Since it’s the end of the year, I (like so many others) thought it would be fun to look back over what 2017 dramaland brought us. As always, it was a mixed bag (more on that in tomorrow’s post), but there were some excellent shows and characters. In no particular order, here’s a brief rundown of my favorite characters this year:
Im Sang-mi from Save Me
Okay, look, I have so much adoration for Sang-mi. She survived a fucking cult and managed to get her mother out of it, too, in spite of basically every other adult around her being evil and/or useless and/or in the cult’s pocket. Including her father, whose true believer-ness turned him into an outright monster. Sang-mi endured multiple people attempting to break her spirit so she would submit to a predator and take her spot in a doomsday church—and in the end, she helped break that organization instead.
Go Seo-yeon from Solomon’s Perjury
While I still maintain that this drama robbed Seo-yeon of her rightful spotlight, at least Seo-yeon was a good character. I’m proud of her for tackling her school and the larger societal ills that plagued her and her classmates. She learned more about herself and about her peers, and ultimately she pulled through thanks to the loving, dedicated support of her friends and family. Her determination throughout the school trial was wonderful, and she has a bright future ahead of her.
Han Jung-yeon from Circle: Two Worlds Connected
Ultimately a mystery until the last, Jung-yeon(/Byul/Bluebird) was the driving force behind the rest of the plot. I enjoyed the evolution of her character from timeline to timeline and the way she increasingly took control of her own destiny. If only we knew more about her…
Han Jin-ah from Naked Fireman
I love it when prickly ladies fall in love and are loved in return without having to completely rewrite their personalities. Jin-ah is blunt, clever, and utterly determined to solve the mystery of her parents’ murders. Even though she is still very traumatized over the whole thing (and is receiving treatment for it, and not shamed for needing it!), she throws herself headfirst into investigating. The incremental thawing of her heart and budding belief in Cheol-soo and his innocence is magnificent.
Nam Hong-joo from While You Were Sleeping
Hong-joo’s prophetic dreams—including one of her own death—caused her no end of heartache in the show and even prompted a brief work hiatus. But she was confident, funny, and damn good at investigative reporting, and I enjoyed watching her fall in love with Jae-chan. More importantly, I enjoyed watching her work hard to change fate and to ensure that bad guys couldn’t slip away while on her watch.
Honorable mentions: So-rin from Save Me, Seo-yeon’s mother from Solomon’s Perjury, Park Min-young from Circle: Two Worlds Connected, Han Song-ja from Naked Fireman, and Shin Hui-min from While You Were Sleeping.
Suk Dong-chul from Save Me
Is it heresy to say that I’m totally fine with his second lead status (aka, doesn’t end up in a romance with the heroine)? Because I am. The things I loved most about him were his loyalty and his righteous wrath about the unfairness and injustice in the world. His rough start in life gave him the exact perspective he needed to play double agent in a cult and to support Sang-mi in bringing it down.
Bae Joon-young from Solomon’s Perjury
I’ll admit it, the fastest way to my heart is a boy who supports a heroine and thinks she’s awesome, and Joon-young fits that perfectly. His quiet, subdued affection for her was endearing, and it made me very happy whenever he was, you know, a good friend.
Kim Woo-jin from Circle: Two Worlds Connected
If Jung-yeon was the driving force behind the plot, then Woo-jin was the heart of the story. His desperation to find and/or protect his brother gave the drama real emotional weight and stakes, and he always threw himself into whatever he was doing wholeheartedly. I loved the slow burn of his feelings toward Jung-yeon and his repeated willingness to sacrifice himself if it would keep the others safe. I’m so grateful you got your happy ending.
Kang Cheol-soo from Naked Fireman
Cheol-soo wasn’t always quick on the uptake but nonetheless had a good heart and more courage than he probably should have had. Yes, he’ll trust his con artist and thief of a friend with basically everything up to and including his life, and he’ll also put himself in embarrassing situations to help his father figure receive life-saving medical treatment. He’s the hero with a heart of gold who rises to the occasion and falls head-over-heels for the rich woman who is only supposed to be spending time with him to draw him shirtless.
Jung Jae-chan from While You Were Sleeping
As the bumbling rookie prosecutor, Jae-chan had a lot of growing to do throughout this drama, and grow up he did thanks to a love interest, a friend, and a father-figure. Jae-chan could be both hilariously petty but also heartwarmingly sincere, and it was great to watch him first deny his feelings for Hong-joo and then just…melt. He was a great comedic character and solid love interest, and I was happy to have him on my screen.
Honorable mentions: Han Sang-hwan from Save Me, Lee Ho-soo from Circle: Two Worlds Connected, Oh Seong-jin from Naked Fireman, and Han Woo-tak from While You Were Sleeping.
So who were your favorite characters this year? Let me know!