K Dramas About Young Adult Love and Friendships
As we join the Korean wave, K dramas have become a stapling aspect of introducing us to Korean culture along with Kpop.
So why are Korean dramas taking over?
They offer new perspectives we don’t see in western dramas or in other television shows. Korean dramas bring a new style to their narratives but, also, a complete drama. Unlike western dramas, we can expect to see certain characteristics of what makes a Kdrama a Korean drama. So, before listing Korean dramas to watch, let’s learn about their characteristics.
What is K Drama?
Unlike western dramas, Korean dramas have a predetermined episode length that allows audiences to know how long each episode will be and when the last episode will air. K dramas have a certainty not common in western television shows that depend on viewership to continue to finish the show.
Korean dramas have been considered mini series written by one writer, produced and aired in South Korea. They don’t go through a circle of writers to finish the drama. K dramas have a variety of genres, however, the most common genres will be melodrama, romance dramas, comedy dramas, and historical dramas.
All dramas bring us insight into Korean culture depending on their drama’s central theme and genre. We can expect to see historical periods, traditional values, modernization, family dynamics, and social issues that arise in South Korea. Despite the narrative and genre, we can expect to see the following characteristics that create and make the Korean dramas which intrigues us.
Characteristics of Korean Dramas:
- Have typically 16 to 24 episodes.
- Each episode has a run time of an hour to an hour and a half.
- Has less sexual and violent content, intimacy doesn’t go pass the kissing (a peck really).
- Rare use of foul language.
- Dramas have a G-rating.
- Narratives are simple, compact, and have a central theme.
- Have emotionally driven narratives.
- Usage of common clichés (wrist grab, back hugs, piggyback rides, gender bending, etc.)
- Attractive cast, both for eye candy and fashionable characters.
- Cultural appeal (portrayal of traditional Confucian values, family values, etc.)
- Dramas have their own OST
These characteristics make up the Korean dramas we enjoy watching. K dramas have a layout and cliches with a fresh look that intrigues us and wanting more. They portray and offer different genres for us to choose from and explore while still getting a complete drama. We won’t have to worry about having to wait for another season because we can see a story completely unfold.
Find out what Korean drama is for you.
Historical K Dramas
Take a trip back into Korea’s rich history with their historical k dramas. Set in a historical period, we can expect references to real-life people or events in a time period or contain factual representation of the period. It depends, however, most are fictionalized narratives. Check out these historical k dramas on viki.
Moon Embracing the Sun
With the backdrop of the Joseon Dynasty era, Crown Prince Lee Hwon loses his love, Yoon Bo Gyeong, before marrying her. Dowager Queen has her killed to secure her power and remove the Crown Prince without knowing that Yoon Bo Gyeong comes back from death. After eight years the Crown Prince Lee Hwon begins to investigate the death of his love upon seeing Wol, a shaman.
Gu Family Book
A fantasy, historical drama, we get both the historical backdrop and the mythical creature hybrid. Born as a half -human and half mythical creature, Chio Kang Chi journeys through life wanting to live like a human but can’t become one. Realizing his true nature, he begins to live his life adjusting and meeting Dam Yeo Wool who he begins to fall for.
Fantasy K Dramas
Fantasy dramas have taken many aspects of the supernatural, whether it’s having an ability or elements related to the supernatural or even folklore or mythical elements. K dramas have a little of everything for any audience.
I Hear Your Voice
Park Soo Ha, who has the supernatural ability to read other’s minds by looking them in the eye, has been searching for Jang Hye Sung. As a public defender, she has overcome hardships to realize the systematics of society and justice. Both team up to help find justice in unconventional ways.
My Love from the Star
Also known as You Who Came from the Stars in South Korea. Having failed to return back to his planet, Do Min Joon has been stranded on Earth for the past 400 years. He possesses the inability to age and has enhanced abilities. With three months left for his departure to his planet, he finds himself falling for Cheon Song Yi, the actress who reminds him of his love 400 years ago.
Strong Girl Bong Soon
Who doesn’t like seeing a strong woman take the lead. Do Bong Soon has inherited her family’s Herculean strength passed down from the woman in her family to use for good. Wanting to work as a game developer, she has been hired by the CEO of a gaming company to be his bodyguard. Soon finding herself in a love triangle with her crush In Guk Doo and the CEO, she has to decide how to balance her supernatural abilities and help both men catch the unknown threat.
