Hey everyone! I graduate in three weeks so you’ll soon be seeing more of me. In the meantime, I’ve noticed that Netflix is starting to have a few K-dramas that are available for streaming in the US. I’ll talk about that in a second but first I want to briefly discuss Netflix itself.
For those of you who don’t use Netflix and are skeptical about its charms, I have to completely vouch for it. It’s totally worth it. They don’t have everything, but they are getting more all the time and you don’t have to deal with commercials or any of that nonsense you’ll find on other streaming sites. You do have to pay, but it’s EXTREMELY reliable. I have a terrible internet connection and I’ll only occasionally have trouble with buffering (very occasionally, and even then if I wait a few minutes it’s usually back on track and good quality again). It’s perfect if you’re a TV junkie like me, because they have almost every American television series you could want and you don’t have to deal with downloading each episode or buying the DVD set or anything along those lines. Their movie collection is a little sparse in the way of classics (but I think we all have different definitions about what’s a classic, haha), but I lovelovelove how many documentaries they have. ANYWAY, I suppose I’m saying that even aside from K-dramas, they have things to offer if you like television as much as I do.
I’m not being paid or anything for talking about it, but I figured if I were writing an article about this service I should discuss why I use it in the first place. You get a free trial for your first month of use and then after that it’s about $8 a month to stream. I think it’s a little different if you’re outside of the US, so I apologize for that. I know Hulu+ has some K-drama options and might have a wider scope, but I don’t use that service so I can’t say much for it at this point. I have heard that sometimes the subtitles on dramas can be a bit off, but the ones I’ve seen haven’t been too bad. Anyway…
ON TO THE DRAMAS!
I can’t promise this list is complete, but it’s what I could come up with. I get these recommended to me, so they show up but I know they don’t for everyone. I’ve tried to include my opinions about the ones I’ve seen, I’ve partially watched, or have people close to me that have seen them. I also have heard various things about them so I’ll list my interest in the ones I have yet to watch.
I actually spent way too long formatting this, but hopefully it makes it really easy for people! I can’t promise it’s perfect, but whatevs haha.
Click on the title to view more information/reviews/thoughts/etc.
Autumn in my Heart
Boys Over Flowers
Flames of Desire
Great Queen Seondeok, The
Lie to Me
My Girlfriend is a Gumiho
Protect the Boss
Road Number One
Scent of a Woman
Stars Falling from the Sky
Tamra, the Island
Update: Since initially writing this, I’ve noticed a few more dramas appear. They are:
- Vampire Prosecutor
- Dream High 2
- Servant: The Untold Story of Bang-Ja
- In Need of Romance
- Killer Girl K
- Quiz From God
Starring: Song Seung-Hun, Song Hye-Kyo, Won Bin, Han Na-Na
Genre: Drama, Romance
Notes: This is a classic drama that I have yet to try, but I think it’s one of those really melodramatic ones that will make you want to rip your eyes out by the end. If I remember correctly, this one involves accidental sibling love? And that’s something I have no interest in but it might be palatable for some simply based on the fact that it’s drama history. I’m pretty sure this is a part of a vaguely linked series (Spring Waltz, Summer Scent, Autumn in my Heart, Winter Sonata).
Starring: Kim Nam-Gil, Han Ga-In, Kim Jae-Wook, Oh Yun-Soo
Genre: Thriller, melodrama, mystery
Notes: I haven’t really heard anything about this so there isn’t much to comment on. However, people on Netflix have said that this drama was really good up until the end. I guess one of the main actors had to report for military duty in the middle of filming so things had to wrap up VERY quickly and the story was sacrificed. Also, there have been notes about the actual video quality (which can sometimes be an issue on Netflix, unfortunately).
Starring: Uee, Lee Yong-Woo, Lee Da-Hee, Yoon Yoo-Sun
Genre: Sports, romance
Notes: I honestly have no desire to watch this, although I’ve heard that it’s cute. I have no interest in golf, the cast, the plot, etc. If anyone can vouch for it please let me know! I love to know why a show might be worth watching. Synopsis: This romantic drama series follows the saga of former professional golfer John Lee — the first Korean to win a PGA title — as he coaches two women in their quest to become champions in the sport.
