Spellbinding IU Dramas
Lee Ji-Eun, better known by her stage name IU, is a South Korean singer-songwriter and, more recently, K-drama star. She’s hugely popular in Korea and across the name, having chosen her stage-name as a riff on the phrase “I and You.”
IU didn’t gain mainstream popularity until December 2010 under her hit song “Good Day” and soon became known as the “Nation’s Little Sister”.
Since then, IU has grown from strength to strength, venturing into both radio and TV shows alongside K-dramas. Highly popular among fans, we break down the best IU dramas.
Dream High (2011)
Dream High revolves around the story of six students at Kirin Art High School who work to achieve their dreams of becoming music stars in the Korean music industry.
IU plays the role of Kim Pil-Sook, who stars alongside a smattering of other big stars, including Bae Suzy and Kim Soo Hyun. This is more of a coming of age story but it’s mixed in with some great twists and turns along the way for the different kids.
This is the drama that put IU on the map, and was quickly followed up by Dream High 2, the spiritual sequel.
The Producers (2015)
IU plays one of the main roles in The Producers, playing the character of Cindy. She, along with a handful of other big stars, are whisked into the broadcasting industry, with a story revolving around the dynamic work and life of people working within the entertainment division.
Cindy happens to play a music star who has been in the industry for 10 years. She’s known as the ice princess because she never lets herself feel deep affection for anyone. The story itself mixes in numerous different messages about friendship, fame, bullying and betrayal into a pretty enjoyable series.
Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016)
Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo is a classic time travel story but it’s much less a fantasy and more a historical drama. It’s also another remake, this time the 2011 Chinese drama Scarlet Heart
The story begins with a total solar eclipse, which sends a 25-year-old 21st century woman called Ha-Jin back through time. She ends up in the Goryeo Dynasty and inside the body of Hae Soo, one of the many royal princes of the ruling Wang family. King Taejo is on the throne, but Ha-Jin falls in love with a gentle and warm-hearted Prince Wang Wook.
As the story progresses, Ha-Jin finds herself caught up in palace politics as a rivalry ensues among the princes over the successor for the royal throne.
The ending is suitably bittersweet and the show does an excellent job throughout blending drama and romance together.
Hotel del Luna (2019)
Hotel Del Luna may not be the strongest drama on the list, nor does it do anything particularly outstanding with its story. However, it does pack one heck of an emotional punch and arguably trumps every other drama from 2018 for its soundtrack. It’s also another classic IU masterclass in acting.
Hotel Del Luna refers to a gateway hotel between the real world and the after life which this drama takes place in. Following a bright opening act, a lot of the middle episodes fall into an episodic format until the third act starts to ramp up the drama, light horror elements and emotion.
There are some truly emotional scenes peppered throughout and the finale is certainly one of the most gut-wrenching episodes of Korean TV in quite some time. The supernatural elements and world building are excellent throughout and the cinematography is really impressive too.
Dream High 2 (2012)
The second season of Dream High is nowhere near as good as the first. However, the returning characters are a nice addition and fans of the first are bound to appreciate their favourites coming back – including IU!
The story this time around sees the high school go bankrupt, taken over by Oz Entertainment. The company transfers its young idols-in-training to satisfy a new law that requires underage entertainers receive 20 hours of education per week.
Predictably, these new kids clash with our familiar high-schoolers, causing all sorts of drama and romance to ensue.
My Mister (2018)
My Mister is a classic healing drama, one that essentially revolves around three middle aged men and a strong cold woman named Lee Ji-An.
The story itself predominantly revolves around married man Dong-Hun whose world is turned upside down when his wife Yoon-Hee (who’s secretly having an affair with a senior executive at Dong-Hun’s work) wants a divorce. Even worse, she wants to marry this man, Joon-Young.
As Dong-Hun grapples with this reality, his jobless oldest brother, Sang-Hoon, is also separated from his wife. Meanwhile, youngest brother Gi-Hoon has dreams of becoming a movie director. Together, all these characters come together where drama obviously ensues.
Throughout the series the reasoning behind Yoon-Hee’s affair isn’t really made clear but some excellent acting from IU as the cold Ji-An really helps ignite this drama.
Split across four episodes, Persona is an eclectic selection of short films from critically acclaimed Directors in Korea. With completely different tones and styles throughout, the four episodes all manage to pull together a strong, thematic core even if on the surface, the films’ stories don’t always deliver as strongly as they perhaps should.
Most of the films draw on the same themes, revolving around love and passion whilst depicting our different emotional states and attitudes around this topic.
IU plays unique roles across all four of these short films, making for a really impressive showcase of acting talent.
And there we have it, our list of the best IU dramas of all time!
What do you think of our list? Have we included your favourites? Or have we missed any must-watch dramas? We love to hear from you so do feel free to let us know in the comments below.