Revenge: A Dish Best Served Cold

Revenge: A Dish Best Served Cold…
Revenge drama watchers: are we masochistic or just gluttons for punishment?       


What is a revenge drama? The dominant motive for a real or imagined injury whereby characters often seek revenge for their father's/mother's/sibling's death; some can involve personal things like money and property. Revenge dramas are almost always dramatic! 

The emotional feelings that you, the viewer, experience as you watch the male/female lead being unjustly wronged; the wicked and intensely private scheming that goes on as they plan their revenge, and the execution of said sweet reward. Nothing is better than the universal satisfaction of getting what one so rightly deserves - even better for those watching it! Lastly, maybe it’s because we all wish we could exact revenge ourselves (wishful thinking)!


Here are my top 10 favorite Korean revenge dramas.


**Warning: Some Spoilers**




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Notable Cast:


Synopsis:
After watching his father, and subsequently his sister, killed, Iljimae/Yong begins a long journey to prove his father's innocence and get revenge on those responsible for those deaths. 

My Thoughts:
This was my first revenge and Lee Jun Ki drama. Needless to say, I loved the drama as well as the story as it reminded me, in some ways, of Robin Hood. Lee Jun Ki’s character was really fun to watch. In the daytime, he acted like an uncaring fop (a man concerned with his clothes and appearance; a dandy) but at night when he places the mask on his face, his concern is only getting the bad guy. I especially liked his action sequences because we all know that he does them himself, no stunt double for him! Okay, I readily admit my bias for Lee Jun Ki!


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Notable Cast:
Uhm Tae Woong, Han Ji Min

Synopsis:
At a young age, Ha Eun was separated from his family following a car accident that killed his father. Several years later, he finds out that he has a twin brother. Just when they are about to meet, his brother is murdered in front of him. What follows is a story of revenge to discover the truth of his father’s death as well as finding out who is responsible for his brother’s death. 

My Thoughts: 
This was my first Uhm Tae Woong drama that I completed ever! It was love at first sight!! The story was riveting and caused a marathon-watching weekend. Uhm Tae Woong is one of those great actors that when he cries, you cry; laughs, you laugh. He is really good at showing his emotions and drawing you into his pain and despair. My only complaint about the ending is…I’m not saying. You may have the same complaint after watching it but it’s worthwhile for Uhm Tae Woong fans and revenge drama fans in general.


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Notable Cast: 
Uhm Tae Woong, Lee Joon Hyuk, Lee Bo Young, Im Jung Eun

Synopsis:
Teenagers Eun Jang Il (Im Woong Jae) and Sun Woo (Lee Hyun Woo) become the most unlikely of friends in high school. But all that changes when Sun Woo’s father is killed by Jang Il’s father (Lee Won Jong) when ordered by Jin No Sik (Kim Yeong Cheol). What ensues is an adult revenge by a son for his father.

My Thoughts:
I started watching this mainly because of Lee Joon Hyk, who I greatly admire as an actor, as well as the young actor Lee Hyun Woo. While the romance was a bit lacking, the bromance or frenemy relationship between Jang Il and Sun Woo was compelling and more than made up for it. Uhm Tae Woong and Lee Joon Hyuk both did a superb job of acting; Im Jung Eun also performed outstandingly as the character Soo Mi. Although the acting was done well by the above mentioned members, Lee Bo Young and Ji Won were a bit dull. However, this is my only complaint and the series is still definitely worth your time.

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Notable Cast: 
Kim Nam Gil, Han Ga In, Kim Jae Wook, Jung So Min

Synopsis: 
Shim Gun Wook (Kim Nam Gil) plots revenge against the Haeshin Group, a large corporation to whom Hong Tae Sung (Kim Jae Wook) is the heir. After Gun Wook (Kim Nam Gil) blames the Haeshin Group for his adopted parents' death, he proceeds to get involved with the family, one by one, starting with Tae Sung to enact his revenge.

My Thoughts:
Talk about a seriously twisted story of revenge! I applaud the writer(s) simply for the originality of the story and the constant plot twists that occur from start to finish. However, the only cloud that darkens this silver lining is the truly twisted ending. Blame it on the military service call for Kim Nam Gil or just poor execution, the ending is the only downer in this tremendously well acted drama.

