Words by Kathlene Masilongan
Korean dramas! Who doesn’t love them?
I’m sure you’ve watched at least one of the hundreds that have come out, especially the ones released locally. They’re even on Netflix! I’ve been watching Korean dramas for over ten years on and off and while I wasn’t too tuned in to it when I was younger, that all changed when I started college. I was more into the drama side of the Korean wave and not so much into the music side for a while and I would always seek out new titles to binge watch.
When K-dramas started becoming bigger with the growth in number of Korean culture enthusiasts not just here in the Philippines but around the world, I noticed that there were a couple of dramas that didn’t really get as much attention as they should. They could be the number one drama in Korea, but they’d have little to no international presence. I get it. Most of us watch K-dramas for the cute boys, the aesthetics, and, most of all, the kilig. And when the drama’s focus isn’t on those elements they get ignored by the general public, at least locally.
With that said, I’ve compiled a list of K-dramas that I loved and that I would recommend for people who want to add new shows to their binge list. These dramas, I feel, have been underappreciated especially by Filipino K-drama watchers. I never see them in kilig compilations or any drama recommendations! Now, it’s a given that if you’re a hardcore K-drama watcher that you’ve probably watched these before, but this list is for the average joes who are looking into broadening their K-drama fields.
12. Page Turner
Starring Korea’s up-and-comers at the time, Page Turner is about a piano prodigy who loses her sight after a car accident. This short drama follows her life after the accident–her having to deal with her blindness, her overbearing mother, and people around her. I cried, which is going to be a thing when it comes to this list, but they were good cries mostly. She and her new friends’ growth as people was something very inspiring for me when I felt like I was losing sight of my own dreams. The drama also teaches us that we can all be page turners in other people’s lives. We can help people move on, heal, and turn the page for them.
I wasn’t sure if this counts because it only has four episodes, but it was too good not to include. I found it being marathoned on TV one night and couldn’t look away. This is definitely a spicy drama. A rich couple hires a babysitter for their child and, of course, the babysitter seduces the husband. While the premise may sound a little worn and borderline corny, this drama is mysterious and adds layers not only to the babysitter but all the main characters.
10. Suits Korea
I don’t know why this Korean adaptation of the American TV show we all love, Suits, didn’t blow up locally. It stars Jang Dong-gun as Korean Harvey and recent Bench ambassador Park Hyung-sik as Korean Mike. They, of course, have Korean names but I found myself calling them Harvey and Mike for most of the series, which is totally understandable because of how good they’ve adapted their characters. I always love a good localization. Its transition from American to Korean culture was smooth and it felt like it was its own show, despite its familiarity. This drama really gave me a lot of season 1 Suits vibes but with that Korean twist that we all know and love. The cast is charismatic and the premise is familiar for anyone who loves lawyer shows.
9. Let’s Eat 2
Admittedly, I didn’t watch the first one, but one summer Let’s Eat 2 was on TV every day during lunch time and I would watch it as I ate. Not only is it a gastronomic feast for the eyes (its focus is on showcasing Korean food) but you’ll fall in love with the two leads and their amazing chemistry too! I recommend watching this during your meals as well. It’s like a mukbang but with a good story on the side. If you want more of that mukbang feel, you can watch the first season.
8. Familiar Wife
Personally, this is one of my favorite dramas of 2018 and probably of all time! It didn’t get the attention that its predecessor Something in the Rain did, but it’s a beautiful story about marriage and relationships. The story follows a banker who drives into a wormhole and changes his life when he chooses to marry someone else. He lives his life with his new, seemingly perfect wife and realizes soon enough that things aren’t as great as he thought they were. He eventually crosses paths with his old wife, but now he’s a stranger to her. Familiar Wife only looks like a simple drama but the direction and the acting, as well as the pacing of it, makes it stand out.