Avid K-Drama fans have trained well — with series after series after series. They can now sniff out a hit-in-the-making by simply looking at the title and the cast. Some dramas exude that blockbuster energy, some don’t. Here are 5 times these fans’ radars have been way off though. K-Drama fans initially expected these shows to be complete flops — but oop? They ended up falling madly in love.
1. Bread, Love and Dreams (2010)
Or, perhaps better known as Baker King Kim Tak Goo, this 2010 series initially left K-Drama fans doubtful. Mainly, the fans couldn’t fall in love with the title. Plus, they didn’t believe in Yoon Si Yoon, a relatively rookie actor who has been yet to take on a full lead role.
Fortunately, as fans grew absolutely hooked by the sensational storytelling of the twisted plot, Bread, Love and Dreams accomplished two things: One, reaching a legendary viewer rating of 50% and two, getting fresh bread served for breakfast on every other house in Korea!
2. Dream High (2011)
When the star-studded cast of 2011’s Dream High got revealed, K-Drama fans grew extremely skeptical. With K-Pop idols like Suzy, IU, 2PM‘s Taecyeon, and Wooyoung said to act in the series, Dream High faced criticism even before it premiered — for “lacking quality acting skills.”
By the end of the series, however, fans could not be saved from the male lead character Song Sam Dong (played by actor Kim Soo Hyun). This swoon-fest wrapped up the series in 17% viewer rating, which is highly successful considering that it targeted teen viewers as its main audience.
3. Reply 1997 (2012)
2012’s Reply 1997 premiered with minimal hope, as fans didn’t trust the producer and the screenwriter who came with zero K-Drama experience. Plus, as for Dream High, the line up of K-Pop idols in the cast didn’t appeal too positively. In addition, the “throwback” concept seemed too experimental as well.
With each episode, however, Reply 1997 singlehandedly re-wrote tvN‘s K-Drama history. It immediately had all the “90s Babies” hooked — with the most realistic portrayal of life in the late 1990s. The series led to two more equally beloved sequels, making the Reply franchise a winning lottery.
4. I Can Hear Your Voice (2013)
When the words legal, romance, and fantasy came together to describe the direction of the 2013 series I Can Hear Your Voice, K-Drama fans didn’t budge much. In fact, this series almost never saw light — because even the producers and broadcasting companies didn’t find the “mind-reading” male lead character attractive enough.
As soon as it premiered, boosted by the chemistry between actor Lee Jong Suk and actress Lee Bo Young plus the legendary “psychopathic” character portrayal by actor Jung Woong In, I Can Hear Your Voice reached new heights in viewer ratings at the time. The fans loved it so much, producers extended the series from the initial total of 16 episodes to 18 episodes.
5. Kill Me, Heal Me (2015)
The 2015 series Kill Me, Heal Me had trouble casting the male lead character — obviously, as it would require the actor to take on seven different personalities as a schizophrenic patient. K-Drama fans also had little faith in the series, even after the seasoned actor Ji Sung accepted the role, convinced that the story will fall apart trying to harmonized all seven personalities into the plot.
Eventually, Kill Me, Heal Me became a huge success that swept multiple 2015 drama awards. Fans found the overall thematic message to be healing, which suggested that “The best prescription for a broken soul is love.” Many dubbed this to be “The best — if not, then at least the most unforgettable K-Drama” of their lives.