Another year has gone by in a flash and I seriously wonder why there are still people visiting this place even though it’s not being updated anymore.
Nevertheless, I actually wanted to do something like this last year, to carry on from 2009, but sort of forgot all about it. When I realized, it was already too late. It’s a few days into 2012 as I am doing this but at least it’s still recent.
Highlight of the year was going to watch the 2011 MAMA (Mnet Asian Music Awards) which was held in Singapore this year. Have to thank Liyana again for bailing me out the last minute and for that Bibigo voucher too.
Certain news dominated the headlines for weeks like KARA‘s break-up crisis, Daesung‘s accident, Lee Ji Ah and Seo Taiji‘s drama, and many more. But the most shocking one for me was the retirement announcement of Kang Ho Dong. A definite loss for the Korean variety world if he doesn’t come back.
This is my year’s recap and ONLY reflects what I have EXPERIENCED.
▲ Drama of the Year: The Princess’s Man
A kick-ass Romeo & Juliet story set in the utterly delightful background of Grand Prince Suyang‘s intelligent yet bloody usurpation to become Joseon king.
Park Shi Hoo and Moon Chae Won oozed chemistry on the screen while King Sejo was acted to perfection by Kim Young Chul. Together with the excellent instrumental music pieces and another OST masterclass by Baek Ji Young, there’s nothing to dislike or gripe about this flawless drama.
So near perfection was this drama to every little detail that I got the series in full HD and I really couldn’t settle for anything mediocre (dramas) for a few weeks in the aftermath of finishing my The Princess’s Man marathon session.
▲ Notable Drama Mentions: City Hunter, Secret Garden, Dream High, The Greatest Love
City Hunter provided the thrills, action and romance in one package, doesn’t help that Lee Min Ho, Park Min Young and Lee Jun Hyuk were lookers.
Many classic scenes of romance and laughter were seen in Secret Garden and parodied away from it. While many cast their eyes on Joo Won and Ra Im’s story, I was drawn more to Oska and Seul’s one instead.
Dream High offered a glimpse of high school drama of idols in the making and were pretty interesting for the most part. All the best for Season 2!
Another successful Hong Sisters production, The Greatest Love didn’t disappoint and delievered the usual stuff that was expected.
▲ Almost greatness drama but faded into mediocrity: Warrior Baek Dong Soo
With what they set out to do in the beginning, everything appeared rosy and primed for greatness I thought. But things suddenly nosedived in the middle with crappy storytelling and never picked up again right till the end.
A big shame.
▲ Breakout Actress: Park Ha Sun
First chanced upon her in Capital Scandal back in 2007. Have done bit-part roles since then but is finally getting a good extended run in Dong Yi last year and now High Kick 3 where she is showing her range from cute to serious stuff.
▲ Disappointment of the Year: Athena: Goddess of War
Simply awful which is incredible considering the amount of talented cast members on set which included the likes of Jung Woo Sung, Cha Seung Won, Soo Ae, Kim Min Jong, Lee Ji Ah, Choi Siwon and many more. Severely let down by a crappy storyline and weak action scenes. Disjointed and directionless throughout. Someone please return me the time wasted on watching this.
▲ Best Female Singers: IU, Baek Ji Young
The ‘IT Girl‘ who simply could do no wrong. IU followed up on her 2010 success with another good run of her latest hit song ‘You & I‘. As for Baek Ji Young, besides her own song ‘Usual‘, she cemented her ‘OST Queen‘ crown with successful theme songs for “The Greatest Love” and “The Princess’ Man” OST. Also congratulations to her relationship with Jung Suk Won.
▲ Best Female Group: 2NE1
Top-notch title songs in “Ugly” and “Lonely“, just like this.
▲ Most Improved Act: SECRET
From a bland debut in 2009, the girls finally found success in early 2011 with ‘Shy Boy‘ and maintained their presence for the rest of the year with decent follow-up songs in ‘Starlight Moonlight‘ and ‘Love is Move‘.
▲ Song of the Year: Going Crazy (Song Ji Eun feat. Bang Yong Guk)
An emotional ballad about stalkerish love, which saw a good blend of Ji Eun‘s vocals and Bang‘s rapping. Their ‘Music Bank‘ music video was an excellent effort on their part to replicate what the song was trying to convey.
▲ Best Dance Song: I Cheated (Park Myung Soo, G-Dragon, Park Bom)
A collaboration effort between G-Dragon and Park Myung Soo with a featuring by Park Bom for Infinity Challenge‘s “West Coast Highway Music Festival” special. A pretty hot clubbing song which dominated the charts for weeks.
