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Joonni’s Korean Pop Culture History

I grew up in the U.S. but my parents raised me with Korean popular culture. Instead of American television and music, I grew up renting Korean television videotapes every week and listening to K-pop cassette tapes.

The first drama I remember being excited to watch, instead of just passively watching with my parents, was “Feelings” of “Neukkim” from 1994. But the first drama I went completely crazy for, and waited desperately every week to go the video rental store, was “Star in My Heart” in 1997. Starring Ahn Jae Wook and Choi Jin Shil, it was the drama that gave me my first fangirl experience. I loved everything Korean then, and I remember wanting to be a designer just like Choi Jin Shil’s character. I thought Ahn Jae Wook and his hair were the handsomest thing alive.

“Star in My Heart” Ahn Jae-Wook and Choi Jin-Shil

I have a long list of favorite k-dramas, which I will probably post later, but I will just briefly write here that my number one drama is “Damo” (2003). It’s been eight years since it aired but while many have come close, no other drama has taken that spot from that wonderful piece of visual storytelling.

“Damo” starring Ha Ji-Won, Lee Suh-Jin, Kim Min-Joon

I regularly watch Korean variety shows and my favorite Korean entertainer is Yoo Jae Suk. He is indeed the “nation’s MC” for me. He and Lee Seung Gi occupy a special place in my heart as I both love/respect them. They are wonderful, smart, hard-working, and humble people who know how to respect others.

Yoo Jae Suk “Nation’s MC”

Lee Seung Gi the All-Around-Entertainer

My mother claims that I sang my first full song when I was two years old. It was a 1980s Korean ballad, the lyrics to which I can still sing completely. My repertoire at Korean karaoke consists of 1990s rock ballads and early millennium dance songs. Songs from that era are really fun to sing at karaoke. I am a huge fan of Korean ballads. Park Hyo Shin my favorite ballad singer in South Korea. He will probably get a proper post in the future, displaying all his talents, but for now, all I will say is that he has amazing skill, control, and emotional delivery in his songs. Here is the song he is most well known for internationally, “Snow Flower” from the drama “I’m Sorry, I Love You.”

The first K-pop group I fangirled was H.O.T. My mom bought me their first album CD, telling me that they were popular in Korea. I passively liked their songs until I met a young girl who had just emigrated to the U.S. from South Korea. She was a huge fan of H.O.T. and she taught me what hardcore fangirling was. It was an astonishing world.

H.O.T promoting their first album song, “Candy” in 1996.

Over the years, I have liked S.E.S, Fink.L, Shinhwa, g.o.d., Rain, and Se7en. Among all the K-pop singers I have liked, I have fangirled no other group more than Dong Bang Shin Ki (DBSK).  I may not have memorized their birthdays, but I have loved them since their debut. I was immediately drawn to them and they continue to occupy a special place in my heart.

DBSK in 2008

I am also a huge fan of drama OSTs and have often wished that there was a soundtrack to my life. OSTs help me carry around the drama and I associate them strongly to the season during which I watched the drama. I love listening to them when I need a bit of summer, winter, spring, or fall.

You’ve Fallen For Me” from the drama, “Heartstrings” which reminds me of the energy and sun of summer.

As for non-Korean music, I love jazz and hip-hop/R&B. In comparison to my K-pop choices, I find that I enjoy a lot more female artists in the non-Korean music market.

Outside of Korean popular culture, I enjoy my share of jdoramas and TW-dramas. My favorite jdorama is “Nobuta wo Produce” and my favorite TW-drama is “Mars.” My favorite manga is “Fruits Basket.” I really enjoy choreographed fighting, high-speed chases, action, and sci-fi so I love watching Hollywood blockbusters on the big screen. For American television, I love “South Park,” “Criminal Minds,” “The Office” and love/hate “Family Guy.” I think my American television viewing helps balance out the sweet sentimentality of Korean television.

I would also like to get to know my readers. Please tell me a little about yourselves. What are your favorite dramas and actors/actresses? What brought you to the K-drama world? Do you like K-Pop?

77 Comments Post a comment
  1. Yukie #

    Hello Joonni!
    I have been following Kdrama since ‘Autumn in My Heart’ LOL gosh that was such a long time ago, the national TV in my country broadcast the first batch of Kdrama that soon invade all our TVs.

    Some of my fave till now is City Hunter, Tree w Deep Roots, Queen In-Hyun’s Man (of coz LOL), Ojagkyo brothers and Full House.

    Most of them are quite recent coz I have been tuning in and out without fully following them till around 3 years ago when I’m finally stayed in Singapore till now, and I am blessed with the wonderful internet connection hahahaha

    I also love Shinhwa!! I actually got to know them when they did OST for a TW drama – MVP somthing..

    Nice to know you =)
    Thank you for all the recaps that you did, I wouldn’t understand what exactly they are saying otherwise =)

    May 14, 2012
    • joonni #

      Ah, “Autumn in My Heart.” I remember taking the bus to do to the video rental store by myself every week to watch this crack.


      May 15, 2012
  2. What a nice introduction, Oh, Joonni-of-the-many-double-letters!
    (Scattered, too, has two”Ts”) 🙂
    Thanks for asking this question. I love to read other addicts thoughts about dramas.

    I just watched Feelings last fall. LOVED it. It has held up well over the years. It is fun to see LJJ’s best friend from that show up in Vampire Prosecutor last year!
    It was Sandglass – LJJ was the most beautiful non-plot affecting character I have ever seen in almost anything since – that preceeded that one. I cried like a baby for days after that one.

    Most of my pac-man like show consumption is me chasing down an actor, or a writer, or a director, until I have seen all they have produced.

    BOF, like many who started watching because of Hulu, was my first.

    The experience was memorable because despite its many many faults, the series made me feel – for the characters and the story outcome – in a way I had only felt about books -especially those long historic novels or series.
    Marathoning these dramas and cramming all those hours into a short period of time feels like the same investment as a long novel. It is intense, all encompassing, and I was transported to a place far far from my every day life.

