4 Must-Watch Korean Dramas: A Beginners Guide

So you’re interested in beginning the uplifting, sidesplitting, soul-stirring, heart-wrenching, tear-jerking journey that is found in a Korean drama? Well, you came to the right place my friend. Because today, I will walk you down the path to become a true K-Drama fan. One can only begin their journey with a list of some of the best Korean dramas out there. So, I have gathered a list of some of my favorite K-dramas of all time, and some of the most essential for beginners. But remember, I can only show you the list, you have to choose…

1. Secret Garden (Stream on: Netflix, Viki)

This Korean Drama is a classic. Hilarious and heart-warming from the start, this drama will have you laughing to the point of tears, cheering and exclaiming “Hallelujah!” despite your religion, and ultimately realizing you took for granted the tears of laughter because you are now sobbing -- full-blown sobbing -- tears of sadness and despair. Which is the case with almost all Korean dramas. It’s why we love them so much!

The story follows Gil Ra-im (Ha Ji-won), a poor stuntwoman -- and major bad-ass – and Kim Joo-won (Hyun Bin), the handsome, arrogant, high-end department store CEO and wealthy man who falls for her. Through a misunderstanding, the two meet and – amazingly phrased by Wikipedia (Yeah, Wikipedia, it’s a thing) – Joo-won finds himself “stunned by her coolness.” Couldn’t have phrased it better.

Being the farthest thing from his type, Joo-won is completely taken aback with the fact that he can’t shake Ra-im off his mind. The two begin a form of a love-hate relationship and things only get more interesting when the two magically swap bodies. Yeah, you read that right, swap bodies. Didn’t see that twist coming, huh?

The two start to see from the others perspective, understanding what they couldn’t see before as they -- quite literally -- are put into someone else’s shoes.

The show stars the legendary Ha Ji-won and K-drama favorite Hyun Bin as well as Yoon San-hyun, Kim Sa-rang and Lee Jong-suk.

2. Five Fingers (Stream on: Viki)

If you want to sob the hardest you’ve ever sobbed, then Five Fingers is the show for you. You. Will. Cry. This melodrama is the hardest I have ever cried. Not joking. Not even a bit. When I saw the final episode? I cried. When I think about the final scenes? I cry. When I look down upon my hand and am reminded that I too, have five fingers? I cry. Okay, well, maybe not the last one but, it is one, sad, show.

Dramatic story-telling, emotional music and amazing performances will take you through the twists, the turns and the jaw-dropping moments at the end of each episode that will leave you scrambling for the remotes play button.

The story follows pianists and feuding brothers Yoo Ji-ho and Yoo In-ha, and their mother and former pianist Chae Yeong-rang, who harbors many secrets. Five Fingers takes you into the world of competitive pianists and a family drama submerged in secrets, jealousy and revenge…

Revenge? Jealousy? Secrets? “-- What secrets?!” you may ask. Well… -- ones I can’t give away! Because, that is half the fun in this drama. The reveal of the secrets, uncovering the mysteries, plots of revenge, sobbing… like there’s no tomorrow… sobbing until your heart is broken into little pieces the eye can no longer see… just pure sobbing…

--Can’t wait to watch it a second time!

The show stars the dashingly handsome and talented Ju Ji-hoon, the beautiful and skillful Chae Shi-ra, the dramatic and brilliant Ji Chang-wook and the wonderful Jin Se-yeon.

3. Coffee Prince (Stream on: Viki)

This charming story will leave you smiling in all of its sweet and hysterical moments. Besides the moments were you’re sobbing… -- What?! It’s a Korean drama! You’re bound to have tears.

The 2007 Korean drama series pushed boundaries in South Korea for its time. The story follows Go Eun-chan (Yoon Eun-hye) a 24 year-old tomboy and breadwinner of her family who is often mistaken for a guy, and Choi Han-kyul (Gong Yoo), a wealthy, jobless, free of responsibility bachelor whose grandmother is chairwoman of a highly successful coffee business. When Han-kyuls grandmother continues to set him up on blind dates with wealthy women, despite his protest, Han-kyul devises a plan. After meeting Eun-chan, mistaking her for a man, Han-kyul offers her a job. One breadwinner Eun-chan can’t refuse. The job? To pretend to be Han-kyuls gay lover.

The series steals its name from when Han-kyuls grandmother makes a bet with him to revitalize a run-down coffee shop, which he then turns into – you guessed it – “Coffee Prince.” The show gets even more interesting when, despite being straight, Han-kyul starts to sincerely fall in love with Eun-chan, despite believing she is a man.

Coffee Prince is truly a heart-warming, hilarious and significant series that will often leave you applauding characters Han-kyul and Eun-chan, and at other times- towards the latter -- screaming: “Just tell him already!”

The darling shows cast includes the adorable Yoon Eun-hye and the handsome and sweet Gong Yoo as well as Lee Sun-kyun and Chae Jung-an.

4. Boys Over Flowers (Stream on: Netflix, Hulu, Viki)

Quite possibly, the most famous Korean drama of all time, Boys Over Flowers is a classic among its fellow dramas.

The charming tale follows Geum Jan-di (Ku Hye-sun), a poor girl whose family runs their own dry-cleaning business. While making a dry-cleaning delivery to the prestigious Shinhwa High School, Jan-di finds a student – and her customer – about to jump off the school’s rooftop. Jan-di saves him and in return receives a swimming scholarship to attend the private, elite school. There, she meets the popular and powerful boy group F4, whose bullying led to the students attempted suicide. Disgusted and angered by the rich and idolized F4, Jan-di confronts the boy groups arrogant, spoiled and hot-tempered leader, Gu Jun-pyo (Lee Min-ho). Having never been stood up to, Jun-pyo decides to single out Jan-di and torment her with comical pranks but in the process falls in love with her.

This drama too will leave you wide-eyed at your television screen screaming: “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD JUST GET TOGETHER ALREADY!”

The story is a prime example of a classic Korean drama scenario. That’s part of the reason why it has succeeded so much! It has the classics every K-drama needs, including – but not limited to – the classic back hug, the classic surprised open-eyed kiss, and the classic and much-loved romantic piggy back ride, and many more. Don’t worry young one, you’ll know what I’m talking about when you too have experienced the journey that is: “A Korean Drama”.

So go now. Watch. Take the journey. Walk the path. Step into the crazy, heart-warming, tear-jerking world that is a Korean drama. You may binge-watch to the point of addiction, your heart may break and reattach itself a multitude of times throughout your viewing experience, your eyes may swell-up from the massive amounts of sobbing you will go through – but, in the end, you’ll know it’ll all have been worth it.

Just don’t forget to grab a box of tissues.

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