par Cho Na, janvier 6, 2024
223

Since FINALLY I finished my task of clearing out hundreds of older dramas in my PTW list that had been there since 2020 (hurrah!), I found myself looking for dramas to watch in my last year's article Wrap-Up: Top 2022 Dramas on MDL (by Country and Genre). I concluded that the recommendation lists made by readers were very useful. So here I am, writing another article recapping the top 2023 dramas on MDL!

The dramas included below are only the ones that started in 2022 and ended in 2023, and the ones that started and ended in 2023. The ratings recorded were all as of December 31, 2023. The top dramas compared between the top-rated and the top-ranked dramas, but I only recorded dramas rated 8.0 and above.

I understand what we meant by 'Top' is just what the MDL tribe has spoken. We all know MDL ratings, and ratings from any other platform, are not absolute. What is the top here may not be the top in other platforms, but just what the majority of MDLers enjoyed. We are not cookie cutters, everyone has their personal favorites and preferences. So do I, therefore I only wrote my opinions on the dramas I watched. For the dramas I didn't watch, I invite you to share your opinion in the comment section as to why you think your choice of dramas is worthy to be on the top. 

Other technicalities: The drama summaries are condensed from the MDL synopsis. The genre definitions are as described in [Guidelines] Editing and Submitting New Titles and People.

Let's go through the list, shall we?


Twinkling Watermelon 

MDL Rating: 9.2/10
In 2023, Eun Gyeol is a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) high-school student with hearing-impaired parents, but he has a passion for music. During the day, he is a studious model pupil... but at night, he rocks out as a guitarist in a band. But when he stumbles across a strange yet alluring music store, he goes hurtling back in time to 1995.  

Here, he comes face to face with his father, Ha Yi Chan – as a high schooler! Worse still, it looks like Yi Chan has a crush on an icy cellist named Se Kyeong – not his future mother, Cheong Ah!  


Hidden Love

MDL Rating: 9.0/10

Mysterious Lotus Casebook

MDL Rating: 9.0/10 

When I Fly Towards You

MDL Rating: 9.0/10 

Sang Zhi falls in love with Duan Jia Xu, the boy who often comes to her house to play games in her older brother's room. He is five years older than her. Sang Zhi had a crush on Duan Jia Xu when she was young, but they lost contact with each other for some reason. After she graduates, she joins the university in the city he is in, and during their day-to-day intimate and close interaction, they slowly fall in love.  
Ten years ago, Li Xiang Yi, the master of the Sigu Sect, suddenly disappeared along with Di Fei Sheng, the leader of the Jinyuan Alliance, after they arranged to battle. Ten years later, he emerged as Li Lian Hua, a countryside doctor.  Fang Duo Bing, a passionate youth, realizes that Li Lian Hua is not a simple man. The three gradually come to forge a deep friendship and join hands in solving mysterious cases to uphold justice.
In the early autumn of 2012, Yucai Middle School welcomed a cheerful transfer student named Su Zai Zai. On the first day of school, she encounters the aloof and cool Zhang Lu Rang and falls in love with him at first sight. He is a "contradictory" person who appears to be quite confident on the outside yet constantly doubts himself on the inside. Su Zai Zai and other friends help him understand the meaning of self and how to plan his life. 

Of the three top Chinese dramas of 2023, I only watched Mysterious Lotus Casebook because I am a mystery genre lover. Mysteries seem to follow the genius protagonist, a retired hero  Li Xiang Yi, who just wants to live quietly as Physician Li Lian Hua, traveling along the countryside making enough money for survival. His peace is interrupted by his meeting with the chatterbox Fang Duo Bing who is a run-away groom. Adding to the party is the reappearance of Li Lian Hua's arc enemy, the grumpy man Di Fei Sheng, who is humbled by amnesia that he does not recognize Li Xiang Yi. This unlikely trio with clashing personalities and temperaments form a friendship that is to die for, as they argue and fight, while encountering one strange case upon another, meeting friends and foes along the way.


Oh No! Here Comes Trouble

MDL Rating: 9.0/10
Pu Yi Yong is a typical high school student. When he unexpectedly gains superpowers after waking up from a bus accident, his previously uneventful life is suddenly not so ordinary anymore.



I can vouch that this Taiwanese drama deserves to be in the top position this year. The protagonist Pu Yi Yong's superpower is unique, as it is attached to his artistic ability to write calligraphy (hence the brush and papers on the poster), an ancient skill he inherited from his grandfather. From the ancient Chinese characters come alive spirits that Pu Yi Yong and others can talk and see. 

