11 K-Dramas For Beginners We Highly Recommend

K-dramas have gained worldwide popularity now. Currently, almost everyone is obsessed with k-dramas and even if they are not, most of them have watched at least one series and ended up loving it. As someone who likes to take pride in the fact that I can watch different kinds of series, I decided to step into the world of k-dramas and that was one of the best decisions ever.

Like dramas in any other language, k-dramas have a wide variety of options. There are good and bad shows, but if you find the right kind of k-drama in the right genre, it is easy to fall in love with them. There are a lot of reasons for the popularity of k-dramas which I realized after I started watching them.

For starters, the storylines are extremely well written. There are multiple plots and each subplot keeps you engaged. Even if the series is predictable, it still exciting to watch. Moreover, the cinematography is too good. K-dramas are a visual treat. If this isn’t enough, the music is also great. You will not understand anything but your ears will be grateful.

One major reason why I loved watching k-dramas is that the series tend to focus on characters as well. It is easy to feel attached to the characters whether they are leads, second leads, or supporting actors, so it becomes easy to root for them. Another thing that I noticed about k-dramas is that the villains, there is just this eerie setting around them which makes watching them even more interesting.

And lastly, my favorite part is that they do not stretch for seasons. On an average, you can expect k-dramas to go on for 16-21 episodes though there are exceptions where the series goes on for longer. The duration ranges from 30-90 minutes so you might take time getting used to this long episode format.

All in all, k-dramas are a great watch. Whether you watch it for characters or the storyline or even for cinematography, you know they are worth your time if you pick the right one.

Below is a list of k-dramas for beginners

1. Boys over Flowers

Source: mydramalist

IMDB Rating: 7.9

No. of Episodes: 25

Boys Over Flowers is a 2009 series based on Japanese manga series of the same name. If you have even read up a little about k-dramas, you know this series had to be on the list. It was released in 2009 so it might feel a little outdated but it is considered a classic by k-drama fans. The story revolves around a rich high school boy who falls in love with an ordinary girl. While it does sound cliché, it is a show you will get hooked onto, and if you love high school-based series, then this is definitely the show you should start with.

2. My Love From The Star

Source: viu

IMDB Rating: 8.2

No. of Episodes: 21

My Love From the Star revolves around a 400-year-old alien Do Min-Joon who gets stranded on Earth in 1609 during the Joseon era. He also has superpowers. He ends up falling in love with superstar Cheon Song-Yi when she moves in next door despite his attempts to maintain distance from her. This 2013 drama is extremely popular among K-drama fans. While the focus is primarily on the two leads and their story, the series also features various other plotlines which are great to watch.

Let me just say that the actors are brilliant. There is also a scene set in 1609 which is just so beautiful to watch. The primary reason why I think this series works is that at the center is the conflict that Min-Joon is an alien who has to leave Earth. The series will make you laugh as well as cry. A great way to step into the world of k-dramas especially if you want the ‘fantasy’ element.

3. Descendants of the Sun

Source: rakutenviki

IMDB Rating: 8.3

No. of Episodes: 16

This is another extremely popular k-drama. Most lists of k-dramas for beginners will have this series. The story revolves around South Korean Special Forces soldier Yoo Shi-jin who falls in love with Kang Mo-Yeon, an ER surgeon. Their love story has a lot of hindrances especially due to their professions and different values. While it primarily belongs to the romance genre, there is also action, drama, and comedy.

The series works extremely well because of its characters. Shi-jin’s character is layered. He is honest and blunt but of course, has his flaws. Mo-Yeon as well is a strong, intelligent, and smart character. There are also secondary leads in the series that are just as interesting to watch. It is a great series to watch if you are a beginner.

4. What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? 

Source: viki

IMDB Rating: 8.1

No. of Episodes: 16

If you want something light-hearted and in the rom-com genre then is a great watch. The story revolves around a narcissistic boss whose secretary decides to resign which makes him realize that he can’t let her go because he is in love with her. This is the series with which I stepped into the world of k-dramas and I can tell you that it keeps you hooked. While the storyline is predictable, it is still exciting to watch.

I know the story sounds cliché but that’s the thing, you still can’t stop watching it. The series is funny, light-hearted, and the chemistry between the leads is great. Even the supporting actors do a fantastic job. All in all, What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim is a great way to step into the world k-dramas.

5. Crash Landing on You

Source: netflix

IMDB Rating: 8.7

No. of Episodes: 16

Crash Landing on You is a Netflix original series that gained immense popularity over the past year. The story revolves around a South Korean businesswoman Yoon Se-ri, who lands in North Korea by accident and runs into Captain Ri Jeong-Hyeok, a military officer for the North Korean army who helps her get back to South Korea. Various subplots are going on that are extremely interesting to watch.

The second leads are also just amazing. Seo-Dan is a strong woman and her story arc is just amazing and Gu Seung-jun might be annoying when the series starts but you end up rooting for him. The series does portray that no matter how different lifestyles and customs in North Korea and South Korea are, there are good and evil people on both sides. Crash Landing on You has drama, thrills, romance, comedy, all of it.

