In my never-ending quest to come up with new and (hopefully) enjoyable content, I’ve decided to put together a collection of all my favorites from the past month. In part because I thought it would be a fun thing to do and also because I have a really hard time remembering things and I thought this would be a good way to remind myself of everything I’ve watched/listened to/ squealed over this past month. This way when I’m sitting down at the end of the year, trying to remember everything I loved about 2018, I might actually be able to come up with something more than a blank wall inside an empty brain. (Wouldn’t that be nice switch!) So to kick things off, here’s my list of January favorites. (Woohoo!)
This first list is pretty self-explanatory so I won’t say much in the way of an introduction. I’ll just tell you that out of all the dramas I’ve watched this past month, these 3 are the ones that stood out as exceptionally enjoyable. Are the perfect? No, but they each have charms strong enough in their favor to make it easy to overlook any flaws.
I’m Not a Robot (로봇이 아니야)
Of all the dramas I’ve watched over the years, I can’t think of one who outshines I’m Not a Robot, at least in terms of cuteness. This drama is so flipping sweet, you might get a cavity just from watching. But that’s a good thing! So many dramas are full of well… drama. It’s nice to have one that keeps its sweetness throughout. Sure, there are a few bumps along the way but really, the characters and the story are just so sweet, the trials along the way fade quickly into the background. Yoo Seung Ho and Chae Soo Bin are a perfect match and the supporting characters are just as easy to love as our adorable OTP. The story itself is an amusing mixture of sweet and silly and really, this drama is just a lot of fun to watch. Seeing as how it’s January, it’s kind of hard to declare anything “the best of 2018” but it’s going to be hard to find another drama this year that tops this one, at least when it comes to cuteness. It’s just so darn adorable! I loved it!
Just Between Lovers (그냥 사랑하는 사이)
Switching gears completely, Just Between Lovers is anything but silly but I’m so completely in love with it, I HAD to include it in this list. The basis of the story is heartbreaking, as it focuses entirely on the collapse of the “S Mall” back in the mid-1990s and those affected by the tragedy. As you can imagine, this isn’t the happiest of stories but the characters are so real, and they’re so easy to relate to, you can’t help but be drawn into their lives. Junho is absolutely brilliant in this new role of his but honestly, he’s not the only one delivering a first-rate performance. It’s sometimes hard to recommend a drama that’s guaranteed to make you cry but I have to recommend this one. It’s that good. Just know you’re going to need to keep a box of tissues on standby as you watch. Trust me, the pain is worth it.
To be perfectly honest, I was trying really hard to let this drama finish before I started watching because I knew that once I started, I’d never want to stop. The problem was, I didn’t take into account the fact that ALL of my friends would be watching Hwayugi as it aired. After seeing all of their squeals and screeches over each new episode, I gave into the temptation and all I can say is, I’M SO GLAD I DID! Once again, the Hong Sisters have created a world of fantasy so perfectly laced with evil, humor and love, it induces feels equal to, if not greater than, those invoked by The Master’s Sun. The plot itself is as twisted you could ever hope a demon-filled story to be and Lee Seung Gi is absolutely slaying in this, his first drama role post-military. I swear, this man is on fire and anyone watching this drama right now is kinda getting swept along for the ride. And OH! What a ride it is! If you’re not already watching Hwayugi, you should be.
Jonghyun Poet | Artist
I’ll be the first to admit that listening to Jonghyun’s posthumous album is more than a little heartbreaking. At the same time, there’s no better way our beloved poet artist could have left us than with a beautiful reminder that he’ll always be with us. If you’ve never given any of Jonghyun’s solo work a try, I’d definitely recommend this album. It’s a perfect reflection of his musical diversity and personal style. It’s truly something special and it’s an album I will always cherish, even though listening to it will never not make my heart ache.
INFINITE Top Seed
Leave it to INFINITE to release an album every bit as wonderful as you could ever hope it to be. Sure, it’s a little weird, not having Hoya around but what can we do but adapt? Truly, there’s no better way to do so than to dive into this album. It’s the essence of INFINITE in every way and it’s absolutely incredible! 기도 (메텔의 슬픔) may be one of my favorite tracks but really, every time a track plays, I feel like I need to declare it as my new favorite. Needless to say, if you’re looking for a solid album to add to your K-Pop collection, this is it.
