29 December 2015


Squeecappers' Best of 2015

Posted by Kakashi Sensei on December 29, 2015
Kakashi: For the second time, we're not doing a end-of-the-year review, but a short(ish) list of our favorites this year. Accompanied by a second post about the things we liked a bit less. For obvious reasons (= list of dramas being squee-capped), we are opening these lists to all Asian dramas. Ha! This is kind of like our own Lang Ya Bang... oh dear. Nirvana on my mind. Are you ready, SqueeCappers?
JoAnne: This year is hard. I have a LOT of dramas that I really liked, because I look for something different than you do.
Blessed be. I really hope that 2016 is a better KDrama year for me... That said, I love the diversity in our likes!

SqueeCappers' Top 5 of 2015


I went and counted the KDramas I finished this year. The sad number is: 6. I dropped at least two of those super-hype dramas, including Healer and Kill Me, Heal Me. That's not a lot to choose from :( (Things I missed but want to watch: Punch). Anyway, readers of this blog know full well what is capturing my attention lately and it's definitely not KDrama. Here are my Top 5 of 2015 (in this order)!

1) Nirvana in Fire (Dragon TV) - My first C-Drama but definitely not my last. It introduced Hu Ge and Wang Kai to me and is one of the most beautiful series I have ever seen. I can't even begin to do it justice in these few lines. Every set is more beautiful than the other, the acting is superb, the writing excellent. The story has heart and soul and on top of this, it led me to meet so many great people.
2) The Disguiser (Hunan TV) -  If you are into spy-dramas - I AM! - this is a must-see as well. Set in the years of the Sino-Japanese war and the beginning of the World War II, it's marginally less good than Nirvana, mainly because of one grave casting mistake and a few minor blunders in the storytelling. And yet, it is extremely gripping (sometimes even too intense!) and highly entertaining. Hu Ge, Jin Dong and Wang Kai: please do many more dramas together.
3) My Beautiful Bride (OCN) - This was this year's KDrama revelation for me. It came out of nowhere and captured me, body and soul. So many great characters! And it gives me hope that good writing is not entirely dead in KDrama. It is unlikely we will see Kim Moo-Yul in a drama again so on, but hey, good things are worth waiting for.
bcook: why unlikely? I want! *sob*
4) Twenty Again (tvn) - My second Korean love-affair this year. Lee Sang-yoon and his dimples made me go weak in the knees (and in the head?). The drama handled the topic of divorce and 2nd love much better than I dared hope and as stories go, it delivered something I tend to crave: real characters with flaws, real interactions between people. I'd watch it again.
5) Oh My Ghostess (tvn) - I'm not easily satisfied these days, and especially the RomComs have a hard time pleasing me. This one did it right, though ... I guess it is due to the acting chops of the two leads. It certainly was not without fault, but it was enough to keep me engaged and to keep me smiling.


I have finished many more dramas than you this year. Thirty finished, another 6-10 languishing in some state of completion for a variety of reasons. How to pick my favorites? Do I go with those I think are technically best in terms of overall product? Those that resonated with me emotionally? Those I remember most clearly, because that means they stick with me? No clue. I'm just going to jump in.

1) Healer (KBS) - In terms of me hanging off the edge of my seat clutching a pillow and squeeing in delight or squalling in sadness or screaming in rage, it has to go to this one. We had an OTP to die for with chemistry for days/weeks/months/years, a villain who could leave you dumbstruck at his ability to justify himself to himself, and a backstory that satisfies my need for Things That Must Be Made Right. Plus, Hacker Ahjumma.
His enjoyment of her bravery made me love him more
2) Pinocchio (SBS) - Despite the obvious charms of our leads and the not inconsiderable appeal of their motley band of friends and family, what sticks with me in this one is the discussion about how the news is reported and made, and what effect business interests and even politics can have on that - news is a business, after all. They weren't showing us anything we don't already know - but I appreciated an opportunity to think about it in depth AND watch a few beloved faces at the same time.
Searching for a picture for this made me want to watch it again, as I re-lived the story
3) My Beautiful Bride (OCN) - This drama has a slot in my Top Five because I will never forget Kim Mu Yeol's portrayal of a man whose single-minded devotion to the woman he loves will drive him to unimaginable extremes in order to save her.  It didn't hurt that it was beautifully filmed and paced and generous with several unforgettable side characters, although there were times when the story fell a teeny bit flat. Just a teeny bit.
May they live forever in our hearts
4) Last (JTBC) - Certainly not last in my book, or even close to it - this drama felt different, from start to finish. The acting was wonderful and there was plenty of story to go around - there are scenes and characters here I will never forget.  I actually liked that our hero had some flaws, too.  I felt like I was watching something that could have been written by Dickens, at times - fewer characters, maybe, but just as colorful, from just as low in society - and with as much to say about society as Dickens ever did.
Number Two - always Number One in my heart
5)Valid Love (tvN) - I loved this for looking closely at what people think and feel about themselves and about others.  It was well-acted, and the story was puzzling and familiar by turns.  Nothing about it seemed like it couldn't really be taking place in the house next door, to people I know.  Sometimes, that's what you want from a drama - a window into your neighbor's life, and some insight into how people handle the bewildering, terrifying, uplifting emotion that love can be.
Such a pretty carpenter, and all that lovely wood


