Korean dramas can be really hit or miss for me. It’s not easy to stretch out a decent storyline over 15+ episodes, that’s for sure. I abandon the ones that are too corny and clich√©d, but most are decent enough to be entertaining.
The K-dramas on this list are the ones I highly recommend. There’s only five of them, but they’re excellent and they’ll set the bar high. The last three are from the same writer, so maybe I’m biased. I like a good blend of comedy and drama, likable actors who also happen to be drop-dead gorgeous, epic love stories, and suspenseful plotlines with a lot at stake. A¬†killer wardrobe doesn’t hurt either.
Coffee Prince (2007)
Coffee Prince was the first K-drama I watched so it will always hold a special place in my heart. A tomboyish young woman (Yoon Eun-hye) pretends to be a man to get work at Coffee Prince, a cafe that hires only men‚ÄĒ”princes.” She falls in love with her boss, the grandson of a business mogul (Gong Yoo), who wants to prove he’s capable of running a business.
Around this time, K-dramas involving girls disguised as boys was really popular for some reason. Yoon Eun-hye is actually convincing as a young man, and the storyline is mostly lighthearted and funny. Gong Yoo is a babe.¬†You might recognize a younger Lee Sun Gyun from¬†Parasites.
I’m still listening to the Coffee Prince soundtrack to this day!
17 Episodes. Watch here.¬†
Secret Garden (2010-2011)
Gil Ra-im (Ha Ji Won), a down-to-earth stuntwoman and Kim Joo-won (Hyun Bin), a snotty department store CEO, crosses paths.¬†Kim Joo-won is intrigued by Gil Ra-im but can’t get over her lower-class lifestyle. When the two magically switch bodies, they really begin to understand each other.
As fantastical as the plotline is, I like the realistic development of the characters’ personalities. It still took quite a long time for¬†Kim Joo-won to stop being such a high-class snob, for example. It seemed like the main actors all had fun with this. The supporting class is great as well, especially Kim Joo-won’s cousin Oska (Yoon Sang-hyun), a flashy famous singer.
20 episodes. Watch here.¬†
My Love From the Star (2013-2014)
Stuckup A-list actress Chun Song-yi (Jun Ji Hyun) starts falling for her neighbour Do Min-jun (Kim Soo Hyun), an alien who has been living on earth for 400 years. There’s also a murder plotline that ramps up the suspense.
This drama was so influential on my personal style. Chun Song-yi was always dressed in the chicest designer ensembles, and, like everyone else in Asia at the time, I looked to her character for fashion and beauty inspiration.
21 episodes. Watch here.¬†
Legend of the Blue Sea (2016-2017)
Shim Cheong (Jun Ji Hyn), a mermaid from the Joseon era, follows her true love (Lee Min Ho) to modern-day Seoul. In this incarnation, he’s a con artist with no memory of her.
Another drama-comedy starring Jun Ji Hyun with themes of reincarnation, family turmoil, crime, and magical elements? It’s by the same writer,¬†Park Ji-eun. She sure knows how to write great TV. They must be paying her the big bucks.
20 episodes. Watch here.¬†
Crash Landing on You (2019-2020)
After watching one episode of Crash Landing on You, I suspected it was the work of Park Ji-eun. I was right.¬†Park Ji-eun, you have done it again.
After a freak paragliding accident, a South Korean heiress (Son Ye-jin)¬†ends up in North Korea. Army officer¬†Ri Jeong-hyuk (Hyun Bin) finds her and decides to help her. Hyun Bin is the most handsome I’ve seen him. Maybe it’s the uniforms. Plus, he got jacked in recent years.
It was so interesting to learn what life is like living in North Korea. That element alone is worth watching for. The fashion is also on point. Oh, if you like action, guns, and car chases, there’s plenty of that too.
16 episodes. Watch here.¬†
Which K-dramas do you recommend? Let me know in the comments!
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