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9 Romantic K-dramas That Navigate Dating as an Adult
Doing your taxes is hard, but finding love after high school is harder.
By Regina Kim
June đôi mươi, 2023
Few genres of television capture the magic of teenage romance quite lượt thích K-dramas. Between sweet and innocent crushes, intense love triangles and the emotional drama that comes with balancing high school and a semblance of a social life, many K-dramas expertly mix relatability and nostalgia with the right amount of melodrama and fantasy. That’s probably why teen dramas lượt thích Love Alarm, Boys Over Flowers and Inheritors have become undeniable người yêu thích favorites over the years.
But lately, Korean storytellers have been crafting a wider variety of romantic dramas that diverge from the typical shows that K-drama aficionados are used đồ sộ, with steamier rom-coms, unconventional love stories, and workplace and slice-of-life tales, as well as realistic portrayals of modern dating — especially later in life.
Here’s a curated list of popular romantic K-dramas that are specifically geared toward those in their 20s and beyond.
See You in My 19th Life
In this romance series with a fantasy twist, which is based on the webtoon of the same name, Ban Ji-eum (Shin Hae-sun) is a woman who has been reincarnated over and over and has the ability đồ sộ remember all of her past lives. When her 18th life is cut short due đồ sộ a tragic accident, she sets out đồ sộ reconnect with all the people from that past life in her current one.
Twenty Five Twenty One
This series is a ’90s time machine, complete with cassette players, analog TVs and pagers (remember those?). Written by Kwon Do-eun, who previously served as an assistant writer đồ sộ legendary K-drama screenwriter Kim Eun-sook (known for penning smash hits lượt thích Mr. Sunshine, Inheritors and The King: Eternal Monarch), Twenty Five Twenty One is a heartwarming coming-of-age romance that centers on the lives of teenage fencing prodigy Na Hee-do (Kim Tae-ri from Mr. Sunshine and Space Sweepers) and Back Yi-jin, the son of a chaebol family (played by model and Start-Up heartthrob Nam Joo-hyuk). After the devastating 1997 Asian Financial Crisis (known as the “IMF Crisis” in South Korea) bankrupts Yi-jin’s family and forces Hee-do’s high school đồ sộ cut its fencing team, the two find comfort in each other and size a special bond as they struggle đồ sộ pursue their dreams amid challenging times.
While the show isn’t adult in the risqué sense, those who lived through the 1990s will appreciate the show’s retro vibes (like the old-school aesthetic used in the title sequence that is reminiscent of ’90s K-dramas) and some of the cultural references. Though Hee-do and Yi-jin first meet when they’re 18 and 22, viewers are taken through how their relationship evolves over time as they grow older.
What’s worse than vãn being mix up on a blind date by your family? Being mix up on a blind date with your quấn. Young-seo (Seol In-a), a chaebol heiress who hates going on blind dates mix up by her father, convinces her friend Shin Ha-ri (played by one of South Korea’s top multi-hyphenate entertainers, Kim Se-jeong) đồ sộ take her place. Determined đồ sộ help her friend, Ha-ri shows up with the intention of scaring off her date, only đồ sộ find out that he is none other than vãn Kang Tae-moo (Ahn Hyo-seop), the CEO of the company where she works. Despite Ha-ri’s crazy antics and sexual innuendos, Tae-moo decides đồ sộ marry her, if only đồ sộ stop his grandfather from setting him up on future blind dates. But when he finds out that she isn’t the real Young-seo, Ha-ri creates another fake identity đồ sộ cover up her real one. When Tae-moo proposes that they pretend đồ sộ date instead, will Ha-ri be able đồ sộ continue seeing him without revealing that she’s his employee?
Forecasting Love & Weather
Like its Korean title, which translates đồ sộ “People of the Korea Meteorological Administration: A Tale About the Cruelty of Office Romance,” this drama explores the excitement and pitfalls of workplace romance. K-drama mainstay Park Min-young stars as Jin Ha-kyung, a cold but highly capable weather forecaster who is promoted đồ sộ the head of her team. Things get complicated, however, when her colleague and ex-fiancé Han Ki-jun (Yoon Bak), who dumped her right before their wedding, continues đồ sộ work in the same building. Ha-kyung promises herself that she will never date one of her coworkers again, but when she finds herself falling for Lee Si-woo (Song Kang), a new employee on her team, she realizes that love may be just as difficult đồ sộ predict as the weather.
