14 Popular Romantic K-Dramas You Must Watch
Do you like K-dramas? This list covers 14 of the most romantic Korean television dramas. Some are funny, some feature elements of crime, and some delve deep into love, family, and loyalty. What they all have in common is that they are chock-full of romance and melodrama. Each show's description is followed by a trailer or a short clip, so be sure to check those out if you want to get a feel for any of these shows before diving in. If you've seen these shows before, be sure to vote in the poll at the end of the list!
The 14 Most Romantic Korean Dramas
14. Heartstrings (15 episodes)
13. Empress Ki (51 episodes)
12. King's Daughter, Soo Baek Hyang (108 episodes)
11. The King in Love (40 episodes)
10. Fight for My Way (16 episodes)
9. Marriage, Not Dating (16 episodes)
8. While You Were Sleeping (32 episodes)
7. My ID Is Gangnam Beauty (16 episodes)
6. Go Back Couple (12 episodes)
5. What's Wrong With Secretary Kim (16 episodes)
4. Chicago Typewriter (16 episodes)
3. Because This Is My First Life (16 episodes)
2. Suspicious Partner/Love in Trouble (40 episodes)
1. I'm Not a Robot (32 episodes)
If you're looking for a romantic K-drama that is cute, adorable, and totally entertaining, then you'll definitely enjoy Heartstrings. The show hasn't received much technical or critical praise, but it's not boring to watch, and it really gets you involved. If you like to watch love-centric shows that are entertaining and relaxing, Heartstrings will definitely appeal to you.
My favorite aspect of this show is the way the two leads slowly fall in love. Lee Shin, a student majoring in modern music, is the vocalist and guitarist in a popular local band. He is uninterested in most things in life besides music. Kyu Won, on the other hand, knows nothing besides traditional music and is just trying to live up to her family's expectations. One day, her friends bring her to Lee Shin's band's concert. As you may have already guessed, she immediately becomes captivated by their good-looking vocalist.
Starring: Park Shin-hye, Jung Yong-hwa
13. Empress Ki
If you are looking for a romantic historical drama, Empress Ki is a must-watch for sure. While Empress Ki is billed as a historical program, it's actually only loosely based on historical events—plenty of romanticization and melodrama were incorporated during the writing process.
The main story centers on Seung Nyang. Originally a slave in Goryeo, she grows up to become a strong woman who saves young girls and prevents them from being sent away to China to serve the emperor. As the show progresses, a sort of love triangle develops. I don't want to give too much away, but let's just say that both of Seung's suitors are royalty.
Starring: Ha Ji-won, Joo Jin-mo, Ji Chang-wook
12. King's Daughter, Soo Baek Hyang
This selection is a long historical drama perfect for viewers who love complicated and well-thought-out stories. Don't be intimidated, though, The King's Daughter, Soo Baek Hyang is also quite engaging and pretty easy to watch. Despite its focus on court politics, the series is definitely all about love.
The show is set in ancient Korea during the pre-Joseon period. As you may have already guessed from the title, it revolves around the eldest daughter of King Muryeong, the leader of one of the Three Kingdoms in ancient Korea. Because of her righteous character, she doesn't become a princess. Instead, her evil half-sister takes her place. Sometime later, she starts spying for her own nation.
Starring: Seo Hyun-jin, Seo Woo, Lee Jae-ryong, Jo Hyun-jae, Jun Tae-soo
11. The King in Love
Get ready . . . here comes another historical period drama about a love triangle. While watching The King in Love, I felt as if I had actually traveled back in time to the Goryeo period. The show tells the story of a king who has only one loyal friend. There are few people in the world he can truly trust, and this friend is one of them. The thing is, they both fall in love with the same woman. She genuinely loves both of them, and that just makes matters worse.
Starring: Im Si-wan, Im Yoon-ah, Hong Jong-hyun
10. Fight for My Way
Fight for My Way focuses on four characters—childhood friends now in their late twenties—who are struggling either to achieve a dream or to find a purpose in life. Throughout the show, they try, fail, learn, stumble, fall, and get back up. No matter what our precious four are faced with, they make their own way and do their best to live happy lives. Despite being unlucky in both love and work, they eventually realize that love lies right on the surface. Give this awesome best-friends-to-lovers drama a shot—you won't regret it.
Starring: Park Seo-joon, Kim Ji-won, Ahn Jae-hong, Song Ha-yoon
9. Marriage, Not Dating
The plot of this show may seem cliché at first glance, but it's actually a fairly refreshing take on the romantic comedy genre. It's the type of show that gets you hooked from the very first episode.
Marriage, Not Dating centers on a wealthy, busy, single plastic surgeon who doesn't want to get married. His family, on the other hand, is constantly badgering him to find a wife. His life is perfectly planned, and as far as he is concerned, being single is the ideal situation for him. In an effort to put an end to his family's incessant remarks about marriage, he decides to fool them by bringing home a girl who he thinks his parents will never approve of.
Starring: Yeon Woo-jin, Han Groo, Jeong Jinwoon, Han Sunhwa
8. While You Were Sleeping
While You Were Sleeping is a bit of a departure from the other shows on this list. This drama has an interesting fantasy aspect in that it incorporates dreams into the characters' romance, everyday life, and conflicts. The drama is centered around Suzy, a woman who has visions of other people's catastrophic futures in her dreams. Lee Jong Suk, a prosecutor, decides to meet with her due to a vision she has in a dream.
