10 Shows To Help Kickstart Your K-Drama Journey
squid game took the world by storm earlier this year. He relied on the famous battle royale tropes and was a series full of suspense and tension for the characters and the viewers. A little like Train to Busan and Parasite before that, the series fueled the growing interest in South Korean popular culture products. Foremost among these products, other than K-pop, are K-dramas.
K-dramas have been around for a long time, long before current interest. They are the equivalent of the telenovela or soap opera, but in recent years more money has been pouring into them and more independent studios have been allowed to take greater risks with their storytelling. For those who are interested, more than going from squid game to classics like Boys above the flowersthe following titles would be a better, more modern entry point.
ten A Business Proposal (2022) – Stream on Netflix
Currently available on Netflix, A business proposal has so many classic K-drama romance tropes, it’s a great place to start. Fully aware of how it uses these tropes, the drama has other drama unfolding within it.
Based on a popular webtoon, it’s a comedy of errors with romance and mistaken identity that series viewers love Bridgerton are sure to enjoy. The main character works for the very wealthy male lead, a common setup, and ends up tangling with him by being sent on a blind date with him instead of her best friend. From that point on, shenanigans and love ensue.
9 Rookie Historian Goo Hae-Ryung (2019) – Stream on Netflix
For those wishing to try a historical drama, Novice historian is an excellent starting title. He’s not as old as the Sungkyunkwan scandalbut not as overtly modern as the various versions of Korean period dramas, Mr Queen. The series introduces viewers to the tropes of Korean historical dramas while having a modern twist by giving its female characters more agency.
Viewers can’t help but support the four female historians trying to do just that, each with their reasons. Set against the backdrop of royal court intrigue and a budding forbidden love between an unwanted royal heir and one of the female historians, the narrative of this drama comes and goes at its own pace.
8 Strong Woman Do Bong Soon (2017) – Stream on Netflix or Viki
Korea’s approximation to a superhero story, A strong woman soon makes a bang is a great watch whether or not the viewer is aware of the parodied tropes. The titular character, Do Bong Soon, is part of a line of women who have supernatural strength. In the modern world, it’s more of a burden than a gift, and Do Bong Soon spends most of her time hiding it.
That is until she is seen using this force against a group of thugs by the male protagonist, An Min-Hyuk, who then employs it to work for him as a bodyguard. From there, the love story begins against the backdrop of a serial kidnapping case that Do Bong Soon takes on the task of solving.
7 Goblin (2016 – 2017) – Stream on Netflix or Viki
K-dramas don’t shy away from the supernatural and Elf is a great and unique example. It tells the story of Kim Shin, a modern-day goblin who must marry a human bride, Ji Eun Tak, to end his immortal life – a familiar romantic tale. A love story that spans centuries, Elf was very well received when it aired and it’s still an amazing story to watch unfold.
Not only is the acting superb, but the freshness of the story benefits from its supporting cast, including a grim reaper who would go on to become one half of one of the most beloved bromances in K-drama history. The series is also stunningly beautiful visually, as it combines multiple centuries and fantastical settings to completely immerse the viewer in the experience.
6 Hotel Del Luna (2019) – Stream on Netflix or Viki
For a change of Elf‘s dynamic, there is Hotel Del Luna. The series centers around the idea of restless souls living in this hotel before they can move on. They can spend ages in the hotel if that’s what it takes, but they’re well cared for until the time comes.
The hotel has belonged for several periods to Jang Man-Wol, the principal, who must learn to love again in order to move on. Selected for this is the human hotel manager, who falls in love with Man-Wol despite knowing that he is helping him pass on to the afterlife. It’s a beautiful, doomed love story with a stellar cast and gorgeous costumes.
5 Hospital Playlist (2020 – ) – Stream on Netflix
For anyone looking for a medical show, there are dozens of medical K-drama shows, but this one is particularly good. Focusing on five best friends from medical school, the series follows them now that they are accomplished doctors in their own right, all working in different departments at the same hospital.
Throughout two seasons, a rare feature in K-dramas, viewers watch the characters grow and develop. Not only do they face their daily struggles as doctors, but they all have to deal with the cards life throws at them. From kids to divorces to family issues, these five friends are there for each other through thick and thin, always ready to bring a smile between themselves and the audience.
4 Signal (2016) – Stream on Netflix
There are also many thriller K-dramas. Signal is a particularly gripping title, with a single drop of magical realism added to the story to make it truly interesting. Set between two separate time periods, a walkie-talkie connects a police officer in the past to one in the future, allowing them to solve cases of both times together.
However, as time passes, changing the past begins to negatively affect the future, and the story becomes a race against time to not only solve the cases that befall each detective, but also to save their lives. of the original policeman. A gripping story told only because of a supernatural element, it leaves viewers expecting more.
3 Vincenzo (2021) – Stream on Netflix
by Netflix Vincenzo caused a stir last year. Although this is meant to be a legal drama, as much of it takes place in the courtroom, Vicenzo truly crosses genres. With an already outrageous premise of an Italian mob consigliere who has been adopted from South Korea and returns to get some gold hidden under a building, the story only gets crazier as it continues.
It is self-referential with its actors, but not to the extent that viewers unfamiliar with their work would be unable to follow. This is a great series for viewers who love intrigue, mystery solving, thrillers and heists, Vincenzo has something for everyone, with great villains, supporting characters that become family, and a rock solid, steamy romance on top of it all.
2 Itaewon Class (2020) – Stream on Netflix
Itaewon-class is an outsider story against a backdrop of corruption. One of the best Netflix dramas of 2020, it did very well upon release and continues to be loved today. The typical story of the common man against the conglomerate took place off-screen and resulted in the imprisonment of the main character, Sae-Ro-Yi. The story begins once he is released from prison and faces the rest of his life.
His father died and he decided to open a bar-restaurant in his honor. But the past will always catch up with you. So even though he makes new friends, the founder of the conglomerate group is still after him. Viewers can’t help but make sure Sae-Ro-Yi’s fortunes change and he prevails over everyone who interferes in his life.
1 Mr. Sunshine (2018) – Stream on Netflix
Mr Sun is quite unique in the world of period K-dramas. Set in the early 1900s, with Korean activists fighting for independence as much of the cast, it ends with Japanese occupation. Period-appropriate costumes and sets greatly enhance the series.
A love story set at such a particular time in history would be interesting on its own, but placing the characters at the center of much of the ongoing political intrigue results in an immersive, fast-paced series. The viewer can’t help but keep watching until the inevitable end. And the audience can see squid game Lee Byung-hun in the lead role.
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