Ah, melodramas. Some people love them, some people hate them. For me, I love a nice dramatic melodrama when it’s done right. I love lots of angst, longing stares, tragic love, and the array of heartbreaking circumstances that the characters find themselves in the middle of. I even love a good makjang (crazy and over the top plot points) style melodrama filled with all kinds of drama and craziness.
So compiling my list of what I think are the 10 best Korean melodramas was quite easy. I only wish I could have included more! This list is completely my opinion, and it includes a variety of melodramas from lighter to more serious. Let’s check them out!
10. The Heirs
Plot: The complicated love life of a rich teenager (Lee Min Ho) and an ordinary girl (Park Shin Hye) who gets involved in his world.
I know this drama gets a lot of hate, but I have to say that I really enjoyed Heirs! And I know a lot of other people did too. I like teen dramas that don’t focus so much on school and grades, but rather the characters and their lives outside of school. Heirs was exactly like that.
It’s teen angst and melodrama delivered in a fun package. I was able to easily get wrapped up in all of the drama in this little world of the rich. It was a lot of fun, and it delivered a nice dose of heart and emotion. And lots of longing gazes! (Heirs Review)
9. My Love Eun Dong
Plot: A romance about two lovers, Park Hyun Soo (Joo Jin Mo) and Ji Eun Dong (Kim Sa Rang) who meet as teenagers and again in their twenties, but are separated both times. The story follows their third meeting when they are in their thirties as they try to overcome the odds to be together.
My Love Eun Dong has the feel of a sweeping romance. It was so easy to become invested with Hyun Soo and Eun Dong as teenagers because their love story was so adorable and pure. You are always aware of Eun Ho and Eun Dong’s true love, and their chemistry is amazing. Also the music and the visuals just carry you away into their love story.
But things are messy and complicated in this drama, and they have a lot of obstacles in their way in order to be together. From start to finish this drama swept me away into a magnificent love story. It gave me complicated characters that really made me think. In the end, I was more than satisfied. (My Love Eun Dong Review)
8. Remember: War of the Son
Plot: An attorney (Yoo Seung Ho) has a condition called hyperthymesia which results in him having an autobiographical memory where he can remember everything in extreme detail. When his father is falsely accused of a crime and sentenced to death, he sets out to clear his name with the help of his friend (Park Min Young). But then his excellent memory starts to fade, and it’s a race against time to prove his father’s innocence while he still can.
Remember: War of the Son was really fantastic. This is one of those times where I was excited about a drama from the moment Yoo Seung Ho and Park Min Young were cast. Then they continued to add a slew of talented actors. And the drama definitely lived up to my excitement! Yoo Seung Ho is an emotional powerhouse, and he just pulls you right into the plight of his character as he so desperately tries to help his father.
It had a wonderful story acted by a cast of marvelous actors. It felt sleek and was shot beautifully. It was intense, sweet, and heartbreaking. For me, it was everything I had hoped for in a melodrama, and I highly recommend it. (Remember: War of the Son Review)
7. Shining Inheritance (Brilliant Legacy)
Plot: A woman (Han Hyo Joo) who has lost her family is suddenly told she will inherit a wealthy woman’s fortune and is invited to live with her family which includes a spoiled grandson (Lee Seung Gi).
I actually consider this a lighter melodrama with a sort of family drama feel to it. There is plenty of angst to go around and secrets and misunderstandings abound, but it never felt overdone to me. But there are a lot of secret character connections and complications in this drama!
I loved the classic romance between Lee Seung Gi and Han Hyo Joo. It never gets old watching the spoiled rich guy fall for the kind and hard working heroine. All in all, Shining Inheritance was a wonderful drama with plenty of stuff of happening to keep things interesting throughout. (Shining Inheritance Review)
6. Padam Padam
Plot: An ex-con named Kang Cheol (Jung Woo Sung) was wrongly convicted of a crime and spent many years in prison. He is finally released along with his close friend Gook Soo (Kim Bum) who claims to be his guardian angel. While trying to start his life over, Kang Cheol meets a cold veterinarian (Han Ji Min) and their love story is set in motion.
Padam Padam is such a beautiful drama. Its story is unique with few drama clichés. The actors were phenomenal with the best bromance I have seen in a kdrama between Jung Woo Sung and Kim Bum.
It also had romance, wonderful family relationships, fantasy, and even a little suspense. The emotions were so high throughout this drama. I felt so much hope and inspiration from Padam Padam, and can you really beat having Kim Bum as a guardian angel? (Padam Padam Review)
5. Uncontrollably Fond
Plot: A popular star (Kim Woo Bin) and a documentary producer (Suzy) had a complicated relationship as teenagers and eventually separated. The two are reunited many years later after secrets from their past begin to surface and the star is given only months to live.