    I think I am getting near 200 dramas.
    I stopped counting back at Attic Cat, or was it What Planet are You From?

    Kdrama has taken over my life, and that is fine. My personality tends toward obsessive, so it is a perfect fit. Plus, I love falling in love, and have a chain of K-characters who have spiced up my fantasy life over the past few years. Each one of them was my one true love for a period of time, until the next one came along…

    Currently, it is all Ji Hyun Woo, all the time. *sigh* How could I not fall in love with a tall, broad-shouldered, singing, composing, guitar playing, smiley, pretty-haired, intelligent, sweet actor like him?!!

    May 14, 2012
    • joonni #

      Oh man, LJJ in Sandglass. I was pretty young back then but I remember sobbing at the scene. You know what scene.

      BOF was crack. It was an emotional roller coaster while watching each episode. Back and forth from screaming in anger to giggling like a school girl.

      Definitely, what are k-dramas for? The love story!

      May 15, 2012
  3. Hien #

    omg, Fruits Basket!

    It seems we grew up around the same time…Yay for westcoasters!

    May 14, 2012
    • joonni #

      I love California!

      May 15, 2012
  4. Hi Joonni!
    It’s nice to know a little more about you. Thanks for sharing!
    I was a late comer to kdrama/kpop-land. My first dramas were Stairways to heaven, Lovers in Paris etc because they were shown on tv and I found myself being fascinated with the way kdramas portrayed the love relationships between the characters. The first kdrama that I really liked was “Sweet 18” with Han Ji Hye and Lee Dong Gun in it. They were so cute/sweet together.
    Since then, I’ve been gone to college and back. Kdramas were my “comfort food” during the busy schedules of school life so they will always have a special place in my heart. heh.. My more recent favorites are: City Hunter, Shut up flower boy band, The Princess’ Man, Secret Garden, and Queen Inhyun’s Man (of course!) just to name a few…
    I totally understand how you associate drama OSTs with seasons because I do that too. I usually listen to drama OSTs that I am currently watching on repeat so Secret Garden would be my winter ost, heartstrings-summer etc. 🙂
    I came to know Park Hyo Shin through Super Junior Cho Kyu Hyun’s cover of his songs. They both have this great soothing but powerful voice in singing ballads. You should check out some of Kyuhyun’s solos too! Most of my current kpop groups/singers were introduced to me through drama osts too. I like Super junior (despite my initial aversion because of their over-popularity), 2am, JYJ, Huh Gak, Park Sae Byul, IU…

    May 14, 2012
    • joonni #

      Hi miss ha!

      I thoroughly enjoyed all those angsty melodramas dramas of the mid 2000s. And their epic, weeping OST’s!

      I have tried to like Super Junior more but they have never attached to me. I simply enjoy them when they are tv, especially on variety shows. I loved their “Sorry, Sorry” album, though. There were many good songs in that one.

      May 15, 2012
  5. sillyblob #

    Hi Joonni 😀
    I only discovered your blog very recently, but after reading this piece, I feel just a little like I know you 🙂
    one of my favourite mangas is also fruits basket! I’m an absolute manga/manwha/manhua nut, but fruits basket has the special honour of being the first manga I followed chapter for chapter online as it was coming out for a couple of years before it ended
    I liked Nobuta wo Produce a lot, and am really enjoying Queen In-Hyun’s man. I don’t watch much western stuff because I find it difficult to get into- I was talking to a friend once about how much I like k- and j-dramas because I get to read the subs, and she commented: basically its like you’re watching a comic strip…and I guess she nailed it on the head lol

    May 15, 2012
    • joonni #

      Hi sillyblob!

      I first saw the Korean dubbed version of Fruits Basket and then read the English scanlated version online. Then when I went o South Korea, I bought all 23 volumes in two trips to the bookstore and lugged them all back home. I love everything about the manga- the drawing style, the story, the characters.

      I’m not a huge manga reader but I’m currently reading Kimi no Todoke online. I read 16 volumes of Full Metal Alchemist when I was in Korea, and really enjoy the Bleach anime.

      Japan does really wonderful youth (seishun) dramas and I find their recent trend of procedurals a little boring. I watch plenty of U.S. procedurals so I can’t take anymore.

      Lol. Comic strip. That is very adequate comparison!

      May 15, 2012
  6. Anu #

    Hey joonni:) I was hesitant to write here since my history with the k-world is pretty short, when compared to veterans like you;) My obsession started on a particular day in summer, 2008..(yeah…that late;))..Am an Indian and needless to say, I, at that point of time couldn’t differentiate Chinese and Japanese(ahem..I had no idea k-ent existed.!!)..
    One day, I came across a channel that was showing a drama (dubbed in Hindi, ofcourse)..I thought it was chinese(my bad..I know..)..I was going to change it until I saw the actress..She looked cute (My first impression of Song Hye kyo)..So, I thought to watch it longer and it turned out to be a fun drama..I found myself waiting for it everyday at the same time..I lured my mom to watch it with me..I hated the hero for being a jerk at first and as time went by, I found myself falling for his pout and ageyo(it was “Rain” for god’s sake!!)..At episode 11, that channel was discontinued, and I fell into depression..haha..It was then that I googled it and found that it was a korean drama called “Full house”..I found it in youtube with subs and marathoned it within one day..:) That was my first drama
    Six months later, I came upon a channel called “KBS world” with subs and this time I deduced it correctly..I knew it was I started watching the varieties first…I love most of their variety shows like Dream team, happy together,2 days 1 night, immortal songs etc..:) I started digging out dramas from wherever I could online..and found myself addicted!! My most favorite drama so far is “My girlfriend is a gumiho”..lets just say, I totally fell for the charm of the hoi-hoi couple..Seunggi’s woongah is still my no:1 hero..:) Some other dramas that I adore are Can you hear my heart, The Princess’s Man, Queen Inhyun’s Man, SKKS etc..
    Oh and I love drama OSTs…The 1st OST that made me search for it was “fox rain” from MGIAG..that song blended with the drama so well that at times I felt crying with it, eventhough I understood…My other OST loves include Heartstrings( I love most of the songs) and Goong..
    I came upon k-pop through Dream Team..Minho(shinee), Eunhyuk(suju) and Junho(2pm) were members at that time..Am a big fangirl of SHINee( I love almost all their songs..and I love their variety sense). I also like Super Junior, DBSK and Secret…As for Singers I like Hyorin(SISTAR), Yongjae(4men), ALi, Yonghwa(CNBlue) and IU..:)
    I have seen a lot of TW dramas..but there’s no favorites there…After the 4th or 5th ep I tend to lose interest in them..I dunno why..!!
    I started watching j-dramas this year only..I wanted to understand all this hype about Kimtaku..I saw his love generation and quite literally understood!!..oh, man..he’s so damn good at what he does!! It took me about one whole month to come out of Kimtaku I love Tatta Hitotsu No Koi, Buzzer Beat, Orange Days,Samurai High School and Good Luck! 🙂
    I read most of the mangas online since we don’t get that here..FMA will always be my favorite..:) Nothing beats Bromance..kekeke:) Its good to see and chat with ppl in the drama blogs coz I am quite a nerd here with my drama obsession(None of my friends are interested in the k-world…!!:( )
    Oh geez, I didn’t plan to write this much..!! Sorry!!:)