While You Were Sleeping
Nam Hong Joo has premonition dreams where she has been left immobile to prevent bad events from happening. Then, she meets two people who develop the same ability that brings them closer. As Jung Jae Chan, a rookie prosecutor, interferes with events he has premonitions about, he finds out along with Hong Joo that their lives have become intertwined. Why have they come together? Finding out what brings them together?
Oh Yeon Joo, a cardiothoracic surgeon, enters her father’s study after going missing to discover a bloody scene on his monitor from his webtoon. While in his study, she gets pulled into another dimension that her father has created by his main character Kang Cheol. Saving his life, Kang Cheol has the ability to move Yeon Joo between the two worlds. Will Kang Cheol find his happy ending and will Yeon Joo find her father?
Legend of the Blue Sea
Inspired by the historical tale of a mermaid, Shim Cheong, a mermaid, follows her love Kim Moon. Moon’s doppelganger Heo Joon Jae, a con artist, becomes interested in Shim Cheong for her bracelet. Taken in by Joon Jae, she finds a rival for his heart in Cha Shi Ah while still adjusting to survive in a new environment. Can she win his heart and help him from the dangers he will face?
K Drama Comedies:
We’ve listed dramas that center around friendship and love, but has the feelings of nostalgia and finding one’s path as we age.
Although not necessarily a series, Reply 1988, 1994, 1997 centers around a group of friends whose narratives shift between the past and present selves. Set in different years, we see different friend groups navigate the journey of their early adulthood into their thirties. A great series if we want to reminisce our adult life.
Also known as Hello My Twenties, has five girls in their twenties living together in a house while going to college. Although each girl has their own quirks, personality, and issues, they learn to sympathize and bond with one another as they deal with their personal issues. It is a slice of life narrative of these girls who face issues we may experience in our twenties. Age Youth has two seasons so we can see the development of these girls.
Go Back Couple
After marrying at a young age, Choi Ban Do and Ma Jin Joo find themselves at a breaking point in their marriage. Ban Doo has the burden of working as a salesman, covering his boss, and being the breadwinner. Meanwhile his wife has taken the role of a caretaker and house wife suffering from low self-esteem. With regrets about their marriage, they travel back in time to the first time they met in their university years. Given a second chance, will they make the same choices?
Come and Hug Me
Although beginning with tragic events, Yoon Na Moo and Gil Nak Won were once each other’s first loves. However, after the murder of Nak Won’s parents at the hands of Na Moo’s father, their love ended and went separate ways. But life has a way of bringing back people through fated meets, will their encounters years later after tragedy help heal their relationship or will they remain broken?
Gender bending has been one of the characteristics of k dramas. Go Eun Chan, a tomboy and breadwinner of her family, gets mistaken for a boy to act as Choi Han Gyul’s gay partner. To avoid any more blind dates, Han Gyul uses Eun Chan as his decoy. Han Gyul decides to take over his family coffee shop where he hires male employees to be eye candy for female customers. Eun Chan gets hired, although she is not male and Han Gyul begins to question his feelings for her.
Fight for My Way
Life doesn’t always turn out as we want, it takes us down paths away from our dreams just how it did for Ko Dong Man and Choi Ae Ra. Dong Man wanted to be a famous taekwondo athlete and Ae Ra wanted to be a television anchor, however, they found themselves in mundane jobs. Whether they will be able to overcome their odds and fulfill their dreams?
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo
Bok Joo faces the struggle of having to choose whether to have her love life or pursue her career as a weightlifter. Having to choose between the two at a young age presents struggles of whether she will regret it later in life if she chooses one over the other. Or questions why she can’t have both. It is a drama with a coming of age narrative.
Park Saeroyi has been expelled from school after getting physical with a bully and to top off, his father dies in an accident. Although tragedy turns his life upside down, with his friends he manages to open a bar they want to succeed while competing with another food foe.
Just like Itaewon Class, k dramas present us with narratives that show real struggles we face or dramas that allow us to escape from all the hectic surroundings. Either way, Korean dramas have their own characteristics that bring a new, fresh look in life with some hope. Not to mention a complete drama!
Where can we start watching these dramas? If we are looking to begin, viki has Korean dramas free for us to start enjoying now. But if you have a subscription to Netflix or Hulu , they have their own K drama category to look through. However, the majority of the dramas listed above can be found on viki for free. What k drama calls out your name to watch from the list above? Tell us in the comments.