KOREAN CULTURE

BEST K-DRAMA OF 2022 || 1st Survey Activity for 2023

While almost seeing the end of the pandemic in the second half of 2022, our viewing habits are still at an all-time high being served with a barrage of beautiful K-drama series this year. And we’re not complaining at all!

What a fitting way to bid goodbye to Attorney Woo Young-Woo, Yoon Hyun Woo and Jin Do-jun, Queen Im Hwa Ryeong, Attorney Chun Ji Hoon, and more… than to look back and see the most popular series that has became part of our daily lives and has touched our hearts last year.

Few days before the end of 2022, we asked our readers who are fond of K-Dramas to rank their most favorite ones. Since our preferences may differ (and I must admit that I wasn’t able to watch all drama releases for the year), you may have a other set of favorites, as well – so please feel free to share it in the comment section and I would love to check it out, too.

Here are the results of our unofficial survey including our personal favorites.

TOP 10 BEST K-DRAMA OF 2022

With so many dramas that were released in 2022, I was able to come up with my Top 30 List based on different Korean magazine rankings and even other international media, social media popularity, and my personal preferences (where I was able to watch at least 26 out of 30 on the list).

There were more beautiful dramas in 2022 but I couldn’t extend the choices to more than 30 since it will be too confusing, so I inserted an “OTHERS” option in case the respondents want to include those who were not in the list (I think that’s fair enough).

In the mini-survey that we conducted, composed of mostly “K-DRAMA enthusiast” (who watched 6-14 dramas out of 30), they ticked the following as their Top 3 choices after adding all the scores for Top 1, Top 2 and Top 3 choices:

1. Extraordinary Attorney Woo (Netflix) starring Park Eun-bin; ‎Kang Tae-oh (June 29 – August 18, 2022)

2. Alchemy of Souls 1 (Netflix) starring Lee Jae Wook; Jung So Min; Hwang Min Hyun; Shin Seung Ho; Yoo Joon Sang (June 18 – August 28, 2022)

3. All of Us Are Dead (Netflix) (Park Ji-hu; Chan-Young Yoon; Yi-Hyun Cho; Park Solomon) – January 28

Accordingly, PREVIEW Magazine also released their Highest-Rating Korean Dramas of All Time (ON CABLE TV ONLY) which includes three drama releases in 2022:

  • The World of the Married (2020) Rating: 28.371%
  • Reborn Rich (2022) Rating: 24.936%
  • Sky Castle (2018) Rating: 23.779%
  • Crash Landing on You (2019) Rating: 21.683%
  • Reply 1988 (2015) Rating: 18.803%
  • Goblin (2016) Rating: 18.680%
  • Mr. Sunshine (2018) Rating: 18.129%
  • Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022) Rating: 17.534%
  • Mr. Queen (2020) Rating: 17.371%
  • Under the Queen’s Umbrella (2022) Rating: 16.852%

Note: The list has been updated to reflect each show’s highest rating episode as per Nielsen Korea as of December 19, 2022. It’s subject to change should a new drama rate higher in the future. It does not include shows from public channels (KBS, SBS, MBC) which naturally have more viewers.

I still don’t know the explanation why global hit dramas like SQUID GAME (2021) and ALL OF US ARE DEAD (2022) are not included in this report. But noting that 3 of the Top 10 Highest-Rating Korean Dramas of ALL-TIME are 2022 releases, speak volume on the ever developing quality of Korean drama, popularity across all segments, and even availability and accessibility on cable and streaming platforms.

Personally, I love stories that are not usual, will make me think, and has relevance in our daily lives. That’s why selecting the BEST out of the so many beautiful ones is a tough job to do. I wonder how many parameters award-giving bodies need to consider in order to come up with a very objective winner.