    May 16, 2012
    • joonni #

      Hi Anu! Thank you for sharing your k-ent history!
      SHINee’s “Sherlock” is the best K-pop song of the year for me. The song and the dance is so interesting.
      I still have yet to watch anything with Kimutaku. I know how weird that is but I never bothered to watch any of his old ones and his new ones never really call to me. I also love Tatta Hitotsu no Koi! I need Kamenashi in a melodrama now!

      May 16, 2012
      • Anu #

        I like SHINee’s lucifer more than fav single is “Hello”..its so damn cute!!
        I still dunno what made me watch “Love Generation” was an impulse decision..I remember watching the first scene and thinking “this guy with long hair is kimtaku? doesn’t look much like a leading material!”…The drama didn’t appeal to me much, mostly coz of the gen gap, but I had a distinct impression about kimtaku…he’s so expressive with excellent delivery…great actor!! Most people like “pride”(I haven’t seen that yet.), but my fav kimtaku drama is “GoodLuck!”..and I would recommend you the same..Its the best aviation drama I have ever seen:) You will know what am talking about once you watch him;) haha:)
        Omo..THNK was the first drama that I actually loved…never expected much from kame…but he was great in that and so was Ayase..:) I am looking forward to his other projects now!!
        Oh..and did you notice that most j-dramas this season is mystery/detective based?? Aragaki as a lawyer and Masami as a police agent..why did all my male-fav decide to act in one taiga(which I don’t think I can watch!!:()

        May 16, 2012
      • joonni #

        It’s been that trend for j-dramas for a while now and that is why I haven’t been watching them. I watch enough American procedurals.

        I know which taiga you’re talking about. I couldn’t believe the cast and then I whined about how it will never be subbed. So sad!

        May 16, 2012
    • vrinda #

      hey me was the same for started with full house on firangi and the kbs world and now i am a kdrama the way i am an indian too,where are you from i am from andhra pardesh.its to know there are other people like me

      May 23, 2012
      • Anu #

        OMG!!!! me toooo…firangi and then kbs…finally I have a fellow k-shipper from India!! am from kerala:) just so happy to see you:) are you a student?? I used to think that only I watch KBS in India….LOL…;) hehehe..we are both southies;)

        May 23, 2012
  7. sb #

    I’m Korean-American, too but I didn’t grow up watching Korean shows or listening to Korean music. My first K-drama experience was a bit strange. My husband’s American co-worker got hooked to Stairway to Heaven while channel surfing, bought the DVD set and when she found out that he was married to a Korean, gave it to him to watch with me, saying it was crazy addictive. We marathoned it over a week one summer, back in 05 I think and love it and hated it. Then I caught some dramas on some Korean channel, Likable or Not and loved it. You are My Destiny was next, got addicted but having to watch everyday and the drama being so long and then I just got tired of the same old story and stopped watching. I didn’t realize at the time that there were shorter dramas.

    I can’t remember how I came up on Coffee Prince last summer, maybe surfing through Hulu? Loved it and in less than a year, I’ve watched over 30 dramas. There are lots of dramas over this year that I loved and hated, that turned me into an obsessed fan. Like My Princess was the next drama, loved it initially, then it dragged, but I loved the OTP. BOF was next, hated much of it, hated the OTP, but I fell in love with Kim Hyun Joon b/c he’s just so hot so watched it for him. I obsessed over SG, but there were parts I didn’t love. Loved how PTB started then it kind of sucked in the end. I find K-drama to be like that, love/hate, good/bad, but no matter what, utterly addictive and obsessive.

    I would have to say the ones I enjoyed the most are FBRS, M2F (even with all the flaws, loved the OTP), You’re Beautiful (the only Hong Sister drama that I liked for the most part), History of the Salaryman ( thought again, towards the end it petered) and I’m currently enjoying RTP, K2H and QIM.

    The first OST that made me even aware of OST and got me to become an OST fan was That Man from SG, HB version. I found the song and his voice just haunting… it was my very first OST download and now I have a folder on iTunes with at least 30 OSTs! I love songs from M2F, FBRS, K2H, RTP, SG, YB and actually love, love a few songs from HGD.

    Phew, I wrote too much, but I feel so giddy from marathoning QIM and just falling in love with it. Good luck with your blog!

    May 16, 2012
    • joonni #

      Hi sb!
      K-dramas are a special genre, aren’t they? They are made to be addictive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are good. So you end up experiencing an emotional rollercoaster when you are watching one.

