Why Korean Dramas Are Popular

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Lee Min Ho is one of the most popular Hallyu stars globally.Do you have K-Drama fever?
Lee Min Ho is one of the most popular Hallyu stars globally.
Lee Min Ho is one of the most popular Hallyu stars globally. | Source
Do you have K-Drama fever?
Do you have K-Drama fever? | Source

Catch the Hallyu!

Hallyu means Korean wave. It refers to the wide popularity of Korean tv, film, and music that is spreading around the globe.

Why do so many people watch Korean dramas?

When "Gangnam Style" by Psy hit YouTube like a tsunami, many people were surprised to discover how popular Korean music and dramas are in America and outside of Korea.

Korean dramas are hot on video streaming sites like Hulu and Netflix. Currently airing dramas can't be subtitled and loaded quickly enough to satisfy their English-speaking audience.

The big question people want to know is: why K-dramas and K-Pop are so popular around the world?

The Korean entertainment industry is booming right now. The global audience for Korean music and Korean television is exploding across Asia and is even spreading to Europe and North America.

This surge of Korean cultural popularity has been called "Hallyu." It means Korean wave and refers to the way Korean entertainment is spreading around the world.

Why is there a Korean wave right now?

Keep reading to find out some of the reasons for K-drama popularity, a list of the 10 best Korean dramas and most popular Korean actors and actresses, quizzes galore, and much more about dramas and K-Pop culture.

Check out what you've been missing out on. Get swept away with the Korean drama wave!

Get on the Hallyu, Catch the Korean Wave!

Have you heard about Korean dramas and Music?

  • Chin-cha?! Of course! I've seen lots and lots. Love them!
  • Yeah, some of my friends watch them.
  • I've seen Gangnam Style, but who hasn't?
  • Maybe. I've heard of Korea.
  • Nope. This is totally new to me.
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Warning! K-Drama is addictive! Once you start, you won't stop!
Warning! K-Drama is addictive! Once you start, you won't stop! | Source

Why Korean Dramas Are Popular

There are many reasons why Korea dramas have gained such a wide following of non-Koreans.

Here are some of the most common reasons why people become fans of K-drama:

  • Eye candy! - The stars of dramas are very attractive. There is a reason there are lots of "broody shower scenes" and "princess for a day makeovers" to be found in Korean shows.
  • Cultural appeal - It's educational (really!). Watching foreign dramas lets you absorb information about a different culture without the hassle of dreary studying. You learn about different societal norms by watching the day to day life of the characters. Watch even one Korean drama and you will understand that shoes are taken off at the door without anyone needing to tell you.
  • Squeaky clean - The majority of K-Dramas are G-rated and very clean compared to American movies and television. Foul language is rare, violence is minimal, and love scenes rarely progress past kissing. In fact, even seeing a French kiss in a Korean drama is newsworthy. Some types of scenes make more impact to viewers when the show isn't flooded with them.

Cuteness Overload

The pig rabbit seen here was feautured in the show "You're Beautiful."  In a funny scene, the male lead performed surgery on a stuffed rabbit and a stuffed pig to make a new animal "the pig rabbit" for the female lead.
The pig rabbit seen here was feautured in the show "You're Beautiful." In a funny scene, the male lead performed surgery on a stuffed rabbit and a stuffed pig to make a new animal "the pig rabbit" for the female lead. | Source
  • Precious moments - There are oodles of meme-worthy moments in K-dramas. Some are funny, some are cute, the best are both. And the gags will feel new to people who haven't seen much Asian television.
  • Vocabulary Stretch - By the time you become a K-drama veteran, all of the drama marathons you finished will have toned your lingual dexterity. You will know several key Korean words and phrases. You will be able to say "sorry" and "thanks" with ease and most importantly, you will be able to confess your love to your dearest Oppa. And you will also know what Oppa means.
  • Fresh factor - Many people from the Western world watch Korean dramas just because they are different from the programming they are used to. It's not the same old stale, predictable plots that have been recycled for seasons. The plots, types of characters, and even the settings in K-dramas feel new and different and, therefore, more exciting.
  • Cool clothes - The fashion in dramas has definite trend appeal. Many outfits are straight from the runway. The accessories are just as amazing as the clothes. Drama stars dress the way most of us would in our daydreams.
  • Mouthwatering food - It's hard to watch a drama and not get cravings for ramen. Nearly every episode features delicious-looking dishes like rolled up eggs, hearty soups, and grilled steak. And your hand dexterity will improve with dramas because you are sure to have simultaneous chopstick cravings as well.
  • Rocking music - K-Pop is even more popular than Korean dramas right now. It's not hard to understand it's popularity either. It has catchy beats and fun lyrics. There is also a hefty sprinkling of English words in K-Pop. And the good news is that dramas showcase plenty of K-Pop music and K-Pop stars are drama regulars.

