I seriously need to write a list of unpopular Kdramas for 2020. I keep discovering new gems that I should have watched last year. 

Team Bulldog Off-Duty Investigation


Team Bulldog Korean Drama

Team Bulldog: Off-Duty Investigation
This is a 12-episode short series starring Cha Tae Hyun and Lee Sun Bin as the main characters alongside multiple first-rate supporting actors. I especially loved Jung Sang-hoon in here. I always saw him in comedic roles and he was fun to watch but I wanted to see him in a serious role once. 

Team Bulldog Off-Duty Investigation Review

Team Bulldog is a mystery drama with quirky characters, fun investigations, disgusting murderers, and interesting reporters. You get the whole package in just 12 episodes in this drama. A group of misfits try to solve mysteries that the police themselves cannot solve. With one member a real detective, they are not a totally illegitimate group; therefore, they have access to crime scenes and police resources when needed. The group itself includes a former forensic pathologist, a former profiler/detective, a former gangster and a reporter, such a great variety!!!

Anyway, the cases that the team handles are mostly murder and violent cases. Although there are no rape cases or anything similar, the cases themselves are very violent. Seeing the previous description of the story, you might think it is a light mystery story; however, don't forget this is still an OCN drama. I made a mistake when I read the synopsis, then with the first murder case, I saw how realistic they filmed the murder and realised what I started. ^_^

Anyway, this serious mainly discusses the following cases *Spoilers Ahead*:

1. The Case With The Twin 
2. The Case With The Runaway Serial Murderer 
3. The Case With The Gang History 
4. The Case With The Homeless Kids
5. The Case With The 10 Years Old Murder
6. The Case With the Closed Rooms
7. The Manhole Case

The previous names are not the original names of the episodes, I simply wanted to give new names to each case. Regardless, except the twin case, most cases relate to each other in a way that is very surprising, The serial murderer case was fabricated to give a political figure power and help gang members rise in society. The homeless kids started with the manhole case. Finally, the 10 years old murder was witnessed by the closed rooms murderer. The writer sure knew how to make a smooth transition from one case to another. 

Memorable Scenes

This drama had too many memorable scenes that I can't count; however, if I have to choose two scenes stand out to me. 
  • The first scene is the one where the forensics doctor frantically searches for his daughter. I didn't know Jung Sang-hoon could act so well as the father of a teenager. It is such a perfect scene!!!
  • The second scene is the scene where the old couple's true colour is finally seen. The elder couple where such good actors that I was mesmerized. 
Finally, it is time to move to the overall rating. It is 9/10 for me for this drama. I would love to get the chance to see a second season for this. 


Love Me If You Dare Chinese Drama

Been a while since my last Chinese drama review, Love Me If You Dare is a Chinese mystery drama starring Wang Kai, Wallace Huo, and Ma Sichun. The first thing I noticed about the actors is the uncanny resemblance between Ma Sichun and Kim Hyun-Joo, the famous Korean actress. Just to show you, here they are together. 


Kim Hyun Joo


Ma Sichun


Who is who? I will let you guess!!

What is the Story of Love Me If you Dare Chinese Drama?


Now to move along, I started this show based on a Twitter recommendation, and it was indeed well-recommended. The show discusses the life of a genius profiler and crime psychology professor who is able to deduct and find the most dangerous criminals ever; he even collaborated with the FBI, CIA and so on. Said genius starts to solve a series of crimes with the help of an assistant he somehow got interested in. All the crimes led him to the identity of his mortal enemy of sorts, a smart stalker like no other. This is a drama that combines thriller, mystery, action and romance together.  

Where to Watch This Drama?

Viki is the ideal place to watch this drama as the episodes are all available subbed in more than 30 languages.

Love Me If You Dare Chinese Drama Review

Cons of the Drama

Storyline

The first half of the drama was brilliantly written with a gutsy female lead who is shown as smart, slightly outspoken and way more social than the male lead. She literally completes the male lead! The same female lead thought changes into a background character half-way through the drama once the focus shift more and more towards the big evil guy.  The outspoken part of her character disappears halfway through the drama, which was a serious turn off for me. Additionally, the writer went overboard with the concept of the big evil guy. Having one henchman for the Flower Cannibal Murderer is enough but having 3 is really irritating and not the best way to end a series that started really well. Honestly, I would have loved it if they'd stopped at 16 episodes for this one. 

