Kdrama on Netflix

You may have noticed the influx of stunning men and women of kdrama popping up on your on Netflix feed recently. If you’ve been wondering what the fuss is about, or even if you’re already hooked to the genre and looking for your next fix, this is my guide to the wonderful world currently opening up on your friendly neighborhood video streaming service.

holo love 2 kdrama

I am quite excited to be writing this. For so long I have held my secret obsession close to my heart, sharing only with my trusted comrades the real reason I’m sleep deprived. Kdrama isn’t for everyone, but for others it’s surprisingly addictive, and here’s my breakdown of why I think that is, and where to find the good stuff.


1. Ever Lasting Love

Once you’ve bought your ticket into kdramaland, you know that one way or another, your tragic leading man will get together with your heroic leading lady, and they’ll live happily ever after. It’s a fantasy version of Korea where beautiful people with big personalities fall into love, rivalry and dramatic shenanigans. 

one more happy ending 2 kdrama

 

2. The Crazy Plots

If you can suspend belief at the wacky-sillyness throughout the series, you’re in for a treat;
A girl mistaken for a boy working in an all-male coffee shop.
A girl mistaken for a robot befriending a boy who is allergic to human contact.
A girl who steps into the world of the comic her father created.
Or a girl with magic strength to lift trucks..
Which brings me onto my next point.

kdrama love forever3

 

3. Our Leading Ladies

The screenwriting for kdrama respects and celebrates the emotional strength of it’s characters. They’re not fly-kicking action heroes, they’re the sole supporter of their families, or they’re broke while pursuing hopeless dreams. It’s a slice of life genre that gives a generous amount of screen time to the everyday heroism of female role models. And there are always a range of relatable heroines to cheer for.

kdrama love forever6

 

4. Our Leading Men

The beautiful men on the screen, looking directly at you intensely, smoldering, being heroic, being cool as all hell…(see ‘Squee Factor’ while I blush into my pillow).

weightlifting fairy bong soo kdrama


5. Community Spirit

The connection to the characters is what carries me through a 16-hour series over a weekend, but it’s also the relationship between the characters that often brings me to my emotional knees. There are certain tropes that just work for this genre: like the unwavering support from the pseudo-love-guru bestie, or the circle of neighborhood ajummas (middle aged aunts), or the fiercely protective parents. There’s the ex or fiance you love to hate, the conservative tough-love elder, or the group of loyal underlings that risk their lives for your main lead. Whoever the supporting characters are, the love between players in kdramaland is a heart-warming presence throughout the story. 

one more happy ending sleepover 4 kdrama

 

5. Korean Food & Drink

I craved korean street food long before my first taste of kimchi, thanks to the amount of screen time mealtimes get in kdramas – and it always looks so wholesome and good! Give me some of that Bimbimbap!  Drinking scenes are primarily used to lubricate the lips of characters to bring them closer, which leads me onto…

kdrama food

 

7. Kdrama language

I’m not referring to the spoken Korean, which is nice to hear in and of itself (not to mention the fun you can have if you pay attention to the often rushed and questionable translations). 

Kdrama’s have their own unique story-telling shorthand that I would call a kdrama language, or kdrama rules. A lot of it was spoofed in the Viki original ‘Kdramaland’, where an American girl magically ends up in the land of Kdrama. In that world, if you trip, the handsome man who catches you will instantly fall for you.
Me and my friends play a game of kdrama bingo, where you have to drink if one of the following occurs:

  • If the characters get drunk on soju, one will need a piggy back home.
  • The eldest child will inherit the fathers company.
  • If they get caught in the rain, one will collapse in sickness as a direct result, and their romantic interest will patiently and lovingly nurse them back to health.

