2022 in Kdrama: The Poll Results

The year you couldn’t decide
What were the best, worst, funniest, most frustrating dramas in 2020? We polled 120 drama watchers to find out.

The people have spoken! And what they’ve said is, “I’m not sure”. I give you the wrap on the drama year that was 2022. And it’s the Year You Couldn’t Decide.

Last year’s poll was also very close. But unlike last year, where I could eventually name a drama the Best, 2022 really was the year you couldn’t decide. And not just for Best but for Worst as well. And while the end of year poll is not the place for sweeping statements about drama years, it does seem to be a year where you were whelmed (whether or not you were in Europe).

With more than one drama winning several categories and with some dramas taking out both positive and less-than-positive gongs at the same time, this was a year where a lot of you were ambivalent – even about dramas you liked. It made for a fascinating poll. And the write-up has been a challenge as well.

Viewers wading Through the Darkness of this drama year to find the best on offer

The Best

Extraordinary Attorney Woo and Through the Darkness have both been voted the Best Drama(s) of 2022.

Thirteen per cent of voters selected the joyful drama about the lawyer with Autism Spectrum Disorder as the Best Drama while another 13 per cent were convinced it was the thoughtful and gripping history of criminal profiling that was 2022’s superior show. While Reborn Rich is breaking ratings records in Korea, it only got 3 per cent of the vote here.

Through the Darkness was also conclusively voted Most Underrated, with almost one-fifth of voters (19%) feeling the show didn’t get the love it deserved while it aired.

Attorney Woo dreaming of winning Best drama outright

Special mention goes to My Liberation Notes (12%) and Under the Queen’s Umbrella (12%) with both shows tied in second place. As with last year, all these dramas were separated by only a handful of votes. My Liberation Notes also conclusively won the One That Made You Cry the Most with just over one quarter of the votes (26%) while contract relationship romcom A Business Proposal beat slapstick workplace comedy, Gaus Electronics for The One That Made You Laugh the Most. You were also enamoured of A Business Proposal’s couple, giving them Best Romance.

Favourite Drama was equally fraught but Extraordinary Attorney Woo doesn’t have to share this one. It may have only gotten 12 per cent of the vote, but it was still ahead of Our Beloved Summer (10%), Alchemy of Souls (11%) and My Liberation Notes (9%). Our Beloved Summer’s nostalgic romance about highschool lovers reconnecting in the glare of the public’s gaze also won Best Soundtrack with more than one third of the vote (35%).

While it didn’t poll well in the other categories, the beautifully theatrical reimagining of Little Women won Most Stylish with 30 per cent of the vote. It also picked up Best Villain and The romance that should have been but wasn’t. With a whopping 53 per cent of votes, Little Women’s simmering non-romance between Oh In-joo (Kim Go-eun) and Wi Ha-joon (Choi Do-ill) left viewers wanting more.

Do you know what this year’s Best Drama was?

The Worst

If the result of the Best Drama award was unclear it was just as tight for the worst.

With several dramas vying for the unenviable top spot, and with only one vote between them when voting closed, I’m naming five – yes you heard it right – FIVE dramas as Worst Drama(s).

The excrecable fish out of water romcom, Jinxed At First (11%) ended up with one vote more than it competitors: Why Her, Woori the Virgin, Love is for Suckers and Forecasting Love and Weather (all with 10% of the vote). However, all of them were ahead at one point. If only a few more votes had come in, either could have topped the poll. And so I’m naming all five as the worst. This does make you wonder what the word worst means in a year with five “worst” dramas.

All happy endings should involve lobotomies

While Extraordinary Attorney Woo shared Best Drama, it also perplexingly won another category – Most Overrated. While some viewers thought it was this year’s most extraordinary drama, many were seemingly frustrated by its popularity as well.

In the romance department, Love is for Suckers‘ portrayal of a man Nice Guying his long-term friend into a relationship ten seconds after her marriage collapsed just pipped out lacklustre Noona romance, Why Her at the post.

But in terms of the all-important denouement, it was Twenty-five Twenty-one that got almost forty per cent of the vote for Worst Ending. Not surprising given that this nostalgic first-love drama disappointed a lot of viewers by the end.

The Acting

If you weren’t sure about the dramas themselves, you had clearer opinions about some of this year’s performances. Over four in 10 (43%) of you thought that Park Eun-bin’s performance as Attorney Woo made her this year’s Best Female Actor . One third were also impressed by Kim Tae-ri in Twenty-Five Twenty-One.

It was a closer contest in the Best Male Actor category with both Kim Nam-gil’s layered performance in Through the Darkness (23%) and Lee Min-ki’s subtle and heartfelt role in My Liberation Notes (23%) impressing voters. In the end, there was nothing between them and both take out the award.

Lee Min-ki contemplating his liberation

The Hottest

Wasn’t an award because there was no point. It was always going to Son Seok-goo’s Mr Gu.

The Most Important Award

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

In a year of vehicular accidents that put even Korea’s standard road toll to shame, you’ve voted Extraordinary Attorney Woo’s “taking out the trash” Truck of Doom the best on offer. Voters this year may not be able to choose their best and worst dramas, but they have a strong unified opinion on trucks slamming into things. Remind me never to cross a road in Seoul.

It has nothing to do with this poll, here’s a photo of Mr Gu. So hot

The Results

How did your favourites fare? Did democracy work again?

