Nine exciting K-drama recommendations

K-dramas+can+be+found+on+a+variety+of+websites+or+streaming+apps%2C+one+of+these+apps+being+Netflix.+Netflix+has+a+sizable+library+of+K-dramas%2C+and+many+genre+options+to+choose+from.

Rebecca Von Tersch

K-dramas can be found on a variety of websites or streaming apps, one of these apps being Netflix. Netflix has a sizable library of K-dramas, and many genre options to choose from.

As Korean culture becomes more popular internationally, K-dramas have been rising in viewership. Although not all of them have made their way to Netflix, there are quite a few notable ones that deserve the high ratings they have received. Here are a few K-dramas that I have watched that I would like to recommend.  

“Hwarang”

The plot of “Hwarang” is based loosely on events in the three kingdoms period of Korean history. In the K-drama, Regent Queen Ji-so (Kim Jisoo) rules Silla while hiding her son, the young king Sammaekjong (Park Hyung-sik). As he comes of age, the nobles become impatient for his ascension to the throne, eventually forcing Queen Ji-so to create the Hwarang to maintain control. The Hwarang are an elite group of warrior scholars consisting of the sons of the nobility. Among these young men are Sammaekjong and the mysterious commoner Kim Sun-woo (Park Seo-joon), who is surprisingly connected to the queen.

When I first looked at the cast list, I was surprised to see so many names I recognized (SHINee’s Choi Minho as Kim Soo-ho, BTS’s V as Seok Han-sung, etc.). I had been expecting this to be another boring historical K-drama, but it was far better, and I have no regrets about staying up past 1 a.m. for a week straight to watch it. If you’re looking for a historical K-drama with an exciting plot, major twists, and really cool outfits, then “Hwarang” is the one for you.

“Vincenzo”

This K-drama is about a consigliere for the Italian Mafia named Vincenzo Cassano (Song Joong-ki), who returns to South Korea in search of gold belonging to his former boss. His intentions change when he runs into Hong Yoo-chan (Yoo Jae-myung), a public defender living in Geumga Plaza and fighting Babel Group, a conglomerate that can only be described as evil. Wanting to help Hong Yoo-chan and his daughter (Jeon Yeo-been) so that he can access the gold underneath the plaza, Vincenzo joins their law firm to fight Jang Han-seok (Ok Taec-yeon), the secret chairman of Babel Group.

From the witty social distancing basil line to the incredible, action-packed arson scenes, “Vincenzo” is an amazing series with a satisfying ending, elaborate plot, and very complex characters. I would recommend “Vincenzo” to anyone looking for a fantastic thriller with comedy, action, and, most importantly, pigeons. 

“What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?”

In this K-drama, Park Seo-joon stars as Lee Young-joon, the vice-chairman of his father’s corporation. He relies on his secretary, Kim Mi-so (Park Min-young), for everything: choosing his ties in the morning, firing incompetent employees, buying flowers for his publicity girlfriends, and more. Mi-so tells him she’s going to resign after working for nine years, because she wants to settle down and live her life a little bit, but Young-joon decides to thwart her efforts. After Mi-so searches for the elusive man from a traumatic experience from her childhood, she and Young-joon realize their mutual feelings and help each other heal from their past.

Although Young-joon is a narcissist, and Mi-so is a complete workaholic, these two characters are quite lovable and made a wonderful story. If a sweet story with some dark twists and hilarious comic relief sounds great to you, I would recommend watching “What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?” because it has all of this and more. 

“Extracurricular”

Extracurricular” revolves around Ji-soo’s (Kim Dong-hee) unique and dangerous extracurricular activity. Although a bit of a social outcast, he tries to be a model high school student, but he has a secret double life. He runs an illegal and dangerous business to fund his tuition, future university fees, and rent. When things go wrong regarding a school project and his classmates, Gyuri (Park Joo-hyun) and Min-hee (Jung Da-bin), Ji-soo has to put his business on hold, resulting in dissatisfied clients and trouble for all involved.

This K-drama was the most exciting and complicated series I’ve ever watched. The only complaint I have is that the dubbed version sounds robotic and weird, like most dubbed K-dramas. I liked that this series was upfront about confronting darker themes, and it had some important statements about teenage life and academic culture. For someone who enjoys a darker plot without any of the fluff found in your average K-drama, I would recommend “Extracurricular.”

