For the past few weeks, the internet has been talking about Squid Game. The Netflix series has become so huge that literally, every platform has either a meme, a spoiler or a reference to the show. This Hwang Dong-hyuk directorial has managed to maintain the number one spot on Netflix for the past 29 days and I wouldn't be shocked if it continues to do so for a month ahead.
But why am I suddenly talking about the Squid Game, you may ask? So here's the thing, for all the noobs out there who wondered when did Korean content become so cool, the answer is since forever! Yes, you heard me right? While the consumption of Korean content or K-drama has maximised in the past 2 years, the content always had a huge fan base globally. Now with the success of Squid Game, I already know that this global fan base of K-drama is only going to increase. So if you are somebody who is thinking, what more does K-rama have to offer? Then, don't worry because I've got you covered.
I asked a bunch of my colleagues at MissMalini who have been ardent followers of K-drama for a few recommendations and believe me they had a list! So with the power, the internet has bestowed upon me, I have gone ahead and compiled their experience and suggestions for you, so that the next time you are having your meal, you already know what to watch!
My brush with K-drama was quite serendipitous, actually. My grand mom is my TV partner and we were looking for a 'happy' show one day and chanced upon a Japanese show called Happy Marriage which we loved and that became our gateway to the world of multilingual cinema. We then started getting suggestions of a lot of K-dramas and we liked discovering new ones because the lives and stories depicted are often similar to ours.
Crash Landing On You was the most popular suggestion online so that was the first one we watched. It's a classic star-crossed lovers' tale but the intricacies in this show were the conflicts and the very real way they have depicted the difference between North and South Korea. I was majorly crushing on Hyun Bin's army guy persona! So if you're looking for a bitter-sweet romance, this one ticks all the boxes. I was rooting for a happy ending but the end of the show finds just the right balance to make it seem more real than utopian (don't worry, not giving out any spoilers!)
Lately, I've just finished watching Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha which was a suggestion from a friend. It's a very heart-warming story in the picturesque countryside. It's about a city girl moving to a small town to set up her dental clinic. Her initial struggle to settle in brings her closer to the ubiquitous town handyman who's always ready to help. It's a sweet story with twists and turns connecting all the characters. For me, it was all the unique town residents, from the nosey shop owners to the super cute elderly grandmas, who add essence to this quaint town. The last few episodes are packed with drama but you end the series having this warm, fuzzy feeling of togetherness and support irrespective of life's situations. If you need a feel-good show, it's time to take an OTT trip down to the beautiful town of Gongjin.
Whether you’re new to the world of K-dramas or you’ve been a fan for a long time — most certainly you must’ve heard of the Descendants Of The Sun. Captain Yo-sin Jin, leader of special forces for South Korea, meets trauma surgeon Kang Mo Yeon in a war-torn Uruk. The complicated love story in a falling land is too good to resist. From the plotline to the theme songs, the series is a full pack dose of entertainment.
If you like teen dramas, The Heirs is going to sit on the top of your list in this genre. The K-drama revolves around the high school lives of teenagers coming from different socio-economic backgrounds. Cha-Eun-Sang takes on a part-time job to support herself and lives in the home of an uber-rich family where her mother is a housekeeper. And soon enough, she finds love. A love triangle! Who doesn’t like love triangles? Oh, to be young and in love and fighting for it even when it’s hard! Regardless of who gets a happy ending, the show will definitely make your time worthwhile.
1. Crash Landing On You
So outstandingly good that I think Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin deserve all the awards, the production should receive the Daesang (the highest regarded Korean award). The way they carefully tackle the issue related to North Korean is amazing. The setup of the North Korean backdrop is also believable (of course they did not shoot the drama in the North). The storyline is also genius and all the side characters too get their fair share of screen-time by the end. You’ll love all the side characters, especially the village people and Captain Ri Jeong Hyeok’s team members. This drama is not overhyped but definitely deserves the hype it received. Once you watch the first episode, you’ll surely be hooked. I’ll call it a genius production since they need to portray the lives of people from the North while carefully “touching upon” the political side.
2. It's Okay to Not be Okay
It's Okay to Not be Okay is a beautifully written drama with amazing characters and great actors, it has gained a lot of attention and love too. But the attention was so much on the regular stuff like chemistry and romance that people seemed to forget what the drama really stood for — the message they wanted to tell is being ignored.
If you watched the drama just for the romance or in the process got annoyed or had any hate towards any of the main characters in the show, here is a reality check for you. From the title till the storyline, all they try to say is how it is really okay to not be okay. But so you know where the problem is? It is when people can't accept those people who are not okay. And that is exactly what people online are doing to these characters, judging them on their imperfections. Ironically, this is what the drama is trying to help you understand - that it is okay to be a person with imperfections, a person with scars, a person who is different from the perceived "normal" people. These characters are so realistic that they can be people you have met or will meet in life too.
That was all folks! Hope this helps to elevate your K-drama experience!