      May 16, 2012
  8. Janet #

    Hi Joonni
    I must let you know what a fantastic job you are doing with “Queen InHyun’s Man” recaps… I have been recommending the drama to my friends but yet I haven’t even watched a single episode, LOL! I just follow the drama by solely reading your recaps! ^_^ Ooo, plus I watched the romantic scenes on Youtube! 😉

    I had stumbled upon your blog when I googled for the aforesaid drama… which was mentioned in the comments section of “Rooftop Prince”, namely, the car kiss scene in QIHM episode 8 is way hotter than RTP’s! Already I have heartache waiting for weekly episodes of RTP, so I think I will only start watching QIHM when the drama is complete.

    I am also currently watching the American drama series “Revenge” (highly riveting with its plot twists!) and “The Secret Circle”.

    I started watching Korean drama around the 2nd wave? Tear-jerkers were not my cup of tea so I was only hooked when my Singapore TV station broadcasted “The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince” in 2007… I immediately went to the DVD rental shop weekly after that.

    Except “Vampire Prosecutor”, the rest of my all-time favourite Korean dramas are mostly rom-coms (romantic comedies)… “Secret Garden”, “He’s Beautiful”, “Protect the Boss” etc. and older ones such as “My Lovely Sam Soon”, “Biscuit Teacher Star Candy”, “Hello God” etc.

    My favourite actresses are tied mainly to their drama characters, I think: Yoon Eun Hye,Kim Sun Ah, Lee Da Hae (“My Girl”) and Uhm Jung Hwa (“Seducing Mr Perfect”); I find YEH’s facial expressions very cute! I do hope she can pair up with Gong Yoo (my favourite charming & cheeky actor) again. I would love to watch Park Yoochun and Lee Hongki (FT Island) act in more upcoming dramas too!. My young daughters enjoy watching “The Man of the Vineyard” starring YEH and “3 Dads with 1 Mommy”.

    May I recommend 2 of my favourite korean movies, “Marrying the Mafia 4”, “100 Days with Mr Arrogant”, “S Diary” and “Seducing Mr Perfect” for LOL moments! (By the way, the Hindi movie “3 Idiots” is also very funny and heart-warming!)

    Gosh, I didn’t realise that I’ve written so much already! I think I will leave K-Pop to another time.

    Thank you Joonni again for the wonderful recaps of QIHM!! God bless!

    May 16, 2012
    • joonni #

      Hello Janet!

      So you missed the first wave of “Hallyu” that consisted of angsty melodramas? Ah, you missed quite an era. But I don’t know if I can suggest that you go back and watch any of them, if you prefer romantic-comedies.
      Coffee Prince is definitely one of my top dramas and I adore YEH too.

      May 17, 2012
      • Janet #

        ^_^ Like your reply! Thanks Joonni.

        May 18, 2012
    • Woonieluv8 #

      l loooooooooooooooooove revenge!!

      August 5, 2012
  9. Fallensnow #

    Hi Joonni!

    Thanks so much for your wonderful QIM recaps. As I’m not a native Korean speaker myself, I rely on helpful online bloggers like you to help me decifer the dialogue while I wait on pins and needles for the subs to come out. You help me feed my Kdrama cravings LOL Thank you!

    While I grew up with many Asian cultural influences, I only discovered the Korean entertainment industry around 08/09. I remember finding Kdrama and Kpop almost simultaneously – Goong being the first Kdrama I’ve ever watched. While objectively looking back, Goong is definitely not the best Kdrama I’ve ever watched, but I remember being fascinated and impressed by the highly visual and visceral experience. It was an ideal introduction to both traditional and modern Korean culture. After that I discovered Sam Soon and Coffee House, and the rest as you can say, is history.

    It took much longer for me to warm up to Kpop (lets just say SNSD and SuJu didn’t impress me much and leave it at that) and even now I typically stay away from the most popular groups. My loyalties only lie with CNBlue and IU and I’ve been following them since their respective debuts. I hold DBSK (pre-breakup) as THE gold standard for Kpop boy group and my favorite Korean ballad singer is Sung Si Kyung (that voice! omg). Recently, I’ve been listening to more K-indies and oldies like Boohwal, Standing Egg and Busker Busker.

    I’ve watched a wide variety of Kdramas over the years and develop a voracious appetite for sageuks. My all-time favorite drama is Coffee Prince and I’m SO excited for Gong Yoo’s return to the small screen in Big. I also loved Sam Soon, Giant, Return of Illjimae, The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry and more recently: Dream High, City Hunter, Princess’s man, Shut Up! Flower Boy Band. I think I’m in the minority here that I’m generally not a big fan of Hong Sisters’ works. I think their scripts are solid stuff but my personal viewing taste doesn’t lean towards slapstick humor and cheesy metaphors.

    May 18, 2012
    • joonni #

      Hi Fallensnow!
      I adore Goong. Shin was such a complicated and fragile creature, and Chae-Kyung was adorable. It was visually beautiful too.
      I love CNBlue too and I love Yonghwa’s confidence on stage.
      Hee, as a big fan of DBSK, I am so happy to hear that.
      Sung Si Kyung is definitely up there as one of my favorite singers. My favorite is “You’ve left an impression,” and I love his OST ballads for Secret Garden and Thousand Days Promise.
      I love the sweet sound of Standing Egg.

      May 18, 2012
      • Fallensnow #

        Sung Si Kyung’s voice is simply to die for. I was first introduced to him through High Kick 2 (to be expected by a drama addict like me LOL). There was this one scene where the guy bravely and sweetly sang SSK’s song at the karaoke for his beloved noona. I remember being so moved by the scene and then Sung Si Kyung’s voice played and I think I literally gasped – his voice was that gorgeous. So for me, “The Road To Me” will have to be my sentimental favorite by him. His voice was meant for OST ballads though, and I have loved everything he’s sung.

        Keep up the good work, Joonni!