Dubbing and Acting Issue

This is my second time witnessing this issue after Best Lover drama, although this time it is not a Netflix mistake. In fact, I was very happy when I noticed this was one of the few Chinese dramas not dubbed like many others, which means the actors and their actions were not overacted by an irritating high-pitch voice. However, I believe the drama took the no dubbing rule way too far with this one, especially when they decided that it is ok to move the drama over to the US and have the cast speak both Mandarin and English at the same time and understand each other perfectly. 

 I have to admit when it first happened over a video call, I simply thought Jian Yao and the FBI agent understand each other because they worked together and she understands Chinese. However, when suddenly even the doctor in the hospital responded in English in the middle of a Chinese conversation, I simply wanted to shut his mouth. 

Another major let down was the English cast as well. If you intend to give them a huge role, make sure they can act, the female FBI agent was just super flirty most of the time even during situations where her tone should be threatening, I was literally rolling my eyes. 

Pros of the Drama

I feel like I have talked too much about the cons of the drama and ignored the pros, which are also a lot.

1. Direction

The drama handles very heavy issues like murder, torture and suicide, so it is not easy to watch; however, it was brilliantly directed to only show the minimum of these harmful scenes to complete the story. While you get a look at an explosion once or twice, you don't get a detailed look at the corpse, torture scenes are also filmed from an angle that does not show much bleeding at least at first. The second half of the drama did take a drastic change in terms of direction as the story got more and more violent, so the director had to show more than just simple scenes. Still, overall, it was not as heavy as it could have been if filmed another way. 

2. Acting and Storyline

The Chinese cast acted brilliantly; therefore, the first half of the drama when it was just them is really enjoyable, and you get a rather quirky feel thanks to Andry, the AI car. Moreover, the storyline, in the beginning, was solid. The chemistry between the actors was very obvious, and the way they solved mysteries was fun, 

Finally, the handsome main lead and pretty actress add to the charm of the drama if you are looking for a manga-like drama. The drama sure has that feeling of Kindaichi Jikenbo, Conan or well mystery mangas in general. 









Korean dramas in 2020 were really top-notch. Despite finishing my fair share of dramas, I am still discovering new gems till now in January. Hot Stove League is one of the dramas I didn't think I would like because I literally know nothing about Baseball. In fact, I am "sports illiterate" in general. However, this is one show that could count as educational, entertaining, and even non-romantic.


Hot Stove League

Hot Stove League


Still, before starting the drama, it is better if you are not familiar with the rules of baseball to at least read an article before the beginning of this drama. It is not a drama about a high school team, therefore, you won't start the drama with an introduction to the rules of the game. In fact, one of the first meetings in the show included terminologies like WAR (Wins Above Replacements), batting average, etc. Therefore, I recommend you read the following articles before you start. 


The drama has scenes and terminologies that might not be understandable even after reading these articles so keep that in mind. Still, minimal knowledge is better than nothing at all.

Drama Synopsis

Hot Stove League Starring Nam Gong Min is a drama about a last-place baseball team struggling to keep things intact. The team gets a new general manager who decides to restructure everything from the ground up again. He analyses all the weak points of the team and slowly but surely changes things for a better tomorrow.

Actors and Cast 

This drama has one of the best casts I ever saw in one drama together. Starting Nam Gong Min to Park Eun Bin, the cast of this drama is very diverse and it is obvious the director paid attention to his choices for even the smallest characters.

For a sports drama to succeed, you need actors that are able to show all aspects of their characters in one single episode, and that is shown easily in this drama. All players and their struggles can be seen through one episode and sometimes only a couple of scenes in an episode. Players like "Lim Dong Gyu" played by Jo Han-sun were fully explored in one episode or two and they left an impact that was big enough to remember them once they appeared again in the series. 

Writing

The writing of this drama is really one of its strong points, however, it is also one of its weak points. While the writer obviously did a lot of research in terms of baseball terminologies, team management, player trades, baseball rules, and even promotions, the writer focused so much on these things that he/she fell short in other parts. *Spoilers ahead*

The main reason for all the team struggles is simply non-existent in the show. The main company wants the team to disband, however, instead of making use of the failure in the first scene of the drama to simply disband the team that is already at rock bottom, the company decides to go forward with a fair general manager recruitment process and hinders every step said manager takes to improve the team. It is such a roundabout way to kill a dead cat already. Especially since in the end despite the team successfully winning over one of the top teams in a practice match and even earning more promotion money, the company simply held a press conference to announce the team is disbanded because of its bad results that were months ago at that point.