Other common tropes include: Arbitrary hospital scenes, family feuding, memory loss & long-lost fiances. 

kdrama love forever19

 

8. Roller coaster highs & lows

What would kdrama be without the DRAMA.
The obstacles usually come in the form of a familial duty and a greater, external enemy that prowls around the unsuspecting protagonists, like a vengeful murderer or corporate rival. The prowling forces of resistance to their love all conspire together, and bam! That’s kdrama.

kdrama love forever17

 

8. Cinematography

Kdramaland has beautiful people, impressive locations and gorgoues interiors, and the cinematography does indeed do it justice. I could just print and frame so many shots for my wall.

crash landing on you 7 kdrama

 

9. The Squee Factor

Do you feel a bubble blooming in your chest? A fuzzy, warm feeling? Are you blushing? Making high pitched noises into a pillow? Rocking slightly? Do you need to pause the scene so you can gush to someone, anyone, to get out all the feels you’re suddenly feeling???

This is what I call The Squee factor.

Romantic gestures, big and small, are sprinkled throughout dramaland to keep us glowing with happiness at the cuteness of it all.  From lighting up a street with fairylights as our herorine walks home, to secretly treasuring the cute little tokens they gift each other; a tomato plant, a rabbit teddy with a pig nose or an onion with a smiley face.

pug rabbit kdrama

A lot of it comes from the tension that’s built up from the abstinence of the characters. Societal values (some from Christian or Confucian origin) play a huge part in keeping characters from being very touchy feely despite their obvious attraction to each other, which is very different from how Western characters get together. There are other obstacles of course to create the resistance that is drama, and often the characters are just oblivious. But eventually, and you know it’s coming…..they will kiss (squeeee!!!)
And that is what keeps me coming back for more. 

kdrama love forever

 

10. Lessons of the Heart

It’s not all fluff. Some kdrama’s have delivered some useful advice and insights.

For example, have you ever been in a relationship where you felt you were doing more for the other person than they would do for you? It left me feeling jaded, like I’d given too much of myself away. A wasted investment. So I admired the alternative sentiment from a character in One More Happy Ending: “You can’t know how the relationship will end, but loving them the best you can is the only way to leave no regrets. The one that loves most, wins.”

Or in My Holo Love, when a character observes that when people say “just because” it’s because they don’t want to reveal how they really feel or they don’t understand what they’re feeling.

holo love kdrama

 

11. The Fun of It!

And of course, the most obvious reason to watch Kdrama…it’s frickin’ hilarious :’D

kdrama love forever7

crash landing on you kdrama

kdrama love forever15

 

To Conclude:

Kdrama is my go-to feel-good escapism type of romcom. I’ve been focusing on the shiney highlights of kdrama, but like I said before: it’s not for everybody. It’s been described as twee, a bit samey, the plot is usually all over the place, some scenes are so overacted that it’s unbareable to watch, it’s political correctness is questionable at best, and well…the list could go on.

But it’s great for the kicks, and when you find a good one, it fills your time with feel good energy nicely. It’s fun to watch with friends or to snuggle down happily into for a self care night in your onesie. 

So, what do you think? What kdramas stuck with you? I’m curious. 

To send you off your trip to kdramaland in good stead, here are some recommendations from yours truely.

kdrama love forever16

 

 


 

Kdrama Recommendations from Charlotte

Fated to Love You (aka You are my destiny)

He’s a rich, charismatic CEO planning his engagement, she’s an undervalued office worker. She gets accidentally pregnant after a one-night stand, hi-jinks ensure. 

kdrama love forever18
 
 
 
Healer

He’s a vigilante by night and she’s a journalist with a target on her back. They have tragic pasts, they save each other, it’s adorable. 
 

healer kdrama

 
 
Heart to Heart (2015)
 
She has agoraphobia and is posing as an old lady to get a job, he is a psychologist who has anxiety attacks around his patients, except for her. They deal with their traumas. 
 
heart to heart kdrama
 

 

 
Weightlifting fairy
 
A high school love story: he’s a swimmer with mild trauma, she’s a talented weightlifter in love with his older brother – they support each other, it’s a wonderful relationship. 
 
weightliting fairy kdrama
 
 
 
