It’s strange how towards the early last decade; we could hardly find someone watching Korean dramas in foreign countries, and finally, when the ‘Korean Wave’ has finally hit in the US, a majority of people are now getting acquainted with the impact that the Korean culture is having on us. The presence of a number of streaming platforms aid in people’s desire to start up with Korean, or more specifically, Asian dramas. If you have started watching a good Asian drama recently, you will agree how deeply you get invested in the characters, and the storyline, to the point that you feel uneasy waiting for the future episodes.
Covering almost all the genres, including action, thrill, mystery, military, romance, comedy, age-of-coming, sports, and fantasy, Asian dramas are worth investing in our times. Here is the starter’s pack of Asian dramas that the beginners should watch, in case you are struggling to decide which one you should watch.
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo (2016)
Director: Oh Hyun Jong
Starring: Lee Sung Kyung, Nam Joo Hyuk, Lee Jae Yoon, Kyung Soo Jin, Cho Hye Jung, Lee Joo Young
Country: South Korea
Loosely inspired by the life story of an Olympic weightlifter gold-medalist from South Korea, the story revolves around an aspiring weightlifter who dreams of winning the gold medal, but her involvement in her first romantic relationship makes things complicated. Although she is very passionate about her dream— training regularly with heavyweights, she is quite feminine when we talk about her relationship with Jung Joon Hyung. She values both her dreams and her love, and jeopardising one for the other is not something she would like to do.
The drama features characters who are elite athletes in swimming, rhythmic gymnastics, along with weightlifting, covering their coming-of-age life tales and the difficulties they face in life. You can watch the drama along with English subtitles on Netflix, Viki, We TV, and Prime Video.
What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim (2018)
Director: Park Joon Hwa
Starring: Park Min Young, Kim Mi So, Park Seo Joon, Lee Tae Hwan, Pyo Ye Jin, Kim Hye Ok, Kim Byung Ok
Country: South Korea
The drama centers a narcissistic vice president of a company, Lee Young Joon, which is run by his family, and his diligent secretary, Kim Mi So, who has been serving him for nine long years without having any romantic feelings being invoked. While Lee Young Joon is full of himself and rarely appreciates people around him, Kim Mi So is capable in her job yet patient. However, after all these years, she decides to focus on herself and get settled, due to which she wants to resign from her job, but things take a different turn, and a number of misunderstandings come forth. Lee Young Joon ventures out to dig into the reasons for her quitting the job, during which the two of them gradually fall for each other. You can watch all the episodes of the series on Viki, Netflix, Hulu, and We TV.
Director: Kim Jin Woo, Lee Jung Sub
Starring: Ji Chang Wook, Park Min Young, Yoo Ji Tae, Kim Mi Kyung, Park Sang Won, Do Ji Won
Country: South Korea
The story is about a special kind of night courier, Seo Jung Hoo, who goes by the name, ‘Healer,’ for his clients. With the help of a master hacker, he gets whatever is asked by his clients, with the right price, only if it doesn’t demand murder. As his latest task demands, he has to get involved with Chae Young Shin, who is a second-rate tabloid writer, and Kim Moon Ho, who is a successful reporter. However, it leads to the exposure of the mysteries of his own past, connecting the other two as well, which threatens the lives of all three of them.
This action thriller drama covers the aspect of comedy and romance as well. However, the plot is strong enough for you to keep being hooked till the very end. You can stream the episodes of the drama online on Netflix, Viki, and Apple TV.
Director: Kim Sung Hoon
Starring: Joo Ji Hoon, Ryu Seung Ryong, Bae Doo Na, Kim Sung Gyu, Kim Sang Ho, Jun Suk Ho
Country: South Korea
The story has been set during the Joseon period when the king catches smallpox and rumors begin to circulate that he has already died because of it. On the other hand, the Haewon Cho Clan, led by the current Queen and the Chief State Councillor, her father, Cho Hak Joo, accuses the Crown Prince Lee Chang of being a traitor. The Crown Prince embarks on a mission to Dongnae in order to unfold the mystery behind his father’s death, with his guard, named Moo-Young, and find the physician who was responsible for treating the King. However, he gets stuck there with a mysterious man known as Young Shin and Assistant Physician Seo Bi, in a small village tormented with a deadly disease.
The drama is full of mysteries, thrill, twists, and turn, and if you like series involving zombies, you should not miss it at all. The drama is available to stream on Netflix, along with the English subtitles. There is a season two of the drama as well, for you to watch.
The Romance of Tiger and Rose (2020)
Director: Cha Chuen Yee
Starring: Rosy Zhao, Ryan Ding, Zhou Zi Xin, Sheng Ying Hao, Zhao Xin, Patrick Quan
The story begins in the modern world, with Chen Xiao Qian, an aspiring screenwriter, finally managing to have her script selected for a TV show. However, when the male lead of the show reads it, he immediately rejects the role written by her and asks her to rewrite it. Chen Xiao Qian determines to make her script a successful one, but while rewriting, she falls asleep and wakes up being located into her own story, where she is playing the role of the Third Princess, Chen Qian Qian— not the main character, but an almost non-existing side character, who is destined to be killed by the end of the third episode. Using her knowledge of the script written by her, she vows to stay alive by any means and find a way to get out of there. You can watch the entire series on We TV, Tencent Video, and on Viki for free.
