We did a Pantry Essentials, it only seems fair for us to give you a list of kdramas for beginners!
I started watching kdramas in 2016 when I exhausted all Taiwanese dramas (working on my Mandarin in style). My choices were dictated by whatever was on Netflix UK. I am now subscribed to Netflix, Viki Rakuten and I occasionally dive into KissAsian (streaming website) and I have way more options. To help you navigate this ocean of dramas, I prepared a list of 15 TV Shows to start with.
1. The kdrama set in high school
Granted this is not JUST a high school drama but it is SO addictive. It’s the story of Eun Da No (Kim Hye-Yoon), a rich high school student who realizes she is a character in a book. The worst part is she assumes to be the protagonist, just to find out she is a secondary character. From then on, she will do everything she can to regain control of the situation.
2. The kdrama with a strong female lead
Strong Girl Bong Soon
This is one of my favourite kdramas of all times. I probably watched it 6 times and it is my go to drama to introduce kdramas to people. Strong Girl Bong Soon tells the story of Bong Soon (Park Bo Young), a twenty something unemployed bum with magical strength gifted to girls in her family. Her life is a mess, she’s in a one sided love with her high school friend (Ji Soo) and she got fired from all jobs she had. One day, the CEO of a gaming company (Park Hyung-Sik) witnesses her strength and hires her as his bodyguard. Together they will solve two crime cases, fall in love and break stereotypes.
3. The kdrama with the hot lawyer
I almost called this section : the one with Ji Chang Wook (one of my husbands). The story is centered around Eun Bong Hee (Nam Ji Hyun), a law student who gets falsely accused of killing her ex. No Ji Wook (my boo JCW) is a cold hearted prosecutor who will help her get a new start and clean her name for good.
This drama has JI CHANG WOOK giving you butterflies all episode long. It also has a killer playlist, couple crime solving, two ajummas cat fighting for stress relief… It is so good, you should go and watch it ASAP.
4. The kdrama with the office romance
What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim
There are sooooo many office romances and it was hard to pick just one. I’ll do a top office romances one day, I promise. This one is probably the most well known of all of them. What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim is about Secretary Kim (Park Min Young) who quits of her secretary position after paying off all her family’s debts. Her boss (Park Seo Joon), the classic narcissistic boss, believes she is quitting because she is in love with him and tries to get her to stay. The way secretary Kim keeps rejecting her boss is hilarious. This is a real rom-com and a must watch!
5. The kdrama with the doctors
Romantic Doctor Kim 2
A killer cast, a gripping story. If you are a fan of Grey’s Anatomy, this show is for you. Both seasons are good but since they can be viewed as 2 separate entities, I chose the one with another of my boos Ahn Hyo Seop.
Dr Kim (Han Suk Kyu) is the director of a weird secluded hospital in the countryside. He is quite the genius and is qualified as a romantic quite a few times. He takes on two talented new residents Seo Woo Jin (my husband) who is fleeing from loan sharks and Cha Eun Jae (Lee Sung Kyung) a brilliant student but with a trauma revolving around the operating block.
6. The kdrama with sci-fi
Are You Human Too?
We BINGED this drama with Camille and I believe a review will be coming at some point. The story revolves around Nam Shin (Seo Kang Joon – a.k.a one of our mutual boos), the heir of a conglomerate and his AI robot double. Following a car crash Nam Shin is replaced by the robot who will try and figure out who is out to get Nam Shin while tasting the independence of being “human”. Throw in some romance and you have all of it.
This drama was SWOON WORTHY and addictive AF.
7. The bitter sweet kdrama
Every kdrama addict out there has watched this. It has a cast to die for, huge budget, great picture, great story line and amazing romance.
This is the story of Kim Shin (Gong Yoo) who becomes the Goblin through some twisted fate. He is an immortal Guardian and will only die when he finds his bride. He meets Ji Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun) an unlucky high school student who can see ghosts.
I can’t tell you much about it without spoiling. All I can say is : romance, second leads are AMAZING, some Korean myths, hilarious and yet sad. MUST WATCH.
8. The historical kdrama
The Tale of Nokdu
I couldn’t find a real trailer for this but you kinda get the mood from it.