Although the supernatural ability to see ghosts or spirits is not new in dramaland, these spirits are unique and they ask specific requests of Pu Yi Yong. With the help of the local police officer Chen Chu Ying and his old enemy-turn-neighbor Cao Guang Yan, Pu Yi Yong can fulfill those requests. The special effects that went along with the calligraphy and the spirits were very well done.  


One Piece

MDL Rating: 8.9/10
The series follows the adventures of the fugitive Straw Hat Pirates, as they explore the dangerous oceans, lands, and beyond in search of the "One Piece", a fabled treasure that will make their captain The King of the Pirates. But, the Navy is on their ship's tail and they are not the only crew searching for the One Piece. Armed with skills and unbreakable friendship, the Straw Hats are ready for the journey and even more ready to fight for their dreams together. 

I would never have watched this drama if it did not appear on the first page of MDL's Upcoming Dramas, as I am not a manga reader and I did not think this was a Japanese show by looking at the poster. Since 2019 I have only watched Asian dramas from countries featured on MDL, so I was not familiar with the cast list ("Who are these people???") except the one (and only) Japanese actor. 

But One Piece turns out to be a cool live-action series of ongoing shonen manga with the same title, written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda. Since its introduction in 1997, this best-seller has been translated into many languages, received awards, and adapted to many media, including this 8-episode drama. The manga has received praise and awards for its storytelling, world-building, art, characterization, and humor; and is ranked by critics, reviewers, and readers as one of the best manga of all time (source). So if you have not watched it, join the rest of us watchers and jump onto the ship!


The Queen of News

MDL Rating: 8.1/10

The Invisibles

MDL Rating: 8.1/10

Speakers of Law

MDL Rating: 8.1/10
Many years ago, Wen Hui Xin gained widespread fame by reporting on the Thief King case, solidifying her position as the News Queen. Despite Hui Xin's intention to implement reforms, she was restrained by the scheming TV department director, Yu Ying Fei, and the behind-the-scenes manipulation of the news group's boss, Fang Luo Li Chang.

Four HK police officers are in their intertwined careers and personal lives. During one operation, a gunman stunned Nui Nui and was about to shoot him when Ocean decided to shoot Nui Nui’s leg and save Nui Nui’s life, but at a cost. The incident separated them and caused Ocean to suffer from PTSD. He now works in a detective team that solves high-danger level cases.
The drama is set in a law firm centered around Gam Cheung Shun aka Gam Si Ye who is a legal professional who mentors and grooms next-generation lawyers. However, he was thrown behind the bars. Known to be the strongest CP (couple) with Tim You Kar, a lawyer working in the same law firm. 

If anyone wants to watch them, all three dramas are available with English subs on the official TVB Anywhere from Hong Kong Television Broadcasts Limited.


I Feel You Linger in the Air: Uncut Version

MDL Rating: 8.9/10
Jom is a young architect overseeing the renovation of an old house in Chiang Mai. However, during this project, Jom starts to have strange and frequent dreams about himself and a mysterious man from the past. Soon, Jom faces heartbreak when his boyfriend suddenly decides to end their relationship. In a moment of distress, he drives recklessly and ends up in an accident, plunging into the Ping River.  Beyond the natural order of things, Jom emerges from the water to find himself in 1927. There, he encounters the man he dreamed about, Khun Yai, the middle son of the owner of the Plathip Mansion which he'd been renovating. 

The uncut version of this drama surpasses the other top BL dramas in previous years, making it the top BL drama of all time on MDL. The cut version I Feel You Linger in the Air made it to 8.5/10. Both have the same number of episodes, but the uncut version is around 20 minutes longer than the cut version aired on the TV channel. Nothing that would prevent the viewer from understanding the story in the cut version, but there's a lot more depth to the story and the characters in the uncut version.


Teen Clash

MDL Rating: 8.5/10
Zoe is an aspiring musician who is bent on joining her school’s music jam to redeem herself after an unfortunate incident in the past caused her grave embarrassment. In her journey, she encounters the charming songwriter Ice, who will later attempt to help her overcome her struggles as a musician.  


When I ran the search for the top Filipino drama, I came across two problems. Firstly, the higher rankings (the higher traffic in the ratings, comments, reviews, and recommendations) go to its BL dramas, but all ratings are below 8.0 (Thai BLs still reign supreme!). Secondly, there are a few teledramas rated 8.5 and above, but their minimum episodes are 75! For people who want to find out what a Filipino drama is like, a very long drama is not a good start. So I picked a youth drama with only 10 episodes and it's available with English subs from the official Filipino drama channel iWant TFC.


A genre that features extended fight scenes, violence, explosions, daring escapes, and frantic chases. 

