Top romantic K-drama you must watch

By Tuesday, September 29, 2015 9 1

W

hen I was new to K-drama I stumbled on an article on romantic K-drama, just like this one, and it changed my life…

I went from being a person who hated romance with every fiber of my being – to a “must see every romantic K-drama ever made”-addict. (I say “addict” with affection of course. This is a good thing.)

That article is now hopelessly outdated. So I decided to put together a list of my own. To help others find their next romantic K-drama fix.

Where to start? Read through the article and pick the one that sounds the most appealing to you.
Should be something here for everyone. Enjoy!

Top 5 romantic K-drama must-watches

romantic k-drama1. Boys Over Flowers

Romance sub-genre: Comedy, School

Unique Selling Point: The addictive drama-phenomenon that swept Asia and beyond. Outrageous outfits, over-the-top acing and girl power!

Plot: Hardworking Geum Jan Di attends an elite High School thanks to a scholarship.

She finds her shallow, privileged classmates unbearable, especially the notorious “F4″. Four boys who are rich, handsome, and arrogant. They are the kings of the school. And no one, not even the teachers, dare to challenge them. No one, that is, except Jan Di.

 


poster-coffeeprince2. Coffee Prince

Romance sub-genre: Comedy, Gender-bender

USP: Wonderful ensemble drama full of quirky characters

Plot: A delivery girl is mistaken for a young man, and is forced to maintain the deception in order to earn money for her family.

The situation becomes complicated when her male boss begins to develop feelings for this “boy”.

 

 


poster-wintersonata3. Winter Sonata

Romance sub-genre: Melodrama

USP: The drama credited with kickstarting the “Korean wave” – making Korean drama popular in all of Asia.

Plot: When she was young Yu Jin formed a strong bond with a boy at her school. When he suddenly disappeared she was unable to forget him.

10 years later, at her engagement party, one of her friends show up with a man who looks identical to Yu Jin’s long lost first love.

 

 


 

romance k-drama4. You’re Beautiful

Romance sub-genre: Comedy, Gender-bender

USP: Like a live-action animé in its style

Plot: Twin girl and boy Mi Nuy and Mi Nam grow up in an orphanage, dreaming of a day when they will be able to find their mother.

Mi Nam aspires to become a famous singer. But just when he’s about to join popular group A.N.JELL – a botched eyelid surgery jeopardizes his debut. His sister, who is all set to become a nun, has to step out of her habit and into boys clothes in order to keep the dream alive.

 


 

romantic k-drama5. You Who Came From the Stars

Romance sub-genre: Comedy, Sci-Fi

USP: Biggest hit since super successful Boys Over Flowers and Secret Garden (listed further down)

Plot: Doo Min Joon is an alien who was stranded on Earth 400 years ago. He’s been careful not to reveal himself and stay out of human affairs.

Just 3 months before he’s scheduled to leave Earth he meets a movie star diva who gets him tangled up in a series of events which make it impossible for him to remain neutral.

 

 


More must-see romance K-dramas

romance k-dramaCity Hunter

Romance sub-genre: Action, Crime, Revenge, Thriller

Unique Selling Point: Based on a popular manga

Plot: 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.

He starts living a double life by becoming a vigilante, dubbed “City Hunter”.



poster-greatestlove
The Greatest Love

Romance sub-genre: Comedy

USP: Two strong stars with sparkling chemisty

Plot: A girl group member who is fading in popularity meets the hottest male movie star in Korea. They become involved in a reality show and soon start to depend on each other, not only for support in each others’ careers.

 

 


romantic k-drama

Healer

Romance sub-genre: Action, Comedy, Thriller

USP: A parcour hero who becomes so affected by the herone that he stumbles over his own feet

Plot: An “errand boy”, who will do any task for money, is enlisted by a young reporter. They discover that they have a common past. And as they inch closer to the truth – both of their lives are put in danger.


poster-ihearyourvoiceI Hear Your Voice

Romance sub-genre: Law, Noona-romance, Supernatural, Thriller

USP: Catapulted Lee Jong Suk into superstardom

Plot: A drama about a 19-year old boy who can hear people’s thoughts, and a young thick-faced lawyer.

10 years previously she testified in the boy’s fathers murder case and he vowed to protect her ever since.  They team up to solve the toughest cases and find justice.

