In the 2000s, Pinoys embraced the classic Koreanovelas that swept Asia and the world by storm from Stairway to Heaven and Endless Love to Full House and Coffee Prince. But while Filipino television networks continued bringing in more Korean dramas to our small screen, the craze died down for some time. Until My Love From the Star and, most especially, Descendants of the Sun.
And now? This decade, we’ve seen a resurgence on love for all things Korea from K-Pop to K-beauty to K-style to K-dramas. And yup, we’re loving all of it. We’re even flying out to South Korea so often. But for some of us who can’t afford to yet, we’re simply sticking with seeing our favorite oppas and unnies on the small screen. Read on to find out what we think are the beloved K-dramas of this decade.
Reply 1997 (2012)
Also known as Answer Me 1997, this series revolves around six friends from Busan, South Korea. The story is told through a series of flashbacks of their lives as 18-year-old high school students discussed and recounted over their reunion dinner in the present as 33-year-olds. Sung Shi Won (Jung Eun Ji of Apink) is about to announce her relationship, and the viewers are left playing a guessing game about which of the friends she ended up with.
Despite being the first installment in the Reply series, Reply 1997 have the lowest South Korean TV ratings among the three, but it definitely paved the way for the more successful 1994 and 1988 spin-offs.
School 2013 (2012 – 2013)
School 2013 is the first installment of the School series after a decade hiatus. Much like its predecessors, the 2013 iteration tackles the lives and concerns of the Korean youth from bullying to academic pressures and other true-to-life issues. This show also gave us the iconic bromance of Lee Jong Suk and Kim Woo Bin, and we are simply thankful. Will we ever see them together onscreen again?
The Heirs (2013)
Rich, privileged, and absolutely good-looking high school students must first navigate the murky waters of Jeguk High School while keeping up with the politics of being heirs to business empires. And stuck in the middle is a poor 18-year-old girl (Park Shin Hye), who just wants to support herself and her mother, but ends up in a love triangle with two chaebol heirs (Lee Min Ho and Kim Woo Bin). While the plot line isn’t the most refreshing or the most thrilling out there, its star-studded cast all the more makes up for it. But beware — there’s too many good-looking people in this show. I mean, they got a 26-year-old Lee Min Ho (way over the student age) into a school uniform and he still looked so good. Life’s unfair.
My Love From the Star (2013 – 2014)
Considered as one of two dramas that reignited the Hallyu wave, My Love From the Star is a romantic fantasy show full of big names from the industry with a unique plot that hooks the viewers. An alien (Kim Soo Hyun) — a very handsome one at that — is finally nearing the end of his 400-year time spent on Earth to return to his home planet. But on his last three months, a top actress (Jun Ji Hyun) turns his world upside down as they fall in love.
Descendants of the Sun (2016)
The other drama that contributed much to the revival of the Hallyu wave, Descendants of the Sun surpassed the craze that embraced My Love From the Star. Before airing, there was a lot of speculation whether the show would succeed or not, especially since it’s fully pre-produced, so there was no chance to change the storyline according to the viewers’ feedback, as is often done in the K-drama industry.
But the love story between a soldier and a doctor, as well as the chemistry between the lead actors Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Kyo (plus the supporting actors Jin Goo and Kim Ji Won!), led to the immense success of the drama. Sadly, the Song-Song couple didn’t last as much as we’d want to — both on-screen and off-screen. At least we have this show to come back to whenever we miss them.
Goblin (2016 – 2017)
How do you even try to summarize what Goblin is all about? A general becomes an immortal goblin (Gong Yoo), with a sword stuck in his chest, unable to die despite his desire to end his 900-year-long life. Only the goblin’s human bride (Kim Go Eun) can remove the sword and let him die. Their lives become intertwined.
Well, I tried. The show is so much more complex than that one paragraph. You should just watch it. Because while we loved Gong Yoo in Coffee Prince, we absolutely adored him here in Goblin. Add the uber handsome Lee Dong Wook into the mix and we’ve got one of the best bromances we’ve ever seen onscreen. Except maybe for Yoo Deok Hwa (Yook Sung Jae of BTOB) and his credit card.
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo (2016 – 2017)
Warm and carefree yet still introspective, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo captured our hearts so effortlessly and so easily. The show tells the coming-of-age story of college athletes, particularly from the weightlifting and swimming teams, as they find their way through adulthood and experience growth and love. It might seem like it’s simply a light-hearted romantic comedy at first glance, but when you look closely, you’ll see how deep and wonderful the message of the show is — and how much everyone needs to hear it, no matter the age.
This show also brought together the NamLee couple (Nam Joo Hyuk and Lee Sung Kyung), but unfortunately, they eventually broke up. They still cute though.
Sky Castle (2019)
A sleeper hit, Sky Castle experienced low ratings for its first episode, but slowly climbed the charts to become the highest rated show in South Korean cable television history. Featuring an older yet still star-studded cast, the show tackles the lives of upper-class parents in South Korea, where the mothers would do anything and everything to make their husbands more successful and put their children in top universities and at the top of the social food chain.
Which K-drama have you seen? What other show do you think should be on this list? Tell us below!