2021 in Kdrama: The Poll Results

We wrap up an unusual drama year with our annual poll. What were the highs and lows of 2021? We polled more than 150 drama watchers to find out

The Best

It’s that time of year when we try to wrap everything up in a nice little bow and deliver it to you as an uncomplicated gift. Here it is! Your year in Kdrama! Sometimes it’s an easy and uncomplicated process. But 2021 was an unusual drama year and this was reflected in the end of year poll.

This year had a lot of contenders for Best Drama and comparatively few for Worst Drama (unlike last year when the contenders for worst almost outweighed those for best). And yet, no single drama stood out so much that its win was a fait accompli. If anything, I could use this year’s poll results to name three winners for Best Drama – even four. The vote was so evenly spread that I was starting to be concerned that one wouldn’t pull away from the pack at all.

The autistic male lead of Move To Heaven holds a box while staring in to the middle distance.
Moved to tears by Move to Heaven

Nonetheless, one finally has. Despite serious competition, Move to Heaven has been voted the Best Drama of 2021. It was also The One That Made You Cry The Most. So perhaps this year was in need of some catharsis.

Only 14 per cent of voters selected the moving drama about trauma cleaners as Best Drama. In a year where the vote was so split, this was enough to propel it ahead of Vincenzo (12%) and Beyond Evil (10%). Run On had a strong start and picked up the pace early on but slowed down near the finish line to end at nine per cent. But with so few votes between these dramas, I could have easily been announcing a different result.

The two leads stand next to each other in a room; both sporting weapons that they're pointing at people offscreen
It may not have won Best Drama but Vincenzo set this drama year ablaze nonetheless

Favourite Drama was equally fraught with Run On, Racket Boys, Red Sleeve Cuff and Mr Queen all in the mix till the very end. But it’s the operatic, mobster drama, Vincenzo that flicked a lighter at its kerosene-drenched opponents and walked away with the prize. Once again, the field was neck and neck for most of the polling, with Vincenzo finally coming across the finish line (albeit with only 10 per cent of the vote). Run On and Mr Queen were in second place at 9 per cent with Racket Boys and Red Sleeve Cuff at 8 per cent. These all represent a small handful of votes.

Run On may not have crossed the finish line for the main categories but it easily outpaced its competitors for Best Romance (22%) and for Most Underrated (22%). Close behind it was brilliant workplace dramedy On the Verge of Insanity, with one in five (20%) voters thinking it was the year’s most underrated drama.

Two people appear to be held at gunpoint but the gun is actually a lighter
You call that a lighter, THIS is a lighter. Better Run On.

This year we also asked you about the best OTP that wasn’t. With 55 percent of the vote, Law School‘s adorable non-romance between Joon-hwi and Sol A was the clear winner.

If Move to Heaven made the majority (46%) of you cry the most, Mr Queen was The One That Made You Laugh the Most, with more than one third of the vote (36%). Shin Hye-sun’s portrayal of a modern man in a Joseon Queen’s body may have made voters laugh but it impressed them as well. She got almost half the votes (48%) for Best Female Actor.

Shin Hye-sun stands looking regal in Hanbok with a Korean palace behind her
Robbed at every award ceremony, finally recognised here. My Queen.

While voters were evenly split as to their best and favourite, it was not so for the other categories. Vincenzo took out Best Villain with a conclusive 40 per cent of the vote and was also voted The Most Stylish with an impressive 63 per cent.

One in four voters (26%) also thought that Vincenzo’s lead, Song Joong-ki was 2021’s best actor, although 1 in 5 (19%) voted for Shin Ha-kyun’s award-winning performance in Beyond Evil as well as Jung Hae-in’s impressive turn in D.P. as well.

Shin Ha-kyun as the male lead in Beyond Evil sitting by the water with a fishing pole and a look of devestation on his face
The face of a man who has seen Beyond Evil

The Worst

If the result of the Best Drama award was unclear it was just as tight for the worst. In a year without a splashy Ji Chang-wook disaster, voters were split between Oh My Ladylord, Doom At Your Service and Sisyphus the Myth. In the end, it was Oh My Ladylord (19%) that pipped the other two at the post, although with 17 per cent of the vote, Doom At Your Service was not far behind. JTBC’s big-budget attempt at a 10th Anniversary Special, Sisphyus fell flat, with 15 per cent of voters thinking it was the worst drama this year.

