Have you recently opened your heart to the mystical world of the Hallyu wave? Suddenly have the urge to learn the language (Hangeul), try all the popular Korean foods, and visit South Korea where you could end up meeting your favourite idols/actors?
Why not start off by learning the language first? It would be easier to travel around Korea if you could communicate with the locals. They could recommend you the best places to visit or restaurants to dine in! That way you can fully immerse yourself in the Korean culture!
Kickstart your language journey with our list of TOP 15 K-Dramas/K-Movies!
15. Descendants of The Sun (2016)
It’s how a captain of the special forces Song Joong-Ki (Yoo Shi-Jin) ends up falling in love with Dr. Kang Mo-Yeon (Song Hye Kyo) ever since they met each other in the emergency room at a hospital. They started dating after that but found out the differences between them. As a soldier, Shi-Jin needs to kill to protect lives but Dr. Mo-Yeon, tries to save all lives as a doctor. Will they separate or stay together due to the nature of their jobs? Watch the drama to find out! Bonus: the sceneries, cinematography and the entire cast being extremely good-looking! (Available on Netflix)
Why should you watch DOTS?
In this drama, you can feast your eyes on Korean soldiers (good-looking guys I must say) protect the country from everything evil. They are willing to risk everything for their own nation. You can also experience the level of intensity that the people in the medical field have to face on a daily basis whenever they must do everything to save numerous lives within a limited amount of time. This drama is definitely worth a watch, not to forget the beautiful sceneries of Greece shown throughout the drama!
14. My Love From The Star (2013)
About My Love From The Star
Flashback to 400 years ago, an alien named Do Min-Joon (Kim Soo-Hyun) landed on Earth during the Joseon Dynasty period. After every decade, he changes his name and identity, so people won’t suspect him of his real identity as an alien. Although he holds a cynical view of humans, he ends up falling in love with a famous actress named Cheon Song-Yi (Gianna Jun or Jeon Ji-Hyun) who happens to be living in the same apartment complex as him. Her quirky ways and damsel in distress personality makes him constantly worried for her, and it’s the first time he ever falls in love with someone after so many decades. After all the time he spends with her, he becomes a changed person and finally finds a reason to stay back on Earth. (Available on Netflix)
Why should you watch My Love From The Star?
A drama featuring a really handsome alien and a really famous actress, who would want to miss out on this? This drama is packed with humour, romance, and fantasy elements that will leave viewers wanting more after each episode! Imagine being lost, then your boyfriend uses his alien skills to locate you and comes to save you, that’s the dream. The famous actress in this drama, Cheon Song-Yi won over the love of international viewers’ with her never-ending humour (old-time viewers will hear her “i’M sOwRRy” in their heads while reading this) while showcasing the reality of the industry. After the drama ended, viewers were hoping to get a season 2 but unfortunately, there’s no news to this day.
13. Strong Woman Do Bong Soon (2017)
About Strong Woman Do Bong Soon
A petite girl, Bong-Soon (Park Bo-Young) born with superhuman strength tries to bring justice whenever her loved ones are in danger. She is one of the lucky ones to be born with incredible strength as it is only passed down to the women in the family. One day, her strength actually gave her the opportunity to join a video gaming company owned by Min-Hyuk (Park Hyung Sik), the CEO of Ainsoft. He decided to hire her as a bodyguard after witnessing her fighting a bunch of gangsters all by herself, but he had to keep her superpower a secret from the other employees in the company. At the same time, she needed to take care of his safety every day as he kept receiving anonymous threats and an unknown person even followed him around. Makes for quite the suspenseful yet light-hearted plot! (Available on Netflix)
Why should you watch SWDBS?
In most Korean dramas, the main guy would always be the one that saves the lead actress but we’re ditching tropes in this drama. Instead, the heroine always saves the day by defeating the bad guys, which is a refreshing change. They get intimidated when she busts out her signature moves because she looks too soft to even hit a single fly. The main lead eventually falls in love with her cute yet heroic persona. How will their story progress in the drama? Watch it to find out!
