The year 2022 has given us an amazing and long list of BL dramas that we have thoroughly enjoyed. Presenting various elements that have made them binge-worthy, the BL dramas released this year has been of high quality in not just the storyline, the cast, or dialogue, but also production value as well. These traits have duly flamed our conviction in the fact that South Korea is making a name for itself in the BL niche.
While many dramas released this year have duly pleased the hearts of BL fans, here are some we consider the absolute best for various reasons.
1. "To My Star 2: Our Untold Stories"
Emotional depth, a gripping storyline, impeccable acting by its cast, and a realistic look into the idea of dating and relationships. While we were all duly pleased with the way its first season ended, satiating our desire for a happy ending for our favorite domestic couple, its second season piqued our interest because it offered something unexpected but still brilliant. With the announcement of season 2, many would've expected a continuation of their happiness, right where they ended in its first season. However, we are faced with a shocking twist, they had broken up. This sad realization no doubt gripped many viewers who expectantly needed to know what happened between them. Even though we might deduce that a breakup could happen, (as breakup to reconciliation plots are often used as an interesting tool in many dramas) we couldn't imagine that it would be by its first episode. Perhaps, this serves as point 1 on why it is the best BL in 2022. The development of its storyline is completely different and unique from others.
This brilliant reveal sets up the rest of the story. Now we do not have to wait for the inevitable breakup, all we had to do was watch how they reconcile. And yet, this bit wasn't an easy or cut-and-dry process. It went through its rough and aching stages as well. Like in its first season, we see Kang SeoJoon (Son WooHyun) continue his pursuit of Han JiWon (Kim KangMin). This time around, like many viewers, he is desperately in need of answers. But what really drives this desperation is his desire to get back with Han JiWon regardless of what might have caused the breakup. His affection for him, despite their polar opposite personalities, is unwavering. Their first meeting post-break-up could serve as one of the most heart-fluttering moments in K-Dramas this year. Beautifully shot, we could see from all angles the emotions they felt at that moment. Gripping our senses, it felt like we were in the same space as them. The swift disappearance of anger that turned to long on Kang SeoJun's face and the sudden shock that turns to heartache, a rush of sadness and despair. In this moment, we see how much they do care for each other, one perhaps regretting his decision and the other finding solace in the fact that he has found his love again. Beautiful emotional moments like these would come to be the driving force of the series. The amazing chemistry between the actors serving as the foundation helps makes these moments more believable and powerful. Sometimes it could be subtle (like the scene with the glass cup) or it could be loud (like the kiss scene under the bridge), in either form, these notable moments were part of what made their story meaningful and special.
As the story progresses, we slowly find answers as to why they broke up. And even though they were on an inevitable path to reconciliation, filled with bumps, the road leading to that wasn't the smoothest and perhaps that is also what piques our interest further. From the introduction of a former lover to the lingering fears and insecurities of one half of the couple, there were several elements that put a halt to this journey. However, their love was meant to be as they finally came to terms with their feelings for each other.
Like we mentioned earlier, for the majority of the series, like in its first season as well, we see Kang SeoJoon as the one who always comes after Han JiWon. He is the more openly affectionate one and is not afraid to express his emotions. However, that can take its toll on anyone, when your level of affection is not duly reciprocated. Even though he didn't let it bother him as much and was happy to be that one pulling Han JiWon closer and sort of fighting for the relationship, we eventually see him reconsider his actions and putting a halt in his steps. This moment draws to the relatability of the series. It is a real and honest reaction. And perhaps served as a catalyst that finally brings Han JiWon out of his shell. This time, we see the roles reversed, now Han JiWon is seen as the one pursuing Kang SeoJoon. The reconciliation scene was perhaps one of the most touching we have seen this year as well. Kang SeoJoon initially waits for Han JiWon to walk up to him. He wanted Han JiWon to make a move, any kind of move, make him want this, take a bold step and come back to him, just in the same way he left. And he did. However, what makes this even more special was Han JiWon reminding Kang SeoJoon of the promise he made back in season 1, "if it is hard, I will come to you'. This statement bridges their distances, making Kang SeoJoon take a step towards him, showing his willingness to always come back to Han JiWon.
A love story for the books, this unique spin of the drama showed many that BL could dig deeper into the emotional story of its characters while still serving a very enjoyable and entertaining series.
2. "Semantic Error"
Brilliant, entertaining, and blazing hot with chemistry, "Semantic Error" will for a long time be tagged as one of the best South Korean BL dramas.
Playing on the "enemies to lovers trope" the series in itself following the webtoon and its trailer, was bound to be interesting. However, what makes it even more so was the delivery of its cast and the production of the series as well. This in its own way was not like any BL drama released in the past. It was bright and colorful. The use of sharp and bright colors kept viewers fascinated and interested. It made it fun and lively, adding that extra special effect to the series. The use of space is also another element that makes it special. Even though the story predominantly takes place in the school, the way it was shot, with the various angles, introducing a range of elements, and using different cuts from the same scenes that often showed more than just the characters, gave more life and depth to the series. Despite a handful, it still gives us a good idea of what the characters were like outside the confinement of the school space. By doing this, a sort of connection is formed between the characters and the viewers, as we ultimately get to understand them more.
