Monday, September 23, 2013

To Drop or Not to Drop? 5 Reasons to Abandon a Kdrama

I'm not usually a quitter. When I start to eat, I eat everything on my plate--even if it means that I am immobile for several hours afterwards in fear that my stomach might explode.  I painfully dragged myself through the last few seasons of The Office because I had already committed to see the Dunder Mifflin crew through to the end.  I can count on one hand--okay, one finger--the number of books on my Goodreads list that I started without finishing.

For the record, it was Middlemarch, and I only stopped when I realized that I was 100 pages into it and we were still getting exposition.  Even so, I'm a little ashamed of myself every time I see it in my book list.  It's a sore subject, okay?

So I was pretty far into my kdrama-watching career before it even occurred to me that I could stop watching a show if I wasn't feeling it.  The first time I dropped a show, I felt just a little bit guilty, but also really liberated.  I didn't have to waste 10 more hours watching that show!  I could move on to bigger and better dramas!

Unlike Coco, who is possibly the most fickle show watcher on the planet, I give most dramas the benefit of the doubt for as long as possible.  That being said, here are some of my top reasons for jumping off of a drama ship:



Drop-worthy Offense #1: Lack of Chemistry

Case study: Manny


Up until episode 11, I had been enjoying Manny for the charming interactions between the handsome male lead and his adorable charge.  Then the lead confessed his feelings for the boy's mother, and I suddenly realized that I didn't actually believe for one second that the main couple actually wanted to be together.  The whole scene was kind of awkward, and I lost all interest in watching the show once the focus shifted to the romance.  

Moral of the story? Don't let the adorable Korean children fool you!  Rom coms need some base level of chemistry to work.

Drop-worthy Offense #2: Distracting Previous Roles ("It's Not You! It's Me!")

Case study: My Fair Lady/Protect the Young Lady

This one is completely subjective, and I know I'm going to take some heat for putting such a popular show on this list.  Everyone keeps recommending My Fair Lady to me, and I keep trying to watch it.  The first time, I got 20 minutes into it before I had to stop.  The second time, I got all the way through the first episode, but I lost all will to push the "next episode" button.

Here's the problem: I can't take Oska seriously as a love interest. Yes, I logically know that Yoon Sang Hyun isn't Oska in real life and that I should give him a chance, but no matter how hard I try, he's just Oska to me, and Oska isn't the true love interest. It seemed especially weird when paired with Yoon Eun Hye trying so hard to pretend to be mean.

Although I didn't quit the show, I had a similar problem when I watched Dating Agency: Cyrano after A Gentleman's Dignity.  

Maybe the next time I watch My Fair Lady, I will get through two full episodes, but I'm calling it quits for now.

Drop-worthy Offense #3: Overplaying the "Unlikable" Card

Case study: Twelve Men in a Year

Misleading poster aside, the premise to Twelve Men in a Year sounded so fun: she dates one man for every astrological sign! It seemed like a light, fluffy show that I could watch in a breeze. 

Then I watched the first episode and realized that the female lead was kind of a terrible person.  Now, almost every single drama starts with one of the leads being completely unlikable, so I was almost willing to let it slide. Then I realized that I would be really, really angry if I watched the whole thing and she never got any better.  

Internet to the rescue!  Pretty much every single review of this show indicated that the unlikable lead never progressed as a character.  I put this show into my imaginary kdrama trash can and never looked back.

Drop-worthy Offense #4: Too Much of the Same Thing

Case study: My Girl

This is kind of an unfair category.  Everyone who has watched more than a handful of dramas learns pretty quickly that kdrama cliches are everywhere.  That being said, there are only so many versions of poor girl/rich guy that a person can watch before you hit your breaking point and need something new.

My Girl was my breaking point.  After 4 or 5 episodes, I noticed that I knew the outcome of almost every single scene before it happened.  While some dramas take the familiar formula and play with it just enough to keep things interesting, My Girl wasn't one of those dramas.  It came out in 2005, so I can't really blame it for having so many copycats, but I watched it too late in my drama career to have the will to get to the end.

(*Whispers*) Guys, as much as I love LMH and PSH, is anyone else nervous that Heirs is going to have this problem? 

Drop-worthy Offense #5: I'm Good Here

Case study: Flower Boys Next Door

This might sound crazy, but every once in a while, I stop watching dramas even when I really, really enjoy watching them.  Yes, now that I've typed that, even I think it's crazy.

