While other kids my age watched cartoons, I grew up watching Taiwanese dramas. Most of them were quite melodramatic, but I still found them very addicting. They had reruns in the morning and in the afternoon, which I would never fail to watch!
Here, I have listed my top 3 picks. All of these dramas are very popular in Taiwan and have been remade in the 21st century.
Back of the Past Spring (1989)
Chun Qu Chun You Hui
The story revolves around Zhang Lai Fu, a poor but good-hearted young man who lives in the countryside. He lives with his parents and a younger brother, Zi Gui, whom he is very close with. Although his father prefers Zi Gui over him, he lives a fairly happy life. He is unaware that he has been adopted.
In his youth, Zi Gui steals a bag of rice. Someone discovers him, forcing Zi Gui to kill him. When Lai Fu learns about this, he takes his brother's place and is imprisoned. After his release, he finds out that in his absence, his girlfriend and Zi Gui have become a couple. Despite his anger and dismay, he eventually forgives them.
Meanwhile, a rich middle-aged man is shot in his car. He is rushed to the hospital but it is too late. On his dying bed, he reveals to his wife that he has an illegitimate son whom he has sent to the countryside. He makes his wife promise to track his son down and bring him home, to which his wife concedes.
A few days later, some men arrive in Lai Fu's home. They see his necklace, which is similar to the one given to the rich man's illegitimate son. Lai Fu tells them that he has been wearing it since birth. Before the men take Lai Fu to his new home, his father interferes and tells them that the real owner of the jade necklace is his other son, Zi Gui. The father secretly wishes that his own son Zi Gui will get to live a rich man's life, so he fabricates a story, telling them that Zi Gui is the adopted son.
Zi Gui goes to meet his stepmother, who doesn't like him. He is not used to his new life, but gradually, he is able to adjust and even enjoys his new lifestyle. He visits his family from time to time and would even take them to a lavish restaurant. However, he begins to feel ashamed of his previous family, who can't even hold their spoon and fork properly. He even leaves his poor girlfriend for another woman from a rich family.
Zi Gui somehow discovers that Lai Fu is the real heir of the Zhu family. Fed by greed, he does everything in his power to keep it a secret. He would even plot against Lai Fu, making his life miserable. Lai Fu wants the old Zi Gui back, but he realizes that his once kind brother is already too far gone.
Back of the Past Spring is the first Taiwanese drama that I have seen so this holds a special place in my heart. While I hate Zi Gui with passion, I don't agree with some of the things that Lai Fu ends up doing, such as taking revenge. That said, this is a very good 80s drama. It teaches us the importance of family over wealth. I also find Lai Fu's story inspiring. He has been through many sufferings, but he is able to survive against all odds. The drama has been remade in 2009.
Star Knows My Heart (1983)
Xing Xing Zhi Wo Xin
Wang Ming and his wife Qiu Xia are living a happy and simple life. One day, as Wang Ming is crossing the street, a truck hits him, killing him instantly. Qiu Xia is now left alone with five children to raise. As she works hard trying to rebuild their lives, another tragedy strikes them. She learns that she has stage 4 colon cancer with only months to live. She is worried for her children as no one will care for them after she dies. She has an aging father who is too weak to care for her children. On the other hand, her older brother is already struggling financially. She then makes the hard decision to give all of her children away.
Star Knows My Heart is an award-winning drama that has gained a wide recognition. It is similar to the 1957 American movie All Mine to Give. Everyone who has watched this drama has memorized all of the kids' name by heart. They are absolutely endearing. The three-year-old actor Bin Bin has been catapulted to fame for his role as the youngest son. I have cried buckets of tears watching this. A 2007 remake has been made, but it pales in comparison with the original.
Return the Pearl To Thee (1987)
Huan Jin Ming Zhu
This is a love story of four different individuals who have been put together by fate. Ming Zhu is the only daughter of a former Qing official. She is kind and just like her name (Pearl), she has an aura of sophistication. She meets Zhi Wun, a boy-next-door type of guy. They fall in love and start dating. Coming from a rather poor family, Zhi Wun is disliked by Ming Zhu's father and stepmother. Besides, Ming Zhu is already betrothed to Tian Bao, a guy she has never met.
Tian Bao is a carefree young man from a rich family. He is good-hearted but he is known as a playboy in his town. When he meets Ming Zhu, it is love at first sight. However, Ming Zhu dislikes him. Tian Bao learns that Ming Zhu is already seeing Zhi Wun, who happens to be his close friend. He is also dating a beautiful high-class escort named Yang Hong. To avoid hurting anyone, he revokes his marriage with Ming Zhu.
Tian Bao's younger brother Tian Fu knows about his feelings for Ming Zhu. He secretly devises a plan to help his brother. He kidnaps Zhi Wun and pushes him over a cliff. He also stops Tian Bao and Yang Hong's wedding. Yang Hong is humiliated and flees the town.
Overwhelmed with guilt, Tian Bao stays away from Ming Zhu. After some time, the two meet again. Their friendship grows and Ming Zhu starts to develop feelings for Tian Bao. Eventually, Tian Bao admits his deep feelings for Ming Zhu. The two get married.
As Tian Bao and Ming Zhu are starting a new life as a couple, their relationship is constantly being challenged. Zhi Wun survives the fall and Yang Hong is back in town. Both of them believe that their misery is Tian Bao's doing and they are now seeking revenge.
Return the Pearl to Thee has a rather complicated story. I could not predict who Ming Zhu would end up with, but I had always been rooting for Tian Bao. It is a very popular drama in the 80s. A Chinese remake has been made in 2008.
© Rainy Kua 2016