16 Best Korean Dramas of All-Time (Beginners START HERE! )

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Last Updated on May 27, 2020 by Christine Kaaloa

full house
Things you learn from watching Korean dramas

What are the best Korean dramas of all time? The Hallyu Wave has gained global popularity over the years and everyone wants to know which are the Korean dramas to watch. Watching Korean dramas is not only a great way to gain familiarity to learning the language but it is also a way to inspire your wanderlust for traveling Korea and understanding Korean culture.  I injected a healthy dose of Korean dramas into my diet and I’ve found myself, well,… a bit addicted to it too!

16 Best Korean Dramas of All-Time

What are the Best korean dramas to watch?  Firstly, let me say that I love period pieces and Korean drama have many of them. While they inspire an interest in Korean history and culture, they don’t always inspire traveling to Korea or wanting to visit the Korea of today. So I will save my favorite period dramas for another post.

1. Full House

Genre: romantic comedy  Stars: Rain, Song Hyo

This is the first Korean drama which made me fall in love with K-dramas. I watched this drama over and over. A naïve girl whose only belonging is a house her father left her, must enter a contract marriage with a famous and spoiled actor, when her house is sold out from under her.  Nowhere to go, she becomes the house’s caretaker.  Location:  Sugi Beach [수기해수욕장] on Sido Island. The house no longer exists but was destroyed in 2013 tsunami

2. Princess Hours or Gung

Genre: Teenage romantic comedy  Stars: Yoon Eun-hye, Ju Ji-hoon, Kim Jeong-hoon and Song Ji-hyo

A common and quirky girl is placed in an arranged marriage with a stuffy Prince. Comical and cute at times, the story is mildly reminiscent of the rags to riches concept of  Hollywood’s Princess Diaries. Locations: Jeju Island, The Teddy Bear Museum

Best korean dramas to watch: Princess Hours Korean drama

3. Boys over Flowers

Genre: Teen romance dramedy. Stars: Ku Hye-sun, Lee Min-Ho, Kim Hyun-Joong

At Shinhwa High School, poor girl Jan-Di wins a scholarship to attend a school where the popular, handsome and rich F4 boys group reign. Rich, jerky boy falls for poor girl, this drama will make your teenage heart come alive and wish you had a chance to do high school all over. Locations to inspire Korea wanderlust: Jeju Island, Seoul Namsan Tower, Heyri Art Village in Paju, Macau

4. Master Sun

Genre: Romantic Comedy   Stars: So Ji Sub,  Gong Hyo-jin

She’s just your ordinary girl who is haunted by ghosts and he’s your regular cold chaebol CEO, who can’t stand being touched. But when he’s around her, ghosts don’t come around. Fun romantic comedy mixed with the supernatural. So Ji Sub’s best comedic role.

5. Dream High

Genre: Teen romance, overcoming odds, performing arts. Stars: miss A’s Bae Suzy, Kim Soo-hyun, T-ara’s Ham Eun-jung, IU, and 2PM’s Ok Taec-yeon

Youth and talent,…do these teens at an elite performing arts school have what it takes to be the next star musician, dancer or singer? Romance, betrayal, competition and hard work. Who will make their dreams come true?

6. Spring Waltz

Genre: Romance   Stars: Daniel Henney

Directed by Yoon Suk-ho, the overall work of this director involve seasons, like Winter Sonata, Spring Waltz, etc…  It’s very similar to the concept of French filmmaker Eric Rhomer, who did the same thing.

Will destiny lead you back to the one you lost? Childhood friends are separated when a life threatening situation occurs. Several years later, they cross paths again while assuming different identities.

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7. A Prince’s First Love

Genre: Romance   Actors:Sung Yu-ri, Cha Tae-hyun, Kim Nam-jin

Opposites attract when an arrogant hotel heir meets a penniless waitress at a ski resort and she changes his life.