Why You Should Be Watching K-Dramas!

Swoon-worthy love scenes, adorable actors, outfits that beg to be copied, edge of the seat action scenes, sob-inducing conflict, food that will leave you drooling, music that will be stuck in your head for days, and hilarious moments that will have you laughing till your side hurts.

What more could you ask for in a show? Experience Korean dramas today!

  • Smorgasbord of choices - There is a drama to suit every taste. Light romantic comedies are a popular fare. There are also meatier melodramas for people who want to cry a lot. Genre can even be seasoned to taste with historical, fantasy, science fiction, action, romance, and many other drama ingredients.
  • Accessibility - Video streaming sites have made foreign television and film more readily available than in the past. People watch K-dramas more now than in the past in part because they actually can now.
  • The format - A typical Korean drama is 16-20 episodes and then it is done. The length is perfect to tell a whole, connected story that has a strong buildup and conclusion. The season is longer than a movie, so viewers because more emotionally invested. And it has a definitive end so the plot doesn't become about filling time to last for multiple seasons.
  • Addictive properties - Korean dramas successfully create emotional connections with viewers. Characters are developed and brought through trials and tribulations in such a way that the audience relates to the characters and feels the same emotions. The cliff hanger endings of nearly every episode leave viewers squirming till the next episode can resolve the conflict. The tension is built up so expertly that it is more emotionally resonant when the main couple finally hold hands halfway through the series than when a full-blown bedroom scene happens in an American series.

Top 10 Most Popular Korean Dramas

These ten dramas are some of the highest rated Korean dramas, especially with non-Korean audiences.

If you are just beginning to get into the world of Korean entertainment, these are great dramas to introduce you to the awesomeness of K-dramas.

"You're Beautiful" Trailer

1. You're Beautiful - A nun in training poses as her twin brother in a popular boy band. Crazy antics and love triangles ensue as she tries to keep her true identity a secret.

2. Flower Boy Ramen Shop - Chemistry ignites when a girl finds herself working in a ramen shop with very attractive employees.

3. My Name Is Kim Sam Soon - Kim Sam Soon is an average girl with average problems. Things change when she meets the owner of an upscale French restaurant.

4. Secret Garden - A shopping mall heir and a poor stunt woman learn about each other when they mysteriously switch bodies. But the knowledge they gain may not be enough to overcome the obstacle of their social class difference.

"City Hunter" Trailer

5. City Hunter - A man is trained to take revenge against the government for killing his father's unit.

6. Full House - After a writer ends up losing everything, she enters into a contract marriage with the man who bought her house.

7. Boys Before Flowers - The status quo at the richest school in Korea is tested when a poor girl arrives and challenges the four most popular boys to change their bullying ways.

8. Jewel in the Palace - A historical drama about a real woman who overcomes struggles in her early life to become the first female royal physician.

9. Rooftop Prince - The crown prince travels 300 years into the future to solve a murder case where he meets someone unusual in modern times.

"My Love from Another Star" Trailer

10. My Love From Another Star - A 400 year old alien falls for a popular actress three months before he is due to return to his home planet.

There are hundreds of other K-dramas available outside of Korea. Here are some other good dramas that didn't make it on the list.

Honorable mentions:

Master's Sun, Shut Up: Flower Boy Band, Flower Boy Next Door, Playful Kiss, Dream High, Answer Me 1997, Summer Scent, Love Rain, Heirs, Heartstrings, Shining Inheritance, Coffee Prince, My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho

Don't see your favorite? Tell us about it in the comments section.

What K-Drama Rules Your Heart?

Vote for your favorite drama.

