Korean dramas boast of a wide variety of genres, with romance being one of the most popular choices for many viewers both locally and abroad. Many highly successful Korean dramas in the past—including Goblin, Descendants of the Sun, and My Love From the Star—featured romantic stories that have created a Hallyu sensation throughout the world. If you’re looking for new shows to watch right now, the following eight romantic Korean dramas are a must-see!
Note: The series is available on Netflix US unless otherwise stated.
1. Cheese in the Trap (2016)
Nothing beats a suitable plot of a typical boy-next-door protagonist with a dark side. While Kim Go-Eun (The King: Eternal Monarch) is the perfect choice to play the female protagonist in Cheese in the Trap, no one comes close to Park Hae-jin’s (Forest) portrayal of a scheming male lead. The two characters’ rather complex relationship becomes even more complicated with the arrival of the male protagonist’s two childhood friends—the talented pianist played by Seo Kang-joon (When the Weather is Fine) and her obnoxious, drama queen sister, portrayed by Lee Sung-kyung (Dr. Romantic 2). This webtoon-based series is notorious for its terrible ending. Still, overall it did deliver what fans needed to see in an above-average romance.
2. Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo (2016-2017)
What makes a romantic Korean drama more enjoyable to watch is a few sprinkles of laughter, but with the charming Lee Sung-kyung and the playful Nam Joo-hyuk (The Light In Your Eyes) leading the cast, it’s a LOT of sprinkled comedy. While K-dramas have long had the reputation of producing unique, non-stereotypical female protagonists, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo takes it on another level by creating a character opposite of the usual weight-conscious women stereotype. Lee portrayed a weightlifting athlete who falls in love with her close friend, played by Nam. The series failed to woo a lot of viewers in South Korea during its broadcast, but it received mostly positive reviews from international fans. (Not available on Netflix US)
3. My ID is Gangnam Beauty (2018)
If you want an extra social factor on top of the romance, then this drama is a highly recommended one. My ID is Gangnam Beauty goes against the societal standards of beauty as it tackles one of the most pressing issues among women—cosmetic surgery. Im Soo-hyang (Graceful Family) took on the role of a college student who has undergone cosmetic surgery to avoid getting bullied because of how she looked in the past. While her onscreen chemistry with Cha Eun-woo (Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung) is greatly undeniable, the show also highlights other forms of love, such as friendship, self-acceptance, and forgiveness. (Not available on Netflix US)
4. Romance is a Bonus Book (2019)
Romance is a Bonus Book is probably the one that hits close to home with adult viewers, dealing with the struggles of pretty much everyone in the adult world. After a failed marriage, homeless and unemployed Lee Na-young is desperate to land a job, so she pretends to be a high school grad with no experience to get a temporary job in a publishing company. The company happens to be where her childhood friend, played by Lee Jong-suk, shines as a gifted writer and the youngest editor-in-chief. The series highlights other factors aside from the inevitable romance between the lead cast—friendship, perseverance, and second chances in life. It was Lee Jong-suk’s last series before he enlisted in the military.
5. Love Alarm (2019)
With innovations on mobile use becoming more and more of a norm all over the world, Love Alarm takes romance to a whole new level of technological advancements. With the popularity of an online dating app that alarms and lets people know when someone in close vicinity has romantic feelings for them, Kim So-hyun‘s (The Tale of Nokdu) character finds herself in an unexpected love triangle with two popular boys in her school, played by Jung Ga-ram (When the Camellia Blooms) and Song Kang (When the Devil Calls Your Name). This Korean Netflix original series is gearing up for its second season, which we expect to be released later this year.
6. When the Camellia Blooms (2019)
Ranking high both in TV and buzz ratings, When the Camellia Blooms is one of the most popular romantic Korean dramas in 2019. Its story centers on a single mom, played by Gong Hyo-jin, who runs a bar to support herself and her son. Years later, she meets the playful and charming police officer, played by Kang Ha-neul, who unabashedly shows his love for her. Filled with heartwarming romance coupled with suspense, comedy, frustration, and some drops of bitter-sweetness, this show is guaranteed to give everyone a roller coaster ride of emotions. Kdramapal considers When the Camellia Blooms to be one of the best Korean dramas of 2019.
7. Crash Landing on You (2019-2020)
Crash Landing on You is the most popular romantic Korean drama so far in 2020, having achieved remarkable ratings that nearly surpassed the record of SKY Castle. Son Ye-jin played a South Korean heiress who ends up in North Korea after a paragliding accident. There, she meets a North Korean soldier, played by Hyun Bin, who promises to send her back home, only to fall for her and make things complicated. Aside from their fantastic performance, fans also took notice of the great chemistry between the secondary couple—with the graceful Seo Ji-hye and the cunning con artist Kim Jung-hyun having everyone cheering them on until the finale.
8. The King: Eternal Monarch (2020)
Samfann: I know The King: Eternal Monarch hasn’t even premiered yet, but with award-winning screenwriter Kim Eun-sook at the helm of its script, the show is expected to be included in the recommended drama list of many Korean drama fans. The series, which premieres today on tvN and Netflix, features a parallel world where Korea is a constitutional monarchy ruled by an emperor, played by Lee Min-ho (Legend of the Blue Sea). He gets transported to democratic Korea because of a portal between the two worlds and meets Kim Go-eun’s (Goblin) character. Together, they face the danger brought about by the said opening and navigate various challenging situations, which include their deepening affection for each other. Read more information about The King: Eternal Monarch here.
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