Is it worth a look? | 볼만한가요?
We know you’re busy. That’s why we’re all about making things easier for our readers. Reviewing helps you decide how to spend your time. Lingua Asia offers a critical view of Korean media, and provides the info you need to decide if something is worth your time.
We applaud your interest in Korean culture and media, and strive to nurture it to the full extent of our capabilities. Also, we understand that many of our visitors are flooded with information in their daily lives, and prefer the cliff notes when it comes to choosing how to spend free time. In that light, we provide a brief summary of the praise and criticisms of a TV Drama or movie, along with an overall score. This is not intended to replace an entire review, but offer the summary of our impressions.
The Lingua Asia Review System
Criticism isn’t a science. To use movies as an example, while you can count the number of big-name stars, number of awards the director won, or even the budget of a film, none of these guarantees quality; even if it’s technically flawless and shot with an IMAX MSM 908 without the use of shaky cam, it could still be a waste of time. On the other hand, a movie can be made with a camcorder and still gain our highest rating: Daebak!
Many have tried, but you can’t objectively measure how good a TV drama, webtoon or movie is. We come from a variety of backgrounds and have different upbringings, experiences and preferences and will have different emotional reactions to the same media. All we can provide is our reactions, with the least amount of bias.
How Cultural Differences Affect Scoring
Korean media is one of a kind given the remarkable and unique culture it originates from. The goal of Korean media is to elicit an emotional response in its audience. Our reviewers keep this in mind during the entire scoring process.
We also critique movies, shows and webtoons with the viewpoint of a native Korean who can understand cultural references, which allow for a more complete viewing experience. This might explain why some Korean media are scored differently than a non-Korean might expect.
How the Scoring System Works
When we then summarize a review into a score, we’re not using any hard and fast calculation. We’re simply following a standard set of criteria that corresponds to each number on our scale.
Lingua Asia uses a 10-point scale for movies, webtoons and TV dramas. We believe this scale clearly and effectively conveys the opinion of the reviewer, while minimizing any confusion between scores.
Scores are just a baseline for our opinions. All reviews undergo a rigorous editing process for objectivity and accuracy by the time they appear on Lingua Asia as our official review.
That being said, we encourage you to check out a piece of media if it resonates with your experience, especially if you’re fond of a certain director, webtoonist or actor. Additionally, some media are based on webtoons, adding extra incentive for fans of the source to give them a chance, regardless of their scores. We also welcome discussion and any additional info we might have missed that could influence our ratings.
Put down everything and watch/read this now. There’s no such thing as a truly perfect movie, webtoon or TV drama, but those that earn a Daebak label from Lingua Asia come as close as we could hope for. These are timeless and make you say “Daebak!” at the end.
- Parasite (기생충)
- The King and the Clown (왕의 남자)
- Oldboy (올드보이)
- Tower of God (신의 탑)
- The Boxer (더 복서)
- Omniscient Reader (전지적 독자 시점)
Watch it this weekend. We enthusiastically recommend that you add these shows, comics and movies to your watch list. If we call a movie or TV drama JonJoh, that means it impressed us and stayed with us for a while after, whether it’s an inspired new idea or an exceptional take on an old one. We will remember it as an almost classic.
- Crash Landing on You (사랑의 불시착)
- Taegukgi (태극기 휘날리며)
- The Chaser (추격자)
- The Handmaiden (아가씨)
- Your Throne (하루만 네가 되고 싶어)
- The Remarried Empress (재혼 황후)
Watch it next week.
These movies or TV dramas leave us with something outstanding to remember them by, usually unique stories or clever characters and writing. If we have major complaints, there are more than enough memorable qualities to cancel them out.
- Hospital Playlist (슬기로운 의사생활)
- The Extreme Job (극한직업)
- Thirst (박쥐)
- Tazza: The High Rollers (타짜 : 신의 손)
- Yumi’s Cells (유미의 세포들)
- True Beauty (여신강림)
Good good (굳굳)
Watch it sometime this month.
Watching a Good good movie or TV drama is time well spent. There’s definitely room for improvement. Maybe it lacks ambition or is too predictable, but we came away from it feeling enriched.
- The Admiral: Roaring Currents (명량)
- The Man from Nowhere (아저씨)
- The Host (괴물)
- Lady Vengeance (친절한 금자씨)
Watch if you run out of things this year.
Not every film or show can be great.
There’s a good movie, TV drama or webtoon in here somewhere, but you’ll have to strain yourself to find it. Manage your expectations and you’ll have a good time.
- My Sassy Girl (엽기적인 그녀)
- Okja (옥자)
Watch this if you have nothing better to do.
They played it too safe with numerous cliches or bland characters. While enjoyable at the time, it will mostly be forgotten a day after viewing. A mediocre movie or TV drama isn’t something you should spend your time or money on if they’re in short supply.
- Train to Busan (부산행)
- I Saw the Devil (악마를 보았다)
Don’t watch unless you’re a fan of the source.
There may be a good movie, show or webtoon hidden somewhere underneath the mediocrity, but too many bad choices make it difficult to watch. While there may be some good ideas here, overall, it’s not worth it. These are considered a waste of time unless you’re a huge fan of the webtoon or book it’s based on.
- Tazza: One Eyed Jack (타짜 : 원 아이드 잭)
- Illang: The Wolf Brigade (인랑)
Not even if it’s free.
Watching this will be like getting your teeth pulled with not enough anesthesia. Don’t bother with this grab bag of poorly executed or bad ideas. While even a Byeollo piece of media has some bright spots, a Heol one is mostly a chore to watch.
- Road No. 1 (로드 넘버원)
- Psychokinesis (염력)
Not bad enough to be entertaining ironically.
Somethings can be so bad they’re good, this has not reached that level yet. Not only are these not fun, but they’ll make you angry. Proceed only if you’re a glutton for punishment.
- Real (리얼)
- Sector 7 (7광구)
Avoid at all costs. This will lower your intelligence and sunny outlook on life. For fans of the source material, there’s even more reason to give it a miss since it will ruin your fond memories. We don’t usually take the time to review these, but someone has to warn the others.
- Most morning dramas (아침 드라마 대부분)
- Race to Freedom: Um Bok Dong (자전차왕 엄복동)
Review System Q&A
How do you determine scores?
Our ultimate goal is to provide you with enough info to decide whether something we reviewed is worth your time.
We provide our reactions, with the least amount of bias, along with the strengths and weaknesses of a particular piece of media. Lingua Asia uses a 10-point scale for movies, webtoons and TV dramas. We believe this scale clearly and effectively conveys the opinion of the reviewer.
By following a standard set of criteria that corresponds to each number on our scale, we minimize confusion between scores.
We look for Korean media that is not only enjoyable to watch, but also challenges our preconceptions, evokes strong emotional responses and stays fresh in our memories.
Criticism isn’t a science. It’s impossible to objectively measure how good a TV drama, webtoon or movie is. Korean media also differs greatly from that of other countries in terms of focus and purpose. Unfortunately, there may be times when readers won’t agree with our opinions.
I see ads on Lingua Asia’s site for media you review. Do advertisers affect your review scores?
Not at all. Lingua Asia has a very strict separation between sales and editorial. Editors are not informed of upcoming ads and promotions. See our Code of Ethics for more details.