Mid-Year K-Drama Recap: What You Should Watch From The First Batch Of 2019 Korean Dramas

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We won’t lie how our team struggled a lot in covering the first half of 2019 Korean dramas.

For the record, the first batch of 2019 Korean Dramas we featured are not that bad. It is more of plots and themes are heavily constructed. More so, there are quick surges of light-themed stories, but it does not suffice in unloading the stress we got from watching the tedious roster we had to finish.

Dropping a few was inevitable to keep our sanity. Hellokpop follows a slightly different K-Drama calendar. Including tail-end dramas from the preceding year, we add it to the current year’s lineup until the 11th month. Therefore, this report feature covers November 2018 to May 2019 Korean dramas.

Below are November 2018 to May 2019 Korean Dramas that we have watched and reviewed.

Children of NobodyA Promise To The Gods2My Strange HeroThe Last EmpressClean With Passion For NowEncounterMemories of the AlhambraPriestLiver or Die | KBSItemHaechiThe Crowned Clown2Touch Your Heart.Romance is a Bonus BookTrap *Image via OCN*Sky CastleKingdomDoctor PrisonerMy Fellow Citizens | KBS

Special Labor Inspector JoThe_BankerBig IssueThe Fiery PriestMarch 2019 Korean DramasThe Light in Your Eyes *image via JTBCWelcome to Waikiki 2Her_Private_LifeLegal High *Image via JTBCBeautiful WorldNetflixtvN | ConfessionJust Dance

Here’s our mid-year report card for 2019 Korean Dramas. Note that weekend serial dramas and daily dramas are not included in this assessment.

Interestingly, there is no particularly dominating trend. The usual crime, legal, and romance genres are present in the recent stories, which have paraded K-Dramaland. A few novelties also generated impressive raves from the audience, such as the imaginative sci-fi series Memories of the Alhambra and runaway hit satire Sky Castle.

Ratings Leaders

Only four dramas aired on public channels secured double-digit ratings. On that note, SBS has been fairly successful, with The Fiery Priest and The Last Empress rating well at an average of 16.1% and 12.2% respectively. KBS2’s Doctor Prisoner and Liver or Die joined this elite roster with 13.2% and 12.1% cumulative audience ratings.

Among the dramas which aired on cable networks, only jTBC’s Sky Castle registered average double-digit output at 12.5%. Rounding up the top-rating cable dramas are The Crowned Clown, Encounter and Memories of the Alhambra which earned over 8% scores. Considering how pay-TV platforms have relatively small audience, the aforementioned series were deemed successful at the time of its airing period.

Popular Dramas Online

In terms of online presence, it was a continuous shift of reign with Sky Castle, Encounter, The Last Empress, and Her Private Life as perennial favorites.

Meanwhile, below is our honest recommendations on noteworthy 2019 Korean dramas that you can add on your watch list. These selections are based on the collated reviews conducted by our team. Out of 35 K-Dramas reviewed, we picked 12 remarkable stories. For full reviews of this roster, click the thumbnails above.

Memories of the Alhambra

2019 Korean Dramas

Sans the safe landing, and if we were given a definite answer if Jin Woo’s return in the game also transcended to his real life, the series would have been perfect. Memories of the Alhambra still scored high among the dramas I saw in the recent years owing to how it kept surprising me, with its imaginative premise and well-utilized cast.

It was all magnificently gliding up to the last episode that I refused to wallow in the frustrating last note of the series. Still, my drama-to-beat parameter for parade of 2019 Korean dramas this season.

Doctor Prisoner

2019 Korean Dramas

Basking on mind games, Doctor Prisoner hooked with its impeccable male dominated cast keen to outwit each other. Revenge dramas spurred by a male cast seem more neat because of less drama. The series managed to present a flawed hero and equally dysfunctional villains vying to achieved varying goals, at the expense of bending justice and utilizing money and influence.

Her Private Life

2019 Korean Dramas

Nothing but good vibes celebrating fan girl spirit in Her Private Life. It may be trite, but at least it went on to create a full story that did not rely strongly on kissing scenes. Proving proper placement of sweet moments is the key to a remarkable romantic comedy, the tvN treat accomplished not having dull moments on its report card.

Given the plot-heavy laden roster of 2019 Korean Dramas, this tvN series easily makes K-Drama fans put it on their favorite’s list.

Romance is a Bonus Book

2019 Korean Dramas

Specific to late 20s to middle-aged career people, Romance Is A Bonus Book boasts introspective aftereffects. It might not appeal to younger generation who prefers oppa-romance themed stories, but it is saccharine nonetheless.

From lessons about women’s strength, individualism and friendship, its ultimate message is finding one’s purpose. Romance Is A Bonus Book has presented a beautiful tale of life and romance, which is honest and reassuring.

