So! A friend of mine on FB asked me late last night for Korean drama recommendations. She’s never watched kdramas before, so without intending to I just vomited up brief feels, synopses, and titles for her from which to choose. These titles were only the ones that immediately came to mind off the top of my head. Seeing as how I assume some of you adorable follower-humans might enjoy kdramas too, I thought I’d share. Most likely you diehards (pun not intended) out there have already seen these, but here’s some dramas to throw in your face anyway! Since it’s my thing, I’m going to
go by genre; so all will have romance as either a main plot line or as a subplot. Brace yourself for the d'awws!
If you’re in the mood for a serious, beautiful, powerhouse of a drama with
adult themes (ie adultery but not really…long story), dreams and money, sacrificing
your true self for security to forsake happiness, and of COURSE sex and pianos,
then you need to watch Secret Love Affair. It is hot and intense and has an
open ended interpretation for a finale that will leave you stunned and happy.
I mean, damn, guys…come on just LOOK at this sexiness!
Plus it’s just a damn good drama all around. So watch it.
looking for something that walks the line between comedy and paranormal, you
NEED to see The Master’s Sun. Its heroine is an hilariously adorable girl who
can see ghosts, and the hero is a skeptic who, when the female lead touches,
makes poltergeists disappear. It’s probably one of the best dramas that
incorporates creepy horror with perfect comedy!
looking for something a bit different, you HAVE to watch Arang and the
Magistrate. Same concept as The Master’s Sun, except the female lead is dead
and a ghost, the setting is ancient Korea, and there’s gods, goddesses, action,
magic, and evil political dudes. Plus the male lead is hilariously apathetic,
and the female lead is a badass who kicks ass as a dead girl! It’s funny and
dark and heartfelt and will leave you with all of the heart eyes! Plus it has the cutest ending that ever cuted itself.
looking for something strictly comedy and a bit silly, with moments of
seriousness and more cute than you could shake a stick at, you need King of
High School. Take an 18 year old high school guy and make him pose as his older
brother as a prestigious CEO in a company that a dowdy, 30 year old over-looked
heroine works at and you talk about some of the CUTEST comedy you’ve ever
witnessed in your freakin’ life!
looking for something hella melodramatic and intense, go with Secret Love. Heroine is engaged to a guy who gets involved in a hit-and-run that kills a girl, and the heroine takes the fall for her fiance. Turns out
the victim was the pregnant girlfriend of the male lead. The drama explores the idea of falling in love with someone, even as you hate them. Suffice to say, IT IS
INTENSE, and a bit nuts of a drama, but it will leaving you feeling all of your
emotions and then some.
If you want
some time travel in your drama diet, go with Queen In Hyun’s Man. Hero is an
ancient Korean scholar who finds himself traveling to the future, where he meets the female lead, an aspiring actress who lands the role
of the Queen from our hero’s time period. Comedy, cuteness, angst, and
adorableness ensues. And smexy kisses. OH MY GOD THE SMEXY KISSES!
Keeping in the
same vain as the historical theme, Sungkyunkwan Scandal is adorable and
perfect! Set in ancient Korea, in order to protect her family our female lead
disguises herself as a boy to get into a university of sorts that only permits
men. Cue “male lead finds himself attracted to a boy despite him not being
gay” theme and much hilarious ensues. Ignoring the gay panic is a must,
but if you can it’s so entertaining and will leave you so damn amused!
And, last but
not least, keeping with the gay-panic theme, Coffee Prince. Coffee Prince is
probably one of the best kdramas ever, and it’s basically the same premise as
Sungkyunkwan Scandal; female lead lands a job in an all-male working environment
to support her family. The only real difference is that in Coffee Prince, our
heroine opens and closes the drama as a very tom boyish, masculine girl. She’s
never subscribed to gender roles, so it makes her character far more
interesting. There’s angst and cute and smexy kisses and great characters and everything you could ever want in a drama!
With so many places to explore, but so little time, how do you narrow it all down? Well, all those hours sacrificed to dramas have led to this moment: creating the ultimate travel guide to Korea. Check out our list of must-see places below!
1. Minsokchon (Korean Folk Village)
If you’re a huge fan of historical dramas, this is the place for you! Walking through this village will make you feel…
[So my friends Kristen and Tatiana recently got into Korean dramas. I’ve seen well over 20 so far, so I decided to make a list for them and others; all with summaries and links.]
Sungkyunkwan Scandal: Yoon Hee takes her brother’s identity and tries to find odd jobs to support her family during the Chosun Dynasty. She starts taking exams for scholars trying to get into the prestigious Sungkyunkwan University but is discovered by a morally upright Sun Joon, who threatens to turn her in. Thinking she is a boy, Sun Joon convinces her to take the exam and she is accepted into the school, where she befriends some mischievous students. But how long can she keep her true identity a secret?
