10 K-dramas For Beginners
Whenever one enters any genre or industry, there are some faces and tropes that immediately stand out. For K-dramas, there are some household names that everyone knows like actors Lee Min-ho, Song Joong-ki, Park Seo-joon and actresses Shin Hye-sun, Song Hye-ko, Park Min-young. As for the stories, they are usually fluffy rom-coms, slapstick comedy, grand sageuks or absolutely gory action dramas.
But if you have never watched a K-drama and are not sure what to begin with, we’ve got you on that front. We’ve made a list of some of the most beloved K-dramas, varying in genres and popular actors, immersed in Korean pop culture so that you can begin your binge-watch session.
Well, here is a list of 10 K-dramas for beginners to get started with.
The Legend of the Blue Sea
If you are not sure where to begin, The Legend of the Blue Sea is not a bad choice to be the first K-drama to see. Featuring iconic names such as Lee Min-ho and Jun Ji-hyun, they star as the conman Heo Joon-jae and the naive mermaid Shim Cheong respectively.
After Shim Cheong becomes a homeless human, she accidentally clashes with Heo Joon-jae who decides to help her out with the hope of stealing her glittering and rare jade bracelet. However, unbeknownst to both of them, they share a mysterious past.
What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim
Office rom-coms are a must in every language and country. So, for K-dramas, the one show that has pretty much set the blueprint for office romances is What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim. Lee Yeong-joon is a narcissistic, self-obsessed, snobby elite who knows he is handsome and has women falling for him left, right and centre.
So, of course, he cannot fathom why suddenly his secretary without whom he cannot function suddenly decides to quit. As he tries to fix whatever wrong he may have done, Secretary Kim who absolutely cannot stand him starts developing feelings she shouldn’t.
Guardian: The Lonely and Great God
Guardian: The Lonely and Great God aka Goblin is possibly one of the few K-dramas to have been critically praised by almost everyone who has seen it. A mix of rom-com and angst, it starts off with a 900-year-old goblin who is tasked with looking after souls in danger, clashing with the grim reaper, keeping his great, great, great-something nephew in line and looking for his bride who will be his salvation.
The only way he can leave the world and find peace is when he finds the woman who can see the sword stuck in him and pulls it out. But in no universe had he expected it to be a chirpy, immature college student who keeps addressing him as an uncle.
Descendants of the Sun
This romantic melodrama follows the on-and-off relationship of Si-jin, a special ops officer who cannot reveal his profession and Mo-yeon, a doctor who keeps clashing with her colleagues as they soar thanks to their connections. On top of it, Si-jin and Mo-yeon cannot seem to find common ground as she hates killing while he believes in killing to protect innocent lives.
They finally part ways as he is assigned to the war-torn Uruk. But when she is sent to the same base as a medical volunteer, their reunion brings back buried feelings.
Boys Over Flowers
Like any early 2000s rom-com movie, there are bound to be jokes and tropes that may not have aged well. And while Boys Over Flowers does fall into that category it is worth noting that overall, it is a sweet and light-hearted story to watch when you are bored. Geum Jan-di is a sweet but working-class student who accidentally clashes with the F4, the four elite boys of her school whom everyone fawns over.
Annoyed by her apathy, Jun-pyo, one of the F4 decides to bully her but she stands her ground and even kicks him at one point. Further intrigued by her, he starts teasing her and pulling pranks and unknowingly starts falling for her.
This K-drama became the most-watched Netflix show of its time and a global phenomenon and for good reason. Squid Game is a fast-paced thrilling story full of unique characters in an exciting and deranged setting who are forced to show their true colours.
Around 400 people who are financially struggling are roped in to play life-and-death games with the winner getting 45 billion won. With each passing level, the stakes increase and those who had initially allied for a better chance at survival start betraying each other.
While Netflix’s original K-dramas are on a whole another level, no one should forget their very first show, Kingdom which is a zombie apocalypse set in the Joseon period of ancient Korea. When the king mysteriously becomes a zombie, his physician is infected and accidentally starts an outbreak in his clinic.
Meanwhile, the queen uses it as a chance to frame Crown Prince Lee and take the power for her and her son. Lee must team up with his trusted advisors and the survivors from the clinic to stop the outbreak and clear his name.
It is no exaggeration that Mr. Queen may be one of the best shows to come out during the pandemic. It has everything from time travelling and secret identities to conspiracies and enemies to lovers’ trope. After a womanizer has an accident, he wakes up to see that he has time travelled to the Joseon era.
If that wasn’t bad, he is stuck in the body of that time’s queen. While he tries to survive and find a way back home, he must also handle all the mess the queen is in including dealing with her husband, the king who wants to kill her.
Crash Landing On You
The arrogant heiress Yoon Se-ri gets a reality check when one day while paragliding she crosses the country’s border and ends up in North Korea. Captain Ri Jeong-hyeok refuses to believe it is an accident and is hell-bent on arresting her but changes his mind and decides to help her. But unable to go back the way she came, he needs to hide her in his home. And as luck would have it, his rival Cho Cheol-gang decides to find some dirt on him and destroy him.
After the Korean consigliere Vicenzo Cassano is chased out of Italy, he returns to Seoul and decides to live a peaceful life with the help of a ton of gold that he had helped a dead Chinese criminal hide in the basement of a plaza.
However, when he reaches the location, he is stunned to find that the plaza is in the midst of a legal battle as Babel Group has illegally seized it, its occupants keep bothering him as they learn he is a lawyer and he cannot find any alone time to take out the gold as the plaza’s temple is built right over the hidden room.
So there we have it, our list of 10 K-dramas for beginners.
With so many amazing K-dramas being made year after year, it is no surprise that there are many iconic ones that did not make this short list. If you have any favourites we missed, let us know in the comments below.