K-Dramas were quick to snatch the attention of a wide range of audiences. Romantic K-Dramas, primarily, built their places in people’s hearts through the family-friendly content and incredible friendships they portray. Most dramas made in South Korea are intended to be aired on television for audiences of all ages and hence, including minimal intimate or violent scenes. The major focus, therefore, is on friendships. From confessing embarrassing stories over Soju shots to crafting master plans for defeating bullies ad rivals, K-Dramas have featured some of the most engaging moments in television memory.
While dreamy romantic K-Dramas have a huge fan base, sometimes you just want to curl up on the couch and watch endless hours of wholesome friendships and moments that make your heart swell with love and warmth. From sweeping love stories like Romance Is a Bonus Book to endearing friendships like Thirty-Nine, K-Dramas are the way to go if you’re feeling down or frustrated.
If there’s one thing a lot of shows get wrong about friendships is the longevity and strength of female friendships. They often break up the strongest female bonds over petty issues, which is heartbreaking. But Thirty-Nine rightfully serves a fantastic trio of girlfriends. Cha Mi Jo (Son Ye Jin), Jeong Chan Young (Jeon Mi Do), and Jang Joo Hee (Kim Ji Hyun) are three 39-year-old women who are navigating through life as they prepare to hit another milestone.
Despite being carried by three incredible actresses, Thirty-Nine suffers a case of mediocre execution. However, the emotional beats, the friendly banter, and the brutal honesty leave no room for disappointment.
‘Dear My Friends’
Dear My Friends tells the story of a young Park Wan (Go Hyun Jung) who is pulled by her mother into discussions with her friends: Jo Hee Ja (Kim Hye Ja), Moon Jung Ah (Na Moon Hee), Oh Choong Nam (Youn Yuh Jung), and Lee Yeong Won (Park Won Sook). They tell her stories of the twilight years of their lives, of rediscovering themselves through relationships and friendships, in the hope that she may feel inspired and, one day, write a novel about them.
Poignant and thoughtful, Dear My Friends motivates us to keep our friends close and value their friendship. And if you’re just starting the show, you might want to grab a box of tissues for the ride.
‘Something In The Rain’
Yoon Jin Ah (Son Ye Jin) is a district supervisor in her 30s. She has a lot of dating experience, most of it being dumped because she’s too “clumsy,” “bland,” and “foolish.” After one such horrendous breakup, she crosses paths with Seo Joon Hee (Jung Hae In), her childhood best friend’s young brother, now a man in his early 30s. She always saw him as the little kid next door, but things take an exciting turn when he returns as a masculine man she can’t stop thinking about.
The relationship between the couple goes from genuine friendship to a sweet romance, with many endearing moments. Yet, in its own way, Something In The Rain is a satire on gender-discriminating companies, the patriarchal society, and the domineering world that forbids the couple’s blossoming relationship.
‘Romance Is A Bonus Book’
Cha Eun Ho (Lee Jong Suk), the youngest chief editor of a company, has always felt indebted to Kang Dan I (Lee Na Young), his childhood friend who saved his life, but their friendship took a hit when she decided to get married to a toxic man, despite Eun Ho’s warnings. So now, Eun Ho enlists her help to find him a housekeeper, except he has no idea it’s her who’s been doing all the work and taking the payment. A single divorced mother, Kang Dan I, is working hard to make ends meet, but how long before her secrets are out for Eun Ho to see?
A delightful yet heartbreaking romance, Romance Is A Bonus Book is a beautiful drama that will have you bawling your eyes out.
Helmed by the director of the Reply anthology series, the third installment of which you’ll find in this list, Hospital Playlist is the story of five 40-something doctors: Lee Ik Jun (Jo Jung Suk), Ahn Jeong Won (Yoo Yeon Seok), Kim Jun Wan (Jung Kyung Ho), Yang Seok Hyeong (Kim Dae Myung), Chae Song Hwa (Jeon Mi Do), who have been friends since undergrad. Twenty years later, they are co-workers navigating their life and devotion to music.
In a series of amusing and heartwarming events, the show’s leads support each other, celebrating the spirit of friendship, sticking together through the good and the bad.
‘Because This is My First Life’
Nam Se Hee (Lee Min Ki) is a socially awkward yet professionally successful computer designer with zero patience for dating or marriage. Also, he’s broke. On the other hand, Yoon Ji Ho (Jung So Min) is a homeless woman in her early 30s whose financial struggles leave no room for dating. They strike a deal: to get married and become housemates, saving money for both. What they don’t see coming are relentless employees and feelings that have no place in their contract.
While the premise of the show is quite unrealistic, the quirky characters make up for it. A lovable and laugh-out-loud drama, Because This Is My First Lifewill keep you smiling long after the episode’s over.
‘My ID is Gangnam Beauty’
After a traumatic high school experience of being bullied for her looks, Kang Mi Rae (Lim Soo Hyang) decides to get plastic surgery so she can live a humiliation-free college life. And it works … until her university classmates find other reasons to put her down. Eventually, she finds comfort in the friendship of Do Kyung Suk (Cha Eun Woo), who defends her honor and helps her rediscover her confidence.
A wholesome story about realizing the true meaning of beauty, My ID is Gangnam Beauty is a satire on Korean beauty standards.
‘Welcome To Waikiki’
Three very dissimilar young men: an aspiring film director, Dong Gu (Kim Jung Hyun), a broke actor, Joon Ki (Lee Yi Kyung), and a lazy freelance writer, Woo Shik (Kim Seon Ho), purchase a guest house by the name of Waikiki, where foreigners come to stay. They plan to use the income to fund their film. What follows are shenanigans and hilarious moments as they juggle balancing the guest house, their movie, and their romantic lives.
With quirky characters and banter that will make you laugh out loud, Welcome To Waikikiis the perfect heartwarming stress reliever.
The third installment in one of the most beloved anthology series, Reply, Reply 1988 tells the story of five friends: Sung Deok Sun (Hyeri), Sung Sun Woo (Go Kyung Pyo), Ryu Dong Ryong (Lee Dong Hwi), Kim Jung Hwan (Ryu Jun Yeol), and Choi Taek (Park Bo Gum), who live with their families live in the same neighborhood in Northern Seoul in the year 1988. They’re childhood friends who support each other through thick and thin and, like others their age, occasionally watch movies together and have sleepovers.
The drama primarily focuses on them at 18 and 19, making it one of the most endearing friendship representations. Reply 1988 is a heartwarming K-Drama with poignant takeaways and engaging scenes.
‘Crash Landing On You’
Did you know that all men between the ages of 18 and 35 are required to perform compulsory military service in South Korea? If the trivia intrigued you, so will Crash Landing On You. When billionaire Yoon Se Ri (Son Ye Jin) finds herself stuck in North Korea after a paragliding mishap, she doesn’t think there’s a way home … until she’s found by upstanding captain Ri Jeong Hyeok (Hyun Bin).
The K-Drama is a gateway for Hallyu fans, and while it is glorified for its slow-burn romance and cultural depiction, the genuine friendships between the soldiers make the K-Drama so heartwarming. From sharing wholesome moments to risking their lives for each other, these soldiers keep the spirit of camaraderie alive.