Uncontrollably Fond is just my style of melodrama. I enjoyed all of the characters and was genuinely interested in their individual stories and how they related to the bigger picture. I loved both Kim Woo Bin and Suzy and was completely invested in their romance.
The drama is filled with emotion because the characters were so rich and full all the way from the main characters down to the supporting ones. The intricate web of lies that connected everyone made for a tension filled story that left me always wanting me more.
All in all, Uncontrollably Fond was an amazing ride! I enjoyed each and every relationship and was never bored for one second of the drama. Joon Young’s passion for Eul was complicated and didn’t always produce the sweetest results, but I never doubted his love for her, and that dedication was at the center of a remarkable tale of love and redemption. (Uncontrollably Fond Review)
4. Thank You
Plot: The story of a little girl (Seo Shin Ae) who was accidentally infected with HIV by a doctor. After the doctor passes away, her boyfriend (Jang Hyuk) goes to her rural town to apologize to the little girl and her mother (Gong Hyo Jin). But he ends up feeling drawn to them and wants to take care of them as they begin to soften his cold heart.
Thank you is one of the simplest, yet most profound dramas I have watched. I was originally hesitant to watch this classic drama because of the subject matter. It just sounded like there was no way this drama could not be absolutely heart breaking. But it is not at all like it sounds.
Yes, the little girl does have HIV, and that is really sad. But the drama does so well at presenting her as just a normal little girl who can live a long healthy life. But oh my Seo Shin Ae was phenomenal as Lee Bom! This girl is completely adorable yet so talented. She is so believable that I never felt like I was watching a child acting. She touched my heart with her sweet spirit.
Jang Hyuk and Gong Hyo Jin were both wonderful in their roles. This drama is full of so much warmth. It is one of the most beautiful stories I have seen. With it’s simple realism, family bonds, and hope for the future, it just moved me on such a deep level. I wholeheartedly recommend this beautiful gem of a drama. (Thank You Review)
3. Love Rain
Plot: The love story of a couple (Jang Geun Suk and Yoona) in the 1970’s who were unable to be together as well as the story of their children that embark on their own romantic journey that is filled with complications.
I completely fell in love with Love Rain! It swept me into its little world, and I didn’t want to leave. This romantic melodrama featured an epic star crossed lovers theme with music and cinematography that was gorgeous all the way through.
I was so in tune with each of the characters and fully involved in their amazing love stories. There are lots of cliches and lack of communication between the characters, but I enjoyed every minute. This drama just made me happy, plain and simple. (Love Rain Review)
2. King of Baking, Kim Tak Gu
Plot: A young man (Yoon Shi Yoon) must overcome hardships to become a baker and inherit the company that is rightfully his.
I mentioned earlier that I’m one of those people that really enjoys makjangs. Because of that, King of Baking is one of my favorite dramas. It is filled with affairs, birth secrets, jealousy, murder, and one disaster after another befalls our poor hero, Tak Gu.
I loved all of the drama and the complicated relationships of our characters. But in the midst of the craziness, there are a lot of life lessons and words of wisdom as well as the endearing and positive spirit that is Tak Gu. And if you like a strong love/hate bromance, Tak Gu and Ma Jun’s (Joo Won) is a must see.
King of Baking is quite the ride, and it certainly isn’t for everyone. But if you like makjang, King of Baking is one the most well done I have seen. With interesting and complex characters, it really is unforgettable. (King of Baking, Kim Tak Gu Review)
1. I Miss You
Plot: A man (Park Yoo Chun) searches for his first love (Yoon Eun Hye) who tragically disappeared when they were teenagers.
I Miss You is one of my all time favorite dramas. The love story between Jung Woo and Soo Yeon completely captivated me. Their romance is filled with tears and plenty of angst in each episode. And I loved it! So much tension and longing.
Also, one of my favorite things about this drama is the love triangle. Harry (Yoo Seung Ho) has a major presence in Soo Yeon’s life, and he is one of those villains you love to hate. The dynamic between these three is intense, and the actors were all amazing in their roles. The drama just got better and better as it went to create melodrama perfection. (I Miss You Review)
Well, that list should give you enough heartache to last quite a while! I love melodramas because of the intense emotions involved. While they are frequently filled with tragedy, they also show just how enduring people are as they do whatever it takes to overcome life’s challenges. A good melodrama moves me on a deep level, and I will always be on the lookout for another deliciously angsty story to dive into.
So what are your favorite melodramas?
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