 Princes First Love

8. Secret Garden

Genre: Romantic comedy.  Actors: Hyun Bin, Ha Ji Won

Bratty department store CEO and hard-working and tough stuntwoman meet and sparks fly, despite their disgust of secretly being attracted against their grain. Throw in a disapproving mother and an incident where the couple switches bodies and you’ve got a fun adventure.  Locations: Jeju Island

9. Rooftop Prince

Genre: Romantic comedy.  Actors: Park Yoochun, Han Ji Min

What happens when a Joseon era Crown prince Tae-Yong lands in a 21st century Seoul rooftop ? Let the fun begin.  In fact, he is there to solve the mysterious murder of his wife 300 years ago. It so happens Tae Yong’s wife is reincarnated in this century also, along with her sister (the original would be bride of Tae Yong before a disastrous accident scarred her face). Tons of fun and laughter. Park Yoo chun and Han Ji Min make an adorable couple.

10. My Fair Lady

Genre: Light hearted romance  Stars: Yoon Eun-hye, Yoon Sang-hyun, Jung Il-woo

Spoiled and self-centered Kang Hye-na is the successor of Kang-san Group and leads a life surrounded by maids and butlers. She has it all. Until she meets brash Dong chan, a florist and gigolo and causes his to knock over his shipment. Eventually Dong chan arrives at his new job as her butler and sparks of spite fly. Fun drama~ Yoon Eun hye and Yoon Sang-hyun are perfect in their characters and fun to watch, stealing your heart to the end.

11. You’re Beautiful.

Genre: Romance, Gender switch  Stars:  Jang Keun-suk, Park Shin-hye, Jung Yong-hwa of CN Blue

Mi-nyeo wants to become a nun, while her twin brother is training to be a singer and wins a position in the musical boy band A.N.Jell. He must leave temporarily and asks his sister to take his place until he can return. It’s not easy being a boy in an all male house of celebrities, especially when they discover there is a girl amongst them and a love triangle ensues.

12. Lie to Me

Genre: Comedy, Romance.  Stars: Yoon Eun-hye, Kang Ji-hwan and Sung Joon

13. City Hunter

Genre: Action, Romance   Stars: Lee Min Ho, Park Min-Young

14. The Heirs

Genre: Romance.  Stars: Lee Min-ho, Park Shin-hye and Kim Woo-bin

15. Itaewon Class

Genre: Overcoming odds, Light Romance  Stars:  Park Seo-joon. Kim Da-mi. Yoo Jae-myung. Kwon Nara

Created after a popular webtoon. Strong performance by Park Seo-joon

16. The Moon That Embraces the Sun

Genre: Period piece  Stars: Kim Soo-hyun, Han Ga-in, Jung Il-woo

13 Things you learn from watching Korean dramas

You can learn a lot about a country by watching their films and tv programs. I’m not saying everything you see on the tube will be true or accurate, but you get a general impression- good, bad or weird– of how a culture observes themselves, their social and fashion trends, customs, codes of conduct, etc…  Inevitably, of course, you forge a raw stereotype based on what you’ve watched; then, wonder if it’s all true.

Predictable scenarios if you are a Korean Woman…

1)  You always fall for the rich and arrogant  jerk, who treats you like a servant.
2)  You are always hungry and stuffing food in your mouth, while talking.
3)  You’re able to wear mini skirts and high heels in freezing cold weather.
5)  You’re always going to be a Cinderella slave to your in-laws.

Predictable scenarios if you are a Korean Man…

6)  and you’re handsome and nice, you will almost never…ever get the girl (*unless you are… See #1).
7)  You are a good cook and love to wear a cute smock aprons while doing it.
8)  You like wearing pink or outfits that western guys wouldn’t be caught dead in.

