If you are not watching a romantic K-drama right, then you are missing out on a lot of fun. K-dramas are a worldwide phenomenon as part of the Hallyu wave and some way or the other you would come across Korean media in the form of K-pop music, Korean webtoons, or K-dramas.
Romantic K-dramas feature interesting storylines with likeable characters and lots of cute moments. While many of these shows feature a lot of the standard tropes and cheesiness, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad thing. You can’t help but love the cheesiness. These cheesy moments include the characters accidentally sharing a hug or a kiss, the female lead just about to fall as the male lead catches her, and so on. These shows are still an absolute pleasure to watch though, and here’s a look at some of our must-watch romantic K-dramas.
I’m Not a Robot
Released: 2017 Episodes: 16 Main cast: Yoo Seung Ho, Chae Soo Bin, and Um Ki Joon
I’m Not a Robot tells the story of a man who is allergic to humans. He is a handsome and smart shareholder of a financial company, who has to live a hermit’s life in seclusion due to his allergy. He develops extreme rashes on his body if he makes skin contact. One day, he gets the opportunity to try a robot companion, who functions as an assistant. The robot, unfortunately, breaks down, and a real girl is sent in its place instead. And that’s how the love between the two starts blossoming.
I’m Not a Robot is considered one of the best romantic comedy K-dramas of all time. The cast has good chemistry with great acting, it’s a wholesome watch full of fluff. While the entire concept of a man not knowing the person who he is talking to is not a robot, the plot and progression of the characters are done really well. One can’t help but fall in love with this cute love story!
What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim
Released: 2018 Episodes: 16 Main cast: Park Seo Joon and Park Min Young
What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim is a drama about Kim, who quits her job because she is tired of how her life is and wants a reset. She worked as an assistant for a vice-chairman of a company, Lee Young Joon. She did her job with patience and hard work for nine years but now she needs something new in her life. Young Joon is a man who is overly concerned about himself, to the point of ignoring the feelings of others. He doesn’t care what happens to others at all. When his secretary Kim quits her job, he gets taken aback from the sudden resignation and decides to find out why his assistant quit her job.
Lee Young Joon spends a lot of time with Kim and during this time they learn a great deal about each other. They are both persons with their own stories and reasons behind the way they are. They discover new things about each other and that’s what makes this romantic story so fun to watch. What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim is also full of comedy – so not will you find the couple’s love story adorable but you will also be laughing your head off.
Released: 2014 Episodes: 20 Main cast: Ji Chang Wook, Park Min Young, and Yoo Ji Tae
Healer is about the story of Seo Jung Hoo, who is a special kind of night courier. He is known by the alias of the “Healer” by his clients. He can get his clients anything they want as long as they are able to pay the right price for it. He uses the help of a genius hacker to get the job done. One day, he gets a task which leads him to an inferior tabloid writer Chae Young Shin and the opposite of her, a successful reporter Kim Moon Ho. With them, he discovers his hidden past involving the two reporters.
Healer has a bit of a heavier plot than the others on this list. While not exactly the lighthearted romantic K-drama, Healer boasts great writing with a well-written plot. Apart from the exceptional story, the K-drama also features a romance that goes well with the rest of the theme of the show. It also features a lot of different relationships that the characters have with different people, which feel meaningful. Healer tells the story of a hero living in seclusion who gets attached to a woman only to find that they were destined to meet, and it does it really well.
Go Back Couple
Released: 2017 Episodes: 12
Main cast: Son Ho Jun and Jang Na Ra
Go Back Couple is set around the lives of a married couple in their late 30s. They both met during their university days and married early on in their lives. Their married lives are not going good, however, as they have begun to resent each other and regret getting together at a young age. One day, the two wake up to find themselves in their 20-year-old self as university students. Not knowing how long they are going to be like this, they decide to make the most out of it and this time they make choices that they wish they had made when they were younger.
Go Back Couple has a very interesting premise, one of getting a second chance to relive life. While time travel K-dramas are dime a dozen, Go Back Couple manages to keep it fresh by having the couple go back and live in the past as their own self. They are the only existing versions of themselves, as there are no younger versions of them around. The show also poses a very good interesting question about what one would do if they were given a chance to start life all over again. The drama not only has the time travel executed perfectly, but it also features lots and lots of romance (which is why it’s featured on this list in the first place).
My ID is Gangnam Beauty
Released: 2018 Episodes: 16 Main cast: Im Soo Hyang, Cha Eun Woo, Jo Woo Ri, and Kwak Dong Yeon
My ID is Gangnam Beauty is based on a 2016 webtoon of the same name, focusing on the life of a self-conscious student who undergoes cosmetic surgery to avoid mockery for her looks by her bullies. It instead backfires on her as she receives a lot of ridicule and jeers from for getting the surgery. She starts going to a university where she meets a guy who stands up for her and likes her for the person she is. She gets closer to him as she tries to regain her self-esteem through the help of this new friend.
My ID is Gangnam Beauty features a lot of social commentary and is one of the highest-rated Korean dramas in cable television history. It received much praise for its portrayal of current issues in South Korea regarding superficial beauty standards and the widespread prejudice and discrimination on the basis of physical appearance prevailing in the country.
