You are officially a kaddict, spending all your free time obsessing and watching the latest kdramas. So what is your next step of kaddiction? Hooking your friends and family of course. Because nothing is more satisfying than getting real-life validation of your new lifestyle. So The Fangirls decided to come together and share our tried and true dramas the initial introduction.
Before we get to the actual dramas we suggest, I want to just throw out some things to keep in mind when you are choosing “the one” that will hook your friends.
- Keep in mind the culture differences. I have found that when choosing the first drama it is better to pick one that does not have a ton of cultural quirks that don’t make sense to the viewer. For example, in America the concept of elders being the be all and end all in decision making is not the norm. So if you choose a weekend family drama which usually relies heavily on these themes, there can be a disconnect. So choose a show that has universal themes. The best examples are Revenge and Rom-com in my opinion. Everyone loves romantic hijinks and the need to get revenge for being wronged.
- Tailor the drama to fit the likes of your
victimfriend. If they love fluffy romances, do not start them off with something deep like I Miss You or Cruel City. If they hate historicals, do not start them with a Sageuk. Every person has their personal tastes and don’t assume that just because it is a good kdrama that all genres will work to hook a newbie. Experiencing different styles of kdrama can come after they are addicted.
- Make sure to watch several episodes all at once and make this a long girls night dramathon. I know that even as an experienced kaddict, there are times I need a few episodes to get into a drama. Even with my #1 drama, I go to to snag my friends (City Hunter) it takes 2 episodes for you to see the true sexiness of Lee Min Ho in tight pants.
KdramaJen: Marriage, Not Dating – I loved the way this one made me laugh. There are some of the usual Kdrama tropes, but it is fun and fresh.
My Love from Another Star – I am not sure which category to place this one in. I loved it so much, so I want everyone to love it. It is a great choice for female friends who have not yet experienced the awesomeness that is Kim Soo Hyun. This is the first taste. I then usually recommend Moon Embracing the Sun once they start having Kim Soo Hyun withdrawal.
KMUSE: I know that this isn’t the best example of a Rom-com, but for some reason, it is an easy one for newbies to understand. Lie To Me is a great drama to hook the girl who loves romantic hijinks. Sure the 2nd half isn’t amazing, but often our initial hook dramas are highly flawed. If I had to choose another I would throw out Answer Me 1997. This is a great one that makes it really easy for people to relate too. A lot of the themes and cultural events were universal and it hooks viewers right away.
Drama Geek: Usually it’s Healer or My Love from Another Star. They have amazing OTP’s and their romances both feel epic. And these two have two of my favorite Kdrama female characters ever. If I had to add another one, I guess I’d choose Master’s Sun. It’s quirky and has ghosts in it, but Tae Gong-shil and Joo Joong-won are adorable.
Clkytta: Healer is my favorite recommendation because it’s so good that I’ll watch it all over again with them. Another good one to start with is Fool’s Love, it’s a great boy meets girl at the wrong time, but everything about it is so right, story. I like a good story that makes me laugh, and cheer the hero and heroine on and both of these dramas meet that criteria.
TurtleMaknae: Oh My Ghostess – I loved how fun it was. It had some serious moments but was really enjoyable. Also Park Bo Young is super adorable and Kim Seul Gi is hilarious. The romance is slow going but once it is going its quite passionate. That kiss though…mmmmmm.
Jennie: I was going to say Healer too, what’s not to love?? Also, Boys Over Flowers is a classic that tends to hook everyone. It’s such a train-wreck, but it’s addicting. I’ve hooked quite a few people with Flower Boy Ramen Shop, too… including Drama geek. One shirtless picture of Pillar, and BAM! all your victims are goners.
KdramaJen: I don’t usually start with melodramas. Korean melodramas can be quite heavy on the drama part. It takes time to get used to the horrific tragedy that seems to plague every moment of the hero’s or heroine’s life. I had to build up my tolerance level, especially for some of the graphic violence and bloodshed which is often shown in slow motion. I am curious to see what my fellow fan girls recommend.
Drama Geek: I very rarely watch melodramas. They are just not my cup of tea. It’s Okay, That’s Love is listed as a melo so if I had to recommend one for a newbie, that’s what I’d choose.
KMUSE: I also wouldn’t start with a melo unless my friend is really into that type of thing. I personally LOVE them, but it took a good year into my addiction before I got used to the Korean habit of having sad endings where main characters can die. But this is a suggestion post so let me throw out my top favorite makjang shows. The first would have to be Secret. This is one of the best cracktastic plots of all time. You have to appreciate how the main guy torments, stalks, and goes CRAZY over the woman he thinks killed his girlfriend and unborn baby. But then falls in love with her while mid-stalking. It is AWESOME. I also will throw out yet another Seo In Guk drama (what can I say, he is my bias) I Remember You. This was an awesome drama which really delved into the nature of a serial killer. Also Park Bo Gum and Seo In Guk’s bromance is superb.
Clkytta: I Miss You, it’s gritty and redeeming. It was actually one of the first dramas I watched and I really enjoyed it. I could understand the characters and how what had happened to them shaped them into the people they had become. I need my characters to not overly suffer, but it has to be something that shapes their story and doesn’t go away by episode 2. There may not be a happy ending for everyone, but there is resolution.
