The K-drama world is a place with a variety of characters, often times meant to embody a particular trait or a couple of traits — dynamic stock characters, if you will. There are the shut-ins who want to break free, the revenge-seekers who work tirelessly to rise through the ranks, the go-getters who meet with a ridiculous amount of hurdles. One of these trope is the genius — they’re at the top of their field but often find themselves at a crossroads. Do they go left or right? But genius characters also offer unique insight into their drama world. Often times they give us inspiration to work a little harder to fulfill our dreams, because they also serve as a reminder that “genius” doesn’t get you everywhere in life.
So here is a list of some of K-drama’s geniuses who may inspire you to work hard or are just really great to watch and cheer on in their endeavors and struggles!
1. “God’s Quiz” – Han Jin Woo
Ryu Deok Hwan stars in this OCN drama as a medical examiner who specializes in rare diseases. He assists with crime cases suspected of involving perpetrators with rare conditions, and offers plenty of unique medical insight while teaching viewers a thing or two about a few rare diseases.
Watch “God’s Quiz”:
2. “Good Doctor” – Park Shi On
Joo Won plays an autistic savant who aspires to be a pediatrics surgeon. While he is certainly a genius, Park Shi On must face plenty of prejudice against his medical condition and prove his abilities to colleagues who see him as little more than a child.
Watch “Good Doctor”:
3. “Sungkyunkwan Scandal” – Kim Yoon Hee
Park Min Young plays a highly intelligent woman who must disguise herself as her brother to earn money. She continues the disguise and enters in prestigious learning center for future politicians and must prove her own worth.
Watch “Sungkyunkwan Scandal”:
4. “My Name Is Kim Sam Soon” – Kim Sam Soon
There are all kinds of “genius” and Kim Sun Ah plays a woman who is a genius at making delicious pastries. She gets hired as a pastry chef in an upscale restaurant and must work hard to prove her skills in the baking world. It’s a drama that will either leave you itching to work in the kitchen, or want to eat all the delicious desserts.
Watch “My Name Is Kim Sam Soon”:
5. “Baker King, Kim Tak Goo” – Kim Tak Goo
Yoon Shi Yoon plays Kim Tak Goo, a character who has a genius sense of smell that helps him work his way through the baking world, becoming a prized pupil under a baking legend. He faces plenty of ups and downs while searching for his missing mother and facing the competitive side of the baking industry. If Kim Sam Soon’s pastry skills don’t entice you, Kim Tak Goo’s skills making bread might.
Watch “Baker King, Kim Tak Goo”:
6. “Reply 1988” – Choi Taek
Park Bo Gum plays a genius Go player, Choi Taek, who competes in international competitions and makes national headlines. He comes from a simple background and stays humble despite his fame, helping him become one of 2015-2016’s most lovable male characters in K-drama.
Watch “Reply 1988”:
7. “Saimdang, Light’s Diary” – Shin Saimdang
Lee Young Ae plays a double role in this SBS drama as both an art history lecturer and as the famous poet-artist, Shin Saimdang. Shin Saimdang was an artist and calligrapher in the Joseon era renowned for her work despite living in at a time when female artists were neither cultivated nor highly respected.
8. “Cheese in the Trap” – Baek In Ho
Seo Kang Joon plays the rough and tough Baek In Ho, a virtuoso on the piano who damaged his hand, thus ending his future as a concert pianist. However, Baek In Ho begins to open up during the drama and attempts to not only re-master the piano, but expand beyond his past capabilities.
9. “Doctor Stranger” – Park Hoon
Lee Jong Suk stars in this SBS drama as a genius thoracic surgeon who was forced to work in North Korea before escaping to South Korea at the cost of losing his father and the love of his life. He’s hired to work in a hospital but must compete against fellow surgeons to prove his skills while facing animosity against his background.
10. “I Hear Your Voice” – Jang Hye Sun
Lee Bo Young plays a cut-throat lawyer who demonstrates her abilities in the courtroom repeatedly, all while dealing with the stress of having a man around who wants to kill her. While it’s difficult to call someone in law a “genius” in the field, she certainly proves that she’s not someone you want to take lightly.
11. “Romantic Doctor Kim” – Boo Yong Joo
Han Suk Kyu plays a genius doctor who changes his identity and takes a post at a small, rural hospital and ultimately changes the lives of two doctors, teaching them to choose the patient over money and power. He works to better himself and learn from the mistakes of his past and what he has lost, hoping to better the world around him and improve how medicine is practiced.
12. “Lucky Romance” – Je Soo Ho
Ryu Jun Yeol stars in this MBC drama as a tech genius and CEO of a game developer company. He’s a mixture of logical and hard-headed, so much so that he doesn’t believe in anything supernatural. It’s only natural that his beliefs get shaken after meeting a girl willing to take major risks all because of the words of a fortuneteller.
Watch “Lucky Romance”:
Who are some of your favorite “geniuses” in K-drama world? What are your favorite things about watching these characters? Let us know in the comments below!
heytoto currently teaches ELL in Seoul, and when she isn’t waiting in line for something, can be found drinking a latte.