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My Top 5 K-Drama Picks for Newbies

It is no secret, after my last K-Drama post that I am a fan of K-Dramas – even if I rarely watch any TV-Shows or Netflix these days. That post ended up being quite popular so I thought I’d make one for people who may have never watched one before. It’s also pretty cool because I’ve named it My Top 5 – a new series for my top 5 of anything – suggest any top 5s you’d like to read in the comments!

K-Dramas are seriously beginning to dominate the TV world as Kpop has skyrocketed into mainstream popularity and Netflix has given us so many to watch. Generally made up of almost or over hour-long episodes that range from 12 to 20 in one season, there’s enough content and drama to fulfil the romantic void in your life, even just for a minute. 

K-Dramas seem to have a set formula as well that I find hilarious, in that there’s always:

1. romance

2. drama with some bits of comedy

3. some sort of supernatural element

4. some sort of abuse or horrible behaviour that shows the problems in society and sometimes Korean society as a whole, and

5. rare random English sentences that characters use to show off.

To give you recommendations that are all-rounded for you to see what you like, the following 5 K-Drama recommendations are in different sub-genres of the K-Drama world and ones that I have watched in their entirety or am currently (slowly) watching.

1. Sky Castle

Sub-genre: Mystery/Black Comedy/Satire

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I’m not sure whether I raved about this, I feel like I have but Sky Castle is amazing. Currently the Korean drama with the record highest ratings, Sky Castle aired last year and focusses on the lives of the rich housewives associated with a rich Hospital, living in a luxurious exclusive community and their determination to get their children into the top school in Korea. It is gripping, looks at so many concepts including the competitive nature of schooling in Korea, mental health, the importance of family and how money, reputation and self-worth can change it all. Top of my list because it is so highly recommended. Be aware that although it is serious, it is also satire.

2. Rookie Historian: Goo Hae Ryung

Sub-genre: Historical/Romance

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One that I’m currently slowly watching is Rookie Historian. Set in the Korean Joseon Dynasty, we follow the story of a free-spirited noble lady trying to gain her freedom in a society where women are objectified and very underestimated in their skills and potential. More interested in acquiring knowledge than finding a husband, we watch her journey in becoming one of the first female historians as well as her boding relationship with a Prince secretly working as a romance novelist, while the royal family and politicians around her are dealing with the politics of censorship and oppression in Korea.

3. Hotel del Luna

Sub-genre: Supernatural/Crime

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Another that I’m currently watching is Hotel del Luna. Definitely a cool supernatural show, the premise is about a hotel manager with a great reputation who is scouted by the owner of Hotel del Luna. Little does he know that the hotel is a hotel for ghosts who miss or lose their path to heaven. The new manager, Koo Chang-Sun must try to adjust to his new job as well as handle the hotel CEO, whose mysterious past cursed her to own and manage the hotel forever. So far, this is such a fun but sometimes scary show and I can’t wait to watch the next episode!

4. My ID is Gangnam Beauty

Sub-genre: Coming-Of-Age/Romantic Comedy

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My ID is Gangnam Beauty is such a cute but also important K-Drama. Shining a light on the high beauty standard in Korean and its subsequent cultural pressure to look pretty, we meet Mirae. Mirae, after being bullied for her looks her whole childhood, undergoes a huge transformative surgery to look beautiful. As she begins college and her new life, she has to adapt to being someone who looks beautiful as well as to the people who realise that she got, the very much taboo act, of plastic surgery. Most of all, I loved that it looked at the beauty standard as a whole and questioned whether it’s even important to be beautiful or not and whether it’s all just a state of mind based on self-esteem.

5. Chief of Staff

Sub-genre: Political drama

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This is a k-drama I haven’t watched but has gotten extremely positive reviews with an average of 8.1/10 on mydramalist.com, and is always recommended to me on Netflix. Described as a show with no romance and pure politics, Chief of Staff depicts the story of Korean politicians and their personal assistants as they try to climb up the political ladder. Reviewed as ‘an absolute depiction of how politics work’, if you enjoy political dramas like Designated Survivor and House of Cards, you’re sure to really enjoy this one too. I’m looking forward to watching it soon as well!


There are, of course, many more k-dramas I would recommend that are all amazing in their unique ways, but what did you think of these recommendations? Are you adding any of them to your watchlist? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

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