7 K-Dramas That Are Perfect To Binge-Watch During The Holidays
It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas… and if the holidays translate as being curled up with a hot cup of tea and snuggled in your fuzzy blanket while watching your favorite drama, then you are on the right track. The warm embrace of nostalgia, toe curling romances, laugh aloud to fantastical romcoms — the K-drama universe is a gift that keeps on giving.
From taking a walk down memory lane, reminiscing the lingering and bittersweet emotions of first love, to the unforgettable bonds of friendship and some heady office romances with plenty of misadventures thrown in, here are seven binge-worthy K-dramas which are sure to bring in the holiday cheer.
An all-time favorite amongst K-drama fans (there is hardly anyone who is NOT a fan of the show), “Reply 1988” has a universal and timeless appeal, and it is the perfect way to reset in these times.
Flashback to the year 1988 as Seoul awaited a landmark event prepping for the summer Olympics. Meet the famous five of Ssangmundong, a sleepy neighborhood, who have been besties since they were babies. The spunky school slacker and the only girl amongst the band of boys Duk Sun (Hyeri), the endearing introvert champion and genius Go player (Park Bo Gum), the reliable, hardworking model student Sun Woo (Go Kyung Pyo), the broodingly quite yet observant Jung Hwan (Ryu Jun Yeol), and the goofy, mischievous, and easygoing Dong Ryong (Lee Dong Hwi) live an unhurried existence. If not at school or sneaking past parents, they are practically in each other’s rooms eating and fighting over the last bite of ramen and pizza, wrestling to lay their hands on a VHS copy of the latest American blockbuster or music cassette, or obsessing over new denims or imported sneakers: they are in it together for better and worse.
The show evokes a wave of nostalgia of the wonder years gone by. The strong sense of community and the friends like family, who find comfort in each other celebrating their joys, solace in their sorrows, and cheer each other on through the many challenge, make your heart well up with emotion with its evocative storytelling. “Reply 1988” is comfort for the soul, an ode to friendship, life, and everything in between.
Start watching “Reply 1988”:
“Twenty Five, Twenty One”
If a show’s success is gauged by its ability to gets its viewers so invested in the lives of the characters and their story that you are unable to separate reel from real, then “Twenty Five, Twenty One” is that one show.
A young teenager named Min Chae (Choi Myung Bin) discovers her mother Na Hee Do’s (Kim Tae Ri‘s) old journals, and she curiously starts reading them. We are taken back in time to the late 1990’s as the world recovered from an economic crisis and was on the cusp of a yet unknown millennium. A spirited teen fencer, Na Hee Do dreams to play for her country, defeat her rival, and experience true love and heartbreak. She meets an idealistic and determined young man named Baek Yi Jin (Nam Joo Hyuk), who is trying to rebuild his life and that of his family. The two strike a friendship, with Hee Do’s sprightly nature in sharp contrast to Yi Jin’s reticent personality. “Why do you root for me? Even my mom doesn’t,” says Hee Do to Yi Jin, who simply answers, “Because you give me hope. And I want more for you. And it makes me want to do well too.” This statement encapsulates their deep bond as they chart the course of life with the promise to become great together.
“Twenty Five, Twenty One” is an achingly stirring coming-of-age story of young love, friendships, hopes, and dreams, which makes you laugh and shed a few tears along the way. It’s a go for gold performance by Kim Tae Ri, who made the reckless, impulsive Hee Do so relatable, and Nam Joo Hyuk’s stellar portrayal of Baek Yi Jin made him our man for all seasons. Last but not the least, the show has one of the best drama soundtracks too.
“A Business Proposal”
In the mood for a heady office romance with dollops of laughter and a few misadventures thrown in? Then “A Business Proposal” is the show for you. Shin Ha Ri (Kim Sejeong), a food researcher, is forced by her heiress friend Young Seo (Seol In Ah) to step in on a blind date on her behalf. But the date in question is none other Kang Tae Moo (Ahn Hyo Seop), the handsome CEO of Go Foods, which incidentally is where Shin Ha Ri works and has no time for love or marriage. The two get into a contractual relationship, but before you know it the inevitable happens – sparks fly, and they are hopelessly in love.
Meanwhile, Young Seo falls for Tae Moo’s best friend Cha Sung Hoon (Kim Min Kyu). What could be a recipe for disaster turns out to be the perfect dish served with all the romantic cliches, cheesy lines accompanied with the perfect condiments of humor, romance, and misadventures. With the sizzling chemistry between the two couples and the camaraderie between the friends, “A Business Proposal” is wholesome and entertaining, and it’s the perfect pick-me-up to chase away the holiday blues.
