When COVID first began to terrorize us all, I finally got the chance to catch up on all those Korean dramas I had been putting off for years. But this year, real life revved back up and I had much less time to just sit back and relax while enjoying K-dramas.
But in 2022, I actually only ended up watching four pre-2022 K-dramas. And thankfully, I highly recommend all four of them:
4. Naked Fireman
KBS’ Naked Fireman (맨몸의 소방관) is an intriguing four-episode miniseries that finds a perfect mix of comedy, mystery and legitimate danger. Lee Joon Hyuk and Jung In Sun lead the 2017 series that gives a fun first impression before it leads the audience down a much darker, yet engaging path.
3. Ping Pong Ball
Yoo Jae Myung and Ji Soo deliver captivating performances in the warmhearted, though pensive Ping Pong Ball (탁구공). A part of JTBC’s Drama Festa anthology banner, this 2018 two-episode special drama might as well be a full-length feature film based on its production and presentation. A wonderful screenplay about the friendship formed between two seemingly different people is brought to life by two excellent performances and its cinematic treatment. All for what is ultimately a moving and fascinating slice of life portrait.
2. Longing Heart
I’ve always maintained that time travel shows are either hit or miss. There’s really no in between. So it’s always a pleasant surprise when a series like OCN’s 2018 miniseries My First Love (애간장 /Longing Heart) comes along and secures itself in the former category. The fact that OCN, a network that has become known for dark, gritty dramas, was the home to this lighthearted romantic drama is surprising enough. But a charming cast brings to life a script that knows exactly what it wants to be and doesn’t try to be something it is not. (Which, more often than not, is the case with drama series involving traveling through time and space.)
1. Prison Playbook
The 2017 tvN series Prison Playbook (슬기로운 감빵생활 /Wise Prison Life) is an enjoyable, heartwarming and endearing slice of life story about convicts, their families and the corrections officers tasked with keeping them in check. Quite an interesting combination, yet the series easily delivers a wide range of emotions to tell engaging character-driven and relatable stories about life, family and friendship. A stellar ensemble cast is the strong glue that holds all the pieces together for what is a complete and satisfying series.