Top ten Korean Dramas of 2012

If you didn’t catch all the top Korean Dramas as they aired in 2012, here’s a list of the most popular dramas based on ratings and popular acclaim, and awards. All are well worth watching. The list is in order of ratings from AGB Nielsen as % for live air date, averaged for entire run.

A Gentleman’s Dignity
Ratings Average: 20.8%
This is a romantic and dramatic comedy which has 20 episodes, unusually focused on the older audiences. It tells the tale of four men, all in their forties, an older, but not necessarily mature snapshot of their love lives, failures, careers and breakups. Fun, dignified and real, it’s a must see for all ages.

Trailer for A Gentleman’s Dignity:

The Innocent Man
Ratings Average: 16.8%
Previously known as Nice Guy, this romantic melodrama tells of a story of Kang Ma Roo (Song Joong Ki) who, after being hurt by the woman he loved, sought revenge. This drama is oddly intriguing, and never loses audience interest over twenty episodes. The main cast includes Song Joong Ki , Moon Chae Won, Park Si Yeon (Han Jae Hee) and Kang Chan Hee (Kang Ma Roo).

Trailer for The Innocent Man:

Time Slip Dr. Jin
Ratings Average: 14.3%
This 22 episode fusion drama has elements of romance, time travel and fantasy, and perhaps an over-abundance of graphic surgery scenes. Despite the almost too-real surgery scenes, it is quite intriguing, particularly in the unique view of themes like destiny. The story line revolves around Jin Hyuk (Song Seung Hun) who is a neurosurgeon. In his pursuit of perfection, he has alienated most people in his social circle including his love interest. Hyuk gets transported to the year 1860 where he interferes with the timeline—urged on by his conscience to save people—by saving people with modern techniques who were destined to die. In doing so, he is accused of magic and chased by authorities. Saving people makes him a better human being, but he starts to realize he’s changing the future. After awhile, he deliberately tampers, with less than predictable results. If you can watch through the graphic surgery scenes, this is a great drama. Performances are stunning from Lee Bum Soo, as always, who threatens to take over the lead role in the drama, although Song Seung Hun and Park Min Young play strong roles.

Time Slip Dr. Jin Trailer:

The King 2 Hearts
Ratings Average: 14.1%
Any drama with Lee Sueng Ki—Hallyu singing star, and star in hit dramas such as My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox—is bound to be a hit, and this black dramatic comedy doesn’t disappoint. Set in the modern day South Korea in an “alternate reality” where the monarchy survived, we meet Lee Jae Ha (Lee Sueng Ki), a handsome prince who is very materialistic and cares less about politics. His idealistic life ends when he is forced to join a team of soldiers from North and South Korea and ends clashing with—and laterfalling in love with—Kim Hyang Ah—who is a Special Forces agent.

Trailer for King 2 Hearts

Arang and the Magistrate
Ratings Average: 14.0%
This is a fusion historical/paranormal mystery based on ghostly folklore. This very romantic comedy plays 21 episodes in total and never flags in pace, drama or surprises. The drama features Shin Min Ah (Arang), Yun Woo Jin (Choi Joo Wal) and Lee Joon Ki (Kim Eun Oh). Kim Eun Oh, who has an ability to see spirits, arrives in Miryang town in search for his mother. Spirits approach him and he pretends that he cannot hear them—until a virgin ghost named Arang begs his help to vengeance her unjusticed death.

Trailer for Arang and the Magistrate:

Rooftop Prince
Ratings Average: 12.8%
This is the crown jewel in time-travel dramas, a romantic fantasy comedy with 20 episodes. The charisma of Micky Yoochun made this a sure hit. Also translated as the “Attic Prince” the drama blends the best of fantasy, romance and mystery with heavy doses of very funny comedy. It is a story about Lee Gak, played charmingly by Micky Yoochun (Park Yoochun), a displaced Joseon prince—and his funny retainers. They were trying to solve his princess’s murder, fleeing from the perpetrators, when they are hurled into the future by a mysterious force. He leads his almost three-stooges fun retainers—Song Man Bo, Do Chi San and Woo Young—in an attempt to adjust to the future and to understand why he was thrown 300 years ahead in time. When he is rescued by a girl who resembles his princess, he knows it was not random chance. The rest is hilarity, adventure and romance

Trailer for Rooftop Prince, a time-traveling comedy drama that is not to be missed:

I Miss You
Ratings Average: 12.0%
This is a melodrama comedy which revolves around a guy and a girl who ended their relationship painfully at the age of 15. They meet later on in life after playing a game of hide and seek. A story of love lost, love found, revenge and mystery, the cast includes Lee Soo Yeon, Kang Hyung Joon, Kim Eun Joo and Han Jung Woo.

Trailer for I Miss You:

Ratings Average: 11.0%
Faith is an intriguing historical romance fantasy drama set in an ancient times. It is also called the Great Doctor, and has 24 fast-paced, adventure  episodes—a cannot miss with cast-leader Lee Min Ho, Korea’s rising Hallyu star. Although it is perhaps the latest in a time-travel trend (after Rooftop Prince, Queen In Hyun’s Man and Time Slip Dr. Jin) it flips the story-convention around, bringing a martial-arts powerhouse from the past to the future where he kidnaps a present day female doctor and takes her back to the past where she is trapped. She saves the prince and nearly kills her kidnapper, yet, despite her immature antics, love flourishes between her and her kidnapper. Main cast drama includes Kim Hee Sun (Yoo Eun Soo), Lee Min Ho (Choi Young), Yoo Oh Sung (Ki Cheol), Lee Philip (Jang Bin), Park Se Young (Princess Nogook) and Rvu Duk Hwan (King Gong Min).

Trailer for Faith, one of the hot dramas of 2012:

Queen In Hyun’s Man – The Time Traveler’s Wife
This spunky romantic comedy plays over 16 episodes, keeping interest with its unique and elegant story line. Although it’s yet another time-travel comedy, this one has its unique charms as Kim Boong Do travels into the future in Seoul where he meets Choi Hee Jin.

Excerpts from Queen In Hyun’s Man:

Love Rain
Ratings Average: 6.0%
It is a romantic fantasy which has twenty episodes. It cleverly juxtapositions the the children of a previous ill-fated couple, who met in the 1970s, managed to meet and fall in love against a present day love. Seo In Ha and Kim Yoo Hee, a lovely and engaging couple in the 70s meet, fall in love, but unfortunately their relationship is not to be. Forward to the 21st century, and their respective children meet and become involved. But can they survive romantically where their parents did not? Top notch editing and pace, and authentic recreation this interesting period, complete with bad hair, together with the strong relationships,  makes this an immensely interesting and memorable drama.

Extended seven-minute trailer for Love Rain with English subtitles:

– Ren Zost

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