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Romantic, fantastical, cliché — these K-dramas will leave you wanting more

If you're looking for a new binge this spring, try a K-drama like "Twenty-Five Twenty-One." – Photo by @Netflix / Twitter

Spring is in the air, and for many, that means new beginnings and the start of fresh romances. In recent times, no form of media has captured the hearts of people like K-dramas.

With their star-studded casts, stylish costuming and beautiful cinematography, it's no shock that these shows have weaved their way into the hearts of viewers around the world.

Many K-dramas focus on love and romance in all sorts of imaginative forms. Whether it be childhood friends reunited, fake relationships or a fateful encounter, you'll be sure to be immediately invested. If you're interested in living vicariously through a TV character this spring, you can't go wrong with these K-dramas.

"Twenty-Five Twenty-One"

This recently-released K-drama series has become one of my favorites due to its candid depiction of friendship and the many ups and downs that come with it. It left me with a warm feeling in my heart and a desire to embrace the fearlessness that often accompanies youth.

The show follows the romantic lives of five characters over the span of 23 years (from 1998-2021) and stars industry titans like Nam Joo-hyuk and Kim Tae-ri. It depicts real-life events in recent Korean history, giving viewers both a heartfelt romance and a small history lesson.

I initially started watching this drama due to the fact that K-pop idol Bona (from group WJSN) was starring in it, but I found myself enjoying the drama more and more as the episode count climbed. While some of the tropes can be cliché, they're written in such a way that keeps viewers engaged without making the plot stale or overdone.

"Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo"

Based on the real life of South Korean Olympic weightlifter Jang Mi-ran, the story involves Kim Bok-joo (Lee Sung-kyung), a weightlifter working hard to achieve athletic excellence.

What makes this drama a drama is a classic love triangle between Bok-joo, her friend Jung Joon-hyung (Nam Joo-hyuk) and Joon-hyung's older brother Jung Jae-yi (Lee Jae-yoon).

"Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo" was one of the first K-dramas that I completed from start to finish. It felt empowering to see a woman pursue a sport with such passion and vigor, despite whatever circumstances obstructed her path.

This drama has an almost cult-like following, and I fully believe that it's due to how earnestly Lee portrayed her character. She's the kind of person everyone wants to root for, as she's steadfast, determined and talented at her sport. This drama not only involves romance but also involves a good deal of introspection and the development of each individual character.


Depicting the ups and downs of college romance, "Heartstrings" circumvents most high school love stories by portraying a cast of characters looking to find their identity at a prestigious performing arts college.

Park Shin-hye (one of my all-time favorite K-drama actresses) stars as Lee Gyu-won, a Traditional Korean Music major who, after a series of events, resents Lee Shin (Jung Yong-hwa), the leader of the band "The Stupid."

Gyu-won doesn't realize why Lee Shin is so popular until she comes to a performance where "The Stupid" performs. Mesmerized by the band's singing and musicianship, Gyu-won fights to realize her dreams of being a musical actress and begins a friendship with Shin.

This is one of the more cliché K-dramas on this list. It's full of fun, romance and plenty of emotional twists and turns to keep anyone on their toes.

"Welcome to Waikiki"

If you're looking for a bit of fun and a ton of laughs, "Welcome to Waikiki" is perfect. Among all the dramas about romance and love, "Welcome to Waikiki" is a show that brings major boyish charm to TV.

It involves three young men who run a hostel in Itaewon, a district in Korea with a large foreign population. These young men aim to produce a movie together and run the hostel for some cash, despite knowing next-to-nothing about managing a business.

A wrench is thrown into their plans as they discover a baby abandoned by its mother in the hostel. What follows is an endlessly charming drama that navigates the characters trying to simultaneously run a hostel, take care of a baby and pursue their dreams.

If you long for the days of summer or are still reminiscing about spring break, "Welcome to Waikiki" may be the drama for you. Each episode never failed to bring a smile to my face, and as a bonus, the baby is adorable. Breaking away from some of the tried and true K-drama clichés, "Welcome to Waikiki" is a breath of fresh air.

"Coffee Prince"

This K-drama features the classic trope of a chaebol (a large South Korean business run by a family) heir and an average girl getting together, but with a bit of a twist.

Starring Gong Yoo, brought to recent international fame through his appearance in "Goblin," "Coffee Prince" follows his character Choi Han Kyul and the tomboyish Go Eun Chan (Yoon Eun-hye).

Han Kyul is given the chance to run a coffee shop, and in order to attract many female employees, he only puts out a hiring ad for good-looking men. He hires Eun Chan without realizing she's a girl, and as he begins to develop feelings for her, he starts to question his sexuality, which leads to a rather chaotic series of events.

When this drama initially aired, it was praised by critics and had high ratings on TV. After watching it, you'll see why. I'm a long-time fan of Gong Yoo, who some viewers may recognize from his brief appearance in "Squid Game." If you want to see your coffee shop AU dreams come to life, give "Coffee Prince" a try.

If you're interested in stepping into the world of K-dramas but don't know where to start, these are all some great programs to dive into. Spring into spring with these K-dramas that'll have you in your feels.

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