A record number of 10 Korean dramas (versus the usual 4 to 8) will premiere in May 2019. That’s a lot, I know, so here’s a guide you can use to help you decide which dramas to watch first based on your personal taste and schedule. In the first week of May, you’ll get a historical spy drama set in the early 20th century, a fantasy romance of two people who come back from the dead, and a workplace romance between a secretary and her boss. In the following week, there would be a psychological thriller with a religious cult wreaking havoc on a village and a crime thriller that deals with an international cartel and the “dark web.” Romantic dramas will take center stage in the third week. You’ll see a ballerina who falls in love with an angel, a makeup artist who falls in love with a robot, and a librarian who falls in love with (guess what?)…a pharmacist (normal human being this time). The month will be capped off by a melodrama of divorced couple who reunite after six years and a series about an ambitious political adviser and a principled rookie lawmaker.
May 4: DIFFERENT DREAMS (Saturdays on MBC)
- Genre: Historical Espionage Melodrama
- Main Cast: Lee Yo-won, Yoo Ji-tae
- Predecessor: Love In Sadness
Different Dreams is set during the Japanese colonial rule of Korea from 1910 to 1945 and tells the story of the Korean’s fight for independence. It also commemorates the foundation of the Korean Provisional Government in 1919. Yoo Ji-tae (Mad Dog) is starring in the series as a leader of a movement that aims to overthrow the Japanese rulers while Lee Yo-won (Avengers Social Club) plays a Korean-Japanese doctor who works as a special agent of the resistance. The latter, a role which was first accepted by Lee Young-ae (Saimdang Light’s Diary, Jewel In The Palace), is adopted and raised by a Japanese couple and later hired as a spy by the Provisional Government of Korea in Shanghai. Given its impressive cast lineup and heavy story, I’m a bit surprised upon knowing that it will air on Saturdays, a time slot normally occupied by small-budget family dramas. Different Dreams is the first of the two political dramas that will premiere in May. It comes from the screenwriter of the award-winning series Iris.
May 6: ABYSS (Mondays & Tuesdays on tvN)
- Genre: Fantasy Drama
- Main Cast: Park Bo-young, Ahn Hyo-seop
- Predecessor: He Is Psychometric
Abyss follows the life of a gorgeous female prosecutor and an average-looking rich guy who suddenly meet their death but get another chance to live through the power of a magical bead. However, they come back to life in different bodies—she’s (Park Bo-young, Strong Woman Do Bong Soon) now a lawyer with average looks and he’s (Ahn Hyo-seop, Thirty But Seventeen) a law firm administrator with a very handsome face (their physical appearance is said to reflect the “pureness” of their souls). When they meet and realize that they have gone through the same mysterious event, they team up to uncover the truth behind their demise and find the person(s) who killed them. This Korean drama was picked up by Netflix.
May 6: THE SECRET LIFE OF MY SECRETARY (Mondays & Tuesdays on SBS)
- Genre: Office Romantic Comedy
- Main Cast: Kim Young-kwang, Jin Ki-joo
- Predecessor: Haechi
The Secret Life Of My Secretary centers on an office secretary and her manager who have started knowing each other in a professional relationship and ended up a couple. She (Jin Ki-joo, Come and Hug Me) is a hot-tempered secretary who become a regular employee after completing all the unusual tasks assigned to her by her boss (Kim Young-kwang, Room No. 9), a perfectionist and cold-hearted man who calls her at odd times and makes negative comments about her work. This show marks Jin Ki-joo’s second leading role in a prime time Korean drama.
May 8: SAVE ME 2 (Wednesdays & Thursdays on OCN)
- Genre: Psychological Thriller
- Main Cast: Uhm Tae-goo, Esom, Chun Ho-jin, Kim Young-min
- Predecessor: Possessed
Save Me 2, a loose sequel to the 2017 thriller Save Me and an adaptation of the 2013 animation film The Fake, revolves around a man who stops a religious cult from preying on the people of his village. Uhm Tae-goo (More Than A Maid) plays the bad-tempered man, a judo player who unfairly ends up in jail after fighting injustice. After his release from prison, he goes back home and realizes that his town is falling victim to the evil plans of the religious cult that is led by a dangerous sweet-talking con-man (Chun Ho-jin, My Strange Hero) and a pastor (Kim Young-min, My Ajusshi). Meanwhile, Esom (The Third Charm) plays his sister and a nursing student who is desperate to get out of the village.
May 11: VOICE 3 (Saturdays & Sundays on OCN)
- Genre: Crime Thriller
- Main Cast: Lee Ha-na, Lee Jin-wook
- Predecessor: Kill It
Voice 3 follows a special task force in Korea’s national police that deals with emergency cases in which it is only a matter of time before a criminal kills or hurts his victim. The first season aired in 2017, starring Lee Ha-na and Jang Hyuk (Bad Papa). In the second season that was broadcast last year, Lee reprised her role as a criminal profiler who has the ability to hear the weakest of sounds but Jang was replaced by Lee Jin-wook whose role is a detective. Lee Ha-na and Lee Jin-wook are back in the third season with a story now involving an illegal international cartel and the “dark web.” OCN is definitely stepping up its multi-season dramas (Quiz From God, Save Me), notwithstanding the norm in the Korean entertainment industry where TV series strictly stick to a one-season format.
