Love drama? Add some Vitamin K
In response to the Brunch story on Korean dramas, a reader sends us seven underrated shows to add to your watchlist
The star-crossed relationship between a soldier (Song Joong-ki) and a surgeon (Song Hye-kyo) in the 2016 drama Descendants Of The Sun swirled me into the K-drama universe. He, an officer who wears his heart on his sleeve, takes a bullet for love and is ready to sacrifice himself in the line of duty. She, a doctor dealing with the stress of her boyfriend’s mysterious missions but championing his cause. This is a drama I have revisited several times over the years, Joong-ki’s Big Boss being my man for all seasons
However, India’s full-blown love affair with K-dramas officially began with the cross-border romance between a North Korean army officer and a South Korean heiress in Crash Landing On You in 2020, which someone aptly called the Korean Veer Zara. Since then, the interest and demand for Korean content shows no sign of abating.
I have yet to come across prettier-looking men than the Korean heroes who notch up the swoon quotient with not just images of their smooth torsos but by being the kind of men we want around us, loving, sensitive and respectful. The female characters are bold, independent and complex, perfect in their imperfections.
Not lost in translation
A community of fans has emerged across nationalities and time zones, no one lost in translation, all having found common ground in discussing the genres, plots, characters of K-drama with a sense of proprietorship.
So moving beyond the usual, here are a few K-dramas which would be worth your while.
• Reply 1988 (starring Park Bo-gum, Hyeri and Go Kyung‑pyo): The first one in the Reply series was actually the last to release after Reply 1994 and Reply 1997 in 2015. The coming of age story of five friends is a trip down memory lane which embraces you with its warmth and homely vibe. All about the first brush of love and heartbreak, rebelling and seeking your own path, a middle-aged couple finding a second chance at happiness, Reply 1988 is a shoutout to the wonder years.
• On The Way To The Airport (starring Lee Sang-yoon and Kim Ha-neul): A flight attendant and an architect both married to different people strike up a friendship, which turns into something deeper and more intense. Would it be right for them to tread the forbidden path? This 2017 drama went beyond conventional themes, asking how one defines adultery, how one compromises one’s happiness. Well-written with excellent performances, it’s a must watch.
• Worlds Within (starring Hyun Bin and Song Hye-kyo): This 2008 drama looks at how the entertainment world functions through the lens of a cameraperson and his relationship with an ambitious show producer. The writing is realistic and convincing, the moments relatable, and the chemistry between the two leads is electrifying.
• Queen Of The Game (starring Joo Jin-mo and Lee Bo-young): This 2006 drama is the classic tale of a man seeking revenge for his father’s death and mother’s dishonour. As he plays his cards, he realises that he has become a pawn in his own game. This story of romance, revenge and retribution is perfect for die-hard romantics.
• Autumn In My Heart (starring Song Hye-kyo, Won Bin and Song Seung-heon): This 2000 drama of mistaken identities, love and longing, is an emotional roller coaster from the start; a tear jerker, but a K-drama classic not to be missed. It is the first show in The Endless Love series that deals with the seasons of love. It was followed by Winter Sonata, Summer Scent and Spring Waltz.
• Miseang (starring Kang So-ra and Im Si-wan): An intern unsuited for his job tries to survive the cut-throat corporate world. A well-written and thoughtful drama that creates a sense of belonging with its characters and asks the question: what really is a complete life?
• Hospital Playlist (starring Jo Jung-suk and Yoo Yeon-seok): This slice of life medical drama is about five doctor friends who, when not handing emergencies, create music. It ticks all the boxes when it comes to writing, direction and performances.
From HT Brunch, May 23, 2021
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