10 K-Dramas About Long-Lost Connections Turning Into Present-Day Love
There are those who love to hate but end up hating to love, and then there are childhood buddies who smoothly transition to lovers. But there’s also a third category of those who have had an encounter in childhood and moved on. A chance meeting in adulthood sends sparks flying, and they realize they have a past connection. The childhood backstory has been a favorite trope in K-dramas, the coincidence of having met before and how fate aligns couples together years later. Here are 10 such K-dramas when leads fell in love and realized it was meant to be after all.
“It’s Okay to Not Be Okay”
She is a bestselling children’s book writer, and he is a caregiver at a psychiatric ward, and the two are bound by a traumatic past. Go Moon Young (Seo Ye Ji) is beautiful, haughty, and a highly temperamental young woman. She is emotionally detached and impulsive, not the typical personality one associates with a fairytale writer. Moon Young hates sugarcoating things, and her writing reflects a certain darkness. She finds herself attracted to Moon Kang Tae (Kim Soo Hyun),a handsome and introverted caregiver at a hospital. Kang Tae’s main priority in life is the wellbeing of his older brother Sang Tae (Oh Jung Se), who is on the autism spectrum.
As Moon Young in her own overbearing way tries to get Kang Tae’s attention, she is constantly rejected. But it is not long before Kang Tae realizes that Moon Young is the odd little girl from his childhood, and he is finally able to see through her anti-social personality. As Moon Young builds a close bond with the brothers, the three discover that they share a tragic past related to their mothers, and the memories continue to haunt and traumatize them well into adulthood.
“It’s Okay to Not Be Okay” is an incredible show, which sensitively delves into issues pertaining to mental health. The storytelling is riveting, and as it oscillates between the parallel narratives of Moon Young as well as Kang and Sung Tae’s past, it gives you an insight into their distinct personality traits. The cast also perfectly plays out their characters. Seo Ye Ji gives a raw and real performance in portraying the complexities of Go Moon Young while Kim Soo Hyun is perfect as the mild-mannered yet stoic Kang Tae. And Oh Jung Se as Sang Tae will walk away with a piece of your heart with his stellar performance.
Sung Duk Mi (Park Min Young) is a talented curator at a gallery who has a discerning eye when it comes to art and is a perfectionist at work. But once her work hours are done, she trades her stilettos for sneakers and the perfectly fitted dresses for oversized hoodies and sweatpants with her camera over her shoulders, busy documenting her favorite idol Cha Si An (ONE). Duk Mi operates a fan website, Road to Si An, but keeps this part of her life a secret, until she meets Ryan Gold (Kim Jae Wook), the new director at the art museum. Though the two clash, it’s not before long the inevitable sparks fly, and the two are involved in a passionate affair. Though Ryan Gold grew up in the United States, memories of his childhood in Korea continue to haunt him as Ryan’s past is inexplicably linked to Duk Mi’s mother.
“Her Private Life” is a delightful rom-com. What’s most endearing is the supportive male lead portrayed by Kim Jae Wook. Ryan is a man who never judges but rather empowers his lady love. Initially amused by his girlfriend fangirling, he is more than happy to support her favorite pastime and play along with it. He sure did win brownie points with the ladies.
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“Kill Me, Heal Me”
Oh Ri Jin (Hwang Jung Eum) is a psychiatric resident who runs into Do Hyun (Ji Sung) at the hospital. She later realizes that it’s not Do Hyun she encountered but the rockstar Se Gi, one of his many personalities. Do Hyun is an heir to huge company but has been disturbed given his mental health issues. He has a dissociative identity disorder and “lives” with six other personalities, each of whom come to the surface depending on the situation he is in. Do Hyun has created these personalities to deal with his traumatic childhood memories, which continue to haunt him. When Ri Jin’s inquisitive crime novelist brother Ri Oh (Park Seo Joon) starts investigating Do Hyun, old skeletons tumble down. Ri Jin and Do Hyun share a troubled past as children, and it is the memories of those events which are linked to Do Hyun’s current state of mind.
“Kill Me, Heal Me” is a well crafted show, a psychological drama entwined with suspense and thriller. Ji Sung’s brilliance as an actor comes to the fore as he articulates the many personalities of Do Hyun’s characters. From its seemingly tense moments, the show is also peppered with humor. One particular scene is when Ji Sung acts as Ahn Yo Na, a K-pop loving teenager who has taken a liking to Ri On and gushes upon seeing him. This scene was so unforgettable that it created a meme fest of sorts amongst fans.
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Lee Kang Do (Lee Junho) has dreams of becoming a soccer player, but they get crushed when an onsite accident at a mall leaves him with a grievous injury. The mishap also kills his father, and the loss impacts his life. Suffering from post traumatic disorder and debt ridden, Kang Do is a gruff young man who is left dealing with a hopeless future. He meets Ha Moon Soo (Won Jin Ah), who is also a survivor from the same accident. Moon So is wrecked with guilt for having survived the accident. The two come together with their shared sorrows, struggles, and form a deep connection.
“Just Between Lovers” is an underrated drama of love, loss, and longing. Lee Junho captures the essence of Lee Kang Do’s personality, articulating the pain and trauma that his character went through. And the slow-burn romance between the two characters is subtle and natural.
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Kim Bok Joo (Lee Sung Kyung) is a sassy weightlifting champ who trains hard and loves to tuck heartily into Korean BBQ even harder. She has the attention of campus cutie Joon Hyung (Nam Joo Hyuk), a talented swimmer. But Bok Joo has felt the first stirrings of infatuation towards Jae Yi (Lee Jae Yoon), a doctor who happens to be Joon Hyung’s older brother. So taken in with the thought of being in love, Bok Joo starts off on a weight loss spree, which is unthinkable for a competitive weightlifter. Joon Hyung, on the other hand, is dealing with issues of his past, and he admires Bok Joo’s spunky nature. The two went to elementary school together, although Bok Joo does not recall the memory of it. And as they find themselves dealing with growing pains, they come closer and eventually start dating. The transition from friends to lovers is natural and realistically portrayed between the two characters.
“Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo” is a delightful and unique drama. A coming of age story, the drama brought to the fore several issues ranging from performance pressure, mental health, and body positivity. Lee Sung Kyung as the sprightly and straight forward Bok Joo is spontaneous in her performance, and Nam Joo Hyuk as the best friend and understanding boyfriend ticked all the right boxes. Plus their performances were completely in sync that the two leads were shipped by fans for their easygoing chemistry.
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“Chocolate” is a a metaphor for life and its many flavors: sweet, bitter, soft, and hard. Lee Kang (Yoon Kye Sang ) is a neurosurgeon at his family-run hospital. He is a workaholic, but remains emotionally distant from people. Lee Kang had once dreamt of being a chef until his rich grandmother turned his life upside down. He is now a man burdened by family politics and consumed with resentment and regrets. But things change when he meets Moon Cha Young (Ha Ji Won), a chef at the hospice that he is heading. Cha Young enjoys feeding people – it is her way to show gratitude to the young boy who had generously fed her a lavish meal at a seaside restaurant. The boy in question is none other than Lee Kang, who would help his mother cook. As they both deal with their emotional issues, they reconnect over food and find their way back to each other.
This evocative drama intricately weaves in food as a symbol to explore the many themes of love, forgiveness, and healing. “Chocolate” is also picturesquely shot, and the unhurried storytelling and lilting background score makes it a relaxing watch.
Seo Jung Hoo (Ji Chang Wook) is a fearless night courier who takes on tough assignments and can get out of any sticky situation with his superior parkour skills. If not squabbling with his hacker boss Ji Min Ja (Kim Mi Kyung), he is imagining a retired life on an island in front of his gigantic TV screen. But things take a dramatic turn when he is commissioned by news anchor Kim Moon Ho (Yoo Ji Tae) to get the DNA sample of an aspiring and feisty journalist named Chae Young Shin (Park Min Young). A chain of events lead Jung Hoo to assume the identity of Bong Soo, a media intern. He starts working with Young Shin and Min Ja, and the three start investigating murky incidents from decades ago. But the drama soon reveals that Jung Hoo and Young Shin share a common past, and the case they are investigating is tied to their childhood and parents.
“Healer” is everything you want in a show. You have an action hero, a spunky female lead, and a cute love story unfolding amongst the suspense and intrigue. Plus Ji Chang Wook and Park Min Young make a captivating couple on screen, and their chemistry is scorching and effortless.
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“What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim”
Lee Young Joon (Park Seo Joon) is an heir to a fortune and the most eligible man around town. However, the self-assured Young Joon is extremely dependent on his secretary, the super efficient Kim Mi So (Park Min Young). Mi So has been taking care of his office for nine years, and she finally decides to resign, leaving Young Joon in a dilemma. As Young Joon cajoles her to stay, he also finds himself falling head over heels in love with Mi Soo. But a twist is that Mi Soo has been trying to look for a young boy with whom she had been kidnapped with as a child. Though she is told otherwise, her hunch keeps leading her towards Young Joon.
“What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim” is a winner all the way. Funny, cheesy, and very romantic, the steamy chemistry between Park Seo Joon and Park Min Young is sizzling and makes the show totally worth your while.
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A genius crime profiler named Lee Hyun (Seo In Guk) returns home to Korea after a mysterious email triggers memories of a past he had long forgotten. And detective Cha Ji An (Jang Nara) has been investigating him for years. Lee Hyun and Ji An have a shared tragic past. Lee Hyun is trying to locate his missing brother Lee Min and encounters Jung Sun Ho (Park Bo Gum) , whose motives are suspicious. As Ji An and Lee Hyun start investigating, they both realize they are being played in a dangerous cat and mouse game. As they tread on treacherous ground with hurdles around them, Ji An and Lee Hyun fall in love.
A psychological drama with an intriguing plot, “I Remember You” is a riveting show. The characters are well etched and are skillfully performed by the star cast, especially Park Bo Gum, who excels as the scheming Sun Ho. And the bromantic moments between Seo In Guk and Park Bo Gum lighten the tense atmosphere.
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Yoon Hye Jin (Shin Min Ah), a dentist, decides to quit her clinic in the city and moves bags and baggage to Gongjin, a seaside town which holds a special place in her heart. Hye Jin is prickly and standoffish – she is the city-bred girl who keeps herself aloof from the town folk. Hong Du Sik (Kim Seon Ho), popularly called Chief Hong, is the town’s chief handyman. He is Gongjin’s Mr. Popular. Du Sik is even-tempered and can adapt himself to any situation. Hye Jin and Du Sik bicker and rub each other the wrong way, until they develop an easygoing friendship that blooms into love. Hye Jin recalls having met Du Sik years ago in Gongjin, and though both of them are dealing with issues of the past, they empower each other in their own way.
“Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” is a comforting and gratifying drama. Exploring issues of self acceptance, loss, abandonment, regret, guilt, and heartbreak, it also celebrates the resilience of the human spirit. The drama is unmissable, and Shin Min Ah’s and Kim Seon Ho’s charms add to the delightful narrative.
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 Ho, Gong Yoo, Cha Eun Woo, and Ji Chang Wook to name a few. You can follow her on @puja_talwar7 on Instagram.
Currently watching: “Call It Love.”