for a emotionally heavy drama with likable characters you can relate to: Ruler of Your Own World
I really love the characters in here. They're so realistic & imperfect, you'd surely be able to relate to one or all of them. Watching more than 2 episodes in a sitting is not recommended, or you'll start 'losing' the story.
don't mind a dark & intense drama, with the lead female character being the volleyball: What Happened in Bali
There's something about it that made me wanna keep watching, even though all the characters (except Kang In Wook & Soo Jeong's roommate) started pissing me off more & more. The unique ending didn't disappoint or upset me, like it did to others.
But it was quite sickening; nobody would've seen it coming.
are a big fan of Choi Ji Woo, are a big fan of Kwon Sang Woo, or aren't yet sick of the amnesia, fatal illnesses & two girls (one an evil **** & the other an angel) fighting over a rich guy: Stairway to Heaven
I don't know why, but I never finished watching this. It wasn't terrible, but I got sick of the characters quick. The first half of the series was great though. Maybe one day I'll have motivation to watch it again & actually finish it.
like abstract dialogue & bizarre characters: Ireland
don't mind a predictable story with slack acting by the leads, or are a fan of Cha Tae Hyeon: Prince's First Love
If it wasn't for CTH, I wouldn't even like this series one bit. You'd be taken in by his portrayal of the flawed yet lovable leading male, while the other two leads (Sung Yoo Ri & Kim Nam Jin) fade into the background. (The supporting actors didn't give good performances either, but at least we can forgive that.) KNJ's acting is especially bad.
(So bad that I don't know why he's even an actor. He should just stick to modelling, since he has the build & it doesn't require much facial expression.) Anyway, the plot was so predictable I could easily tell what was gonna happen next every single time.
I must like Cha Tae Hyeon more than I thought.
don't mind slow-moving, almost tedious melodramas, which has the lead female being the ball in a volleyball game between two men, one of whom is determined not to let go of her: Stained Glass
or Summer Scent
are looking for a dramedy similar to (but not as charming as) Full House, with not-so-likable characters, or are a big fan of Kim Rae Won: Attic Cat
I almost didn't finish this, but I felt that it got less repetitive after the first half, so I continued watching. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for finishing what I started.
want a light-hearted drama with the usual love-triangle plot and fun, can't-help-but-like-them characters: My Love Patzzi
I would've put this under 'Should Watch' if it wasn't so forgettable. When you've watched a good number of K-dramas, this one doesn't stand out much in terms of plot or setting. Then again, you should watch this if you're a fan of either Jang Na Ra, Kim Jae Won or Kim Rae Won. As real-life friends, the 3 of them have fantastic on-screen chemistry. So I'd say it's worth watching at least once.
don't mind draggy, repetitive melodramas, or are a fan of Kang Ta: Loveholic
can bear to watch an ugly male antagonist, or are a big fan of Kim Hui Seon: My Fair Lady
I'm sorry to say this, but the male antagonist is so ugly, I didn't even try to empathise with him. Being ugly is bad enough, but the actor who plays him enjoys contorting his face to form even uglier expressions whenever he's irritated or angry (which he usually is throughout the drama). Okay, enough about him. Go Soo & Kim Hui Seon make a sweet-looking couple, but they were fighting for the most part, that when they finally ended up together, I couldn't detect the romantic chemistry between them. And I must say that their acting fell short of expectations here.