Boys Over Flowers
Released: 2009 Episodes: 25 Main cast: Kyu Hye Sun, Lee Min Ho, Kim Hyun Joong, Kim Bum, Kim Joon, Kim So Eun
Boys Over Flowers is a K-drama about a poor girl who gets to attend a prestigious high school attended by children of the wealthy by saving a boy from committing suicide. The boy wanted to end his life because he was at the receiving end of incessant bullying and the latest target of the F4 – an infamous group of four very beautiful but arrogant rich boys. That is until our female lead stops the boy from committing suicide, which makes headlines – and she receives a scholarship from the school. At this new school, she finds herself getting bullied by the F4 but eventually earns their respect and later, their love.
Boys Over Flowers became a craze all over Korea when it first aired and is still considered a must-watch K-drama to this day. The show helped propagate the “flower boy” concept – a character archetype seen in Korean entertainment which is best described as a cute, feminine-like boy who is generous, kind, and caring towards the female lead. This concept was so influential that it made Korean males start focusing on their looks and fashion.
Released: 2011 Episodes: 15 Main cast: Park Shin Hye and Jung Yong Hwa
Heartstrings tells of the story of Lee Shin, a student pursuing her studies of modern music in university. He is a vocalist and guitarist in a popular local band, and is not interested in anything besides music. On the other hand, our female lead, Kyu Won, knows traditional music and is trying to the best of her abilities to live up to her parents’ expectations. She attends Lee Shin’s concert one day and sees his band play live. She gets strongly attracted to him and this is how their story begins.
Heartstrings is a very cute and sweet K-drama with a lot of romance in it. The two leads fall slowly in love and it is really a joy to watch them fall for each other. The show is very lighthearted so it will make a great watch if you just need something to kick back to and relax. In my opinion, Heartstrings is a very underrated show that often gets overlooked by many, the entertaining and adorable show needs to be watched more!
Fight for My Way
Episodes: 16 Main cast: Park Seo Joon, Kim Ji Won, Ahn Jae Hong, and Song Ha Yoon
Fight for My Way is a K-drama that revolves around the lives of four childhood friends who are trying to find meaning and purpose in their life after reaching their late twenties. The drama sees them go through many hardships through friendships, young love, and sports. They face many struggles but continue to try to live a happy life. During all this, their love life begins and the drama does a good job of showing their love stories.
Fight for My Way showcases realistic romance, unlike most dramas that stop when the leads get into a relationship or get married. The show gives us a glimpse of the challenges and problems that a couple in a long-time relationship have to face. The not-so-cute parts of such a relationship are shown prominently in this realistic portrayal of romance. The show also features a lot of bromances between the main characters which you will want more of.
Marriage, Not Dating
Episodes: 16 Main cast: Yeon Woo Jin, Han Groo, Jeong Jinwoon, and Han Sunhwa
Marriage, Not Dating is about an affluent and single plastic surgeon who is against marriage. He does not want to get married at all, despite his family persistently wanting him to. He has planned out his entire life that’s ahead of him, and he does not feel a need for a significant other. But the constant harassing from his family about finding a wife compels him to fool his family by bringing home a woman he thinks his family would never approve of. He tries to get his mother off his back with this fake relationship.
While the concept of the show will seem a bit complicated and unrealistic, one thing’s for sure – you will be entertained throughout your viewing. The show contains a lot of drama that happens which will just make you wish for more. Not only that, but it is also funny and doesn’t shy away from talking openly about adult stuff like sex, unlike most dramas. This makes the show more realistic and relatable. The pleasantly different take on the romantic comedy genre by Marriage, Not Dating will appeal to many.
Episodes: 16 Main cast: Lee Jong Suk and Han Hyo Joo
W is perhaps the drama that has the most interesting concept in this list. The story of the show takes place in both the real world and inside “W,” a fictional webcomic featured in the show. The story revolves around the life of the heroine who is the daughter of W’s author. Her father is trying to write the story of the comic and decides to kill off the main character, Kang Chul. Due to some mysterious supernatural occurrence, Chul pulls his daughter Yeon Joon inside the webcomic world, and she ends up saving his life – which her own father wrote in the real world. This sets off a chain reaction, as the webtoon begins to write its own story and the plot continues without the help of the author.
The drama embeds romance, fantasy, suspense, thriller, and supernatural gothic elements and it does so beautifully. The refreshingly unique concept of the drama taking place simultaneously in the real world and inside of a webcomic is awesome, and that’s not even the best part about W! The romance between the two leads along with their performances will keep you glued to your screens.
Something in the Rain
Episodes: 16 Main cast: Son Ye Jin and Jung Hae In
Something in the Rain is about a single woman in her 30s who has had tough luck with love. She has always been dumped in all of her previous relationships. The reasons cited often by her partners are that she is clumsy, reckless, or that she is a bit absent-minded. Yoon Jin Ah only wishes to find a man who can reciprocate her love. Enter Joon Hee, her childhood friend’s younger brother. She always thought of him as a little kid, but now that he’s all grown up – he comes into her life again as a man. Feelings begin to develop between the two as this drama takes us on a journey of what two people falling in love really experience.
Something in the Rain is a very intricate look at what a relationship is really like. The slow-budding romantic drama is known for its realistic portrayal of love. The romance is unconventional for a K-drama in that the female lead is in her 30s whereas the male lead is in his 20s. This is considered a taboo in Korea, as an older woman dating a younger man is seen as shameful. The show delves into every facet of a romantic relationship, and it is worth a watch if you are looking to watch a deep love story.