Skate into Love (2020)
Director: Chu Yui Bun
Starring: Steven Zhang, Janice Wu, Zhan Zhou, Vincent Wei, Chu Yue, Han Jiu Nuo
The story is about a short track speed skater, Tang Xue, who has given up on her dream to become a skater owing to a past injury, and the ice hockey god, Li Yu Bing. When both of them come across each other in the college, they realise they had already known each other since young, before Li Yu Bing transferred to a different school. However, back then, Tang Xue used to bully him because of his timid nature, and now when Li Yu Bing has the chance to take his revenge, he plays tricks to make her work for him. However, soon he realises that he has misjudged Tang Xue and notices her good qualities. Both of them remove their differences and begin working together for their dreams, only to fall victim to misunderstandings and their past life.
In case you are into sports drama, flavoured with romance, you will surely like it. All the episodes of the series are available on Yo-Yo TV, Viki and on Youku, subbed in English.
Put Your Head on My Shoulder (2019)
Directed by: Zhu Dong Ning
Starring: Fair Xing, Lin Yi, Zheng Ying Chen, Daddi Tang, Zhou Zi Xin, Zhou Jun Wei,
‘Put Your Head on My Shoulder‘ tells the story of a genius physics student, Gu Weiyi, and an accounting major student, Situ Mo, who study in the same university. Gu Weiyi is the roommate of Situ Mo’s high school friend, Fu Pei, who is also the one whom she likes, but Fu Pei is reluctant to reciprocate her feelings. After a number of unwanted encounters with each other, destiny play it’s the role, and Gu Weiyi and Situ Mo end up living in the same house. Gradually they start to develop affections for each other, walking slowly into one another’s hearts.
It is an easy-going and fluffy drama and will be loved by anyone who is looking for a light drama with a lot of cute romance and comedy involving university life. You can watch it on Netflix, Viki, and on We TV.
My Girlfriend is an Alien (2019)
Director: Gao Cong Kai, Deng Ke
Starring: Bie Thassapak Hsu,Wan Peng, Wang You Jun, Christopher Lee,Yang Yue, Ashin Shu
It is a fantasy drama involving an alien from Cape Town Planet, known as Chai Xiao Qi, who loses her annunciator, which could have helped her go back to her planet, and gets stuck on the Earth with her turtle. She comes across Fang Leng, the overbearing president of a company, who suffers from a disease known as ‘rainy weather heterosexual amnesia’ that causes him to forget the memories associated with the females around him, every time it rains. Chai Xiao Qi soon realises that Fang Leng has something to do with her annunciator and follows him everywhere he goes in order to get it back. A series of incidents keep occurring, and Fang Leng begins to fall for her innocence and persistence.
This drama is a perfect blend of romance, science fiction, comedy, and fantasy. Give it a go, and you won’t regret watching it. It is available to stream on We TV and on Tencent Video.
The King’s Avatar (2019)
Starring: Yang Yang, Maggie Jiang, Lai Yu Meng, Daisy Li, Leon Lai, Fan Jin Wei
The King’s Avatar centers around an online multiplayer game, Glory, with Ye Xiu, a top-tier player who is a genius in his field. Circumstances force him to quit his professional team, and he begins to work in an Internet Café as a manager so that he can still keep in touch with the gaming stuff. When the tenth server of Glory is launched, he decides to re-enter the scene and throw himself to play in a professional team once again. Having ten years of experience in gaming, his past memories, and a to-be-finished self-made weapon, his journey to the top begins again.
The show is different from most of the dramas within the genre of e-sports. Equipped with amazing graphics, astonishing gaming scenes, and a heartwarming storyline, the show highlights the values of friendship, teamwork, hard work, persistence, and the chase to fulfil dreams. You can watch the drama online on We TV and on Netflix, subbed in English.
Go Ahead (2020)
Director: Ding Zi Guang
Starring: Steven Zhang, Seven Tan, Song Wei Long, Tu Song Yan, Sun Yi, Zhang Xi Lin
The story is about three troubled youths who have been growing up in broken households but become a family to each other in spite of not being related by blood. Ling Xiao, He Zi Qiu, their sister, Li Jian Jian, and their two fathers make up a family who selflessly care for and support each other through thick and thin. However, life takes a sharp turn when the two brothers graduate from high school and are bound to leave the country to spend time with their own families. After nine years, when they return, everything seems to change, and the shadows from their past life keep haunting their present relationships.
Go-Ahead is one of those dramas which seems to follow a common plot within its genre, however, those who have watched it can confirm the beauty of this drama. It brings into light the values associated with a strong friendship, family values, and a slice of life. It is available to watch for free on Netflix, We TV, Viki, and with a subscription on MGTV.