Filipinos love a good Korean drama series. It’s addicting, isn’t it? I can’t seem to find the willpower to kick the habit of watching them. Although you may find some series that don’t particularly stand out, I can surely point out why they remain a must-watch. I mean, if you’re not watching these Korean dramas, you are missing out in several ways. K-Dramas became a worldwide phenomenon. And, as a pop culture connoisseur, I urge you to be versed in all things K-Drama. Known for their interesting storylines and intense plot twists, I have listed down my nine favorite Korean drama series of all time.
OPINION: My 9 Favorite Korean Drama Series Of All Time
9 | Pinocchio
The heart-wrenching exploration of various human relationships ranging from romantic to platonic remains to be one of the most compelling aspects of this Korean drama series. The two protagonists became reporters with complex feelings towards their families. The two slowly and almost unintentionally develop towards each other – in a way that feels natural and unstaged. In fact, most of the plot felt as though it flowed perfectly. The sequencing and pacing remained well-planned and the writers really knew how to draw in their audience. Filled with laughter, tears, and drama, every episode surely remains a must-watch.
8 | Playful Kiss
Based on the chaotic relationship of the two protagonists, this Korean drama series kicked off with one heck of an insult. With the two leads being polar opposites, they learn to understand and help each other once an earthquake brings their families in close proximity. Through education and turmoil of others, a true romance develops. Given the high school to college narrative and the blossoming talent of both actors, the Korean drama series connects on a grand scale. It’s a light-hearted drama and the inherent naughtiness makes it even more intriguing.
7 | Coffee Prince
For seventeen episodes, this drama-comedy investigated how external perception can affect one’s inner truth and more specifically, homosexuality in Korean culture. Fed with his grandma’s nitpicking and conflicted about a former flame, Choi Han-kyul finds refuge at the Coffee Prince. He even hires an employee to be his “boyfriend.” But, there’s a catch and the truth is Go Eun-chan isn’t gay at all. He’s actually a girl, perceived to be more masculine than she really is. The two learn how to handle their feelings and societal pressures.
6 | Strong Woman Do Bong Soon
Do Bong Soon is proof that you can never judge a book by its cover. She’s a remarkable lead because she possesses both physical and mental strength. A far cry from the stereotypical meek and naive damsel in distress, her character’s chemistry with the male lead remains undeniable. Watching the two of them work together throughout the Korean drama series remains enjoyable. As the two work together to track down a kidnapper, they find themselves inadvertently becoming closer. This drama perfectly mixes the pair’s dark mission with their adorable budding relationship.
5 | Crash Landing on You
If you’ve ever read a synopsis of this Korean drama series, you know that the plot and background of this drama make for a rollercoaster ride. The relationship between the South Korean fashionista-heiress and the North Korean captain ties everything together. Although their love story remains unorthodox, they become the very definition of a power couple. They are both independently wealthy and strong but above all, their care for each other transcends turbulent events and geographical boundaries. More than just a romantic comedy, Crash Landing on You is a blend of fantasy, realism, drama, and action that grips viewers’ hearts and imaginations.
4 | Descendants of the Sun
This Korean drama series examines the intense relationship between surgeon Dr. Kang Mo-yeon and army Captain Yoo Si-jin. While the two find themselves falling in love, stark differences in their priorities tear them apart. Dr. Kang fights to save lives while Captain Yoo throws himself head-first into violence to protect his country. Their romance remains tumultuous, rewarding, and never fails to draw the audience in. The second leads Master Seargent Seo Dae-young and First Lieutenant Yoon Myung-ju also have excellent chemistry and a heart-warming will-they-won’t-they relationship. Between these two relationships, Descendants of the Sun never displays a dull moment.
3 | Legend of the Blue Sea
When you bring together Korean drama powerhouses Lee Min Ho and Jun Ji-hyun, it will surely give you a blockbuster in your hands. Rather than being a slice-of-life kind of drama, this tells the complex but compelling tale of mermaid-turned-human Shim Cheong and her blossoming relationship with the scam artist Heo Joon-jae. Intertwined with tales of Korean history and mythology, their love story makes it a great viewing experience for those who feel interested in both romance and fantasy. Overall, their story is one of beauty, humor, and complexity with excellent acting from the main leads.
2 | Goblin
For years hit dramas involving a supernatural male figure and an unassuming but lovable female protagonist become a phenomenon. Although this drama certainly fits this category, it also transcends it. Far from conventional, this Korean drama series explores the complicated relationship between Kim Shin, an immortal being, and Ji Eun Tak, a somewhat naive but lovable young woman. They are star-crossed and fated-to-be-together. Their tension is what drives the drama and compels viewers. You can find sweet and wholesome scenes stitched with intense make-or-break moments, making this an unforgettable series you won’t want to miss.
1 | W
Stories can be about many things – love, revolution, trauma, or all of these things at once. And, then, there are stories that are about, well, stories. Storyception, if you will. Often, these stories are about creators and their work, forcing us to think about the process it takes to make the books, movies, and comics that we usually consume. I really enjoy meta stories, so of course, I was immediately drawn to W: Two Worlds.
As the title suggests, it’s about two different worlds: the real world where the main character Oh Yeon Joo lives and the fictional world of a famous webtoon named W, where our other main character Kang Chul is the protagonist. Written and drawn by Yeon Joo’s father, it follows rich boy vigilante Chul as he attempts to find the culprit who murdered his family one fateful night. Despite the webtoon’s popularity, her father Seong Moo planned to abruptly end it by having Chul killed off. He draws a scene where Chul is stabbed by a mysterious figure.
However, his plans get foiled when Yeon Joo is sucked into the webtoon and rescues Chul in the nick of time. She disappears back into the real world before he regains consciousness. It’s an excellent plot and drama. The writers definitely know how to build a world, particularly the one where they come up with establishing the rules on how the fictional world operates. The series also asks fascinating questions about storytelling. Are you, the creator, god, or do characters truly take on a life of their own? I could talk at length about the meta nature of this series.
Let us know about your favorite Korean drama series of all time!
Angela Grace P. Baltan is a Communication graduate from Colegio de San Juan de Letran. She doesn’t hesitate to be opinionated in analyzing movies and television series. As a writer, she uses her articles to advocate for feminism, gender equality, and mental health among others.