In India, Korean dramas have replaced the craze for local content in recent years in the minds of youngsters. The performances of the stars and mature storylines have managed to evoke loyalty in their fan base. If you are new to the world of Korean dramas, though, here are some shows to kick start your inevitable fall into the Korean dramas abyss. Here in this article, we have attempted to shortlist 20 of the best Korean dramas of all time.
Also read: 20 Best Korean Romantic Movies of All Time
1. Crash Landing On You
When a South Korean heiress, Yoon Se Ri, has to land in the forbidden territory in North Korea, an officer, Jung-Hyuk, finds her out and decides to shield her from harm instead of punishing her. Of course, they fall in love. What happens to them forms the rest of the show.
2. Queen Seondeok
Queen Seondeok is a historical drama inspired by the life and reign of Queen Seondeok of Silla, the first female king of Silla.
3. Stairway To Heaven
Family conflicts push childhood sweethearts Jung Suh and Song Ju apart. The story revolves around whether or not they find their way back into each other’s lives again when fate brings them together.
4. Kill Me, Heal Me
TW: Mental illness, child abuse
Cha Do Hyun, a businessman, enlists the help of beautiful psychiatric student Oh Ri Jin to secretly treat him for his dissociative personality disorder. Oh Ri On, Ri Jin’s twin brother, wants to run an exposé and chooses Cha for that, as a rich person hiding a secret. What happens next is what you have to watch the show for.
5. What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim
Based on the 2013 book Why Secretary Kim
by Jung Kyung-Yoon, this show revolves around the lives of Lee Young Joon, the vice-chairman of a company, and Kim Mi So, his highly capable secretary when they bond over their shared experience of trauma and fall in love with each other.
As suggested by the title, ‘Hotelier’ is based on the happenings around running a hotel, when the owner dies and his inexperienced wife has to take over the responsibility of the hotel and also ward off rivals in the form of Kim Bokman, who wants to take her hotel away. She sends Jin Young, her trusted employee, to convince Tae Joon, ex-manager of the hotel, to return. Frank Shin, a famous mergers and associations specialist, is hired by Kim Bok Man to help with taking over this hotel. However, things get complicated when Frank starts to fall for Jin Young.
7. Oh My Ghost
The protagonist, Bong Sun, is a shy and introverted lady who cannot stand up for herself even in frightful situations. Bong Sun is possessed by the ghost of the extroverted Soon-Ae. Soon-Ae tries to get out of the situation by losing her virginity through other women’s bodies and realises that her death wasn’t natural. The two women then mutually agree to work together and come to a solution.
8. Boys Over Flowers
Gu-Jan Pyo, the rich and handsome leader of the high school bullies is smitten by the scholarship student Geum Jan-Di, when she dares to stand up against his gang. What follows is the age-old tale of love triumphing over all adversities and carving the way for itself.
9. Weightlifting Fairy: Kim Bok Joo
Kim Bok Joo wants to follow in her father’s footsteps as a weight lifter and works hard for it. Jung Joon Hyang, a talented swimmer, and unbeknownst to either of them, childhood friends with Bok Joo, enjoy playfully teasing her, while at the same time helping her. Eventually, he falls in love with her. It’s a coming of age story of young athletes trying to navigate life and career while also going through love and traumatic experiences.
10. Wonderful Life
A solitary one-night stand between strangers Han Seung Wan and Jung Se Jin bears consequences in the form of a daughter, Shin-bi. The events force them to get married for the sake of the child, but their conjugal life is disrupted by the interference of Chae Young, Seung Wan’s jealous ex. An unfortunate diagnosis of the child, though, brings the duo closer together.
11. The World Of Married
Ji Sun Woo, and Lee Tae Oh, are married to each other and have a child, Lee Joon Young. Sun Woo discovers Tae Oh cheating on her and decides to exact revenge by informing the family and taking their son away. What follows is an intense family drama in which no party is willing to spare an inch to help the other. It is one of the best Korean dramas of all time.
12. Hospital Playlist
Five doctors, Lee Ik-jun, Ahn Jeong-won, Kim Jun-wan, Yang Seok-hyeong, Chae Song-hwan, work together at the Yulje Medical Center. The medical drama also focuses on their love for music, and the band sessions that keep them close.
13. Secret Love
Kang Yoo-Jung goes to prison for a hit-and-run case, and the victim’s boyfriend, Jo Min-Hyuk, targets her to avenge his girlfriend. Simple enough? Well, here’s a catch. Yoo-Jung had taken the fall for her then-boyfriend, Ahn Do-hoon, who was the actual culprit. After learning more about her innocence, Min-Hyuk falls in love with her.
14. Dae Jang Geum
Based on Jang Geum, the first female royal physician of the Joseon dynasty, Dae Jang Geum shows how a chef goes on to treat the king’s illnesses using her cooking expertise.
15. Princess Hours
An alternate historical drama, Princess Hours has the crown prince to the throne Lee Shin marries his high school mate, Shin Chae-Kyeong, due to a decision taken by their grandfathers years ago. The former crown princess, Lady Hwa-young, claims her son, Prince Yul, is the rightful successor of the throne. Complications arise when Yul falls for Chae Kyeong.
16. Dream High
Six high school students share a dream of becoming K-pop stars. Their interactions with each other and the strides they take to reach their dream is what forms the crux of the story.
17. Coffee Prince
Based on ‘The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince’ by Lee Sun-mi, Coffee Prince follows Choi Han-kyul, the owner of the thriving coffee business, and Go Eun-chan, a girl who actively misrepresents her gender to secure work in order to support her family, as they fall in love with each other. The show has homoerotic elements, with Choi not being aware of Eun-chan’s true sex before falling in love with her.
Song Cha-ok, a merciless news journalist, publishes a sensational but misleading news report that destroys the family of Ki Ha-Myung, who survives a death scare and is rescued by a well-meaning but oblivious man, Choi Gong-pil, who mistakes him for Choi Dal Po, his eldest son. Ha-Myung, in his new identity as a simpleton, falls in love with Gong-pil’s granddaughter, Choi In-Ha, who has Pinocchio syndrome. They both join rival channels as journalists and learn about the misdeeds of Cha-ok, who is also In-ha’s estranged mother. Together, they work towards letting the world know the true meaning of journalism, seeking the truth.
19. Descendants of The Sun
Captain Yoo Si-jin and Dr. Kang Mo-Yeon fall in love with each other, but part ways due to philosophical differences. Master Sergeant Seo Dae-young and First Lieutenant Yoon Myung-ju are also attracted to each other, but their relationship is not approved by the army due to their ranks. How the couples find and refine their love on the battlefield makes the story of the show.
20. It’s Okay, That’s Love
TW: Trauma, mental illnesses
Jang Jae-yeol is a best-selling author who is battling a myriad of mental health issues caused by trauma he faced as a child. Ji Hae-soo, a psychiatrist focused on her career, crosses paths with Jae-yeol, and starts their journey with constant bickering. However, they slowly realise their similarities and bond with each other. However, Jae-yeol’s mental health issues resurface and cause trouble in their relationship.
So, all you Korean dramas fans, tell us what we missed and need to add to our watchlist. And for the newbies, tell us which one you plan to start with. Enjoy watching!