6. It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

Source: netflix

IMDB Rating: 8.8

No. of Episodes: 16

This is a personal favorite. The story revolves around Moon Gang Tae who works at a psychiatric hospital and has to take care of his elder brother Moon Sang-Tae who suffers from autism, and children’s book author Ko Mun Yeong whose mental health has been impacted to a great deal by her childhood trauma. This show gained popularity because of its depiction of mental health and it does a good job with it. It does not resort to mere clichés and stereotypes.

While at the center are Ko Mun-Yeong and the Gang-Tae brothers, the show would not have worked if it wasn’t for the fantastic supporting cast. The series has romance and comedy but also mystery and drama. The romantic arc between Ko Mun-Yeong and Moon Gang-Tae is the central point but it is not cliché and there is a lot more to observe. This series is not recommended by a lot of people to start with because it is slow-paced but the slow pacing works because a lot is going on in every episode.

7. Strong Woman Bong-Soon

Source: thekoreatimes

IMDB Rating: 8.2

No. of Episodes: 16

This is a series at the center of which is a strong female lead. It revolves around the titular character, Bong-soon who has been born with superhuman strength but has to conceal her identity, gets hired as the bodyguard of a CEO. Firstly, the female lead is just amazing. She looks cute and small but is extremely powerful. The male lead of the series is lovable from the start. He is outgoing, cute, and easy to like. The villain here is a creepy serial kidnapper which gives the storyline an edge. It is a fun rom-com drama that has a darker edge.

8. Signal

Source: channelkorea

IMDB Rating: 8.6

No, of Episodes: 16

If you think k-dramas are all about romance and don’t want to watch one then this is for you. The story follows a detective from 1989, Lee Jae-Han, and a cold case profiler from 2015, Park Hae-Yeong, who are connected through a special walkie-talkie. There is also a female cop, Cha Soon-Hyun, present in both the timelines separately. In 2019, she is a beginner and in 2015, she is a no-nonsense tough cop.

The genre is primarily a crime thriller with an added touch of fantasy due to the walkie-talkie. There is very little romance but the series has its moments. The equation between the characters is just amazing to watch. One more thing, the cases in the series are an adaptation of real instances in South Korea.

9. Reply 1988

Source: viki

IMDB Rating: 9.1

No. of Episodes: 20

Reply 1988 is another great watch. The series follows the lives of families of five childhood friends Deok Sun, Jung Hwan, Sun Woo, Dong Ryeong, and Choi Taek. It focuses on the friendship between these five characters as well as their families. The teens have their struggles and even the families do. The characters are relatable since they are not over the top rich people who can get everything they want but people you might see in your everyday life. The story is extremely well written.

There is a romantic arc that is not the central focus but does keep you interested. You also get a look at Korean culture and life in 1988. The series will make you cry as well as laugh. If you are looking for a family drama along with a romcom feel, this is the one to watch.

10. Healer

Source: jaehakim

IMDB Rating: 8.5

No. of Episodes: 20

If you’re looking for a mix of crime and romance then this is the series for you. Healer follows the story of a fighter pretending to be a night courier. He is hired by a journalist investigating a story that will make her the target for assassination. The writing is just amazing and it keeps you on the edge of the seat.

The characters are easy to root for and the lead male character is just easy to fall in love with. Moreover, the series is not filled with any of the romantic clichés. It balances the romantic and the crime-thriller aspect well. Even if you want to watch a crime-thriller series, this series is a great way to enter the world of k-dramas.

11. Vincenzo

Source: voi

IMDB Rating: 8.5

No. of Episodes: 20

The last series on my list is Vincenzo which was released in 2021. Vincenzo is about an Italian-Korean consigliere living in Italy who goes back to South Korea to get a stash of gold that has been buried under Guemga Plaza. To get his gold, Vincenzo has to save Guemga Plaza which results in him and the tenants at Guemga Plaza joining hands. The series is a mix of dark comedy and thriller genres. It is unpredictable and keeps you invested throughout.

While it is our anti-hero, Vincenzo, who carries the series primarily, the female lead character, Cha-Yeong is just as engaging to watch. The romantic arc between the two leads is not at the center of the story so a lot of the clichés are avoided. If you want to watch a series belonging to the thriller or dark comedy genre or even a series where the romantic arc is not at the center, then this will be a great watch.

K-dramas have too often been criticized as being clichés but a lot is going on in every series. Even if the series is a romance, the subplots are just as important and interesting to watch.  I have tried to include series that are light-hearted as well as dark, classics as well as the recent ones. I even mentioned IMDB ratings and episode numbers because I feel ratings and episode numbers do help in deciding any series whether in Korean or any other language. Hopefully, you will find a series which is your taste and from one beginner to another, I promise you, you will fall in love with k-dramas.

Happy watching!

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