Starring: Koo Hye-Sun, Lee Min-Ho, Kim Hyun-Joong, Kim Bum, Kim Joon
Genre: Romance, comedy, drama
Notes: I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about Boys Over Flowers endlessly if you’ve been around long enough. Assuming you haven’t, I documented my thoughts on each episode and dissected it, etc. It was really interesting and I would recommend it, although it might be a little lengthy and over-dramatic for some. Still, seeing the selection Netflix offers, this is one of the better ones to choose.
Starring: Lee Min-Ho, Park Min-Young, Lee Joon-Hyuk
Genre: Action, suspense, romance
Notes: I would recommend this drama forever and ever. It is wonderful in every way. I really want to write up a proper review, but this is what you’re getting for now. It’s action-packed and that’s not typically my style, but it really works in this case. There are actual enemies to battle, whereas most dramas have to make up some kind of weird, evil relative to create drama and bring endless annoyance. I loved the acting and felt it was a story worth watching.
Starring: Eugene, Kang Byul, Kang Nam-Gil, Im Hyun-Sik
Genre: Romance, family
Notes: I know nothing about this drama except that it’s 31 episodes. Here’s the synposis Netflix provides: With an arranged marriage looming, an American-educated young woman finds herself exiled to Korea, where she reluctantly teams up with the equally uninterested bridegroom to devise a plan that will allow them to avoid their impending wedding.
Starring: Seo Woo, Yoo Seung Ho, Jo Min Ki, Shin Eun Gyung
Genre: Emotional, romantic
Notes: 50 episodes and a low rating (2 1/2 stars based on my previous interests) makes this something I have very little desire to see, but I’m sure some people will find it right up their alley. Synopsis: A family-owned corporation falls apart when its members are caught up in a furious battle for succession. Patriarch Kim Tae Jin’s children all covet his wealth and power, and they each will do anything, however cruel and inhumane, to inherit it.
Starring: Lee Yo Won, Ko Hyeon-jeong, Park Ye-Jin, Uhm Tae Woong, Kim Nam Gil
Notes: I have yet to watch a historical drama and maybe it’s because they’re super long. I don’t have that kind of time right now, unfortunately. Synopsis: Queen Seondeok is a historical drama following the rise of the first female ruler of Shilla. Abandoned at birth because of a prophecy, Deokman returns to her proper place in the palace with the help of her twin sister and becomes Queen Seondeok.
Starring: Lee Jun-Ki, Yoon So-Yi, Uhm Ki-Joon, Baek Yoon-Shik
Genre: Comedy, exciting
Notes: I remember there was a lot of hype surrounding this drama’s release, but then I didn’t hear anything after that. I don’t have a particular draw toward it, but I suppose it could be interesting. Synopsis: Working as a reporter for a racy tabloid called the Monday Seoul, Do Hyuk uses any means necessary to get a scoop. One day, he goes to interview Yong Deok, the boss of the Axe gang, who suggests that they start their own newspaper.
Starring: Yoon Eun Hye, Kang Ji Hwan, Jo Yoon Hee, Hong Soo Hyun, Ryu Seung Soo, Oh Mi He, Kwon Se In
Genre: Romance, comedy
Notes: I started watching this and got super bored with it in the middle. It wasn’t bad, but it just got stagnant and it was very happy a few episodes before the end. You could tell they were about to create pointless and aggravating drama in the last few episodes and I didn’t think it was worth it so I chose to make episode 12 my end, haha. I know that’s ridiculous but I didn’t have time for the drama they were brewing. It was really enjoyable while it lasted though, and I keep thinking I should go back and finish it properly.
