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Korean dramas really took off in popularity with Hallyu, or the "Korean wave," where Korean culture has been making waves across the globe. From Korean food to unique entertainment and a rich historical heritage, Hallyu emerged in the late 90s and has since captured the hearts of countless fans outside of Korea.
So whether you're a passionate K-drama enthusiast or a curious newcomer, we've handpicked the crème de la crème of the genre. Here are the eight most popular Korean TV shows that will keep your eyes glued to the screen this year.
Crash Landing on You
"Crash Landing on You," tells the tale of a South Korean heiress who finds herself accidentally tumbling into the forbidden arms of a North Korean officer. This unexpected love story blends romance and comedy, keeping you hooked with its infectious chemistry. As if the on-screen magic wasn't enough, the lead actors, Hyun Bin and Son Ye-Jin, even found their own happily ever after, tying the knot and starting a real-life romance last year.
Descendants of the Sun
Set in a war-torn country, "Descendants of the Sun" weaves together romance, action and heart-wrenching melodrama. This highly acclaimed Korean drama follows the heart-pounding love story between Captain Yoo Si-jin, a dashing soldier, and Doctor Kang Mo-yeon, a brilliant physician, as they navigate their demanding professions and the challenges they face in a war-torn country. Set in the fictional country of Urk, it explores themes of duty, sacrifice and the power of love amid life-threatening situations. "Descendants of the Sun" gained widespread international recognition for its compelling storyline, intense chemistry between the lead characters and its depiction of the lives of soldiers and medical professionals in a high-stakes environment.
Relive the nostalgia of your school days, where friendships were forged, crushes bloomed and the transformative power of makeup reigned supreme. "True Beauty" is a beloved Korean drama based on a popular webtoon that follows the life of Lim Ju-kyung, a high school student with a hidden talent for makeup artistry. Witness her journey as she navigates the labyrinth of self-acceptance, all while caught between the affections of two popular boys. This series skillfully blends romance, comedy and coming-of-age themes, reminding us that true beauty shines from within.
"Extraordinary You" is a Korean drama that blurs the lines between reality and fiction. Eun Dan-oh discovers she's a character in a comic book called "Secret" and sets out to change her predetermined fate. Alongside Ha-roo, she strives to break free from their scripted roles and create their own destinies. This unique blend of romance, fantasy and comedy invites viewers to question the power of free will and the journey of self-discovery.
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Ju
"Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Ju" is a heartwarming K-drama inspired by the real-life weightlifter Jang Mi-ran. Follow the story of Kim Bok-joo, a talented weightlifter who unexpectedly falls in love with her childhood friend, Jung Joon-hyung, a swimmer. It beautifully captures the joys and struggles of youth, exploring themes of love, friendship and finding balance.
Enter the intense world of "Squid Game," a gripping and suspenseful K-drama that took the globe by storm. Follow a group of financially struggling individuals as they participate in a deadly competition filled with childhood games. Losing means facing dire consequences, and tensions rise as alliances form and the true nature of the game is unveiled. Brace yourself for a thought-provoking exploration of survival, desperation and the dark side of human nature.
"The Glory" has become a global sensation, earning acclaim for its gripping narrative and meticulous storytelling. Join Dong-eun as she seeks retribution against her high school bullies in this thrilling Korean drama. Delving deep into prevalent social issues surrounding bullying, this series delivers a powerful message while keeping you on the edge of your seat with its masterful plot twists.
Extraordinary Attorney Woo
"Extraordinary Attorney Woo" follows the extraordinary journey of Woo Young-woo, an autistic lawyer defying all odds. With her exceptional intelligence and photographic memory, Woo tackles legal cases while facing discrimination. Witness her unwavering determination and the support of her loyal friend Dong Geu-ra-mi as she strives for success in the competitive world of law. "Extraordinary Attorney Woo" is a compelling drama that sheds light on the power of individual strengths and resilience.
"Twenty-Five, Twenty-One" unfolds a heartwarming love story between Na Hee-Do, a skilled fencer, and Back Yi-Jin. As they navigate personal and financial struggles, their paths intertwine, leading to a profound connection and a blossoming romance. This drama captures the essence of youth, friendship and resilience to overcome life's challenges. Get ready to be swept away by a tale that reminds us of the beauty and significance of love amidst adversity.