12. The Heirs (2013)
About The Heirs
This drama is all about friendships, rivalries, and the love lives of young and rich heirs. Kim Tan (Lee Min-Ho) usually hangs out with his friends who come from a similar background, but he ends up falling in love with Cha Eun-Sang (Park Shin-Hye) who is ordinary and comes from a low-income family. Both of them bumped into each other in the U.S when Eun-Sang flew over for her estranged sister, only to be given a shock. Kim Tan gets involved with her despite not wanting to initially, and their lives entangle further after they meet again back in Korea. (Available on Netflix)
Why should you watch The Heirs?
If you love Korean dramas that depict the life of a rich guy and poor girl, well this drama is for you! It’s similar to another famous drama ‘Boys Over Flowers’ which took international audiences by storm and also starred Min-Ho. Through this drama, you will get a look at how the lives of rich families are not as peachy and problem-free as they seem. Eun-Sang even ends up living together with Kim Tan which creates even more drama, they experience numerous emotional roller coasters whenever their parents try to break them apart!
11. Record of Youth (2020)
About Record of Youth
A smart and handsome actor, Sa Hye-Jun (Park Bo-Gum) climbs the ladder to success by sticking to his principles. He ignores hate thrown at him throughout his life, especially from his dad. After spending his youth as a model, he decides to take a big leap to become an actor. Even though he auditioned for many roles, he hasn’t found success yet because he didn’t have a huge presence on social media. However, as time passed, he gained a huge fanbase and he became the talk of the town. Meanwhile, An Jeong-Ha (Park So-Dam, from ‘Parasite‘) – a professional makeup artist – posts on her YouTube channel during her free time and that’s how she got her exposure. Even though her superior keep creating rumours about her, she remains poised and fights for her dreams. (Available on Netflix)
Why should you watch Record of Youth?
There are always many ups and downs in life and this drama is all about that. Sa Hye-Jun (Park Bo-gum) never gives up although he had to leave an agency that he spent all his youth with. He continues to prove to his father that he can achieve success even though societal standards require him to join the military at his age. Even if his father doubted him all the time, he still chose to delay his military service and chase after his dreams as he had high hopes of becoming a famous actor. On the other hand, An Jeong-ha continued to stay true to her principles and slowly rose to the top. She opened her own salon where she carefully catered to many celebrities that loved her makeup skills. This drama is truly inspiring to watch if you ever feel lost or stuck at crossroads in life.
10. Itaewon Class (2020)
About Itaewon Class
Park Sae-Ro-Yi’s (Park Seo-Joon) life changed ever since he punched Jang Geun-Won, his classmate who was bullying a student on the first day he attends his high school. It so happened that Geun-Won was the son of CEO Jang Dae-Hee (Yoo Jae-Myung). Sae-Ro-Yi’s father was one of the employees working for CEO Jang Dae-Hee in a restaurant called Jangga. CEO Jang Dae-Hee demanded an apology from Sae-Ro-Yi for what he has done to his precious son but he refused to do it. He was then expelled from school and his father was fired from his job. Despite this incident, his dad was proud that his son grew up well by following the principle he set in life. However, one day came and his father was accidentally killed in a motorcycle accident by none other than Jang Geun-Won. Park Sae-Ro-Yi was furious so he beat up Geun-Won and ended up in jail. After being released, he starts his revenge plan against CEO Jang Dae-Hee. (Available on Netflix)
Why should you watch Itaewon Class?
Another inspiring drama about youths chasing their dreams and standing firm with their principles. This drama showed how each founding member of ‘Itaewon Class’ overcome struggles in life to stay strong together until the end. There’s a mixture of emotions as the drama progresses, especially the intense competition between Park Sae-Ro-Yi (Park Seo-Joon) and CEO Jang Dae-Hee who owns a big corporation. Sae-Ro-Yi proves that he can become successful too by following his own principles and living an honest life. Jo Yi-Seo (Kwon Da-Mi) who was still a high school student was impressed by him so she helped him to manage his bar’s social media and in turn attracted many people’s attention.