May 15: DAN, ONLY LOVE (Wednesdays & Thursdays on KBS2)
- UPDATED PREMIERE DATE: MAY 22, 2019
- Genre: Fantasy Romance
- Main Cast: L, Shin Hye-sun
- Predecessor: Doctor Prisoner
Dan, Only Love tells the story of a mischievous and clumsy angel, played by L (Miss Hammurabi), who accepts a mission to find the true love of a professional ballerina in exchange for his return to heaven but ends up falling for her. Shin Hye-sun (Thirty But Seventeen) plays the cold-hearted and determined ballerina who does not believe in love. These two promising actors are expected to deliver a good performance, and considering that the series is directed by the PD of Healer and Neighborhood Lawyer Jo Deul-ho, viewers will most likely enjoy the drama.
May 15: ABSOLUTE BOYFRIEND (Wednesdays & Thursdays on SBS)
- Genre: Sci-fi Rom-com
- Main Cast: Yeo Jin-goo, Bang Min-ah
- Predecessor: Big Issue
Absolute Boyfriend centers on a makeup artist (Bang Min-ah, Beautiful Gong Shim) whose heart has become frozen following her failed romantic relationships in the past. She has given up finding her true love and instead decides to get a humanoid robot (Yeo Jin-goo, The Crowned Clown) that is built and programmed to have affection only for her and become her ideal boyfriend. It seems like she orders the robot just to try it out and have fun but she ends up developing genuine feelings for him (it). When she finds herself involved in the life of a top celebrity played by Hong Jong-hyun, she is torn between loving him or the robot. Absolute Boyfriend is 100% pre-produced just like the robot drama Are You Human Too? and is a Korean adaptation of the popular Japanese manga, Zettai Kareshi, so it’s interesting to see how it will perform in terms of TV ratings.
May 22: ONE SPRING NIGHT (Wednesdays & Thursdays on MBC)
- Genre: Romance
- Main Cast: Jung Hae-in, Han Ji-min
- Predecessor: The Banker
Spring Night (also known as One Spring Night) is about two people leading a humdrum life who are shaken by unexpected love that drives them to seek their real romantic desires. Han Ji-min (The Light In Your Eyes) plays a librarian who knows how to appreciate the small things in life while Jung Hae-in (Something In The Rain) portrays a well-mannered pharmacist who does not hesitate going after the love he thinks he deserves. These are two amazing actors but another thing that should motivate you to watch this drama is the credentials of its director—Baeksang award-winning series Heard It Through The Grapevine and Secret Love Affair. Spring Night could have reunited Jung and Son Ye-jin, his co-star in Something In The Rain, if she accepted the female lead role when it was first offered to her. Netflix has trust in this drama seeing that the streaming giant already announced to launch it weekly on its service from May 22.
May 27: THE WIND BLOWS (Mondays & Tuesdays on JTBC)
- Genre: Romantic Melodrama
- Main Cast: Kim Ha-neul, Kam Woo-sung
- Predecessor: Welcome To Waikiki 2
The Wind Blows tells the story of a man (Kam Woo-sung, Should We Kiss First) who decides to divorce his wife (Kim Ha-neul, On The Way To The Airport) after discovering that he has early-onset Alzheimer’s. He makes the decision out of his concern for her future, and she ends up signing the papers as well after considering that she needs another man in order for her to have children. They have thought that everything is over between them until they meet again six years later. The romance between them might bloom again after all those years, but can it withstand another test of time? The leads are veteran actors in the industry who are expected to pull off a successful portrayal of their characters that will leave a lasting impression on the viewers.
May 31: AIDE (Fridays & Saturdays on JTBC)
- UPDATED PREMIERE DATE: JUNE 14, 2019
- Genre: Political Drama
- Main Cast: Lee Jung-jae, Shin Min-ah
- Predecessor: Beautiful World
Aide revolves around advisers described as people behind the political spotlight. Lee Jung-jae (Triple), who is returning to the small screen after a 10-year hiatus on TV, plays the main character, a political aide to a congressman. He graduated from a police academy and started a career in crime investigation. However, he has switched to a new job in the National Assembly, finding a balance between intuition and judgment as he does his political work using some of his experience in his previous job as an investigator. Through hard work and determination, he becomes a successful adviser and eventually decides to seek a position higher than where he is now. Meanwhile, Shin Min-ah (Tomorrow With You) plays a newbie lawmaker and representative of a political party. She used to be a news program host, but she enters politics in the hope that she could break ground in the legislature with her ideas.