If you’re like me, watching K-Dramas is a year-round event. But in the summertime when you’re tired of swimming and want reprieve from the sun, there’s nothing better than watching a fun rom-com, Korean-style. So grab a bowl of cup ramyun and some Pepero sticks and get started. Here are some of our favorites:
Before he enlisted for his mandatory military duty, Ji Chang-Wook gave fans this delightful legal rom-com. He plays a prosecuting attorney and Nam Ji-Hyun portrays a fledgling attorney. She is wrongfully accused of murder and he doesn’t know what to make of her. She is a hot mess, while he is fastidious. But they both are seekers of justice and find themselves drawn together, not only for work, but to each other. There’s the whole opposites attract thing going on. If there’s a flaw with this series, it’s that the writers made him overly possessive about her. Yes, the viewers can see that she is in love with him. But when she tells him that she isn’t interested, he tells her that he won’t ever let go of her. Yikes. Dude, give her time to come to you.
Based on Woo Soo-Yeon’s Korean manhwa of the same name, this 2004 series has a dated look, but it’s still a fun, sweet K-Drama that shows off the comedic talents of Rain and Song Hye-Kyo. It follows the rich man/poor woman trope that is the basis of so many soap operas worldwide, but the series moves along quickly. Song plays a scriptwriter who loses her childhood home to a well-known actor (played by Rain). Instead of throwing her out of the house he now owns, he allows her to stay. But the series turns into “I Love Lucy” territory when he asks her to pretend they’re a couple, so that he can make a woman he likes jealous. My absolute favorite part of this series is when she’s trying to impress his family and launches into an impromptu version of the well-known children’s song, “The Three Bears.” It’s cringey and funny at the same time.
This So Ji-Sub / Shin Min-Ah series has the best proposal scene I’ve ever seen in any series, bar none. The couple’s romance unfolds at a leisurely pace, but it’s definitely worth the wait. (Don’t yell at me for that spoiler, because anyone who knows K-Dramas knows that is where this series was headed all along.) So plays a mysterious rich man who works out a lot. A LOT. Shin is a high school beauty who gained weight over the years and now is considered obese … in Korea. Honestly, even with her “fat suit” on, she wouldn’t be considered a plus-size anything in the U.S. There is fat shaming in this series, which mars its potential, but the characters learn over the course of the episodes that looks truly aren’t everything. We also learn that his obsession with fitness has less to do with looking good than being strong enough to survive.
Two of my favorite actors — Park Seo-Joon and Kim Ji-Won — together in one series! They play childhood friends who are navigating adulthood together. He was a high school taekwondo champion poised for an Olympic gold medal. She was a confident teenager who dreamed about becoming a famous announcer on television. Their dreams didn’t come true. And like many adults, their lives are filled with a case of what ifs? Slowly, each tackles their fears about how their professional lives have turned out. And they address the repressed romantic feelings they have for each other, because they feel they shouldn’t go there. After all, if their romance fails, their friendship could be endangered. Unlike many K-Dramas that feel a bit rushed with the finales, the ending to this series was perfect and leaves the viewer satisfied and … happy.
If you’d like to catch up (or re-watch) these favorites, subscribe to KOCOWA. And let me know what’s on your summer-viewing list!
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