As I’ve watched a copious amount of dramas since May of 2015, I thought it was long overdue to add onto my original list found here. This time, I’ll be adding other Asian dramas to the mix to make this list more well-rounded. I have watched many amazing series in the past year, and while I don’t get to mention or post about them all, there are characters I simply cannot forget. I love a good romance and having any excuse to dote over my favorites.
Note: I took an agonizing amount of time on YouTube searching for the videos that I felt best encompassed these characters and showcase why I love them as much as I do. Please enjoy and let me know what you think. I might continue these kinds of posts in the future if there’s an interest for it.
Soon Jung and Kang Min Ho: Falling for Innocence (aka Beating Again, Fall in Love with Soon Jung) was every bit a melodrama. Kang Min Ho has a pretty volatile personality and he doesn’t like Soon Jung from the get-go because he fully believes that her father is the one who betrayed him. Add in his hereditary heart condition and a miraculous heart transplant, and the lives of Min Ho and Soon Jung will never be the same.
Min Ho gets a new lease on life and Soon Jung suffers through one of the greatest losses of her life. Still, Soon Jung becomes his secretary, and despite it all, she takes very good care of Min Ho. As they work together and Min Ho learns the error of his old ways and finds new hope in a real future for the first time in his life, he tries to turn his life into a positive, honest direction. It’s a very bumpy ride, but these two earn a top place in my “favorite romantic leads” category. If you’d like to read a full series recap, my guest blogger and real life best friend covered the entire drama here.
Lee Hae Sung and Jung Ddol Mi: D-Day shook me up in all the right ways. I’ve always been drawn to natural disaster stories — not because of the disaster but seeing how humankind either rises and/or fails in the face of said disaster. That’s when a character’s true personality is exposed. There is plenty of story throughout D-Day, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t in love with Hae Sung and Ddol Mi. Ddol Mi is literally a fish out of water in Seoul and Hae Sung is at the top of what he does. He gives Ddol Mi a lot of crap, but most of it is in an effort to shape her into being the best doctor/surgeon that she can possibly be.
Even in such dark and dire circumstances, there were cute moments — like where Hae Sung let Ddol Mi sleep in his bunk and she left him cute post it notes behind. It’s not the most ideal circumstances, but the romance between these two felt natural and not just forced to add more oomph to the story. They’re a couple you really want to root for and they’ll stay with you long after the drama has ended. I wish that their story would have been handled better in the end due to the massive scope of this drama. It fell a bit flat and wasn’t as spectacular or satisfying as I had wanted, but it still didn’t detract from my overall love for these two.
Yoo Shi Jin and Kang Mo Yeon: These two? What can I say? I just purchased Viki Pass right before this drama started airing there and it turned into the best investment I ever made on that site. I’ve adored and followed Song Joong Ki very closely in the past few years. Not only does he never seem to age, but he’s just so expressive and natural with his acting. And then Song Hyo Kyo. I saw her first in my very first melodrama – That Winter, The Wind Blows. I think she’s a very wonderful actress and the two of them pairing up as Shi Jin and Mo Yeon couldn’t have been more perfect. It was so refreshing and different from the k-dramas we’re used to seeing.
Despite being heavily fictionalized, I really felt that Descendants of the Sun had a lot of realism to it – between dating someone in the military who’s always on call and could have to leave at a moment’s notice to the sad reality of how difficult and straining distance is on a relationship. And even when they were close together, there were still a myriad of obstacles that made their love something that had to be fought for tooth and nail. To date, this is easily in my top 10 k-drama list. Lot’s of ugly, sad and happy tears were shed during this drama. The beauty is that it’s also currently available on Netflix if you, for some reason, can’t watch it on Viki.
Even better, while filming, these two were dating and it kept it under wraps. It wasn’t until a while after Descendants of the Sun completed that Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Kyo announced their marriage. (Yes, the chemistry was all real and these two are married in real life.)
Kang Cheol and Yeon Joo: When the real world and a webtoon collide, we get the wacky world of W – Two Worlds. I have to say this is the first time I truly loved Lee Jong Suk in a leading role. He also has nice chemistry with his leading lady, Han Hyo Joo. The premise of this story had me gripped from minute one to the very last episode. This is not your average k-drama. It’s on another level completely and I became swept up in Yeon Joo’s unwavering love for Kang Cheol. I love seeing a proactive female that takes charge and isn’t afraid to express her feelings. She’s the one that slowly thaws Kang Cheol’s heart and it’s super sweet to watch. Plus, there’s a great deal of kiss scenes in this drama, which set it apart from the typical k-dramas and their very basic levels of skin ship. This is not a jab at other dramas, but it was really endearing to see a really affectionate couple on screen.
Mike and Aom: Ironically enough, my first Thai drama is a remake of a Korean drama that I’ve never watched. Full House was a joy to watch from beginning to end. Not only was it exciting opportunity to expand my cultural barriers, but it was a really, really good story with an addicting soundtrack. Sure, it was a marriage strictly of convenience, but the time and opportunity was there for Mike and Aom to eventually fall in love.
I think back fondly to the ‘ice cream’ scene, when Aom was nursing Mike’s ankle injury, and when they were just getting on each other’s nerves on a daily basis. It’s not the most believable plot set up, but the story was told very well and the characters have left a lasting impression on me. Plus, Thailand is so lush and beautiful looking that the cinematography of this drama is a-mazing. Plus, they do spend some time in Korea for any of my fellow k-drama addicts.
As of 2018, Full House is still my favorite Thai drama. A huge part of that is thanks to Aom and Mike.
On The Wings of Love: I couldn’t round off this list with my favorite Filipino drama. On the Wings of Love practically stole my heart immediately and made the JaDine (James/Nadine) Love Team my number one. Clark and Leah took an awful lot of time to warm up to each other, but once they did, it was hard not to fall in love. They share the same values, work hard to help support their families, and ended up being so freaking cute together. It was anything but easy for these two. Even when they were together, they went through their fair share of obstacles. As Filipino dramas average over 100 episodes, you’ll need to be in it for the long haul — even with episodes only averaging 20-30 minutes.
If you can handle the misunderstandings, there is so much to love about OTWOL. One of my favorite part of Filipino dramas is how much they stress the importance of family, and that’s one value I really appreciate. If you can make it through over 100 episodes, I promise the pay off is worth is. Clark and Leah really have a love/hate relationship. Leah harbors the most disdain for Clark and she manages to bring out a not-so-nice side of him, but they eventually become friends, and once that clicks firmly into place, we get much more than that.
To sweeten the deal: Nadine Lustre and James Reid are dating in real life, so that’s authentic chemistry you’re seeing on screen. Note: I really struggled to find a video that showcased the journey of this couple, but then I found this video of when they really first started to get close, and I couldn’t resist. I’m loving these two in their currently airing drama “Till I Met You” so that might be making my next list.
And that should do it! Quite a few love/hate and marriage/relationship of convenience dramas made this list, but it was purely unintentional. I didn’t want to overthink or over analyze this round. I went with the gut and tried to think which relationships really held a strong staying power with me. I’ve loved more k-dramas than I’ve disliked in the past year, so it was really tough to just pick a few.