Arang and the Magistrate: The beautiful Arang, the daughter of a magistrate during the Chosun Dynasty, is brutally murdered. The woman returns from the dead as a ghost, still full of light-hearted mischief and spirited fun. When she meets a young magistrate, Eun Oh, she discovers that he has the unique ability to communicate with the dead. She convinces him to help her uncover her killer and bring the person to justice. Can a ghost and a magistrate team up to solve a murder mystery and punish the wrongdoer?
My Princess: An ordinary college student, Lee Seol, finds out she’s a princess. The grandson of Daehan Group, Park Hae Young, is put in charge of educating Seol on proper etiquette. However, Hae Young is put in a precarious situation when he finds himself drawn to Seol, the girl who will take away his inheritance if the monarchy is restored.
What Star/Planet Are You From?: Seung Hee, after losing his girlfriend in a tragic accident, left for 3 years. When he came back, he sought to make a film in a rural area. Someone caught his eye – Bok Shil, who looks exactly like his deceased girlfriend, Hye Soo. Seung Hee followed Bok Shil in order to get some answers, and ended up falling for her. Still the questions remain, is he attracted to Bok Shil because of the memories of his ex-girlfriend, or does he like Bok Shil for who she is? What happens when competitors come into the picture and families opposing their love?
City Hunter: The story takes place in Seoul, 2011. Lee Yoon Sung is a talented MIT-graduate who works on the international communications team in the Blue House. He plans revenge on five politicians who caused his father’s death with his surrogate father Lee Jin Pyo and eventually becomes a “City Hunter.”
My Girlfriend is a Gumiho: On one day after Cha Dae Woong ran away from his grandfather, he accidently freed a nine-tailed fox who was closed in a painting for about 500 years. He didn’t realize what he has done, until the Gumiho (nine-tailed fox),who took the form of a beautiful woman, appeared in front of him. Dae Woong was really frightened that he ran away from her and fell on the riverbank.Since he was severely injured, Gumiho came to save him and gave him her most precious bead to share with him the mystic fox’ strength, as she owes him her freedom. Gumiho then asked him if he can help her become human and how to act like one. In return, she allowed him to use her bead for him to shoot for his dream action movie despite his body’s severe condition. As time goes by, their mutual relationship grew deeper as they start to fall for each other.
Full House: Han Ji Eun is a naive writer who got swindled out of everything she owned including her house by her best friends. Stranded in China, She managed to borrow money from an actor Lee Young Jae to return to Korea. On her return, she found out that her house was bought by Lee Young Jae. In an attempt to get her possessions back, she entered in a contract marriage with Young Jae for one year. In spite of losing all, Ji Eun manages to be cheerful and takes things in strike and the business relationship between the two becomes personal as they start to rely and care for each other. Based on a popular manhwa of the same title.
Brilliant Legacy/Shining Inheritance: When Eun Sung loses everything, she is given a second chance because of her pure heart. She and her autistic brother are thrown out of the house by their stepmother when their father is believed to have died in an accident. Then her brother wanders off and gets lost. One day, when she helps an old woman who is injured, the old lady rewards her by making Eun Sung heir to her food company, displacing her grandson, Woo Hwan. Can Eun Sung find her brother and the life she is meant to lead?
Creating Destiny: Han Sang Eun emigrated to Australia with her family at a young age. Years later, she has completed her law studies in the United States and plans to marry her American boyfriend. Her dad, however, is strongly opposed to their union and has set his heart on her marrying Kim Yeo Joon, the son of his best friend. Sang Eun finds herself exiled to Korea, where she reluctantly teams up with the equally uninterested Yeo Joon to devise a plan that will allow them to avoid their impending marriage.
The Greatest Love: Ae Jung was once the most popular member of girl band The National Treasure Girls. However 10 years ago the band broke up and she received most of the blame. Despite her warm personality her career has suffered ever since and she now spends her time fighting for air time on variety shows. Dokko Jin is a top movie star at the height of his career. The two meet and become involved in each other’s careers. Yoon Pil Joo is a doctor of oriental medicine who has no interest in the entertainment industry but agrees to make a dating show. Dokko Jin helps get Ae Jung a role on a new reality show called Couple Making. Pil Joo is the bachelor being set up on Couple Making. Both men fall for Ae Jung both off and on the screen.
