I thought I’d do a roundup post listing the Korean and Japanese dramas I’ve watched and am currently watching because it would help me remember which series I’ve finished and what I need to get back to. I started out watching only dramas that were adaptations of manga series, just because it amused me that manga series will often get live action adaptations of 12 or 22 episodes. I started branching out by watching original series as well.
City Hunter – This doesn’t resemble the City Hunter manga very much, but I am finding it very amusing. The first episode is all somewhat melodramatic prelude, so I recommend watching the first two episodes at least if you are giving this a try. The Korean version of City Hunter is a boy who is snatched from his mother as an infant and raised by his adoptive father in the middle of the Thai drug Triangle. This gives him the perfect background to get a doctoral degree from MIT and come back to Korea as a superspy who wears fashionable blazers. The love interest in this story is a female bodyguard, so she has some nice short action sequences. City Hunter is on Hulu and Netflix Watch Instantly.
Heartstrings – This features the female lead and male second lead from You’re Beautiful. They are school rivals as he plays rock music but she is devoted to traditional Korean music. These actors had great chemistry in their previous series, so I was looking forward to this. I’ve only watched the first 3 episodes or so, but there appears to be a love rectangle forming that will result in plenty of tears. On Dramafever.
You’re Beautiful – This was the series that caused me to finally break out of the habit of watching only manga adaptation dramas. A young girl in training to become a nun is abruptly told she has to masquerade as her twin brother and join a boy band. There are great elements of surreal humor in the fantasy sequences, and the actors are all very appealing. Most of the time I only watch a series once, but I’ve watched this two times. I am always amused that Korean high fashion for boy bands seems to involve articles of clothing usually worn by 60 year old women (shawls and cowl neck sweaters) On Hulu
My Princess – This has the most adorable lead actors ever, balanced out by the most annoying female villain. An indifferent but peppy student nurses a crush on her professor but finds her life changing when it is revealed that she’s the long lost heir of the Korean monarchy. Most dramas feature Cinderella stories to some degree, but this one goes all the way as she moves into a palace and starts taking princess lessons. It is so cute! On Hulu and Netflix Watch Instantly.
Boys Over Flowers – I love the fact that Boys Over Flowers has been adapted to television in so many countries. I’ve watched a bit of Meteor Garden and all of the Japanese series, but this adaptation is my favorite mainly because Lee Min Ho is such a great Tsukasa. On Dramafever and Netflix Watch Instantly.
Kimi Wa Petto – Japanese drama version of the great josei manga, which was released in America as Tramps Like Us by Tokyopop. An older career woman takes in a younger man that she finds abandoned in the street outside her house.
Series I’ve finished watching
My Lovely Sam Soon- This is a very Bridget Jonesish story about a woman who is dumped by her horrible fiance only to start to reinvent herself as a pastry chef. The restaurant owner is younger than her, rich, and arrogant. There are plenty of comedic moments and fantasy sequences that liven up the story. On Hulu
Coffee Prince- I am always a fan of media that involve girls cross-dressing as men. A hard-working poor girl gets a job in a “men only” cafe, so she pretends to be a boy in order to get a steady income. Cue plenty of gender identity confusion as her older, rich, arrogant boss becomes attracted to her. On Hulu.
Personal Taste – Handsome architect moves in with quirky furniture designer, pretending to be gay in order to get him to accept her as a roommate. On Dramafever.
Greatest Love- A washed-up pop singer becomes involved with an extremely arrogant Korean actor. This is from the Hong sisters who created You’re Beautiful. It is a little less wacky than You’re Beautiful, but still a cute show business story, and it is nice that it features a slightly older couple. On Dramafever.
The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry – Sort of like Sex in the City (but not as annoying) this show centers around the dating tribulations of 3 thirty-something women. On Hulu.
Dal Ja’s Spring – Best fantasy sequences ever, with references to Kill Bill and Wonder Woman. Older career woman takes up with younger man, complications ensue.
Mars – Taiwanese version of the Fuyumi Soryo manga. Angst abounds as a good girl artist falls for a bad boy motorcycle racer.
Iris – Korean spies and plenty of angst! For those of you that love the recent GI Joe live action movie, the male lead in Iris played Storm Shadow. On Hulu.
Secret Garden – I was spoiled for the ending of this series, and I haven’t finished it. But the episodes I watched were fun because the storyline involves some Freaky Friday body switching between a tomboyish stuntwoman and an effete executive. On Hulu.
Princess Hours – This is the drama adaptation of Goong, one of my favorite manhwa. It takes place in an alternate universe where the Korean monarchy has persisted to the present time. The art direction of this show is fabulous, with elaborate palace interiors and costuming. On Crunchyroll.
If you have any suggestions for dramas I should try watching next, let me know!