Photo via Dramafever (CC-BY-SA)
Korean culture fever has smacked the U.S. so hard that we're getting gloriously deluged by its influence. K-pop is everywhere, Urban Outfitters and Sephora carry K-beauty products, and K-culture convention KCON is expanding to multiple cities.
Naturally, if you've gotten a whiff of any of these things and hungered for more, you've probably gotten curious about Korean drama, the region's equivalent of soap operas, or K-drama. (Either that, or you paid for a DramaFever subscription months ago and spend your nights screaming in frustration at every cliffhanger.)
There are so many—and some of them are so long—that knowing where to start can be daunting. Which ones are actually worth your time? More importantly, how many tall, hot Korean men can you cram into a single story?
The 2009 Korean adaption was a career-maker for several of its stars, such as Lee Min Ho, who has become enormously popular since playing the lead role. Perfectly capturing all the bittersweet moments of high school life and young love, it's a truly enchanting story that never gets old. And if you feel you can't get enough of it, check out Japan's 2005 adaption "Hana Yori Dango," which does a similarly spectacular job of telling the tale.
It tells the story of Hallyu star Cheon Song-yi (Jun Ji-hyun), just the kind of bitch you love to hate, and the man that finally knocks her off her self-created pedestal and just happens to be a 400-year-old alien from another planet. If Korean dramas are good for anything, its spinning the most ridiculous plot lines you've ever heard of. Even better, fans fall madly in love with them for that exact reason.Not only did everyone and their mother love this drama, but actress Jun Ji-hyun also made the Korean beauty industry zillions of dollars by wearing a lip color that because hugely famous because of her role. Years after the drama, women are still wearing the color so they can look just like their beloved heroine.Sunmi Lee, Coffee Prince tells the tale of Go Eun-chan, a girl who is often mistaken for a boy. When she crosses paths with the owner of an all-male coffee shop named Choi Han-kyul, she decides to pose as a boy to work there. The dynamic between these two is incredible to watch for several reasons, but Han-kyul's conflict about believing he may be gay because of his feelings for Eun-chan is delicious (and makes some tongue-in-cheek commentary about the state of LGBT acceptance in Korea).filmed a parody of it, much to the delight of their fanbase. The drama addresses Korea's class system and presents a fantasy for the viewer of being able to love someone regardless of class difference is—a very positive message to hear.
Running ManWhile the other dramas on this list have a beginning and an end, Running Man only has a beginning. It's not exactly a drama by the standards of the others, but it is requisite viewing for anyone who finds themselves in love with Korean media and wanting more.
This popular variety show is run by seven rotating hosts and frequently features major actors and K-pop idols. Typically the stars are put through a variety of challenging situations, which is highly amusing for fans to see. It's a great way to get a look at people you admire just being people: silly, goofy, and having fun.