We often see Korean dramas being adapted into local versions, with the most recent being Descendants of the Sun and an upcoming adaptation of The World of the Married. But did you know that K-dramaland also has its fair share of adaptations from other countries? Some did better than the original, while others only saw average viewership, but you can’t deny that the producers added that K-drama flair to each adaptation. Check some of them out below:
Adapted from American fantasy comedy film 17 Again (2009)
After his wife asks him for divorce, 37-year-old Hong Dae Young finds himself transformed into his 18-year-old body. He uses this opportunity to reconnect with his family (by attending his children’s classes) and take care of his family. The drama follows the same premise as the original movie starring Zac Efron, but the drama feels more fleshed out, given that it has 16 episodes to explore the ins and outs of the protagonist’s life and relationships. Watch here.
The World of the Married
Adapted from UK drama Doctor Foster (2015–2017)
Doctor Ji Sun Woo seems to be living a perfect life with a successful career and a happy family. But when she discovers her husband having an affair with a younger woman, her life falls into shambles and she finds herself set on revenge. Both the original show and its Korean adaptation were critically acclaimed, receiving positive reviews and several awards. Watch here.
Adapted from American TV show Suits (2011–2019)
Like its original counterpart, the Korean drama Suits follows a talented, distinguished lawyer (Jang Dong Gun) who hires a highly intelligent young man with a photographic memory but no license to join their prestigious law firm. They must keep the recruit’s secret, or they just might lose everything. Unlike the original show, however, the Korean adaptation ran for only one season, as opposed to the original’s eight years. Watch here.
The Good Wife
Adapted from American political drama The Good Wife (2009–2016)
After a long hiatus, Kim Hye Kyung (played by renowned actress Jeon Do Yeon) restarts her career as an attorney after her prosecutor husband gets arrested for corruption due to a political scandal. Instead of the original show’s Chicago setting, the K-drama adaptation is set in Seoul, but most of the plot remains the same. It was well-received by general viewers and it earned several awards and nominations.
Life on Mars
Adapted from the UK fantasy crime series of the same name (2006–2007)
In the present time, Han Tae Joo leads a crime investigation team. But while investigating a serial murder case, he gets into an accident, and he finds himself transported into the year 1988. He gets appointed as a detective in a small city, where he must solve a serial murder case to try and get back home to his present time. The Korean adaptation was praised for having “the essence of the original while also having its own local flair.”
Designated Survivor: 60 Days
Adapted from American political thriller Designated Survivor (2016–2019)
A former chemistry professor Park Moo Jin (Ji Jin Hee) becomes Korea’s Minister of Environment, but he doesn’t have any higher aspirations or political sense. When high-ranking government officials gather with the President, an explosion takes their lives, leaving only Park Moo Jin as the highest-ranking government officer left alive, automatically making him the acting president. Unlike the US show, the adaptation follows Korea’s 60-day limit an acting president has before a general election must take place. Watch here.
Scarlet Heart: Ryeo
Adapted from Chinese drama Bu Bu Jing Xin (2011)
After nearly drowning in modern-day Korea, Hae Soo (IU) is transported into the Goryeo era, where she inhabits the body of a noble lady in the royal palace. With her quirky, feisty personality, she captures the attention of the royal princes, particularly the intimidating Prince Wang So (Lee Joon Gi). The Chinese drama had two seasons, with the sequel exploring the female lead’s return to the present time, but unfortunately, the Korean adaptation didn’t have a follow-up season, breaking our hearts all the more. Watch here.
Boys Over Flowers
Adapted from Japanese manga-turned-drama Hana Yori Dango (2005)
A poor feisty girl is attending a prestigious private high school on scholarship, where meets the F4, an infamous group of rich handsome boys who take interest in her. Chaos ensues. We all know this one. This story was adapted so many times in different countries that we’re so familiar with the plot already, but we still love to watch it anyway in all its cliche, often cringey goodness. Watch here.
Bonus: Money Heist
Even the critically acclaimed Spanish TV show is getting a Korean drama remake with the help of streaming giant Netflix. So far, the latest update we have is the list of cast members, but we’re looking forward to it!
Which one did you like better: the original show or the Korean remake?