Before we completely forget the year 2019, let’s have a look at the 10 most talked-about Korean dramas last December! As is the case with the K-drama landscape, this list features such a wide range of dramas that it’s difficult to believe they’re all from the same industry. We have an amnesiac who thinks he’s a serial killer, a cross-border romance between a South and North Korean, a sports-themed drama, a show about the daily lives of prosecutors, and a revenge noir thriller with a female lead. Curious? Read on to find out which dramas dominated the online conversation in South Korea.
Note: a buzzworthy or most talked-about Korean drama is one that is frequently mentioned or discussed on Korean blogs, forums, social media, and other online platforms. Buzz scores are different from TV ratings. This composite ranking is based on research done by Good Data Corporation, which publishes the most buzzworthy dramas and actors every week. Contact us to learn more about our methodology.
10. Diary Of A Prosecutor (JTBC) — 3.01%
Lee Sun-kyun returned to the small screen last December with Diary Of A Prosecutor, playing a small-town prosecutor with little ambition in life. He’s joined by Jung Ryeo-won, who made a splash as a prosecutor in the 2017 legal drama Witch At Court and is donning the prosecutor’s robe again—this time as an elite prosecutor from Seoul who is demoted to a local district prosecutor’s office. The drama is meant to reflect the dull lives of prosecutors who slog like salarymen, and hence the buzz isn’t as strong as one would expect of a drama starring Lee and Jung. That is, however, no indicator of quality, seeing as the show has been getting solid ratings and being praised by viewers for featuring a good mix of comedy, mystery, and emotion. (Peak position: no. 5 in the third week)
9. Love With Flaws (MBC) — 3.15%
Ahn Jae-hyun and Oh Yeon-seo‘s slightly silly romantic comedy Love With Flaws is the only MBC drama on this list. Ahn and Oh clash as two people with completely opposing personalities—while Oh is a loud, brash physical education teacher who hates flower boys, Ahn is a businessman obsessed with his appearance. Quite a lot of things went wrong with some of this show’s actors even before its premiere—from Ahn Jae-hyun’s divorce to the unfortunate demise of Cha In-ha, one of the supporting actors in the drama. It still manages to be a somewhat engaging watch with a strong female lead, heartwarming friendships, and an adorable LGBT arc. I almost wish the leading couple had more chemistry, but as long as the secondary arcs continue to get enough screentime, I won’t complain. (Peak position: no. 4 in the first week)
8. Psychopath Diary (tvN) — 3.61%
Psychopath Diary boasts of one the most interesting premise on this list, with Yoon Shi-yoon playing probably the most interesting character of his career—a timid office worker who loses his memory in an accident and wakes up with a serial killer’s diary in his possession. So, naturally, he begins to suspect that he’s the killer. Jung In-sun joins him as a police officer who is on the tail of a serial killer, while Park Sung-hoon injects a strong dose of antagonism in the plot as the real psychopath, the serial killer, who loses his diary at the site of a murder. Despite a heavy theme, this show somehow manages to be both funny and heartwarming as the leads go about unraveling the web of mysteries they are caught up in. My only gripe was that once again, the female lead was underdeveloped and used mostly to propel the story forward. (Peak position: no. 8 in the fourth week)
7. Beautiful Love, Wonderful Life (KBS2) — 3.81%
Beautiful Love, Wonderful Life is one of those sweet, melodramas with a bunch of amazing but little-known actors that unexpectedly win hearts. It follows several people on a quest to overcome hurt and find love. Jo Yoon-hee and Oh Min-suk play a wealthy couple caught in a complicated marriage, while Seol In-ah and Kim Jae-young have no interest in love and relationships. Yoon Park plays the eldest son of a family of adopted children who make his life difficult. All these souls, struggling under the weight of relationships and work, go on a journey to rediscover love and relationships. Watch for the heartbreak that feels good, lessons in love, and some really heartwarming moments. (Peak position: no. 6 in the first week)
6. Black Dog (tvN) — 3.92%
