9 Entertaining K-Dramas That Involve Multiple Worlds
Aside from the usual real-world settings that K-dramas feature, sometimes screenwriters break the norms and go with a couple of worlds as basis for their storylines. These parallel worlds are represented through extraterrestrial life, time travel, webtoons, and so on. This tweak adds a lot to the plot and in return has viewers’ undivided attention.
Here is, in order of release, a non-exhaustive list of K-dramas that introduce more than one world in their storylines.
Warning: minor spoilers ahead!
This drama stars Jun Ji Hyun as famous actress Chun Song Yi, who moves in next door to Do Min Joon, played by Kim Soo Hyun, an alien who landed on Earth 400 years ago. Despite coming from different worlds, an intense romance blossoms between the two leads whose characters clash in the most humorous and charismatic way possible.
Do Min Joon’s extraterrestrial traits revolve around his superpowers such as enhanced vision, hearing, and speed, and his immortal physical appearance forces him to change his identity every decade to keep the truth about his origin secret. “My Love From the Star” may not have been one of the first alien-themed dramas, but it sure is one of the all-time classics that heavily contributed to the Hallyu wave, making it a fan favorite.
Catch the first episode of “My Love From the Star”:
2. “Splash Splash Love”
Danbi, played by Kim Seul Gi, is a high school student whose struggle with math abruptly leads her to time travel back to the Joseon Dynasty through a rain pond. There, she meets King Lee Do, played by Highlight’s Yoon Doojoon, and a love story unfolds as they spend a lot of time together.
This adorable and comical web drama takes us to an era from the past where technology doesn’t exist and Danbi’s so-so level of math is considered genius. While we’re used to historical dramas with the reincarnation trope, it never hurts to delve into yet another fluffy (and extremely short) sageuk that sports a heartwarming plot twist towards the end.
Catch the first episode of “Splash Splash Love”:
Lee Je Hoon, Kim Hye Soo, and Jo Jin Woong respectively star as Park Hae Young, a criminal profiler; Cha Soo Hyun, a timid rookie detective; and Lee Jae Han, an incorruptible police officer. Hae Young finds a supernatural walkie talkie that allows him to communicate with Jae Han who is reaching out from the past. Together, they try to solve as many cold cases as possible, each in their own time, but their actions soon birth unforeseen consequences.
While we’re used to flashbacks and time travel, linking past and present simultaneously remains a novelty through “Signal.” The talkie walkie detail is a fun and mysterious tool that gives this drama its personal touch in linking two people from different timeframes who share one common goal, which is bringing criminals to justice.
Catch the first episode of “Signal”:
“W” is another hit K-drama that had viewers talking for months. The drama stars Lee Jong Suk as Kang Chul, a hardworking and poised millionaire, and Han Hyo Joo as Oh Yeon Joo, a resident cardiothoracic surgeon. The two characters land in each other’s lives in the most unexpected way, which leads to the collision of two worlds, the real world and the webtoon world, and the possibility of one of them completely collapsing.
Many dramas have been based on webtoons, but this is perhaps the first time a webtoon and its characters were specifically created to be literally brought to life. Comparing it with the real world, the webtoon world captured my attention as I found myself sympathizing with its inhabitants and secretly hoping for well-founded justice.
Catch the first episode of “W”:
5. “The Best Hit”
Lee Ji Hoon (Kim Min Jae) and Choi Woon Seung (Lee Se Young) are childhood friends who are preparing to take the civil service exam together. However, Ji Hoon’s dreams of being a musician don’t line up with his civil service duties. He crosses paths with Yoo Hyun Jae (Yoon Shi Yoon) who time travels to the future – Ji Hoon’s present – and together with Woon Seung, the trio embarks on a journey of self-discovery to unravel their true dreams and aspirations.
Time travel goes both ways, and glimpsing into the future is always a bit more intriguing because you get to discover things that you may not witness in your current timeline. Watching Yoon Shi Yoon adjust to modern lifestyle and fit in with his popping ’90s fashion style, the solid friendships, and the hidden link between the leads is one of the many reasons this drama deserves to be on your watch list!
Catch the first episode of “The Best Hit”:
Park Kwang Ho (Choi Jin Hyuk) is a dedicated detective who’s after a serial killer in the year 1986. When his daughter’s life is compromised, he restlessly follows clues which lead him to chasing after the killer through a tunnel that transports him into 2017. There, he meets quirky but skilled Detective Kim Sun Jae (Yoon Hyun Min) and finds out that the serial killer is still on the loose to this day. They team up with criminal psychology professor Shin Jae Yi (Lee Yoo Young) to catch the culprit before they strike again.
This is another “Back to the future” plot with a thrilling scenario that will keep you on your toes, as there are lives that are concomitantly at stake in two different years, and joining forces is the only way to solve this gruesome and long overdue case. As usual, the evolution of technology and society in a span of 30 years is a factor that adds plenty to the excitement surrounding the storyline.
Catch the first episode of “Tunnel”:
Kim Jae Joong plays the character of Bong Pil, a man who has been carrying his one-sided love for Kang Soo Jin, played by UEE, for countless years. Having given up on his dreams, he’s led a meaningless life for the longest time. Upon hearing news of Soo Jin’s wedding, he uses a mystical manhole that allows him to go back and forth in time in an effort to win her heart before it’s too late.
This time-slip comedy is a fresh take on the time-bending trope. I enjoy this narrative best because it leaves room for a lot of anticipation and suspense, especially because the character can never predict the outcome of their actions and they’re forced to live them instead of learning from them.
Catch the first episode of “Manhole”:
8. “Angel’s Last Mission: Love”
This drama stars INFINITE’s L as Dan, a nonchalant angel who is trapped on Earth until he fulfills his last mission, which is helping former ballerina Yeon So (played by Shin Hye Sun) fall in love. Her traumatic past has turned her into a bitter and arrogant person, and putting up with her is challenging. This further raises the stakes for Dan, whose mission seems to be impossible with every passing day.
There aren’t enough dramas that incorporate the celestial world in the mix, so this is a very refreshing plot. This storyline is fueled with angst and heart-wrenching moments, as each character is struggling in their own world and is secretly trying to find their balance back in order to retrieve the feeling of belonging.
Catch the first episode of “Angel’s Last Mission: Love”:
9. “Hotel Del Luna”
IU portrays Jang Man Wol, a cold soul who is the current CEO of a hotel that welcomes ghosts who are on their way to the afterlife. Chan Sung, played by Yeo Jin Goo, is an ambitious Harvard MBA graduate who recently came back to Korea to take on a position in one of the country’s elite hotels, but he finds himself forced to honor his father’s deal and becomes a manager of this “ghostel” instead.
The hotel is set in Seoul’s downtown, hidden in plain sight, and only those who belong there are able to spot it in general. There is no doubt that Korean productions of ghost and horror stories are guaranteed to send chills down your spine, and “Hotel Del Luna” falls in that exact category. The mirroring of the worlds of the living and the dead will make you wonder if there is ever such a thing that we simply aren’t aware of. Nonetheless, it sure is fun to watch a human being trying his best to vividly run a place where death roams freely.
Catch the first episode of “Hotel Del Luna”:
Which of the featured K-drama worlds is your favorite? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below!
Esmee L. is a Moroccan lively dreamer, writer, and Hallyu enthusiast.