Category: Unnie Recaps

Unnie Recap: Best Kdrama Heroines of 2020

Can I start by saying that who would’ve thought we’d make it this far?😅 To say that 2020 is the toughest year in our lives is an understatement, but we’re finally here, a new year that hopefully is filled with better and brighter experiences for all of us. I’m so glad that despite this pandemic, kdramas continued to roll out keeping us entertained (and sane!) for the most part of last year. From an avid fan, thank you to all the hardworking actors/actresses and staff for making it possible.

Top 5 Heroines of 2020

1. Cha Yu-ri (Hi, Bye, Mama!)

Happily married with a baby on the way, Cha Yu-ri had a full life ahead of her. An accident takes her away from her family and friends but she lived on as a ghost for 5 years observing and staying by her daughter’s, Seo Woo, side. In a twist of fate, she suddenly becomes human again and has the chance to stay on Earth if she finds her place with her family. Easy enough right? Nope! Her husband, Gang-hwa, has remarried and Seo Woo of course doesn’t remember her at all. The plot may sound like a heavy tearjerker but the show has some comedic and lighter moments that balances the somber mood the story entails. Yu-ri doesn’t take for granted her second chance and spends her days bonding with Seo Woo and tending to the unhealed wounds of the loved ones she left behind with her untimely death.

A tale about forgiveness, moving on, and finding happiness once again, Hi, Bye, Mama! will teach us a lot about living our everyday to the fullest. Sharing with you the Hi, Bye, Mama! life lessons our lovely mama has imparted to me in her journey back to the realm of humans!

2. Woo Do Hee (Dinner Mate)

Who doesn’t love the B-rated comedy producer of 2N Box? Smart, fierce, and confident, Woo Do Hee was such a 21st century female lead that we can relate to and admire. Proving that third time’s the charm, she fell in love with her dinner mate turned boyfriend (Hae Kyung) at an unexpected but welcome moment in her life. She’s confident and can handle problems on her own, but she doesn’t always have it together and succumbs to the occasional breakdown due to life’s challenges. We lose our way sometimes but it’s important, like Do Hee, to get back up and deal with our personal problems head on. For a show that centers around having dinner together, I find that there are other kdramas that feature food more prominently as a theme. I did however, enjoy Dinnermate‘s own interpretation of how eating together can bring comfort to people.

Dinnermate kdrama was a fun one to watch to and I have to credit it to her and the leading man’s chemistry. It was a joy to fawn over Do Hee and Hae Kyung’s blossoming relationship as they started out as merely strangers turned dinner mates. There’s a special bonus in one of the episodes too where the actress briefly reprises her role as Seo Dan in Crash Landing on You, hehe!

3. Seo Dal Mi (Start-Up)

Considered to be one of the most popular kdramas in 2020, Start-up’s Seo Dal Mi takes a seat in my top heroines list as the self-taught and hardworking CEO of Cheongmyeong Company. Her journey towards success was riddled with challenges and setbacks, but she pushed through with the hopes of following in her dad’s footsteps and achieving her own goals. Even if she sometimes puts herself in a pickle by faking her confidence, she doesn’t give up and still find ways to rally back. This was a refreshing kdrama that focused on the beginnings of start-up businesses trying to catch a break in an arena of fierce competition and evolving technologies. A lot of technical terms were used in the show but were explained the best they can, the notable feature of a Google-like place called “Sandbox” serves to inspire us that anyone can fulfill their life dreams (with hard work of course) because chances to prove ourselves do exist.

The most talked about aspect of the show was the love triangle of Dal Mi, Nam Do San, and Mr. Han Ji Pyeong (#teamgoodboy) that divided fans on who to root for. Please do read my Start-Up kdrama introduction post on the show to know a bit more about the backstory. I read feedback that a lot of viewers didn’t like how the plot progressed in the latter half of the show and that a lot of people were rooting for Mr. Han (like me), but I honestly liked the korean drama until the end. Aside from her romantic choices, I really liked how they portrayed Dal Mi as a start-up newbie who read books, asked for a professional’s help, and really made the effort to learn the business that she was going into to become a legit boss💃🏻

4. Gu Ra Ra (Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol)

She is naive and innocent as they come, but Gu Ra Ra’s honest and happy-go-lucky personality wins over the hearts of strangers around her. I love how she isn’t afraid to apologize for a misunderstanding and sings you praises when she’s happy because you can feel the sincerity in her words. Even in tumultuous times, she still has a smile on her face and spreads a good energy around her that people naturally want to help her out. Despite the show starting with a tragedy prompting Ra Ra to start anew and move to Eunpo City, the good-natured people Ra Ra met there and finding true love with a cutesy love story made Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol kdrama an easygoing and fun show. The true tragedy this show had was its ending which I published a separate entry about because it peeved me that much, haha!

