9 K-Dramas That Provide Music For The Soul

They say music is the language of the spirit. Very often when words fail, it is music that speaks. Transcending borders, music has a universal language which connects hearts and souls. From a group of young hopefuls aspiring to break into the world of K-pop, to brothers-turned-rivals trying to prove their talent, or young love bound by their shared love for music, K-dramas have given us compelling and poignant storylines with music as the central theme. Here is a look at nine such K-dramas that strike the right chord with their many notes.

Do You Like Brahms?”

The question “Do You Like Brahms?” often comes up in the show as it draws reference from the unrequited love story between legendary German musicians Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann, who was married to Brahms’s mentor Robert Schumann. But this drama tells the love story between a talented and gifted pianist named Park Joon Young (Kim Min Jae) and a university student who is an aspiring violinist named Chae Song Ah (Park Eun Bin). Joon Young is weighed down by his debt of gratitude toward the Kyunghoo Foundation, which has been instrumental in his career growth. He is also conflicted regarding his feelings toward violinist Lee Jung Kyung (Park Ji Hyun), his first love and also the heir to the foundation. Song Ah, on the other hand, lacks the natural talent for music but is committed toward learning the violin. However, her ineptitude makes her the subject of constant ridicule and rejection. When Joon Young and Song Ah meet at a concert, he is soon drawn toward her warm and positive aura.

Mellow, lilting, and comforting, “Do You Like Brahms?” strikes a warm chord with its evocative and unhurried storytelling. What’s truly appealing about the show is the way classical music tracks are weaved in to take the narrative forward. Park Eun Bin and Kim Min Jae give a pitch perfect performance, taking us on a lyrical journey of healing, overcoming fears, and realizing one’s dreams despite the odds.

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Five Fingers

With intense family discord, brooding angst, and rivalry, can music heal this dysfunctional family? Yoo Ji Ho (Joo Ji Hoon), the illegitimate son of a chaebol, is a talented pianist. However, he is deeply resented by his stepmother Chae Yeong Rang (Chae Si Ra), who constantly favors her biological son Yoon In Ha (Ji Chang Wook). In Ha is also a pianist, but a past injury prevents him from playing to the best of his abilities. In Ha’s jealousy toward Ji Ho is further aggravated when Hong Da Mi (Jin Se Yeon), a girl both the brothers are attracted to, chooses Ji Ho over him. Set against the backdrop of revenge and hatred, “Five Fingers” has several plot twists, and the musical score is the balm to soothe frazzled nerves.

Though not professional pianists, actors Joo Ji Hoon and Ji Chang Wook play their parts to perfection, especially when playing complicated pieces. Joo Ji Hoon showcases his range as an actor, and Ji Chang Wook as the antagonist proves his versatility. With its focus on how a mother’s love can drive her to extremes, “Five Fingers” scores with the performances of its lead actors. And an added bonus is that you can hear Ji Chang Wook sing as well.

“The Liar and His Lover”

An aspiring singer is attracted to a genius songwriter, but can they be in sync as a couple?  Yoon So Rim (Joy), a high school student and an aspiring singer, runs into Kang Han Kyul (Lee Hyun Woo), a genius songwriter and the man instrumental in pop band Crude Play’s success. For So Rim, it is love at first sight, but she is unaware of Han Kyul’s true identity and neither does he let her on to it. Even though he keeps her at distance, after listening to her voice, he feels as if every musical cell in his body has been charged. But things get complicated when So Rim and her group are signed by the same agency that manages Crude Play. Though she is hurt from being lied to, Han Kyul wins So Rim over. But scandals, jealousy, and rivalries come to the fore, and the couple is faced with several challenges.

An adaptation of a Japanese manga series, “The Liar and His Lover” showcases the competitive side of the music industry. It’s a simple and springy narrative with a quirky young love story, cute idol boys, and lots of music. What could be better?

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Dream High

What does it take to be a K-pop idol? The teenage musical drama “Dream High” charts the journey of six students who arrive from all over at the Kirin Arts School to get a foothold into the music industry. There’s self-assured Go Hye Mi (Suzy), who wings her way into the school despite failing the audition, and Song Sam Dong (Kim Soo Hyun), the proverbial country boy who is a music prodigy but also suffers from a rare ailment. There’s also Jin Guk (Taecyeon), a talented and independent soul estranged from his father. Jin Guk subconsciously seeks fame to get validation from his father. Pil Suk (IU) has perfect pitch but is shy and self conscious about her appearance, and Jason (Wooyoung) is a Korean American awaiting his big debut. And last but not least, there’s Baek Hee (Eun Jung), a raw talent who is Hye Mi’s arch rival.

As these six students go through the drill of auditions, practice, and choreography, they also learn valuable lessons in self worth and relationships. “Dream High” is a fun, breezy watch, and the innocence of youth and the burden of aspirations come together in a lighthearted orchestration.

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“You’re Beautiful”

Being one of the popular gender benders, “You’re Beautiful” is a favorite amongst fans of rom-coms. Go Mi Nam’s dream of becoming a K-pop idol is about to come true, but he needs to leave for the United States to rectify a surgery gone wrong. His manager comes up with the scheme to send his twin sister Go Mi Nyeo (Park Shin Hye) to join the band as his replacement for the interim period. Though initially hesitant, Mi Nyeo goes ahead with it. The band’s front man Hwang Tae Kyung (Jang Keun Suk) is initially hesitant over Mi Nam being part of the group and is further infuriated on discovering her identity. But when Tae Kyung is won over by Mi Nam (who is really Mi Nyeo), the inevitable happens. As romance buds between Mi Nyeo and Tae Kyung, some of the other bandmates also find themselves attracted toward Mi Nyeo as well, setting up a comical love quadrangle.