A still from the show Oh My Ladylord
Even the English title was bad

With the global phenomena that was Squid Game, it’s probably not surprising that one third of voters (32%) thought it was the most overrated. What is potentially more interesting is that there was a sizeable group who thought the most overrated was Hometown Cha Cha Cha (27%).

Nevertheless, it was Nevertheless that scooped the award for Worst Romance with three in ten (29%) thinking Butterfly Tattoo was a bad idea. Nevertheless also just managed to scrape in (26%) Worst Ending from competitor Oh My Ladylord (25%), although with one vote between them, who’s to say one is worse than the other.

A man and a woman stand staring at each other. A statue with wings outstretched stands between them boht bridging and separating them
Nevertheless, she persisted. Despite the screaming

Well – I guess that would be the clear majority (57%) who voted Nevertheless The One with the Best/Worst Internet Meltdown. Although I think this is the first year it’s been won for an OTP ending up together.

The Most Important Award

It was a difficult decision we forced you to make but you made it.

I can finally reveal that Vincenzo won the inaugural (only) award for Best Lighter with a clear majority (54%) in what was a strong drama year for Lighters. Voters this year may not be able to choose their best and worst dramas, but they have a strong unified opinion on lighters.

The Results

How did your favourites fare? Did democracy work again?

Best Drama

Winner: Move to Heaven

Special Mention: Vincenzo, Beyond Evil, Run On

Author’s Pick: Beyond Evil

Favourite Drama

Winner: Vincenzo

Special Mention: Run On, Mr Queen, Racket Boys, Red Sleeve Cuff

Author’s Pick: Vincenzo

Worst Show

Winner: Oh My Ladylord

Special Mention: Doom At Your Service, Sisyphus the Myth

Author’s Pick: Doom At Your Service

Most Underrated

Winner: Run On

Special Mention: On the Verge of Insanity

Author’s Pick: Mad For Each Other

Most Overrated

Winner: Squid Game

Special Mention: Hometown Cha Cha Cha

Author’s Pick: Move to Heaven

Best Male Actor

Winner: Song Joong-ki (Vincenzo)

Special Mention: Shin Ha-kyun (Beyond Evil), Jung Hae-in (D.P.)

Author’s Pick: Shin Ha-kyun (Beyond Evil)

Best Female Actor

Winner: Shin Hye-sun (Mr Queen)

Author’s Pick: Shin Hye-sun (Mr Queen)

The One That Made You Laugh The Most

Winner: Mr Queen

Author’s Pick: Vincenzo

The One That Made You Cry The Most

Winner: Move to Heaven

Author’s Pick: Navillera

The One With the Best Villain 

Winner: Vincenzo

Author’s Pick: Vincenzo

The One With the Best Romance

Winner: Run On

Author’s Pick: You Are My Spring

The One With the Worst Romance

Winner: Nevertheless

Author’s Pick: My Roommate is a Gumiho

The One With the Romance That Should Have Been But Wasn’t

Winner: Law School

Author’s Pick: Law School

The One That’s the Most Stylish

Winner: Vincenzo

Author’s Pick: Inspector Koo

The One With the Best Ensemble Cast

Winner: Hospital Playlist 2

Author’s Pick: Racket Boys

The One With the Worst Ending

Winner: Nevertheless

Special Mention: Oh My Ladylord

Author’s Pick: Devil Judge

The One With the Best Internet Meltdown

Winner: Nevertheless

Author’s Pick: Oh My Ladylord

The One with the Best Lighter

Winner: Vincenzo

Author’s Pick: Vincenzo


2 thoughts on “2021 in Kdrama: The Poll Results

  1. Based on your choice of Inspector Koo as Most Stylish, are you sure you wouldn’t rather have a yellow sparkly tracksuit?

    1. 🤣🤣🤣 I’m wedded to the blue sparkly tracksuit. Just in time for Christmas I hope.

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