“Itaewon Class”

In “Itaewon Class“, Ex-con Park Saeroyi (Park Seo-joon) opens a small restaurant in Itaewon in the hopes of continuing his father’s dream. He hopes to exact revenge on the Jangga Group, the company his father used to work for, mainly to bring about the downfall of CEO Jang Dae-hee (Yoo Jae-myung).

Other than finding some of the characters in “Itaewon Class” annoying, I thought this was a great series. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it has been at the top of my recommendations list for months. If you like revenge, heartwarming stories about small businesses, and Park Seo-joon, this K-drama would be an excellent choice for you. 

 

“Descendants of the Sun”

Descendants of the Sun” is the story of the fictional Captain of the Korean Special Forces, Yoo Shi-jin (Song Joong-ki), and Dr. Kang Mo-yeon (Song Hye-kyo). Thinking that their morals are too different, the couple parts ways at the beginning of the series. They meet again in Uruk, and the two begin dating again after a few embarrassing confessions. Meanwhile, their friends fight their own battles, including Master Sergeant Seo Dae-young (Jin Goo) and First Lieutenant Yoon Myung-ju (Kim Ji-won), who spend the show trying to navigate their rocky relationship. After nearly losing their lives on multiple occasions, the teams complete their respective goals and return to South Korea.

When I first started watching it, I had to pause during the second episode when Onew first appeared. This was partly because I had no idea he was an actor but also because he had a normal hairstyle for once. The actors played their characters so well, and the story was so well-executed that I watched this series twice. This is unusual for me; I have only watched one other K-drama series multiple times. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys medical or military K-dramas.  

Most Watched Netflix K-Dramas by Rebecca Von Tersch

“Crash Landing on You”

Yoon Seri (Son Ye-jin) is the CEO of Seri’s Choice and chaebol heiress of Queen’s Group. Her trouble begins when she lands herself literally in a tree in the North Korean end of the DMZ after a paragliding accident. Found by Captain Ri Jeong Hyeok (Hyun Bin), she pretends to be his fiancée to hide from intelligence authorities led by the corrupt Cho Cheol Gang (Oh Man-seok). When his real fiancée, Seo Dan (Seo Ji-hye), returns from Russia, things become complicated for everyone involved. Seri and Jeong Hyeok find themselves in a plethora of unfriendly situations throw them back and forth across the DMZ altogether too often.

My favorite part of this series was Seri’s relationship with the kimchi ladies in the North Korean village. They were the cherry on top of an incredible story that incorporated a modern take on Romeo and Juliet (without the untimely protagonist deaths). If you like sweet endings, intense character drama, and hilarious side stories, I strongly recommend “Crash Landing on You.” 

“The School Nurse Files”

In “The School Nurse Files“, jelly has never been scarier. The story centers around Ahn Eun-young (Jung Yu-mi), who is a school nurse with special powers to see supernatural Jellies. These Jellies connect everything, represent feelings and spirits, can be evil or good, and are invisible to nearly everyone. When she transfers to a new school, she must find the mysterious and terrifying causes of a series of disturbing events. She enlists the help of Hong In Pyo, a teacher with a special protective aura. All the while, she destroys the evil Jellies with the help of a light-up toy sword and a BB gun.

“The School Nurse Files” is an intense and action-packed series that is only made better with the creepiness of the setting. You would think that the light-up toy sword would add comic relief, but it only makes the story stranger. I would recommend this six-episode K-drama to anyone who loves weird stories, jelly, and the supernatural. 

Squid Game

If you haven’t heard of “Squid Game” by now, then you’ve clearly been living under a rock. Squid Game revolves around a contest with 456 players who need to complete a series of children’s games to win the final prize, ?45.6 billion (about $38.4 million), in the hopes of rising out of their financial debt. The catch? These games all have deadly twists. The title of the K-drama comes from a Korean children’s game, called by the same name.

“Squid Game” is probably one of the better K-dramas I’ve ever watched. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and would have kept me on my toes if I hadn’t been sitting to watch it. The one thing that kept me from throwing the remote at times was that I wouldn’t be able to continue the series, or any other series, if I broke the TV. If you’re looking for a thriller K-drama with emotional plot twists and lots of frustration, or if you just want to jump on the pop culture bandwagon, I would recommend this one to you.

*All of these are opinions that reflect the views of the author Rebecca Von Tersch.