Jeon Nokdu (Jang Dong Yoon) is a hot dude living on an island until one day some hired assassin come to kill him and his family. He tracks down the assassins to a women’s widower village and then lose them. He decides to dress as a woman to join the village. There, he meets Dong Dong Ju (Kim So Hyun) a girl who is set on killing the king. Intrigue and romance ensues.
The first half of the drama is really light and funny but it gets a little dark at the end.
9. The one with the glow up
Oh My Venus!
This is one of the first kdramas I remember watching with Camille. The drama is the Revenge Body makeover but as a rom-com. As a teenager Kang Jo Eun (Shin Min A) was called the Daegu Venus. She was THAT beautiful and was also smart AF. She got a hot swimmer boyfriend and started a law degree. Her life was ON TRACK.
Fast forward a few years and she gained a bit of weight working as a lawyer. She has a shitty boss and her boyfriend dumps her for the prettier coworker. She enlists the help of celebrity trainer Kim Young Ho (So Ji Sub). Ensues the work outs, romance and extreme transformation. This is a great drama to watch while eating some snacks instead of working out!
10. The second lead syndrome kdrama
She Was Pretty
I was so torn watching this kdrama! Starring Park Seo Joon and Hwang Jung Eum. It’s the story of two childhood friends who get separated when they are young. Ji Sung Joon (Park Seo Joon) used to be ugly and Kim Hye Jin (Hwang Jung Eum), a beauty. As adults, the roles have reversed. They kept in touch and when Hye Jin realizes Sung Joon has glowed up, she asks her best friend to impersonate her because she feels ashamed. Hye Jin ends up to be an intern at Sung Joon’s company and the love story begins.
The second lead is played by Choi Si Won, a hottie who used to be a member of kpop group Super Junior. It was hard to see him, so sweet and cool ultimately get rejected.
11. The kdrama with the hot soldiers
Descendants of the Sun
The male lead will pierce your soul with his eyes. We follow the romance between special forces captain Shi Jin (Song Joong Ki) and doctor Kang Mo Yeon (Song Hye Kyo) mainly in a war zone. The chemistry with the two of them was off the roof! The actors actually got married (and then got divorced to the dismay of their fans). Some moments are hilarious, some more melo.
I need to rewatch this soon!
12. The kdrama based on a webtoon
My ID : Gangnam Beauty
Webtoons are online cartoons that you can read on apps such as webtoon. Multiple webtoons were adapted to kdramas but my favourite remains My ID : Gangnam Beauty. It shows the struggles of Kang Mi Rae (Lim Soo Hyang) who was bullied in high school because of her looks. Before going to university she undergoes massive plastic surgeries to become beautiful. While she is happy to be considered more beautiful, she starts to understand that people juge her for having done that much. In parallel she crosses path with a mysterious guy (Cha Eun Woo) who knows all about her ugly past.
13. The tearjerker kdrama
It’s Okay To Not Be Okay
I know Camille didn’t cry but the first time I watched this drama, I cried at every episode. It was happy tears, frustration tears and sad tears. We made a review of “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay” and you can read about it here.
14. The laugh out loud kdrama
Touch Your Heart
It was a blessing to see the Goblin second lead couple on screen again. We would recommend watching this right after Goblin to lift your spirits up!
A fallen out of grace actress Oh Yoon So (Yoo In Na) works as a secretary to prep for an upcoming drama. She works for non other than cold hearted lawyer Kwon Jung Rok (Lee Dong Wook). Be prepared to step into awkward and hilarious situations with those clumsy characters.
15. The crime kdrama
He Is Psychometric
I had to finish with that one. I was always a GOT7 enthusiast but this drama just made me fall in love DEEPLY with Jinyoung who is now my ultimate husband. He doesn’t know it yet but one day he will.
He Is Psychometric is about this gorgeous man Lee Ahn (Jinyoung) who gets psychometric abilities after a terrible building fire where his parents died. Lee Ahn can now read objects and people by touching them. He is however not very focused and needs some serious help. The person helping him is non other than his ex classmate Yoon Jae in (Shin Ye Eun) whose father is in jail. Yoon Jae In wants to prove her father’s innocence and Lee Ahn wants to become a police officer to solve gruesome crimes with his ability. Together they will work to find a serial killer.
Go watch it now and talk to me about the shower scene. That’s all I’m saying.
That is it for me! Hope that helped a little!
Let me know which kdramas are your faves and which ones are on your watchlist!