Best Drama

Winner(s): Extraordinary Attorney Woo, Through the Darkness

Special Mention: My Liberation Notes, Under the Queen’s Umbrella

Author’s Pick: Through the Darkness

Favourite Drama

Winner: Extraordinary Attorney Woo

Special Mention: Our Beloved Summer, Alchemy of Souls, My Liberation Notes

Author’s Pick: Glitch

Worst Drama

Winner: Jinxed At First, Why Her, Woori the Virgin, Love is for Suckers, Forecasting Love and Weather

Special Mention: Cafe Minamdang

Author’s Pick: Jinxed at First

Most Underrated

Winner:Through the Darkness

Special Mention: Adamas

Author’s Pick: Through the Darkness

Most Overrated

Winner: Extraordinary Attorney Woo

Special Mention: Our Blues

Author’s Pick: A Business Proposal

Best Male Actor

Winner: Lee Min-ki (My Liberation Notes), Kim Nam-gil (Through the Darkness)

Author’s Pick: Kang Ha-neul (Curtain Call)

Best Female Actor

Winner: Park Eun-bin (Extraordinary Attorney Woo)

Special Mention: Kim Tae-ri (Twenty-five Twenty-one)

Author’s Pick: Park Eun-bin (Extraordinary Attorney Woo), Jeon Yeo-been (Glitch)

The One That Made You Laugh The Most

Winner: A Business Proposal

Special Mention: Gaus Electronics

Author’s Pick: Unicorn

The One That Made You Cry The Most

Winner: My Liberation Notes

Special Mention: Extraordinary Attorney Woo

Author’s Pick: Curtain Call

Best Original Soundtrack (OST)

Winner: Our Beloved Summer

Author’s Pick: Our Beloved Summer

The One With the Best Villain 

Winner: Little Women

Special Mention: Reborn Rich

Author’s Pick: Little Women

The One With the Best Romance

Winner: A Business Proposal

Author’s Pick: Extraordinary Attorney Woo

The One With the Worst Romance

Winner: Love is for Suckers

Special Mention: Why Her

Author’s Pick: Love is for Suckers

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

Winner: Little Women

Author’s Pick: Grid

The One That’s the Most Stylish

Winner: Little Women

Author’s Pick: Little Women, Adamas

The One With the Best Ensemble Cast

Winner: My Liberation Notes

Author’s Pick: Unicorn

The One With the Worst Ending

Winner: Twenty-five Twenty-one

Author’s Pick: My Liberation Notes

The One with the Best Truck of Doom

Winner: Extraordinary Attorney Woo

Author’s Pick: Extraordinary Attorney Woo


10 thoughts on “2022 in Kdrama: The Poll Results

  1. Very interesting polling results, LT. Kdramaland has developed a real problem in terms of what to broadcast during the middle of the year.

    Until Under The Queens Umbrella came along, Attorney Woo was my first choice.

    Forecasting Weather was the worst for me.

    My notes regarding Adamas include: Show was solid, safe – could have been great. The performances were superb, it’s just the writers didn’t know what to do with the material in the end.

    I enjoyed My Liberation Notes, some of the scenes were the best moments on television ever. However, it couldn’t make it into my Pantheon of the best of the best – I felt the mother’s exit undermined much of what had been created along the way.

    I just started watching Trolley – and show is an ooh ahhh Glen McGrath at this point. The tension is perfect.

    Anyway, here’s to 2023. There seems to be some very interesting choices ahead.

    Merry Christmas 🎄🎅🤶

    1. Thanks for the hard work in organising the survey, it definitely has been an underwhelming year in terms of dramas. I think John Jang and Writer Jang should have got best romance and the standing ovation in Love is for Suckers!
      Adamas was one of the few thriller/mystery dramas I completed this year, the acting was great along with the slickness of the production. Again, I just would have liked the ending to be tweaked, I know that kdramas are pushing for the multi season format but I prefer the story to be contained in those 20 episodes.
      In terms of 2521, I’m alright with the ending, the true romance or happy ever after for me was between Hee-do and Yu-rim. I guess one complaint is that the actress who played Hee-do should have been someone similar to Kim Tae- Ri in terms of acting.
      I also enjoyed Our Blues, yes it was distracting having so many well known actors in one drama but I liked the focus on mental health and showing the side of the life that most people hide. I liked the format, it felt like an extended drama special, focusing only on one or two characters at a time.

      1. Thanks Ayan! I personally dropped Adamas because its twisty turny plot couldn’t hold my interest over the course of the drama. But it was a very slick production and I think it deserves some credit for that.
        It sounds like both you and Frabs (below) really enjoyed Our Blues so I’ll be over here scratching my head at how close it got to Most Overrated.

    2. Haha gosh “Ooh ahh Glen McGrath” is such an Australianism. I was sitting here chuckling away at seeing it in print.

      Merry Christmas to you as well, Sean, and thanks for all your drama conversations this year.

  2. Our Blues was runner up for Most Overrated??
    It was so. Criminally. Underrated.
    The only thing that softens that blow is the subtle 10 Things reference 😔
    Thank you for doing this again, LT!

    1. Our Blues nearly won Overrated. I haven’t seen it but it was a surprise to me as well. It’s not the kind of drama that usually rates in this category. It’s still on my (ever increasing) watch list and now I’m quite curious.

      1. I can understand how people started the first few episodes and got turned off by the omnibus format, but relative to everything else airing this year, barely anyone even tried it in the first place! It was so hard to find anyone to talk about it with😂

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