        May 18, 2012
  10. Sabah #

    Hey Joonni,

    I really like your friendly way of writing. You don’t use your likes or dislikes to put up barriers to exclude people or friendship. You state what you like but are open to the fact that everyone has their own history resulting in personal inclinations that sometimes even we don’t understand.

    “often wished that there was a soundtrack to my life.” I think people do have soundtracks to their lives but it includes not only sounds but tastes, smells and colours too. As you say, “I associate them strongly to the season during which I watched the drama. I love listening to them when I need a bit of summer, winter, spring, or fall.” These soundtracks entwine aspects of our lives together so that they don’t just become an entangled mess of arbitrary randomness.

    I am not sure what your ambitions for your writing encompass but in terms of style, I feel that you are on your way to finding a unique voice that best represents you. Most of all, I love the detailing. Beauty is in the details but comprehension lies there too. You could tell us that you like Kpop or even DBSK, but most people would only reply ‘snap’ back. These are all just consequences of something more innate and visceral. Many people might like DBSK but I won’t necessarily like them and of course I love many people who don’t like them. You share the whys and wherefores so that when you say I like Kpop because… or that I became invested in DBSK as they… we begin to understand you. THAT, takes a lot of courage.

    Also it stops it short from becoming boring; a list belonging to someone we barely know. You may read book, just like I read books BUT when you divulge the history, your aims and notes from your viewpoint, I get a glimpse of the world on the tilted on the axis of your heart. I can’t get that anywhere else and thereby these words become interesting and precious.

    I think that is what I take away from your posts, your modesty and your bravery. It is going to be a pleasure getting to know you. Wishing you much success and prosperity on this new venture of yours, with love Sabah

    May 19, 2012
    • joonni #

      You are too generous with your compliments. *bow* and *great big hug*

      June 2, 2012
  11. “Nobuta wo Produce” – this plus your love for our current obsession aka QIHM and the fact that you’re loving and living the CA life like I am just tell me that your taste is pretty much flawless. I’ve yet to find a more perfect friendship drama than Nobuta anywhere. When it comes to trials and tribulations of growing up and the transcendental power of friendship, nothing come close to Nobuta, in my opinion.

    I’ve just created a new LJ for all fangirling purposes because I realize spamming the heck out of soompi is simply not enough for my QIHM obsession. I believe I’ve seen you around LJ as well, so if an idlewilds3 add you as a friend, don’t freak out, k? 🙂

    You’re probably getting a tad sick of hearing this but thank you so much again for all that you do.

    May 20, 2012
    • joonni #

      Ah, NwP. I initially thought, “What is this strange story of a kid that bikes to a tree everyday before going to school?” I related a lot to Shuji and Nobuta- their feeling of cynicism and distance from the world around them. I loved how all three were just drawn to each other and were able to be themselves in each other’s companionship. I loved the tone of the drama- the dark humor with a little surrealism. Yet, I was never depressed while watching this drama- at the heart of it, there was always a lot of warmth.

      Welcome to livejournal! I don’t post on my journal that much anymore- actually, never did, but I use it to comment on other people’s site. I’ll see you around there!

      May 20, 2012
  12. twinkles #

    OMG, I’m totally enjoying your QIHM recaps! It’s always nice to be exposed to other perspectives/interpretations – makes me really think outside of the box. I really enjoyed reading your background and of your other loyal readers as well. It actually took me a while to become K-obsessed. My first drama was All About Eve, which I adored to pieces because of JDG, but I only watched drama’s off and on with a few JDG movies thrown in. I became a rabid fan after BOF – ya, I know, not the best story but KHJ as Jihoo, oh my, my first noona crush. Like you I also ADORE Lee Seung-gi, how adorkable is he? I’m now officially hooked on both Kdramas and KPop with some JDorama’s and JPop thrown in to round things out. I’m a silent lurker on many sites as well, such as Dramabeans, Koala, aikosmorningcoffee……but really enjoy sites like yours and aikos that seem to be geared more towards a niche and just easier to get to know and interact with the author. Please keep up the good work!

    June 1, 2012
    • joonni #

      Hi twinkles!
      I was crazy about “All About Eve” too when it aired.
      BOF- Ah Ji Hoo sun-bae. That love triangle was crazy. I just wanted Jandi to end up with Ji Hoo.

      June 2, 2012
  13. Meow #

    hi jooni…
    i just recently came aware of your blog and it saved me from going crazy..
    well i am currently watching queen inhyuns man and waiting for subs was becoming a huge torture thats when ur blog came to the rescue.. thanks soo much for ur hard work..

    i am from india and well my knowledge about both K-dramas and K-pop started very late.. 2011 actually when a friend gave me 2 dramas to watch (BOF and Playful kiss, both which are still my least favs..) but my interest piped only after watching Secret Garden and now i am full time fan having watched more than 20 dramas these past few months…
    My friends say i have gotten obsessed, but i think i enjoy Kdramas because they are not too long..
    16 to 20 episodes, good acting, beautiful scenes and well lots of cuteness.. to which i am such a sucker..
    Its like reading a short story or a novel which i can remember and give a smile with happiness..
    do suggest me some good dramas.. for i am still an amature here and would like to grow…

    and yeah thanks for Ji hyun woos Sexy Back..!!

    June 1, 2012
    • joonni #

      I was crazy about Secret Garden when it aired, also. Hmm, what kind of dramas can I suggest? You said you have watched more than 20? I figure you must have watched the most popular ones like Coffee Prince, SungKyunKwan Scandal, You’re Beautiful, Shut Up Flower Boy Band, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, etc? May I suggest some lesser known ones such as “The Legend,” “The Devil,” or “Brilliant Legacy”? The first two are more serious while the last one is more of a family drama. But I place all three high on my favorites list (for varying reasons) and would recommend them to you.