So why do I do it?  These dramas usually get dropped in episodes 14-16, right after the couples get together, and right before the writers drop in their random plot twists to stretch out the final few episodes.

If any of you have watched Finding Mr. Destiny (With Gong Yoo! On Netflix! Watch it now!), I think it's kind of like that girl who never finishes the last bite of her cookies: I just want to end at the most satisfying moment possible.  With FBND, I was perfectly happy once the main couple got together.  When they tried to introduce the creepy stalker plot at the end, I decided that I was too sleepy to worry about such nonsense, so I stopped watching.

I did the same thing with Scent of a Woman. Coco accidentally told me the ending before I was done, so I got to a happy stopping place and skipped the last few episodes.


So who else drops the occasional kdrama?  What are your reasons?  Anyone who stays to the bitter end, no matter how much you hate it?

54 comments:

  1. "I did the same thing with Scent of a Woman. Coco accidentally told me the ending before I was done, so I got to a happy stopping place and skipped the last few episodes."

    I have that on my "to watch" list. Without seeking specific spoliers does your comment above that it ends in a LESS THAN happy "stopping place"?

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    1. I don't want to give spoilers, but I don't think the ending is disappointing. I just lost the will to wait for it once I knew what would happen!

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  2. i had the same feeling with FBND.... and yes i love LMH he is one of miy favorites but sometimes i getworry about heirs i mean is it going to be good? or it will be just a copy of BOF.... i guesss will have to wait for the premiere

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    1. Yeah, the fact that it takes place in high school makes me extra nervous, but I'm still holding out hope for the premiere!

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    2. It's the high school part of it that worries me most. Given that this really IS BoF 2, why not have them at university? It wouldn't affect the storyline one tiny bit, and would remove one more credibility straining distraction. Personally I don't think having another go at the BoF storyline is necessarily a bad idea, if they do a better job than the first one.

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    3. Huh? There is going to be another boys over flowers? When?

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    4. No, not another BOF, it's another high school drama staring Lee Min Ho that comes out next week, Heirs.

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  3. I stick to a drama no matter how boring or unappealing it may be. But that doesn't mean I have to watch it right away. I'm still painfully watching these dramas one episode at a time over a long period of time: My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox, Mischievous Kiss, and Coffee Prince, which I finished finally some time ago (still didn't like it even though it was popular.) I guess I have my own list of pet peeves. I'll have to think of my own reasons as to why I feel like dropping a drama, though in the end, I have to watch all of it because then, I can say I finished it and formulate a respectable opinion. I can't respect an opinion too much if the person watching it didn't even finish the drama.

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    1. I think you're right that finishing the whole thing gives a clearer perspective of the drama. I never review things that I didn't finish, but hearing why other people quit certain shows can sometimes give me a good feel for whether or not I want to start in the first place!

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    2. That may be true - I can get an initial indicator of what to expect, but then, I still watch it to formulate my own opinion. Despite everybody's protest, I am in the middle of continuing the drama, Fashion King!

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    3. You're braver than I am! Everyone's warnings kept me far, far away! Let me know how you liked it in the end!

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  4. I am very new to the K-Drama world, so my watched list is very small. Already I am addicted and obsessed with K-Dramas and pretty much anything Korean. However, I have already stopped watching a few dramas after watching between five and ten episodes. I work full time and have a five year old so my time to myself is very limited. There are several reasons I've stopped watching; I didn't connect to the main character(s), I couldn't feel any chemistry between the leads, the story just didn't suck me in, or the story dragged. So far I've completed only seven full dramas, though I have been watching Running Man like it is going out of style and have seen about thirty episodes. I haven't completed five dramas now, but I do feel like I've given them a fair shot. That doesn't stop me from feeling guilty that I haven't completed them and I keep them in my queue on DramaFever in case I want to go back and try and watch them again.

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    1. No guilt here! There isn't enough time to watch boring dramas! While I'm more likely to stick a drama out, Coco has probably quit more dramas than she has finished, which is saying a lot!

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  5. Your points are right on. Most of the time I stop watching a drama because of 1, 4, or 5. I would add that I typically quit watching a show very early on because of 1. If I stop watching around halfway it's probably because of 4 and if I make it past halfway and stop it is because the build up is over and I love it, but I suddenly quit watching thinking "I'll finish it later." But most of the time when that happens, I never finish it (e.g. Sungkyunkwan Scandal, The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry).