Starring: Jang Hyuk, Kim Hee-Ae, Lee Min-Jung, No Min-Woo
Genre: Cerebral, Suspenseful, Understated
Notes: This seems a little boring to me, but that’s only because it’s about business and that’s the kind of thing that makes me feel like snoozing. I’d love to hear if it’s actually worth watching though, because I do understand that sometimes dramas like these can be really amazing. Synopsis: Set in the world of corporate mergers and acquisitions, this Korean drama follows ambitious young Kim Do Hyun as his fortunes rise and fall. While pursuing a high-pressure career, he also faces complications with his impending marriage.
Starring: Micky Yoochun, Da Hae Lee, Kang Hye Jeong, Kim Seung Woo
Genre: Emotional, Heartfelt
Notes: I’m not super interested in this, but mostly based on the fact that I’ve heard nothing about it. Also, Mickey Yoochun is not my particular cup of tea and I’m haven’t given him a chance yet, but I’m worried that this is a case of idol-itis and that he’s just there because he already has a huge fanbase. This is a silly reason though so make your own judgment. Synopsis: Based on the true story of Shin Jeong Ah, this series follows Jang Mi Ri, a woman whose life is a complicated web of deceit. When two men compete for her affection, details of her tragic childhood begin to emerge.
Starring: Lee Seung Ki, Shin Min Ah, No Min Woo, Park Soo Jin
Genre: Quirky, Romantic
Notes: I want to watch this. I love the writers and although I have heard that it’s a dud compared to some of their other dramas (You’re Beautiful, Coffee Prince, etc.), I think it’s probably still worth it. Plus, cutest cast ever. How can I refuse? Here is the synopsis: After meeting a mysterious yet very beautiful girl, a wannabe action star discovers that she’s, in fact, a gumiho — a legendary fox with nine tails — who longs to transform herself into a true human.
Update: I’ve now watched this and can say it’s really entertaining. A bit of a tear-jerker at some points, but it’s also hilarious and cute and very memorable.
Starring: Song Seung Hun, Choi Won Hong, Kim Tae Hee, Jun Min Seo, Park Ye Jin, Ryu Soo Young, Lee Soon-jae
Genre: Quirky, Sentimental
Notes: Both of my sisters saw this and each had a different reaction. One thought it was amazing and wonderful etc. etc., while the other said it was just okay. I think it depends on the person. The sister who did not rave over it claimed that it was a little unbelievable and over-dramatic, but some people need that or enjoy it, so I can see why my other sister liked it (in fact, she gave it a full five-star rating on Netflix, so I’m assuming she quite enjoyed it.)
Starring: Gong Hyo Jin, Lee Sun Gyun, Lee Ha Nui, Alex
Genre: Quirky, Romantic
Notes: I’ve heard that this was boring. I don’t think that’s a good sign, but everyone has different opinions so you never know! The cast is cute, so that might be incentive enough to at least try it. Synopsis: Pasta follows the dreams of a young woman who aspires to become an elite chef at La Sfera restaurant. Seo Yoo Kyung starts her career as a kitchen assistant at La Sfera, but through perseverance, she eventually works her way up to become a chef.
Starring: Kim Hyun-Joong, Jung So-Min, Lee Tae-Sung, Lee Si-Young
Genre: Romance, school
Notes: The Taiwanese version was amazing (It Started with a Kiss) and I have yet to really venture into watching this version. That might be because I had such good thoughts about the other one. I watched the first episode forever ago and felt it had potential, but I can’t really comment on how it actually pans out for real because I got distracted by life and didn’t see the rest.
Starring: So-yeon Kim, Park Shi Hoo, Jung-Soo Han, Choi Song Hyun
Genre: Exciting, romantic
Notes: Those of you who know me will realize already that this is a drama that I will defend until the end. It takes a little work to get through the first episodes and then you are likely to understand why this drama is so wonderful and forever beautiful!!!!! Haha. I never got bored with it, even though the beginning might have you wondering if it’s even worth it (simply because it seems formulaic and predictable… but it isn’t). I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but it was definitely something I enjoyed.