      June 2, 2012
  14. Meow #

    i saw Brilliant legacy for LSG actually,… he was awesome is Gumiho.. 🙂 maybe ill try SungKyunKwan Scandal next… and no i didnt watch shut up flower boy band.. i heard it was popular though.. thanks for the suggestions…

    and hey know any sites from where i can download the background scores of the dramas??

    June 2, 2012
  15. Christina #

    I’m really enjoying your recaps for QIM, I just love that drama and it’s killing me waiting for the subs. It’s probably gonna go on my list for my most favorite dramas. I can’t remember exactly what k-drama I watched first but the earliest ones I can remember are All About Eve, Winter Sonata, and Glass Slippers. I remember being so addicted to All About Eve and totally loved Kim So-yeon– I totally rooted for her character even though she was the villain. I’ve watched a large amount of dramas but I don’t have that many favorites or ones that I remember all too well. I loved Devil, History of a Salaryman, Time Between Dog and Wolf, Dr. Champ, City Hunter, and Coffee House. I’m quite picky when it comes to watching dramas and usually read reviews or recaps before deciding if I would watched a drama. I’m been trying to find k-drama blogs so I could keep up with the drama and hear about upcoming ones and yours is one of my favorites among Dramabeans and Thundie’s.
    On a side note, have you ever watched any of Joss Whedon’s television shows?

    June 2, 2012
    • joonni #

      Of course! Unfortunately, I have only watched Buffy and Angel consistently, and did not have the chance to watch Firefly or Dollhouse. I’m a fan of his snappy and somewhat snarky dialogue. Recently, I have simply adored The Avengers. Such awesome writing and direction.

      June 2, 2012
      • Christina #

        Oh wow I totally agree, I love his work. I haven’t watched Buffy or Angel but I have watched Dollhouse and The Avengers. I was so sad when they canceled Dollhouse, it’s was such a shame. I also really enjoyed Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and it wasn’t just because Neil Patrick Harris was in it haha

        June 2, 2012
        • joonni #

          Ah, I see that we have a bit of a generation gap? 😉

          I really wanted to see Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, but didn’t have the chance. It looked so cooky.

          June 2, 2012
  16. Christina #

    haha yea, i think Buffy aired starting late 90’s and I was like a toddler then? I would totally recommend Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, I think it’s on Netflix and I think it’s still on youtube unless it got taken off.

    June 3, 2012
  17. missdory #

    I’m questioning the power of your one paragraph above regarding Damo and which made me go on a full fledged 14-episode-marathon in the space of 24 hours. I’m still trying to recover from the disbelief that I managed to do so.

    After reading your words here on Damo, I looked up for reviews and found one by OCKOALA’s over at Thundie’s. I read it once before watching the story and again after.

    All I can say is that I’m a goner. I TRULY regret the past nine years I have missed not knowing it existed. This drama will be embedded into my heart.

    To keep it short, I don’t know whether to love or hate you for those short but powerful lines on Damo in your profile above.

    “A far off mountain,
    A mountain with a deep green forest,
    A destiny that could not foresee that divide,
    A love I could not measure,
    A love that tore my heart apart,
    Not again, never again,
    Do not live for me.”

    (Arrrggghhh.. The heartache!! The heartache!! *Pulling hair and hitting my chest – drama, drama!!*)

    Joonni dear, thank you for enlightning me.

    Now I need to roll back into bed and try to overcome a double dosage of withradawal sypmtoms from QIHM and Damo.

    June 10, 2012
    • joonni #

      You don’t know how happy this makes me.

      Wow, I can’t believe you marathoned that whole thing in one day. It’s a lot of emotional pounding in one day.

      That poem! Isn’t it so beautiful? Such short words but so much emotion and meaning. When it appears so silently at the end, tears just come pouring out (again).

      Oh god, I have helped to spread the awesomeness that is Damo. I think I can die today. 😀

      June 10, 2012
  18. Hi joonni! ^^ I’m Jhing from the Philippines! I love kdrama’s since it started here in the Philippines when I was in college and since then, I love more Korean actresses and actors than American or Filipino ones 🙂 I remember watching Jang Geum in our neighbor’s ( we didn’t have TV in our boarding house) for months ( you know how they stretch a 16-episode drama to 2 months here? A sageuk with 50+ episode? Don’t even ask. The 4 season-drama is also popular here, but what really made me hooked to Korean Drama is Yoon Eun Hye and joo Ji Hoon’s Princess Hours, Eugene’s Save the Last Dance and Summer Scent and that is because of their beautiful OST.

    I’m not really into k-pop, though my CP is full of OST from kdramas even those that I didnt watch (like BOF). I love Japanese Manga and anime (Detective Conan, Naruto, Fruit Basket (I’m partial to kyo bec. he’s a cat and i looooooove cats) CardCaptor Sakura and Prince of Tennis) and I love Yui, Mai Kuraki, Ikimonogakari ( bec. of their OST in these animes)

    I started lurking here because of Queen In HYun’s Man. Dramabeans also recap QIHM but you were faster. ockoala didn’t bother recapping most of it so… here I am!This blog has the best QIHM fans. I mean, a lot of people are really more critical in analyzing the drama, and it ruins the mood for me. But here, people give love to the drama! And I feel so happy being here! It gives me more Ji HYun Woo fix, and I am really head over heels in love with him now. (And to think that we have the same birthday, he’s just a year older!) This site gives me more background on him a a singer, as a person and as an actor. Thank you, thank you so much! Your hardwork really gives us cheers and joys!

    Much love,
    Jhing from the Philippines ♥

    June 16, 2012
    • joonni #

      Hi Jhing!
      I also love Goong and Save the Last Dance. In fact, Save the Last Dance goes in my favorites list for being such a quintessential Korean drama.
      I was in high school when I got my hands on Card Captor Sakura and despite my age, I loved it. I am also partial to Kyo- I love his cat figure.
      Much love right back!

