Year-End Recap: Distinctly Genuine Characters Highlight 2017 Korean Dramas

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In hindsight, 2017 Korean Dramas flaunted diligent actors who scored engaging characters in the stories they starred in.

2017 Korean Dramas Recap

Photocredit: TVN, SBS, OCN, KBS, JTBC

The frequent trips to courtrooms, chasing felons with detectives, meeting extraordinary prisoners, and basking on love-affirming romantic tales sum up what happened in the parade of 2017 Korean Dramas.

Powered by innovative plots, followers were gifted with a haul of extraordinary narratives in K-Dramaland this year.

While 2017 Korean Dramas take the usual path of balancing storyline and portrayals, the string of K-Dramas we got this year relied on the strength of the characters. Hence, as a viewer you root for the people moving in the story and overlook pointless deviations along the way.

Let’s take a quick trip to reminisce the roster of 2017 Korean Dramas through the fictional people who gave us amazing stories this year.

2017 Korean Dramas

Photocredit: TVN, OCN, SBS, MBC, KBS

Memorable Heroes and Heroines

The definitive parameter for noteworthy characters of 2017 Korean Dramas is not the star power nor the result of the ratings. It is how much you can’t tell apart the actor from the roles they suited up this year. The deep pool of veteran and rising actors fueled this year’s line-up. Some actors even racked up a couple and more dramas this year.

2017 Best Korean Drama Characters

Photocredit: MBC & TVN

Hwang Shi Mok (Cho Seung Woo)  – Stranger

The recluse prosecutor donned a peerless ability to make the viewers simultaneously analyze and understand his motivations in the limbic world he wanted to be alone with. His equally amazing partner in solving cases, Detective Han is the other half of the key ingredient. Thogether they sustained the solid run of arguably 2017’s nonpareil legal and crime drama.

Jang Do Han (Kim Young Kwang) – Lookout

MBC’s underrated revenge crime drama boasted hero-villain Jang Do Han, efficiently portrayed by Kim Young Kwang. He leads a thrilling pursuit to unravel the atrocity of the villain who orchestrated a streak of murder cases.  The cases involve his family and the family members of the team he formed to support him in his premeditated retribution plan. Creating an antithesis of himself so he can infiltrate the enemy’s camp is what pushed me to root for his underdog sentiments.

Shin Chae Gyung (Park Min Young)  – Queen For Seven Days

I don’t know how much bucket of tears Park Min Young cried in this drama as the woman torn between two brothers who want to keep her by their side. She is truly in love with the Prince, but then she is also a pillar of strength for the King. As always, Park Min Young can grasp her character well, in a way that idol actresses can never understand. If you count the variations of the crying faces she made, you can’t help but wonder if she is drinking some bottled emotions to nail the heavy scenes with conviction. Her position in the story requires her to be brave. Even if a hefty amount of fictional adversaries are thrown at her. She can’t be too happy because the junctions of the story trajectory have a special mishap compass that knows only her direction. I think she is the most bullied character this year. Nevertheless, her weep fest spectacle is something worth draining your tears at.

Korean Drama Characters

photocredit: KBS

Heo Im (Kim Nam Gil) – Deserving of the Name

Joining the time-traveling 2017 Korean Dramas this year is TVN’s period drama about a famed acupuncturist who got transported to the modern times. Adapting to a new world where his skills can function only as alternative treatment to technology powered medical regimen, the traditional doctor who suffered from the trauma of Joseon’s caste system finds a new meaning to his profession in a society that does not discriminate.

Lee Twins (Yang Se Jong) – Duel

For a relatively new actor, Yang Se Jong displayed an acting depth channeled from personal maturity and thirst to prove he has what it takes to become a bankable actor of his generation. Pulling off two characters with opposing attitude is a feat hard to contend. Making sure that the audience would be able to differentiate the personas he was portraying is a bonus. His sensitivity to his shifting faces is a revelation. The prize for the actor’s remarkable stint in OCN’s Duel came right away in the same year of his breakthrough performance: he secured the lead man in Temperature of Love.

photocredit: tvN & OCN

In Sync Cast Ensembles

Team Freedom Fighters of Chicago Typewriter

Chicago Typewriter

photocredit: tvN

Chicago Typewriter takes pride in balancing romance and friendship, along with the inspiring patriotism message. It is specifically dedicated to the angst of single adults, who are whistle-blowers of a corrupt government. Even with the complex writing, it follows a path that always makes sense. It never derails to the integral drive of presenting the heartbreaking and heartwarming love and friendship of the characters in the story. It patiently works on the conflicts tackled by the characters, who want to redeem their unresolved issues. Yes, even if it took them eight decades.

