I have been hooked onto Korean dramas for close to two years, and it has been a very entertaining journey. I was once a person who scorned Korean drama and even wondered how people were interested in this phenomenon. I admit somewhat sheepishly that before I was forced to watch one, I actually thought they were dramas that were performed on stage. But I soon realized that they were Korean television serials, and so I turned my back on the days of scorn and ignorance. Of course there were some that I found absolutely boring, but there are a few that kept me glued to my seat, and here’s a list of K-dramas that I feel everyone should watch.
No. of Episodes: 20
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
The drama is about the lives of news reporters and depicts what happens in the background of stories that are reported, news items that are constructed and also the effect of some of these items on society. It begins with junior high student Gi Ha Myeong’s family’s fall into disgrace, due to false reporting. Later he encounters Choi In Ha, but no longer as Gi Ha Myeong, instead as Choi Dal Po. Choi In Ha is the connection between the title and the original story of Pinocchio, as she cannot lie. She suffers from what is called Pinocchio syndrome, and if such people lie they start hiccupping. Together Gi Ha Myeong and Choi In Ha become reporters to find out about the past, and by doing so they unearth awful truths concerning people close to them.
This drama has a superb storyline and is very interesting. My favourite parts would be the initial stages of their training to become reporters.
2) Moonlovers: Scarlet Heart: Ryeo
No. of Episodes: 20
Genre: Historic drama (Sageuk), Fantasy, Romance
A historical drama, it follows Go Ha Jin who lives in the present era and gets transported back in time to the Goryeo Dynasty. The story starts during the reign of Taejo and ends decades later during the reign of Gwangjong. Go Ha Jin, now in the body of Hae Soo realizes she can change history for the better. She learns in her History classes that Gwangjong was a tyrant, and so she takes it upon herself to identify him among the princes and help him do good for the country. In this way she becomes entangled with the royal family, in the process touching hearts, helping to restore broken relationships and changing history.
The story is full of humor, rife with bloodshed, death, betrayal and political manipulation to name a few, with romance as its crux. There is a deep attachment that viewers develop for the characters, that I think is inevitable. The actors have depicted the characters so beautifully. Rest assured, I did cry quite a bit while watching it.
3) Kill Me Heal Me
No. of Episodes: 20
Genre: Medical drama, Suspense, Romantic Comedy
Cha Do Hyun the a third generation business heir, suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder due to childhood trauma. He has 6-7 alters (personalities) manifested in him. As a result of a number of incidents, he crosses paths with first year psychiatry resident Oh Ri Jin. She later becomes his personal psychiatrist, and meets each of the alters. Due to various incidents Cha Do Hyun meeting the the goofy, twin brother of Oh Ri Jin, who has secrets of his own.
I was fascinated by the drama as I had never before read or seen works on multiple personality disorder. After watching the drama, I was quite the ‘fountain of knowledge’ in psychology class while learning about Multiple Personality Disorder.
4) Age of Youth
No. of Episodes: 12
Genre: Youth, Drama, Romance
The drama focuses on the lives of 5 girls who share an apartment. Each of the girls have their own stories that is revealed as the drama unfolds. Age of Youth is a drama about normal college students, and it deals with problems they face, how they learn to get along with each other and how they cope with the obstacles thrown at them. One definitely identifies with the girls, and becomes one of the gang. It was refreshing and enjoyable to watch.
No. of Episodes: 16
Genre: Fantasy, Drama, Romance
The story begins in an ancient kingdom where Kim Shin, a valiant and much loved warrior is wrongfully accused of being a traitor. This sparks a blood bath ending in the death of Kim Shin. Consequently he becomes a Dokkaebi (Goblin in Korean), who can only be freed from this curse by his bride. Dokkaebi, or ‘Korean Goblin’ possess extraordinary powers and abilities which are used to interact with humans.
The drama picks up from 1998, where he saves a woman and her unborn child. The child, Ji Eun Tak becomes his means of salvation, born with the title of ‘Goblins bride’. She has the power to see and communicate with ghosts.
Throw in a Grim Reaper, a rich kid, a pretty owner of a chicken restaurant and a whole bunch of interesting characters and you get a mind blowing drama. It has you guffawing one minute and crying waterfalls the next. Though each episode is an hour and a half long, it is engaging and entertaining. Almost all viewers (meaning me) find the relationship between the Dokkaebi and the Grim Reaper endearing.
6) Reply 1988
No. of Episodes: 20
Genre: Family, Comedy, Romance
As the title suggests, the drama is set in 1988, Sangmundong, Seoul. It is the third drama in the ‘Reply’ series. The drama, like its predecessors is a story of teenagers coming of age. The story revolves around 5 friends Sung Duk Seon, Kim Jung Hwan, Choi Taek, Dong Ryong and Sung Sun Woo. The 1998 Olympics, economic problems, student protests, exams, first love are among many that make cameo appearances, some longer than others.
The families of Sangmundong, Seoul are a close knit group, and it was astounding to see how different life in Korea was then. Similar to the first one (I say this because I haven’t watched the second one), this also keeps the viewers guessing as to who the female protagonist will end up with. When I first started watching the drama I had no idea I would get so attached to it. I hate that it ended and I still feel pangs of sadness thinking about it. When the drama ended, I felt like my life in Sangmundong had come to a close too. The drama made me feel that I too was a part of their group and grew up with them.
Most of these dramas are recent ones, because I have yet to develop an interest for the older ones. This is a very small portion of my list. I would’ve liked to give everyone the entire list, but the look of confusion on my mom’s face while she read a draft of this post convinced me not to do so. I listened to her and reduced the number of names, because “each name has three names in it!”