5 must-watch Korean dramas

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During this period of social distancing, it can be difficult to choose what to watch from the endless lists of Netflix shows. However, with the rise of Korean dramas, students can see shows featuring new faces. With heartwarming and heartbreaking moments, students can never get tired of these Korean dramas.

Love Alarm

Joalarm, an app that notifies users when someone within a 10-meter radius vicinity has romantic feelings for them, spreads like wildfire in Kim Jojo’s world. It may seem like a great invention but for Jojo, this app greatly disrupts her day-to-day life, as she finds herself caught in a love triangle between Lee Hye-yeong and his best friend Hwang Sun-oh, a handsome and rich model. Junior Justyne Buenaventura said, “I like the fact that [the show] address[es] societal issues such as homosexuality and how technology is negatively affecting society.” She also said, “Although there are only eight episodes, each episode pulled me deeper into the story…[and got] me hooked.” The second season of this show is currently in production and will most likely be released by the end of 2020. 

My First First Love

This show features five youths and their messy encounters with first loves. Yun Tae-o, a college student living alone for the first time, finds his independence disrupted when four of his friends, Han Song-yi, Choi Hoon, Oh Ga-rin, and Seo Do-hyun, unexpectedly move into his house. The love triangle between Tae-o, Do-hyun, and Tae-o’s childhood best friend, Song-yi, creates tension in the household. While Song-yi and Tae-o are each other’s first loves, Do-hyun and Song-yi have a sweet, budding young romance. Junior Ruqaiya Mithani commented that this Korean drama “show[s] a different side to the typical first love story.” Sophomore Katelin Chen also said, “I really enjoyed the actors in this [Korean drama]….[T]hey were able to portray their feelings really well.” 

Itaewon Class

Itaewon Class follows Park Saeroyi, who gets expelled from school because he stood up to the rich bully, Jang Geun-won. After Saeroyi’s expulsion, Geun-won makes another grave mistake that changes Saeroyi’s life, causing Saeroyi to plot revenge against Geun-won’s family. Throughout the drama, the characters address controversial topics including transgender rights, racial inequality, and abuse of power. Their journeys send universal messages about not defining people by their past, the importance of patience and persistence, and the acceptance of people from different backgrounds. Ruqaiya said, “I honestly enjoyed it mostly because it was such a unique story that had so many different meanings and lessons woven into the storyline.” She also mentioned that “the actors…were amazing and embodied their characters incredibly well.” Critics also praised Park Seo-joon, the actor who played Saeroyi, for his powerful, emotional performance.

Prison Playbook

Although the title of the show seems dark, this hidden gem tells a humorous love story, heartfelt life lessons, and newfound friendships. The protagonist, Je-hyeok, is one of the best pitchers in Korea and is preparing to sign a contract with a Major League team, but he unexpectedly lands himself in prison for a year. He then has to learn how to survive in this new world. Justyne said, “[I] recommend it because it had many extremely funny moments between the inmates that had me rolling on the floor.” She proceeded to say, “The inmates also formed a special bond with each other that made it really heartwarming to watch.” 

Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon 

Do Bong-soon may seem small and sweet on the outside, but she actually possesses superhuman strength. For generations, the women of her family have received the gift of Herculean strength to use for the greater good. Thanks to her power, Bong-soon gets a job as a bodyguard for Ahn Min-hyuk, the CEO of Ainsoft, a gaming company. Throughout the story, action and romance occurs between Min-hyuk, Bong-soon, and police officer In Guk-doo. Katelin explains that the show has a lot to offer. “My favorite [Korean drama] is Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon because…[the] plot includes crime, romance, and drama. I think it’s appealing to a wide audience and the characters are also very charming,” she said. 

The rise in popularity of Korean dramas across the globe is not surprising, considering the genre’s diversity. From the romantic confessions in Love Alarm to the action-packed scenes of Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon, students can find any drama that fits their interest.