2019 came with its fair share of good dramas. Here is my top 10 pick. There are several high rated dramas that I haven’t watched yet. For example I haven’t watched Vagabond or My Country yet. But judging from their ratings, both might make it into my top 10. I will update the current list as I watch more dramas from 2019. If you think there is something of importance I omitted, please leave a comment bellow.
One of the most entertaining dramas in recent years, Pegasus surprised me greatly. The mere plot description does not do it justice: Jung Bok Dong used to be a board director at Daema Group and the right hand of the CEO. But he was suddenly demoted and put in charge of the Pegasus Market, which was seen as a place of exile. He decides to take revenge on Dema Group by uncovering the embezzlement of the company. Thus, he sets to hire people with no qualification and with no prior experience in the attempt to bankrupt the Pegasus Market. However, no matter how hard he tries and how many ingenious plots he comes up with, his plans fail time after time, making the Pegasus Market on of the most iconic business models instead.
Pegasus Market might seem like a fun and simple comedy at a first glance. Far from it. It’s mainly a satire aimed at a society that has lost its way by putting the profit and the greed ahead of people. It delivers a message about the value of the human being and the importance of human interaction. And it does so by creating one of the most preposterous comedic situations ever to exist in the k-drama world.
Side Note: this drama is best suited for those who are not rookies to the Korean dramas, since there are countless references all throughout the drama to themes and concepts that are very recurrently depicted in Korean dramas, movies or in the pop culture in general.
9. The Psychopath Diary
Comedy, Crime, Psychological
Yook Dong Sik is an office worker; he is weak and timid to the point of being taken advantage of by everyone around him. When the company he works for gets into a bind, his boss decides to make him the scapegoat. At the ends of the rope, Dong Sik goes to an abandoned building to commit suicide, but here he stumbles across a murder taking place. As he tries to run away, he gets into an accident and he loses his memory. Through a series of events, the diary of the murderer comes into his possession. Dong Sik is now convinced that he is the serial killer that the police has been after.
From being meek and timid, he gains incredible confidence over night, thinking he is a predator. However, he seems confused, since everyone around him treats him as if he is the kindest person in the world. To add to the comedic effect of the drama, he believes that before he lost his memory he was pretending to be nice in order to deceive everyone regarding his true murderous nature. In the meantime the cold and meticulous serial killer is trying to retrieve the diary and dispose of him
This drama is very entertaining. Packed with action, comedy, mind-games and epic references to some of the most iconic crime movies from Hollywood.
8. The Crowned Clown
Yi Heon is a cruel and unwise king that has brought the kingdom in a state of unrest. To avoid the assassination attempts, his loyal servant proposes to use a double in order to catch those who want to usurp the throne. Thus, a clown named Ha Sun (who looks identical) is brought to the palace to take the place of King Yi Heon. In the beginning, Ha Sun does not realizes the consequences he might have to face, but soon he is not merely pretending to be king: he is acting as if he were indeed the king. The situation complicates itself further when he falls in love with the Queen.
I enjoyed watching The Crowned Clown, especially since it’s a remake of the movie Masquerade from back in 2012. To my surprise and delight, this drama did not follow the original movie. This made it somewhat unpredictable.
The actors are some of the best young promises of the Korean entertainment industry; I thoroughly enjoyed the performance of the two protagonists and I am looking forward to their future projects.
7. The Tale of Nokdu
Historical, Romance, Comedy
The Tale of Nodku is a gender bender that puts a twist on the genre: Jeon Nok Du is a young swordsman who lives a simple life on an island with his father and his older brother. One day, their house is surrounded by numerous masked female assassins. After fending off the attack, Nok Du follows one of the assassins that took refuge in a widows village where only women are allowed in. In order to find more information on the person who ordered the attack on his family, he disguises himself into a widow from a noble family and enters the village. Here he meets Dong Ju who is training in secret to become an assassin and kill the king in revenge for her family’s demise.
The Tale of Nokdu is a great gender bender comedy. The most entertaining scenes are the result of the incredible performance of the main actor as a noble lady.
I wholeheartedly recommend this drama.
6. Strangers from Hell
Thriller, Mystery, Horror
I rarely watch gory or horror movies or dramas, but Strangers from Hell had one of the best cast of 2019 so I decided to give it a try. Although the genre is not my cup of tea, I could not help but watch all its 10 episodes. Incredible acting, impeccable writing, amazing storytelling!