I know I criticized the show for this very thing that in reality, it’s too good to be true to helped out by a handsome guy (haha) regarding all your troubles but hey, this is a kdrama. Ra Ra has a pure heart and I can only hope to be as good as her in both the good and bad times of life🎶 I urge you to still try watching Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol kdrama though and get caught up with Ra Ra’s infectious melody of good vibes and no-worry way of life tunes.

5. Lim Ju Kyung (True Beauty)

This was tough for me to choose just because the last heroine, just like the previous year, starred in a kdrama that had only been airing a couple of weeks since it premiered in December. Simultaneous good shows premiered last month alone and I honestly liked each and every protagonist’s personality. This got me thinking to permanently reserve this last spot for December korean drama leading women to be fair because their shows only have a few weeks of exposure before the year ends.

Ultimately, I chose to go with Lim Ju Kyung from True Beauty kdrama as she sets out to find her self-confidence beyond the confines of her brush and mascara. It’s a classic tale of ugly ducking turns into a swan but in this case, the duck is only wearing a swan costume to disguise the fact that she’s still a duck, haha! High school student Ju Kyung was bullied in her previous school for being “ugly” and she turns to make-up for help. When she transfers to a new school, she ends up having to hide her real identity more as she gains the attention of new friends and 2 leading men vying for her affection. I honestly think the show downplays the mental health effects bullying can have on a person, but it still has a lot of episodes left to showcase how one can heal and move forward from such a traumatic experience.

True Beauty kdrama is a coming-of-age story where Ju Kyung will learn that her real beauty lies within and she shouldn’t be ashamed or have to cover up how she truly looks to anyone. I have no qualms of her using make-up to boost her confidence, but I hope she breaks free of the stigma that she needs to be dolled up to be accepted by her peers. My second lead syndrome heart is beating strong here too as I hope she ends up with Seo Jun, hihi!


I’d like to think that all kdramas exist in a multiverse not so far away, where every character from each show is living their lives, well and happy, beyond the final episode. As always, I’m excited for the new shows that’ll premiere this year and will look forward to meeting more characters that’ll leave a mark in my heart💕

Unnie Recap: Ending on a High but Squeaky Note (Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol’s Finale Explained)

How can something start so strong and then suddenly swerve into a mediocre, weird conclusion? If you watched the ending of Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol korean drama, I’m sure you had your frustrations as well with what transpired in the last 2 episodes. I had such a good feeling watching the show as the mood was always easygoing with Ra Ra’s bright and optimistic personality dazzling our screens. With an equally cheerful and supportive cast of friends in Eunpo, there was no shortage of good vibes with this korean drama.

There was no real villain or conflict except for the stalker angle, but that I understood was meant to further the storyline. Even the misdirect that Mr. Moon, Rara’s father’s secretary, was made to look like he could have been involved with their family business going under but it turned out to be a false presumption. The ending was a happy one, but the way they went about it was just unnecessary. If you’d rather not judge and try watching yourself, please read my Do Do Sol Sol La Sol korean drama first impressions post. I still love the show, but I’ll probably just remember the good moments that happened before the last episodes😅

*Spoilers below and rants ahead*

Out of Tune Finish

In exchange for buying the building so La La Land Piano Academy and Jin’s Salon can stay, Jun was urged by his mom to pursue medicine for his studies. It seemed like a long distance relationship was in the works to separate our couple but lo and behold, a sudden twist of fate makes LDR not even the slightest threat at all. Turns out Jun has leukemia and needs to be treated right away in the United States. I mean, WHAAATT?? I was perfectly contented with this show not having a serious conflict and then you add this last minute sickness trope?😒 Come on! Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol kdrama didn’t need this, the show was doing well being lighthearted and didn’t bank upon drama to make you watch it.

I also didn’t like the part where Jun told Ra Ra that he’ll be busy studying for college and that he might just settle down in the US, yet they apparently talked everyday on the phone while he was there getting treatment (Unbeknownst to Ra Ra of course). His character was always kind and considerate towards Ra Ra so for him to utter those words to her, even if it was to discourage her from him because he was sick, it just didn’t make sense!🤷‍♀️ Ra Ra didn’t even have time to process that Jun was being mean to her as she just humbly accepted the fact that he was going away and that they may or may not be continuing their relationship. Jun would never be that selfish and it’s disappointing that his sudden leukemia, which never manifested even in small hints throughout the show, tainted his character a bit.

