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Korea Main Page
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Modern Korean Dramas

 

Korean Dramas


Drama of Early Days

Korean drama had its origin in the religious rites of prehistoric days. During the Shilla Kingdom (57 B.C.-935) dance movements and musical accompaniment were developed into a kind of drama called Ch'oyong. The Ch'oyong was not drama in the strict definition of the term. Even though it included dramatic elements that followed a distinct narrative story line, it was also made up of a series of dramatic dances. Besides Ch'oyong, there were several other such performances for royal and popular entertainment, but once again, primary emphasis was placed upon dance movements with music accompaniment which disqualifies them from being considered a true drama in general understanding of the word.

Dancing with musical accompaniment has always been important in Korean classical shows of all kinds regardless of their official designation as dance or drama. The sandae drama of the Koryo Dynasty (918-1392) contains more definite dramatic elements than the Ch'oyong. It was performed on stage by masked actors following a script with a story and occasional spoken lines. Dances and songs dominated the play. The sandae was further developed during the Choson Dynasty (1392-1910), when it became one of the official functions of the court. Eventually, it lost royal patronage and became entertainment for the common people. This most representative of Korean classic dramas found wide popular acceptance, as the subjugated masses of agrarian Korean society found solace in the humorous, satirical mask dramas that ridiculed the privileged classe--Buddhist priests and the yangban aristocrats.

Besides the shows described above, there were other dramatic forms of popular entertainment, such as puppet plays, acrobatic clowning, the Ogwangdae, the Pyolshin-gut (in the nature of a shamanistic ritual), and the Pongsan mask dance. All such classic entertainments, however declined with the introduction of Western culture in the 1900s.


Modern Korean TV Dramas

List of Dramas

 

Korea is riding on the "hallyu" movement - the globalization of Korean dramas (K-dramas).  Whether it's Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, China or the U.S., viewers who watch Korean dramas are enamored by the "real" acting and fascinating stories that unfold before their eyes.

K-dramas are a refreshing change for many, and some, like Winter Sonata, take them back to first loves.  Others like, Dae Jang Geum, tell about history in a fascinating way with rich costumes and realistic sets.

While some viewers may find them too "mild" for their taste, many others will be thrilled to find tasteful, endearing programming that reels them in and leaves them wanting more...and more...and more....and then they're hooked only to find that they are part of the "hallyu" movement. 


Partial List of Dramas
(Comprehensive List)


18 Year Old Bride

All About Eve
All In
Autumn in my Heart
Beautiful Days
Dae Jang Geum
Damo

 


Full House
Honesty / Truth

Hot December a.k.a Tropical Nights
Hotelier
Secret
Summer Scent
Winter Sonata

 


Buying Korean Dramas

If you are interested in buying Korean dramas, be careful where you buy them.  Buying from eBay and other sites may be less expensive, but as the saying goes "you get what you pay for."

From personal experience, buying off of eBay or other sites usually results in bootleg or illegal copies of the dramas which results in poor picture quality.  Some bootleg copies also have very poor English subtitles, ranging from jibberish to excessive language.  The only site we use and recommend, because of the excellent quality of the DVDs and subtitles, is YesAsia.com. YesAsia.com is the only authorized distributor of Korean DVDs in North America.  

If AsianInfo has helped you in your search or interest in Korean dramas, please use the links posted below each drama.  There is no additional cost to you to purchase through these links.  We need your help in improving our website and appreciate your visiting us!

 


 

Winter Sonata
KBS 2002

Starring:

Kang Joon Sang/ Lee Min Hyung ~ Bae Yong Jun
Jung Yu Jin ~ Choi Ji Woo
Kim Sang Hyuk ~ Park Yong Ha
Oh Chelin ~ Park Sol Mi
Kong Jin Suk ~ Lee Hye Eun
Kwon Yong Kuk ~ Ryu Seung Soo

General Synopsis:

Yu Jin and Sang Hyuk are close childhood friends who do everything together with their friends Chelin, Jin Suk and Yong Kuk. When Joon Sang arrives in town, Chelin claims him as her own. Joon Sang seems to have a grudge against Sang Hyuk and tries to aggravate him.  He even manages to win Yu Jin's heart to the surprise and disappointment of their friends, especially Chelin.  This causes jealousy and anger until an accident occurs that disrupts their lives.

This is a show about the power of love - whether it be pure or an obsession - and how it affects the lives of the ones we love by the decisions we make.

Review:

Excellent - Debatable with other K-drama followers, but this is my favorite drama.  The scenery, music and on-screen "sizzle" make it a "must watch" drama and the soundtrack a "must have" CD.

