Meet Your Next Big Obsession: Korean Dramas

Ten Asia / Contributor
Back in the pre-Golden Era of Television, people used to sit in front of the TV and flip channels for hours, dissatisfied with the offerings of infomercials and TLC reality shows. Now, most of us suffer from the opposite problem. There’s far more good TV than even the most devoted consumer could watch in a lifetime.
Brace yourselves, because your TV-watching life is about to get even more saturated with goodness. Enter the Korean TV show — or, as devotees call them, K-dramas. Once you start watching these Korean shows on Netflix, you’ll find it hard to stop.
Whether you’re watching a period piece or a romantic drama, you’ll find similar elements across the K-drama board. The shows are known for their action-packed narratives, gripping story arcs, pulpy relationships, and, of course, terrifically good-looking lead actors. Plus, unlike American TV shows, you don’t have to fear when, and if, the show will jump the shark. K-dramas are almost all one season, divided up into a manageable number of episodes.
Dive into the world of these addictive mini-series without pressure of committing to a second season. Here are the best places to start.
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If you have a favorite boy band, watch

Part Time Idol (2017)

This entertaining show looks at all the moving parts that go into the creation of such a group. A former music producer hopes to reenter the business with a splashy co-ed band.
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If you've ever thought your friends' siblings were cute, watch

Something in the Rain (2018)

In this light and delightful rom-com series, two people have a chance to see each other in a new light. Yoon Jin-ah (Son Ye-jin) is a recently single woman in her 30s. Life feels hollow and empty — until she runs into Seo Joon-hee (Jung Hae-in), her best friend's younger brother who has just returned from three years abroad. Suddenly, he's not just the kid brother. He's something else entirely.
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If you believe in second chances, watch

12 Years Promise (2014)

12 years ago, Jang Guk, a country girl, starts at a new school. She immediately falls for Yoo Jun-su, the most popular boy there. Their one night together has fateful consequences for Guk – she becomes pregnant. Her mother ships her off to America. Now an adult, Guk has a chance to return to Korea, where her once high school flame doesn't recognize her. But he definitely likes her.
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If you like This Is Us

Heaven's Garden (2017)

When her husband goes to jail, a young woman is left with no option but to move in with her estranged father, who always disapproved of her choice in a husband. She takes her two daughters along. This is her chance to reconcile with her father — and the process of bridging differences will pull on all your heart strings.
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If you believe in the supernatural, watch:

Black (2017)

Imagine if you could see death, exactly before it occurred. Imagine the burden that would put on you. In Black, a young woman with the power of premonition develops a relationship with a grim reaper, in the body of a mortal man. Go with it!
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If you like Inception, watch

Lucid Dream (2015)

Time travel. Video games. True lovers from a millennia ago being reunited in a Matrix-like alternate realty. This is the romantic sci-fi story you never knew you needed.
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If you love Groundhog Day

One More Time (2016)

For the past ten years, Yoo Tan (L) has been living a rock star life with his indie band. Then, the band is approached by a label, which brings problems of its own. At this moment in his life, Yoo Tan reaches a time loop that allows him to get another chance of winning his ex-girlfriend back. He'll keep repeating this day until he can get the girl.
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If you love fairy tales and cursed princesses

Secret Healer (2016)

Our tale begins with a despondent queen who desperately wanted a child. She brokers a deal with a magical and mischievous shaman, who agrees to cure her barrenness by tricking another shaman. The scorned shaman curses the queen's daughter, forcing the princess to live in isolation. And as many more fairy tales go, two strapping young men go out in search for the princess when she comes of age.
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If you love Outlander

My Only Love Song (2017)

This K-drama manages to pull off the same feat as Outlander, and make time travel sexy. When My Only Love Song begins, Soo-jung (Gong Seung-yeon) is a famous and conceited pop star. Then, she falls into a gap between space and time, and ends up in 6th-century Goguryeo, a kingdom of Korea. Traveling back in time is a humbling experience. Penniless and in over her head, Soo-jung now must rely on the help of others.
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If you believe in the paranormal, watch

Oh My Ghostess (2015)

Psychic powers run in Na Bong-sun's (Park Bo-young) family. Shy and timid, Bong-sun is constantly overwhelmed in he job as an assistant chef. And then, everything changes. She's possessed by a very lustful ghost, who uses Bong-sun as the vehicle through which she can carry out seduction.
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If you're a devotee of Olivia Pope from Scandal, watch

White Nights (2016)

As the characters in White Nights know all too well, it's a ruthless road to the top. The three main characters of White Nights — an heiress, her former lover, and her new hire — might have different backgrounds, but they share the same aspirations toward success.
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If you're still missing Gossip Girl, watch

Boys Over Flowers (2014)

Typically, being the new girl at a high school doesn't result in four of your class's hottest boys chasing after you. But in this K-drama about a working-class girl who wins a scholarship to an elite boarding school, it does. In addition to navigating the unique pressures of South Korea's upper echelon, Geum Jan Di (Ku Hye-sun) has to deal with the F4 clique's advances.
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If you love a good wartime romance, watch

Descendants of the Sun (2016)

Amid the chaos of the fictional war zone of Urk, a surgeon (Kang Mo-yeon) and a special forces officer (Yoo Shi-jin) fall in love. Fun fact: The show's stars are engaged in real life.
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If you're struggling with the whole "adulting" thing, watch

Hello, My Twenties (2016)

What happens when five young women with five radically different personalities move into a house together? A hilarious, heartwarming, and relatable show. Hello, My Twenties intersperses emotional plot lines and intense character struggles with humor straight out of Crazy Ex Girlfriend. It's impossible not to like.
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If you love That '70s Show, watch

Reply 1994 (2013)

The year is 1994, and six students have just moved into a boarding house run by a couple and their daughter, Sung Na-jung (Go Ara). The show flips back and forth between 1994 and 2013, so viewers can guess which of the roommates Sung Na-jung ends up with.
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If you've run out of American crime dramas, watch

Bad Guys (2014)

In a move straight out of Catch Me If You Can, a detective hired to eradicate crime enlists help from three of the most notorious criminals in the prison system. In exchange for working for the police, three convicts are freed from jail: A psychopathic serial killer with two PhDs, a man who became a mob boss in 25 days, and a hit man who mysteriously turned himself.
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If you like Mozart in the Jungle, watch

Tomorrow's Cantabile (2014)

In the competitive environment of South Korea's most prestigious music academy, two young prodigies use music as the foundation for a romantic relationship.
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