9. Memories of the Alhambra (2018)
About Memories of The Alhambra
As a CEO of an investment company, Yoo Jin-Woo (Hyun Bin) decides to invest in a VR game. When it comes to work, he has a good sense, an adventurous spirit and a strong passion to win. When he was going through a hard time as he was betrayed by his friends, he packed his bags and went to Granada, Spain. During his business trip there, he stayed at an old hostel run by a Korean woman, Jung Hee-Joo (Park Shin-Hye). The longer he stays in Spain, he gets involved in a strange affair where the VR game he played began far too real. There was no way for him to quit the game, he could only continue playing it to save the love of his life. (Available on Netflix)
Why should you watch Memories of the Alhambra?
Imagine playing a VR game just by putting on special contacts that can only be found in the future. This is a game that uses high technology and only one player can survive the game. In each episode, Jin-Woo levels up and tries to solve each quest to piece together the big puzzle. One of the goals was to save Hee-Joo’s brother that was trapped in the game. The constant tension of enemies popping out of nowhere and trying to survive in the game is very real. The beautiful sceneries of Granada, Spain was also featured throughout the drama. This drama is definitely for you if you love sci-fi and romance!
8. Hotel del Luna (2019)
About Hotel del Luna
The CEO of Hotel del Luna, Jang Man-Wol (IU) has been stuck in the hotel for many decades due to a mistake she made many years ago. The hotel has an antique appearance and is located in downtown Seoul. Man-Wol has a very beautiful face but she is known to be fickle, suspicious and greedy when it comes to spending on luxury items. The guests that stay at the hotel are all ghosts and the staff are in charge of taking care of them until they are ready to cross over to the Other World. Due to circumstances, Koo Chan-Sung (Yeo Jin-Goo) started working at Hotel del Luna. Before that, he was the youngest assistant manager at a multinational corporation and is a perfectionist. Even though he looks tough on the outside, he actually has a soft side. (Available on Netflix)
Why should you watch Hotel del Luna?
If you enjoy watching horror movies, this might be K-drama for you! In each episode, Koo Chan-Sung and Jang Man-Wol help to solve each hotel guests’ grudge before sending them off to the Other World. Man-Wol also shows her love for luxury items, food and clothes throughout the drama. In fact, in every episode, she is seen with a different outfit and each one is very unique. Her visuals are so stunning, everything about her seems perfect! The way Chan-Sung falls in love with her wittiness and gets used to her temper is very cute to watch too!
7. Train To Busan (2016)
About Train To Busan
Seok-Woo (Gong-Yoo) is a loving father who works as a fund manager in Seoul. He lives with his daughter, Soo-An (Kim Soo-Ahn), and is separated from his wife. As a father, he doesn’t spend much time with his only daughter or shows any fatherly love towards her. However, on his daughter’s birthday, she was persistent to visit her mother in Busan so he had no choice but to bring her there. Before their KTX train departed from Seoul to Busan, a zombie-like girl gets on the train and the thrill slowly builds up. It turns out that the girl was infected with a dangerous virus that quickly spread everywhere in the city. This becomes the start of the battle between zombies and the ones who managed to stay alive on the KTX train to Busan. (Available on Netflix)
Why should you watch Train to Busan?
If you love zombies in general then you must watch this movie! In this movie, a father does everything (including killing zombies) to save his only daughter from danger. He also takes responsibility to make sure others on the train are safe too. Although not everyone made it to the end, he still did everything he could. When it comes to the music and the cinematography, everything was perfect and there are no loopholes! The constant worry of a zombie coming out from nowhere and attacking one of the cast members was very thrilling! The scene when someone sacrificed his or her life for the sake of others is very touching. Even the unity between the cast members to keep everyone safe was very heart-warming. Prepare tissues when you watch this drama!