 


 

romance k-dramaI Need Romance 2

Romance sub-genre: Comedy

USP: A slightly more realistic look at relationships than your ususal romantic K-drama fare

Plot: INR is a series of free-standing seasons which are often compared to “Sex and the city”. It’s only a passing resemblance since both shows center around a group of women who freely discuss relationships and sex. This Korean show takes a both humorous and serious look at relationships between men and women.


 

romance k-dramaIt’s Okay, It’s Love

Romance sub-genre: Comedy, Medical, Melodrama

USP: Cliffhangers so unexpected you’ll have to pick your jaw off of the floor

Plot: While this drama starts out as a fluffy comedy with one medical case per episode – it soon turns into something deeper and far more interesting.

A rare and sympathetic look at mental illness issues, with a strong love story to boot.

 


 

romantic k-dramaMary Stayed Out All Night

Romance sub-genre: Comedy

USP: Cult classic within romantic K-drama screwball comedy

Plot: Mae Ri comes from a family with money problems. In an act of desperation her loving father makes a deal to marry her off to the son of his rich business partner.

To escape the situation Mae Ri enlists the help of indie singer Moo Kyul, to pose as her husband.


 

poster-masterssunMaster’s Sun

Romance sub-genre: Comedy, Horror, Supernatural

USP: Never have we seen THIS reason for the leading lady wanting to touch her leading man

Plot: Joong Won is a CEO of a department store empire. Gloomy Gong Shil is a woman who sees ghosts. When the department store is plagued by spirits, they start working together to free the spirits from their torment.

 


 

poster-mygirlfriendisagumihoMy Girlfriend is a Gumiho

Romance sub-genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Supernatural

USP: Ancient Korean legend with a charming modern twist

Plot: According to Korean legend – a gumiho is a nine-tailed fox who turns into a beautiful woman in order to seduce men and eat their livers.

Mi Ho is a gumiho who has been magically trapped in a painting for 500 years. She desperately wants to become human. And eat meat. Not nessesarily in that order.


 

poster-ohmyghostOh My Ghost!

Romance sub-genre: Comedy, Supernatural

USP: We follow a grey mouse who blooms into a confident woman in a unique way

Plot: Bong Sun is a timid young woman who is working in a restaurant. One day she is possesed by a lustful virgin ghost. The ghost needs to sleep with a man in order to move on to the afterlife. She sets her sigts on the cold chef in the restaurant where Bong Sun works.


 

poster-personaltastePersonal Taste

Romance sub-genre: Comedy

USP: The surprise hit of 2010 that still holds up today

Plot: Korean superstar Lee Min Ho plays an architect who is desperate to study the work of a legendary traditional craftsman.

To gain access to the house that is considered the craftman’s pasterpeice, he poses as a gay man in order to become roommates with the master’s daughter who lives there.


 

romantic k-dramaQueen In Hyun’s Man

Romance sub-genre: Comedy, Historical-fusion, Supernatural, Time-Travel

USP: The sizzling chemistry between the two leads was so strong that the two started dating in real life

Plot: Kim Boong Do is a scholar living several hundred years ago in Korea, who is a supporter of queen In Hyun. Choi Hee Jin is an actress living in present day who is about to play queen In Hyun in a drama. Trough the whim of a magical charm; Boong Do is transported to present day where he, with the help of Hee Jin, learns the history books account of queen In Hyun’s fate.


 

poster-reply1997Reply 1997

Romance sub-genre: Comedy, Friendship, School

USP: Slice of life ensemble drama

Plot: Set in the 1990’s, the drama centers around a female high school student Shi Won, who idolizes boyband H.O.T, and her 5 high school friends in Busan.

As the timeline moves back and forth between their past as 18-year-old high schoolers in 1997 and their present as 33-year-olds at their high school reunion dinner in 2012, where one couple will announce that they’re getting married.


 

poster-rooftopprinceRooftop Prince

Romance sub-genre: Comedy, Historical-fusion, Time-Travel

USP: Fish out of water story, hillariously told

Plot: Crown Prince Yi Gak finds that he has been transported from the Chosun Dynasty to modern-day Seoul.

He meets Hong Se Na, who bears a striking resemblance to his dead wife, and is determined to solve the 300-year-old mystery of her death.

