Korean dramas have enjoyed massive popularity for the last decade due to the Hallyu Wave, producing many memorable hit dramas like “My Love From the Star” and “Descendants of the Sun.” While the popularity of Korean dramas has not waned, dramas from other Asian countries have started to gain momentum and popularity among international viewers. Last year’s smash hit Chinese historical drama “Nirvana in Fire” boosted the cast of mainly non-mainstream actors into fame both domestically and overseas.
Non-Korean Asian dramas offer something unique and fresh to viewers in terms of storytelling, format, cinematography, directing, and so forth. If you mainly watch Korean dramas, don’t be afraid to go out and explore other dramas out there. The drama world is your oyster!
Here is a list of foreign dramas that I’ve watched and am currently watching that you should check out to help you get started on expanding your drama-watching journey! You won’t be sorry.
“Love O2O” is a Chinese romance drama based on the novel called Wei Wei Yi Xiao Hen Qing Cheng (trans: Just One Smile Is Very Alluring) by Gu Man. Bei Wei Wei (Zheng Shuang) is a Qing University computer science major and also the campus beauty who excels in her studies. She is an aspiring game designer and goes by the name of Luwei Wei Wei in an online role-playing game called “Dreaming of Jianghu.” Wei Wei is also the only female in the list of 10 best players of the game. Xiao Nai (Yang Yang) is a senior computer science major at the same school who is a gaming expert and considered the cream of the crop in terms of academics, athletics, and amazing visuals. When Xiao Nai first encounters Wei Wei, it isn’t her looks that he notices, but how quickly her fingers move across her keyboard while gaming at a PC café. He is immediately smitten and begins to use his skills online and offline to win the heart of Wei Wei.
“Love O2O” is easily one of my favorite dramas from 2016. I just love the main couple; they’re so incredibly attractive, confident, intelligent, and classy. One thing that is so admirable about our OTP is that they don’t let their haters sabotage their relationship; they just support and trust each other unconditionally. They are the epitome of relationship goals. The drama was an instant monster hit with over 15 billion online views in China. Yes, that’s right. Not millions, but billions! Not surprisingly, Yang Yang’s popularity skyrocketed through the roof, as you can see by his 20 plus endorsements he did last year alone. “Love O2O” felt like a breath a fresh air with its ability to draw you in with such a simple story line. If you’re a fan of romantic-comedies, I highly recommend you watch this drama if you haven’t already.
“My Amazing Boyfriend” is a Chinese fantasy romantic-comedy starring Wu Qian as Tian Jing Zhi, a B-list actress who has an unlucky love life after being dumped by her seventh boyfriend. Kim Tae Hwan plays Xue Ling Qiao, a man who has been roaming the earth for the past 400 years. He is no ordinary human being, as he has special powers and cannot experience aging, death, injuries, nor pain. However, he has been in a dormant state for the past 100 years after someone mysteriously drained his blood. One day, Tian Jing Zhi gets into a car crash and accidentally rejuvenates Xue Ling Qiao from his slumber. With nowhere else to go, Ling Qiao moves into Jing Zhi’s home despite her protests. Ling Qiao becomes embroiled in Jing Zhi’s crazy entertainment world as he tries to find the enemy who drained his blood.
“My Amazing Boyfriend” was initially marketed as a Chinese remake of “My Love from the Star,” which is quite misleading because, story-wise, it is completely different. It can definitely be seen as its own stand-alone drama despite having a similar premise. Wu Qian is definitely the star of the show; she’s so charming and hilarious as Jing Zhi. I’ve had countless laugh-out-loud moments, especially with all the meta jokes about her only being worthy of being a second lead, when in reality she is the lead in this drama. I found this drama to be fresh, enjoyable, and very easy to watch. If you want a fun romance filled with comical hijinks, then this is the drama for you. Also, good news: season two of the series has been confirmed!
