Seasons of Blossom (청춘 블라썸/Youth Blossom) is a thought-provoking and poignant series about life and all its joys and hardships. Seo Ji Hoon and So Ju Yeon’s captivating performances power this series that discusses difficult, but important topics that don’t normally get tackled on Korean television (whether traditional or streaming).
tvN’s Blind (블라인드) is one of the most legitimately exciting suspense thrillers I’ve watched. There have definitely been plenty of mystery suspense thrillers on Korean television. But Blind is one of the very few that is able to start running from the very beginning and never let up until the very last moments of the final episode. Blending together a fascinating character study, an intricate puzzle of clues and a well-paced narrative, Blind is an action and emotionally-packed roller coaster ride.
Weak Hero Class 1 (약한영웅) is a thrilling, yet sobering portrait of young students and the different struggles, difficulties and momentary joys they experience while growing up in a society that, too often, neglects and pushes them aside. It is strongest though as a character piece, telling the story of friendship and bonds that must survive under the weight of all that is happening around them.
MBC’s 2017 medical drama Hospital Ship (병원선) is a surprisingly character-driven slice of life procedural. Being able to balance a steady stream of patients and emergencies of the week with deep dives into the lives and backstories of the main characters, Hospital Ship manages to be both exciting and emotionally engaging.
Once Upon a Small Town (어쩌다 전원일기/Accidental Country Diary) blends together the best of romantic comedy and small-town nostalgia to deliver a warm, fun and enjoyable time. Park Soo Young (Red Velvet’s Joy) and Choo Young Woo lead a charming ensemble cast in this breezy series that takes full advantage of its cast and beautiful location.
If you want a simple, stress-free K-drama experience, KBS’s Café Minamdang (미남당) might be the series for you. If you’re looking for something a bit more than that, you might be left wanting more. Café Minamdang mixes over-the-top comedy with crime/mystery. And while it isn’t always able to seamlessly blend the two, the series is nonetheless a refreshingly easy watch compared to most of what’s on the Korean airwaves today.
A supermarket producing a webseries? Sure! Puregold, one of the Philippines’ largest supermarket chains, produced Ang Babae Sa Likod Ng Face Mask (The Woman Behind the Face Mask). The romantic comedy stars popular TV host/comedienne/beauty queen Herlene “Hipon” Budol as a young woman who must overcome her insecurities and lack of confidence as she finds love.
Kamen Rider Black Sun (仮面ライダーBLACK SUN) is a refreshing and engaging reimagination of not just the original 1987-88 season of Kamen Rider, but of the entire franchise itself. Celebrating the franchise’s 50-year history, Black Sun is a darker, more mature version of the long-running Sunday morning series. And it draws upon that history to deliver timely and universal stories though the familiar, though more mature confines within the Kamen Rider playbook. It has a little something for everyone, whether you’re a longtime fan or someone stepping into the world of masked Riders for the very first time.
tvN’s Shxxting Stars (or Shooting Stars/별똥별) is a romantic comedy through and through. It might not reinvent the wheel, but it knows what it wants to be and does it well. Yet it is also still refreshing and new while being as fluffy and breezy as a romantic comedy should be. That’s also true even when the series does dabble in more dramatic stories, especially those addressing some of the darker sides of Korean entertainment. But this stylized depiction of a world ripe for K-drama shenanigans is an absolute treat.
I have really been enjoying GMA Network’s Maria Clara at Ibarra. Aside from the top-notch production and performances, I’ve always wanted to see a big budget, fancy adaptation of Jose Rizal’s seminal novel Noli Me Tangere.