Starring: Lee Jong-suk, Bae Suzy, Jung Hae-in, Lee Sang-yeob
7. My ID Is Gangnam Beauty
My ID is Gangnam Beauty is a thought-provoking, romantic K-drama that focuses on campus romance. An insecure, cautious girl who was once bullied for her looks genuinely wants to start a new chapter in her life, so she decides to transform her face with plastic surgery. After the surgery, however, people continue to tease her, dubbing her "Gangnam Beauty." When she begins studying at university, she meets a guy who loves people for what they are like on the inside. Will he stand up for her and help her discover her true beauty?
Starring: Im Soo-hyang, Cha Eun-woo, Jo Woo-ri, Kwak Dong-yeon
6. Go Back Couple
This is an amazingly heart-touching K-drama that you would be remiss to skip. Have you ever found yourself wondering what would you do if you could go back in time? If your answer is "yes," then Go Back Couple should be at the top of your must-watch list. A time-travel drama may not sound all that groundbreaking or original, but the stellar execution of this series makes it well-worth your watch. It's realistic (well, as realistic as a time-travel show can be), it plays with your emotions, and, most importantly, it's incredibly romantic!
Go Back Couple revolves around a married couple in their late 30s. They both regret marrying at such a young age, and they have begun to resent one another. The show takes us on an epic journey as the couple travels back in time to when they were 20-year-old students and had first met each other. Will revisiting their relationship's conception help them mend their failing marriage?
Starring: Son Ho-jun, Jang Na-ra
5. What's Wrong With Secretary Kim
What's Wrong With Secretary Kim tells the story of Kim, a woman who wants a reset in her life and so decides to resign from her job. The patient and hardworking secretary has been working diligently for Lee Young Joon (vice-chairman of an important company) for nine years. Young Joon, a narcissistic and self-absorbed man, barely thinks of the people around him—he is the president of his family's company and thinks only about his own life. He is surprised by Kim's unexpected resignation and wants to find out why his most diligent worker has decided to quit.
Throughout this quest, they learn a lot about each other. This show is a comedy above all else, so if you pick laughs over complex stories and don't mind over-the-top comedy at times, What's Wrong With Secretary Kim will definitely have you reeling in your seat.
Starring: Park Seo-joon, Park Min-young
4. Chicago Typewriter
Chicago Typewriter is a little different from most of the other series on this list. Part drama, part romance, part reincarnation epic, this is a deep and meaningful story whose melodrama spans lifetimes. Best of all, there is no shortage of heart-melting kiss scenes!
The story revolves around three main characters: a reincarnated bestselling author who is depressed and can't find inspiration to complete his next novel, a ghostwriter who is determined to help the author overcome his writer's block, and a caring and devoted fan of the author's work. Over the course of the series, the trio learns the truth about their past lives. In doing so, they shed light on why their present lives are the way that they are. In their attempts to recall their pasts, the three form an unshakable bond.
Starring: Yoo Ah-in, Im Soo-jung, Go Kyung-pyo
3. Because This Is My First Life
Are you familiar with marriage contract storylines? Because This Is My First Life may sound a bit typical at first—a man and a woman marry each other due to beneficial circumstances but eventually end up falling for each other for real. The realistic premise is actually what makes this story so intriguing. It makes for complex drama and intense scenes that differ from those found in most innocent love series.
The main story is quite sweet. It centers around a single man in his early 30s who owns his home but also owes a huge mortgage and a homeless single woman (who is also in her 30s). The man is considering taking a tenant in one of his rooms to help him cope with his financial difficulties. As you may have already guessed, the two become housemates. Interestingly, Because This Is My First Life doesn't just focus on a single couple. In total, the show includes three couples, each with their own interesting storyline.
Starring: Lee Min-ki, Jung So-min
2. Suspicious Partner/Love in Trouble
Suspicious Partner successfully blends crime and romance, which, in my experience, is pretty rare. The show has its fair share of love, but it also incorporates interesting plot twists and crime-based suspense in a way that will keep you glued to the screen.
The series tells the story of an intelligent prosecutor who is forced to become a defense attorney and a strong-but-naive woman (also an attorney) who is accused of murder. They work as a team to get to the bottom of the mysterious case, and, as I'm sure you've guessed, unexpected romance ensues.
Starring: Ji Chang-wook, Nam Ji-hyun, Choi Tae-joon, Kwon Nara
1. I'm Not a Robot
I'm Not a Robot is one of the best (if not the best) rom-coms I have ever watched. It is fluffy, easy to watch, and features some stellar acting. The concept itself is somewhat unbelievable (maybe even crazy at times), but the plot is so well-thought-out that you can't help but fall in love with the show. Incredible writing and acting bring this unexpected hit from great to almost perfect.
The story follows a man who is allergic to humans. Yes, you read that right. He has a severe skin allergy that he developed as a result of trauma he sustained as a child. Even though he is an unbelievably rich, he has no clue how to get rid of his allergy, so he has been forced to live by himself for 15 years. One day, he gets a chance to test out a newly invented robot companion. At the very last moment, however, due to some unexpected circumstances, a real girl is sent instead of a machine. That's when the fun begins! Watch this show—you won't regret it.
Starring: Yoo Seung-ho, Chae Soo-bin, Um Ki-joon
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