In the crazy world of showbiz, stars wars, anti-fans, fake news, and click bait headlines, “Sh**ting Stars” follows the life of popular matinee idol Gong Tae Sung (Kim Young Dae) and the PR head of his star management firm Oh Han Byul (Lee Sung Kyung). The only glitch is that Tae Sung and Han Byul can’t seem to get along at all as she constantly keeps firefighting between his fandom, schedules, and publicity. The inevitable does happen as Tae Sung and Han Byul realize that they do have strong feelings for the other, but it gets even more complicated than they had imagined.
This drama gives you a fly on the wall experience of what actually could unfold behind-the-scenes in the so called glamorous world of showbiz. And it takes you on a rollercoaster of misadventures as the many characters juggle love, life, and legal suits. A special shoutout to Lee Sung Kyung and Kim Young Dae’s awesome chemistry, and the love-hate bromance between Gong Tae Sung and the prickly lawyer Do Soo Hyuk (Lee Jung Shin) will also give you the required laughs.
Start watching”Sh**ting Stars”:
Cozy and snug like a frayed sweater or the comfort of a soft worn-down duvet, “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” envelopes you with its warmth. An adaptation of the 2004 Korean film “Mr. Hong,” the drama is set in the scenic seaside town of Gongjin, filled with its loyal tightknit community of inhabitants.
A smart and ambitious dentist named Yoon Hye Jin (Shin Min Ah), who loves her high-end brands as much as she loves drilling or fitting implants into people’s teeth, quits her clinic and lands up at Gongjin, a place which holds a special place in her heart. She meets Hong Doo Shik (Kim Seon Ho), popularly called Chief Hong, who is the town’s chief handyman. There is nothing that Doo Shik can’t do but all for a wage.
So, do sparks fly? Well, not really since Hye Jin’s prickly, sophisticated personality is the opposite to Doo Shik’s easygoing, laid-back attitude. He remarks, “Money and success aren’t the only valuable things in life. Happiness, self contentment, and love are.” The plot may sound simple, but it’s the many subplots that are woven in which make the show a wholesome watch. On one hand, there is a love story playing out, but you also have basic human issues of self acceptance, loss, abandonment, regret, guilt, and heartbreak unfolding around which are dealt with sensitively. “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” is unmissable, just like Kim Seon Ho’s dimples.
Choi Sang Eun’s (Park Min Young‘s) favorite pastime is to get married and divorced, and she has done it over a dozen times. She is a single life helper but has never had any luck when it comes to matters of her own heart. But things change as soon as she decides to retire. Sang Eun discovers she has feelings for the socially awkward judge Jung Ji Ho (Go Kyung Pyo), who has been her most reliable client for five years. The twist is that a superstar named Kang Hae Jin (Kim Jae Young) also hires her to be his wife, and as a love triangle shapes up, Sang Eun is also haunted by demons of her past.
“Love in Contract” is a breezy watch. You have two awesome male leads from the stoic Ji Ho to the sensitive Hae Jin, who though at times butt heads with each other, they each protect Sang Eun in their own way. Gwang Nam (Kang Hyung Suk) is the best though. Being Sang Eun’s “former husband” and a man dealing with his own sexual identity, he remains a rock solid support to her throughout. All one can say is that Sang Eun is one lucky girl.
Start watching “Love in Contract”:
What happens when a movie star is swept off her feet literally by a man who has descended from the stars himself? “My Love From the Star” dishes out a dreamy romance that makes you weak in the knees. Do Min Joon (Kim Soo Hyun) is a 400-year-old transient resident on earth and an alien who looks human and a very gorgeous one too. He keeps to himself, enjoys his solitude, and is awaiting his return to his planet. Cheon Song Yi (Jun Ji Hyun) is a superstar, funny, and though given to an occasional tantrum, she is at heart a lost little girl. Song Yi not only finds herself going back to college, but she lands up in a class taught by Min Joon, who is a professor. They also end up being neighbors, and as they find themselves drawn to each other, unfolding around them are a love triangle, power play, and intrigue.
Whether it’s Min Joon and his annoyance with the modern world and keeping humans at bay, or Song Yi, who finds solace in eating her emotions, ordering boxes of fried chicken and cartons of beer, the two give a topnotch performance. With their sizzling chemistry, Kim Soo Hyun and Jun Ji Hyun give some unforgettable screen moments.
Start watching “My Love From the Star”:
Hey Soompiers, which drama do you like to binge-watch during the holidays? Let us know in the comments below!
Puja Talwar is a Soompi writer with a strong Song Joong Ki and Lee Junho bias. A long time K-drama fan, she loves devising alternate scenarios to the narratives. She has interviewed Lee Min Ho, Gong Yoo, and Ji Chang Wook to name a few. You can follow her on @puja_talwar7 on Instagram.