This was a good drama-watching year for me. Maybe it's because I stayed away from the dramas that obviously weren't for me, or maybe I'm just easily satisfied, but I truly enjoyed the majority of the dramas I watched this year. So picking only five (only five!!) for this list was hard. Even excluding the ones that I'm still watching (like the excellent Punch and Love Me If You Dare), I still had to leave out some favorites. I narrowed it down to the five dramas that affected me the most while I was watching, pulling my heart strings and satisfying my brain. Here they are, in no particular order:

1) Heard it Through the Grapevine (SBS) - Grapevine's writing was smart and assured, the direction was a thing of beauty, the acting was always a cut above, and, best of all, there was a refreshing dose of black humor, as the always-perfect-on-paper chaebol couple was suddenly forced to deal with the fall-out of their son's shotgun wedding and poor in-laws. Grapevine also featured some of the best character development of the year - everyone had a story, and everyone was human, no matter how good or how bad.
2) Last (JTBC) - Yoon Kye-sang's dramas have made it into my top 5 list two years in a row, now. Please keep picking such good projects, sir! Last, like Grapevine, featured an ensemble cast filled to the brim with familiar drama actors, and few things were black-and-white in the world of Seoul Station's homeless community. The struggle for control between Yoon's Jang Tae-ho and Lee Bum-soo's Kwak Heum-sang was intense and ever-changing, but I think we can all agree that Park Won-sang's Number Two was the true heart of the show.

3) Healer (KBS) - Healer was one of the crackiest dramas of the year - it had action, intrigue, humor, a heartbreaking backstory, and oh yeah, an OTP that made my toes curl as I squeed in delight. If I'm perfectly honest, the climax was a bit of a let down (I'd expected it to be harder to take down the big bad), but that quibble aside, I loved every minute of the drama.
4) Ho Goo's Love (tvN) - This show and these characters had more heart than most dramas I watch in a year. I laughed, cried, and held my breath with them every step of the way, and when the final credits rolled, I wasn't ready to let go.

5) My Love Eun Dong (JTBC) - Clichés like tragic first loves, amnesia, and birth secrets can still make a compelling story when in the hands of capable writers, directors, and actors,. The unraveling of years of lies and heartbreak is realistically messy and heartbreakingly human. This is one of those dramas that reminds me why they keep making melodramas (and why I keep watching them) - because when they're done right, they can be so good.


1) Mafia Leurd Mungkorn/ Dragon's Blood Mafia (Thai Channel 3) - A total of 59 episodes, in 9- and 10-episode increments, it tells the tale of five Chinese immigrant families in the Chinatown section of Bangkok. The series stand alone, but are interwoven with each other, with one very evil protagonist mucking about with each family. It helps that the cast includes many of my favorite actors.
2) Xiang Ai Chuan Suo Qian Nian / Love Weaves Through A Millennium (Hunan TV) - The Chinese adaptation of SK's Queen Inhyun's Man captures a lot of the cute of the original. Starring Zheng Shuang and Jing Bo Ran. Mandarin is not my favorite language to listen to, but the interactions of these two kept me coming back. How about a modern-day chicken chase? The ending was as strange as the original, but without a phone controversy.
3) Midnight Diner / Late Night Restaurant (SBS) - This was a nice mellow watch, kind of like a glass of wine at the end of a long day. It doesn't hurt that I first crushed on Kim Seung-woo in A Perfect Neighbor, and stuck around for all three IRIS franchises. I looked forward every week to the interactions of his cobbled-together family. The food porn didn't hurt, either.
4) Secret Love / Ab Ruk Online (Thai Channel 3) - Despite his very public scandal, Peter Corp Dyrendal knocked this one out of the park as a motorcycle-riding brokerage owner in a many-years-long one-sided love with his partner. Who is crushing on a younger man in the office. It's a bit unconventional for a lakorn, but I really really enjoyed the chemistry.
Saying "I'm sorry" in 25 different languages with 25 different bouquets.
5) Oh My Venus (KBS2) - This one is still airing, but since it started in 2015, I'm going to include it. So Ji Sub and Sung Hoon, shirtless, Henry running around like an overeager puppy? Yes please! Right now, the writers are focusing on 'healthy' versus 'slim'. Unfortunately, there is no way that anyplace below the DMZ would allow Shin Minah to stay chubby and cute throughout the show, so no doubt she will be the thickness of a chopstick by the final credits. Still, even with the tiresome corporate takeover plot, it comes off surprisingly fun.