▲ Notable Song: In Heaven (JYJ)
If you loved ‘Love in the Ice‘, you would also love this.
▲ Delight of the Year: Park Jung Hyun
It’s not that I didn’t know her, but her stint in “I Am A Singer” really led me to rediscovering her, which was the same for anyone else who watched the program. Her performances more often than not would blew me away and she also obtained the most #1s among those who participated in the program.
A big pity when she eventually graduated from the show with honors with yet another #1 for the below-mentioned performance.
▲ Breakout Variety Star: Gary
Since his variety debut on “Running Man“, Gary has grown by leaps and bounds with each passing episode. With his charisma, athletic ability (he can run in a straight line really fast), chemistry with Song Ji Hyo and his wit, he has become a variety gem in a short period of time despite being a relative rookie.
▲ Sports Idol: Krystal Jung (Kiss & Cry)
It wasn’t easy especially being an idol star with an extremely busy schedule, but Krystal managed to hang on and execute difficult routines with her partner, Lee Dong Hun week-in-week-out, before eventually ending up as the winners.
▲ Best Potential MC: Jun Hyun Moo
I find him to be particularly entertaining everytime he appears on the screen. Well-known for his parody of SHINee‘s “Lucifer” dance.
▲ Best Variety MC: Yoo Jae Suk
With the exception of Come To Play (because of the show’s format), I almost always watch every other program that he is in like Running Man, Happy Together 3 and Infinity Challenge. Never a dull moment with him around. Simply put, I hate to imagine a future without him around.
▲ Surprise Variety Program: I Am A Singer
Conceptualised as a survival variety program in MBC’s battle for Sunday’s prime-time evening variety belt. Having been found wanting for years, MBC seemingly struck gold in their new program as it captured viewers’ attention for being different. The earlier cast was particularly good and for me, Park Jung Hyun, YB, Kim Bum Soo, among others really stood out. But when the trio eventually departed the show in late August, my interest in the show waned.
▲ Notable Variety Programs: Infinity Challenge, 1N2D, Happy Together 3
Another strong year for Infinity Challenge where among the more prominent specials included the “Gangs of Seoul with Big Bang” (scissors, paper, stone), the tiring but rewarding “Rowing Challenge“, “West Coast Highway Song Festival” and the most recent “I Am a Singer in My Own Way“.
Nothing beats having the closely-knit group of Lee Soo Geun, Lee Seung Gi, Eun Ji Won, Kim Jong Min and Uhm Tae Woong going to great lengths to bring in the best natural sights of Korea weekly, whilst having to deal with Na PD. Really unfortunate that 1N2D is without Kang Ho Dong (but coping well in his absence) and will be ending sometime in February 2012.
Depending on guests, Happy Together 3 often provides much laughter.
▲ Best Variety Program: Running Man
Seeing how Jo Hyo Jin PD and Yoo Jae Suk mentioned how the program might have ended in the first few months of 2011 due to low ratings during the recent 2011 SBS Entertainment Awards, I am just glad that they just knuckled down and preservered, resulting in the show’s success in Korea and overseas.
The show has certainly evolved in every aspect since debuting in July 2010 and come a long way. With the mainstay of Yoo Jae Suk and Kim Jong Kook who simply have a great bond with each other, the successful evolution of HaHa into HaRoRo, the adaptable ‘I Swear‘ Ji Suk Jin, the blooming of the ‘Monday Couple‘ Gary and Song Ji Hyo and the tall ‘always bullied, but wants to be a spy‘ maknae, Lee Kwang Soo, they have definitely found their calling.
Finally, a round of applause for the production team for always surprising us with different games and concepts week in week out. Granted it’s not always full-proof success, most episodes are generally entertaining.
▲ Disappointing Variety Programs: We Got Married, Invincible Youth 2
I have no idea what they are trying to do these days seriously.
As for the latter, you can see the huge disparity in quality (village setting, cast, concept) if you have watched Season 1. Season 2 has a lot to improve on (if they are given the time) and I hope it does so without being too forced.
There have been an unlimited supply of reality talent shows in 2011 and there are no signs that it will stop going into 2012. I usually pass on watching talent shows but here are 2 performances which caught my eye in the past year.
Hope you enjoyed reading my selections of the year and all the best to everyone in 2012! The golden year of 2008 is long gone and is now just a wonderful memory. Just hoping that great music will be produced this year, quality over quantity, music over image/production.
Probably not, but one can hope.
* Kang Ho Dong, come back soon!!!