Moving

MDL Rating: 9.1/10
Kim Bong Seok, Jang Hee Soo, and Lee Gang Hoon, seemingly typical high school students, bear extraordinary inherited powers. Bong Seok can fly, Hee Soo possesses exceptional athleticism and rapid injury recovery, and Gang Hoon wields uncanny strength and speed. As they conceal their gifts, their parents fight to shield them from exploitation by others, navigating a delicate balance between secrecy and protection. 

In my personal opinion, Moving ought to be the best Korean drama in 2023, thus the top-ranked. My reason is that the drama is not just action-packed, but also has a tight narrative with in-depth characters, each has heartwarming stories of family bonding, youth friendship, teamwork, or even office romance, interwoven with gritty, violent, and heart-pounding action scenes.

Watch the Moving: Making Of Featurette video on its official platform Disney+ Hotstar!


A genre that focuses on visiting and exploring exotic locations.
Usually, it focuses on the protagonist who journeys to epic or distant places to accomplish something. 


One Piece (MDL Rating 8.9/10)


One Piece is a true adventure drama. The ultimate goal is clear: to find the exotic and mysterious treasure called One Piece (no one knows what it is, since the manga is still ongoing) that is rumored located in the Grand Line, an ocean route that wraps around the entire world. Reputed as the "pirate's graveyard," the sea and the islands along the Grand Line possess a vast number of unpredictable phenomena that are not seen anywhere else in the world. Additionally, the Grand Line is home to the world's most powerful people and groups (source). Besides finding the One Piece in Grand Line, the Straw Hat Pirates also have their own goals as shown in the GIF below. 

This first installment is character-driven and with only 8 episodes it has enough background for each individual character, so that at the end of the drama, the audience roots for them to accomplish their goals!


A genre that focuses mainly on company settings and different job positions in the company. 

Perfect Marriage Revenge

MDL Rating: 8.5/10
Han Yi Joo was always isolated from her adopted family. On her wedding day, she learns that her husband loves her adopted sister Han Yoo Ra. Han Yi Joo gets into a car accident and dies. When Han Yi Joo wakes up, she finds herself back in time when she was engaged. She breaks off her engagement and then approaches Seo Do Guk, whom Han Yoo Ra wants to marry. Han Yi Joo enters into a contract marriage with Seo Do Guk. 

Destined

MDL Rating: 8.5/10

Due to a misunderstanding, Liu Yu Ru is married off to Gu Jiu Si, the notorious son of Yangzhou's wealthiest family. At first, he does not like Liu Yu Ru, believing her to be calculating and scheming. As she settles into her new life, she begins to learn business from her mother-in-law while growing closer to Gu Jiu Si.  As the couple grows ever closer through their hardships, the benevolent pair becomes destined for greatness.

When I watched Perfect Marriage Revenge, I did not consider it a business-oriented drama, more of a romance and fantasy drama because of the time travel that happens. Although the Female Lead Han Yi Joo and the Male Lead Seo Do Guk both come from conglomerate families, and there are some business operation scenes, in my opinion, it is more of a mini version of makjang Kdramas, that usually comprise 100+ episodes! This is good, if you are not into business, makjang, or daily dramas, you can still give it a try because it's 12 episodes.

On the other hand, the other top business drama Destined, with its 40 episodes (the maximum number of episodes allowed for Chinese dramas nowadays), shows enough details of the daily operation of an ancient business entity, since the Male Lead Gu Jiu Si comes from the wealthiest merchant family of Gu. As the Female Lead Liu Yu Ru also comes from a small merchant family, she brings her in-laws' business to not only become influential to the surrounding area but later become a strong ally to support the rightful leader of the country during the war.


A genre that focuses on entertaining the audience through amusement, 
and tells a series of funny or comical events, intended to make the audience laugh. 

Top Comedy Drama (all are rated 9.0/10)

Hidden Love

When I Fly Towards You

Oh No! Here Comes Trouble

Oh No! Here Comes Trouble is a unique blend of an overarching plot through the episodes that also consists of individual subplots of a spiritual entity for a couple of episodes and then it moves on to another subplot.  However short the subplot is, it still allows the audience to become attached to the particular entity and its story. The plot and subplots have a good balance of serious and comedic moments. The comedy is crucial as it balances the heavy themes and heartbreaking moments throughout the drama. It's a weird but not slapstick kind of comedy, and the trio of leading actors did an excellent job of being able to do good acting in both serious moments as well as comedic ones.  


A genre that focuses on one major crime the plot revolves around the lives of criminals 
or a crime that is being committed.