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Notable Cast: 
Han Groo, Kim Jeong Tae, Jeon Min Seon, Baek Do Bin, Kim Roe Ha

Synopsis: 
Cha Yeon Jin (Han Groo) is a high school girl. At first, she seems like your typical student; however, in truth, she is a professional assassin seeking vengeance for her mother who was killed in front of her eyes. She infiltrates SS1, the secret organization that her mother was connected to, by becoming one of their killers, all the while trying to track down her mother's murderer.

My Thoughts:
Before you say it, yes, she is a serial killer assassin! But she is one bad * expletive * girl! I totally enjoyed this short mini-drama. This was one occasion where I truly wished for more! There was action, suspense, and okay, some seriously twisted murders in three short episodes. What more could you ask for in a revenge drama?

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Notable Cast:
Jang Hyuk, Han Seok-Kyu, Shin Se-Kyung, Yoon Je-Moon

Synopsis:
Ddol-Bok (Chae Sang-Woo) and his father are servants of Sim On's family. Ddol-Bok's father is mentally slow and teased by others constantly. For this reason, young Ddol-Bok takes revenge on those that tease his father. When his father is killed wrongfully and a young Ddol-Bok holds the previous King, Taejong responsible; what begins as a revenge plot against the current King Sejong, turns into a murder mystery drama to solve a series of unexplained killings.

My Thoughts:
This was Jang Hyuk at his finest!! Chae Sang Woo, who plays the younger Ddol-Bok, I was totally speechless after every scene he was in; talk about playing someone crazy, he was close to stealing the show. However, as usual Jang Hyuk can and always does hold his own! Every time he plans his revenge, everything is imagined so that you, the viewer can’t tell whether he is actually doing it or just thinking about it. And such elaborate plans! Well worth the 24 hours to complete. 


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Notable Cast:
Lee Min-HoPark Min-Young, Lee Joon-Hyuk, Kim Sang-Joong, Chun Ho-Jin

Synopsis:
Lee Yoon Sung (Lee Min-Ho), an MIT-graduate, comes to work on the international communications team in the Blue House. Stolen from his mother as a baby and raised in Thailand, his plan is to take revenge against the five politicians responsible for his father's death with his surrogate father Lee Jin Pyo (Kim Sang Joong).

My thoughts:
This has been one of my first Korean dramas ever watched. I remember watching the first 11 episodes on Netflix and then hunting down the last 9 episodes on YouTube! This truly started my Korean drama addiction as it covered all of my favorite genres: suspense, action, and revenge with a little sprinkle of romance. 

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Notable Cast:
Joo Won, Park Ki Woong, Jin Se Yun, Han Chae Ah

Synopsis:
Based on a famous manhwa, which takes place during the 1930s Japanese occupation, our hero, Lee Kang-to (Joo Won), hides his face with a mask.  Kang-to is following in the footsteps of his brother as Gakistal, the nickname given to our masked hero who fights injustice and rights wrongs during one of the darkest periods of Korea's history.

My Thoughts:
Romance? This was all about the bromance between Lee Kang-To and Kimura Shunji (Park Ki Woong)! The cinematography was stunning! The story, while sad and needed to be told, made no efforts to shy away from some serious subjects like the beatings of the town folk, comfort women, or class warfare when it came to Koreans siding with the Japanese occupiers.

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Notable Cast:
Park Shi Hoo, Moon Chae Won

Synopsis:
Kim Seung-Yoo, the youngest son Kim Jong Seo is the sole male survivor after his father and brother are murdered by Grand Prince Su-Yan (Kim Yeong Cheol).  The Grand Prince is also responsible for the enslaving of Seong Yoo’s sister-in-law and young niece.  Grand Prince’s daughter, Se-Ryung falls in love with Kim Seung-Yoo.  Tragedy after tragedy ensues and the story continues showing the evolution of their relationship as well as Seung Yoo’s continued efforts for revenge against the Grand Prince now King.

My Thoughts:
I've literally lost count how many times I have re-watched this drama! The romance between Seung-Yoo (Park Shi Hoo) and Lee Se-Ryung (Moon Chae Won) was absolutely beautiful to watch. Even the secondary romance between Princess Kyung-Hye  (Hong Soo-Hyun) and Jung Jong (Lee Min Woo) was well worth watching. The story of poor Seung Yoo constantly being persecuted and coming back with revenge in his heart, but not enough to let go of his true love, is a story worth watching over and over and over again.