Hometown BFF’s & Tech Guys Lovers  Because This Is My First Life 

photocredit: tvN

Because This Is My First Life displays amusingly drawn characters of three couples with varying love issues. Lee Min Ki and Jung So Min pulled off an endearing couple who have gone through the pain and apprehensions of taking a chance on love. Theirs is a romantic landscape that stirs your heart and bothers your thoughts owing to how the characters gravitate you into their world. As the story chose to give the emotional limelight to the lead man instead of the usual crying moments expected of the lead girl, it is refreshing to witness an unconventional closure by making the lead girl as the stronger person in the love frame.

For the long-time couple who goes on and off about what they really want to do with each other, we got a love lesson on how you can’t get everything to work as you please when it comes to marriage. Their roller-coaster relationship is crazy most of the time. However, the amount of memories they shared through the years has sealed a binding connection that haunts and challenges them on their half-hearted letting go. Ambition driven Soo Ji has never included having a serious relationship on her bucket list. But the persevering, love struck CEO Ma Sang Goo melts her heart to accept the love she deserves. Loving entails acceptance of the good and the bad of the person. That is what the drama’s perky couple accomplished.

Justice Seeking Team – Secret Forest (Stranger)

photocredit: tvN

Stranger has a treatment of a drama presented in film scale. The cast delivers top-notch acting calibre, which is one of the best I’ve seen this year. Having less than 10 people navigating the story helped a lot in a balanced screen time. This makes even the minor characters indispensable to the series. The seasoned role immersion and character ownership of Cho Seung Woo and Bae Doo Na claim their fictional characters down to the smallest detail.  Stranger utilized a controlling business tycoon and a hero-villain to spice up the opposition of the antagonists who are keen to outsmart the heroes. The sleek showdowns where intellect and power function as chess pieces prove how excessive tears and evil doings need not to be elaborately shown on-screen, as long as it is neatly narrated.

Dysfunctional Royal Family – Queen For Seven Days

Queen For Seven Days

photocredit: KBS

Layered by the exhausting political power struggles, the war between two brothers wanting to keep the throne to protect and keep the woman they cherish in their hearts is full of poignant moments. It’s a story where viewers would sympathize with the pain and sacrifices of the main characters. Queen For Seven Days efficiently maximizes the staple government intrigues and character motivations to balance the frustrating love line. That is one of the reasons why even with its weep fest premise, you end up forgetting the tears and being consumed in finding the best way possible to make the people of that eccentric love triangle to be happy.

Technology Defying Gang  Circle


photocredit: tvN

Lead actors Yeo Jin Goo and Kim Kang Woo give justice to the unfortunate brothers, who are separated by greed yet reunited by faith. They match the witty writing as thinking characters, who are also adept at hitting depressing faces when they seem to feel hopeless about the setbacks thrown at them. The bromance is so fulfilling because the journey to get there was full of tribulations and brotherly love. The supporting cast provide a favorable showing. It helps that there was no surplus of unnecessary characters, which in a way contributed to the smooth flow of the storytelling.

Calculating Courtroom Judges  Nothing To Lose/Judge vs Judge

photocredit: SBS

The savvy wielders of courtroom decisions exhibited sophisticated portrayals to the equally refined narrative. Given how the story framework is derived from crime and politics related cases, the combination of veteran and young actors leverages the right blend of sentiments and thrill for the judges whose lives got entangled because of two wrong misrulings. Yeon Woo Jin and Dong Ha are both rendering reliable performances as a judge and prosecutor, respectively. The fictional lives they are playing gear up to defy their fathers in trying to protect the intuitive heroine who is on a quest to bring to light her dead brother’s innocence over a crime framed at him.

