19 Melodramas And Makjang Dramas That Will Take You On A Roller Coaster Ride Of Emotions

Sometimes you need a little intense drama in your life. It’s an even better idea when that drama comes in the form of K-dramas, because you can observe the craziness that happens in a fictional life and get invested in it while knowing it’s not actually real.

Here’s a look at some crazy and intense melodramas and makjang dramas that have been shown throughout the years. I’ve included only some personal ones that I have watched, but there’s obviously an endless number of them!

Warning: Major spoilers ahead!

Star In My Heart

Be prepared for: An evil stepmother who makes female lead work like a dog, and a famous singer ends up falling in love with her.

This melodrama stars the late Choi Jin Shil as Lee Yun Hee and Ahn Jae Wook as Kang Min Hee. Min Hee is a famous singer who falls in love with the poor orphan girl Yun Hee. What’s a melodrama without a dramatic love triangle? One of the best parts about this K-drama is that not only is the main lead living out every girl’s fantasy of a famous singer falling in love with her, but there’s also another rich CEO named Lee Joon Hee who is after her heart. The dramatic part? Joon Hee (Cha In Pyo) happens to be best friends with Min Hee.

Catch the first episode below:

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Autumn In My Heart

Be prepared for:  A man and woman who thought they were siblings find out they’re not, and fall in love with each other.

This melodrama stars a very young Song Hye Kyo and Song Seung Heon as siblings who find out that they’re not actually blood-related. They get separated at a young age, but have never truly forgotten about each other. There’s not only one but two heartbreaking love triangles, a main character who has cancer, and an evil “sister” who is out to get everyone. Just when you think this poor OTP can’t get any more bad luck, there’s even more bad luck waiting around the corner. I’ve watched the series several times throughout the years and cry buckets every single time!

Stairway to Heaven

Be prepared for: The main female lead getting amnesia and not being able to remember her first love. On top of that, she tragically goes blind from having cancer.

Choi Ji Woo and Kwon Sang Woo respectively play Jung Seo and Song Joo, who were childhood lovers. When Song Joo heads off to school, Jung Seo gets into a tragic car accident and gets amnesia. She cannot remember Song Joo, but he tries desperately to help her remember. Everything about this classic series is dramatic, but the part that really makes it melodramatic has to be when Song Joo goes blind. Because low and behold, the second male lead played by Shin Hyun Joon donates his eyes to her so that she can see. Only in K-dramaland!


Be prepared for: A bad boy falling in love with rich girl whose bodyguard is also in love with her. And the bad boy turns into a serious gangster, gets arrested, and is put to death.

This has to be mentioned in any melodrama category as this love story between gangster Park Tae Soo (Choi Min Soo) and the daughter of a wealthy casino owner, Yoon Hye Rin (Go Hyun Jung) was truly epic. Even the love triangle involving her bodyguard Baek Jae Hee (Lee Jung Jae) can go down in the books as being one of the most tragic second lead stories in K-drama history. There’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears throughout this series, which is probably why it’s one of the most watched K-dramas of all time.

I’m Sorry I Love You

Be prepared for: Plot twists involving an orphan, evil mother, tragic love story, and someone getting shot in the end. It doesn’t get more dramatic than this.

Cha Moo Hyuk (So Ji Sub) is an abandoned orphan who grows up being abused by an abusive family. He runs away to the U.S and meets Song Eun Chae (Im Soo Jung). The two fall in love, but in a series of messed up twists and turns, they discover that Eun Chae knows Moo Hyuk’s biological family. On top of all this, Moo Hyuk is dealing with the repercussions of having a bullet lodged in his head, which is leading him to his death. There are barely any moments of happiness in this series, but it totally makes you want to see what will happen at the end.

Catch the first episode below:

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Scarlet Heart: Ryeo

Be prepared for: A girl traveling back into history to have several man falling in love with her. The man she loves marries another woman in order to sustain his duties as King.

IU stars as the lucky damsel, Hae Soo in “Scarlet Heart: Ryeo.” She gets sent back in time to the Goryeo era where she magically bumps into a royal family of many good-looking princes- most of who fall in love with her. While she falls in love with one and gets her heart broken, she ends up falling in love with the “evil” brother, Wang So (Lee Joon Gi). It’s a tragic love story as Wang So must choose duty over love and Hae Soo is left heartbroken and with child. Lucky enough, she has the loyal Wang Jung (Ji Soo) to look after her. It’s a sad and sorrow-filled story, but you have the pleasure of seeing a lot of eye-candy throughout the series. We really can’t complain.

That Winter, The Wind Blows

Be prepared for: A con-man falling in love with a blind woman who thinks he is her long lost brother.

“That Winter, The Wind Blows” is a truly sad melodrama that involves a man named Oh Soo (Jo In Sung) who makes his money as a con man. He pretends to be the brother of a divorced rich lady named Oh Young (Song Hye Kyo). The two don’t believe in love and find life pretty meaningless until they find solace in each other. There’s a lot of fighting, tears, and lying involved; all ingredients of a great melodrama.