  • You're Beautiful
  • Boys Before Flowers
  • Secret Garden
  • City Hunter
  • Flower Boy Ramen Shop
  • My Love from Another Star
  • Full House
  • Jewel in the Palace
  • Rooftop Prince
  • My Name Is Kim Sam Soon
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Where the Drama Goes Down - Map of Korea

show route and directions
A markerSeoul, South Korea -
Seoul, South Korea
[get directions]

B markerJeju Island, South Korea -
Jeju-do, South Korea
[get directions]

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Jeju IslandRamyun soup Korean styleBento cuteness
Jeju Island
Jeju Island | Source
Ramyun soup Korean style
Ramyun soup Korean style | Source
Bento cuteness
Bento cuteness | Source

What You'll Find in Korean Dramas

  • Body switches, aliens, mythical creatures, time travel, ghosts
  • Action heroes, rock stars, larger-than-life billionaire heirs
  • Cute stuffed animals, bento box faces, and meaningful couple jewelry
  • There's even historical dramas and settings around the world.
  • And love stories you'll wish you could star in.

Common Scenes in Korean Dramas

These tropes and plot conventions can be found in nearly every Korean drama. See if you can start spotting these in your favorite dramas.

Common K-Drama Conventions:

  • Piggyback rides
  • A hospital visit
  • Evil parents
  • Back hugs
  • Eating ramen
  • Gifts of jewelry, stuffed animals, or shoes
  • A trip to an island (usually Jeju)
  • Overindulging in alcohol
  • Birth secrets
  • Adorable bento boxes
  • Karaoke outings
  • Toilet humor
  • A funeral or a visit to the grave of a dead relative
  • A trip to a bathhouse (sauna)
  • Love triangles and quartets

Which conventions do you like? Which have become too cliché?

Which dramas have successfully defied these conventions or flipped them around in an interesting way?

Dramaland Bands

Which K-Drama music group is your favorite?

  • A.N.Jell
  • Eye Candy
  • Oska
  • The Stupid
  • F4 - They may not be a band, but this group sings to my heart.
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Eye Candy!

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Kim Soo HyunJang Geun Suk is known as Asia's Prince.Lee Seung GiKim Hyun JoongRainKim BumJung Yong HwaLee Hong KiChoi Jun HyukLee Min Ho
Kim Soo Hyun
Kim Soo Hyun | Source
Jang Geun Suk is known as Asia's Prince.
Jang Geun Suk is known as Asia's Prince. | Source
Lee Seung Gi
Lee Seung Gi | Source
Kim Hyun Joong
Kim Hyun Joong | Source
Rain | Source
Kim Bum
Kim Bum | Source
Jung Yong Hwa
Jung Yong Hwa | Source
Lee Hong Ki
Lee Hong Ki | Source
Choi Jun Hyuk
Choi Jun Hyuk | Source
Lee Min Ho
Lee Min Ho | Source

Top 10 Most Popular Korean Actors

  1. Lee Min-Ho - Boys Before Flowers, City Hunter, Faith (The Great Doctor), Heirs

  2. Kim Soo Hyun - My Love from Another Star, Dream High, Moon Embracing the Sun

  3. Jang Geun Suk - You're Beautiful, Love Rain, Beethoven Virus, Pretty Man

  4. Lee Seung Gi - My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho, Gu Family Book, Brilliant Legacy

  5. Kim Hyun Joong - Boys Before Flowers, Playful Kiss, Inspiring Generation

  6. Rain - Full House, The Fugitive: Plan B, A Love to Kill

  7. Kim Bum - Boys Before Flowers, High Kick, Dream

  8. Yong Jung Hwa - You're Beautiful, Heartstrings, Marry Him If You Dare

  9. Lee Hong Ki - Bride of the Century, You're Beautiful

  10. Choi Jin Hyuk - Heirs, Emergency Couple, Gu Family Book, I Need Romance

Who's Your Oppa?

Which Korean Drama Actor Is Your Favorite?

  • Lee Min Ho
  • Kim Soo Hyun
  • Jang Geun Suk
  • Lee Seung Gi
  • Kim Hyun Joong
  • Rain
  • Kim Bum
  • Yong Jung Hwa
  • Lee Hong Ki
  • Choi Jin Hyuk
  • My Oppa isn't on the list!
See results without voting

Give Lee Min Ho a Hug!

1 X Custom Lee Min Ho Actor Pillowcase Standard Size Design Cotton Pillow Case by DIY-Supply
1 X Custom Lee Min Ho Actor Pillowcase Standard Size Design Cotton Pillow Case by DIY-Supply

With this fabulous pillowcase, you can hug Korea's most popular hallyu star whenever and wherever you want.