Crash Landing on You
 
A modern day Romeo/Juliet between North/ South Korea – she’s a rich CEO about to inherit the family business, he is a soldier defending his territory, they risk their lives to get her back home. This one was beautifully shot AND educational!
 
crash landing on you 2 kdrama
 
 
 
One More Happy Ending
 
She’s a divorced matchmaker about to get dumped, he’s a paparazzi reporter & single father, they were childhood friends and now they’re neighbors, but she’s fallen for his best friend. A story about finding love after your first love – a unique take on romance by kdrama standards!
 
one more happy ending kdrama
 
 
 

Strong Girl Bong-soon

She is a games developer with god-given super strength passed down in the women in her family, he’s the CEO of a gaming company, they try to solve a crime together.

kdrama love forever4

 
 
 
Coffee Prince  

She’s the scrappy, hard-working head of her family, he’s a lazy rich only child, he needs to run the cafe so he can maintain his free lifestyle and she has to pretend to be a man in order to get hired by him. They’re super cute together, the soundtrack is great, acting is more natural than most dramas and fun fact: I’ve visited the cafe in Seoul! It’s adorable!
 
kdrama love forever11
 
 
 
 
My Holo Love
 
He’s an advance hologram AI, she’s beta testing him, bad people want to steal him, meanwhile his creator is falling in love with her. 
 
holo love 3 kdrama
 
 
 
Arthdal

Game of Thrones meets K-drama. I didn’t know I needed it till it was right in front of me! 
 

arthdal kdrama

 
 
 
I am not a Robot
 
He’s a rich only child allergic to human contact, she’s a poor inventor who needs funding to bring her projects to life. She is hired to pose as his robot without him knowing.
 
i am not a robot umbrella scene kdrama 
 
 
Love in the Moonlight
 
He’s a bored prince shirking his duties, looking for laughs, she’s a peasant that is kidnapped, mistaken for a man and forced to be the prince’s eunuch. It’s cute!
 
kdrama love forever5
 
 
 
 
Kill me, Heal me
 
He has dissociative personality disorder, she’s hired to be his psychologist, they help each other with their childhood traumas. The personalities are hilarious.
 
kdrama love forever13
 
 
Two Worlds
 
She falls into the comic book world that her father created and falls in love with the leading (fictional) man.
 
two worlds
 
 
 
Pinnochio
 
She can’t tell a lie but she’s a news reporter, her childhood friend is in love with her.
 
pinocchio kdrama
 
 
I Hear Your Voice
 
He reads minds, she’s a lawyer, she uses him to win cases, and they’re both being hunted by a vengeful murderer. Bonus: she’s an older woman – a rare & welcome dynamic in romcoms. 
 
i hear your voice kdrama
 
 
She was Pretty
 
She used to be pretty, now he’s a stunner and her boss, she gets embarrassed and asks her friend to pretend to be her. Now her friend has fallen for him.  He’s an asshole but she’s hilarious so it works out. This show wins the award for most handsome kdrama men & most compelling secondary love interest<3 
 
she was pretty kdrama
 
 
 
Sungkyunkwan Scandal
 
She wants an education during Josean era, a crime punishable by death. He is a scholar, he helps her keep her secret. Song Joong-Ki steals the show :’)
 
sungkyunkwan scandel kdrama
 
 

 

Melo holic
 
She has dissociative personality disorder, he can read women’s minds when he touches their skin. 
 
melo holic kdrama
 
 
He’s Beautiful
 
A nun pretends to be her twin brother in a popular boy band so that he doesn’t lose his place while he’s off getting surgery. Hijinks ensure :’) This was my gate way drug <3 
 
hes beautiful kdrama
 
 
Splash Splash Love
 
A fun film about a girl who falls back in time to Josean era and has to use maths to get back home. It’s cute, it’s really wonderful, and it’s short – a great place to start.
 
splash splash kdrama
 
 
 
 
These are the ones that come to mind and brought me joy in recent years, let me know if there’s any I’ve missed in the comments below : )
 

Happy viewing! <3

crash landing on you 4 kdrama

 
 
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