Watch “My Amazing Boyfriend”:
“My Little Lover” is a Japanese drama based on the manga “Minami Kun No Koibito” by Shungiku Uchida. The drama stars Maika Yamamoto as Chiyomi Horikiria, a bubbly high school student who is a talented internet novel writer and an aspiring dancer. Taishi Nakagawa plays Shunichi Minami, Chiyomi’s childhood friend and first love. He is a class representative known for his good looks and academics. Despite living in the same neighborhood and attending the same school, the two have rarely talked in years. They were once close friends, but grew apart after Shunichi’s father left the family. During a stormy night, Chiyomi has an argument with her parents regarding her future plans and runs away from home. While seeking shelter from the rain inside a cave, Chiyomi wishes she could go back to her childhood. The next day, she wakes up and realizes she has shrunk to 15 cm tall. Shunichi finds Chiyomi and takes her back to his home. They work together, trying various methods to help her return back to normal size.
“My Little Lover” was such a fun watch; it is super cute and romantic, perfect for those who love fluffy and light-hearted shows. I love Chiyomi, because she’s like an adorable little doll! I’d pick her up and carry her around in my purse all day if I could. Our OTP had really great chemistry together and I enjoyed watching Shunichi go from being uncomfortable to being naturally sweet, taking care of tiny Chiyomi. If you’re looking to take a break from the angst-ridden dramas, I’d say “My Little Lover” is the perfect antidote. It’s such a feel-good and heart-warming drama that will surely put a smile on your face.
Watch “My Little Lover”:
“V-Focus” is a Taiwanese romantic-comedy and action drama starring Melvin Sia as Jiang Zhi Heng and Huang Wei Ting as Ding Ruo Qin. Zhi Heng is a bodyguard and the founder of Krisis, a security consultancy company that protects public figures. Ruo Qin is a journalist for V-Focus who is well known for her strong, persistent ability to find news exclusives. They’ve been longtime enemies in their professional lives, as Ruo Qin is always trying to catch the latest scoops and scandals from public figures that Zhi Heng is protecting.
The drama also stars Jennifer Hong as Zhou Xin Yi, a senior reporter at V-Focus and Ruo Qin’s best friend. Yorke Sun plays the nerdy Ke Guo Long, who is in charge of the research and development at Krisis. Xin Yi and Guo Long end up in a fake marriage as a cover-up after Xin Yi’s fiancée breaks up with her on their wedding day.
“V-Focus” was an unexpected surprise for me. I did not expect to like it as much as I do. It has a lot of heart and many interesting characters who all have intriguing back stories. I especially love our main couple, Zhi Heng and Ruo Qin. So far, their relationship is not perfect and has been one heck of an emotional roller-coaster. It’s a realistic portrayal of romantic relationships with its ups and downs. I really appreciate how the pair learns to acknowledge each others’ flaws and differences to strengthen a long-lasting relationship. It is definitely a hidden gem, a drama that has a bit of everything from action, romance, bromance, to comedy. I especially love KK, the robot princess of Krisis. She’s like the adorable daughter I never thought I would want to have!
“Simple Man” is a Chinese sci-fi and thriller web drama. It tells a story of four main characters who end up signing an agreement with a “demon” website, which grants them special powers that help with their daily lives. Later on, people are mysteriously dying or disappearing and these crimes all relate back to the “demon” website. Through various circumstances, all four main characters meet and join together to investigate how they got their powers.
I recently started watching this drama and it’s such a quirky but addicting story. I can see why it was a massive hit in China with over 230 million online views, despite featuring no major stars or famous directors. It’s a really great blend of action, science fiction, mystery, paranormal, and comedy. What I really enjoy about the drama so far is the introductions of the four main characters with their back stories; you see how their stories intertwine. I look forward to seeing them officially joining forces to defeat this “demon.”
Watch “Simple Man” here:
Soompiers, have you watched any of the dramas listed? Any other foreign drama recommendations? Let me know in the comments!
blacksesame88 is an Asian drama and entertainment addict. She enjoys discussing her favorite dramas, and sharing her knowledge of Asian entertainment. Follow her on Twitter and join her for recaps of the current dramas she’s watching, also feel free to say Hi and have a chat!