Drama FAQ

What is the Meaning of " Hot Stove League"? 

One of the many questions that popped in my mind while watching the drama is whether even the name is related to the terminologies of the sport. I did short research and sure enough, it is a term used in the baseball community to describe the off-season time where most of the player trades, promotions and planning stages take place. Seeing that the drama was named after the period it takes place in really increases my respect for the writer. 

Where to Watch "Hot Stove League"?

Netflix is my preferred place for this one, however, surprisingly it is actually available on SBS world channel for free. So no need to even pay to watch this one legally. Simply visit SBS channel. Check Viki as well. It is available over there. 








 It is not every day you find an actor like this guy, he is funny, good at impersonations, and a great actor to top that. Lee Sang Yeob is well known for his supporting and evil roles in dramas like "While You Were Sleeping" and " Listen to Love". Unlike other actors in this series, I didn't binge-watch all of Lee Sang Yeob dramas; instead, I watched them as they air mostly, especially the Makjang dramas. Here is a list of his best dramas so far. 



Lee Sang Yeob Best Dramas


1. While You Were Sleeping






Starring Lee Jong Suk and Suzy, While You Were Sleeping is a romantic drama with a touch of fantasy as the main leads can predict the future. Sang Yeob' s role as the evil lawyer really hit viewers hard in this one. Before this, he was always a fun, attractive guy or a clumsy neighbour, so seeing how he could capture all the essence of an evil character broadened and helped Sang Yeob's career a lot. Watch " While You Were Sleeping" if you wish to see an evil guy who you can never love. I hated his guts till the very end. 


Bonus Tip: This is the drama that paved the way for Jung Hae In to become the main lead in his drama. 


2. Good Casting 





A rather unique and funny concept to the idea of having spies around you, it is funny enough to keep you entertained; however, it is differently not a representative of spy dramas and not a thrilling drama so beware. Sang Yeob's plays the role of a company director who was in love with one of the spies when he was very young. He is definitely a good guy, but, he is one of the suspects that the spies are monitoring throughout the drama. Watch this one if you really want a comedy-drama with a parody-like storyline. 

Bonus Tip: Good Casting Kdrama was highly anticipated as Choi Kang Hee first comeback in two years after Queen of Mystery. 


3. Once Again 



Makjang dramas are somehow one of the main genres that Lee sang Yeob acts in most of the time. Beside Good Casting, he also starred in Once Again in 2020 where he played a paediatrician who gets a divorce from his wife as a result of pent-up frustrations and misunderstandings. Once again is a very relatable drama about the ups and downs of life. It is a bit too long for my preference; however, it is a suitable drama for lovers of the slice of life genre.


4. My Wife is Having an Affair This Week





A second lead with quite an imaginative mind. Lee Sang Yeob plays the coworker of the main lead in this drama. He is one of the confidantes of the male lead and the person who is always bickering with Boa. This drama marks the debut of singer BOA as an actress and a friendship between BOA and Lee Sang Yeob that they showcased on variety shows as well. 


Lee Sang Yeob in Variety Shows


Sang Yeob has a talent for variety shows; he is well-known as an actor who can entertain. He is a natural-born voice imitator able to imitate most of the popular voices on the spot. One of his famous popularity spikes actually came from his appearances on Running Man, where he was a regular guest for a while to the point people thought he joined the hosts' team. 


1. Lee Sang Yeob on Running Man 


Start watching from episode 381 to 400, as you will see plenty of Sang Yeob on Running Man during that period. He first appeared in a villain special after his role in " While you Were Sleeping" was a hit, and it seems like people loved him enough to have the writers and producers invite him regularly for a long-term project called " Family Package Project." Sang Yeob continues to appear on the show until now though not as much as he did before. He is a well-known friend to almost all presenters.


2. Lee Sang Yeob on Knowing Bros


Sang Yeob appeared on two very special episodes on the famous Knowing Bros, Ep. 111 and 153. He partnered with BOA on one episode and appeared with his friend On Joo-wan in the second one. I especially love the one with his friend; the hosts kept teasing them for their unique friendship. They definitely seemed very close to each other. 


3. Let's Eat Dinner Together 


Sang Yeob appeared on one episode of the show, shot in Gonjyo, where he visits a pottery village. As a fan of the show, I enjoyed the episode so much. He was lucky enough to eat with the owner of a pottery shop with unique designs that I loved. She even knew how to play music and sing. Watch episode 104 of Let's Eat Dinner Together to see all the details. 


