It’s fall now and what better way to enjoy the weather cooling down than with a nice Netflix K-Drama to transition your way into the Christmas Hallmark movies of the winter? Here are my top must-see K-Dramas on Netflix and why everyone who loves rom-coms should see them.
Korean romance dramas, known online as K-Dramas, are extremely camp. They are typically one-season-long TV shows that depict a couple getting together by its end. They are outrageously over the top in production and directional style and the storylines are fairly unrealistic, but man they are incredible. If you ever want to watch something romantic that isn’t trying to be too profound, K-Dramas are perfect for you.
If you watch one thing, you must watch this one. This drama is your classic hard-working woman who falls in love with the rich CEO who is so incredibly sweet and perfect. This is by far one of the best K-dramas I have ever watched. It has just the right mix of camp, pining, angst, and sugar and spice you could ever need. Most K-dramas shy away from showing the characters doing anything *spicy* for too long, but this one does not shy away from things. Episode 7 of this drama, specifically the scene starting a little after the 44-minute mark is one I had to rewatch a few times because of how iconic it is.
Crash Landing On you
This is a certified classic, and is even the fourth highest rated K-drama of all time in Korea as of August 2023. This follows yet another common trope in Korean dramas: drama with North Koreans. In this show, a very well-off independent woman finds herself trapped in North Korea and relies on the help of a few North Korean military soldiers to help her survive. This drama again is extremely camp, and at times cheesy, but it is so funny and easy to watch. I watched this one with my 80-year-old grandpa and my mom, both of whom enjoyed it just as much as I did. (I think my grandpa had a crush on the lead actress as he still asks about her…). Fun fact: the lead actress and lead actor in the show got married in real life and just had their first child together.
Her Private Life
If you are a big fan of anything, to the point you would call yourself a “stan” or an “ie” of that celebrity/character/band/etc, you will relate immensely to the main character in this show. It follows a woman who works at an art museum as she falls in love with the museum’s owner who just so happens to live in the same building as the person she idolizes (stans). I thought this was such a fun show and a dream scenario for anyone who still has celebrity crushes even when in a relationship. I also loved how she is still her own woman leading her own team in this show as her sense of independence never diminishes.
Doom at your service
Doom at Your Service has one of the most interesting concepts for a drama I have seen. It follows a woman who [trigger warning for the rest of the paragraph] wants to end her own life and upon an attempt to do so meets “Doom.” A man who represents death, destruction, and chaos in the world (but he is not at all a scary devil figure) who also wants to end his own life. The two develop a close friendship that really helps them grow together as people. Admittedly, this drama is a little deeper than the ones mentioned before, but it also has so much heart that it is one of the few dramas that actually brought me to tears during its heartfelt moments. I really recommend this drama for anyone looking for something with a little more pull at your heartstrings as the love and angst in this show is so sweet it will make you tear up.
it’s okay to not be okay
This is also a far deeper drama than the other ones mentioned, and is perhaps the “darkest” drama on this list (although the bar is not very high). This follows a man who works at a mental health hospital as he goes through life trying to raise his autistic older brother and keep his very lost friend out of trouble. This show has a really interesting take on mental health as the characters in the show never feel like caricatures of a particular mental health issue, and instead are extremely rounded out and interesting to watch. This show also is written in somewhat of a mystery as the past of the main character’s friend slowly comes to light, explaining why they take certain questionable actions. I love the female lead in this show; her character is completely and unapologetically herself which I respect so much. Although she grows emotionally as a character, her roots are never lost as to the end as she iconically dresses up immensely just to go camping.
our beloved summer
This show is for the overachievers, the first daughters, the first-gen students who have a family they want to support. It is for the person who never feels they are doing enough or are capable of being enough. It is both a lovely story about two people who needed each other to get through school and eventually meet again later in life. Part of the way this story is told is through a reality show lens which adds a very silly undertone to many of the scenes while still grounding itself in the seriousness of the characters’ lives. This is oddly one of the most realistic k-dramas on the list, so if you want something a little more grounded in reality, this is it. The main couple in this show are so cute together and are the perfect definition of an “okokokok” and “lalalala” couple.
king the land
I love this one because, on top of the CEO x Independent woman storyline, it is an enemies-to-lovers story. Furthermore, the female and male leads of this drama are two KPOP idols of very famous bands from the early 2000s (think the NSYNC and Pussycat Dolls of Korea), so for K-pop fans, this is a big deal. This drama is just the right amount of camp and I would definitely recommend it as a follow-up to the Business Proposal.
destined with you
This drama is the third follow-up I would recommend in the CEO x Independent woman train. This one I have not watched as it is the most recent drama on this list with the final episode having only dropped from the time of me writing this. But, from experience with K-dramas and trusted sources (my friends), I am still including it on the list. This one, however, has a mystical spin on the CEO x Independent woman part as the CEO is actually put under a curse to make him fall in love with the independent woman who only sees him as a coworker. This twist makes the show very funny as the two have to begrudgingly deal with the side effects of the curse, such as the male lead character’s “need” to know that she got home safely.
The Start-Up follows a group of friends who begin a tech start-up as they try to grow the company and make a profit in a competition against the female lead’s sister. This show is independent woman x wimpy man core which makes me love it so much. While it is hilarious that the show tries to convince the audience that the clearly muscular and attractive male lead is a wimpy character who has never had a girlfriend, I really loved how “simple” his character was at times. Although he is a tech/coding genius, the simplicity of his emotions and especially the simplicity of his love for the female lead even as she goes through so much turmoil is incredibly endearing. There is also a bit of a love triangle in this show that genuinely had me questioning at times who she was going to pick. I would recommend this show for anyone looking to watch something where a woman is completely pinned over by two men. It is also a great show to watch if you want to learn a little about start-ups, although the romance is unlikely in real life, there are many real terms used in the show that are interesting to know.
my personal favorites unfortanately not on netflix right now:
Both of these you can watch on VIKI, which is another streaming platform that specializes in East Asian media for female audiences. You can easily get a free version and watch these with ads.
strong woman do bong-soon
Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon is my ultimate favorite K-Drama because of the premise and the male lead’s character. This show really has it all: rich CEO in love with a woman who does whatever she wants and he follows, a random serial-killer and mafia subplot, and a love triangle. What more could you want from a K-drama? The somewhat mystical nature of the female lead having hulk-level super strength that causes her to be hired as a rich man’s bodyguard is iconic. Not only is he completely head over heels with her despite how much she can physically overpower him, but he is SO GOOFY that I love him so much. For reference if you have ever seen *this* clip anywhere online, its from this show and just proves how much he genuinely loves the main female lead. The ridiculousness of the plots in this show coupled with the very sweet and romantic scenes between the two leads makes this one of my favorite shows to watch on repeat.
weightlifting fairy kim bok-joo
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo follows two college athletes as they grapple with the complexities of social pressures with body image and social expectations about romance and mental health. The main character in this show is a weightlifting champion who faces extremely true and real issues regarding femininity and what it means to be a woman in masculine spaces. The romance in this story is also best friends to lovers which plays out in such a sweet way as the actors in real life were dating at the time of filming, making their on screen chemistry off the charts. I would recommend this as a follow up to Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon or as a precursor to Our Beloved Summer.