But if i have to choose, my Top Picks will be: 1- Under The Queen’s Umbrella (subjects are very relevant esp for parents then and now); 2- All Of Us Are Dead (Suspenseful and Thrilling); and 3- Our Blues (The weaving of different stories are amazing) with Juvenile Justice, and My Liberation Notes coming in close 4th and 5th respectively.

BEST ACTRESS IN A K-DRAMA ROLE FOR 2022

Our respondents overwhelmingly voted for Park Eun-bin in EXTRAORDINARY ATTORNEY WOO for her exceptional portrayal of a brilliant lawyer who tackles challenges in the courtroom and beyond as a newbie at a top law firm and a woman on the autism spectrum.

But I really would like to credit Kim Hye Soo for coming up with two amazing dramas this year: UNDER THE QUEEN’S UMBRELLA and JUVENILE JUSTICE. Both stories really have a strong messages which also showed her character’s strong facade with a soft heart inside (as a queen and as a dignified lawyer, respectively).

I don’t know if you will agree with me but sometimes, the most moving moments are coming from the supporting characters, even those with bit roles that are very impactful. We saw a lot of it in Juvenile Justice, in Our Blues, and more.

BEST ACTOR IN A K-DRAMA ROLE FOR 2022

Our respondents voted for Song Joong-Ki in the recently concluded REBORN RICH who played as a secretary of a family who runs a business empire and after being betrayed by the same people, died but was miraculously brought “back to life”, then woke up as the youngest member of the same conglomerate family with his past and future memories in tack.

While I am very critical with the acting style of popular K-Drama actresses, I am still very impressed with how the popular actors immortalize their screen characters. Their effortless acting are simply very powerful: Namkoong Min in ONE DOLLAR LAWYER, Lee Jong-suk in BIG MOUTH, Lee Joon-gi in AGAIN MY LIFE, and probably the youngest of them all – Nam Joo-Hyuk in TWENTY FIVE TWENTY ONE, and Yook Sung-Jae in THE GOLDEN SPOON.

But i also admire the less popular lead casts who were also amazing in their roles. First is Jung Woo in A MODEL FAMILY who was a financially troubled family man torn in a difficult situation of keeping the money he found accidentally from dead men belonging to a drug cartel. And we also have Kim Nam-gil in THROUGH THE DARKNESS, a criminal profiler who reads the minds of serial murderers and solve many cases yet remain under valued in his work that’s almost causing him his life.

Yet again, we have supporting casts and bit roles that are really very impressive and effective. The likes of Lee Sung-min, the rich grandfather in REBORN RICH, Lee Byung-hun who played a man with a one-sided crush and a difficult relationship with his mother in OUR BLUES, and more.

BEST ENSEMBLE CAST IN A K-DRAMA FOR 2022

Our respondents voted for the casts of ALCHEMY OF SOULS 1 including Lee Jae-wook, Jung So-min, Go Youn-jung, and Hwang Min-hyun.

However, I also personally like the star-studded line up of OUR BLUES which is an omnibus-style drama set in Jeju Island that tells the sweet, sour, and bitter life stories of a diverse array of characters whose roles and many story lines are beautifully spread in a lengthy yet mouthful 20-episode drama. Coming in close second and third for me are the casts of GREEN MOTHER’S CLUB whose conflicts and daily scenarios are always mind-boggling, and MY LIBERATION NOTES a beautiful (boring for some) slice-of-life drama that doesn’t rely on effects and music but on movements, stares, glares, and the story itself – its like reading a novel or watching a play.

Again, this READERS CHOICE SURVEY is in no way representative of the GENERAL K-DRAMA ranking. It was just a glimpse of our readers’ preference (which of course, is highly subjective).

I wasn’t able to finish the Season 1 of ALCHEMY OF SOUL (i probably stopped unintentionally at Episode 3). But this survey result got me curious so I might head back and revisit now that Season 2 is almost about to end. I have something to binge-watch again! What about you, which drama are your favorites and who are your Best Actress and Best Actors for 2022? Please leave your replies in the comment section and we will really appreciate it.

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