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5 Essential Shows to Binge-Watch If You're New to K-Dramas

You'll become addicted in no time!
5 Essential Shows to Binge-Watch If You're New to K-Dramas
IMAGE MBC/SBS
You'll become addicted in no time!

Welcome to the world of Korean dramas! We accept you with open arms. Be prepared for late-night binging, compelling plotlines that will make you laugh and cry, and remarkable characters that will make you wish you were friends. 

We're not even surprised why these beloved series from South Korea have everyone addicted, no matter the age group. The superb acting—coupled with first-rate cinematography and LSS-inducing soundtracks—introduces us to unique storytelling that are often fun and heartwarming. While some are full-on fantasy, others draw inspiration from the realities of our present time. Whether you like rom-coms, melodramas, or thrillers, here’s a list of K-dramas that are perfect for beginners; these will surely get you hooked in no time.

1. Weightlifting Kim Bok Joo

If you prefer a feel-good show, start off your K-drama marathon with Weightlifting Kim Bok Joo. The adorable, coming-of-age story is all about cherished friendships, fulfilling dreams, and falling in love with the person you fulfilled your dreams with. Kim Bok Joo, played by Lee Sung Kyung, is an aspiring weightlifter who won the heart of Jung Joon-Hyung (Nam Joo Hyuk), her childhood friend from elementary school who was with her throughout her journey. Her quirky personality is what makes everyone adore her, perfectly matching the bright and colorful aesthetic of the entire series. If you've randomly heard of the phrases “Swaeg!” and “Do you like, Messi?” but don't understand the context, these were actually in reference to the series.

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2. Sky Castle

You'll be hanging on the edge of your seat with Sky Castle. South Korea’s highest-rated cable-TV drama is, as you would expect, not your run-off-the-mill series. The show revolves around the story of four wealthy families who live in a neighborhood of the same name. Based on the real competitive educational system in Korea, the parents’ obsession to get their children in top universities is far from imaginary. Students have to study for long, grueling hours. It’s a roller-coaster of emotions packed in 20 episodes. You'll find yourself laughing, gasping, and clenching your fist out of anger with each plot twist. It’s the kind of K-drama that gets more and more interesting as you progress through the episodes.

3. Reply 1988

Take a trip down memory lane with Reply 1988. In the age where pop culture thrives, you will get a good grasp here of what life was back in the day. This K-drama is centered on family and friends, with diverse characters that you will be able to relate to. Set in the '80s, Reply 1988 is a slice-of-life narrative of five friends, who grew up in the same neighborhood where they shared the same sentiments, struggles, and successes. Their families are the same in the sense that they have depended on each other during the good and bad times. The endearing acting of the entire cast will captivate you, with scenes that will both touch and break your heart. 

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4. It’s Okay, That’s Love

Prepare your tissues before watching It’s Okay, That’s Love, a refreshing, realistic take on romance, deep-seated wounds, and mental disorders. It explores the story of Jang Jae Yeol (Jo In Sung), a bestselling author and radio DJ with a psychological burden, and Ji Hae Soo (Gong Hyo Jin), a psychologist who is traumatized by her past. Jae Yeol and Hae Soo express how the course of true love is not always as easy as it sounds; sometimes, it may mean sacrificing your dreams and enduring the pain that comes with it. But when you find the one who will help you confront your fears, take risks, and accept you no matter what the future holds, you will be able to conquer them all. Expect yourself to be attached to the characters as you cry in sheer joy and agony with this masterpiece.

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5. My Love from the Star

Laugh your heart out with My Love From The Star. You'll be fascinated with a story of an alien from the Joseon Dynasty with superpowers, who eventually falls in love with a top-billed actress 400 years later. The award-winning K-drama took South Korea by storm with its romance-meets-fantasy genre and stunning cinematography, which made it to everyone’s all-time favorites list. Let Do Min Joon (Kim Soo Hyun) and Cheon Song Yi (Jun Ji Hyun) take you for an out-of-this-world romantic ride complete with kilig-inducing scenes and tear-jerking moments.

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