The last episode breaks the news that Jun had presumably passed away because he couldn’t go back to South Korea after promising Ra Ra that he would visit for the holidays. His mom broke the news to her, adorned in all black, with grief painted all over her face. Jun’s death would have been a colossal waste of his character but… I would have been okay with it. Perhaps the writer wanted to convey that unexpected events happen, no matter how unfortunate, one can still recover and move forward with their life.

BUT 5 years later, after Ra Ra pieced her life back together and is living well in Eunpo with her friends, Jun comes back in the last few minutes of the last episode ALIVE! WHAAATTT?!🤦🏻‍♀️ At first I thought it was just her imagination, but he proves to be real as they talk and he kisses her. He explains that he wanted to be fully recovered before going to see her again. So for five years, you cut communication with the woman you love because you weren’t sure if you were going to make it, and then just randomly show up in her life one day? What if Ra Ra found someone new and actually settled down by then? The ending seemed rushed and just put together awkwardly that it makes me feel bad because the show was already great without this last minute twist.

I’m happy that Jun is alive after all but his sickness angle just felt forced, it was like they added that just to spice up the story. His mom was devastated when she talked to Ra Ra at the time, was that just a preemptive mourning then? If you wanted to make the story more “interesting”, stick with the shock factor and let Jun rest in peace. Don’t do a misdirect and have him show up, a miracle of life, when you left everyone thinking that you already died just to have a “happy ending”.

A Melody Unexplored

If I was given the chance to rewrite the last 2 episodes, I would scrap Jun having leukemia (Of course!) but have him still study for college abroad. He and Ra Ra would spend every waking moment they have left together, along with their friends at Eunpo before he left for the States. Ra Ra makes a cute face and nags at Jun to contact her immediately when his plane lands. He gives a grin and scoffs, reassuring her that she’ll be the 1st person he calls. They both smile intently at each other before the camera pans out and a bright light fades them both into the background.

Five years later…

A wedding is taking place. The TWD women are dressed up and talking about how lovely the bride looks. Ha Young boasts that she made the bride looked stunning and excitedly tells Seung Gi to not mess up the live vlog like he did last time. He replies with a stern “Yeah” and is all giddy with how beautiful the church looks. Music plays from a piano and the church doors open to reveal a bride awaiting her cue to walk down the aisle.

The bride’s back is seen walking towards the groom. Everyone is all smiles as the groom’s back is shown, a silhouette of a white gown inching closer to the altar. A vision of Ra Ra’s face is seen looking teary-eyed yet content, excited for what’s to come. The groom, with his back still facing the camera, slowly lifts up the bride’s veil and it is revealed to be Ms. Jin!😆 It turns out that she and Chu Min Su are getting married, haha! Friends and family gather for the dinner reception as Ra Ra plays the piano to serenade the ongoing merriment.

A silhouette of a man will be seen walking towards Ra Ra as she plays a song. With his face hidden behind a bouquet of flowers, Ra Ra’s heart beats faster as Jun reveals himself to her. Her eyes go wide in shock and doesn’t say anything until they are left alone to talk outside. Before a conversation begins between them, a quick flashback montage and voiceover of both Jun & Ra Ra will reveal what happened to them the last few years. Simply put, he had fun being in college: Studying hard, meeting new people, and genuinely enjoying being a young adult embarking on a new adventure. Eventually, he and Ra Ra would lose touch as she also got busier running her piano academy and becoming more independent without Jun by her side. They tried to make it work but the time apart just led them to separate.

Jun confesses that he wanted to make something of himself before he met her again. He apologizes to her and Ra Ra will accept him because she understands that Jun was growing up and needed to be on his own. After everything that he’s done for her, she doesn’t have any ill feeling towards him and she embraces him tight. They seal their reunion with a kiss and plan their future together.

***

My Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol korean drama ending seems cliché, I know, since a lot of korean dramas already do the time gap then meeting again in the future plot. But it’s realistic and appropriate for this instance since Jun was still just a high school senior and had plenty of untapped opportunities for him to explore. I imagined Ra Ra picking up the pieces of her life without her dad and then Jun, but finds solace that if ever she stumbled, she had a piano academy to tend to and a home to go back to. No matter what you thought on how the show should’ve wrapped up, I know that we all just hoped for a happy ending for everyone!🎵

Unnie Recap: Start-Up kdrama’s Love Triangle Woes (Team Do San or Team Ji Pyeong?)