Predictable scenarios if you are Korean …

9)  You are emotional and love to yell and scream.
10)  You love romantic triangles, rags-to-riches stories, and Shakespearean tragedies, where people show love through immense self-sacrifice (I can’t even dream up half the kind of self-relinquishing acts that they do!).
11) you have a fascination with the loss of eyesight: i.e.  a lover is or goes blind…  commits suicide so their loved one can have their eyes, etc.. (See #10).
12) You don’t know how to kiss.
13)  You love to drink alcohol such as soju, mekju (beer) and soju-mekju bombs

What are the best Korean dramas to watch? Let me know your favorites!

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  • Color me amused. C, I’m diggin your blog… and this one in particular made me laugh… #10 ㅋㅋㅋHope to see you soon!~~~

  • Ooh, perhaps the blind angle equates to that old cliche: Love is blind. Haha. And hon, girls in Calgary use to wear mini skirts in the dead of winter. I’m talking -30 Celsius. Translation – effing cold.

  • The song is called “desde mi cielo” by the group “mago de oz”.

  • You’re totally right about tv programs and films lending insight about a country. Recently, I’ve been reeled into watching Thai and Cambodian soap operas. To say that both are melodramatic is definitely an understatement. I think one of the characters of the current show I’m watching has been crying for ten straight episodes. But I have to admit, these shows have become one of my guilty-pleasures.

  • Oooh I think Sun from Lost used to be a Korean soap star. Love her.

    And number nine… there’s a song in Spanish called “desde mi cielo”, and the music video involves Asians interpreting that exact scenario. I thought I remembered them bieng Japanese, but after reading this… Maybe they’re Korean? Makes me cry every time.

  • are you korean? have fun on this amazing new chapter/adventure! i’ve survived my first week living in the philippines!!

    • @floreta: No, I’m not Korean, but watching the shows, you start noticing a K-formula. Am hoping to debunk the myths when I arrive. Thnx for the well wishes & congrats to surviving your 1st week in the PI. You have an exciting journey ahead of you, reconnecting w/ long lost roots…there’s sure to be a lot there, as well as some funny culture shock! @kanithaheng.blogspot.com is reconnecting w/ her roots as well. You might want to each other out.

      @kanitha Yes, I am in AWE of how these actors can shed waterworks at the drop of a hat! Gotta be a trick to that- like chili paste or something… Apparently Thailnd is one of the countries that’s gaga over K-dramas. You know- would’ve never thot of Cambodia/Thailand- It’s really bad how we underestimate other countries as having decent tv, film or soaps. Will def. have to look into media from those countries- I remember really liking Bangkok Dangerous (1999 version sans N.Cage) & ironically, was in Sukhothai few months ago & they were filming a tv show/soap (the sign on their truck looked like a period piece warrior show)… a fight scene w/ Muay Thai boxers!

  • That’s hilarious! I can only imagine what people think of us here in the US based on OUR TV programs (shudder)!

  • oh grl ..i am so addicted to korean Drama…i just love it to the core …my recent fav drama is Love in Harvard …just watch it …i fall in love with both the guys ..la 🙂

    • @ramina: Hey lady, thanks for click-clacking on my post! Oh, I will so miss my Bollywood access in Korea- am still workin on a way to get them… Just downloaded Love in Harvard but prob won’t get to watch it til I’m there. Try checking out http://www.mysoju.com. *totally free* streaming vids. Have you seen the ones i’ve listed yet?

      @Gray: Yeah, we’ve kinda gone to the dogs in TV-land, right? All reality, no originality… When I was in France, I went to see Something About Mary. Watching US films in that context really made me notice the difference. I thot to myself- no wonder they hate us. LOL. I wanted to crouch in my chair; fortunately, I look Asian.

      @gringation: What group is that music vid for? I’ll have to check it out. If you cried, it might have been Korean. LOL. They can pull waterworks from you like crazy. The Japanese, even Chinese, might blind issues…but I think they use it in a different way. The blind are usually tricksters or rogues that are wiser than they appear. An old Japanese show I remember watching as a little girl was about a blind samurai…he would always outsmart every situation.

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