Catch the first episode below:

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Secret Love Affair

Be prepared for: A piano prodigy falling in love with his teacher who is already married.

Not only is this a noona and younger guy melodrama, but it involves a hot and heavy affair! Yoo Ah In stars as a young pianist named Lee Sun Jae who falls in love with his piano teacher, Oh Hye Won (Kim Hee Ae). There is quite a heavy age gap, but the drama comes with a really passionate love affair the two share while Hye Won is still married to her husband. The intense acting by Yoo Ah In and Kim Hee Ae really sucked me into the story and it was eerily fascinating to watch. You can literally feel their jealousy and anger through the screen!

Catch the first episode below:

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The Innocent Man

Be prepared for: A man who tries to get revenge by making a woman fall in love with him. He actually falls in love with her, but she gets into an accident and gets amnesia.

Song Joong Ki stars as Kang Ma Roo, a troubled man who has a lot of baggage and is unable to shake how much he’s been through. In turn, he focuses on getting revenge and hurting others, and in the process, he falls in love with Seo Eun Gi (Moon Chae Won) who he tries to make fall in love with him. Just when you think Kang Ma Roo is a character that is hard to fall for, he ends up falling head over heels for Eun Gi. The intense battle of resisting loving Kang Ma Roo fails and you start to cheer for this messed up love affair. Sounds pretty dramatic, right?

Catch the first episode below:

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Sad Love Song

Be prepared for: A man that falls in love with blind girl as children, but is separated from her. The two reunite when they are older, but the woman is already engaged to the man’s friend.

This drama stars Kwon Sang Woo as Joon Young and Kim Hee Sun as Park Hye In, two people who fall in love as children. Hye In, being blind, finds comfort and ease having Joon Young by her side. Hye In is sent to America, thinking that Joon Young has passed away. Years later, she receives a surgery where she can now see and she is engaged to a producer. She finds out that her fiancés friend… is actually her first love. This K-drama had all the perfect makings of a perfect K-drama with first loves, being separated, blindness, having another fiancée, second leads, and tragic love. I especially loved seeing two veteran actors cast as the main leads – you really can’t go wrong with Kwon Sang Woo and Kim Hee Sun!

Temptation of Wife

Be prepared for: A husband trying to kill his wife and thinks that she’s dead, but she is not. They meet again, but she has a completely different personality.

In “Temptation of Wife,” Jung Gyo Bin (Byun Woo Min) gets Goo Eun Jae (Jang Seo Hee) pregnant after getting her drunk. They are forced to get married, but end up losing their baby. Gyo Bin tries to kill Eun Jae and thinks she is dead, but she re-appears months later and takes the identity of another woman. The anticipation and thrilling aspect of this K-drama won the hearts of many and went on for 129 episodes – craziness! You’d think 129 episodes is way too long for a series, but the anticipation and thrill of the script just made it so irresistible. All the character’s lives are just so messed up and Gyo Bin is just so evil, but that’s what makes this so interesting to watch!

Catch the first episode below:

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Bad Love

Be prepared for: A man falling in love with his brother’s ex-mistress.

Kwon Sang Woo stars as Kang Yong Ki, who falls in love with Na In Jung (Lee Yo Won). What he doesn’t realize is that In Jung is the woman his brother was having an affair with many years ago. Unable to let go of In Jung, he spends his days and nights trying to win her heart and convince her that her past does not matter… that is, until he finds out that she got pregnant with his brother’s baby. The initial affair that appears in the first two episodes is super hot and steamy. It literally hooked me in right away. But when Kwon Sang Woo’s character comes into play, the persistence and love he shows for In Jung is seriously intense. I couldn’t stop watching!

Catch the first episode below:

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Be prepared for: A student and teacher falling in love, and they can’t be together but they really want to.

Kim Ha Neul plays Kim Chae Won, a teacher who fatefully meets Choi Kwan Woo (Kim Jae Won). They meet by chance and share a couple dates together, but then discover that she is his high school teacher. What ensues is the two realizing that they can’t be together, but wanting to. They separate to meet again a few years later, but will time be enough for this noona and dongseng to be together? I’m surprised at the teacher/student relationship aspect of the plot, considering how this type of relationship is really looked down upon, but I guess that’s why it’s a melodrama! The fact that they become a couple when they are a bit older helps lessen the serious aspect of it, but it’s still a crazy storyline!

90 Days, Time To Love

Be prepared for: First loves who find out that they’re cousins. They try to run away but the father threatens to commit suicide. Plus the male lead gets sick and only has 90 days to live.

Another Kim Ha Neul melodrama, “90 Days, Time to Love” stars Kim Ha Neul as Go Mi Yun and Kang Ji Hwan as Hyun Ji Suk. The two start as high school sweethearts, but then find out that they are actually cousins. Unable to get over their love for each other, they decide to leave for America to get married, but when Ji Suk’s father threatens to kill himself if they leave, they are forced to stay in Seoul. Ji Suk ends up getting sick many years later and asks Mi Yun to spend his last days together. Another racy storyline and one that is hard to hate and hard to love. The theme of relatives falling in love with each other is never a good idea, but you can really feel the love that Mi Yun and Ji Suk have for each other. So really, you’re stuck in a limbo throughout the series. You also can’t help but cry for their unfortunate fate.

