Kdramas; your next Netflix obsession
By Lucy Wing, Content Editor
You’ve probably seen or heard about “Squid Game,” the hit Netflix series that took over the world in November 2020. It is the most-viewed Netflix series to date, smashing records with over 1.65 billion hours of streaming in the first four months, according to Variety magazine. You also may have noticed the influx of Korean television on your Netflix Recommended page after finishing Squid Games, so I’m here to tell you about some other binge-worthy Korean dramas (Kdramas) to fuel your new interest.
Korean television is slightly different from Western television as it involves quite a bit more character development and relationship exploring, and often requires you to suspend disbelief for a moment. There is a formula that is followed fairly closely: there are two leads, the best friend, and a variety of side characters whose stories are just as engaging as the leads. Fair warning, while there aren’t many sexual scenes like in Western television, there is plenty of violence and traumatic events, so pay attention to the content warnings. Kdrama episodes are also long, anywhere from 50 minutes to 90 minutes, but each episode is jam-packed with plotlines and new developments that keep you wanting more.
While “Squid Games” was a masterpiece in its own right, it is only the tip of the Kdrama iceberg. Here are some of my favorite Netflix Kdramas to help you dive a little deeper.
OUR BELOVED SUMMER (2021)
Our Beloved Summer follows the story of Choi Ung and Kook Yeon-Su years after they filmed a documentary in high school. After dating for 5 years and going through a rough breakup, they are approached 5 years later (10 years after the original documentary) for a reunion special. This is your classic “everyone but they know” rom-com trope with plenty of arguing and the best friend who also likes the girl (very common in Kdramas).
CRASHLANDING ON YOU (2020)
Yoon Se-Ri, a South Korean business mogul and celebrity, finds herself in a North Korean village after landing in North Korea during a hang-gliding accident. The village is home to Captain Ri, a North Korean Soldier, and his squad of soldiers. Despite being engaged to a high-class woman, Seo Dan, Captain Ri secretly houses Se-Ri while they figure out how to get her home. Seri makes friends with the other villagers and falls in love with Captain Ri along the way. This one is a slow burn, with lots of sweet moments and heart skips, and oh is it worth it when they finally realize their feelings for each other.
If you liked Squid Games you will absolutely love this action-packed drama. Vincenzo Cassano, a Korean Italian mafia lawyer, returns to Korea to retrieve gold hidden under a commercial building. When he arrives, he finds a cast of incredibly interesting store owners trying to prevent their building from being torn down by a monopoly pharmaceutical company. Vincenzo joins the fight originally to ensure he keeps the gold but after forming relationships with the store owners, and Hong Cha-Young, the other lawyer on the case, his motive becomes more about the people.
Now this one is for the family, filled to the brim with 80’s references, overlapping plotlines, and relatable characters for any generation. Reply 1988 takes place on a city block in Seoul, 1988. It is centered around Sung Deok-Sun, a high school junior, and her family and friends who live on the street block together. The viewer follows a now middle-aged Deoksun reliving her teenage years, reminiscing about her friends, boys, siblings, school, and everything else a teenager faces. It also delves into economic struggles, family dynamics, and some of the messier parts of life.
Currently watching: Itaewon Class, Record of Youth
My mom’s recs: Hotel del Luna, Memories of the Alhambra