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Notable Cast: 
Lee Jun Ki, Nam Sang Mi, Jung Kyung Ho

Synopsis:
After his mother is brutally murdered by the Triad in Thailand, Lee Soo-hyun (Lee Jun-Ki) is adopted by NIS agent and grows up with Kang Min-ki (Jung Kyung-Ho) like brothers.  Later as adults, both Min-ki and Soo-hyun become NIS agents. Ji-woo (Nam Sang-Mi), is the girl that Soo-huyn knew as a young boy in Thailand. They date and fall in love. While on a mission, Soo-hyun recognizes a Triad leader, Mao (Choi Jae Sung) as the man responsible for his mother’s death. Soo-hyun takes an undercover assignment to infiltrate the Triad, faking his death and assumes a new identity, Kay to become a member of the Triad. With his fake identity and new name, his real intent is to get close enough to Mao and kill him.

My Thoughts:
I watched 3 episodes of this drama and immediately bought the DVDs! By this time, I was so enamored with Lee Jun Ki; I pretty much would watch him in anything (and I have). This drama introduced me to my first bromance! I’d never heard nor used the term before this but after watching this, I was more interested in the Soo-hyun/Min-ki than I was Soo-hyun/Ji-woo coupling! Again, my bias is showing, as I love Lee Jun Ki in action. I think he is one of the few actors out there who I enjoy watching, especially in an action setting. Great drama; but alas, too short with only 16 episodes.


Honorable Mention: Five Fingers

Notable Cast:
Joo Ji Hoon, Ji Chang Wook, Chae Si Ra, Jin Se Yun

My Thoughts:
This was Joo Ji Hoon’s return to the screen after military service and a previous drug conviction. As I loved him in previous works like The Devil and Goong, I was so looking forward to watching this. Unfortunately, this was one drama that would have been better with fewer episodes. Even though the acting was superb, revenge story well executed, it kind of floundered towards the end; a definite sign whereby a drama would have been better served with 20-24 episodes instead of 30.

So MDLers, what’s your favorite revenge drama?


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Comments (107)

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  • Reply
    amytotto Jan 14, 2017

    what abt full son....just finished it and thats what prompted me to search for more..............

  • Reply
    smc Jul 25, 2013

    nice article, and I think you had a nice first choice..

  • Reply
    Shark Jul 5, 2013

    I would add The Devil.

  • Reply
    Addicer_xx Jul 1, 2013

    Why is THE INNOCENT MAN missing????

  • Reply
    sarangeobseo Jun 9, 2013

    I would add Nice Guy and Queen of Ambition.

  • Reply
    Mindful Jun 2, 2013

    Ice Adonis / yellow boots would have to be my top.... Despite the fact that it had 108 eps... The ending result was quite satisfying for me.

    • Reply
      NewKDramaAddict Jul 5, 2013

      Haven't watch it yet. My Christmas break drama to marathon.

  • Reply
    MinaVIP May 12, 2013

    Time Between Dog and Wolf <3333 I completely agree with your list! :D

  • Reply
    ManaSura May 11, 2013

    I didn't expect to find Tree with Deep Roots listed here, since one normally forgets it started off with a revenge plot.
    I agree with your review of Bad Guy. It was my first Korean Revenge drama, and I have to admit I was greatly disappointed with the ending, later when I found out about Kim Nam-Gil's army thing I thought "Now it makes a bit sense why it felt abrupt". I remember the best thing about that drama was its OST, definitely a must hear even if you didn't have the chance to watch the drama.
    I also agree that the best part about Gaksital is by far the bromance between the two male leads. Though it turns a bit awkward near the end, but I still found the most touching scenes were the ones involving the two of them (my favorite of course is the one with the two crying on the bicycle)
    though, I was expecting to find Innocent Man/ Nice Guy on this list, but anyhow....