Unlike most Korean dramas, Stranger from Hell depicts some of the darkest corners of human nature, playing right into the alternative title of the drama: “hell is other people”. Just as the human beings are capable of achieving the most noble ideals of humanity, just the same, they can be corrupted to their core by the people they surrounds themselves with. Good is contagious, but so is Evil.
I recommend this drama especially to those who love intense thrillers.
5. Doctor Prisoner
Doctor Prisoner revolves around a highly skilled doctor with an inflexible work ethic who puts patients above all else. When he is falsely accused of medical malpractice, he loses his medical licence. To get back to those who wronged him, he decides to gain power. He takes a certificate as a medical internist and decides to become the doctor of a prison where he can have direct access to some of the most powerful people: business tycoons, high-end gamblers, celebrities etc. He provides them with fake diagnoses of rare illnesses to get them out of prison in exchange for lending their influence to him when needed. In order to better achieve his goal, he has to get rid of the current prison doctor, who is not an easy target at all.
Doctor Prisoner is a very fast pacing drama. Most of the time I find reason to complain about the slow pace of some dramas, in this case I found myself in the opposite situation: the flow of the action is so fast that it’s a bit overwhelming at times, to its credit.
Good action drama. Unpredictable.
4. Angel’s Last Mission: Love
Lee Yeon Seo, is a seemingly cynical and arrogant ballerina. In reality she suffers from a childhood trauma. She lost her parents in an accident and her relatives are trying to get her inheritance ever since. Things got a turn for the worse when she lost her sight during an accident two years ago. She grew distant and cold, unable to trust anyone around her.
One day, the divinity sends Kim Dan her way. He is a trouble-maker angel who needs to complete an almost impossible mission before he can be let back into Heaven: help Yeon Seo find love and become worthy of love herself.
This is a sweet and heartwarming drama that is considered by many the best drama of 2019. Although I liked it quite a lot, it did not make it into my top 3.
3. The Fiery Priest
Kim Hae-Il is a former Special Forces agent who is now a Catholic priest. Although his heart is in the right place, he comes off as rough around the edges. He has anger management issues and often his previous profession as an elite soldier gets the better of him. His superiors decide to reprimand him and they send him away in a small parish.
As he gets involved in the investigation of the death of an elderly priest, who used to be a fatherly figure for him, he meets a timid detective and an opportunistic prosecutor who both seem to somehow orbit around him. The three of them team up to solve the case and bring down the corrupt officials who took over the city.
Fiery Priest is an amazing comedy, definitely one of the top 10 comedy k-dramas of all time. The production team promised a second season, so I’m very much looking forward to it.
Great re-watchable value!
2. Kill It
Surprisingly, Kill It didn’t have the best ratings, but it made it easily onto my top 3 dramas of 2019.
Kim Soo Hyun is a professional killer who hides his identity under the guises of a veterinarian. When he was a child, he escaped an assassination attempt and got adopted and trained by the assassin sent to take his life. From childhood until the present day, the only thing he ever learned was to kill and survive. He has difficulties interacting with other people, instead, he find it easier to communicate with the animals in his care. One day, a client asks him to kill six people in exchange for pieces of information regarding his mysterious past.
Do Hyun Jin is a detective who moves into the same building as Soo Hyuyn. Although she seems cold and distant, in reality she is warm and sympathetic. The two become close and develop warm and soothing feelings of affection towards one another. Soon, however, she becomes distraught as more and more clues point at him as the prime suspect for the assassinations she is investigating.
Kill It is one of those rare dramas that has almost everything it it: action, thriller, romance, friendship, suspense etc. I left out some of the key elements of the plot because I don’t want to spoil for you the joy of discovering yourself some of the most compelling elements that make Kill It one of the best productions of 2019.
Crash Landing on You is one of those dramas that come out only once every 3 or 4 years. For me, it is in the same category as My Love from the Stars or Descendants of the Sun.
It tells the love-story between a South Korean heiress and a North Korean officer. One day, while paragliding, Yoon Se Ri is carried by a tornado into the Demilitarized Zone right at the border between South and North Korea, where she meets Ri Jung Hyuk, a North Korean officer.
By mistake, she ends up entering the territory of North Korea. Jung Hyuk agrees to help her return to South Korea. The two fall in love as they face numerous dangers that put both of their lives at risk.
Crash Landing on You has a great story-line, but what makes it truly great is the incredible chemistry between the two main actors: off the charts! One of the best roles of Hyun Bin to date.
This is my top 10 list. Feel free to tell me your top 10 pick for 2019 in the comments below.