1) The Producers (KBS2) - Brilliant show and one that I rewatched because it was so well-done. Also, I like these sort of mockumentary-type shows. Plus, it was clearly very well-written and nicely-produced, so that I didn't think, gosh, this is a bore, and gosh, I hate how this character is so one-dimensional. Instead, everything about it satisfied and no one was totally evil or totally good and were, instead, human.  

2) Twenty Again (tvn) - This show was an amazing surprise. I really didn't expect to enjoy the downloaded first ep so much, and then it just went on from there into a storyline and characters that I loved on every level. Nothing seemed too extra or too stupid for words. Everything fitted well together. It just worked well.  

3) Maids (jtbc) - Again, what I liked about the show was how well-written and put-together it was. I don't recall ever getting fed up of the show, even if I got frustrated on behalf of a character in the show.

4) Nirvana In Fire (Dragon TV) - Beautifully made, beautifully written, elegant colours and actors, and in general, a true visual feast.

5) Six Flying Dragons eps 1-18 (SBS) - Gil Tae Mi. Need I say more?


I got feels, they're multipling...

1) My Beautiful Bride (OCN) - I still get the feels thinking about this. Where shall I start? With the lean but ripped quiet hero banker who works out like he was a super ultra spy person or maintains a strict routine capped by his love of crisp white shirts? All this guy wants to do is go to work, come home and love upon his wife. Can a banker live!!! If you look up the phrase "Still waters run deep" this guy's picture is right there. With his adorable housewife girlfriend who has SOOOO many secrets? She's like the NSA of kdrama girlfriends. Add in seedy underworld of loan sharks and organ harvesters, seedy overworld of corrupt bankers and lawyers. Mix it all up using PD's deft direction, fast paced action sequences, writernim's suspenseful writing *slow claps thinking about it*,  dark and moody cinematography, blood (omg so much blood) and that 3/4 note OCN opening track...and you have handsdown the best show to have come out of south Korea in 2015. 5/7 perfect score (click link and scroll down to 3/4th picture)
2) Oh My Venus (KBS2) baring something stupid (like amnesia or sudden illness) - I'm so excited for this show!! It's still running (ep10 as i'm typing) but it's good! good! Lots of shirtless scenes! So Ji Sub and Shin Min Ah have such good chemistry together. It's so adorable to watch them settle so comfortably into this relationship they're having.
The story is a bit subversive too (or just one long ppt for UFC korea... actually I'm certain of it). Who cares because SJS's character finds girls who work out sexy?! Quel surprise! We have a female character who isn't  a candy, or a cinderella?? Amaze! I have to do some research on this cartoon? that kang joo-eun likes. Shin Min Ah was so cute chubby and I love that Young Ho was attracted her that way first. Maybe next year a really size 6-8 actress will be the love interest? (yes can you believe that's considered chubby?). Until then I'm feeling the feels and keeping my fingers crossed for the rest of the show. Oh! Special mention to Henry for being annoying but cute and Sung Hoon...My eyes appreciate your chest, I hope some day my hands will too.
The only thing that worries me about this show is that SJS is now hotter than ever. I have to get over there quickly before somebody snaps him up. 
3) Healer (KBS) - Oh Healer. You are what city hunter could have been if LMH wasnt sleep deprived (I refuse to believe he's a bad actor, all my first husband needs is sleep and a vacation). Knitting ahjumma was the best part of the show. The characters had cute chemistry and I'll definately be adding this to my rewatch collection. I don't have much else to add since MBB and OMV took all my feels. It's an adorable show, with an adorable cast, well written and shot. Go...watch!
Look at this figure of ahjumma i found?! Who is HD? and are they selling?
Jeesh is that it?

Plus we have two short entries, without much explanation :)


  1. Healer
  2. I Heard it Through the Grapevine
  3. Oh My Ghostess
  4. Heart to Heart
  5. Oh My Venus (fingers crossed)
If we could count ones where I really loved them and then lost interest by the last few episodes I'd say Maids and Kill Me Heal Me.


  1. My Beautiful Bride
  2. Angry Mom
  3. Oh My Ghostess
  4. Divorce Lawyer in Love
  5. Cheer Up! / Sassy Go Go

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