Starring: Choi Kang Hee, Ji Sung, Kim Jaejoong, Wang Ji Hye, Lee Hee-Jin, Park Young Kyu, Cha Hwa Yun, Kim Chung
Notes: I don’t know why but seeing Jaejoong in this made me hesitate. It might be awesome, but I really am not into idols as actors. You have to tell me if this is worth watching! Synopsis: An inexperienced secretary, Eunseol, finally gets the job she’s been yearning for, but the dream job turns out to be less than ideal when she meets her boss, Cha Jiheon, a second generation chaebol with an attitude.
Update: I’ve watched this now, and it’s definitely worth watching. So cute and funny and perfect in a lot of ways.
Starring: Ji Sub So, Ha Neul Kim, Kye Sang Yoon, Min Soo Choi, Chang Min Son
Genre: Emotional, Dark
Notes: Emotional and dark? You probably have to be in the right mood/mindset for this. Synopsis: Unexpectedly thrust into war in 1950s Korea, Lee Jang Woo exhibits extraordinary skills and heroism. But the war not only tears apart his world, it also affects his relationship with childhood sweetheart Soo Yeon in ways he hadn’t anticipated.
Starring: Sun Ah Kim, Lee Dong Wook, Uhm Ki Joon, Seo Hyo Rim
Genre: Emotional, Romantic
Notes: The synopsis sounds a bit depressing, but it could have potential! You never know with this kind of plot, because it could go either very sad or extremely hopeful and uplifting. I think the only way to know is either to read more reviews or just give it a try. Synopsis: A woman, Lee Yeon Jae, is given the grim prognosis that she has only a short time left to live. She decides to quit her job at a travel agency and live her life to the fullest, methodically making her way down her bucket list.
Starring: Hyun Bin, Ha Ji Won, Yoon Sang Hyun, Kim Sa Rang, Lee Philip, Lee Jong Suk, Yoo In Na, Kim Ji Sook
Genre: Imaginative, Heartfelt, Quirky, Romantic
Notes: A lot of people loved this drama but I couldn’t stand it. I really liked the beginning and I admittedly stopped short of the last few episodes, but I couldn’t stand the male lead. I actually disliked it so much I wrote this review on Netflix: I made it almost to the end but couldn’t stand how the male lead treated the female lead. He was thoroughly abusive, chauvinistic, and manipulative; everything you wouldn’t want your leading man to be, he nailed it. If you can look past this, it definitely has a draw to it. However, this was a major deal breaker for me because it left me uncomfortable and disappointed the entire time. He does start to improve as time goes on, but not enough to make it worth it and you’re left feeling like the leading woman simply got worn down by his terrible hot-and-cold behavior.
Starring: Han Hyo Joo, Lee Seung Ki, Bae Soo Bin, Chae Won Moon
Genre: Heartfelt, Sentimental
Notes: I’ve heard a lot of good things about this drama, which is also sometimes called Brilliant Legacy. Despite its long list of episodes, I can’t help but be interested. I’m planning on watching it next, but crossing my fingers that I won’t fall in love too much or too little so that hopes won’t be dashed. The cast is promising and the story seems alright, so I’m going to go for it and let you know how it goes.
Update: This was actually very enjoyable, despite being one of the most dramatic dramas I’ve seen. If you go into things knowing that to be true, I definitely think it’s worth trying.
Starring: Do Young Suh, Hyo-ju Han, So-yeon Lee, Daniel Henney, Bo-ra Geum, Dong-hwan Jeong, Hae-suk Kim, Yong-cheol Park, Si Won Choi, Hee Jin Park, Ja Hye Choi
Notes: I’ve heard very vague things about this, but I remember wanting to watch it a few years ago because of Han Hyo-joo being in it. I don’t really know anything more than that! I’m pretty sure this is a part of a vaguely linked series (Spring Waltz, Summer Scent, Autumn in my Heart, Winter Sonata). Synopsis: Sparks fly when onetime childhood sweethearts Yoon Jae Ha (Do Young Suh) and Eun Young (Hyo-ju Han) reunite after 15 years apart. The trouble is, they’re both in happy relationships with other people…or are they? Picking up where Tale of Autumn, Winter Sonata and Summer Scent left off, this sweeping Korean television drama is the fourth in a series of director Seok-ho Yun’s meditations on the four seasons. (Ah, there we go! They are linked.)