TurtleMaknae: Good Doctor – I don’t watch Melos much either but this one was my favorite. I love how it deals with the stigma behind autism. Like no ever talked about mental issues in dramas and this was before its ok that love and heal me kill me. It’s a pioneer in its field. Well to me anyway. I could be wrong. I usually am.
Jennie: I’m not a melo person. If I had watched a melo first I wouldn’t be here today. I only liked two of the recs. I need more plungers in my drama watching.
KMUSE: As I mentioned earlier, City Hunter is my #1 go to when getting my friends hooked. It has succeeded with over 10 family members/ friends so it totally works. I think because everyone understands why this hot guy would want revenge. It also helps that the romance interwoven with the action is understandable and totally entertaining. I also am going to throw out Signal as a great starter drama. It was an intense experience with very solid storytelling that is a guaranteed win.
KdramaJen: Healer and City Hunter – I used to use City Hunter as a gateway drama, especially for men. Since Healer came on the scene, I have started to recommend it instead of or in addition to City Hunter. Both have fast-paced action scenes and a hottie hero looking for revenge.
Drama Geek: Healer is the one I’ve started recommending first before anything else. No matter what the person’s taste since it has a little bit of everything. If I know they like a bit of the supernatural, then I’ll tell them to watch Vampire Prosecutor. It has a more toned down love line and still has a lot of the action. Though it is a bit more of a procedural format.
Clkytta: Healer, it’s a drama that appeals to a wide audience. I also liked You Are All Surrounded, it was eye candy with some action thrown in.
TurtleMaknae: You are all surrounded – Don’t watch much action either but I did watch you are all surrounded and that was fun. Cops, Revenge, intrigue, crazy pasts, and hotties, what more do you need?
Jennie: HEALER!! Always Healer. Does My Love From Another Star count as action?? If so, that one too. Confession time: I’ve never seen City Hunter, and I’m not really a Lee Min Ho fan, but man does he bring in the newbies.
KMUSE – I am a Saguek junkie so it is hard for me to not assume everyone would love what I love. However, I think this is the hardest genre to hook newbies on. I will especially warn everyone to not start with a Saguek where the leads die. And surprisingly, this happens a lot. So with that in mind, I am going to throw out Moon Embracing the Sun because it has all the awesomeness of a Sageuk with a rare happy ending. I am also going to throw out Six Flying Dragons as a good starter show. It has some of the best performances I have seen in a drama of any genre and I loved watching these characters grow and change history.
KdramaJen: Moon Embracing the Sun – I don’t usually introduce Sageuks to people who are brand new to the Kdrama watching world, but this is the one I recommend to friends who have dabbled in modern dramas and are interested in trying a historical. It is also an opportunity to see Kim Soo Hyun in another drama.
Drama Geek: Sungkyunkwan Scandal, Arang and the Magistrate, or Queen In-hyun’s Man
I think sageuks, more than the rest, you really have to know your audience. I, for one, can’t really handle Joseon politics. I tend to feel like they round up all the same actors and throw robes on them and they plot the same thing over and over. 🙂 So if they aren’t really into fantasy I go with S Scandal. So many cheeky characters. Yoo Ah-in with scruff, and Song Joong-ki in fuchsia winking at you the whole drama. And Park Min Young fits right in with her Joseon flower boys, even if it’s not the most convincing cross dressing I’ve ever seen.
If they like fantasy then I go with Arang or QIHM. Both couples are just adorable and the stories are solid. Shin Min-ah is one of my girl crushes so it’s hard not to recommend something she’s in. QIHM has time travel and an ending that might make some people go, hmm. But I loved it start to finish. An intelligent, respectful leading man who is sweet and kind to the female lead from day one.
Clkytta: Faith and Queen In-Hyun’s Man. I am not a big fan of historical dramas simply because most of the time they start out awesome, and by the ending I’m so mad and disappointed that the story I was watching was suddenly interrupted by another story which had a crappy ending. There is character growth in both of these dramas and a satisfying ending. I am a big fan of time travel romance, so it’s not a big surprise that both of these dramas are time travelers.
TurtleMaknae: Moon Embracing the Sun – This one is one of my favorite Historical dramas. I’d definitely hold off showing a new person anything historical unless they like history in general. It’s basically how most dramas about monarchs go, brothers fight for the crown and the leading lady.
Jennie: I actually hooked my husband with a Saguek. He loves them! It was Gu Family Book that caught his attention. He couldn’t get enough. I’m always up for The Moon Embracing the Sun. In fact, I got my parents hooked with that one. I’m detecting a pattern with my family members… Arang and the Magistrate is fantastic too! This might also be cheesy, but I would recommend Orange Marmalade to a newbie. Yes, the historical part is little weird, but I was crazy hooked to it anyway. It has good fusion for people just getting started.
Phew, this is a ton of wonderful kdrama all listed in one place. I hope that this can help you choose the perfect drama to
trick force help your friends into kaddiction. If we missed a show that you think is the perfect drama for a first timer, please let us know!
Til next time,