[DISCLAIMER: MILD SPOILERS AHEAD!]
WHAT DOES “MAKJANG” MEAN? Storylines that are extremely dramatized and exaggerated to make things intense and exciting.
Outrageous common makjang plot devices can be easily spotted: birth secrets, adultery, potential incest, fatal illnesses, revenge, and more. A classic well-known makjang series would be “Temptation of Wife“, where the female lead comes back to take revenge on her cheating husband using a new identity–by drawing a mole on her cheek!
Despite how ridiculous these plot lines are, they are addictive and thrilling–because they leave viewers wanting to find out what happens next in their unpredictable series.
Not everyone can take such ridiculousness for sure, and perhaps everyone has a “level of makjang” they can accept. Hence, I have prepared a few dramas for you to watch according to your “level of makjang”!
0: NOT REALLY – “Uh, I don’t really…”
You are new to this genre or have heard of it, but those overused and exaggerated plot devices make you reject the idea of even trying it out. Trust me, makjang addicts have all been here. And we’ve all advanced from here (evil smile).
MAIN LEADS: Woo Do-Hwan, Red Velvet’s Joy, Mun Ka-Young, Kim Min-Jae
WHAT IS IT ABOUT: Kwon Si-Hyun makes a bet with his friends that he will seduce Eun Tae-Hee, who is a hardworking college student. He doesn’t believe in love at first, but slowly changes his view on love because of Eun Tae-Hee.
Not many of those makjang plot devices are in this drama. It only involves a few teenagers playing with the love game and falling in love in the end. The complicated love lines in here barely make the cut as a makjang drama, but just enough for starters to get into it.
1: MILD – “I know they are kind of addictive, but…”
You have tried one or two series with makjang elements in it and may already be aware of how addictive such series are. But there are parts you didn’t really like and could barely finish the series.
How about giving it another chance?
MAIN CAST: Seo Jang-Hoon, Han Hye-Jin, Kim Sook, Kwak Jeong-Eun, Joo Woo-Jae
WHAT IS IT ABOUT: Not a drama but a variety show. Viewers of the show write in to share odd, peculiar relationship experiences of their own and the hosts give wise advice on such relationships.
Surprisingly, some of them have makjang elements in it such as adultery, throwing food at the person to make him or her break up, and more. It left me wondering if these stories are made up countless times. But the catch here, is that these stories claim to be real, making it easier to take in these stories and also relatable to a certain extent.
2: MID-LEVEL – “Love them!”
You enjoyed your last makjang piece and would watch another one that comes your way.
Well, here it comes!
MAIN LEADS: Jang Na-Ra, Choi Jin-Hyuk, Shin Sung-Rok, Lee Elijah
WHAT IS IT ABOUT: In present day South Korea, the country is governed by a constitutional monarchy. Oh Ssu-Ni (Jang Na-Ra) marries Emperor Lee Hyuk (Shin Sung-Rok) and uncovers the dark secrets in the palace. She works with Na Wang-Shik (Choi Jin-Hyuk), who entered the palace as a palace bodyguard to take revenge on the person responsible for his mother’s death.
This drama is almost satire, as if it’s a makjang drama written to mock other mainstream makjang dramas that have reused its plot devices over and over again. That’s what its charm is about and what makes it hilarious to watch!
3: HIGH – “COME AT ME WITH YOUR MOST RIDICULOUS STORYLINES!”
You know you belong here when you have fallen deep within the darkest pits in the makjang world.
MAIN LEADS: Ji Hyun-Woo, Park Han-Byul, Ryu Soo-Young, Wang Bit-Na
WHAT IS IT ABOUT: Yoon Ma-Ri (Park Ha-Na/Park Han-Byul) lives her life like a bird in a gilded cage. Her chaebol husband Kang In-Wook (Ryu Soo-Young)’s obsession for her is severe and is violent towards her. Yoon Ma-Ri decides to seek help from a plastic surgeon Seo Jung-Won (Ji Hyun-Woo) to change her face thoroughly.
The tension in here is addictive and sucks you in right away. Kang In-Wook is always after his wife Yoon Ma-Ri like a fierce cat-and-mouse game, but it never gets tiring. All I kept thinking was, “Don’t get caught, Yoon Ma-Ri!”
Are there other makjang dramas worth the watch?