Hometown Friends Turned Lovers  Fight For My Way

Fight For My Way

photocredit: KBS

The introspective probe to the character sketches provide a connecting moment to the audience, who have experienced career and love failures while building on their life courses. The four friends, thriving on third-rate life circumstances, invoke a hindsight on how things we do not work on when we had the opportunity, will haunt us at some point in our lives. The individual characters have their own stories to tell. But it is their unique appeals when combined that yield a potent collaboration of laughter-fit scenarios and heart-fluttering moments. The estranged relationships with their families due to personal pride are limned and capped up, with a satisfying reconciliation that pictures acknowledgment of their failures.

Premiere Package Travelers – The Package

The Package

photocredit: jTBC

What you will love about The Package is how all the arguments and insensible actions of the characters make sense. The lines of the cast cut deep into your emotions, inadvertently sending you to a pensive moment of assessing those relatable moments pictured in their stories. The fleeting romance of the lead couple radiates a resonating message that you can love instantaneously, fall out of it and love more at the right time. The long-time couple give a lesson on how sometimes a long-time relationship goes in circle because you struggle finding the reasons why you have to break up. But the comfort and memories of spending time for a long time trumps the many reasons you want to break up.

An Array of Prosecutors and Detectives

2017 is a shower of legal and crime dramas. So if you want interactive lessons about South Korea’s justice system, you just have to trace the detective and prosecutor stories this year. From gathering of evidence, investigation process and final ruling, we got it all this year. *chuckles

Park Jung Woo (Ji Sung)  Defendant

Ji Sung notches a solid performance as a prosecutor turned defendant who is framed by a psycho rich man. With his battered memory, he painstakingly carves the path to overturn the injustice he suffered. The staunch intensity delivered by Jung Woo in his outwitting game with the evil fiend aided to the series’ strong rating.

Ma Yi Deum (Jung Ryu Won)  Witch’s Court

The cheeky prosecutor is the life of Witch’s Court party. She provides the smarts, attitude and direction to the narrative. She delightfully entertains while keeping her grit. Since she is the central character of the chronicle, those frustrating battles she overcomes serve as magical pills that wash out some inconsistencies and pointless exposures of the villain. She is one of the most memorable characters who has graced K-dramaland this year.

photocredit: SBS & KBS

Kim Sung Ryung (Nam Goong Min)  Chief Kim

The cunning prosecutor turned caring corporate manager propelled one of the most engaging underdog stories in K-dramaland for 2017. Nam Goong Min cemented his astute flexibility on whatever role he was tasked to tackle by playing an engrossing character who knows how to turn disadvantages to strength.

Moo Jin Hyuk (Jang Hyuk)  Voice

With Jang Hyuk’s tenacious detective portrayal, I guarantee that you will be left on the edge of your seat every time. And you will feel elated about the police tasks they unlocked as a team. Jin Hyuk is consistently on a smart mode in not taking a chance to rest the grit and vigor of his character role in story-building.

Han Yeo Jin (Bae Doo Na)  Stranger/Secret Forest

Bae Doo Na’s complements the stoic hero of Stranger with her spirited demeanor.  Through her stellar acting calibre she effortlessly created a provocative character supporting the tautly executed narrative.


photocredit: tvN

Notable Villains

Atuned to the dominating legal and crime drama trend, the mean guys who made it hard for K-drama heroes this year are mostly psychopaths. We still got a taste of invincible grandpa villains with limitless wickedness. Nevertheless, it is definitely a psycho parade for 2017.

Cha Min Ho (Eom Ki Joon)  Defendant

Tried and tested, Eom Ki Joon knows the right string to pull for all the heroes he mentally tortured as a fictional villain character. His shifting from evil to good face in keeping his charade is impeccably done. This is due to his keen understanding of the complexity of his role. His heartless death toll list and outwitting battle with the hero are enough reasons to acknowledge his work as an antagonist.