Catch the first episode below:

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Glass Slippers

Be prepared for: A man falling in love with poor woman, but ends up dying on their wedding day.

Kim Ji Ho and Kim Hyun Joo play two sisters named Kim Tae Hee and Kim Yoon Hee who lose both of their parents. They get separated and live completely different lives; Tae Hee lives with her grandfather and becomes a successful business woman while Yoon Hee grows up in an abused family. Jae Hyuk (Han Jae Suk) and Chul Woong (So Ji Sub) both fall in love with Yoon Hee even though Jae Hyuk is engaged to Tae Hee. At this point in the series, you finally think maybe Tae Hee can finally have her happy ending, but the tone and feel of the series makes you think that a happy ending is not possible for the OTP. And this becomes a reality. By the end of the series, Yoon Hee agrees to marry Chul Woong, but on their wedding day, he risks his life to protect her and ends up dying. CRIES.

Winter Sonata

Be prepared for: First loves getting torn apart and man getting amnesia. The two reunite 10 years later.

This classic and epic first love tale stars Choi Ji Woo as Jung Yoo Jin and Bae Yong Joon as Kang Jun Sang. There is a car crash involving Jung Sang and everyone thinks he is dead. 10 years later, he shows up by chance in Yoo Jin’s life, but he has amnesia and cannot remember her. It’s emotional for Yoo Jin as she’s been unable to forget her first love. I am particularly fond of this series as it’s got all the makings of a melodrama, but it’s also sweet and heartwarming at the same time. Jun Sang and Yoo Jin are just such an endearing OTP with a lot of chemistry and it really makes you want Jun Sang to remember who she is. And the moment he remembers, it’s truly epic.

What Happened in Bali

Be prepared for: Two men falling in love with one woman. The woman chooses one of them and the other guy kills them both and then himself.

This drama is mentioned in any melodrama/makjang list. “What Happened in Bali” stars Ha Ji Won as Lee So Jung, Jo In Sung as Jung Jae Min, and So ji Sub as Kang In Wook. The three characters meet in Bali as Soo Jung works there as a tour guide. Back in Seoul, Soo Jung finds Jae Min and asks him to borrow some money. From this deal, ensues a complicated love triangle. Jae Min is engaged to another woman, but finds himself falling deeper in love with Soo Jung, so when he finds Soo Jung with In Wook in Bali, he shoots both of them in a jealous rage and then kills himself. Epically dramatic, right? It really doesn’t get more makjang and dramatic than this series!

Uncontrollably Fond

Be prepared for: Famous movie star falling in love with poor girl, but can’t be with her because his dad killed her dad. He also gets cancer.

This is a more recent K-drama that has pretty much all the makings of a true melodrama. Kim Woo Bin stars as Shin Joon Young, a famous actor who falls in love with poor girl, No Eul (Suzy). He realizes that his biological father is responsible for covering up the car accident that killed No Eul’s dad many years before, which prevents him from being with her. Although this part of the series is uber frustrating because you want them to just be together, but we know that Joon Young is dying of cancer. I was truly hoping for a happy ending for the adorable couple, but it never came!

Catch the first episode below:

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A Thousand Days’ Promise

Be prepared for: A man and woman falling in love, but the man has a fiancée. The woman gets Alzheimer’s and the man leaves his fiancée.

Every great Korean melodrama incorporates some sort of memory loss, doesn’t it? “A Thousand Days’ Promise” stars Soo Ae as Lee Seo Yeon and Kim Rae Won as Park Ji Hyung. The two have a secret affair while Ji Hyung is engaged to be married. He finds out that Seo Yeon has early on-set Alzheimer’s and he ends up breaking off his engagement. The two end up getting married, but they are faced with the difficult obstacle of dealing with this tragic disease. There’s something about a story where one of the main leads can’t remember the person they love. It’s heartbreaking and you just wait for that moment where they’ll get a glimpse of the love they shared before. I really felt for Soo Ae and Ji Hyung’s love story, especially as she started to progressively lose her memory; it was just so sad!

Catch the first episode below:

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Hey Soompiers, what are your favorite makjang or melodramas? let me know in the comments below!

binahearts is a Soompi writer who can lately be seen obsessing over Jung Hae In, singing her heart out to BIGBANG at karaoke, walking her dog, or indulging in desserts. Make sure you follow binahearts on Instagram as she journeys through her latest Korean crazes!

Currently watching: Wok of Love” and “About Time
All-time favorite dramas: “Secret Garden,” “Goblin,” “Because This Is My First Life” and “Star In My Heart
Looking forward to: Won Bin’s return to the small screen and Song Joong Ki’s next drama

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