Level: Beginner to Intermediate (which translates to having watched 1-3 Kdramas)
Perhaps you recently fell in love with Kdrams through “Secret Garden” or you watched “A Jewel in the Palace” with your mom a decade ago. Your first encounter with Korean culture might have been Psy’s Gangnam Style, hand in hand with the film “Old Boy.” If you don’t know the term, 한류 hallyu/ the Korean wave, I’ll let you catch up with that via Wikipedia. (FYI: in the past several years, one of the most popular Bolivian baby girl name was Jandi from “Boys over Flowers.”)
The U.S. market is finally catching up with the rest of the world–thank you, Netflix. Still, the diversity within the world of Korean dramas and films is overlooked. So if you’re craving for more, and here is the syllabus to make you an Intermediate Kdrama watcher.
- Nine 나인 2013
- Signal 시그널 2016
I don’t know why people aren’t talking about the uniqueness of Korean sci-fi/mystery work. There are unique time-slips in these two dramas.
- Hwajung (or Splendid Politics) 화정 2015
- Queen Sunduk 선덕여왕 2009
Within the genre of historical dramas, there are some kickass princesses and queens you need to check out. These two dramas also have the best anti-heroes ever.
Comedies dealing with Korean TV world
- The Producers 프로듀사 2015*
- The Greatest Love 최고의 사랑 2011
If you’re already a fan of Korean tv shows (a totally different beast), then you must watch them.
- Misaeng (or Incomplete Life) 미생 2014*
You’ve probably heard about the workaholic culture of South Korea or perhaps you are a workaholic who needs to watch a drama about working people. (Warning: This is not The Office).
Romantic, Fantasy, Action, and Historical
- Goblin: The Lonely and Great God 도깨비: 쓸쓸하고 찬란하神2017*
- My Love from the Star 별에서 온 그대 2013
During the recent embargo on all things South Korean by the Chinese government, Goblin’s star Gong Yoo was the number one searched term in China last winter. Chinese citizens jumped through hoops to watch Goblin and so should you. It is an intricately written series that blends Korean traditional beliefs with romance and fantasy.
Historical Comedies dealing with Kpop Culture
- Reply 1994 (or Answer Me 1994) 응답하라 1994 2013*
- Reply 1988 응답하라 1988 2015*
You can dig deeper into learning about modern Korean history, regionalisms, and fangirls through the Reply series. There are three seasons within the Reply series. It was produced in the order of: 1997, 1994, then 1988. I would recommend that you watch 1994 and then 1988. If you loved them and crave more, you can then watch 1997.
Taeyin ChoGlueck is a playwright and poet. Her experiences range from immigrant to second generation, from Korean to Korean-American and Minnesotan/Midwestern identities. Her work has or will appear in The Margins, Juked, Ricepaper Magazine, and others. A large portion of Taeyin’s life is being the Co-founder of InterAction. In the midst of all this, she is an addict of Korean webtoons.