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2018 in review

Your favourite Chinese and Korean TV dramas from 2018

  • The favourites include two Chinese imperial stories from the Qing dynasty
  • The Korean dramas include a 19th century tale and an augmented reality story
PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 December, 2018, 6:50pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 January, 2019, 5:39pm

TV drama addicts have never had it better, with digital entertainment streaming platform Netflix releasing some of its most popular titles yet (in Mandarin, Korean and Hindi), as well as one stand-out Chinese period drama series that had viewers glued to their TV (or mobile phone) the entire summer. Here is a recap of the hottest Mando- and K-dramas of 2018.

Story of Yanxi Palace

Chinese TV dramas never looked more slick than this super popular series (which Yazhou Zhoukan named the best TV drama this year). Story of Yanxi Palace charts the rise of Wei Yingluo from a servant girl in the Qing dynasty imperial court all the way to be Emperor Qianlong’s wife. Even the theme song is addictive.

The empress and the three concubines – bully, villain, victor: The Story of Yanxi Palace explained

Ruyi’s Royal Love in the Palace

This drama is basically Story of Yanxi Palace but told from the point of view of Emperor Qianlong’s “step empress” Hoifa-Nara (one of many Wei Yingluo’s rivals in the imperial harem). The focus of this series is more on Qianlong though and it stars Wallace Huo and Zhou Xun in the lead roles.

Mr Sunshine

Netflix scores big with this Korean drama set in late 19th century/early 20th century and stars veteran actor Lee Byung-hun. The creative team of this 24-episode drama – including screenwriter Kim Eun-sook and director Lee Eung-bok – are also behind the global smash hits Goblin (or Guardian: The Lonely and Great God) and Descendants of the Sun and the series was reported to be the highest-rated Korean cable drama of all time when it ended in September, according to Nielsen.

Memories of the Alhambra

Another Netflix title, this K-drama released on December 1 managed to generate much buzz within just a month, starring Hyun Bin (remember him from the 2005 hit My Lovely Sam-Soon) and Park Shin-hye. MyDramaList gives this “suspense romance drama” 8.4 out of 10 from more than 1,000 users.

The Flame’s Daughter

One more Chinese drama on the list, this martial arts fantasy series is based on a novel by Ming Xiaoxi and revolves around a sprightly girl named Lie Ruge, played by popular actress Dilraba Dilmurat. In fact, the success of this series is completely driven by its cast, which also includes Vic Chou, Liu Ruilin and Vin Zhang, and their fans.