4. Prison Life of Fools/ Mafia Game in Prison


Know the famous Mafia game; this is a real-life version of it featuring famous singers, gagmen and actors. San Yeob is a regular member of this one, and he really has great chemistry with the cast. It is too bad this program was cancelled after its first season. Kim Jong Min, Got7 JB and Sang Yeob were really funny in this one. 


5. Lee Sang Yeob on Strong Heart 


His first variety show ever, he was so young in this one. He appeared with Park Shin Hye in an episode that was promoting a show they did together. Although I didn't watch the show, I loved the episode so much. I still remember his clmusy dance and how he agreed to whatever they told him to do on the show. This is what made me like him to begin with.


Frequently Asked Questions About Lee Sang Yeob


1. Who is Lee Sang Yeob?


He is a 37 years old actor who started his career in 2008 in the drama " A Happy Woman". He is 182 m height, and his blood type is B. Born to rich parents, he is the only grandson to former Dongguk Jaekang chairman Kim Jong-jin. 


2. What are Lee Sang Yeob's Social Media Accounts?


 He is very active on Instagram; however, it doesn't seem like he has any other official accounts. His Instagram account currently has over a million follower. 


3. Is Lee Sang Yeob Married?


Sang Yeob is not married, although he is open to relationships. He dated fellow actress Gong Hyun-joo for a while, and they seemed lovey-dovey; however, they announced their break up in 2016. He mentioned in an episode of " My Little old boy" that he was in many relationships, but he was rarely the one to end the relationship. He is the type to fall deeply in love that the other person sometimes finds him burdensome. 





With COVID transforming my job to become a remote job, I had a long list of dramas to follow this year, and I think I completed more than I had ever completed in one year. I dropped a few in the middle; however, what I completed is still a lot. 



Top Korean Dramas 2020


1. The Game Towards Zero


The Game Towards Zero Korean Drama











Ok Taecyeon is back with a masterpiece! I was originally a Hottest for a while, so I was sad when he moved to another agency; however, as long as he is still rapping and acting, I am fine with this. In this drama, he is someone who can see the final moment of a person by looking into his/ her eyes. The main cast of the drama consists of Ok Taecyeon, Lee Yeon-hee, and Lim Ju-hwan. It has been a while since I saw Lim Ju-Hwan playing a villain, but he deserves an award for his role here. It was more than I could have expected. Watch The Game Towards Zeo only if you are into mystery/thriller genre. It is not a romantic comedy at all!!


Bonus Tip: Jung Dong-hwan is the pillar of this drama!! Don't take his character lightly. 😁


2. Memorist 


Memorist Kdrama 2020











Another mystery drama that made my quarantine time fun in 2020, it is pure suspense, and it tops the scale in terms of acting. As a lover of all Yoo Seong Ho's dramas, this one did not disappoint me at all. He is a person who can read the memories of others, hence the name, the Memorist. Anyway, stumbling a serial murderer that could solve the mysteries of his life, Yoo Seong Ho starts chasing the culprit of a unique but appalling series of murders. His teammate throughout his journey is his senior officer, 2 young officers and a female detective like no other, Lee Se-Young. Watch "The Memorist" for a unique plot with very little romance. It could even fit in my No Romance Kdrama List.


3. Tale of the Nine-Tailed


Tale of the Nine Tailed











Lee Dong Wook's first fantasy drama after Goblin stirred the public to follow this drama closely. It topped its timeslot as the acting, story and direction were seriously top-notch. Lee Dong Wook is one of the people I want to write an actor scope about. I have watched almost all his dramas, so it will be such a thick article. Anyway, Dong Wook acts as a Gumhio in love with a human in this one. It is a typical tragic love story between two beings who shouldn't be together. The details though is what differentiates this drama from other dramas. I am stunned at how well the writer managed to blend the past and the present to present a combination of events where you can see the end and still hope for another ending. Enough rambling!! Just watch this top 2020 Korean Drama!! Don't Think Twice!


4. Hospital Playlist 


Hospital Playlist Kdrama 2020


Because the year was full of COVID, watching sick people is no longer something I wish to do. Therefore, many of the medical dramas on my to-watch list are now simply on hold till who knows when. I gave this one an exception, though, after immense pressure from a friend to check it out. Hospital Playlist does not just cover the medical aspect of hospital staff. It is a light-hearted comedy that discusses the everyday life of the doctors once they remove their white gown. The characters are very relatable in this one, and the love lines are just the top. All the characters have been friends for almost 20 years, thus no matter what embarrassing situations you see for them, you can easily laugh thinking about your friends. 