    Now that I consider myself a seasoned kdrama lover I wish I could go back to the beginning and know what I know now--that I can stop watching a show at ANY time and start watching something better! Seriously, I wasted so many hours early in my drama days watching things I didn't love. I'm not sure why I did, maybe I just thought I NEED to finish this. The truth is your time is better spent watching something you love or just doing something else entirely. If I had known this, I wouldn't have forced myself to watch so much of Shining Inheritance and Cinderella's Sister. To me those were just awful shows and even I knew it then. I did make it all the way through My Girl, but in hindsight that show felt like a copycat of other shows and really I should have just stopped within the first few episodes. I'm getting extremely excited for Heirs and I really REALLY hope it is not a BOF copycat. But seriously, I cannot wait.

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    1. I'm glad to hear that I wasn't missing out too much with My Girl!

      I think we will all be holding our breath about Heirs together!

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  6. When I first started watching dramas back in 2004 I would watch everything I ever started to the bitter end. But I have this intense dislike for anything sad or overly melodramatic. Back in 2004 there weren't a lot of dramas circulating with reliable and easy-to-access subs. You just kind of watched whatever you could find. Now that more and more dramas are being subbed, it is really easy for me to just stop watching a show and move on to something else. I still give most dramas a 1/4 rule. If I have watched 1/4 of its episodes and I am still not feeling, move on. The only time I run into a problem with this rule is family dramas (ahem, Lee Soon Shin and the great underutilized cast). I was also a lot easier to please in 2004 - I was only 14 at the time. Everything in K-dramaland was new and exciting and different! Now it all just seems like same old ish just a different day. BUT there are some great shows being cranked out right now! I am excited for the new releases coming up. Although Heirs does have me kind of nervous. I love the main two but it could turn into some makjang-crazed-mother-haughty-hero mess. Fingers crossed.

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    1. You're far more patient than I am! Instead of a 1/4 rule, I have a 2-episode rule. Even if the first episode is slow, the show usually starts to build steam by the second episode. The two shows on this list that I quit after the first episode have been my only exceptions.

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  7. My husband and I are both drama addicts and we sometimes scan the last episode to make sure it's a good ending. We stop if it looks like the main characters are going to die or go to France cuz it's just soooo not satisfying after cheering them on through all the struggle to not see them make it.

    Yes I have the exact concern about Hears that you do. but just watching LMH is good for me.

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    1. That's what Dramabeans is for, right? I sometimes check out the recaps before I decide whether or not it's worth my time. If reading the recap is enough closure, then the show didn't really have my interest anyway.

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  8. I also like to finish things when I start then. But now I put on hold (for a vert looong time) some shows. But I still can't not finish a book. x)
    I put on hold Manny after 5 episodes I think when the sister began to show interest with the male lead. I stopped Twelve Men in a Year right after the first episode, I don't really like the character too and the synopsis.

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    1. Ditto on the sister showing interest in Manny. That alone should have made me quit much earlier.

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  9. It's funny, my second drama ever, I stopped after the first episode (Full House) thinking the quirky rom-coms weren't for me. Then I inhaled Goong, Coffee Prince and Secret Garden (as well as a fantastic Melodrama, Truth) and went back and made myself finish FH. I think I'm still in that stage where I feel I HAVE to finish whatever I started (even though I really wanted to pull the plug on City Hunter, please don't judge me!) Anyway, I'm just now recovering from watching 2 drama's at a time, and while trying to decide what's up next, I think I will be more open from now on to just let go and admit it, if I'm just not into it.

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    1. No judging here! We all have that one drama that everyone else loves that we just didn't like. For me, it was You're Beautiful.

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  10. I thought Manny was okay. Simple and sweet. Plus Janice (Janice Dickinson, anyone?) and her crazy contacts. I managed to finish it purely because I loved the theme song. I’m also a sucker for any Kdrama that features cute kids, much like Stars Falling From the Sky where I squealed down to the root of my soul. Kids in Kdrama are a win! They’re just too darn adorable to turn away.

    I also abandoned My Fair Lady after the 2nd episode. I just couldn’t seem to get my hooks into the cast. And this may be extrememlyyyyyyy shallow, but I stopped halfway through the first episode of Twelve Men in a Year because the lead’s haircut bothered me. Or maybe she just wasn’t likeable as you said.

    I managed Flower Boys Next Door because of the eye candy. Otherwise, I was ready to beat it. Speaking of Scent of a Woman--I LOVED that drama. It was frustrating, but what solidified my interest was how the lead stood up to her boss after her diagnosis. I find it rare to see stuff like that as everyone has to be polite. I also loved the interaction she had with her mother. I loved its One-Day-At-A-Time ending.

