I admit, I’ve been under the radar these past few years when it comes to Korean entertainment. This may seem like a mortal sin for someone who has been blogging about K-dramas since 2008. But our current situation has pushed most of us to go back to our past loves, things we may have pushed aside for lack of time or energy.
In my case, I’ve rediscovered my love for K-dramas, the simplistic, sometimes over-the-top and cliche plots shot magnificently featuring eye candy actors. So if you’re like me or if you’re new to the Hallyu world, welcome! I hope you have fun with my recommendations on K-dramas to watch while in quarantine to get you through this pandemic season.
‘Fight for My Way’
There’s nothing much appealing to me about this drama at first when I read the synopsis. Four lifelong friends navigate through adulthood, finding out along the way that achieving their dreams isn’t as easy as they thought. But I’m a sucker for the ‘friends-turned-lovers’ plot so I gave it a shot, and I’m glad I did.
The simple plot relied heavily on good writing and excellent acting by the main actors. I was already a fan of Kim Ji-won (“Arthdral Chronicles”) but Park Seo-joon (“Itaewon Class”) was a revelation in this drama. His realistic portrayal of a naive former Olympic hopeful turned MMA fighter is still my most favorite character of his.
The writing is honest, funny, and sometimes poignant. When Choi Aera (Kim Ji-won) reflects on her failed dream of becoming a broadcast announcer, she muses our similar frustrations, “We lived harder than anyone. Our resumes don’t reflect how hard we lived but it’s acting as if it entirely captured our life.” Well said, Aera.
‘Love in the Moonlight’
I have always been biased against “sageuk” or historical dramas mainly because they tend to lean on melodrama, which is not my usual cup of tea. “Love in the Moonlight” erased my preconceived notions about this genre, which can be fun(nny), and a whole lot more romantic than I thought.
The charming story of Joseon Crown Prince Lee Young (Park Bo-gum) and Hong Ra-on (Kim Yoo-jung) is a complicated story of first love. What can be more unrealistic and complicated than a prince falling in love with a woman who pretends to be a eunuch? But that’s the beauty of K-dramas, you can easily forego reality and totally immerse yourself into a world where love knows no boundaries.
Park Bo-gum and Kim Yoo-jung display maturity in their acting as both baby-faced actors show a wide range of emotions. Bo-gum’s eyes can portray hurt, anger, love and feelings of betrayal in just one scene, enough to make you want to cuddle him like a baby.
Whether you’re a sageuk fan or not, “Love in the Moonlight” will remind you of how first loves should be or should have been — pure, brave and everlasting.
Who would have thought that sageuk and zombies could go well together? Well it does apparently. “Kingdom” combines the politics element of a historical drama and the eerie plot of the undead. There is nothing new about these separate elements — an ambitious palace minister plots to take over the throne and a mysterious plague that brings the dead back to life — but combined together these complications create a whole new level of historical drama.
A more mature looking Joo Ji-hoon (“Hyena”) is back as a crown prince in “Kingdom.” Interestingly enough, his former role as a crown prince in “Princess Hours” made him a Hallyu star and now his career is again on an uptake years after his drug scandal. I’m glad that he has returned on the mainstream as Joo Ji-hoon is an excellent actor who deserves this comeback.
“Kingdom,” however, is not for the faint-hearted or squeamish. It is filled with gore as any zombie apocalypse story goes. But for those who dare to experience this drama, it is heart-stoppingly good that will leave you breathless and wanting for more after each episode.
‘W’ (‘Two Worlds’)
“W” is probably the most unique K-drama I’ve seen in years. The story revolves around two worlds — the world of the webtoon entitled “W” and the world of its author. The main character of the webtoon Kang Chul (Lee Jong-suk) and the author’s daughter Oh Yeon-joo (Han Hyo-joo) fall in love as they find themselves caught in between two worlds. Can this story be any more complicated?
The seamless transition from the comic world to the real world is enough to make you admire the hard work put into this drama. How can Lee Jong-suk look exactly like a character from a manhwa?
Aside from the visuals, the beauty of this drama is that it challenges your mind to process what is real and what is not. Are feelings unreal because the characters are fictional? Can fiction have a life of its own? Whether you are into philosophical thoughts such as these or not, this drama is quite enjoyable and unpredictable until the end.
‘Strong Girl Bong-soon’
Cute is an understatement but is probably the best word to describe this drama. From its plot to its main actors, “Strong Girl Bong-soon” is every way adorable. Do Bong-soon (Park Bo-young), a petite woman with extraordinary strength, struggles between wanting to keep an ordinary life and using her superhuman ability to help solve a crime. This plot combined with slapstick comedy at times may seem over the top for some but this is fiction y’all.
If you are not into fantasy plots, Park Hyung-sik’s portrayal of Do Bong-soon’s CEO boss Ahn Min-hyuk is enough to make this drama enjoyable. If you liked him in “Hwarang,” you will love him in this drama. He is funny, sweet, sensitive, all the qualities you would look for in a perfect leading man. I was amazed to find out later on that some of their funny scenes were actually ad-libs. I’m looking forward to this talented actor’s future projects after his military discharge.
“Strong Girl Bong-soon” may not be for everyone but is definitely a must-watch for those who just want a good laugh and a cute love story that will make their hearts flutter.
Most of these are really popular ones that need no further explanation. Just go watch them yourselves if you haven’t already. Enjoy watching these K-dramas while we’re in quarantine!