When it comes to the characters itself, in our opinion, their stories were well-developed and executed to perfection. Throughout the course of the series, they gave us the necessary points that made us understand the characters and their dynamics as individuals and as a budding couple. We were introduced to the characters, we saw each point in their emotional development, and ultimately, the step-by-step process on how their affection for each other was built. This intricate and beautiful journey is what adds so much to the appeal of the series.
While there are many interesting aspects of this story, one of the most important is the emotions the characters showed at various moments. The timeliness of these moments makes its effect felt even more. Even though this could aptly be tagged as a rom-com, it wasn't just your average sugarcoated love story as in its own way, it also presented an emotional depth with its characters.
Its key topic on discovering oneself and self-acceptance is one that many would find some sense of semblance with. In its own way, it shows that sometimes, we need an external force to shake up our system and infuse into our lives a new format, a different perspective that would make us view life differently and even better.
The chemistry! The chemistry between the main leads of a series is a major aspect of what makes their story even more believable and appreciated. The amazing chemistry between Park SeoHam and DKZ's JaeChan is what makes Jang JaeYoung and Cho SangWoo work. Even though these are fictional characters, the actors themselves did an incredible job in bringing them to life. And a special kudos to whoever came up with the idea of opening an Instagram account for both characters. It really added to that real-life appeal they brought to the series.
The push-and-pull effect might have become a standard yet stale trait in many rom-com series but in this drama, it was totally enjoyable. As we noted before, there is a step-by-step process toward them falling in love. Even though we could ably since some levels of attraction between them on their first meeting, especially from Jang JaeYoung, their love story wasn't rushed, despite the series being short in duration. In its short span, it still manages to encapsulate the essence of their budding love story, introducing various subplots that all led to the build-up of a realization of feelings, a first kiss, and a confession.
A beautiful story well told, we can aptly say that it wasn't just the striking good looks of the actors that made viewers tune in to watch this series, but the amazing portrayal of the characters and its intriguing plots as well. Variables that combined together have made this an instant favorite amongst BL fans.
"Blueming" is a cinematic masterpiece and one that will and should be referred to for the standard of future melodramatic BL drama. This college-themed drama beautifully capture and portrayed the story of 2 young adults both with different struggles, who found some comfort and safety with each other.
Playing on the "enemies to lovers" trope (although it was one-sided and short-lived) the series served an enjoyable storyline filled with moments that many could relate with. What makes it especially special is how it tackles various topics (especially ones faced by many youths today) without derailing from its essence which is showing the budding affection between two individuals who found the love they craved in each other.
The chemistry displayed by both rookie actors in this series was pure magic as right from the first interaction of their characters, we were already enthralled by their story. The story development also takes the cake here as it was truly well thought out and made. Despite it being in short form, the storyline was well-fledged out, living no room for misinterpretation or questions about a character. As we watch along, we see any foreboding questions answered appropriately, which makes us further understand the character, their flaws, and reasoning, and even draw similarities with their stories as well.
Going back to the plots, what we also enjoyed was how well it portrayed different aspects of the main leads, especially Cha SiWon (Kang EunBin). On the outside, he looks like a confident, smart, and well-groomed young man who is passionate about life and strives to achieve his goals. But on the inside, he is thoroughly insecure and desperately craves the attention of others. He somewhat sees the affirmation of others as a testament to his life and value. We came to understand these feelings were because of his past experiences and his conflicting relationship with his mother and father. Like many today, we often find and place a higher value on the thoughts of others over our own. Limiting ourselves to their judgment and mercy, instead of framing our minds to see the good in ourselves and realize that the only person that we need to compete with is ourselves and grow accordingly. With the introduction of Hyung DaWoon (Cho HyukJun), we see Cha SiWon's exterior confidence shaken as he believes Hyung DaWoon will get all the attention that he has worked so hard to achieve. Playing yet again on his insecurities. However, the case is subtly proven different as we see that Hyung DaWoon is not interested in the attention of others but just Cha SiWon. In his own way and despite his own struggles too, he tries to show Cha SiWon that these cravings of attention and love from others do not matter and the only one who can truly give him the affection and care he needed was himself.
Another aspect of the series that was like striking gold was the fact that no one had to come out. Well, maybe that bit would be tackled in season 2. But, unlike many other BL's where one lead has to struggle with his new discovery of his sexuality, in this one, that scenario was never created. We might assume that they had both already come to terms with the fact that they were gay before they even met each other or the fact that in this imaginary world, orientation didn't matter as love for whoever was more prevalent. Meaning, it was more about the feelings than the gender. Again, this might not play well in reality but ideally, this is perhaps how it should be.