King Yeongsangun (Lee Dong Gun)  Queen For Seven Days

Wow is an understatement on how Lee Dong Gun added colors to his temperamental character as King Yeongsan. His conflicted image of an evil king is completely sketched, so that viewers can sympathize with his insecurities and irrational behavior. It’s all due to the agonizing life he had from the trauma he suffered because of his parents. His swerving to a villain role showed a facet of his acting arsenal that we thought he was not capable of. I enjoyed immensely his rendition of a vile and misunderstanding king. This is why I want him not to take easy projects in the future.

photocredit: KBS & SBS

Mo Tae Goo (Kim Jae Wook) – Voice

The insanely rich maniac’s iniquities are overlooked because of his father’s powerful protection. He mercilessly took the lives of the lead characters’ loved ones. The villain’s inventive and perturbing display of abominable crimes is to be applauded because it places the momentum of the story in equilibrium. The cold verbal spats he exchanged with the hero are defining moments as they both have dauntless attitude.

Baek Jung Ki (Jo Sung Ha) – Save Me

The drama displays the pious followers reeled to a ludicrous belief by the cunning spiritual leader of a devout group. It will make you wonder as a viewer on how people buy the absurd idea of abandoning their lives through salvation pep talks. The crazy maniac villain will give you a lot of wincing moments for his two-faced attitude.

photocredit: KBS & SBS

Jung Hyun Soo (Dong Ha)  Suspicious Partner

Jung Hyun Soo presents the remorseless type of villain. He justifies his evil doings on the basis that he kills wicked people only. His vindictive nature and clever mind tests Prosecutor No’s resilience in defeating his purpose. I wince at his combined ego and atrocity. However, his screen presence supplies the needed help in breaking those times when the narrative is feeble.

Cho Gap Soo (Jun Kwang Ryul) – Witch’s Court

The ever wicked and indestructible Cho Gap Soo is a strength and weakness for Witch’s Court. Without his senseless iniquities the story can’t sail. However, the overload of those evil doings have tendencies to exhaust the audience.  Nevertheless his textbook villain position yielded one of the most annoying baddie for 2017.

photocredit: SBS & KBS

Standout Scene Stealers & Supporting Characters

Do Ji Han  The Poet Warrior Youth

True that Hwarang boys are all memorable even with its disappointing story. Sorry to say this but the hero depiction is not as memorable as how Do Ji Han  powered his villain-turned-hero character as Ban Ryu. His romantic line is even more appealing than the main love line. This is credited to how he changed his stuck up attitude to a rational young man who can take responsibility for his own actions.

photocredit: KBS

Woo Do Hwan – Save Me and Mad Dog

Unintentionally overshadowing Taecyeon in Save Me, Woo Do Hwan’s genius role depictions is proven true with his follow up hit in fraud insurance crime drama Mad Dog.  The promising actor is ready for a lead man role, period.

photocredit: OCN & KBS

Park Sung Woong – Man To Man

Top star oppa hilariously provided the zest and spirit of spy comedy Man To Man.  Thanks to his extensive acting maturity he is able to channel a perfect supporting role. It harmonized well with the hero creating a bromance picture worth being happy for.

Esom – Because This Is My First Life

Film actress Esom convincingly nailed the role of a modern woman who is not afraid to be alone. Her cynical love views seemed rational coming from her sensible explanations. She embodies girl power and she means business in chasing her dreams.

photocredit: tvN

Key – Lookout

SHINee’s Key outshines the scene-stealing presence of Kim Seul Gi. By playing the resident hacker and jack-of-all-trade for Team Lookout, he scored a view of some untapped talents. When given time to work on it, he can find a secure niche as a character actor.

photocredit: MBC

Kim Won Hae – Black, While You Were Sleeping, Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, Chief Kim and more

Arguably the busiest man in 2017 K-dramaland, Kim Won Hae jumped from one drama to another all throughout the end of the year. The seasoned actor scraped a few meaningful roles as office manager and detective in famous dramas he starred in. Most of those dramas rated well. For that he deserves to be acknowledged.

Let’s make a round of applause for the amazing characters of 2017 Korean Dramas. They accomplished a job well done this year!

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