Sky Castle

2019 Korean Dramas

Soaring high throughout its run, four families colored the narrative of Sky Castle to intriguing bends. Coupled with proportionate moments for its big cast, its fictional world probed on elite families’ different opinions on supporting their children’s future. Beautiful on its own right, it was not something spectacular that ever graced K-Drama land to be honest. If we mull over the lessons from its fictional world perspective, all those family dramas are honestly sad realities, which can make the viewers retrospect.

Presenting the disheartening truth of how educational attainment has been an agonizing criterion that contributes to one’s success was my takeaway for all the crazy sentiments I got from the series. Pictured in context of privileged mothers, I think the rolled complication can appeal to all mothers regardless of economic status.

*Above reviews done by abbyinhallyuland

Kill It

2019 Korean Dramas

Since the drama was just 12 episodes, it’s easy to watch. The flow of the story was smooth and there were no dull moments. There was no comedy. But as viewers, we need to pay attention to the characters and how they are linked to one another. It was a bit confusing for me at first, and I had to repeat some episodes, but even my replays were still entertaining for me, that’s why the re-watch value is high.

My Strange Hero

2019 Korean Dramas

For me, a drama has an excellent cast when all the scenes are watch-worthy. In My Strange Hero, the entire cast pulled their weight and portrayed their roles well. They were believable and entertaining. Even scenes that weren’t particularly riveting still managed to hold my attention. The series’ satirical take on educational discrimination was ambitious but rewarding.

My Strange Hero was an intoxicating experience. It could capture attention from the very start. You get sucked in to the pain of the hero and root for its underdogs.

The Light in Your Eyes

2019 Korean Dramas

The Light in Your Eyes is a whimsical reminder to live beautiful days. It was a healing tearjerker reminding its viewers to view life happily despite bad days. It was a trip down memory lane that left its viewers in tears as they began to reminisce their own happy memories.

It’s such a short drama, but packed with shining moments and life lessons. The cast jived well together and produced a certified tearjerker interspersed, with occasional comedy care of Young Soo and Hyun Joo.

The series was dazzling in its ordinariness. It shone a light on fleeting happy moments and has inspired us to do the same.

*Above reviews done by Nicole

The Fiery Priest

2019 Korean Dramas

The Fiery Priest, despite the serious issues it depicted, was an engrossing and fun drama to watch. Kudos to the cast who gave their all to showcase a drama worth watching. All praises to the production crew as well for giving us a series that represented the current community setting. Although there might be some exaggerated approach, it was a necessary element to differentiate reality from fiction.

The Crowned Clown

2019 Korean Dramas

The Crowned Clown was such a treat with its immersive story and complex characters. Each week, the drama managed to stir the viewer’s curiosity regarding the story’s trajectory. The conflicts and the major players had been established from the start. So it was easy to remember which characters you needed to keep an eye out for. Though the drama introduced few significant characters as the story progressed, it did not complicate the narrative, it added more meat to it instead.

It is true that humans crave power and can easily be blinded by it. But once we realize there is so much good we can do using it, the world can become a better place – and that is The Crowned Clown’s legacy.

Touch Your Heart

2019 Korean Dramas

Touch Your Heart was really an enjoyable drama. The story’s simplicity and the characters were its main hook. Some people might find the story too ordinary and cliched but somehow the drama made it work. The drama’s focus did not shift as it had always been about the love journey of Jung Rok and Yoon Seo.

The side arcs added interest to the events that help the main couple find their way towards each other. If you are looking for a series that is light and warm, this one is for you.

Beautiful World

2019 Korean Dramas

Beautiful World, despite its dark themes, teaches us that we could never go wrong with kindness. It also reiterates that change is the only thing constant. No matter how much we despise the harsh realities experienced in life, we have no other choice, but to go through it and learn from it.

Life can be unforgiving sometimes, but we could not ignore the fact that, despite all the bad things we received from people, it is also humans who could show it is a blessing to be alive and how truly beautiful our world is.

*Above reviews done by Emylyn

Which stories from 2019 Korean Dramas have you enjoyed the most? Share us your thoughts by saying hello to us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


abbyinhallyuland reads and sleeps a lot when she is not traveling. Her calendar reminders are mostly K-Drama broadcast schedules and birthdays of her favorite Korean actors. Promoting K-Drama watching as stress therapy is her life advocacy. She is fond of Spencer Reid, Gregory House, Kenshin Himura, Starwars saga, Haruki Murakami and Hunter x Hunter.

Recommended Korean Dramas: Reply 1988, Nine, Misaeng, Gaksital, Discovery of Love, Because This is My First Life, Descendants of the Sun, My Love from the Star, Healer, Punch, You’re Beautiful,Coffee Prince, Princess Hours, The Greatest Love, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, City Hunter, and The Smile Has Left Your Eyes.

E: abby@hellokpop.com