When was the last time you felt a serious crush on the 2nd lead and wished that he/she ended up with the hero/heroine? Once in awhile, kdramas like that sprout up out of nowhere and it hits you hard because you wish a different outcome for the show. If you’ve been tuning into Start-Up korean drama, I know some part of you has been pining for 2nd lead, Han Ji Pyeong, to get the girl of his childhood, Seo Dal Mi😊

Kdramas don’t have a good track record of true love triangles though, meaning that there’s no real conflict for the protagonist when it comes to choosing who between the 2 men/women they want to be with. The actors/actresses’ roles and TV posters alone will tell you who the main couple is and who is the odd man/woman out. I wish that this show will break the mold but I’m not too hopeful about it, haha!😜 Read about my Start-Up kdrama recommendation post if you haven’t started watching yet.

Quickstart Summary

What’s at play is the classic love triangle with a case of identity mix-up. The lead female character, Seo Dal Mi, had a childhood pen pal name Nam Do San who comforted her at a time in her life when she needed a friend. Unbeknownst to her knowledge, this pen pal was set-up by her grandmother who asked a kid whom she took in (because he was an orphan) to write and reply to the letters. They used the name Nam Do San because they saw his name in the newspaper as a genius kid who won a prestigious math competition.

Fast forward to their adult years, the orphan kid, Han Ji Pyeong (#teamgoodboy), has grown successful and is known to be a harsh yet fair venture capitalist. He meets Dal Mi’s grandmother again and the latter asks him to find the real Nam Do San as Dal Mi is intent on meeting him now. Turns out that the real Nam Do San is a struggling developer (but has no girlfriend & is handsome, haha!) who Ji Pyeong is able to contact and convinces to meet Dal Mi. After a series of events, both men find themselves falling for Dal Mi with the latter having no idea that Ji Pyeong is her real pen pal and thinks that Do San is her childhood & now turned adult love.

Compatibility Rates

The last time I came down with second lead syndrome was for Baek Kyung in Extraordinary You, hee. I didn’t expect that I would feel this way, I think it’s because the way the story was crafted where Ji Pyeong was the original childhood penpal of Dal Mi. I just feel like she deserves to get to know the actual guy who wrote her the letters because it gave her a great deal of comfort as a kid and carried on to the present. Even if it stemmed from a fake identity, Ji Pyeong’s replies were honest to what he felt at the time. Having no family & friends himself, I know that the letters brought him a lot of comfort too🤗

When it comes to the sincerity of both men’s feelings, there’s no doubt that they have Dal Mi’s best interests in mind, they just express it in a different manner. While Do San is supportive and nurturing towards her, Ji Pyeong isn’t afraid to be blunt as he guides her on a realistic perspective in starting a business. I don’t think Dal Mi would have treated Do San the way she does if she knew their secret. Granted, she’d also feel awkward around Ji Pyeong knowing that he wrote the letters as a request from her grandmother because she had no friends before. But at least this way, perhaps both men will be on equal footing when it comes to courting Dal Mi’s heart.

Episodes 7 and 8 give us a tiny, data of hope that maybe Dal Mi can still learn to like Ji Pyeong. As her grandmother asked her who between the 2 versions of Do San (The one from the letters or the real, adult Nam Do San) she prefers, she answered that she’d choose the childhood one. She does get excited about the adult Do San version even if she is still getting used to him. Having spent more time together, Dal Mi and Do San have a deeper connection currently and I know that even if she discovers the truth, the relationship that they’ve built won’t just go away. Also, Do San is not in denial of his feelings for her unlike Ji Pyeong.

Dal Mi’s current state of feelings for Ji Pyeong are platonic because she sees him as her mentor and friend. Would she look at him differently if she finds out the truth? I’m sure she’d feel confused & betrayed ar first and this is where Ji Pyeong ought to step up and show her that what he wrote weren’t lies. He has to show her that he is an option and I hope that he admits his true feelings for her in the coming Start-Up kdrama episodes!

An Uncertain but Promising Future

For now, I’m leaning towards #teamJiPyeong #teamgoodboy even if I also like Nam Do San a lot too. Would Dal Mi pay more attention to Ji Pyeong if she knew early on that he was the Do San behind the letters? I’d say it’s still 50/50 honestly. Tha fallout from knowing the truth won’t be pretty but if it gets Dal Mi to look at Ji Pyeong differently, in a good way after she forgives the guys & her grandma of course, a love triangle dilemma is finally established! I only wish for Dal Mi to at least struggle a little bit on her feelings and consider Ji Pyeong romantically too. I’d be okay with her ending up with Do San, but I’d like to see the other guy in this case, win the leading female’s affections❤️