6. It’s Okay To Not Be Okay (2020)
About It’s Okay To Not Be Okay
Moon Gang-Tae (Kim Soo-Hyun) and his brother, Moon Sang-Tae (Oh Jung-Se) live together and Gang-Tae has been the sole breadwinner of the family since his brother is autistic. They move to a new place whenever Sang-Tae’s past trauma begins to haunt him so they do not stay in the same place for long. Gang-Tae has transferred to many psychiatric hospitals throughout the years and he tries to appear fine on the outside, especially in front of his brother. One day, he meets Ko Moon-Young (Seo Yea-Ji) at her book signing event and their lives become intertwined. It just so happens that his brother, Sang-Tae is a huge fan of her children’s book. Moon-Young fell in love the minute she met Gang-Tae. (Available on Netflix)
Why should you watch IOTNBO?
This drama touches on psychological issues that the main lead (Moon Gang-Tae), his brother (Moon Sang-Tae), and the actress (Ko Moon-Young) have developed since they were young due to environmental factors. When the three of them meet each other, Gang-Tae found it hard to accept his flaws and chose to ignore them until he exploded one day. Then, he started to learn to accept it and live a better life. His quiet personality attracted the loud Moon-Young which ended up becoming the perfect balance for a couple. To add on, the philosophical words spoken by Sang-Tae from time to time really made Gang-Tae and Moon-Young understand their conditions better, even though he was born with autism. You can learn a lot about the psychological side of the human mind from this drama!
5. Boys Over Flowers (2009)
About Boys Over Flowers
In a famous high school for the filthy rich, a puppy-love story takes place between a poor girl and one of the guys’ from the F4 gang which is led by rough and fearless Koo Jun-Pyo (Lee Min-Ho). Even though Geum Jan-Di (Ku Hye-Seon) comes from a poor family but she is positive and looks forward to attending a prestigious high school that the F4 gang also attends. At school, she meets the well-known group of four extremely handsome and rich boys, known as F4. Koo Jun-Pyo, a spoiled heir to the world’s leading conglomerate Shinhwa is the leader of the group. There is the mysterious Yun Ji-Hu (Kim Hyeon-Jung), So Lee-Jeong (Kim Beom), and Song Woo-Bin (Kim Jun). Their love story starts from Seoul to New Caledonia to Macau. (Available on Netflix)
Why should you watch Boys Over Flowers?
This drama might be the FIRST K-drama that paved the road to Hallyu Wave, gaining a lot of international fans and showed that k-dramas are on another level compared to dramas produced in other parts of the world! Once you start this drama, it leaves you wanting more. With the typical rich guy, poor girl drama plot, you’ll see how a rich heir changes and try to protect his loved one from the bullying. There is also humour involved and not to forget the handsome F4 gang that holds everyone’s attention with ease. We would recommend you to start with his drama first if you haven’t watched any k-dramas yet!
4. Crash Landing On You (2019)
About Crash Landing On You
An heiress to a conglomerate, Yoon Se-Ri (Son Ye-Jin) in South Korea ends up in a paragliding accident one day. The strong winds took her and she had to make an emergency landing in North Korea but she doesn’t know that she had ended up in her neighbouring country. Once she wakes up and sees that she is stuck in a tree, she screams for help. Captain Ri Jeong-Hyuk (Hyun Bin) of the North Korean army heard her cries and that’s how they met each other. After taking into consideration of Se-Ri’s situation, he tries to hide and protect her from the army. He slowly falls in love with her and finds ways to guide her back to South Korea safely. (Available on Netflix)
Why should you watch CLOY?
Through this drama, you will get to learn some North Korean too. You can tell the differences between South Korean and North Korean because of the accent. Of course, the main thing is about the love strong of a South-North Korean couple that has to make sacrifices for their relationship. The way they look at each other is just so cute! During the filming of this drama, they actually got close and was revealed to be in a relationship this year (omg on-screen couple came true)! I’m so happy for them! Anyway, in the drama, the North-Korean team under Captain Ri Jeong-Hyuk’s (Hyun Bin) lead is very fun to watch! Their humour and love for South Korea make us crave more even after the drama ended!