      June 16, 2012
      • wow, I’m so honored you replied to my humble post! 🙂
        IKR? I’m 26 going 27 and I’m much more updated on anime’s than my high school students. Really? You like Goong? Not many people liked it, but I’m still rooting for YEH and JJH to be together again. You mentioned that the Devil is good but I can’t find where I could watch all ep. in English. Wish Ji-Hoon oppa will be back on his feet, with YEH!

        May I ask who are your fave OTP? I might have missed it above..
        Of course I love Ji Hyun Woo ♥ Yoo In Na (Boong Do and Hee JIn)
        Yoo Seung Ho and Park Eun Bin
        Joo JI hoon and Yoon Eun Hye
        Kim Bum and Kim So Eun 🙂

        Thanks! ^^

        June 16, 2012
        • joonni #

          The Devil is available at Dramafever. Be warned, it is a dark drama. So good, but dark.
          I thought a lot of people liked Goong!
          That would be great, to see YEH and JJH together again.
          Hmm…I’ve never thought about a favorite OTP. But I guess, besides Boong-Do and Hee-Jin, it would be Ra-Im and Joo-Won (Ha Ji-Won and Hyun Bin) from Secret Garden.

          June 17, 2012
  19. anna #

    Hi Joonni, Anna here from Malaysia.

    Just recent that l found your blog and that was because of that crazy Queen In Hyun’s man’s drama. l just always stuck to your blog and even check your newest post twice a day (morning and night). Actually unlike other Korean Drama’s fans, l just joined the crowd last year beginning. Before that i’ve tried TW and Jdorama, some were good like Hana Yori Dango, Buzzer Bear, Hana Kimi (Japan) and drama like Down with Love or Meteor Garden (TW). But Korean Drama really make me stuck and so far l’ve watched hundreds of it (crazy of me right).

    Its all started with Full House which l watched it on TV airing in Malaysia in a hospital bed (dengue fever). l’m more a book addict not TV addict like my sisters. Few years back they all were super crazy of Autumn in my heart, l dont really bother. But now, just tell me what drama, l can give comments of it (btw, i dont like AIMH, sad ending, l just had sad ending).

    FYI, l never watch Damo but i definitely will since it took 1st spot for eight years, it must be a really touchy drama. However, Secret Garden always be no 1 but like you, it just recently replaced by that JHW and YIN’s crazy chemistry drama, QIHM.

    So Jooni, what will be your new drama recap? Arang? may be….

    June 22, 2012
    • joonni #

      I must warn you, Damo is a sad drama.

      I loved Secret Garden and I was so obsessed with it when it aired.

      Hmm..I think it will be Arang. I’ll have to watch the first episode and see.

      June 22, 2012
      • anna #

        Thanks for your warn of Damo, then l wont watch it. But l beg sure it is a good drama, quite a numbers of blog given high ratings on Damo (beside its sad ending). l just dont like sad ending. Beside Big, l think l’ll start Time Slip Dr Jin (l just love Song Seung Heun).

        June 23, 2012
  20. Silk #

    Hi Joonni, I am so happy that you love Damo too. I love Lee Seo Jin in it and was so sad at the ending where all three leads died. My first love of Kdrama is Lee Byung Hun’s Beautiful Day. Together with QIHM is my all times top 3 Kdrama. I love Damo but it is strange that it wasn’t very popular in New York Chinese circle. I stumped into Damo when I just picked up the DVD randomly. So it is good to know that you also regard it as one of your top Kdrama ever. I love your writing and blog. Now i follow your blog as I found so much fun and laughters reading your posts. You are a very passonate and good writer.

    June 23, 2012
    • joonni #

      Oh, Beautiful Days. I loved that drama. It is such a sexy drama, all because of Lee Byung Hun.

      June 23, 2012
  21. ionlygiveitcolor #

    I stumbled upon your blog desperately looking for QIHM recaps because dramabeans happen to be a week late in recapping and boy did I love you (not in the stalker-freaky sense but in the fangirl-thankful sense) starting that day. Since then I’ve been visiting this blog as frequent as I have been visiting dramabeans for my daily dose of kdrama.

    My love for kdramas started after I first watched Goong/Princess Hours. I also love Save the Last Dance! Give my love by Edward Chun is also my favorite ballad from Save the Last Dance Ost. I just love the piano in that song. I actually wish I can play that someday.

    Anyway, thank you so much for going through all the trouble translating and recapping as fast as possible for non-korean literate fangirls like me.

    June 24, 2012
  22. hello joonni, i am Gfemalia (nana rf) from Indonesia. love your blog 😉

    July 22, 2012
    • joonni #


      July 23, 2012
  23. I came across your blog because of my endless journey looking for english subs to Reply 1997 (which unfortunately takes forever to get noticed by subbers hul~) 😀 I’ve been browsing through your blog, and I must say I really like how friendly you are, taking time to reply ^^

    && Automatic plus points to you because you, like me, love DBSK with all my heart (lol) XD I’m a 21 year old Filipino (who can barely understand Korean – but I’m learning haha) who has been on this fangirly trip since I was 12. I am happy that our country is very receptive towards the Korean culture so it’s quite easy to fangirl here although we’re miles away from Korea.

    Ooh I think I’ve been talking too much XD Will look forward to your posts in the future! (&& Will be stalking your previous posts XDD) God bless you!

    August 1, 2012
    • joonni #

      You compliment me on being friendly, only to have me reply so late. Sorry!

