Soompi & Viki Staff Talk: What Was The 1st Drama That Got You Into K-Drama World?
Along with our recent feature on great gateway K-dramas to introduce to friends, some of our staff members took time to reflect on which K-dramas first got us hooked (and eventually here at Soompi and Viki).
Here are the stories of our K-drama-loving crew:
Ginny: “Princess Hours”
The first drama that got me into K-drama world is “Princess Hours,” a 2006 series starring Yoon Eun Hye, Joo Ji Hoon, Kim Jung Hoon, and Song Ji Hyo. It is a live action television adaptation of the manhwa and set in an alternate world where the Korean monarchy still exists. I cried when Shin Chae Kyung (Yoon Eun Hye) and Lee Shin (Joo Ji Hoon) couple was in crisis and felt for Lee Yool (Kim Jung Hoon) when he confessed his love to Shin Chae Kyung. When Shin Chae Kyung and Lee Shin fell in love with each other, I was happy for them like they are my own friends. I continuously listened to “Perhaps Love” and “Ice Pond” from the drama’s soundtrack as the songs vividly recreated the scenes in my memory. After falling in love with “Princess Hours,” I started watching more K-dramas to feel that emotional connection again.
Watch “Princess Hours” below:
Natalie: “Coffee Prince”
Newer K-drama fans may have met Gong Yoo as the Guardian, but I met him as the owner of “Coffee Prince” cafe. This drama stars the young faces of the all-star cast including Gong Yoo, Yoon Eun Hye, Lee Sun Gyun, Chae Jung An, Kim Jae Wook, and Kim Dong Wook. It tells the rather peculiar – unrealistic, really – story of Eun Chan (Yoon Eun Hye) and Han Gyeol (Gong Yoo) as they fall in love working as the barista and owner of a cafe in Seoul. It was my first time watching a romantic comedy, so it shaped the definition of romance for my childhood self. I remember brewing up fairy tales of my own, from meeting a dreamy boyfriend at work to sharing a hot bowl of ramyun with a significant other. Unfortunately, a drama is a drama, and these things rarely happen in real life – but I will never forget the flutters I got as a 10 year old!
Watch “Coffee Prince” below:
JJin: “Secret Garden”
“Secret Garden” was the very first K-drama that I was so emotionally invested in. It was a mega-hit drama when it first aired back in 2010. It is a rich-meets-poor romantic fantasy drama that talks about soul swapping between the main leads. Starring two of my favorite actors Hyun Bin and Ha Ji Won, their chemistry was just amazing, and Hyun Bin became my first K-drama crush. This drama has a lot of typical K-drama cliches but also some hilarious scenes and lines that break those cliches. Moreover, there are a lot of cute scenes that made my heart flutter, such as the cappuccino and sit-up scenes. To this day, I still enjoy watching short clips from the drama on YouTube. If you watch “Secret Garden” now, you will notice that Son Ye Jin, who is Hyun Bin’s wife, also starred in the last episode. Check it out to see them in their 20s and when they themselves didn’t even imagine that they would end up marrying in 12 years!
Watch “Secret Garden” below:
Bo: “School 2013”
“School 2013” was the fifth installment of the hit “School” series that returned after a long break of over a decade since “School 4” ended in 2002. The series had always been a big stage for young rising stars, and you can find some of today’s hottest actors including Lee Jong Suk, Kim Woo Bin, and Shin Hye Sun in “School 2013” and see how they were in this drama that shot them to stardom. Also a student at the time, I was really into this drama and felt sympathy for the friendship, worries, and dreams of the students of Seungri High School. “School 2013” express the naked reality of what goes on in Korean high schools, and the drama gives a warm hug to every youth who is growing up.
Watch “School 2013” below:
Although I remember watching dramas such as “My Lovely Sam Soon” alongside my mother when I was young, the first drama that really got me into watching K-dramas myself was “Heirs.” Focused on the love story of chaebol heir Kim Tan (Lee Min Ho) and his family’s housekeeper’s daughter Cha Eun Sang (Park Shin Hye), the drama is about elite high schoolers and also those who get involuntarily embroiled in their lives. The star-studded cast including Lee Min Ho, Park Shin Hye, Kim Woo Bin, Krystal, Kim Ji Won, Kang Min Hyuk, Kang Ha Neul, and Park Hyung Sik combined with rom-com mastermind Kim Eun Sook’s magical way with words had me immediately hooked. Although some of the lines are admittedly a bit cringey, that’s the addictive charm of a Kim Eun Sook script, and the actors pull it off so well that I still enjoy rewatching the drama to this day.
Watch “Heirs” below:
Semi: “Full House”
I grew up in a big family, and it was very common to sit around the table and watch K-dramas while having dinner together. It was so fun talking about the backgrounds of the main characters and the romance in the 2004 drama “Full House,” which features the top stars Rain and Song Hye Kyo. “Full House” follows the classic K-drama cliche of the main characters living together by contract, but their cheesy love and the unique qualities of a 2000s drama causes there to never be a dull moment. Also, it’s quite entertaining to see their clothing styles that we would never wear now.
Watch “Full House” below:
Sala: “You’re Beautiful”
Watching K-dramas was such a common part of my life growing up that I don’t particularly remember which one is my “first,” but I do remember some of the classics like “Surgeon Bong Dal Hee,” “Coffee Prince,” and “Boys Over Flowers.” One I remember more vividly is “You’re Beautiful,” which follows the story of Go Mi Nam (Park Shin Hye) joining Hwang Tae Kyung’s (Jang Geun Suk‘s) rock band while disguised as her twin brother. The story had me hooked on everything from the adorable storyline to the catchy OST and the star-studded cast including Park Shin Hye and Jang Geun Suk. From the little details such as the iconic pig-rabbit doll that I still can’t forget about to the K-pop elements that are naturally incorporated by idol-actors such as FTISLAND’s Lee Hong Ki, CNBLUE’s Jung Yong Hwa, and After School’s Uee, the drama easily captured a light-hearted mood with heart-fluttering romance. To be honest, I don’t remember every detail of the plot, but I still recall the laughs and the warm fuzzy feelings the drama delivered.
Watch “You’re Beautiful” below:
Now we want to hear from you! What was your first K-drama? Post Viki’s image below on your own Instagram to share your story!