Exploring the Korean side of TV during isolation


Ryan Kim

Korean dramas have gained international popularity within the last few years due to their well-written plots, skilled actors and great cinematography. Social media manager Anika Arutla lists seven dramas everyone should watch.

Anika Arutla, Social Media Manager

If you are sitting at home, scrolling through Netflix for what feels like the millionth time deciding what to watch, do not fret – there is a different side to television that is yet to be discovered. Korean television has gained a larger international audience within the last few years – and for good reason. 

Combining brilliantly crafted plots with well developed characters and heart-wrenching romance, Korean dramas have it all and rarely go beyond one season. Though subtitles are necessary and the lingo is sometimes hard to understand, they never fail to make you feel every emotion. 

Here are seven Korean dramas to watch that will have you craving more. 

Descendants of The Sun (Hulu, Viki)

When a surgeon and an army captain meet by chance in a hospital and again later in a war-torn country, the concept of fate comes to life. As one of the most popular Korean dramas, it is much more than a simple romance show. It combines action, plot twists and enhancing side characters with the romance centered around Captain Yoo Shi-Jin (Song Joong-Ki) and surgeon Kang Mo-Yeon (Song Hye-kyo). 

As they try to come to terms with their contrasting morals and jobs, tragedy ensues around them, questioning whether they will make it out alive. It is thoroughly compelling, perfectly capturing the essence of a Korean drama.

The Heirs (Netflix)

Full of baby actors who are now the most well known in the industry, this drama was ahead of its time when it debuted in 2013. Resembling “Gossip Girl”, the story follows the son of a CEO and a poor girl whose mom is their maid. Keeping the story within 20 episodes, it tackles issues of social hierarchy in a classic high school setting. Though the acting is not the best and the plot drags on a bit, the message it gives is spectacular while also staying entertaining. 

Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (Prime Video)

As the first drama I watched, it holds a special place in my heart. Following a 21st century woman who is transported to the Goryeo Era during an eclipse as a member of a noble family, the storyline is enough to capture your attention. It takes place in a palace with eight princes and follows the path to the throne of Goryeo. Though this drama was not very popular during its initial release, it quickly gained popularity among international audiences. Including a love triangle and an all-star ensemble cast, it is unpredictable and will keep you at the edge of your seat throughout. 

Strong Girl Bong-Soon (Viki)

Carrying yet another unusual plotline, this drama stole the hearts of the audience very easily with its charm. When a girl with super strength encounters the CEO of a gaming company, the two do not exactly hit it off. When he hires her as his bodyguard and they spend time together, the attraction between them grows.  It is dark at times, but holds a more light hearted and humorous tone. Including yet another love triangle and a mystery with a psychopath, this drama will keep you invested all the way through. 

Crash Landing On You (Netflix)

At first glance, this drama looks like one you could easily skip, but since its debut on Netflix, it left a mark in Korean television. When the CEO of a fashion company goes parasailing, a storm drags her across the 38th Parallel and right into the arms of a North Korean army officer. When I first read the plot, I told myself I would not watch it. However, the chemistry between the two characters, their impossible circumstances and the backstory they share kept me invested and helped it become a master hit. This drama is the definition of the quote “don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Love in The Moonlight (Viki)

The second historical drama on this list follows a woman disguised as a political eunuch (a male servant) entering the palace where she meets the prince, his bodyguard and a nobleman. Taking place in the Joseon dynasty, this drama shows Korean culture vibrantly while also holding political and social issues at heart. Having characters from vastly different backgrounds fall in love highlights the inequalities in the time period and sets up a forbidden romance. It balances the light hearted romance and humor with tragedy, making it an all-around memorable show. 

W: Two Worlds Apart (Viki)

Known for having a more absurd storyline, W increasingly became popular since its debut in 2016. When a surgical resident is transported into the world of her father’s famous webtoon series, W, she meets the main character and quickly becomes entangled in the plot. Focusing on the murder mystery of the main character’s family, the plot changes multiple times, leaving the drama unpredictable through every episode. The romance is sweet and heartbreaking as the two characters deal with the world of a cartoon and the real world. 

Follow Anika @AnikaArutla and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.