11 Korean Dramas that are bound to keep you entertained throughout this summer vacation
Hallyu or The Korean Wave is a collective term used to refer to the Korean culture’s phenomenal growth, including music, dramas and its cuisine in various other countries. There’s not one person who hasn’t heard of K-Pop (Korean pop culture) or K-Dramas (Korean Dramas) in this generation. For some, engaging in Hallyu is a way to relieve stress. For others, it’s the sole purpose of their life.
As the Anime & K-Pop Club Coordinator of Middlesex University Dubai, I couldn’t help but feel as though I had to put forward this article to spread the awareness of some worthy dramas that everybody deserves to add on to their Netflix binging list . This might be the perfect way to reward yourself for holding on throughout this challenging academic year. Although I had a hard time choosing just 11 out of the 170+ dramas I’ve watched, I hope these dramas climb up your list of favourite series. Warning: you might get addicted.
11. Weightlifting Fairy
Genre: Sports, Romantic-Comedy
The story revolves around a 21-year-old female weightlifter who is a student at a sports university. Dreaming of becoming a powerful weightlifter and carrying on her father’s legacy, this tall but absolutely naïve little girl finds love on the way, and it changes the way she views weightlifting. On the other hand, a male swimmer with traces of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) finds hope in his long-lost friend, our very own weightlifter.
What I love about this drama is that it portrays the struggles of a weightlifter, a theme not everybody is familiar with, and not everybody acknowledges. The combination of a good plot, visuals and humour is just *chefs kiss*.
10. Strong Woman Do Bong Soon
Genre: Fantasy, Thriller, Action, Romantic-Comedy
This is a lovely story of a woman with extraordinary strength (I don’t mean lifting all grocery bags at once, we’re talking about lifting a whole truck here) and the CEO of a game developing company. Amidst the fantasy-filled drama appears a villain, bringing in the thrill and mystery to the series. And our male lead does not leap over the female lead to protect her. Instead, this time, our hero turns out to be the small, strong woman who bears it all to save her lover. Don’t we all love the change in stereotypical gender roles!
Although it has some extreme villain-hero interactions, the comedy vibes managed to clutch at my heart at the end of the day. It’s incredibly entertaining to see such a dominant man with an influential position to hold, fall weak on his knees for this tiny but powerful woman.
9. Save Me
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
If you’re into mysterious cult-related dramas involving manipulation, this one’s for you. The story revolves around twin siblings who shift to a rural village in hopes of a better future, but what they don’t know is that it’ll change their lives forever. Unknowingly, they get manipulated into becoming members of a mysterious cult gang.
On the other side, strange incidents happen at their new school, they gain friends but twice as many enemies. If you’re planning to watch this drama, be prepared for some edge-of-seat thrilling scenes on the way.
Genre: Procedural, Drama, Thriller, Fantasy
The story involves a guy who finds a strange walkie talkie which emits a signal from a detective in the past who is solving a famous murder mystery. Our curious male lead, a criminal profiler, gets involved in this serial murder case and tries to unfold the mystery behind the murders that shook the whole country. This drama will make sure you are not bored throughout its episodes.
7. Extraordinary You
Genre: Fantasy, Romantic-Comedy
This drama still brings tears to my eyes and coolness to my heart. It’s safe to say that this drama made me feel things no other drama had the power to (except for one – it’s at the number one spot on this list, you will find out soon). The original story is based on the popular web-toon series July found by chance. Our female lead comes into terms that she is part of a web-toon world, made up by the writer. And when she realizes she is not the main lead of this fantasy world, let’s just say she brings utmost chaos to change that, but you will find yourself supporting her in her journey.
The music when the three popular boys of the school enter, A3, I still vibe to the tune even though I watched this drama years ago. It’s one of the most iconic scenes of this fantastic drama. As a concluding statement, this drama is definitely not your ordinary drama. *laughs at my own pun*
6. 18 Again
Genre: Drama, Coming of Age, Fantasy
I’m going to be very honest and put this out there – I only started watching this drama because of the male lead. I mean, if there’s a handsome male lead, it’s enough of a reason for me to watch a drama — anything for a fine-looking face. But when I tell you, this drama had me sucked in right from the first episode, I am spitting only the truth. And I’m so glad I chose to watch this drama.
