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Get your Kleenex ready
If the only Korean dramas you've watched are thrillers, you're missing out. Don't get us wrong, shows like Squid Game — Netflix's most-viewed series of all time — Hellbound, and All of Us Are Dead are exhilarating in all the best ways. But they're far from the only genre of content from South Korea that gets the heart racing and blood pumping. Enter the romantic K-dramas.
Simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking, these shows instantly get you rooting for the main leads to be together against all odds. (Or, sometimes, rooting for a main lead to fall for a second lead, hence the use of the popular K-drama term "Second Lead Syndrome.") Some of these series are comedies, others action and historical shows. They will make you swoon, laugh, and reach for the Kleenex as the tears begin to fall uncontrollably. Here are the best romance K-dramas to watch right now on Netflix, Hulu, and more.
One of the most highly recommended K-dramas from the past two years is Crash Landing on You, which follows star-crossed lovers Yoon Se-ri (Son Ye-jin) and Ri Jeong-hyeok (Hyun-bin). When a paragliding incident goes awry, Se-ri, a woman from South Korea, crash lands in North Korea — more specifically, into the arms of officer Jeong-hyeok. The two fall in love as Jeong-hyeok attempts to send Se-ri safely back home, even as their impending separation looms.
Mr. Sunshine is set in the years right before Japan's occupation of Korea. Eugene Choi (Lee Byung-hun) returns to his birthplace of Joseon as a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, and meets noblewoman Go Ae-shin (Kim Tae-ri). Ae-shin has secretly trained to be a fighter since childhood, and this new romance comes at a time when she is exploring her ties to a network of Korean independence fighters. Prepare your Kleenex for this show, which is best described by one of its own lines: "Guns. Glory. Sad endings."
Kim Shin (Gong Yoo), a military general living in the Goryeo Dynasty, has been cursed with immortality. He was betrayed by the king he served and framed as a traitor. The only way for his immortality to end is through an act which can only be performed by the Goblin's bride. Enter Ji Eun-tak (Kim Go-eun). A high school student who's had the ability to see and talk to ghosts from a young age, Eun-tak's fate becomes more deeply intertwined with the supernatural when she meets Kim Shin and discovers their bond.
This rom-com follows the lives of Lee Young-joon (Park Seo-joon), a successful and self-absorbed vice-chairman of a major corporation, and his secretary Kim Mi-so (Park Min-young). Young-joon's world is shaken when Mi-so informs him of her resignation, after devoting nine years to her job. Young-joon is desperate to keep Mi-so by his side, and the story unfolds as the pair develops feelings for each other while beginning to, for the first time, face traumatic events from each of their pasts.
The Red Sleeve is based on the romance between King Jeongjo, the 22nd ruler of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea whose reign lasted from 1776 to 1800, and his concubine Royal Nobel Consort Uibin Seong. Portrayed by Lee Jun-ho and Lee Se-young, respectively, the two characters must confront their feelings while shouldering duties to the country and responsibilities in the royal court. Seong Deok-im, who later becomes the concubine, is reluctant to accept the King's affections for fear of loss of her freedom.
Life for Oh Dong-baek (Gong Hyo-jin) hasn't been the easiest. She's a single mother who runs a bar, and has become the subject of the town's gossip because of her business. She also is the next target of a serial killer. When police officer Hwang Yong-sik (Kang Ha-neul) falls head over heels for her, he is eager for his feelings to be reciprocated but, more importantly, determined to protect Dong-baek and her son from harm's way.
Choi Ung (Choi Woo-shik) and Kook Yeon-soo's (Kim Da-mi) high school relationship ended terribly, with the pair promising they would never meet again. But when the documentary they filmed 10 years ago goes viral, the former loves are brought together by a producer friend and challenged to face the cameras again.
Art curator Sung Deok-mi's (Park Min-young) pastime activity is a bit of a secret: She's the manager of a fansite for her favorite K-pop idol. When retired painter Ryan Gold (Kim Jae-wook) becomes Deok-mi's new boss, she hopes to keep her hobby and identity as a K-pop stan from him. They become closer after rumors break out and the pair begins to pretend-date in order to protect the art curator.
The love story of Hwang Hee-tae (Lee Do-hyun) and Kim Myung-hee (Go Min-si) unfolds against the backdrop of the Gwangju Uprising, a period in 1980 South Korea when mass protests against the military government took place. Medical student Hee-tae ran an illegal clinic to help those injured from pro-democracy demonstrations. He postpones his graduation and meets Myung-hee, a nurse who is saving up to study in Germany and leave her life in South Korea behind.
Chae Young-shin (Park Min-young) and Park Bong-soo (Ji Chang-wook) are co-workers at a tabloid news website. But Bong-soo has a secret identity: He is a mercenary with the code name "Healer," hired to perform illegal jobs and one of the best in the business. A special relationship forms when "Healer" crosses paths with Young-shin, who does not know the truth about her new love interest.