Taxi Driver Season 2

MDL Rating: 8.9/10
Despite disbanding after Do Gi's successful revenge, the Rainbow Deluxe Taxi crew, including Seong Cheol, Go Eun, Gyeong Gu, and Jin Eon, can't resist the call to reunite with their former leader. Though each attempts to live a regular life with a typical job, their innate desire to fight against injustice draws them back to one another. The group even welcomes a new member, a kind-hearted but clumsy young man named On Ha Jun, who stumbles upon the secret basement of Rainbow Taxi. Now fighting for more clients than ever before, the crew continues to battle on behalf of those wronged by an unequal society.

A genre that focuses on nonfictional stories that document some aspect of reality,
primarily for instruction or maintaining a historical record. 

Persona: Sulli

MDL Rating: 8.1/10
Persona: Sulli is split into two parts: A short film titled "4: Clean Island", and a feature-length documentary film "Dear Jinri" (Sulli's real name), which includes the star's final interview. 

"4: Clean Island" is a short film about a main character named Nezzi (Sulli)  who dreams of immigrating to the cleanest place in the world, 'Clean Island'. To pass through an immigration checkpoint to the island, Nezzi needs to confess a sin. 

"Dear Jinri" is a documentary that features the diverse concerns and thoughts of 25-year-old Choi Jinri (Sulli) in the form of interviews. The documentary conveys Sulli’s wish for the public to see her and like her for just the way she is.    

A genre that focuses on the in-depth development of realistic characters dealing with emotional themes. 


Twinkling Watermelon (MDL Rating 9.2/10)



A genre that aims to appeal not only to children but to a wide range of ages in the context of home and family. 

The Good Bad Mother

MDL Rating: 8.9/10

Young Soon is a single mother and pig farmer who raised her son Kang Ho alone. Despite her love for him, her strict parenting caused Kang Ho to view her as a bad mother. As an adult, Kang Ho became a cold-hearted prosecutor and kept his distance from his mother. However, an unexpected accident caused him to return to his hometown and start over with Young Soon. Kang Ho's childhood friend Mi Joo, known for her warm heart and strong sense of justice, also reconnected with him after his accident, leading to a transformative experience for her.

A genre with a plot that takes place in imaginary worlds where magic and magical creatures are common. 


Twinkling Watermelon (MDL Rating 9.2/10)



A genre that focuses on eating or cooking food. 

Love Me, Love My Voice

MDL Rating: 8.6/10
A university student has another identity - online she is "Sheng Sheng Man" who does music for the historical genre. Although she is still a nobody, it doesn't stop her from dreaming of the day she can collaborate with her favorite voice-dubbing god "Qiang Qing Ci." Driven by her passion, Gu Sheng who is in her senior year is diligent in composing and creating music. Meanwhile, Mo Qing Cheng is the famous voice actor known as "Qiang Qing Ci." Gu Sheng has never told anyone that her greatest wish is to be able to work with "Qiang Qing Ci," yet one day, she unexpectedly encounters his voice. Mo Qing Cheng reads a recipe out loud to her, which stirs her heartstrings. 

A genre with a plot that takes place in a setting located in the past. 


I Feel You Linger in the Air: Uncut Version (MDL Rating 8.9/10)


Alchemy of Souls Season 2: 
Light and Shadow

MDL Rating: 8.9/10
Jang Uk returns from death, and three years later, the story of the mages unfolds anew. Jang Uk becomes a hunter of the soul-shifters when a young woman, a prisoner in her own home, seeks his help to reclaim her freedom.

My Dearest

MDL Rating: 8.9/10
Jang Hyun is a cold-hearted man who loves no one until he gets introduced to love after meeting Gil Chae. She is charming and admired by all, but her first love, Yeon Jun, is already engaged to her best friend, Eun Ae. As Jang Hyun becomes entangled in this unusual love triangle, the relationship between these four gets put into an even bigger twist at the breakout of war.

Historical fiction is a fictional story with a historical setting which tries to render that setting accurately. Fantasy is entirely fictional, although most fantasy worlds draw inspiration from real human cultures and situations from the past. 

Unlike the two historical fiction dramas I Feel You Linger in the Air (setting: 1927 Siam) and My Dearest (setting: 1600s Joseon), Alchemy of Souls Season 2: Light and Shadow is a historical fantasy that is set in a fictional country called Daeho that does not exist in history or on maps. Although this drama is the successor of the Alchemy of Souls (rating 9.1/10) that was released in 2022 and ended in 2023, it cannot match the prequel in the plot, action, and comedy parts. Nevertheless, when it ended, AOS2 left me yearning for more Korean historical fantasy dramas!


A genre with a plot that seeks to elicit a negative emotional reaction from viewers 
by playing on the audience's primal fears.