Park Shin Hye executes her part well in a double role, while Jang Keun Suk is tailor-made for the idol life. His expressions and mannerisms are on point. The drama stars several idols such as Jung Yong Hwa, Lee Hong Ki, and Uee as part of the supporting ensemble. A light-hearted and cheerful watch with lots of laughs and cute romance, this is the drama to watch when you want to drive the blues away.

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What happens when a student of traditional Korean music falls in love with the lead singer of a campus rock band? Could it well be the recipe for a perfect ballad? Lee Shin (Jung Yong Hwa) is the lead vocalist and guitar player of the campus band “The Stupid” and is majoring in modern music. Lee Kyu Won (Park Shin Hye) majors in traditional Korean music and also plays the gayageum, a traditional Korean instrument. Though Kyu Won and Lee Shin start off on the wrong foot, Kyu Won ends up falling for him. But Lee Shin is hung up on someone else and is immune to Kyu Won’s presence. By the time he notices her, it may be too late for him since she is faced with the classic dilemma of love or career.     

An apt title since both the leads specialize in string instruments, “Heartsrtings” is a feel-good series which fuses traditional and modern music. As the love story plays out against the backdrop of intra school rivalries, peer pressure, and talent vs. mediocrity, there is enough in this drama to keep one engaged. And the hummable OST is an added bonus.

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Trot Lovers

In a world that loves to hear pop and rock, a trot singer pursues her passion for the genre. Choon Hee (Jung Eun Ji) is a talented trot singer, her music being her only solace against the stress and humdrum of her daily life. Being the sole breadwinner for her family, Choon Hee has sacrificed a lot. Jang Joon Hyun (Ji Hyun Woo), a popular singer and songwriter, has taken a fall from grace and is struggling to get back into the scene. Though Joon Hyun is not a fan of trot or country music, he decides to back Choon Hee as her manager. For Joon Hyun, Choon Hee is a means to an end to getting his career back on track. Choon Hee wins the support of Geun Woo (Shin Sung Rok), the interim head of a record label, and as Geun Woo falls for Choon Hee, Joon Hyun finds himself attracted to her voice and to her as well despite his reservations.

“Trot Lovers” is a musical drama that features a cute enemies-to-lovers romance, dance sequences, and a catchy OST. Jung Eun Ji gives a stellar performance, and her mesmerizing voice touches a chord. You are likely to have major second lead syndrome with this one.

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Seol Chan (Yong Junhyung), a member of the popular boy band Men in Black, is courting controversy. Seol Chan pushed a fan, and his reputation is in shambles. As fans threaten to cancel him, his agency advises him to go undercover, which is translated to attending school. Se Yi (Ha Yeon Soo), a transfer student from New Zealand, is the center of attention in school. She is a bit of an oddball, but her warmth and honesty wins everyone over, including the arrogant Seol Chan. As Se Yi and Seol Chan bond over their shared love for music, they become part of a band along with several other students. Jung Sun Woo (Kang Ha Neul), the studious class president, also finds himself drawn to the ragtag bunch and also to Se Yi.

The healing effect and impact of music is highlighted in this drama as each of the students deal with their issues and find their voice and solutions. The close-knit friendship amongst the members is endearing, and “Monstar” is a refreshing drama that weaves in music to drive the narrative forward.

Shut Up: Flower Boy Band


Meet “Eye Candy,” an underground rock group frontlined by the free-spirited Joo Byung Hee (Lee Min Ki). Kwon Ji Hyuk (Sung Joon), Lee Hyun Soo (Kim Myung Soo), Jang Do Il (Lee Hyun Jae), Kim Ha Jin (Yoo Min Kyu), and Seo Kyung Jong (Kim Min Seok) form the other members. The guys are popular but have a bit of a bad boy reputation. When their school is forced to shut down, they are happy to be rid of institutional shackles but are soon in conflict with their new school’s ruling band Strawberry Fields. They are determined to make Eye Candy the biggest and the best, but when tragedy strikes the band, it’s Ji Hyuk who steps in as the lead.

From campus rivalries to overcoming obstacles and love and grief, this series packs in a punch. The bromance between the boys is endearing as they laugh, cry, and play along. And the strong bro code along with the love of music which binds them together make this show a wholesome watch.


There is truly no business like showbiz. Scandals, rivalries, and jealousy are commonplace. Shin Suk Ho (Ji Sung), a manager at a top entertainment company, decides to start his own agency. He decides to back a boyband. Things are going according to plan, but certain events lead to him losing everything, including his business. As he tries to resurrect himself, he comes across a song sung by Ha Neul (Kang Min Hyuk), a singer whose career has hit rock bottom due to a past scandal. Ji Sung decides to track Ha Neul and give him the stardom he deserves. He forms the “Entertainer Band” with Ha Neul and his other supporters including Jung Geun Ri (Hyeri), Ha Neul’s sister who comes on board as manager.

“Entertainer,” just like its title, is entertaining fare. The story of perseverance, friendship, and loyalty is driven forward by good writing and a stellar star cast. And laughter, tears, and music make for perfect drama viewing.

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Hey Soompiers, which one of these shows is your favorite ? Let us know in the comments below!

Puja Talwar is a Soompi writer with a strong Yoo Tae Oh and Lee Junho bias. A long time K-drama fan, she loves devising alternate scenarios to the narratives. She has interviewed Lee Min HoGong YooCha Eun Woo, and Ji Chang Wook to name a few. You can follow her on @puja_talwar7 on Instagram.

Currently watching: “Call It Love.”

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