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Winter Sonata


18 Year Old Bride
KBS 2003

Starring:

Yoon Jung Sook ~ Han Ji Hae (Hye)
Kwon Kyuk Jun ~ Lee Dong Jun

General Synopsis:

Living life as a responsibility-free high school senior, Jung Sook gets into trouble when she is caught dancing at a night club by a district attorney.  But that is just the beginning of surprises in her life...she finds out that when she was a baby, her grandfather set up an arranged marriage...to an older man!

This drama is about Jung Sook's trials in avoiding the arranged marriage while trying to find the "true love" she literally bumped into on the street.  But ultimately, the discovery of love in an unexpected place is sweet to watch.

A story of immaturity, coming of age and the realization of true love.

Review:

Excellent - but probably geared more for females than males.  It's not a serious drama, nor is it straight comedy, but a delightful mix of the two.

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Sweet 18 (18 Year Old Bride)


All About Eve
MBC 2000

Starring: 

Jin Sun Mi ~ Chae Rim
Huh Young Mi ~ Kim So Yeon
Kim Woo Jin ~ Han Jae Suk
Yoon Hyung Chul ~ Jang Dong Gun

General Synopsis:

ev.jpg (14683 bytes)Sun Mi lives a princess life with her widowed father, until an accident at his company brings change to her life.  Young Mi, the same age as Sun Mi, hasn't had an easy life and immediately feels compelled to compete with Sun Mi in every aspect of life.

This is a tale of love and deceit. How much can a person endure before breaking down?  What would be an unforgivable act?

A story of heartbreak, of unfaltering love and of sacrifice, it is a compelling story to watch.

Review:

Very Good

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All About Eve



All In
SBS 2003

Starring:

Kim In Ha ~ Lee Byung Hun
Min Su Yon (Angela) ~ Song Hae Gyo
Choi Jung Won ~ Ji Sung
Suh Jin Hee ~ Park Sol Mi

Synopsis:

As a young boy, In Ha learns the "art" of cheating at cards, while helping his uncle.  He also become proficient at getting into trouble, which seems to follow him everywhere, whether he wants it or not.

To his dismay, cards seem to be his only hope in escaping the trouble of his youth, but they bring him nothing but pain.  Instead of letting this "talent" get him down, he turns his pain into perserverance and eventually.....peace? 

It's a sad story of good trying to triumph, but evil keeps staying alive - sabotaging his every effort at a "normal" life.

Review:

Very Good - this would be Excellent except for the violence and the "American" extras overact (i.e., can't act). This is a "must see" for men.

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All In


Autumn In My Heart
KBS 2000

Starring:

Yun Joon Suh ~ Song Seung Hun
Yun/Choi Eun Suh ~ Song Hae Gyo
Han Tae Suhk ~ Won Bin

Synopsis:

Untitled-1 copy.jpg (19472 bytes)Eun Suh lived a wonderful life with her parents and brother Joon Suh, until something happened that changed her life forever.  She went from an idyllic, happy childhood to one filled with strife, hard work and misery - and seemingly unloved in the new circumstances.

Although she lives her life cheerfully and without regret, she is continually thwarted in achieving true happiness.  

A sorrowful story that stays tragic.

Review:

Very Good - be prepared to shed a few tears.  I was most impressed with the children's acting in the first few episodes - excellent!

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Autumn in My Heart



Dae Jang Geum
MBC 2003

Starring:

Dae Jang Geum Lee Young Ae
Min Jung HoJi Jin Hee

Synopsis:

Based on a true story about the first female royal physician during the Chosun Dynasty.  Dae Jang Geum begins as an apprentice in the royal kitchen but she later on achieves the status of being the King's personal physician.  This is no easy feat, but is accomplished with hard work, perseverance and determination.  

A testimony to all showing that almost anything is possible with determination and wisdom. 

Review:

Excellent - A show for men and women alike.

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Dae Jang Geum (Volume 1 - Episodes 1-18)
Dae Jang Geum (Volume 2 - Episodes 19-36)
Dae Jang Geum (Volume 3 - Episodes 36-54 ~ The End)



Damo
MBC 2003

Starring:

Jang Chae Ohk ~ Ha Ji Won
Hwangbo Yoon ~ Lee Seo Jin
Jang Sung Baek ~ Kim Min Joon

Synopsis:

Counterfeit money, conspiracy, rebellion - this is an action packed drama that highlight's the role of Chae Ohk, a female undercover detective.  Under the cloak of secrecy, she gathers and collects information - even at the risk of her life.

A romance that cannot be... a family that once was... extinguished hope...  A heart-wrenching, at times, gut-wrenching, drama to watch. 