Starring: Choi Jung Won, Park Ji Bin, Kim Yoo Ri, Joo Ji Won, Kim Ji Hoon, Shin Dong Wook, Lee Kyun
Genre: Sentimental, romantic
Notes: I’ve heard good things about this! I mean, it’s not perfect, but the casting looks good and the story seems like it might be interesting. Here’s the synopsis: After her parents die unexpectedly, a young woman faces some dramatic coming-of-age issues, such as caring for her siblings and falling in love.
Starring: Seung-heon Song, Jung-hoon Ahn, Eun-sook Cho, Jae-yeong Ha, Ji-hye Han, Hae-suk Kim, Jin Ryu, Ae Shin, Ye-jin Son
Genre: Emotional, Romantic
Notes: Expect drama-city with this! I’m pretty sure this is a part of a vaguely linked series (Spring Waltz, Summer Scent, Autumn in my Heart, Winter Sonata). Synopsis: This is an inspirational love story for everyone who dreams of pure and innocent love. Three years ago, Min-wu lost his first love, Eun-hye, in a car accident. Hye-won, a florist, had suffered from a heart disease and received her heart transplant. When Min-wu and Hye-won first meet, Hye-won notices her unusual heart beat. Nobody knew it was her heart that remembers and beats strong for Min-wu. As Hye-won starts falling in love with Min-wu, soon the conflict erupts between the lovely florist and her fiancé Jeong-jae.
Starring: Seo Woo, Joo Hwan Im, Pierre Deporte, Sun Ho Lee, Seung Min Lee
Genre: Heartfelt, Quirky, Romantic
Notes: I’ve heard mixed things about this drama, but a lot of people have said it’s good. I think the awkward looking white guy throws me off, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. I like the fantasy concept and I have to say it’s on my list to watch sometime in the future. Some of the reviews lead me to believe there is some questionable aspects to it though, so judge for yourself before you watch.
Starring: Ji-woo Choi, Yong-jun Bae
Genre: Emotional, Romantic
Notes: This is supposed to be the drama that started the Hallyu wave. Is it? I don’t know for sure, but it does make me want to watch it. It’s kind of THE drama. It actually sounds quite cheesy, but maybe it will be cheesy in a good way? I’m pretty sure this is a part of a vaguely linked series (Spring Waltz, Summer Scent, Autumn in my Heart, Winter Sonata). Here’s the synopsis: Joon-sang (Bae Yong Jun) transfers to a new high school in search for his biological father and there falls for lively and cheerful Yu-jin (Choe Ji Woo). After Joon-sang’s sudden disappearance, rumor has it that he was killed by a car accident. Ten years later, when Yu-jin and Sang-hyuk throw their engagement party, Chelin shows up with her boyfriend, Min Hyung, who closely resembles Joon-sang. Yu-jin, who still has a fire in her heart for Joon-sang, becomes dumbfounded and overwhelmed with confusion.
Starring: Jang Geun Suk, Kang Soo Han, Park Shin Hye, Jung Yong Hwa, Lee Hong Ki
Genre: Quirky, sentimental, romantic
Notes: Perfect drama is perfect. Okay, so there are flaws (female lead is rather weak, male lead is rather pushy, supporting male is sort of fish-eyed and terrible at acting, and supporting female is a witch), but it’s done so well that you ignore it all and want to watch it forever. It’s a great fluffy romance with everything sappy and heartfelt and ughhhh I wish I could go back and rewatch it again for the first time. I sold one of my sisters on this and we both agree that it’s amazing.