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November 23, 2007 8:50 PM   Subscribe

What Korean TV shows to get for my mother for the holidays?

I have been thinking of getting my mother some DVDs for the holidays... unfortunately, what she likes (Korean TV) is not something I have ever watched with any interest.
Since she is about 1000 mi away, I can't just peek at her current collection, or her pull list at the local market.
So I ask the hive mind - what do you think my mother would like (if it helps, she's just 50 (though you wouldn't know it), and not the doting older stereotype asian woman.. she's still actively dating younger men :-)
posted by niteHawk to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How about movies on DVD? I'd recommend the trilogy Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Old Boy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, three exceptionally well crafted films.
posted by Neiltupper at 9:01 PM on November 23, 2007

Top 50 Korean TV series at YesAsia.
posted by kcm at 9:02 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

The one all the older Japanese ladies go crazy for is Winter Sonata (fuyu no sonata in Japanese).

Trust me if she has not seen this she WILL go wild for it. It's guaranteed. But I suspect she probably has seen it.

My Japanese mother in law has the dvds and rewatches them regularly.
posted by gomichild at 9:15 PM on November 23, 2007

The one all the older Japanese ladies go crazy for is Winter Sonata (fuyu no sonata in Japanese).

I don't know, gomichild...My mother-in-law (Japanese) also loved the series and sent it to my wife here in Canada. However, we asked some Korean friends what they thought about it, and they (they're thirty-ish) thought it was pretty silly. Just saying.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:12 PM on November 23, 2007

Short answer:
- My Name is Kim Sam Soon (aka: My Lovely Sam Soon)
- Ask at a forum that is specifically devoted towards asian dramas, d-addicts, crunchyroll, keep in mind these forums are mostly populated by teenagers and 20 somethings, so you might phrase it asking what their mothers enjoy

Long Answer:
I'm in my mid/late 20s, speak no Korean, need english subtitles and have no understanding of Korean culture aside from dating a Korean girl for a couple of years and from the korean drama and movie kick I went on this past summer. So take my recommendations with a grain of salt. (Wait, is your mother Korean? Speak Korean? Live in Korea? Need English Subtitles? Do you know if she has any favourite actors? Favourite Genres? the 2 main types of korean dramas seem to be comedic romances and serious romances) Are you looking for dramas she might already have seen but might enjoy owning / rewatching? Or are you looking to get her brand new material she's never seen before? I might vary my recommendation(s) with further input.

The dramas I've watched (mostly through streaming):
Autumn Tale, Full House, My Name is Kim Sam Soon (aka My Lovely Sam Soon), Coffee Prince, I'm Sorry I Love You, My Girl, Goong, Goong S, Witch Yoo Hee, Wonderful Life, Delightful Girl Choon Hyang, Love Story in Harvard.

That list is sort of organized from better to worse, I wouldn't get her anything following Goong S. A lot of Korean dramas & movies seem to have a focus where one of the main characters develops a terminal illness, so often times dramas where this doesn't occur feel fresh and new. I normally tried to watch only the most popular dramas as I figured they'd be better than average. Most of the forums where users input their favourites are populated by younger, technologically adept teenagers, which skews things towards the younger. Maybe check out:, most of my links went to their wiki, search whatever dramas you might be interested. Often times the wiki will show which percentage of korea watched the drama when it was first aired (good gauge for popularity). Don't go by the short descriptions of the dramas, they're mostly 4-5 lines that really don't describe the 16 hour drama series very well (I've watched dramas based on interesting descriptions - not a good result; and I've resisted watching dramas based on uninteresting descriptions but finally caved due the apparent popularity - good results). IMDB ratings aren't the most reliable either for korean dramas. So yeah, look into how popular the dramas are and how well they've done.

The only brand new (aired since spring of 2007) Korean drama I watched was Coffee Prince. It was okay, I'd say only pick that one if you're looking for something fairly recent that she probably hasn't seen that is slightly untypical (no terminal illnesses and limited amount of love triangles & quadrangles).

Full House came out awhile ago and was super popular (so your mother might / probably has already watched it). No terminal illnesses which is nice, light, comedic, typical love quadrangle. I believe the 2 main leads are mega superstars as well.