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Shin Min AhPark Shin HyeKu Hye SunLee Ji Eun also known as IUJeon Ji HyunIm Yoon AhPark Min YoungKim Tae HeeBae SuzyKim So Eun
Shin Min Ah
Shin Min Ah | Source
Park Shin Hye
Park Shin Hye | Source
Ku Hye Sun
Ku Hye Sun | Source
Lee Ji Eun also known as IU
Lee Ji Eun also known as IU | Source
Jeon Ji Hyun
Jeon Ji Hyun | Source
Im Yoon Ah
Im Yoon Ah | Source
Park Min Young
Park Min Young | Source
Kim Tae Hee
Kim Tae Hee | Source
Bae Suzy
Bae Suzy | Source
Kim So Eun
Kim So Eun | Source

Top 10 Most Popular Korean Actresses

  1. Park Shin Hye - You're Beautiful, Heirs, Flower Boy Next Door, Heartstrings

  2. Ku Hye Sun - Boys Before Flowers, The King and I

  3. Lee Ji Eun (IU) - Pretty Man, Dream High, You're the Best Lee Soon-shin

  4. Jeon Ji Hyun - My Love from Another Star, Happy Together

  5. Im Yoon Ah - Prime Minister and I, Love Rain, Cinderella Man

  6. Park Min Young - City Hunter, Unstoppable High Kick

  7. Shin Min Ah - My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho, Arang and the Magistrate, A Love to Kill

  8. Kim Tae Hee - My Princess, Forbidden Love, Stairway to Heaven

  9. Bae Suzy - Dream High, Gu Family Book, Big

  10. Kim So Eun - Boys Over Flowers, A Thousand Kisses, Horse Doctor

Who's Your Favorite Leading Lady?

Vote for your favorite Korean actress?

  • Park Shin Hye
  • Ku Hye Sun
  • Lee Ji Eun (IU)
  • Jeon Ji Hyun
  • Im Yoon Ah
  • Park Min Young
  • Shin Min Ah
  • Kim Tae Hee
  • Bae Suzy
  • Kim So Eun
  • My favorite isn't on the list!
See results without voting


Different viewing platforms often have different English translations of the original titles listed for the same drama. For example, the Korean Hana Yori Dango is commonly translated both "Boys Before Flowers" and "Boys Over Flowers."

Where to Watch Korean Dramas

Korean dramas with subtitles in other languages can be found on several streaming platforms.

  • Netflix has lots of Korean movies and shows.
  • For current and recently aired dramas, Dramafever, Hulu, and Viki are great free streaming sites. These sites also offer apps for streaming on tablets and phones as well.
  • Youtube is a great place to discover more about K-Pop as well as more information on your favorite dramas and Korean stars.

"Boys Before Flowers" Trailer

K-Pop Fans

"Gangnam Style" group dance
"Gangnam Style" group dance | Source

Gagnam Style - The Song that Launched a K-Craze

How to Connect with Other K-Wave Fans

  • There are lots of great blogs and websites dedicated to recapping and reviewing Korean drama episodes for foreign audiences.
  • Dramabeans is one of the most popular sites featuring recaps, Korean entertainment news, and cultural insight for non-Koreans.
  • Dramafever is another site to not only watch dramas, but to find out information about Korean actors and actresses and pop culture news for all of Asia.
  • Anime conventions and other similar conventions are beginning to feature panels and guests about the K-Pop and K-Drama industry.
  • If you are interested in meeting other K-Drama and K-Pop fans, look for groups on Facebook. In many areas, there are local meet up groups for people interested in Korean entertainment.


Are you ready to ride the Korean wave?

  • Already surfing it!
  • Sign me up for K-Drama surfing lessons!
  • I might dip my toe in.
  • Nah. I don't do subtitles.
See results without voting

Share Your Drama! 16 comments

Say Yes To Life profile image

Say Yes To Life 2 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

I don't have cable, so I can only watch shows away from home. I saw a great Korean drama at someone's house; I forget the name of it, but it takes place during the 6th century AD. It involves an evil queen who always wears a poker face, so you never know what she's thinking, and a maid with big round eyes who knows too much and says even more.

I have a roommate who's HUGE into K-Pop. She especially loves Super Junior. She actually flew to the Philippines to see them in concert - and she's afraid of flying! That shows how dedicated she is.

cocopreme profile image

cocopreme 2 years ago from Far, far away Author

Say Yes To Life - There are some really great dramas out there. I'm not familiar with the one you mentioned, but it sounds interesting. Super Junior is definitely one of the most popular K-Pop groups. Your friend does sound dedicated. Korean dramas and bands seem to inspire very loyal fans!

jeffrey Joy Jaspe 2 years ago

Jumong is nyce

buddhaanalysis 2 years ago

Very well researched hub. I liked your writing.