You’re Beautiful: The management company of the idol group A.N.JELL insisted on adding a new singer to the group as the lead vocal, Tae Kyung’s voice was hurting. However,the new member, Mi Nam, had to go to the States to repair a botched eye job just before signing the contract. His agent came up with the idea of having his twin sister, Mi Nyu,to stand in for him and pretend that she was her brother. The two of them grew up in an orphanage and Mi Nyu, who was all set to become a nun, agreed to this charade as she didn’t want to spoil her brother’s chance of fame which would make it easier to look for their mother.
Boys Over Flowers: Jan Di is an average girl whose family owns a dry cleaning store located near the luxurious and well known Shin Hwa High School. After saving a boy from jumping off the roof of Shin Hwa High School, Jan Di is admitted into the school on a swimming scholarship. At school, Jan Di tries to avoid confrontation with the four richest and most spoiled boys known as the F4, because she knows what happens to those that stand against them. However, when Jan Di’s friend, Oh Min Ji, accidentally gets ice cream on the leader of the F4’s shoes, she’s forced to declare war on the leader of the F4, Goo Joon Pyo. What will happen though, when she falls in love with someone from the F4 and Goo Joon Pyo starts feeling something for her too? Will the love triangle disrupt F4 and change their lives forever? Get ready for addictive drama, romance and comedy at it best.
Protect the Boss: The plucky Eun Seol has a tough time landing a good job with mediocre credentials and wrestles with unemployment. When she finally gets hired as a secretary at a major conglomerate, she wants to do well at all costs and keep her job. But she doesn’t realize that the chairman’s nephew has hired her to work for the chairman’s son, Ji Heon, to try to undermine him and take over the company. As she falls in love with her eccentric new boss, she is determined to protect him from his ruthless family.
Playful Kiss: “Mischievous Kiss” is a romantic-comedy covering the romance between Baek Seung-Jo, an arrogant young man with a genius IQ, and Oh Ha-Ni, a ditzy young woman who gets poor grades, but whose heart is as powerful as Seung-Jo’s mind. The series is based off from a Taiwanese drama and a Japanese manga book. It is call “It Started With a Kiss.” It is about a girl in F class that falls in love with an A class boy. She liked him since the first year of high school. Once, she decided to tell him she likes him but was rejected. So the story continues about the girl who keeps chasing after the boy she loves.
Heirs: The world at your feet and the weight of the world on your shoulders. Children of the super-elite class bear the burden of success as they are being groomed as heirs to their family business empires despite only being in high school. Kim Tan is the arrogant and self-centered heir to the Empire Group, a family conglomerate business. But he lives under the constant shadow of his older half-brother, Kim Won, who is already an accomplished young executive in the family business. Despite being betrothed to the equally wealthy and equally haughty Rachel Yoo, a hotel heiress, Tan falls in love with Cha Eun Sang, the daughter of his family’s housekeeper. Eun Sang and her best friend, Yoon Chan Young, the son of Empire Group’s secretary, did not grow up like their families’ employer did, but they get embroiled in their lives nonetheless. Eun Sang gets caught in a love triangle with Tan and Choi Young Do, the condescending heir to a luxury resort conglomerate while Chan Young falls in love with Tan’s ex-girlfriend, Lee Bo Na, the socialite daughter of a major entertainment executive. Can a romance survive between the haves and the have-nots?
Flower Boy Ramyun Shop: Eun Bi’s greatest desire is to become a high school teacher and is preparing to take the teacher certification exam during her last year of college. But whether she’s in the bathroom crying over a boyfriend, in the street almost being run over by a car, at a university festival, or a teaching event at a high school, Eun Bi keeps running into the mysterious Chi Soo. Then the two end up working at the same ramen shop. Can the chance encounters be more than just pure coincidence?
To the Beautiful You/Hana Kimi: A high school girl will do anything to meet and get close to a boy she idolizes. Jae Hee is in love with Tae Joon, a pole-jumping gold medalist. She discovers that he attends high school at an all-boys’ school, so she cuts her hair and pretends to be a boy to be admitted to the school. But she soon learns that trying to blend in with the boys and keep her true identity a secret are no easy tasks. How long can she keep up the ruse, and will it all be worth the effort in the end?