The dialogue in this series was another impressive point that earned it a good check mark. It was smart and delivered with the right emotions that fit the situation in different scenes. Also, while the storyline does focuses centrally on the 2 main leads, it however still shows other characters as well. In various moments, we are shown the stories of other characters who are acquainted with the leads. Again, this bit adds to the fact that the story is full-fledged and clears away any lingering questions about its characters. A well-produced series, this BL drama might have been low budget but it will remain of high value.
4. "Cherry Blossoms After Winter"
The story of HaeBom (Ok JinWook) and TaeSung (Kang Hui) was clearly one for the romance books as it served us various heart-fluttering moments that made us beam with affection for them. A simple yet compelling storyline that delved into the complexities of first love especially when there are conflicting situations that might dampen their affection for each other.
A young boy is introduced to another and asked to befriend and protect him as he would a brother. Following the death of his parents, HaeBom moves in at a young age with TaeSung and his mother. TaeSung's cool like exterior and his limited interactions with HaeBom projected the feeling that he perhaps didn't like him and as such, despite his budding affection for him, the latter choose to sort of avoid him and not cause trouble for him.
However a bullying situation serves as the catalyst that would make TaeSung show his real emotions towards HaeBom as he tried to prove that right from their first meeting, he had always cared for him.
Short and sweet, the series wastes no time in delving into the love story of the 2 main leads. In this format, there was no real need to give complex details about the characters. Them living together already sets the foundation of their love story and the kind of relationship they will have.
One of the topics it aptly tackles is sexuality and coming out. The scene where TaeSung expressed his feelings towards HaeBom to his friend, showing a deep concern and affliction over falling in love with not just a man but someone whom others considered his family was heartfelt.
This brings us to the case of its dialogue. Smart and timely, the dialogue in the series was part of its key charms. We are used to seeing some cute-themed series with draggy dialogue as they tried to amplify the cuteness of the character or moments. However, that doesn't add to its appeal but makes said moment look cringe and skip-worthy. In the case of this series, while it does have its cute moments as well, the dialogue that carries those moments made it even more enjoyable. There were no unnecessary lingering delays in their reactions and responses, it came in a timely manner that projected the emotions of those various scenes. A solid 8/10, this drama's rewatch value is incredibly high as it is one you can enjoy with ease and duly appreciate.
5. "Roommates Of Poongduck 304"
From roommates to work colleagues to lovers, this rom-com tells the story of two individuals from different backgrounds who are forced into a roommate situationship when one forcefully moves in with the other. However, their fate doesn't end there as they end up being work colleagues as well. From constant interactions that spark an attraction between them, playing on the "enemies to lovers" trope, we see them slowly discover their feelings for each other and turn them into ideal lovers, although, one bears a lingering secret that might dampen their love story.
Short yet well developed and produced, the series doesn't lack with its arrangement nor with its characters as well. While with many short web dramas, we have come to expect some sort of plot holes that creates lingering questions and confusion in the mind of viewers, this series doesn't give room for that, as it justly creates scenarios that serve as proper answers to any questions we might have. Highlighting the backstories of both characters, and their dynamic individuality which spotlights their distinct personalities and different views in life. This element of the series gave the viewers a sense of understanding behind the reasoning and actions of the characters.
The script, dialogue, and its execution were other solid points for this series. With both casts having starred in a BL series before, “Kissable Lips”, we could expect a good level of chemistry as they displayed in their previous series. However, they up the ante with this series, putting us in a state of excitement following their chaotic and entertaining banter throughout the series. As actors, their chemistry was simply undeniable, and brilliantly emoting the feelings of their characters, they brought to life a solid performance that was believable and enjoyable.
The series also subtly tackles the topic of internalized homophobia. While we could all tell that Seo JaeYoon (Yoon SeoBin) was gay and we believe he had accepted this fact as he showed a love interest towards his friend. With his interaction with Ji HoJoon (Kim JiWoong), after the drunken kiss incident showed that he might have not yet come to full terms with his sexuality. He questions Ji HoJoon's interest by saying "He is a man too". Stating that he shouldn't have this kind of feelings for another man. Perhaps this reaction stems from his past experiences or the lingering fear that this might just be a one-off thing for Ji HoJoon, or perhaps as we mentioned, he just hadn't fully come to terms with his feelings yet, however, that scene could be tagged as relatable as it projected a situation that is duly faced by many in the LGBTQ+ community.
While we cannot say this was outrightly a perfect series (we really wished it was longer), we can say it came very close to perfection with its cast, production, and delivery. And we secretly hope that they star in another BL series together soon.
Which of these dramas is your favorite this year? Are there any other ones that should be on this list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
2023: A New Format For South Korean BL DramasKDRAMA STORIESDec 8, 2022
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