Tale of the Nine-Tailed 1938

MDL Rating: 8.8/10 
An unexpected case leads Lee Yeon back in time to 1938, where he reencounters Ryu Hong Joo. Once a guardian spirit of the mountain in the west, she's now the owner of a high-end restaurant in the capital city of Gyeongseong. He also meets his younger brother Lee Rang. Meanwhile, another former guardian spirit and ex-friend Cheon Moo Young has become hostile. Lee Yeon struggles to return to the present, to his loved one.

I watched both this drama and its prequel Tale of the Nine-Tailed (rating 8.4/10), and I can say that this is the best sequel of a drama. A lot of times second seasons and sequels of dramas ended up disappointing because we audiences have high expectations that are built on the success of the prior series. But this drama is the opposite (as evidenced by the MDL ratings). It's funny (although not comedy genre), action-packed, and has a strong Female Lead who outshines the rest of the cast. Having mentioned that it is funny, I disagree that this drama is the top horror drama in 2023. Although there are a lot of bad people and evil creatures (they even imported Japanese yokai because of the era), there is no suspenseful feature that builds up the jump scare.


A genre that focuses on the system of justice and who works in it; such as lawyers, prosecutors, and judges. 

Love to Hate You

MDL Rating: 8.5/10
Yeo Mi Ran works as a novice lawyer at Gilmu Law Firm, a company that primarily serves the entertainment industry. She has no interest in pursuing a romantic relationship and detests losing to men in any competition. Nam Kang Ho, a renowned actor in the entertainment industry, is widely popular in South Korea owing to his good looks, intellect, and benevolent nature. While he is in high demand for romantic movie roles, he doesn't have much faith in women. Despite their shared disbelief in love, Yeo Mi Ran and Nam Kang Ho find themselves engaged in a romantic battle.

A genre that describes a drama/movie that might have no plot but represents a portion of (everyday) life. 


Hidden Love (MDL Rating 9.0/10)



A genre that focuses on adult content mainly focusing and featuring sexually explicit scenes and nudity. 

Hit the Spot

MDL Rating 8.3/10
Considered by many to be a warm, friendly, considerate person, Son Hee Jae is surrounded by people who claim to know and love her, but she isn’t sure if she knows herself. This is why, when she suddenly finds herself in charge of a love and romance podcast, Hee Jae feels more than a little lost. While Hee Jae begins to explore the world of romantic love, her best friend, Mi Na finds herself trapped in a loveless relationship and desperately wants things to change. Pooling their lifetime of experiences and newfound knowledge, Mi Na and Hee Jae decide it’s time to both make a major life change by opening a sex counseling service together. 

A genre that focuses on hospitals and doctors, and is based around a team of medics 
helping patients who have been involved in serious accidents. 

Dr. Romantic Season 3

MDL Rating 9.0/10
At Doldam Hospital, Dr. Kim Sa Bu and his team are committed to saving lives. After three years, a state-of-the-art trauma center is set to open, equipped with the latest in medical technology. Before the center's official opening, however, a crisis unfolds on a North Korean ship that's drifted into South Korean waters. Doctors from Doldam Hospital fly out to help the critically injured aboard the ship. However, the patients need to be transported to the hospital. To complicate matters, the South Korean government wants the North Korean patients returned to their country as part of diplomatic efforts with their neighboring country. Amidst the chaos, Cha Jin Man—the father of Cha Eun Jae and a former rival of Dr. Kim Sa Bu—is brought on board to run the new trauma center.  

I love this series and up till the latest installment this show still delivers, the rating is even higher than its prequels Dr. Romantic (rating 8.7/10) and Dr. Romantic Season 2 (rating 8.7/10). But I still prefer the first season as it is more action-oriented. Season 3 has more drama than action, and is character-oriented with problems with romance and relationships. But the plot raises the stakes with the opening of their new trauma center and political subplots, therefore I am looking forward to the fourth season!


A genre that focuses on a dramatic plot, which is typically sensational and designed to appeal strongly to emotions. The genre tends to use plots that often deal with crises of human emotion, failed romance or friendship, 
strained familial situations, tragedy, illness, neuroses, or emotional and physical hardship. 

The Glory Part 2
MDL Rating 9.0/10
Moon Dong Eun's silent fury against those students who horrifically abused her during her high school years continues to burn inside of her. She meticulously executes her plan to inflict ultimate pain on her tormentors. Meanwhile, the sudden disappearance of Son Myeong Oh has gotten the attention of the police and his friends. Joo Yeo Jeong follows Moon Dong Eun and is willing to do anything she asks in her pursuit of revenge. Before Moon Dong Eun begins her final moves, she offers her nemesis Park Yeon Jin a chance to save herself if she turns in to the police, but Park Yeon Jin has plans to stop Moon Dong Eun. A violent and bloody game of nerves plays out between these rivals. 

