So far, 2013 has had no runaway blockbuster dramas, in the magic 40% plus range. Within different times slots, it’s hardly fair to compare ratings as a measure of top ten hits and misses—because ratings in one time slot might be successful, while the same rating in another is a failure—but F&B is going to do it anyway. Here are the top hits and misses in the first half of 2013, based on ratings.
Since there’s no other reliable way to predict a hit or miss in Korean Drama, we’re going with raw ratings from AGB Nielsen. With all the variables — actors, script, time slot, competition, even world events — a sure-win hit can miss and a likely-to-miss can be gold. Some of the misses in K-Drama’s 2013’s first season are a surprise, most aren’t (The End of the World, for example). When a Man Loves was expected to do better, but is still not a miss in the ratings, although it’s in sixth place. Gu Family Book was expected to be a big hit, but landed in 5th place, respectable, but not all that. That Winter, The Wind Blows we expected to be one of the top three, but landed fourth. Who would have thought Nine: Time Travel Nine Times would be top three—another time travel drama?—but brought soaring through entirely unique plot twists. And I Hear Your Voice beat all expectations due to ingenious writing, that just made every episode a pleasure.
Based solely on the ratings (AGB, for the first half of 2013, here are ten Korean drama hits and misses for the first half of 2013 (assume a miss for 10-6, depending on your standard) in reverse order—misses at the top, hits at bottom:
10. The End of the World (negligible ratings)
This drama was a definite miss, with the show’s episodes being cut to just 12 from the original 20. Yoon Je Moon, Jang Kyung Ah, and Jang Hyun Jung star in this drama about a group of doctors who are trying to find a cure to a mysterious disease that are causing thousands of people to die. Directed by Ahn Pan Suk and written by Park Hye Ryun, The End of the World may have a very thrilling back story but it definitely failed in the ratings. Huge Miss. It’s the end of their world.
9. The Queen’s Classroom (9.1% average)
Ko Hyun Jung starred as Ma Yeo Jin in this drama, where the story revolved around her being a cold hearted 6th grade teacher and her students who rebelled against her. Definitely not the typical K-drama that one would expect, it received low ratings but was praised by its viewers for giving a new take on its storyline and characters. It was directed by Lee Dog Yoon and written by Kim Won Suk and Kim Eun Hee. Miss, but appreciated by fans.
8. Shark (9.5 % average, finished at 11.7%)
Kim Nam Gil played Han Yi Soo/Yoshimura Junichiro, a man who returns to Korea from Japan to take revenge on those who were responsible for this family’s demise. This romantic and thrilling drama was directed by Park Chan Hong and Cha Young Hoon and written by Kim Ji Woo. The storyline is not really unique but it received average reviews from viewers who enjoyed it, even with its confusing finale. Technical Miss.
7. Ten 2
Special Affairs Team Ten Season 2 was a follow up to Ten, where a criminal investigation unit takes on South Korea’s most violent crimes. Joo Sang-Wook played the head of the crime unit while Jo An played the officer who has psychological reasoning powers. This suspense and thriller made audiences hold their breaths with their twists and turns that left them hanging on the edge of their seats. Even though each episode was much anticipated by its fans, it didn’t really reach a very wide audience due to the sensitive subject matters of the crimes. A miss, didn’t get wide acceptance.
6. When a Man Loves (Average 11.4%, finished 13.3%)
Song Seung Hun, Shin Se Kyung, and Chae Jung Ahn played the main characters of this romantic drama about a man who fell in love with his dead boss’s woman, and met another younger woman altogether. Directed by Kim Sang Ho and Choi Byung Gil and written by Kim In Young, When a Man Loves received good ratings all throughout its airing. A technical miss by the ratings.
5. That Winter, The Wind Blows (15.4% average, finished 3rd in slot at 18.2%)
A beautiful cast and a beautiful storyline made this drama a hit across the nation. Jo In Sung and Song Hye Kyu played the main characters where the man intended to use the blind woman’s money to pay off his debt but ended up falling for her instead. Directed by Kim Kyu Tae and written by Noh Hee Kyung, this drama had a tremendous start in the ratings but slowly dropped after the 12th episode. A hit, but expected to do better.
4. Gu Family Book (18.7% average, finished 1st in its slot at 22.9%)
Choi Kang Chi played a half human half mythical creature in this fantasy, romantic drama that revolved around the character’s struggles to live as a human being. Directed by Shin Woo Chul and written by Kang Eun Kyung, the actors’ great chemistry made audiences asking for another season.
3. Nine: Time Travel Nine Times 나인: 아홉 번의 시간 여행 / Nain: Ahob Beonui Shikan Yeohaeng
Though audiences had seen the back story of this drama in several films, the episodes were truly unique and unexpected. Scoring high in the ratings, Park Sun-Woo played the anchorman who received 9 incenses that made him travel 20 years back. Directed by Kim Byung So and written by Song Jae Jung and Kim Yoon Joo, this ingenious drama started out slow but kept its audiences holding their breaths with each unpredictable episode.
2. Cruel City 무정도시 / Moojungdoshi
Starring Jung Kyung-ho, Nam Gyu-ri and Lee Jae-Yoon, this suspense drama revolved around the love and struggles of undercover agents and their investigations against an infamous drug ring. It was the perfect mix of danger, romance, and intrigue, making the show a big hit in the ratings. The show was directed by Jang Yong-woo and Lee Jeong-hyo, and written by Yoo Seong-yeol.
1. I Hear Your Voice 너의 목소리가 들려 / Neoui Moksoriga Deulryeo (average 20.7%, finished first in spot at 24.8%)
Always at the top of the ratings during its airing, this drama’s unique and genius writing in each and every episode made it the number one K-drama to watch from June to the end July. Yoon Sang Hyun, Lee Jong Suk, and Lee Bo Young played public defenders who took on the toughest cases with only 1% winning chances. Directed by Jo Soo Won and written by Park Hye Ryun, it was hard to separate the actor from the characters, mixing superb acting and incredible stories was the perfect formula for this national king of drama ratings.
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