I also like Korean drama and films.

'Dr. Hur Jun' is very fine drama and very popular in other countries as well.

cocopreme profile image

cocopreme 2 years ago from Far, far away Author

jeffrey Joy Jaspe - Thanks for the tip.

buddhaanalysis - Thank you! I will have to check that drama out.

peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

you made a good hub. i love all lee min ho dramas, vote up

NONAME 24 months ago

F4 supposed to be a Taiwanese group.

Lili 21 months ago

I think you have missed out a shining star in the Korean entertainment industry - Lee Joon Gi of the Kdrama, 'Gunman In Joseon' fame. This drama can rival any movie shown in Korea. Lee Joon Gi is an amazing and multi-talented Korean movie and drama actor who does his own stunts. We love his 'typhoon' or 'tornado' kicks as well as what he does with his unique Phoenix eyes in his acting. He is very professional, passionate and dedicated to acting. He is not only an actor, but also a singer and dancer. He is the consummate actor and the ultimate entertainer! He is very popular in Korea, Japan and China, and the rest of Asia. He is 4th on WEIBO with a following of 15,000,000 Chinese fans.His 'Gunman in Joseon' has 400,000,000 {4oo million} views in China alone in 2014 but the numbers are rising. Lee Joon Gi was famous for the movie, the 'King and the Clown which was a blockbuster and broke Korean movie records in 2005, for which he got the 'Best New Actor Award'. He has since starred in many fantastic dramas and movies including 'My Girl', 'Iljimae', 'Arang and the Majistrate' and 'Two Weeks'. He is now filming his transnational movie, 'Begin Again' in Shanghai, China. Lee Joon Gi is born to be an entertainer. Some of the actors you have mentioned are not as popular nor as talented as him. They are mere pretty boys without much talent or aptitude for acting.

Thamara 19 months ago

Lot of interesting info. Thanks lot. How do they finding such a prity girls and slim and smart gys for these dramas. They are really wonderful. Are you a Korean, I would like to know lot about Korean culture, can you help me

curious dreamer profile image

curious dreamer 18 months ago from India

good hub

wonderer 14 months ago


I get what you're saying, but still, why Korean dramas?

I mean, Japanese and Chinese dramas have been around for a longer time.

Both Japan and China are more popular. (I've never been to Korea, but I've been to Japan.)

Maybe I'm biased, but I like Japanese dramas. (Am I too mainstream?)

I guess. To each it's own.

Caroline Wasana 12 months ago

'Scholar Who Walks The Night is a fantastic saguek VAMPIRE drama with a difference. Caucasians or westerners who want to learn about Korean culture can absorb a lot of culture from it.

The OSTs / songs are so good but have sad lyrics though. The story is told in layers. It's quite a unique drama if one were to analyse it. and of course the Lead Actor, Lee Joon Gi is really the Top Korean actor!

Recently he received the Best Actor Award for the Joseon Shooter / Gunman in Joseon. No Korean actor is better than him.

Watch him in 'TWO Weeks' or 'King and the Clown' or 'Iljimae and his other dramas and movies.

Cristina Aquinessa 12 months ago

I think you are not so up-to-date about the Korean Drama World. LEE JOON GI is one very famous South Korean entertainer (Actor, dancer, singer) that you have left out. Just recently, he was awarded the 'Best Actor - International Seoul Drama Award for his 2014 drama 'Gunman in Joseon'. He has won a plethora of awards since he started out at the turn of the 21st century. An American fan has recently proposed that his eyes be considered 'the national treasure of South Korea'. Doesn't that make him somebody, especially with his amazing acting skills?

Jan p 3 months ago

I have at he'd several Korean movies etc. so far my favorite is My little Bride and Harvard Love with Kim Raewon. He is amazing. I don't understand why he is not one of the most popular. He is awesome.

Nusaiba 3 months ago

I Started watching K and J dramas and movies and it's been 2 years now.I watched more than 200 of them.I got to know through tamil(regional language) channel called PUDHUYUGAM. They telecasted few dramas here in tamil but stopped due to some unknown problems which we viewers aren't aware of. Wish the channel can start broadcasting it again. Iam totally obsessed and made my friends and colleagues addictive and so on. Longing that India can become a platform for the Boybands to perform and hope the entertainment industry of Korea can take steps to launch a Channel here!!!!

bkim 3 months ago

U r amazing for a foreigner bc

U know more about Hallyu than

almost any Koreans!

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