 


 

romance k-dramaScent of a Woman

Romance sub-genre: Comedy

USP: Sexiest tango dancing scene ever filmed

Plot: Lee Yeon Jae is a non-married, low ranking office worker who is given numbered days to live.

Given the grim prognosis – she decides to quit her job at a travel agency and live her life to the fullest.

 


 

romance k-dramaSecret Garden

Romance sub-genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Gender-bender

USP: The big hit of 2010 which cemented both Hyun Bin and Ha Ji Won as bankable hallyustars

Plot: The paths of an arrogant and eccentric chaebol and a humble yet strong stuntwoman cross, which leads to a bickering relationship between the two.

Matters are complicated further when their bodies are switched through a magic potion.


 

romance k-dramaThe Moon that Embraces the Sun

Romance sub-genre: Fantasy, Historical, Political

USP: Life and death, as well as the entire future of the kingdom is at stake in this historical drama

Plot: Heo Yeon Woo, the daughter of a high-ranking official, meets Crown Prince Lee Hwon by chance. They fall in love.
Before they can marry, however, the Dowager Queen orders her death, in order to install another as Crown Princess. She orders a shaman to cast a spell on Yeon Woo to stricken her with an unknown sickness. After dying, Yeon Woo is resurrected from her grave, but loses her memories.
All believe her to be dead, including the Crown Prince Lee Hwon, who refuses to love another.


Honorable mentions

  • A Gentleman’s Dignity – If you want to see a bunch of 30 year olds act like teenagers
  • Fated to Love You – Worth seeing for Jang Hyuk and Jang Na Ra’s chemistry alone
  • Flower Boy Ramen Shop – A part of the very popular “flower boy” series of dramas
  • Heart to Heart – By the writer & director of Coffee Prince
  • King2Hearts – Political romance in an alternative Korea that is still a monarchy
  • Lie to me – On a whim a woman lies and says she’s married. Complications ensue…
  • Marriage not dating – A man being forced to marry brings an unmarriable woman home
  • My Princess – With superstars Song Seung Hun and Kim Tae Hee
  • Secret – A different take on the old chaebol and poor girl story
  • Scholar Who Walks the Night – The romance is strong with this historical vampire drama

 

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9 Comments
  • Martha
    October 1, 2015

    I’ve seen almost half of these. Stoked to check out the others! Wondering if you had a running list of J-dramas seeing as I have no idea where to start with those. Hana Yori Dango?

    • eriinnye
      October 3, 2015

      Sure you could start with Hana Yori Dango,
      other “classic” j-Dramas are: Nobuta Wo Produce, Zettai Kareshi, Kimi Wa Petto, 1 Litre No Namida, Gokusen, Hana Kimi (abbreviation), Koizora (Movie/Drama, I prefered the Movie), Ouran High School Host Club, Proposal Daisakusen (Although I didn’t like this one), The Wallflower

      Other ones that I personally recommend are:
      Dear Sister, Last Cinderella, Rich Man Poor Woman (is not as bad as it sounds^^), Hakuba No Oujisama, IS (Intersexual), Bloody Monday, Itazura Na Kiss – Love In Tokyo, Limit, Piece, Switch Girl (will make you laugh for sure), Tatta Hitotsu No Koi, Zenkai Girl

      I hope I could help you 😉

      • Martha
        October 3, 2015

        Thank you! This gives me a place to start (c;

  • Yy4ffer
    October 3, 2015

    Is it wrong that i have seen almost all of them O.O

    • Sofia
      October 4, 2015

      Speaking as someone who’s seen them all… Nah! Perfectly normal. 😉

    • eriinnye
      October 10, 2015

      I have seen 20 out of them… like sofia said. Totally normal xD

  • lauralyelee
    October 5, 2015

    I love all of these suggestions but I would add The Woman Who Still Wants To Marry or Dal Ja’s Spring for people in their late twenties/thirties since the female characters in that are strong and career-minded. They are both noona romances, but the arcs the relationships go through are mature.

  • Frances
    October 23, 2015

    Alrighty! I got 11 dramas on this list I haven’t seen yet (excluding honourable mentions). Thank you so much for this!

    • Frances
      February 20, 2016

      Reporting in. I got 6 left if I exclude honourable mentions. I’m watching well. FIGHTING!

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