A genre that focuses on the military setting and soldiers. 

D.P. Season 2

MDL Rating 8.7/10
This unfolding story ensues when military desertion arrest squad members (DP), Jun Ho and Ho Yeol, run across absurdities and unchangeable reality regularly.






A genre that focuses on singing and producing music.
Usually, the main protagonist is an amateur or professional singer.


Love Me, Love My Voice (MDL Rating 8.6/10)



A genre that focuses on an investigator as they attempt to solve a puzzle (often a crime) or a mysterious death. 
It can be detective stories in which the emphasis is on the puzzle or suspense element 
and its logical solution such as a whodunit. 


Moving (MDL Rating 9.1/10)


As much as I love Moving, I don't think it's a mystery drama. No character in the drama investigates the mystery of the superpowers. The parents are completely aware of the superpowers, and the children do not try to find out what happens behind the supernatural gifts they possess. If you are looking for the top mystery dramas, Oh No! Here Comes Trouble and Mysterious Lotus Casebook are only 0.5 less in ratings and fit into the description of a mystery-genre drama better.


A genre that focuses on political affairs or describes a politician or series of political events. 

A Journey to Love 

MDL Rating 8.8/10
Female assassin Ren Ru Yi, the former left envoy of the Scarlet Guards, becomes a member of the Wu State's escort delegation to save the King of Wu who has been taken hostage by the State of An. Together with Ning Yuan Zhou, the leader of the Wu State's Six Realms Hall, the free-spirited Yu Shi San, Princess Yang Ying, clever teen Yuan Lu, and the imperial guard Qian Zhao, they experience love, life, death, and grow together. 

Not a fan of the political genre, but I am glad that A Journey to Love is the top-ranked drama in this section. When watching it I do not see much political talk but more action, because the Wu State's Six Realms (Liudao) Hall is the country's secret organization that specializes in investigation and espionage. So we see a lot of fine martial arts fighting scenes along with amazing character building, friendship, and romance made along the delegation's journey from one country to another.


A genre that focuses on the mentally disturbed protagonist and emphasizes the psychological condition
of the hero that presents obstacles to his objective. 

Vigilante 

MDL Rating 8.5/10
When Kim Ji Yong was a child, his mother was beaten to death in the street. The culprit only received three and a half years in prison. Kim Ji Yong—now an adult—sees that his mother's killer hasn't changed at all. Ji Yong takes matters into his own hands and beats him brutally. Subsequently, Kim Ji Yong begins living two entirely different lives. On weekdays, he's a model student at the police university. During the weekends, he punishes criminals who'd received light sentences and continue to commit criminal acts. Now called Vigilante, Ji Yong receives help from admirer Cho Kang Ok. Meanwhile, Detective Cho Heon chases after the man called Vigilante.  

I enjoyed this drama as an action thriller but I disagree that Vigilante is considered a psychological drama, despite the listed genre. I don't think Kim Ji Yong is mentally disturbed. I looked up online if vigilantism is a mental disorder and found no source unless the person already has underlying psychological issues. However, vigilantism is illegal, and that's how the plot of this drama is built upon.

Having said that, although I am scared of psychological thrillers, I watched A Bloody Lucky Day (rating 8.2/10). I recommend it for watchers who like this type of genre, as it perfectly fits the category. For a Korean drama, this rating is low, but since I have watched it I knew the rating suffers because of the lack of proper sub (AI generated). Yes, MDLers do rate shows low if there is a lack or inadequate sub. But you may want to be scared with a suspenseful long ride as a meek and kind taxi driver gets a psycho killer as his passenger!


A genre that focuses on emotion-driven plots that are primarily focused on the relationship
between the main characters of the story. 


Twinkling Watermelon (MDL Rating 9.2/10)



A genre that focuses on the use of scientific understanding to explain the universe that it takes place in. 
It generally includes the presumed effects or ramifications of computers or machines; 
travel through space, time, or alternate universes; alien life-forms; genetic engineering; or other such things. 

My Perfect Stranger

MDL Rating 8.6/10
Yoon Hae Joon is the youngest anchor to ever work at his broadcasting station. He is calm and straightforward as a journalist and kind in his personal life. On the other hand, Baek Yoon Young dreamed of becoming a writer but wound up working at a publishing company.  The two somehow travel back in time to the year 1987. There, Yoon Hae Joon tries to find the truth behind a serial murder case while Baek Yoon Young attempts to prevent her parents from marrying. They soon realize that their objectives are connected.  

