And here it is! Our second article that literally gives you the list of the most talked about Korean dramas in a certain month. Take note that we are not making this ranking up, as we used numerical information from Good Data Corporation to produce the list. And in case you’re still unsure of what does being “most talked about” really means, here’s the straightforward definition: a most talked about or “buzzworthy” Korean drama is one that is frequently mentioned or discussed by many people (mostly Koreans) on blogs, forums, social media, and other online platforms. We arrived at the ranking below using the weighted average “buzz score” of the dramas.
Unlike April, May saw more representation in the top 10 from terrestrial dramas as compared to cable ones. KBS2 and tvN, however, continue to dominate the list with 3 dramas each. JTBC’s slump persisted this month as well, with not a single drama from the cable network making it to the list despite the second season of Welcome To Waikiki concluding in May.
Tired or busy to read the whole article? Here’s a short video that lists the top 5:
10. Angel’s Last Mission: Love
Angel’s Last Mission: Love made a second runner-up finish on its first week, thanks to it’s charismatic cast comprising of Infinite’s L (aka Kim Myung-soo) and Shin Hye-sun. However, its ranking dropped to the 7th place in the following week, resulting in this bottom position in the top 10. The KBS2 show boasts of an unusual love story between a professional ballerina who doesn’t believe in love and a mischievous angel who is tasked with finding love for her. (Peak position: no. 3 in the fourth week)
9. Left-Handed Wife
This KBS2 daily drama—the only daily drama on this list!—has had a relatively successful run in terms of viewership despite stiff competition from other terrestrial shows. Left-Handed Wife premiered in January to significant buzz, and ended in May not just with an impressive rating but also with a sweet spot on this ranking. The melodrama stars Lee Soo-kyung and Kim Jin-woo as a star-crossed couple who fall victim to a mysterious conspiracy while on their honeymoon. (Peak position: no. 9 in the third week)
8. Doctor Prisoner
Doctor Prisoner boasts of an impressive cast and an even more impressive concept centered on revenge. Combining medical drama and crime thriller, the show is headlined by Namgoong Min, Kim Byung-chul, Choi Won-young and Kwon Nara. Namgoong drew viewers to the show thanks to his intense, almost evil turn as a scorned doctor who is forced to quit his job due to a false malpractice charge. Although it is the highest-rated weekday prime time terrestrial drama in May, only a few people talked about it online; hence its 8th place. (Peak position: no. 6 in the second and third weeks)
7. Special Labor Inspector
The 7th most talked about Korean drama for the month of May is the Kim Dong-wook starrer Special Labor Inspector (MBC). The actor, who has recently enjoyed the success of two back-to-back films, drew significant buzz for this series as he took on the role of an upstanding and just labor inspector with temper issues. It placed within the top 5 in the first two weeks of the month but it saw a decrease in its ranking in the last three weeks. (Peak position: no. 4 in the first week)
Park Bo-young and Ahn Hyo-seop have teamed up for tvN’s fantasy rom-com Abyss, which premiered in May to lot of buzz due to the show’s leading pair. The series revolves around a prosecutor and cosmetics company heir, who are both murdered and later reincarnated through the powers of a supernatural object called ‘abyss’. It consistently obtained a spot in the top 10 during the entire month. Abyss is also available for streaming on Netflix. (Peak position: no. 3 in the second week)
5. Nokdu Flower
The only SBS and historical drama on the list, Nokdu Flower is set during a peasant revolution in the 1890s and has big shots like Jo Jung-suk, Yoon Shi-yoon, and Han Ye-ri in its cast. The drama follows two half-brothers as they fight on the opposite sides of the revolution. The show earned a spot in the top 5 during the first three weeks of the month but failed to sustain it in the last two weeks. With still a month to go before its finale, there are hopes that the show will climb back up the charts both in terms of ratings and buzz. (Peak position: no. 3 in the first week)
4. One Spring Night
The director and writer behind last year’s Something In The Rain have teamed up for another spring romance starring resident chocolate boy Jung Hae-in and Han Ji-min. The combined popularity of the cast and the director ensured that MBC’s One Spring Night would premiere to lot of buzz which has shown no signs of dwindling as the series continues to rank high. It tells the story of a single dad and an outspoken librarian who are struggling to deal with their attraction to each other. (Peak position: no. 1 in the fourth week)
3. Voice 3
Rounding up the top 3 is, incidentally, the third installment of OCN series Voice starring Lee Ha-na and Lee Jin-wook. As one of the few multi-season Korean dramas, Voice 3 generated solid buzz with its depiction of the lives of police officers at an emergency call center. In this season, the team deals with an evil international cartel that has connections to the internet’s dark web. The crime thriller seems to be a favorite drama topic online as it always had a spot in the top 5 every week since its premiere. (Peak position: no. 2 in the second week)
2. Arthdal Chronicles
Song Joong-ki’s comeback vehicle Arthdal Chronicles (tvN) managed to create enough buzz even before its premiere to make it this far on the list. It may be just a runner-up in terms of average buzz score, but it’s the no. 1 drama as far as peak scores are concerned, achieving a whopping 26.7 percent on its first week. With its main cast comprising of bigwigs like Kim Ji-won, Jang Dong-gun and Kim Ok-bin, it’s hard to imagine that the show will lose the buzz anytime soon. In fact, it will most likely top the ranking in June. Dubbed as the first ancient historical Korean drama, Arthdal Chronicles follows the adventures of mythical heroes in the land of Arth. (Peak position: no. 1 in the fifth week)
1. Her Private Life
On top of the list of the most talked about Korean dramas in May 2019 is Her Private Life. The tvN rom-com jumped from second place in April’s ranking thanks to the explosive chemistry of the its leads—Kim Jae-wook and Park Min-young. The drama showcased a mature romance between a fangirl slash art curator and the director of her art gallery. It was praised widely for it’s positive representation of fangirls and fandoms as well as pro-LGBT secondary arcs. (Peak position: no. 1 from the first to the third week)
Some Notes on Methodology
We made a significant change in our method for the May ranking by putting more emphasis on the “buzz score” of the dramas unlike the previous month which relies more on the dramas’ ranks or positions. We now have the “weighted average score” as the basis of our final composite ranking. We computed it by averaging the weekly buzz scores of the drama and multiplying the result by a “weighting factor” that is determined by how many times the series appeared on the five weekly rankings of the month. As a result, dramas who appeared only twice but recorded a very big score still managed to make it to the list (e.g. Arthdal Chronicles). We analyzed at least 19 Korean dramas. For more details about the methodology, contact us.
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