      Those points right back at you, DBSK fan. <3<3<3

      August 5, 2012
  24. Woonieluv8 #

    Hello Joonie!! umm i sure you know im the obsessed joowoon fan but I would love for you too know more about me too, i love how you care 😀 well i got into k-pop when i saw a pic of taeyang on one of my friend’s binders after that i listen to his popular songs but i didn’t realized he was part of a group for a year. after that i saw a video of 2pm “without you” and heartbeat and right away i was a fan but i didn’t think they were very popular after that i discovered the greatness that was DBSK and like you, i have never fangirled over any group more than them and sincerelly pray that they get back together. i listen to tons more groups like 2NE1, MBLAQ, INFINITE (i love them almost as much as i love DBSK) , CNBLUE, AZIATIX, SISTAR, 4minute, miss a, RAIN, PSY, and soo many more). now unto my k-drama discovery i’m pretty sure that BOF was not my first drama but its what drew me into korean culture, at first i was just a listener if the music, but now i’m a lover of the culture, and getting ready to be fluent. I loved everything about k-dramas and i happened to get a lot of my friends in to them. i haven’t seen the ‘classics” yet but my top three favorites are 1. Gaksital 2. Queen In hyun’s man 3. my girlfriend is a gumiho i’ve watched a handful of jap and taiwanese dramas , i read mars the manga and look forward to finishing the drama. i love your blog because its . . . perfect i honestly can say you have the right amount of everything, opinion, fangirling, facts and kasahamnida for the time to get to know us

    August 5, 2012
  25. joonni #

    I find it fascinating that people can get into DBSK5 post-breakup because part of fangirling is knowing that there is a continued future of fangiriling a certain group. How did you get into them? Through Youtube, fansites?
    Infinite is the latest idol boy group I’m fangirling. (B.A.P. is on my radar). They have a lot of potential and it’s great that they do so many variety shows so that we can get to know them better. And in my older eyes, they look like such babies.

    Thanks for liking my blog! I’m honored. 😀

    August 5, 2012
  26. jayie #

    hello! I’m a Singaporean Chinese and I bumped into your blog when I was searching for reviews on QIHM. I watched it and absolutely love the show and I didn’t like some of the negative reviews so when I came upon yours I find myself agreeing with everything you said! awesome!!!
    all my friends love Rooftop Prince and recommend me to watch it but when I did I was kinda disappointed in the plots especially modern one… and I hated the ending! but I felt in love with micky yoochun though and only just got to know that he was in DBSK.
    I’m not so into kpop haha
    anyway I digressed, QIHM was so awesome that I keep spreading my love for it to every single living thing and also on my FB that Im afraid I have caused people to hate it instead. haha I love the plot and the straightforward love and both the main leads!!
    other recent kdramas I love are SG (im heads over heels in love with hyun bin) and prosecutor princess (not many people mention this but I love Park Si Hoo ❤ )
    old dramas I love are full house, Kim San soon, love at Harvard.
    look forward to more of your recaps!!

    August 25, 2012
    • joonni #

      Ah, you missed the heyday of the QIHM craze! We were going crazy over here. Still, welcome. Any fan of QIHM is welcome.

      I enjoyed Rooftop Prince for its own merit and because it had Yoochun. My boy!

      I was crazy in love with Secret Garden too. Hyun Bin is such a sexy, sexy, man.

      August 25, 2012
      • Kandice #

        are we vaguely the same age? do we have the same great taste in men?! HA!

        September 17, 2012
        • joonni #

          Born in the 80s. I think have great taste in men 😉

          September 17, 2012
  27. quadra #

    hi, jonni.. do u realise that your experience is almost parallel with “Answer me 1997”?

    September 25, 2012
    • joonni #

      Yes, I squee’d when the H.O.T. fangirling was introduced, except I wasn’t as hardcore as Shi-won.

      September 25, 2012
  28. I think I have similar taste with you. Your 10 list drama, mine is 7 out of 10. It could be 9 but I didn’t watch 90’s drama. Im a big fan of Ha Jiwon since Damo. And music, I love jazz, RnB, and sometimes hip hop. But I’m not fans of K-pop girl/boyband, but i really love Korean (real) singer, i mean based on their song and vocal quality.
    I just want to say ‘good job’ and ‘thank you’

    October 5, 2012
    • joonni #

      Hi Ay ay!

      October 5, 2012
  29. May #

    Hi Joonni

    I stumbled on your website, while searching for the Faith previews, a couple of weeks ago. Thank you so much for your fabulous writing, I have been reading your recaps and previews on Faith whilst patiently waiting for the drama to unfold every monday and tuesday, whilst in my case Tuesday and Wednesday Singapore time.

    I started watching my first K-drama about more than a decade ago, I remember it was called Jewel in the Crown, it was dubbed in cantonese chinese by Hong Kong TVB channel. Although the drama was a bit draggy at times but i love the introduction of the rich korean culture and history. All the tragic deaths were very emotional draining. Thereafter I watched all the blockbusters that was available in my country Malaysia, dubbed in Mandarin and subbed in Malay, which was not ideal but manage to follow the story line, as I am not fluent in mandarin and malay sub titles are just basic.

    Then I moved to Singapore for work and was totally drawn to korean drama much to the amusement of my family, I watched all the latest online (although some I eventually drop out), because the dvd sets takes forever to arrive. My favorite this year was gentleman’s dignity so very romantic, waiting patiently for the dvd box set to be available for me to add to my ever growing collection. Dramas that I have watched over and over again is Legend and Glory of the family. As i am interested in history and culture. Can you recommend any good drama for me to watch? Also I find korean language so difficult to pick up, what is the best way to learn the language so that i can enjoy the drama more?

    Carry on with your beautiful writings, with your talent one day you will go very far.

    October 13, 2012
  30. joonni #

    Hi May! I think Jewel in the Crown was the first sageuk I watched completely and I loved it so much.
    I loved The Legend too and that is what made me more excited for “Faith” since it’s the same PD and writer. I don’t think “Faith” is as high of a quality as The Legend but I think I may love it more.
    Generally, I am not a fan of sageuk nor of straight-on historical dramas. But I like them mixed with fantasy. Have you seen my favorite’s list. My top two are fantasy sageuks and I would highly recommend both. One that is not the list but I would still recommend is “Capital Scandal.” The story is set during colonial Korean and it is really a beautiful drama.
    As I learned other languages, I found that learning them formally in school while listening to the country’s music and watching their dramas really helped to learn the language faster and with more joy.

    October 13, 2012

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