    The biggest reason I might abandon a drama is if I can’t put myself in the shoes of the lead. Male or female, I have to be able to scream at the screen should she/he do A over B. As always they do the opposite of my desires to stress the drama. However, I keep watching to see what choices comes up next in the course of the story unfolding, or the “big picture”.

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    1. Terrible haircuts are a completely valid reason to stop watching, in my opinion. I almost quit Prosecutor Princess over poor hair choices, but they toned the perm down a little as the show went on, so I stuck it out.

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  11. I stopped watching Jang Ok Jung. I love the actors great chemistry great storyline. Just couldn't get to the bitter end. I stopped when things were happy. Read articles on Jang and realized If I wanted a happy ending I needed to stop. :)

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    1. You're better than I am! I often don't even start if I know it won't end well.

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  12. No. 5 happened to me in Secret Garden! I watched because you guys recommeneded it. (Thank you by the way I don't regret watching it). Despite that, In episode 14 after the main couple got together, I knew all that is left for the plot to explore is battling Evil Mommy. I couldn't watch that again after BOF. I needed some change from rom-com k drama.
    So I watched The Princess's Man (Park Si-hoo oppa!) and City Hunter, both filled with action and politics, before I went back to SG. This time I finished to the end. You need to mix it up a few times as to not get bored.

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    1. I sometimes start a new drama right at the end of another one so that I can alternate without getting bored. Not a bad way to go!

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  13. That last one happened to me with Heartstrings. Everything was all resolved, and the adorable leads had finally jumped through all the plot-hoops-on-fire, and then suddenly in the last two episodes, NOBLE IDIOCY! I was like, nuh-uh, I'm out. :P

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    1. Ohhhhhh noble idiocy! I hate it so, so much.

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  14. I stopped watching A Thousand Kisses (50 episodes!) about halfway through. I spoiled myself and found out that the censors didn't like the older, divorced woman with a younger, rich man so they never let them get together. Plus the guy's mother and sister were pure EVIL! I couldn't take it....it literally made me sick to my stomach!

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    1. That sounds terrible! I will put it on my "Don't Bother" list immediately.

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  15. I'm completely on board with all of your drops (although I never even started My Fair Lady, because I knew Oska was never going to do it for me as a male lead). My problem is that now that I'm comfortable with giving up on a drama, I drop things for totally frivolous reasons. Like not enough shower scenes. What's wrong with me?

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    1. Wait, not enough shower scenes ISN'T a valid excuse? If you want shower scenes, go with History of a Salaryman. The second male lead broods waaaaaay too much, but at least he sometimes broods in the shower.

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  16. I'm guessing I haven't seen as many shows as everyone else (I'm almost through just my tenth, Operation Proposal), so that may be why I haven't run into this yet. I'm pretty surprised I haven't, though. In fact, I was fearing that my first experience (Playful Kiss) was the exception rather than the rule, but show after show has delivered, even through all their flaws, big or small. (OP, for example, has had some of the worst and more numerous clanger emotional moments I've seen.)

    Reason #2 is one I particularly fear, but I've found it will probably more likely come from the story or casting. My first chance was with Lee Seung Gi after seeing him in "Gumiho" and then in Brilliant Legacy. It took me a while to warm to the new (very different, far more snobby) role, but sticking with it paid off. Then it was Kim Hyun Joong in BOF after PK. Kinda the same feel in that they were both the quiet type, but of course one came across meaner than the other. (I take the unpopular line that Seung Jo was just a little misunderstood. :) )

    Then with Yoon Sang Hyun in My Fair Lady after Secret Garden. I liked him in MFL almost immediately. The guy has got bags and bags of charm. I totally bought him in the role, as a love interest, and the chemistry between him and Yoon Eun Hye. I loved MFL in large part (perhaps even the largest part) because of Sang Hyun. He's someone I might be able to watch in anything.

    I think there may have been times with some of the shows where I was wondering if it was going to happen for me (maybe Secret Garden? now probably one of my top five), but I've so far always come around quickly enough.

    What's weird about my current one (OP) is that there haven't really been any spots I can think of that brought me to tears or choked me up until episode 14. That's really unusual for me. There are usually plenty of spots along the way that get to me.

    At any rate, I'm still waiting for that show to come along that makes me go, "I knew the streak had to end some time." Sounds like Manny might be a good place to look for that.

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    1. Let us know when you break your streak! Manny was the first one I quit. It took quite a while of kdrama watching to get me to the quitting point.

