New month, new set of Korean dramas. And for June, six shows will grace our TV screens, including the highly anticipated and potentially epic comeback drama of superstar Song Joong-ki. Before you get too excited about its premiere and everything, don’t forget that there are five more, and they make this month still impressive as far as the genre mix is concerned. There’s a historical fantasy series from the PD of My Ajusshi, a fantasy rom-com about a perfume that can change someone’s appearance, a sequel to a crime procedural series which aired last year, a show with badass and strong female leads, a time-slip series about a former archer, and a political drama that marks Lee Jung-jae’s first TV project in 10 years. All of them will premiere within the first two weeks of the month!
June 1: ASADAL CHRONICLES (Saturdays & Sundays on tvN)
- Genre: Historical Fantasy
- Main Cast: Song Joong-ki, Kim Ji-won, Jang Dong-gun, & Kim Ok-bin
- Predecessor: Confession
Also known by its official English title Arthdal Chronicles, this show boasts of a great cast, an interesting storyline, and a capable writer-director team (plus the hard-working wardrobe department). It follows the adventures of ancient heroes in a land called Arth (Arthdal is one of its major cities) as they unite their respective tribes and protect their people from enemies. Song Joong-ki (Descendants Of The Sun) is starring as a member of the Wahan Tribe who appears innocent but is actually the aggressive type who will do anything to protect his fellow tribe members. Kim Ji-won (Fight For My Way) is playing his love interest and the successor of Wahan.
Jang Dong-gun’s (Suits) role is described as a charismatic and dangerous member of the Saenyeok Tribe, while Kim Ok-bin’s (Children Of A Lesser God) character is an ambitious woman who has the strongest desire for power. These actors will never disappoint us (hopefully), and if we assume as well that PD Kim Won-suk will use his past experience in directing My Ajusshi, Signal, and Misaeng to perfect his brand of cinematography, we’re in for an epic ride this midyear! And oh, I shouldn’t forget to mention the writers’ credentials: Six Flying Dragons, Tree With Deep Roots, Queen Seondeok, and Jewel In The Palace. Asadal Chronicles will also be available for streaming on Netflix.
June 3: PERFUME (Mondays & Tuesdays on KBS2)
- Genre: Fantasy Rom-com
- Main Cast: Shin Sung-rok, Go Won-hee, & Ha Jae-suk
- Predecessor: My Fellow Citizens
Perfume is about a middle-aged woman (Ha jae-suk, Should We Kiss First) who has devoted her life to her family, only to see it struck by misfortune and destroyed. She’s now furious at the whole world, but thanks to a mysterious perfume she finds the reason to continue living her life. It allows her to transform into a gorgeous young woman (Go Won-hee, Your House Helper) and work as a fashion model who is the envy of many. Her life also changes after meeting a neurotic fashion designer (Shin Sung-rok, The Last Empress) who is afraid of falling in love. This show’s PD is the one behind Mysterious Personal Shopper.
June 3: INVESTIGATION COUPLE 2 (Mondays & Tuesdays on MBC)
- Genre: Crime Procedural
- Main Cast: Jung Jae-young & Jung Yoo-mi
- Predecessor: Special Labor Inspector
A sequel is a rarity in K-dramaland, so it’s interesting to see this latest series from MBC that has veered off the single-season norm of the industry. Jung Jae-young and Jung Yoo-mi are both reprising their roles in the first season, which means that Investigation Couple 2 (or Partners For Justice 2) is a “true” sequel featuring the original cast and story. In the first season, Jung Jae-young plays an experienced forensic doctor who is obsessed with his work while Jung Yoo-mi portrays a warm-hearted rookie prosecutor who teams up with him in solving her cases despite his insensitive and eccentric behavior. The second season will revolve around the investigative duo as they uncover the truth behind the “Oh Man-sang incident” which marks the end of the previous season.
PD No Do-cheol of season 1, who also directed Ruler: Master Of The Mask, is at the helm again this time, with season 1 writer Min Ji-eun (Cinderella and Four Knights) also on board to lead the screenplay department.
June 5: SEARCH: WWW (Wednesdays & Thursdays on tvN)
- Genre: Workplace Drama, Romance
- Main Cast: Im Soo-jung, Jang Ki-yong, Lee Da-hee, & Jeon Hye-jin
- Predecessor: Her Private Life
The life and romance of successful career women are the focus of this show. There’s a trio of strong female characters played by by Im Soo-jung (Chicago Typewriter), Lee Da-hee (The Beauty Inside), and Jeon Hye-jin (Misty). Im is starring as a competitive head manager of Korea’s largest portal site; Lee as another manager who can literally kick an ass with her athletic prowess in Judo; and Jeon as a company director. Meanwhile, promising and award-winning actor Jang Ki-yong (Kill It) is playing a talented composer and CEO of a company that produces music for games.
Search: WWW is the first of its kind this year in which particularly strong and smart female leads are taking center stage in the story. Its production team is led by PD Jung Ji-hyun who co-directed Mr. Sunshine, and writer Kwon Eun-sol who once worked as an assistant writer to the famous Kim Eun-sook. They’re basically having their big breaks right now through this drama, so we don’t know yet what kind of show they tend to give to their audience.
June 8: JOSEON SURVIVAL (Saturdays on TV Chosun)
- Genre: Fantasy Romance
- Main Cast: Kang Ji-hwan & Kyung Soo-jin
TV Chosun is a relatively new cable network that has yet to find its place in the competitive K-drama industry. It started broadcasting series in 2012 but until now its drama library barely has content. So, it’s nice to hear that the channel’s follow-up show to last year’s Yoon Shi-yoon starrer Grand Prince is now here. It’s called Joseon Survival, about a man who finds himself travelling back in time to the 16th century.
Kang Ji-hwan (Feel Good To Die) plays a former member of the Korean national archery team who has failed to win a Gold medal due to an injury and ends up working as a parcel delivery man. A strange incident sends him all the way to Joseon Dynasty, along with his younger sibling and first love, played by Kyung Soo-jin (Untouchable). She is a trauma doctor and third-year resident in the emergency medicine department of a renowned hospital.
The direction and screenplay of this Korean drama come from the PD of D-Day and writer of Syndrome, respectively.
June 14: CHIEF OF STAFF (Fridays & Saturdays on JTBC)
- Genre: Political Drama
- Main Cast: Lee Jung-jae & Shin Min-ah
- Predecessor: Beautiful World
I’m liking the variety in JTBC’s drama lineup so far this year, especially in the Friday-Saturday time slot. We got the satire SKY Castle, followed by rom-com Legal High and the recently ended melodrama Beautiful World. And now here’s a political drama headlined by award-winning actor Lee Jung-jae (Triple, Sandglass), who is returning to the small screen after 10 years of focusing on films. He’s playing a police-detective-turned-political-advisor who is now working for a congressman. Despite his already successful career as a political aide, he’s gonna achieve some more (by probably becoming a lawmaker himself?).
Starring opposite Lee is actress Shin Min-ah (Tomorrow With You), whose role is a newbie lawmaker and representative of her party in the National Assembly. She previously worked as a current affairs TV program host, but she has entered politics in the hope that she could break ground in legislation with her fresh ideas.
Chief of Staff is directed by PD Kwak Jung-hwan of Miss Hammurabi and The K2. Its screenplay is a work by writer Lee Dae-il of Life On Mars and Bring It On, Ghost.
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