The sci-fi part of this drama is the time-traveling, which interestingly closely affects the murder mystery. It's quite interesting since the protagonists Yoon Hae Joon and Baek Yoon Young are not only strangers to each other but to the time and the community as well. As we are introduced one by one to the people in 1987, our list of suspects grows longer. The question is not only who is or is the killer(s) but also why the protagonists travel back in time, and whether they can go back to the present time or not!


A genre that focuses on a sport or sports team training or competing in a competition. 

Nothing But You

MDL Rating 8.3/10
Liang You An, an executive assistant to a powerful boss has been stagnant in her position that was going nowhere. With plans to resign, she got her opportunity by meeting Song San Chuan, a professional badminton player going through a traumatic period in his life which rendered him stuck. While she encouraged him to be the first person ever to transfer from professional Badminton to professional Tennis, he at nearly 10 years her junior provided support and uncharacteristic wisdom. Could these two seemingly different people ultimately succeed in their goals, life, and love?  

A genre that focuses on anything beyond 'the natural order of things'.
If a person could move things with their mind, can see ghosts, or have superhuman reflexes. 


Moving (MDL Rating 9.1/10)


Moving has everything you want to see in a great action show: spectacular and even supernatural physical action. It has a tight and connected narrative emphasis on fights, chases, and explosions; and a combination of state-of-the-art special effects and stunt work.  To create those extravaganzas, Moving spent a total budget of over 60 billion Korean won (apprx. 46 million USD), making it the most expensive K-drama of all time (source).

Describing the supernaturality of the drama only gives spoilers to readers who haven't watched it, because there are much more than the supernatural abilities and many more super characters than the three children mentioned in the synopsis!


A genre that focuses on giving viewers heightened feelings of suspense, excitement,
surprise, anticipation, and anxiety. 


Moving (MDL Rating 9.1/10)


A thriller story usually involves a protagonist who is working to fight a foreign power, criminal organization, or a ruthless villain. The conflicts often involve takes of espionage, financial crimes, politics, or some type of adventure. No matter what, thrillers have huge stakes. That's what makes them exciting. In Moving, all protagonists are day-to-day ordinary people (with supernatural powers), working to protect themselves and their families. Because they are ordinary, they fight the bad guys in different ways than the professionals do, with the best they have.



 (Literally "special filming") A genre of Japanese live-action entertainment
that usually involves superheroes combatting evil monsters. 

Avataro Sentai Donbrothers

MDL Rating 8.1/10
Heroes unlike those you've ever seen before! These five are based on the Tale of Momotaro, as a dog, pheasant, monkey, and oni join together to fight against other demons! Using the legendary powers of the Avataro Gears, they load an avatar to fight as the Avatar Change! They fight against the dreaded Oni, demons born from human desires, and the demonic organization that supports them, the Noto! When a high school student named Haruka Kito gets mysterious powers, she is told by a man named Jin Momoi that she must find his son, Taro Momoi, and swear loyalty to him! But what exactly does this all mean? And who are these mysterious allies he keeps mentioning she will find? The story of the Donbrothers will unravel as we journey into this wondrous festival together!!

A genre that describes a war or battle that can either be historical or fictional. 

Winter and Lion

MDL Rating: 8.1/10
Military commander Wu Qianli has returned to his hometown. Wu's elder brother died in the Huaihai Battle and his third brother, Wu Wanli, is a troublemaker in their fishing village. Qianli decides to set his little brother on the path to becoming a soldier. 

The Eve

MDL Rating 8.1/10
The story is set in the three historical stages of the Shanghai Concession in 1941, the Battle of Jinzhou in 1948, and the liberation of Shanghai in 1949. Gang member Lin Xi and progressive female student Su Nan represent the unsung heroes of their time.

(Literally "martial arts chivalry") A genre of Chinese fiction
concerning the adventures of martial artists in ancient China. 

This genre is vast, and not all dramas in this genre are pure wuxia, therefore I categorize them into wuxia, xianxia, and xuanhuan

In a nutshell, the differences between wuxia, xianxia, and xuanhuan come from their main story and the elements around the plot. Wuxia tells the life of a martial hero, xianxia tells about an immortal hero, and xuanhuan tells about the story of a hero in a fantasy world. 

Wuxia


Mysterious Lotus Casebook (MDL Rating 9.0/10)

Mysterious Lotus Casebook is a unique wuxia drama. The typical genre plot is about a young character, who through martial arts school and trials, grows to be a great hero. Unlike the stereotypical character, the main protagonist Li Lian Hua used to be the legendary martial artist Li Xiang Yi of his era, but for some reason, has fallen and left the pugilistic world and hides his identity as a traveling doctor. Although he has retired, viewers can still enjoy the greatness of Li Xiang Yi's martial arts skills during flashbacks, as seen in the GIF below, as well as the present time, when he and his two friends and other martial artists entertain the viewers with amazing movements!


