PRETTY sure you’ve heard of Autumn in My Heart, Stairway to Heaven, and Boys Over Flowers, yes? Even if you don’t, it’s okay. Because we’re here to educate you about Korean soap operas (“K-Dramas”) in case you’re looking to spice up your TV selection!
You see, Korean dramas tend to follow certain story templates which become very obvious for those who are familiar with the genre.
- A poor girl who works five jobs to support herself and her family meets a filthy rich boy.
- They like each other but the boy will always question his attraction and we don’t even know why.
- The boy’s mother/sister/aunt will do everything to break them apart.
- Boy and girl believes in the power of love and their love prevails.
But these dramas we are going to recommend will have none of that (fingers crossed)! Here are our ten must-see K-Dramas of 2016!
Descendants of the Sun (태양의 후예)
The Brief: Special forces officer Yoo Shi-jin falls in love with surgeon Kang Mo-yeon after their first encounter, both exceptional in their respective fields, and they both somehow end up in a warzone known as Urk where the struggle between their personal and professional lives begin. | Director: Lee Eung Bok & Baek Sang Hoon | Producer: Ham Young Hoon, Yoo Jong Sun, & Park Woo Ram | Starring: Song Joong-ki, Song Hye-gyeo, Jin Goo, and Kim Ji-won | Aired 24 February 2016.
The Brief: Doctor Oh Yun-joo and athelete-turn-billionaire Kang Chul meet in the most unconventional way you could possibly imagine. They’re both in Seoul but one of them lives in a parallel universe. | Director: Jung Dae-yun | Producer: Son hyun-suk | Starring: Lee Jong-suk & Han Hyo-joo | Aired 20 July 2016.
Reply 1988 (응답하라 1988)
The Brief: Building on the success of Reply 1997 and Reply 1994, Reply 1988 follows five neighbourhood friends, Deok-sun, Jung-hwan, Sun-woo, Taek, and Dong-ryong, in the year 1988. Like in previous installations of Reply, the show’s writers keep you playing guess who the female lead will end up with by the end of the entire thing. | Director: Shin Won-ho | Producer: Shin Won-ho | Starring: Hyeri, Ryu Joon-yeol, Ko Gyung-pyo, Park Bo-gum, Lee Don-hwi | Aired 6 November 2015.
The Brief: Yoo Hye-jung made a complete transformation from smart delinquent to amazing neurosurgeon with help from mentor Hong Ji-hong. They meet again after a 13 years but this time they kinda fall in love? | Director: Oh Choong-hwan | Producer: Han Jung-hwan | Starring: Kim Rae-won, Park Shin-hye, Lee Sung-kyung, Yoon Gyun-sang | Aired 20 June 2016.
The Brief: Police profiler Park Hae-young found a mysterious walkie-talkie which picks up signals from a detective of the past named Lee Jae-han. Together with detective Cha Soo-hyun, a rookie officer from the days of Lee Jae-han, they start solving infamous cold cases. But they soon find out that communicating with the past has its consequences. | Director: Kim Won-suk | Producer: Lee Chan-ho | Starring: Lee Je-hoon, Kim Hye-soo, Cho Jin-woong | Aired 22 January 2016.
Age of Youth (청춘시대)
The Brief: If you’re a chick flick kinda person, you will love this melodramatic comedy about five girls with unique personalities living in the same house. Watch them go through all the struggles life has to offer them. | Director: Lee Tae-gon | Producer: Ham Young-hoon | Starring: Han Ye-Ri, Han Seung-Yeon, Park Eun-Bin, Hwa Young, Park Hye-Soo | Aired 22 July 2016.
Lucky Romance (운빨로맨스)
The Brief: This one’s a rom-com in which Shim Bo-nui has been made to believe she’s a walking disaster, causing her to become extremely superstitious. The only way for her to change her fate and save her sister is by seducing a virgin born in the year of the tiger. That’s where Je Su-ho comes in as the perfect candidate. Except he doesn’t believe in superstitions. | Director: Kim Kyung-hee | Producer: Kim Do-hoon | Starring: Hwang Jung-eum, Ryu Jun-yeol, Lee Soo-hyuk, Lee Chung-ah | Aired 25 May 2016.
Let’s Fight Ghost (싸우자 귀신아)
The Brief: Kim Hyun-ji is now a ghost who has been wandering for several years after her death at the age of 19. But she cannot remember exactly how she died. She then meets college student/exorcist Park Bong-pal and together they send ghosts off into the afterworld. | Director: Park Joon-hwa | Producer: Choi Kyung-sook | Starring: Ok Taec-yeon, Kim So-hyun, Kwon Yool | Aired 11 July 2016.
Love in the Moonlight (구르미 그린 달빛)
The Brief: Hong Ra-on disguises herself as a man and gives men advice on dating. One of the love letters she wrote for a client however leads her to Crown Prince Hyomyeong. But Hong Ra-on doesn’t know that she’s dealing with the crown prince, while the crown prince himself does not realise that Hong Ra-On is a woman. | Director: Kim Sung-yoon & Baek Sang-hoon | Producer: Kang Byung-taek | Starring: Park Bo-Gum, Kim You-Jung, Jin Young, Chae Soo-Bin, Kwak Dong-Yeon | Aired 22 August 2016.
Jealousy Incarnate (질투의 화신)
The Brief: Weather caster Pyo Na-ri has had a crush on news anchor Lee Hwa-sin for three years but it’s been one sided (of course). Things take a turn when Hwa-sin’s best friend Ko Jung-won develops feelings for Na-ri, at the same time Hwa-sin too realises how he feels about her. Director: Park Shin-woo | Producer: Park Young-soo | Starring: Kong Hyo-Jin, Cho Jung-Seok ,Ko Gyung-Pyo | Aired 22 August 2016.
Now it’s your turn!
Think we might have missed something? Let us know your picks for Korean dramas of the year in the comments below!