Goong/Princess Hours: Goong is a story about young love in face of tradition, politics, and intrigue. In the imaginary world, modern-day Korea is a constitutional monarchy and the Royal Family lives in a grand Palace, the Goong. Story opens with the sudden death of the reigning the King. Faced with the decreasing popularity among the public for the Royalty, a grand wedding for the Crown Prince, Lee Shin, is decided to be the best publicity move to improve the image of the Royalty and at the same time prepare Shin for immediate succession. The intended bride? The headstrong, awkward, and sweet spirited Shin Chae Kyung that just happens to go to the same exclusive art school. Chae Kyung was betrothed to become the next Crown Princess by her grandfather and Shin’s grandfather. After 14 years of living in England with his mom, Lee Yul appears all of a sudden. He is Shin’s cousin as well as the former Crown Prince. Everything seemed to be going normally until Chae Kyung’s optimistic spirit wins the heart of internally lonely, Yul. As the Crown Prince Shin and simple-minded Chae Kyung’s relationship appear to developing deeper feelings, a series of scandals are exposed to the public right after the pair were officially announced married. Will love prevail all in a world of political pressures and martial hardships? Or will being in the spotlight of the public be too much for the young newlyweds to endure?
49 Days: Shin Ji Hyun was enjoying absolute bliss as she was about to marry her fiancé, Kang Min Ho, but her perfect life is shattered when she gets into a car accident that leaves her in a coma. She is given a second chance at life by a reaper, but it comes with a condition: she has to find three people outside of her family who would cry genuine tears for her. In order to do this, she borrows the body of Yi Kyung, a part-time employee at a convenience store for 49 days.
Cinderella’s Sister: Since a young age, Eun-jo has learned to trust no one and live strong on her own. Used to being dragged from one broken home to another by her manipulative, money-grubbing mother, Eun-jo doesn’t know what to make of her mother’s latest catch Dae-sung, the solemn head of a traditional rice wine brewery. Both Dae-sung and his daughter, bubbly spoiled princess Hyo-sun, warmly welcome wary young Eun-jo into their sprawling home, and treat her with a kindness that she simply can’t stomach. Instead, she forms a bond with brewery staff Ki-hoon, the first person to see past her tough act, and it is his betrayal that will hurt the most. However, Dae-sung’s genuine kindness to her eventually melts Eun-jo’s defenses, and she learns to trust and love her stepfather. Naive Hyo-sun, meanwhile, stubbornly seeks affection at every turn, only to slowly realize she’s losing Ki-hoon and everything else in her life to her cold stepsister. Eight years later, Jung-woo reappears in Eun-jo’s life, a boy she used to treat as her little brother who is now a young man determined to win her heart. Reluctant sisters Eun-jo and Hyo-sun both experience angst and rivalry, as their polar-opposite personalities and love-hate relationship bring them through many ups and downs from adolescence to adulthood.
Fireworks: Shin Na Ra, a woman who is almost thirty welcomes her boyfriend of seven years back from his business trip. On their anniversary he tells her that he not only had an affair, but fell in love with another woman. Thus their relationship is no more. To make herself feel better, Na Ra drinks a large amount of alcohol and unknowingly dropped the ring her ex-boyfriend gave her into a shot glass of soju. A stranger, In-Jae, drinks the shot without seeing the ring and both of them end up in the hospital. To support herself, Na Ra pretends to be her 20 years old sister in order to work as a cosmetic clerk at Mi-Rae (the woman her ex-boyfriend fell in love with)’s shop but fate has brought In-Jae to the shop to. Thus began their surprising journey of love, where In-Jae is in love with Mi-Rae too.
Secret Garden: This drama chronicles the love story of Gil Ra-im and Kim Joo-won. Gil Ra-im is a poor but proud stuntwoman who has supported herself since her father’s death. Her dream is to be a stuntwoman for an international film. Joo-won is an arrogant and eccentric CEO who maintains the image of seeming perfection. Their accidental meeting, when Joo-won mistakes Ra-im for actress Park Chae-rin, marks the beginning of a tense, bickering relationship, through which Joo-won tries to hide his growing attraction to Ra-im that both confuses and disturbs him. To complicate matters further, a strange sequence of events results in them swapping bodies. However, even after they swap their bodies back, feelings continue to grow for both of them.
My Lovely Sam Soon: Kim Sam Soon is a baker who has a talent in making pastries and cakes. On Christmas Eve, she caught her boyfriend, Min Hyun Woo, cheating on her and breaks up on the same night. On that same night, she accidentally went into the men’s restroom and met Hyun Jin Hun, a somewhat callous fellow but sometimes considerate guy. By sheer coincidence, Jin Hun needs a baker for his restaurant Bon Appetit and Sam Soon is unemployed. Sam Soon is hired as the restaurant’s chief baker and the two fights like cat and dog. Nevertheless, they started to have feeling for each other and Sam Soon agreed to post as Jin Hun’s girlfriend so his mother would leave him alone. Things got complicated when Jin Hun’s ex-girlfriend Yoo Hee Jin came back from the States intending to win him back.
You can find all of these on dramafever, hulu, netflix and/or crunchyroll. :) Enjoy!