We all know I’m more than a little biased when it comes to iKON so it’s not really surprising that I’d add this new album to my list. At the same time, the album iKON bring to the table this time around is as solid as ever. It’s really everything you could ever want from in an iKON album so of course I had to mention it here! 잊지마요 (Don’t Forget) is easily one of my favorite tracks but “Just Go” is also freaking fantastic! And how can I not love “Love Scenario” and “Beautiful!?!” Augh! Picking a favorite is always so hard! That’s why I’ve decided to forgo the decision-making and just love the entire album. Life is just easier that way. Whether you’re new to iKON or a card-carrying iKONIC, this album is definitely worth checking out.
Not gonna lie, I’ve had a really hard time deciding how to go about this next list. I spent an inordinate amount of time agonizing over how to best do this. Should favorite tracks be separate from MVs? Is there really any difference between the two? Does it even matter? And what about dance practice videos? Don’t they deserve some love too? I’m not really sure I have any real answers but since I want to get this post up while it’s still January, I’ve decided to just go with whatever comes out as I write; so here it is. This first group I’ve listed as stand-alone tracks. Yes, they all have MVs but the songs themselves are so great, they don’t really need a video to enhance them in any way. They’re just great tracks that I’ve been perfectly happy listening to over and over and over again.
Monsta X “Spotlight”
Do I really need any reason to add Monsta X to any list? I don’t think so but I’m also ridiculously biased so… Biased or not, Monsta X’s latest Japanese single, “Spotlight,” is freaking amazing, which is why it tops this list. Of course the MV is as lethal as you could ever want a Monsta X video to be. (I swear, Kihyun still has my heart trapped in his pocket and I think he’s purposely trying to kill me with all his freakin’ perfection…) But I digress. The reason this track tops this particular list is because I can listen to it a million times over, MV or not. Actually, it’s probably better for me to ignore this MV altogether as my poor old zombie heart may not be able withstand such a lethal dose of Monsta X charisma.
Block B “Don’t Leave” (떠나지마요)
When Block B announced they’d be making a comeback earlier this month, I immediately started praying their album would include a track as wonderful as “Be the Light.” It would seem the K-Pop gods heard my prayers because Block B brought me this gem of a track and I couldn’t be happier. The emotion in this track, combined with Zico’s lethal rap/sing combo has completely done me in. Or maybe I’ve come completely undone? I think maybe it’s both but that doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that I’m completely in love with this track and no matter how much I listen to it, I just can’t seem to get enough.
Dean’s voice in this, his latest release, is absolutely everything. I swear, his voice makes me melt like no other! But beyond the voice, it’s the lyrics of this song that really get to me. The feelings of indifference and loneliness brought on by an addiction to social media and the resulting inability to connect with people in a real and personal way. It’s a very profound song and I think that makes me love it even more.
This next list consists of songs that I’ve fallen more in love with because of their accompanying videos. It’s not that these tracks are lacking in any way (because they’re so not!) it’s just that their MVs are so much fun, I find myself wanting to watch them over and over again. These are the videos that tend to make me smile, which is something I desperately need this time of year. (Stupid winter, I’m so done with you!)
N.Flying “Hot Potato” (뜨거운 감자)
How can you not love a track that’s called “Hot Potato?” Just the title of this song is enough to make me smile but then I watch the video and… AUGH! THE CUTENESS! IT’S TOO MUCH! (Okay, so there’s really no such thing as too much cuteness but you know what I mean.) N. Flying has been a favorite of mine since their debut so I’m super happy to see them kicking off the year with the release of their 3rd mini-album, THE HOTTEST: N. Flying. The whole album has topped my playlist this past month so I’d definitely recommend checking it out. However, if you’re not ready to make that kind of commitment, this MV is a great way to get a quick N. Flying fix. The boys are as silly as ever and I don’t know, there’s just something about their smiles and antics in this video that make me feel all warm and squishy inside. It’s kinda like cuddling up on the couch with a steaming mug of hot chocolate on a snowy winter afternoon. There’s something about it that just makes you feel good and I just love that!