Seo Hyun-jin and Ra Mi-ran-led Black Dog is a refreshing addition to this list of the most talked-about Korean dramas in December 2019 as it revolves around the lives of school teachers. We’ve seen quite a lot of school dramas, but not many that tell stories of teachers. Seo Hyun-jin stars as an idealistic young teacher who realizes her dream of becoming a teacher, only to face a reality check when she actually begins her job. Ra Mi-ran, who plays a dedicated headteacher at Seo’s school, becomes her mentor. They are joined by Ha Joon, a Korean language teacher who prefers to focus on his job rather than petty politics. With these three, the drama explores how the inner workings of a school is basically a reflection of society, combining a slice-of-life narrative with office drama. The end result? A very engaging drama that’s equal parts light and emotional. (Peak position: no. 4 in the third and fourth week)
5. Chocolate (JTBC) — 5.50%
Chocolate is the kind of series that will make you bawl your eyes out but will also tenderly put a bandage on your wound. In this perfect healing drama, Yoon Kye-sang plays a tortured neurosurgeon who is forced to work at a hospice ward after an accident hampers his ability to operate. Ha Ji-won, on the other hand, plays a bright, young chef who lives with trauma despite her endless positivity. The two had once met as children and changed each other’s lives. Now, as adults, they cross paths again and again, through tragedies and life changes. Chocolate is a perfect example of a slow burn, soulmate story that one needs to see to start believing in love. The central theme in the drama is healing through food, so be prepared to get very hungry after each episode. (Peak position: no. 3 in the first week)
4. Woman of 9.9 Billion (KBS2) — 7.81%
If you want to know what people mean when they say a show is addictive, I suggest you watch Woman Of 9.9 Billion. Parasite actress Cho Yeo-jeong is gracing the small screen by headlining this exciting thriller about an unhappy woman who has suffered the agonies of life only to suddenly get 9.9 billion won in cash, which she now needs to protect. Joining her is Kim Kang-woo, who plays a detective on a mission to dig up the truth behind his brother’s death. This show seems like a thriller noir with a badass female lead, but in drama form, and this might be one of the reasons why viewers are hooked. (Peak position: no. 2 in the first week)
3. VIP (SBS) — 13.29%
There was no drama this month that is more surprising than VIP, which tells the story of a team of managers that deal with the VIP customers of a high-end department store. Jang Na-ra works in the team with her husband, played by Lee Sang-yoon, and discovers that he’s having an affair. Never could anyone have imagined that a drama with a setting as niche as this one would speak to the masses, and yet, here we are. I suppose that setting doesn’t matter much when you have the thrill and excitement of a makjang drama coupled with amazing performances of the cast. Besides Jang and Lee, VIP also boasts of supporting actors like Lee Chung-ah, Kwak Sun-young, Pyo Ye-jin, and Shin Jae-ha. (Peak position: no. 1 in the first week)
2. Stove League (SBS) — 14.02%
Any Namgoong Min drama is bound to top buzz and ratings rankings, and Stove League is no exception. Just like in Good Manager, Namgoong Min is once again here to change the system as the general manager of a low-ranking baseball team who has its sights on improving its standing in the next season. This time, he is joined by Park Eun-bin, who plays the operations manager of the same team. This mostly light-hearted sports drama is ticking off all the right boxes when it comes to being a well-rounded, fun show with a share of heartwarming moments. Who doesn’t love a good underdog story? Even the show’s supporting cast has some gems, from the hilarious Oh Jung-se to the sprightly Jo Byung-kyu. With the show’s TV ratings on the rise with every episode, we expect it to maintain pretty much the same ranking in our list for the rest of its run. (Peak position: no. 2 in the last three weeks)
1. Crash Landing On You (tvN) — 19.37%
Topping this list of the most talked-about Korean dramas in December 2019 is Crash Landing On You, which marks the coming together of two powerhouse actors—Son Ye-jin and Hyun Bin. Park Ji-eun, who wrote the megahit 2013-2014 drama My Love From Another Star, has written the series, so, naturally, there’s a lot of interest in this drama. The story is about the romance between a South Korean heiress and a North Korean soldier, who meet each other when the former lands on North Korea after a paragliding accident. On the face of it, the premise of Crash Landing On You sounds both absurd and serious in tone, but the drama kept a light, comedic tone in its first month. What’s more, Kim Jung-hyun, who has been on hiatus since his 2018 drama Time, is finally making his return as the secondary lead. With Kim Soo-hyun slated to make a guest appearance, we are expecting the buzz to climb even higher! (Peak position: no. 1 the last three weeks)
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