The storyline drives with our male lead, who is on the verge of getting divorced but suddenly gets thrown back to the time he decided to get married. This drama truly portrays the deep struggles of a marriage that is tied by a thin string. It definitely made me realize that weddings are not just a bunch of ‘I do’s’.
5. Liar Game
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
This was one of my earliest dramas that added to my love for Korean dramas. The entire drama has plot twists hidden deep and just when you think you’ve figured it all out, you’re back to square one asking for more. This drama will make you scream out, “Can I please be as intelligent as that man?!”
Liar Game is based on a famous Japanese manga of the same title. The plot revolves around a game show where you have to deceive others to proceed to the next round, and the winner takes home the money. Our naïve female lead has no hopes to move forward, but the male lead, a con artist, helps her with her tactics. If you’re looking for a series with a plot twist in every episode, this one is just for you.
4. Crash Landing on You
The epitome of best Korean dramas. Everybody has heard of this drama at least once. A story of a famous Korean actress who accidentally lands in North Korea after a supposed ‘stress-relieving’ paragliding session goes wrong. And what could be better than falling into the arms of a handsome North Korean soldier who has a cold exterior with the softest heart ever.
The reason why this drama is so famous is probably because of how the scenes and dialogues make one feel. The script has so many funny scenes and heart-touching dialogues that will make you wish you weren’t single. I certainly loved this remarkable drama because they showcased the relationship of the second leads so well. And their portrayed ending left my mind in a deep whirl of sorrow.
3. Secret Love / Secret
Genre: Melodrama, Thriller
When I tell you I cried, I literally cried while watching this one. Such a fragile storyline with the best cast list ever. The story involves a woman who is falsely accused of a car accident; meanwhile, the man who lost his lover in the same accident refuses to sit quietly and seeks revenge. A kind of revenge that will leave everybody scarred.
The performance, script and backdrops throughout the episodes just get better. My heart broke little by little every time Hwang Jung Eum (female lead playing Yoo Jung) shed a tear, and every time Jisung’s (male lead playing Min Hyuk) handsome face appeared with an evil look in his eyes, I went crazy. All in all, this drama portrays the best revenge story while also showcasing the nasty side of its after-effects.
2. Strangers from Hell
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Hands down this drama will give you creeps for life. Honestly speaking, I love psychological thrillers, and I’m a sucker for anything that has psychopaths in it. And this drama gave me just that and more. Not kidding when I say I had nightmares for three consecutive nights after watching this drama, and it’s safe to say, no other drama has ever had this effect on me.
Starting off with a naive guy looking to build a life for himself, he finds a cheap apartment with chipping walls, the stench of sweat, and the neighbours’ howls. Neighbours that look like they could whip out an axe from behind their backs any time. But the actual plot twist will leave you deranged. I can guarantee this drama will keep you on the edge of your seats (or beds) in each episode.
1. Scarlet Heart Ryeo
Genre: Historical, Romance, Fantasy, Melodrama, Time travel
Let me start off by saying that anything I say about this drama is less than the surge of emotions I went through while watching it. This drama has the number one spot on this list (and my heart) for many reasons. First of all, I love history, romance, fantasy and time travel. And this drama had everything. Of course, it has the typical bad boy and naïve independent girl story, but on a different level. It talks about romantic relationships and what not are pretty standard, but what I want to focus on is the relationship of a mother and child. It is portrayed so well in this drama; the harsh reality of comparison between different children of the same mother is clearly seen.
The drama holds so many life elements — romantic relationships, sibling rivalry and love, the difference in the bond of a mother and her sons, a king indulged in trials, the monarchy of a country, and the struggles of various relationships. The main reason why I love this drama is that Lee Joongi did such a fabulous job at portraying the character of a king who cannot rule over the country just because of a weighty scar on his face. If I had a chance, I could go on and on about every scene in this drama. That’s just how beautiful this drama and the impact it has left on me is.
With these many amazing K-dramas, we are bound to have messed-up sleep schedules and the darkest of dark circles. But the scenes with gorgeous characters slowly falling in love (and not to mention the extra hot and cheesy ramen with a side of kimchi at 2 a.m.) will definitely make up for it.