The Jakarta Post
This undated handout picture provided on Feb. 13, 2020 by South Korean cable television network TVN in Seoul shows a scene from television drama series 'Crash Landing on You'. (tvN/AFP/File)
Romantic Korean dramas, or K-dramas, are known for their portrayals of the nearly perfect male protagonist.
Popular shows such as Boys of Flowers (2009) and Secret Garden (2010) present heroic male characters that are attractive, smart, rich and slightly arrogant – traits that apparently aim to appeal to viewers.
More recent K-dramas have modified the formula, making their characters more relatable while still having the ability to charm and plant butterflies in viewers' stomachs.
Some characters, however, appear to be a little too perfect, having unbelievably good genes and every possible good trait known to mankind.
These unrealistic characters may be products of the imagination, but the K-dramas that feature them sure know how to make you long for their real-life counterparts, if they even exist.
If you're up for the ride, dream away with the gentlemen listed below.
Something in the Rain
Starring Jung Hae-in and Son Ye-jin, Something in the Rain follows the romantic relationship between 35-year-old Yoon Jin-a and 20-something-year-old Seo Jun-hui.
Jun-hui is the younger brother of Jin-a’s best friend Seo Gyeong-seon (Jang So Yeon), who has recently returned to South Korea after spending three years working in the United States.
As they now work in the same building, Jin-a and Jun-hui spend more time together and develop romantic feelings for each other. However, Jin-a’s parents and Gyeong-seon disapprove of the age gap between them.
The series highlights the beauty of courtship, delicately showing the excitement felt when two people begin to fall in love. Jun-hui’s cheeky yet mature character and his endearing traits can make viewers smile for days.
Something in the Rain also examines issues such as sexual harassment and gender inequality at the workplace, making it more than just a romantic drama.
Crash Landing on You
Crash Landing on You was among the most popular K-dramas in South Korea in late 2019.
Following a paragliding mishap, South Korean heiress Yoon Se-ri (Son Ye-jin) falls on the north side of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and lands in the arms of handsome North Korean army officer Captain Ri Jung Hyuk (Hyun Bin). Although Captain Ri lives a humble life as an army officer, he’s actually the son in a powerful family.
As he tries to help Se-ri get out of North Korea, the two realize their feelings for one another.
Captain Ri can be considered one of the most lovable characters in South Korean dramas. In the beginning, he seems aloof and cold as he talks in curt, short sentences. But things begin to change when he is shown putting in the time and effort to look for personal care products for Se-ri on the black market. From then on, the charming captain’s sweet and thoughtful gestures have the ability to make most viewers swoon.
Topped with a glimpse of life in North Korea and Captain Ri’s team of soldiers who lend a humorous touch, it’s no surprise that the series’ last episode managed to break South Korean network TVN’s record in February with an average rating of 21.68 percent.
Reply 1988 is one of the most talked about K-dramas. Directed by Shin Won-ho (Prison Playbook, Hospital Playlist), the series is praised for presenting the everyday lives of five friends and their families along with some real-life historical events in South Korea, such as the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul and the Sampoong Department Store collapse in 1995.
The story explores the friendship between Sung Deok-sun (Lee Hye-ri) and her male friends Choi Taek (Park Bo-gum), Kim Jung-hwan (Ryu Jun-yeol), Ryu Dong-ryong (Lee Dong-hwi) and Sung Sun-woo (Go Kyung-po) as they enter adulthood.
The television series features not one, but two unrealistic boyfriend characters, Taek and Jung-hwan. The former is a genius Go player who is clueless when it comes to mundane tasks. His character's portrayal and bright smile can put a spell over any hopeless romantic.
Jung-hwan, however, is more stoic and sarcastic. He comes from a family of newfound wealth and can be sweet and caring toward his objects of affection and family, adding appeal to his character.
What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?
At a glance, Lee Young-joon (Park Seo-joon) seems like a narcissistic boss who doesn’t care about his employees. His trusted secretary Kim Mi-so (Park Min-young) works exceptionally hard to accommodate all his needs.
However, when Mi-so is about to resign, she discovers that her handsome and tall boss is actually a modern-day knight in shining armor.
Based on a popular webtoon, What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim? is like a fairytale set in modern times. The storyline – a rich man falls in love with a poor women – is nothing to write home about, but as the story progresses, the series explores profound topics, bringing viewers to see the light at the end of a tunnel.
It’s Okay to not be Okay
It’s Okay to not be Okay is slightly different compared to other romantic K-dramas. Kim Soo-hyun plays the role of Moon Kang-tae, a handsome caregiver who works in a psychiatric hospital. Destiny brings him to meet antisocial children’s book author Ko Moon-young (Seo Ye-ji).
The two characters develop an instant attraction, but past events and their emotional baggage challenge the relationship.
Kang-tae is portrayed as very dependable and desirable. His background as a caregiver also shows his ability to provide comfort, allowing for moving scenes in the series.
Although there has been controversy surrounding the series for content that is considered to promote sexual harassment, It's Okay to not be Okay is one of those rare South Korean dramas that puts a spotlight on mental health. Moreover, the show's interpretation of fairytales is interesting given its gloomy and melancholic atmosphere. (wng)