    • Reply
      ManaSura May 11, 2013

      I just read your previous comment to another user who complained Nice Guy was missing: "Considering the revenge was due to a situation of his own making, revenge? Initially I did not feel Ma Ru was justified. He put himself in that position. Every single one of these resulted in a death, big difference. So it did not fit my definition at the top."
      Well, have to admit you make a good point. Come to think of it, Nice Guy had a major motive issue, I mean he wasn't taking revenge cause she abandoned him and went off and married another guy while he was in prison, he was rather taking revenge cause after he was released for covering her murder up she ended up reporting him to the police (or so he thought) and also threw him some nasty provocative words! well, Some Motive right? (laugh)

  • Reply
    werwiewowas95 Apr 11, 2013

    My favorite revenge drama is Temptation of Wife. That is just an amazing revenge drama.

  • Reply
    LMitsuki Feb 10, 2013

    Temptation of An Angel, that is for sure a true drama about revenge :) I loved The Princess man, is my favorite drama, but I wouldn't classify it as a revenge drama...! At least as the main theme!

    • Reply
      LMitsuki Feb 10, 2013

      HMM The Equator Man.. I watched it bc of the fact the synopsis said he was blind.. the first episodes were awesome, the kids' acting were soberb, but it became a bit boring at the middle :/ I liked Jang Il's character for his complex personality but I couldn't help but hate the character haha

  • Reply
    EtherSword Feb 9, 2013

    What about your top 10 Jdramas for "revenge"?

    • Reply
      NewKDramaAddict Feb 10, 2013

      I did see Ryusei, I did not even think of it as a revenge drama but it was good.

    • Reply
      cuzie Feb 10, 2013

      I guess it is, it's just they still have no idea who the killer is, so they're not sure about who they must taken revenge to.. it's all revealed just in the last ep, that's why i said it's a heartwarming revenge story.. LOL

    • Reply
      cuzie Feb 10, 2013

      I guess it is, it's just they still have no idea who the killer is, so they're not sure about who they must taken revenge to.. it's all revealed just in the last ep, that's why i said it's a heartwarming revenge story.. LOL

    • Reply
      cuzie Feb 10, 2013

      I guess it is, it's just they still have no idea who the killer is, so they're not sure about who they must taken revenge to.. it's all revealed just in the last ep, that's why i said it's a heartwarming revenge story.. LOL

    • Reply
      Mindful Jun 2, 2013

      Try jotei

  • Reply
    treentje Feb 9, 2013

    Gumiho revenge is also a great drama that should be in this list!

    • Reply
      NewKDramaAddict Feb 9, 2013

      That was good but you realize the majority of the dramas I watch are revenge? I've watched a lot of them!

  • Reply
    BrightestStar Feb 9, 2013

    Have you watched "The Devil"??? Its one of my favorite!!
    I've only seen Gaksital from your list but a few of them r on my top 10 towatch list (as soon as I get the time!!) ;)

  • Reply
    baranamtara Feb 9, 2013

    Best of all revenge dramas:
    The Devil.
    Awesome. Just wow... XD very confusing though (talking about the Korean version), but awesome till the end.

    Second best:
    Story of a man/ Slingshot.
    Loved it to pieces... XDDD

    I LOVED Resurrection so much. Haha~~

    • Reply
      NewKDramaAddict Feb 9, 2013

      The Devil, three of my fav actors, definitely in my top 15. Waiting to see Story of a Man

  • Reply
    effex17 Feb 9, 2013 - edited

    Bad guy! my all time favourtie drama! i loved the acting... the cast... the ost and of course the story line <3
    i really want to watch a lot of the other dramas on the list... i always think of watching tree with deep roots but its just so long x_x princess' man looks good too... im loving this article! :D

    • Reply
      NewKDramaAddict Feb 9, 2013

      Bad Guy was one of my first dramas and the OST? Searched everywhere for Thorny Flower. One of the first Korean songs I ever put on my iPod!

    • Reply
      effex17 Feb 10, 2013

      i never get sick of the ost... listened to it on a 20 hour flight (including a 8 hour stop over) and a 8 hour road trip (+ the whole week i was there and the ride back) and i STILL have it on my play list LOL i cant pick a favorite song! and thanks to bad guy i've discovered 4men <3 and davichi... and bmk *_*
      and the instrumentals are just amazing :3

    • Reply
      Nur Syahdina Jul 17, 2016

      bad guy is just so amazing. yes, the ost was so damn good!

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