Review:

Very Good

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Damo


 

Full House
KBS 2004

Starring:

Han Ji Eun ~ Song Hae Gyo 
Lee Young Jae ~ Bi
Kang Hye Won ~ Han Eun Jung
Yoo Min Hyuk ~ Kim Sung Soo

Synopsis:

pull.jpg (104820 bytes)A naive, cheerful albeit, somewhat of a recluse writer, Ji Eun is swindled out of everything she owns.  Not by strangers, but her best friends!  Stranded in another country, she is determined to get home, only to find that all which is precious to her has been sold.  In an attempt to get her possessions back, she has "sell her soul."

A story about love and heartbreak, sadness and self-preservation. In spite of it all, Ji Eun manages to be humorous and endearing - even when her heart is breaking.

Review:

Very Good - Although the ending was weak, the sizzle between Song Hae Gyo and Bi made the drama worth watching.

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Full House

 



Honesty

MBC

Starring:

Lee Ja Young ~  Choi Ji Woo
Jung Hyun Woo ~  Ryu Shi Won
Lee Shin Hee ~ Park Sun Young
Park Seung Jae ~ Son Ji Chang

Synopsis:

What would you do if you were sitting in the backseat of a car when a car accident takes place and wakes up to see that you are sitting in the driver's seat accused of causing the accident?  Shin Hee has used Ja Young as her shield maltreating her in dexterous ways since childhood.  Shin Hee uses  Ja Young's low status as a daughter of her father's car driver

We find at the epilogue of this drama that honesty is the virtue of life whatever the circumstances.

Review:

Excellent

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Currently not available.



Hot December
(a.k.a. Tropical Nights In December)

MBC 2004

Starring:

Oh Young Shim ~ Eom Jung Hwa
Park Jung Woo ~ Kim Nam Jin
Dr. Min Ji Hwan
(Young Shim's husband) ~ Shin Sung Woo

Synopsis:

It's a drama about a woman who is ignored by her husband and his family.  She falls in love with a handsome young man who truly loves her back. Her husband, a seemingly perfect man, can not forget his first love and he always regret marrying an uneducated wife of his.  However, he thinks twice and gets jealous when he finds out his wife is cheating on him.

Review:

Fair

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Currently not available.

 



Hotelier
MBC 2001

Starring:

Han Tae Jun ~ Kim Seung Woo
Suh Jin Young ~ Song Yun Ah
Shin Dong Hyuk/Frank Shin ~ Bae Yong Jun
Kim Yun Hee ~ Song Hae Gyo 

Synopsis:

The unexpected death of the hotel owner, brings about uncertainty.  Jin Young is recruited to bring back former head manager, Han Tae Jun, to help regroup the hotel. Unfortunately, there are many opposed to his re-appointment and his path is strewn with difficulty.  

His main rival is the man brought in secretly for a hostile takeover, Frank Shin.  Frank is a man who doesn't bother with love, until he meets Jin Young by accident in America.

A tale of forgotten love, secret pain and new hope

Review:

Very Good - I liked this show, although the "American" actors can't act and the interaction between Koreans / Americans leave something to be desired.

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Hotelier



Secret

MBC2000

Starring:

Lee Hee Jung ~  Kim Ha Neul
Kim Jun Ho (Hee Jung's friend) ~  Ryu Shi Won
Cho Young Min (Hee Jungs's manager) ~  Kim Min Jong 
Lee Ji Eun (Hee Jung's sister) ~  Ha Ji Won

Synopsis:

Ji Eun finds out her sister Hee Jung is the daughter of a famous fashion designer and takes over her place as a real daughter.  Ji Eun loses her sense of morality as gets into deeper sin out of jealousy toward Hee Jung  who also steals both Jun Ho and Young Min's heart.  The fashion designer doesn't have the luxury of enjoying the love of her real daughter, Hee Jung when she dies of leukemia.  Ji Eun at last realizes unconditional love of this fashion designer and Hee Jung's forgiveness toward her.

Review:

Good

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Not currently available

 



Summer Scent
KBS 2003

Starring:

Yoo Min Woo ~ Song Seung Hun
Shim Hye Won ~ Son Ye Jin
Park Jung Jae ~ Ryu Jin
Park Jung Ah ~ Han Ji Hye

General Synopsis:

Min Woo's fiance dies on their wedding, but gives the gift of her heart to another person in need.  Hye Won is on the verge of dying, but receives the gift of life from a person who has died.  They have a chance meeting, which is the beginning of other chance meetings...

A story about connections, misunderstandings, fate and destiny, but most of all following your heart.

Review:

Very Good - The music and scenery are beautiful in this drama.  The soundtrack is a "must have."

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Summer Scent

 



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