Bonus Tip: Watch this song from The drama whenever you are down. It is one of the best Korean dramas OST in 2020. 


5. Once Again


Once Again Makjang Drama


For some reason, I watch at least one Makjang drama per year. It is too long for me, but I think whenever I am in the mood for a no-brainer, I naturally check the latest Makjang dramas and choose one. This one though made me very happy and so into it. It is very relatable, and the characters are heartwarming. Lee Sang Yeob is the main reason I started this, but the rest of the characters were unique as well. Kim Bo-Yeon's character as the obsessed mom who was always lonely reminded me of someone I know very well. It is surprising how one character in a drama could help you understand a person you never thought you would understand. Luckily, I know now how to deal with these patterns and the reasons behind them. 


6. When My Love Blooms


When My Love Blooms Kdrama 2020


Advertised as a pure love story, When My Love Blooms started as a series to look forward to and went downhill halfway through. The reason why it is still one of my favourites is that the direction, Ost and camera work are just stunning in this drama. You seriously feel the love in the air for no reason. Also, the young couple carried this drama through. If the drama was only about the present with hints of the past, I would have hated it more. The main actor is married in the present with a life full of trouble, but instead of looking after his son's mental issues and his wife's insecurities, he is looking for his first love. Kind of a no brainer for me to drop this after they started their nostalgic love but then whenever I want to drop it, the young couple comes over and saves the day. My relationship with this one is both love and hate, so check it out to form your own opinion.


7. Start-Up


Start-up Kdrama 2020


My favourite Korean romantic comedy in 2020 and the favourite of many people because of Kim Seon Ho, the actor who surprised the whole world with his acting abilities here. Surprisingly, this one is my favourite romantic comedy, yet the main reason I continued watching this drama is the grandma and the second male lead. Halmoni and Han Ji Pyoung are the pillars and the main storyline of this drama, no doubt about that!! The main love story is fine as well; it is just that the characters that move you are not the main actors, which still counts as refreshing for a Korean drama. 


8. The Good Detective


The Good Detective Kdrama


I started this one because of Son Hyun-Joo. I love his acting. Regardless of which type he chooses, he has this charisma and methodology that I can't escape. The drama is about a detective who tries to prove the criminal he caught innocent. It is such a fresh concept. Wherever you are, you probably agree that we never hear about a police officer of any kind admitting to a fault, although they are humans so they could make mistakes. Oh Jung Se is the main villain of this masterpiece, and truthfully he is such a great actor to the point I seriously wanted him dead by the end. 


Bonus Tip: Oh Jun Se is also the young brother in the 2020 Korean drama " It's Ok To Not Be Okay", the one who made us cry and laugh all the way. 


9. Mystic Pop-Up Bar


Mystic Pop Up Bar


Fantasy dramas win this year, especially a compact drama with fast events, fast character development and a complete ending that you are bound to love. Mystic Pop-Up Bar excels in all aspects you could think about. The CG is great, the writing is great, the direction is great, and the acting is simply spectacular. It is enough for me that for the first time, I see Choi won young as a relatable lover who is not evil or selfish. He is as selfless as ever. I honestly always thought he was a good guy from his interviews and wished to see him act as one, not as a second lead but as the main lead.


10. The World of the Married 


The World of the Married


I had no idea why this one was popular when it was airing. I only watched it in December when I knew it was available on Netflix. Luckily, I managed to watch it before the end of the year. It is not every day; you see a masterpiece like this one. Honestly, if Kim Hee-ae doesn't get an award for this one, I would doubt the whole award ceremony this year. This drama revolves around the life of a doctor who discovers her husband is having an affair. From the first episode, you see that she lacks empathy as she easily decides to fire a doctor who was having a hard time after his wife died. Her life is turned upside down, and karma plays her role as she divorces her husband, plays with her son and somehow ends up losing almost everything and going through major depression. It is heartbreaking how the female lead transforms from a strong independent woman to a shell with enough sadness to cover the ocean. 


Finally, an honourable mention to " It Is Ok To Not Be Okay", unfortunately, because the subject deals with mental health issues, I couldn't complete the drama as many of my friends were, in fact, dealing with their struggles. I didn't want to add more of that type of problems to my life. 


PS: This is my recommended Korean drama list for 2020, share yours with me for more inspiration. Who Knows, this article might have a follow-up article titled " 2020 Korean Dramas I Didn't Know About."