Xianxia

Till the End 
of the Moon

MDL Rating: 8.6/10

In an era when demons have dominion over cultivators and mortals, Li Su Su is sent back in time to discover the origin of the demon lord and prevent his resurrection. She assumes the identity of mortal Ye Xi Wu, who is married to Tantai Jin, the captive prince and future demon lord, and is determined to destroy him.

The Starry Love

MDL Rating: 8.6/10

The queen of the human tribe gave birth to twin girls. Respected by the entire tribe, the older sister Qing Kui, who is gentle and kind, is betrothed to the heavenly prince. The younger sister, Ye Tan, smart and cunning, is betrothed to the demon prince. Due to a mix-up, the two sisters are married off to the wrong husbands.

Xianxia stories originate from rich Chinese myths and legends with Taoist, Buddhist, or Confucian beliefs. This results in a set of morals and cultural premises implemented into the stories, and those boundaries can be foreign to the viewers. Personally, it is more difficult for me to follow a xianxia plot than a wuxia plot, because the former has more talks on philosophy (e.g. sect regulations) while the latter emphasizes more martial arts action. Despite the difficulties in understanding xianxia, I watched the two dramas above. I found them entertaining without delving too deep into the philosophy.


Xuanhuan

Lost You Forever

MDL Rating: 8.7/10
The world of Dahuang was once divided into three kingdoms: Xiyan, Chenrong, and Haoling. Xiyan and Chenrong were at war, and General Chi Chen led the forces of Chenrong. The daughter of Xiyan's Emperor defeated General Chi Chen at the cost of her own life. Her daughter Xiao Yao and her nephew Cang Xuan were left alone with no one to rely on except each other. But Xiao Yao was sent to Jade Mountain, and the two were separated. She endures many hardships, and 300 years later she has changed her gender and appearance and is running a small clinic under the name Doctor Wen Xiao Liu. This doctor, his servant, a wine-maker, and a demon military advisor cross paths in Qingshiui Town. In this town outside of the Xiyan Kingdom and Haoling Kingdom's control, these meetings will change the future of all of Dahuang.  

A genre that focuses on the life of children, teenagers, or young adults,
and deals with their ambitions and friendships. 


Twinkling Watermelon (MDL Rating 9.2/10)



Whew, now that we went through the long list, what do you think?

Now it's your turn to tell us! Copy and paste these questions onto the comment section below and share your own experience in watching dramas!

  1. How many 2023-release dramas did you watch? [Can be found by sorting your completed dramas, first by Year in descending order and then by Type in ascending order.]
  2. What country did you watch the most in 2023? [Can be found in your Year In Review.]
  3. What genre(s) do you usually watch? [Can be found in your Year In Review.]
  4. What is your top drama listed in this article? [Can be more than one]
  5. What is your top drama NOT listed in this article? [Can be more than one. This is the chance for you to convince us why you think your choice of dramas deserved to be on the top.]
  6. How was your drama journey in 2023?
  7. What is your wish or plan in dramaland in 2024?

Below are mine:

  1. 114 of 2023-released dramas (completed)
  2. China
  3. Romance, mystery, thriller, supernatural, and/or action.
  4. One Piece, Mysterious Lotus Casebook, and Oh No! Here Comes Trouble
  5. The Kidnapping Day (South Korea, MDL rating 8.6/10) and I Am Nobody (China, MDL rating 8.7/10). The Kidnapping Day is a 12-episode drama with a unique/original plot with the most unlikely protagonist pairing, the kidnapper and the victim, but the duo can deliver hilarious yet emotional scenes together. I Am Nobody is a 27-episode drama with great action/fighting skills, quirky characters with character growth, and strong friendship. We almost were not able to enjoy this drama because it was pulled back after several episodes aired due to 'technical reasons' and eventually aired again. 
  6. It was fun. Since I watch currently airing dramas, I had a good time conversing with other like-minded viewers in the comment sections.
  7. Wish: More mystery, action, thriller, and supernatural dramas were madeIt seems I'm more inclined to appreciate dramas in those genres (My answers to #4 and #5 indicate non-romance dramas).
    Plan: Start reviewing dramas again (especially for the under-rated or under-the-radar dramas). Also, episodic rating, as I read it helps with the overall drama ratings.

THANK YOU FOR READING AND HAPPY WATCHING!

May your 2024 journey be full of love for watching Asian dramas!


Thank you to the editors who edited this article! Credits: Images and GIFs are the official drama posters on MDL. All GIFs are self-made from the drama scenes.  The last GIF is made from this photo. The Feature Image is a self-made collage of the drama posters listed and a sunrise background image.
Edited by: devitto (1st editor)

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