I love my American Horror Story, Community, New Girl and Too Hot to Handle, but there’s nothing like binge-watching a good K-Drama. Ranging from comedy to drama to action, and sometimes even a combination of all three, K-Dramas have a way of making even the most unrealistic of scenarios acceptable. They pull in idealists and dreamers like me and leave us wanting more of the story with each episode we watch. With most episodes spanning anywhere from forty minutes to an hour and a half, it’s not surprising when a good binge-watch session lasts nearly the entire night.
How could you stand not to watch the next episode when the previous one always leaves off on a cliffhanger? Will the guy get the girl? Will she finally stand up against her boss? Does he survive the crash? These are the questions I’ve been left wondering while watching K-Dramas. It’s not just the very intentionally placed cliffhangers that keep me watching, though. It’s also the fact that I can enjoy the many foundational aspects of the K-Drama, whether it’s the aesthetic, the charming characters or the moral of the story.
If you’re looking for a show to pull you out of reality (or motivate you to go out and change your reality), I highly suggest these K-Dramas!
1. Itaewon Class
These shows are listed in no particular order, but if I had to choose one of the best ones I’ve watched, it’d be Itaewon Class. This show has everything you need, from romance to drama. The main character has a classic rags-to-riches story, but it’s intertwined with some of the best plot twists I’ve ever seen. The actors and actresses put together the most compelling story and move it along with such impressive performance that it leaves you attached and rooting for the protagonists and furious with the antagonists. If you are ever in need of inspiration to turn your life into exactly what you want it to be, I suggest this be the first show you watch. It shows how messy the process of growth and success is but also how satisfying and rewarding it is if you persevere through the pain.
The most recent K-Drama I’ve watched, Start-Up has moments that leave me seriously frustrated with the characters and how they interact with one another. However, each character in the cast has something within them that teaches viewers a memorable lesson. The lead actress is the definition of fierce and independent. She is definitely a positive role model; she shows viewers what it looks like to work through self-doubt and setbacks while finding yourself, as well as a career that you genuinely enjoy. She works in an atmosphere where she is surrounded by her closest friends at all times, making her job all the more pleasant. It pushes me to want a career that I’m not only passionate about but enjoy so much that it feels like a second home. The second lead actor is also inspiring but in a completely different way. He embodies what it means to be selfless for those that you love without expecting anything in return.
3. Romance is a Bonus Book
Romance is a Bonus Book is a very light-hearted story with not much drama to it so it’s really easy to get through. As hinted by its name, this show is good for those that enjoy that giddy, giggly feeling you get from watching two characters fall in love. Romance is a Bonus Book holds a special place in my heart because the entirety of its plot revolves around a book publishing company. It celebrates authors, writing, and similar to Start-Up, motivates me to work in an environment surrounded by friends that are equally passionate as me. This show further solidified that I would be more than happy working as an editor in the future.
4. Memories of the Alhambra
If you’re looking for something that doesn’t center on romance and instead provides you with a creative, fantasy-type plot, Memories of the Alhambra is such a great choice. It tells the story of characters that play a highly believable Augmented Reality game that starts to literally blend into their reality, making it hard to distinguish what’s real and what’s not. It’s a mystery that viewers try to solve alongside the characters, and it’s so effective at keeping us on the edge of our seat. Because it’s mainly set in Spain and draws a lot of inspiration from medieval times, your eyes are also constantly being satisfied with the show’s pleasing aesthetic.
5. Boys Over Flowers
Boys Over Flowers is an absolute classic. If you talk to anyone that has watched K-Dramas, this is likely to have been one of their very first ones. Considering it came out in 2009, prepare yourself for it to be a little outdated and definitely jam-packed with corny, eye-roll-worthy moments. But when it comes from the main character, Goo Joon Pyo, you won’t mind. He’s played by Lee Min-Ho, a fan favorite in Korea. You might find yourself laughing at the characters and how cringe-worthy they can be, you’ll also find yourself getting flustered and excited with them whenever any romantic moments or victories come across.
These are only five of the K-Dramas I really recommend you to watch, whether you’re looking for a new show to start or want to venture outside of your usual programs. Once you’ve crossed these off your list, try any of these next: Hi Bye, Mama!, Moon Embracing the Sun, Korean Odyssey, Cinderella and the Four Knights, and Strong Girl Bong-soon.