A Beginners Guide to K-Dramas
Many of you may have wanted, at some point, to get swept up in the K-Drama portion of the Hallyu Wave. As someone who has been in that position myself, starting from zero can be incredibly daunting with the number of drama releases and recommendations that are out there. Here at The Kraze, we’re providing a quick, comprehensive guide on which dramas to choose if you’re just starting out in the K-Drama world, and why these are the best choices to begin your journey with.
The Timeless Classic: Boys Over Flowers
Boys Over Flowers is one of the most well-known dramas from Korea, and often the first one seen by those not entangled in the K-Drama world. The drama is based on a Japanese shoujo manga of the same title.
Geum Jandi (Ku Hyesun) is a poor girl who finds herself with a scholarship to the prestigious Shinhwa High School, and regularly gets tangled up in the lives of popular boys Gu Junpyo (Lee Minho) and Yoon Jihoo (Kim Hyunjoong), who are both rich heirs to different chaebols.
While the drama is about as cliche as it gets, it’s a timeless classic and features immensely popular actor Lee Minho, whom many fall in love with and find his other, more recent works to watch.
The Action-Doctor Mashup: Descendants of the Sun
Doctor dramas are particularly popular in Korea, but in this case we have one that mixes with the military in Descendants of the Sun. In addition to having a traditional romance line, there’s plenty of action and melodramatic scenes that also follow.
Kang Moyeon (Song Hyekyo) is a high-level doctor who ends up meeting captain Yoo Shijin (Song Joongki) in the emergency room, after he and his lieutenant Seo Daeyoung (Jin Goo) apprehend a criminal stealing a motorcycle. She assumes Shijin is a gangster leader because of his call sign “big boss,” and the dynamic between the two starts off rocky.
Though the two end up dating casually, they break up when Shijin must return to duty abroad. Because of certain circumstances, they end up crossing paths repeatedly at this time, and their dynamic shifts through the haze of the war zone.
The drama often focuses on the different worlds of the two protagonists, as Shijin is a special forces officer who takes lives in order to protect, while Moyeon is sworn to save lives no matter the cost. Conflict arises from this, but through it they learn more about each other and fall deep in love. This drama presents an interesting perspective on the differing opinions of the protagonists, in addition to the non-traditional setting of fictional country Uruk (which is based off of Iraq).
The Well-Rounder: Strong Woman Do Bong Soon
Strong Woman Do Bong Soon is a drama that has quite a lot to offer. Aside from the obvious twist in Do Bongsoon (Park Boyoung) having superhuman strength, the drama offers a diverse touch into many different popular genres of the time, including an awesome romance line, hilarious comedic portions, a detective line, and some unbelievable horror elements.
Do Bongsoon comes from a long line of women who possess incredible strength upon birth. As a result, she has had difficulty adjusting to normal society while hiding her ability, and often struggles as a result. When we meet her, she is a jobless late-20s small girl who helps out at her parents’ walnut shop and dreams of working at a gaming company. She also has a major crush on childhood friend and current cop, In Gukdoo (Jisoo).
Ahn Minhyuk (Park Hyungsik) is the CEO of the company Bongsoon is interested in and meets her by chance on the street one day when she completely obliterates a group of gangsters that were causing trouble. He decides that he needs her as his bodyguard, as he has been receiving threatening calls regarding his position and other family matters. With the knowledge of Bongsoon’s incredible strength, he begins to help her learn to harness it and instead of being judgmental as she feared, he adores her for it. The Park-Park actors were the first couple famous for their name before What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim, and the superior one if I do say so myself.
But as I mentioned, it’s not all rainbows and laughs in this one. There is also a particularly disturbing horror plot line that runs alongside this warm love story, and that’s what keeps it interesting. Keep watching to see how Bongsoon comes to terms with her strength, falls in love with a genuine man, and learns how she can make the world a better place with her gift!
The Modern Reality: Fight My Way
Many K-Dramas—past and present—focus on the story of a rich male chaebol heir falling in love with the poor, hard-working girl. While this plot line can have its charming points, it becomes rather dull rather quickly. None of that cliche is present in Fight My Way, which instead focuses on the story of two different couples, one developed and one newly forming, of a group of friends in their 30s struggling to make ends meet.
The drama is incredibly refreshing in that instead of presenting a fairytale-like romance or some life-changing thing due to love, it shows a deep connection blossoming from a long history and a mutual support of one another. Rather than either of the main protagonists being swept off their feet, the connection the two have grows organically and in a manner that is much more fitting, from a realistic standpoint. In addition, the supporting romance shows the struggles that many long-term relationships go through in their time, and how to overcome them.
The basis of the drama is a group of friends not only struggling to survive, but trying to live their dreams in a world that makes it difficult. Watching strong-willed Choi Aera (Kim Jiwon) and relentless Go Dongman (Park Seojoon) continue to fight and fall over and over is easy for many viewers to sympathize with, as we have all experienced that level of frustration and push-back while trying our best to move forward. The relatable storyline and organic romance that goes along with it makes this drama ideal as a starting point for the best that K-Drama has to offer.