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Hong Kong is currently awash with the “Korean wave,” or what’s known as Hallyu. While K-pop dominates the ears of many, Korean dramas are also gaining a place in the hearts of Hong Kongers. And lucky for you, the dramas have various genres ready for you to binge, especially amid the pandemic, from tear-jerking stories to chilling thrillers.
Daniel Hess, a filmmaker and writer from Baltimore, Maryland, describes the popularity of Korean dramas as “the soap operas for millennials.” Hess explains, “word-of-mouth started moving, things picked up and haven’t looked back since.”
We’ve rounded up a list of Korean dramas you can watch on Netflix (in no particular order) so that you can get in on this Hallyu as well.
“Hotel Del Luna”
“Hotel Del Luna” follows the stories of Jang Man-Wol (IU) and Goo Chan Seong (Yeo Jin-goo). Becoming the CEO of a hotel managing dead souls as punishment for sins she committed, Jang Man-Wol recruits Goo Chan Seong as the hotel’s general manager. First, the story surrounds Goo Chan Seong’s interactions with various dead souls staying at the hotel, taking care of the guests’ unfinished business in the living world. As the story progresses, the secrets behind the establishment of Hotel Del Luna and Jang Man-Wol’s back story unfold.
The tear-jerking storyline, along with comical moments, impressive set design and ever-changing costumes add to the experience of watching this drama, completely immersing the audience into the story. Placed as high as No. 5 on Hong Kong’s most popular Netflix TV shows, this Korean drama is worth a look.
“D.P.” (which stands for “Deserter Pursuit) explores the story of the infamous Korean military, uncovering the consequences of the strict hierarchical structure as well as violence among soldiers. D.P. refers to the military police that have the duty of retrieving runaway soldiers. Starring Jung Hae-in as Private An Joon Ho and Koo Kyo-Hwan as Corporal Han Ho-yul, the pair investigates runaway soldiers and provides context as to why soldiers escape during their service.
“D.P.” is recognized as a “hit” piece of 2021. Many Korean men who have finished their military service have shared that they empathize deeply with elements of the drama, even saying they wouldn’t recommend the show to those who haven’t completed their service yet. A former D.P. soldier, comedian Yoon Hyung-bin, comments on the accuracy of “D.P.” in a YouTube video, saying, “the investigation techniques that we made during our jockeys have spread so far.”
If you’re up for breaking a sweat while watching a drama, this is the show for you. “Squid Game” entails a six-stage survival game for a huge cash prize, but with the participants’ lives at stake. All participants, already struggling with debt issues, fight for the cash with their lives on the line, exposing their true natures during the process.
The brutality of the games and the insight into how low people can go to survive proves that the show is not for the fainthearted. Watch as Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Jung Hoyeon and others join these barbaric games with twists in the plot that might twist your heart, too.
“Hospital Playlist” focuses on the story of five friends and their lives as doctors. Comprising two seasons, the series hones in on ethically difficult medical situations, friendship and love. Observing the various stories occurring within the hospital, the audience follows the births, growth and deaths of people and relationships. “Hospital Playlist” ultimately doesn’t dramatize life at the hospital, but shows how ordinary people can also be extraordinary.
“Move to Heaven”
Have you ever thought about what happens to our belongings after death? “Move to Heaven” is the story of “trauma cleaners,” or those who clean up after someone has died. Following Han Geu-ru (Tang Joon-sang) and his uncle Sang-gu (Lee Jae-hoon), the series sees the pair get off to a rocky start.
Geu-ru has Asperger syndrome, and the sudden death of his father requires Sang-gu to be by Geu-ru’s side as guardian. Sang-gu’s initial distaste in having to take care of Geu-ru transforms as they work together as trauma cleaners. Not only do they clean up the possessions and homes of the dead, but they also uncover and relay last messages of the departed to those living. The unconventional topic is depicted beautifully, but before we spoil anything, go watch – probably with a tissue in hand!
If you’ve watched “Train to Busan,” you’ll know why Korea is renowned for its zombie productions. “Kingdom” is another must-watch Korean zombie drama. Situated in Korea’s Joseon dynasty, a plague spread from the King himself uncontrollably to the citizens leads to a zombie infestation. Crown Prince Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon) must not only fight zombies but also political conflicts with the Haewon-Cho clan that try to take over his position amid the crisis.
The realistic costumes and makeup merge with the gripping story, capturing a global audience. Viewers all over the world have been intrigued by the traditional Korean hat called gat, in addition to the unforgettable appearance and intricate movement of these Korean zombies. With two seasons of six episodes each ready for you to watch, prepare to binge this gory and moving story.