3. Parasite (2019)
The Kim family who lives in a basement struggles to make a living until the son, Ki-Woo gets an unexpected opportunity to help tutor a rich family’s daughter, which so happens to be from the rich Park family. Even though he had no experience in teaching English, he still decided to accept one tutor session with Da-Hye. After he returns from the luxurious house back to his shabby house, his family beings plotting to enter the wealthy household. Each family member secures a job in that household without revealing their true relationship as a family with each other. Although both families settle on a give-and-take relationship they end up discovering an unforeseen parasite that wants to destroy everything by revealing the truth.
Why should you watch Parasite?
After finishing this movie, it was truly mind-blowing as the quote “what goes around comes around” live to its meaning! The huge contrast between a rich and poor family really shows how society treats a person according to class. This is especially common in Korea as people struggle to make ends meet and trying to improve bring up their family’s class. The Kim family’s plot to take over the wealth of the Park family was well-thought-out until everything went downhill. It has proved that “what goes around comes around” so there’s really no secret to success unless you work hard for it and not use any dirty tricks.
2. Sweet Home (2020)
About Sweet Home
As a high school student, Cha Hyun-Su (Song Kang) was a recluse and always stayed in his room. He refuses to talk this his family. Until one day, a tragic accident killed his whole family except him. He ends up moving into an apartment building on his own. This is when mysterious incidents start to take place as humans around the world turn into monsters and attack others. The whole world suddenly shuts down and he’s left to fend for his life along with the residents in his apartment building. A gangster, Pyeon Sang-Wook (Lee Jin-Wook) also ends up in the apartment, fighting along with the rest of the residents against the monsters and trying their best to survive. (Available on Netflix)
Why should you watch Sweet Home?
This drama keeps you guessing who will be the sole survivors in the end. Even how the monsters look are quite cool, although they can sometimes be annoying when someone just wants to walk along the corridor and staying alive. The way each cast member plays their part is very fitting for their role! Everyone just wants to stay alive and hope that the monsters will disappear one day, so that everyone can continue living life like normal again. It portrays how the pandemic started last year till now and everyone is stuck at home but let’s remain positive alright, since we don’t have to physically fight monsters (blood everywhere omg). Not to forget, the teamwork between the cast members is heartwarming as one of them had to sacrifice themselves for the sake of others.
1. Guardian: The Lonely and Great God/Goblin (2016)
Back in ancient times, Kim Shin (Gong-Yoo) fought hard as a general at war for his beloved country. However, he was killed by the young King (Kim Min-Jae) who was jealous of him. After he died, he became a Dokkaebi (Goblin) and lived an immortal life. At first, he thought that he was given a second chance at life but it felt like a curse to him as he was haunted by his past for decades. Fast forward to the present day, his bride whom he has waited for 900 years finally appears. It was from the pregnant lady which he saved that carried his bride. At the same time, the Grim Reaper (Lee Dong-Wook) couldn’t find the dead pregnant woman. After 9 years, Ji Eun-Tak can see ghosts as she lives with her mother. On the day her mother passes away, she meets the Grim Reaper. (Available on Netflix)
Why should you watch Goblin?
The cast, OST (Original Sound Track), and cinematography are so perfect! The plot is very interesting and it shows how Kim Shin (Gong-Yoo) the Goblin saves his bride, Ji Eun-Tak (Kim Go-Eun) from danger in every episode. The struggle for Kim Shin is real as he has a dagger stuck in his heart for ages (ouch!) as he was betrayed by his own country during ancient times. With the help of his bride, she tries to remove the dagger without knowing the consequences. Each episode gets you pumped for the next episode and once it finishes, you would want a season 2! Prepare tissues because it’s gonna be an emotional roller coaster ride!
It was quite a challenge for us to list down our top 15 Korean dramas/movies of all time! As an avid k-drama/k-movie fan, every show is good in its own way! Almost every drama we have watched thus far has a small place in our heart, so once you start watching a number of these shows, we are sure you would have your own ranking. Dramas and TV shows produced by Korean companies are really different from movies from other countries. Now sit back and relax, same time master some basic Korean conversation through these recommended shows!
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