My Name is Kim Sam Soon / My Lovely Sam Soon. From your limited information I'd say go with this pick. No terminal illnesses (which is good), plus the storyline involves an older women (mid 30s) relationship/romance with a younger man (mid 20s), so maybe your mother can relate. Fairly light-hearted and comedic romance, more of the typical love triangle than love quadrangle if I remember correctly. This again was supremely popular (about 40% viewership when aired the summer of 2005 according to the d-addict wiki).

I've kept a fairly organized record of where I've found everything (streaming / downloads, etc.) so if you'd like links to watch an episode for a bit of a preview you can mefiemail me. Hell, I think if I ever do get around to making my first metafilter post it'd be about different asian dramas & movies and where they can be easily viewed.

Japanese dramas have a bit of a different feel than korean ones, but let me know if you'd like recommendations in that area. Or recommendations in the movie department (korean & japanese).

On preview, the vengeance movie trilogy (while great) at least to me doesn't feel anything at all like the korean dramas your mother enjoys (most often romantic tear jerkers causing you to bawl your eyes out). Haven't watched Winter Sonata, but it's sort of related (same director, the 2nd of of the 4 semi-related seasons, Endless Love) to Autumn Tale (aka Autumn in My Heart, Autumn Story, Endless Love).

In researching things to watch I've heard good things about "Jumong" (The Book of Three Han: The Chapter of Joo Mong) a historical drama. I never watched it as it's over 80 episodes (maybe that makes it a good dvd gift though). IMDB seems to rate it pretty low, but the wiki seems to rate viewer ship as 1st in the high 40%.

Hmmm, Wikipedia list of top Rated in 2005 & 2006 from 2006 I've mentioned #1, #7 (Goong = Princess Hours), #9, and from 2005 #1 (MNIKSS), #9. Never looked into a lot of these. Some seem to be ridiculously long compared to the typical 16 1 hour episodes I'm used to. Something to consider I suppose, whether you want to get your mother a 16 episode show lasting longer (167 episodes???).
posted by curbstop at 11:30 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

Meh, if Winter Sonata was anything like Autumn Tale then it probably was pretty silly. As near as I can tell most (all?) korean dramas are pretty formulaic, overly melodramatic, going for tear jerking, predictable, hinge on characters majorly misunderstanding each other, involve love triangles, love quadrangles, secret terminal illnesses, secret unprofessed loves that are carried for 10+ years, etc. I would not classify it as quality writing. Much more similar (though I've never watched them) to an american soap opera (except focused in on 2 main characters and maybe 6-8 smaller supporting characters). I'm assuming this is what your mother likes though, it is a nice change of pace.

(meh, I never post, but when I do always so fricking long)
posted by curbstop at 11:47 PM on November 23, 2007

What sort of shows does she like ... melodramatic tearjerkers or funny romantic dramas? I can help you with the latter:

- Dal Ja's Spring: late 20's/early 30's single office worker finds romance (with younger lad)
- Coffee Prince: funny, sweet, well-done drama/romance. the main girl acts like a boy, people assume she's a boy, hijinks ensue
- My Name is Kim Sam Soon: if she's a Korean drama fan, she's probably seen this already. Usually compared to Bridget Jones since the main character is a larger single lady.

I wouldn't get: Full House, Goong, or Witch Yoo Hee. They're pretty fluffy in comparison and targeted towards the younger crowd with idol stars.
posted by bumpybear at 12:42 AM on November 24, 2007

I highly recommend Dae Jang Geum. It's a historical drama that is beautifully made and I found it highly addictive (it's three volumes; 54 episodes). I loved it and my mother loved it. I think nice gift sets are available.
posted by violette at 5:41 AM on November 24, 2007

The're all silly, curbstop, but your list is excellent.

Coffee Prince made a huge stir here...I lived a block from the cafe & got a lot of traction with students as a result.

Love Story in Harvard was hilarious, too. Good stuff.

The historical dramas are probably the best -- Dae Jang Geum is my pick.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:57 AM on November 24, 2007

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