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Her Private Life
Park Min-young stars in this one too, this time as Sung Duk-mi, an art gallery curator who tries đồ sộ hide her obsession with a K-pop idol from the rest of the world. When she’s not working, she manages one of the biggest người yêu thích sites dedicated đồ sộ K-pop star Cha Si-an (played by rapper Jung Je-won, aka One). Duk-mi immediately clashes with her new quấn Ryan Gold (Kim Jae-uk from Voice and The Guest), a famous artist-turned-gallery director who is aloof and indifferent đồ sộ everyone. But when online rumors that Duk-mi and Si-an are dating make Duk-mi the target of vicious attacks by jealous fans, Ryan and Duk-mi decide đồ sộ pretend đồ sộ be a couple đồ sộ ensure her safety. The series also stars familiar faces from Netflix originals, including Ahn Bo-hyun from My Name and Kim Sun-young from The Silent Sea.
Love and Leashes
This one’s technically a movie, but still deserves a shout-out. K-pop idols Seohyun (of Girls’ Generation) and Lee Jun-young (from U-KISS) star as Jung Ji-woo and Jung Ji-hoo respectively, two co-workers who enter into a contractual relationship after Ji-woo finds out about Ji-hoo’s penchant for BDSM. Unlike Fifty Shades of Grey, there’s no nudity or sex, but the two leads’ explosive chemistry still results in plenty of sizzling scenes.
Thirty-Nine is a heartfelt romantic drama that follows the lives of three 39-year-old best friends, Cha Mi-jo, Jeong Chan-young and Jang Joo-hee, as they try đồ sộ navigate work, love and loss. Mi-jo (played by the acclaimed Crash Landing on You star Son Ye-jin) is a smart career woman who was adopted by a caring, wealthy family and now runs her own dermatology clinic. Serendipitous events start bringing her and fellow dermatologist Kim Seon-u (Yeon Woo-jin) closer together. Chan-young (played by the charismatic Jeon Mi-do of Hospital Playlist), an acting coach who once dreamed of becoming an actress, cannot get over her ex-boyfriend Kim Jin-seok (Lee Mu-saeng from The Silent Sea), who is now a married man. Joo-hee (Kim Ji-hyun) works as a cosmetics manager at a department store. Because she’s sánh shy, she’s never been in a romantic relationship, but that all begins đồ sộ change when she meets restaurateur Park Hyeon-jun (Lee Tae-hwan).
Thirty-Nine takes a realistic — if at times painful — look at life, love and friendship for those who are approaching middle age. It beautifully illustrates how wonderful life can be, despite its ups and downs, if you have true friends who are willing đồ sộ tự anything for you.
Something in the Rain
Before Son Ye-jin starred in Thirty-Nine and Crash Landing on You, she made her small-screen comeback in Something in the Rain, an understated love story between a woman in her mid-30s and a younger man. Between breaking up with a cheating ex-boyfriend and putting up with sexist colleagues at work, Yoon Jin-a (Son Ye-jin) just can’t seem đồ sộ catch a break. But things start đồ sộ look up when she bumps into her best friend’s younger brother Seo Jun-hui (played by the charming Jung Hae-in), who’s just returned from a three-year stint abroad. Now that Jun-hui is older, Jin-a sees him in a new light, and the two begin a secret romance that is quickly tested due đồ sộ their age difference.
Something in the Rain deviates from most romantic K-dramas in that it’s slower paced and much more low-key, but it still manages đồ sộ leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside. An Indian remake of the K-drama is currently in the works.
Before his bed scenes with Park Min-young in Forecasting Love & Weather lit social truyền thông media on fire, actor Song Kang appeared in the even racier K-drama Nevertheless, with My Name star Han So-hee. Traumatized after an abusive relationship, Yu Na-bi (Han So-hee) refuses đồ sộ believe in love. One day, she encounters the flirty and seductive Park Jae-eon (Song Kang), who she later finds out is a fellow art student and hugely popular with other girls. Despite her misgivings about Jae-eon’s character, Na-bi finds herself unable đồ sộ resist his charms, and the two enter into a friends-with-benefits relationship.
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