JBJ “My Flower” (꽃이야)
I’ve already written an entire post about JBJ’s newest release but I can’t help but add this video to my list. It’s just so full of sunshine and cuteness that it needs to be added to every single winter playlist ever created. The combination of bright colors, warm smiles and ridiculous cuteness is perfect for chasing away the wintertime blues. And let’s not forget, JBJ stands for “Just Be Joyful” which is pretty fitting, seeing as how every time I watch this video I can’t help but feel stupidly happy. It’s like a little dose of spring every time it plays! *happy sigh*
VAV “Spotlight” (光)
While the first two videos were chosen for their undeniable cuteness, this next video was chosen for entirely different reasons. Namely perfectly swoon-worthy hair. And beautiful eyes. And intense gazes. And suits. And sweaters. And perfect hair. And smiles. And jawlines. And lethal choreo. And that ridiculously perfect hair. Have I mentioned how absolutely perfect and wonderful the boys’ hair is in this MV? Because seriously! The coordis that put the boys together in this video deserve some sort of award! A standing ovation! A medal of honor! Something! Needless to say, I can’t help but swoon myself stupid every time I watch this video and that, in all its silly fangirl glory, is why this video has been added to this list.
Stray Kids “어린 날개”
I’m completely in love with JYP’s newest rookie group so, of course, I’d have to have this video top my list. I know I’m letting my bias get the better of me here but really, with talent like this, can you really blame me? These kids won my heart with “Hellevator” and now that I’ve got an entire album in my collection, my love has only grown. If you’re looking for a rookie group to squeal over, you really can’t go wrong with these guys!
EXO “Electric Kiss”
Did you really think I was going to make a list of practice videos and not include this little gem? I don’t think I even need to explain myself here. It just is what it is and it makes me very happy.
With a dance practice for both “Beautiful” and “Love Scenario” out, it was a little hard to decide between the two but I ultimately went with this one. Why? Probably because I was swooning so hard over Junhoe that I forget anything else existed in the whole entire world. Yes, I know, I’m letting my bias show but I really don’t care. This is iKON we’re talking about here. They could just stand there breathing and I’d probably fall over. Lucky for you, they’re actually dancing, to one of my new favorite songs, no less, which pretty much makes this video perfect. Don’t believe me? Give it a go see what happens. If you’re not “feeling so good” by the time it’s over, well… You might wanna check your pulse. #JustSaying
Since I’m not living in SoKo at the moment (sad, I know) it might be kinda silly to add films to this list. I mean it’s not like I can run over to the nearest cineplex and watch whatever new film everyone is talking about. I mean, I guess I could but I’d be writing about a whole different set of films and none of them would be Korean. That being said, this next list isn’t a list of brand new films but rather a list of favorites I’ve watched this past month and think are definitely worth checking out.
The Beauty Inside (뷰티 인사이드, 2015)
If ever there was a film to stand testament to the fact that people are so much more than they outwardly appear, The Beauty Inside would be it. This film is really quite brilliant in the way it reminds us to see people for who they really are and not what we perceive them to be. I think that’s why I enjoyed it as much as I did. Well, okay, I also enjoyed the wide range of actors brought on to portray the film’s main character, Woo Jin, but that’s beside the point. The film is also a testament to the power of love and really, it’s just one of those movies you’re bound to walk away from feeling better about yourself and maybe even the world.
My Annoying Brother (형, 2016)
This film… Gah! This film! What do I even say about this film!?! I went into this one feeling one way and walked away from it feeling something completely different. It was an unexpected twist that did me in though now that I’m sitting here, thinking about it, I realize that I should have seen this coming. (I’m an avid drama watcher, I should know better!) Needless to say, I have a lot of very strong feelings associated with this film but really, I think that’s a good thing. Any film that can bring on such intense emotions is definitely worth a watch, don’t you think?
Midnight Runners (청년경찰, 2017)
Not gonna lie, when I first saw the trailer for this film, I thought it was going to be a ridiculous as Kang Ha Neul’s 2014 film, Twenty. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that while Midnight Runners had a healthy dose of comedy, it also contained a surprisingly serious sub-plot and an unexpectedly worthwhile message. I actually had a lot of fun, watching this movie, and I even ended up with happy tears in my eyes by the end. Just make sure you watch all the way through the end credits. There’s a scene stuck in there that makes takes the film to a whole new level of greatness and it’d be a shame to miss it.
So there you have it, my (semi) condensed list of favorites from this past month. I honestly had no idea I had so many different favorites (they all kinda just melt together into a giant mass of fangirly goo in my brain) but I had fun sorting them all out like this. With any luck, you enjoyed this list of mine as well. Whether you did or not, I know I’m not the only one who’s found new favorites this past month so be sure to let me know which dramas/films/music you’ve been squealing over in the comments below!