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  17. I don't usually ever write comments on blog posts (so you shouldn't feel too bad about comment numbers, though I shouldn't assume to know how you feel), but I have to now.

    I think that this was very well-written and to-the-point, with clear examples. I could relate to all of your points, particularly the last one (I stopped watching FBRS at the same place). And I also am ruined for any future Yoon Eun-hye dramas because I can't get her tomboyish Coffee Prince character out of my mind. I'm also currently about to drop The Moon that Embraces the Sun because I'm simply happy with where it's at and I don't need any more drama...literally AND figuratively.

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    1. Thank you for commenting! We love comments around here!

      The Moon that Embraces the Sun seemed to be so popular at first, and then I heard a lot of fans dropping off towards the end, which is why I never got around to it.

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  18. I had a rule of never dropping a drama if there's enough eye candy, which got my through Flower Boys Next Door. But recently I dropped Panda and Hedgehog which, in spite of the great eye candy, had a lack of chemistry between the main leads and also the female lead was an awkward side character from Playful Kiss. I'm surprised I remembered her because there was nearly a 2yr gap since watching it but she's just so awkward and dull.

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  19. Nooooooo, you HAVE to give it at least 8 episodes!!! Oh my GOSH, you have to get past those cliches in My Girl. IT GETS SO GOOD I PROMISE YOU!!!

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  20. I couldn't finish Faith with Lee Min Ho. I was so determined to watch almost everything he had been in before Heirs came out so that I'd have proper comparisons, but that show was going everywhere and no where at the same time and it was killing me. I keep telling myself I want to finish it, but when I think about those first 7 episodes, I just can't imagine caring about it.

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  21. I stop watching a drama when the leads have no chemistry (When a Man Loves) or if it fails to hold my attention. I will usually watch at least two episodes and as many as five before throwing in the towel.

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  22. I too have a couple dramas still sitting in my Dramafever queue and after reading this article and the comments feel much better about not finishing them. I find that if I can connect with the storyline then I'm good or if I can live vicariously thru one of the characters that makes it enjoyable. BTW, I am so happy I found this blog!










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  23. Love this post! I too suffered a bit of guilt when i first started thinking I should drop the dramas. But now I don't care. If something really ticks me off and there is no change or character growth I'm gone. I'm still working through 'The Manny' for nearly half a year already. Love the lead and the kids. I think he actually had more chemistry with the wily sister than the whiny mom. And I'm not even on the episode where they confess their feelings!

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  24. Great reasons listed. I would add evil character & the super victim a la 100 Years Inheritance. I tried b/c I saw good reviews. Couldn't do it. Feel bad whenever I abandon but feel I have paid my dues after allowing my post BOF crush on KHJ to make me endure ALL of Playful Kiss. Hated it.

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  25. You should have stuck it out with Faith. Everything that was confusing or puzzling was resolved in the final chapter which also had a happy ending!

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  26. I have never dropped a drama. The main reason is I always want to know exactly why I did not like it. The WORST drama I have finished so far was Vineyard Man. I have watched ALOT of Kdramas and I have only not totally finished a few (by an episode or 2) .
    Sweet 18 - too annoying cute,
    Manny - I was unable to put that in a genre. was it romantic? comedy? tragedy? melodrama?
    The Secret Lovers - There were no lovers to be kept a secret
    The Princess's Man - How can you not kill the person who kill your family?

    I must admit though I only got through some of the dramas by watching 2 episodes with episodes of dramas that were great. So what would take usually take me 4-7 days to watch would take 3 weeks instead.

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  27. I think the quality of a Kdrama depends on how good the actors are and yes, definitely the chemistry between them. I loved You're the Best, Lee Soon Shin because the acting and chemistry were excellent. (and that was ALOT of episodes!)

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  28. If you stopped Scent of A Woman before the ending, you missed the best part. Yes, we all know what was going to happen, but it was incredibly moving to me, and is the perfect culmination of all the character development that took place before.

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  29. I always love a good ending especially one episode before the ending. I will admit. So I do hate when they try to rush everything in the last 15 minutes of the end. Like the main couple getting together! Grrr

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  30. I suffer intense drama-dropping guilt, but I've been purposely forcing myself lately to drop dramas when I stop enjoying them. Because it's better to suffer a little residual guilt then absolute agony over a story that's never going to get any better, lol.

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  31. I had the same Oska hangups as you when I started My Fair Lady, but just a few episodes and I was totally sold on him as the leading man. I say give it another try :)

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