New to the Korean drama wave? Want to jump on the K-drama bandwagon but don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry, we got you covered on choosing your first Korean drama for beginners level.
But let me warn you before I begin because it is almost impossible to stop watching once you get hooked! You might just stay up all night until morning binge-watching!
Here are the top 5 K-dramas for beginners to kick start!
1. Romantic Comedy – Secret Garden 시크릿 가든
Secret Garden is yet another Korean drama where a poor woman meets a rich man except there is a twist to the story – body-swapping! Gil Ra-im ( Ha Ji-won ), a stuntwoman meets Kim Joo-won ( Hyun Bin ), a high-end department store CEO while trying to resolve his famous singer cousin’s scandal. He is amazed by her coolness and Joo and he does not understand why she is constantly on his mind so he decides to pursue her. She slowly starts reciprocating feelings for him. However, Joo-woo’s does not want them to be together. Will they break-off or continue pursuing each other?
Their love story gets even more dramatic and complicated when Ra-im and Joo-won start swapping bodies magically where things pretty hilarious and interesting. This drama was so popular that even Big Bang, a popular Korean boy band made a parody out it.
2. Espionage/Spy – Iris 아이리스
Iris is a 2009 espionage drama that has a quite serious tone to it. The drama revolves around South Korea’s black operation which has interesting twists and turns throughout that will keep you hooked on seeing the next episode.
The story revolves around two best friends, Kim Hyun-jun (Lee Byung-hun) and Jin Sa-woo (Jung Joon-ho) who were training under South Korea’s army, 707th Special Mission Battalion until they were scouted by the National Security Service. The duo was scouted by a beautiful NSS agent, Choi Seung-hee (Kim Tae-hee).
They also fell in love with Seung-hee, who has kept the recruiting process a secret from them. As their loyalties were being tested, they journey to Hungary, Japan, and China where they realized they were at the center of an international conspiracy.
The original drama was so successful that it led them to make a feature film, a spin-off in 2010 and a sequel series in 2013.
3. Thriller – Remember: War of the Son 리멤버 – 아들의 전쟁
Remember: War of the Son is a 2015 suspense thriller drama. If you are looking for a drama series which is not of a romantic drama then this is perfect for you as it has an exhilarating plot with some tragedy. The actors did an amazing job and will make you jump in fear and possibly even cry. The story is linked to bribery and corruption which tells the struggle of poor people against the rich, powerful and corrupt people.
The lead character, Seo Jin-woo (Yoo Seung-ho) has a special ability (hyperthymesia) which allows him to remember almost everything in perfect detail. However, his father, Seo Jae-hyuk (Yoo Seung-ho) has Alzheimer's disease, which makes him lose memories. When Seo Jae-hyuk was wrongfully convicted of murder, his son vows to prove his father’s innocence. Four years later, Jin-woo becomes a lawyer to prove his father’s innocence and to put the real criminals in jail but bribery, corruption, would not give him a way to claim his justice.
4. Historical Drama -Slave hunter 추노
Slave Hunter is a 2010 action historical drama set in the Joseon Dynasty. The drama has an adequate display of muscular strength, tough fight scenes, obscene jokes, moments of sadness and humanity that made it appealing visually and intellectually appealing to the audience.
Critics also praised director, Kwak Jung-hwan’s lush cinematography due to his usage of the Red One Camera which made each shot theater-worthy.
The story follows the story of Lee Dae-gil (Jang Hyuk), a slave hunter who is on a mission of tracking down a runaway slave, Song Tae-ha (Oh Ji-ho) as well as searching for the woman he loves, Un-nyun (Lee Da-hae).
5. Fantasy – W 더블유
W is a 2016 fantasy-romance South Korean drama series. W focus on the clash of “two worlds” – the real world and an alternate universe inside a webtoon, from which the title of this television drama comes from.
This series focuses on a fictional webtoon title “W” which was written and illustrated by a legendary author, Oh Seong-moo (Kim Eui-sung). “W became popular in the whole of South Korea, that even it's print version became a best-seller in the country.
A romance takes place between Oh Yeon-Joo (Han Hyo-Joo), a surgeon in the real world Kang Chul (Lee Jong-Suk), a rich guy that exists in the Webtoon “W”. Yeon Joo’s father is a famous comic book writer that disappears suddenly. Yeon Joo is then kidnapped by a strange man and he brings her to a different dimension. Who will help Yeon Joo escape the parallel world? Will Kang Chul rescue her?
Let us know if you have watched any of the Korean dramas listed above or share your experience watching them for the first time! Also, let us know which are your favorite Korean dramas or genre of all time so that we can deep dive for you before you jump into it.
Since we're on the topic of K-drama, do check out our all-time popular post – 10 Korean Swear Words You Should Know.