With every new k-drama comes a new passion for life. While k-dramas like ‘Doctors’ and ‘Hospital Playlist’ have inspired many fans to get into medicine, k-dramas like ‘WWW’ and ‘Start Up’ have increased a passion for the tech between the fans. But while the k-dramas with the main leads having conventional careers like lawyer and doctors are very popular. Finally, the sports-themed K-dramas are on the watch list and are getting the recognition they deserve too.
The sports-themed k-dramas have been here for a long time. And fans have always loved them. But under the weight of the star cast, passing time, and of course the public, many k-dramas go under the watch. While k-dramas like Park Seo Joon and Kim Ji Won starrer ‘Fight For My Way’, Nam Joo Hyuk and Lee Sung Kyung starter ‘Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo’, and Im Si Wan and Shin Se Kyung starrer ‘Run On’ are on the top of the fans’ list. Here are some of the new, old, and lesser-known k-dramas to add to the binge-watch list. From solo athletes to the ones that require the team spirit.
Here are some of the best sports-themed k-dramas to watch when in need of motivation for exercise!
The 2018 k-drama ‘Prison Playbook’ didn’t get much recognition until Park Hae Soo shot to fame with his role in ‘Squid Game’. Along with Hae Soo, the k-drama has Jung Kyung Ho, Krystal Jung, and Jung Hae In. Not much hidden but still a gem, Prison Playbook follows Kim Je Hyuk, a famous baseball player. Trying to save his sister from a sexual assaulter, the player ends up in prison for using excessive force. Spending a year in prison, Je Hyuk ends up meeting his childhood friend and fellow baseball player, Lee Joon Ho.
The former athlete gave up on baseball after an accident and now worked as a prison guard. Doing his time, the baseball player meets different people, as he prepares himself to redeem after getting out. While for a sports k-drama, ‘Prison Playbook’ has a reputation for being easy, fluffy, heartwarming.
The k-drama focuses on finding purity in the most unfortunate circumstances and seeking warmth in a cold, hopeless time. The characters grow with time and the story flows smoothly. Along with the perfect lead, the k-drama also gave fans one of the most iconic romances. Having 16 episodes in total, each episode has a runtime of 1 hour 10 minutes.
Where To Watch: Netflix
Hot Stove League
The 2019 k-drama ‘Hot Stove League’ went under the nose of the international fans. Starring Nam Koong Min, Park Eun Bin, Lee Je Hoon, and Jo Byeong Kyu in lead, the k-drama is one of the best baseball k-dramas. Referring to baseball’s off-season, the title of the show comes from the term ‘Hot Stove League’. As the baseball fans gather to discuss the different teams, the players, and their futures in the cold winter season. The k-drama follows a baseball team called Dreams. They’ve had the worst performance in the league for four consecutive years.
Wanting to improve the team’s condition, the new manager Baek Seung Soo enters the team. Teaming up with Dreams’ Operations Manager, Lee Se Young, and the players, they embark on the journey of hard work. Perfect in every way, ‘Hot Stove League’ is a masterpiece and a must-watch according to the viewers.
Unlike typical k-drama, there’s no easy romance in the show. And the sole focus is on the sport. From excellent writing to excellent acting and good directing, the k-drama has left the fans wanting more. And hoping for a season two. But unfortunately, there’s no season 2 for ‘Hot Stove League’. Having 16 episodes in total, each episode has a runtime of 1 hour 10 minutes.
Where To Watch: Netflix, Rakuten Viki
The 2021 coming-of-age k-drama is one of the most heartfelt sports k-dramas out there. ‘Racket Boys’ has a diverse cast, from new to old. With the seniors being Kim Sang Kyung and Oh Na Ra. And the juniors being Tang Jun Sang, Son Sang Yeon, Choi Hyun Wook, Kim Kang Hyun, Lee Jae In, and Lee Ji Won. Instead of professional athletes, the story follows the middle school boys’ badminton team in Haenam. Struggling to make ends meet for his family, Yoon Hyun Jong, a badminton player becomes a coach at the school. But getting to know that the team is on the verge of disbandment and is left with only three players, they try to make things work once again.
‘Racket Boys’ is a charming story of underdogs finding their feet. It focuses on different characters and shows how they find themselves after losing themselves. The k-drama also has a similar screenplay technique like the ‘Reply Series’ that made fans very nostalgic. Focusing a little more on the friendship and teamwork aspect of sports, ‘Racket Boy’ is more about the backstage life than the glamour drama. Having 16 episodes in total, each episode has a runtime of 1 hour 10 minutes.
Where To Watch: Netflix
The ‘Reply Series’ is no doubt one of the classics. ‘Reply 1994’ is the second installment in the series, starring Go Ara, Jung Woo, Yoo Yeon Seok, Kim Sung Kyun, Son Ho Jun, Baro, Min Do Hee, Sung Dong Il, and Lee Il Hwa. The story follows six university students coming from different provinces of the country. With the narrative of the story shifting between the past in 1994 and the present in 2013, we get to see many important set marks in the lives of the characters.
More of a heartfelt k-drama, it takes us on a journey from the old times, showing us the emergence of K-pop group Seo Taiji and Boys and the birth of the Korean Basketball League. Despite having many flaws, ‘Reply 1994’ is filled with nostalgia and is like a comforting hug to the fans. With baseball being a very big thing in South Korea, the k-drama shows how it all begins in the first place. From sports to love and friendship, ‘Reply 1994’ covers everything significant in life. ‘Reply 1994’ has 21 episodes in total with each having a runtime of 1 hour 10 minutes.
Where To Watch: Netflix, WeTV, Rakutan Viki
Starring Kang Tae Oh and Yeo Hoe Hyun in lead, ‘Short’ is a 2018 mini k-drama. The story follows Kang Ho Young, a short-track speed skater. Scouted by Kangbaek University, he meets “The King of Short Track Speed Skating”, Park Eun Ho. As the two go on to compete against each other and form a friendship. With Yoo Ji Na, a k-pop idol trainee entering between the two, things begin to change. The k-drama is filled with bromance. The characters are well written.
While the fans called it a movie divided into different parts, many loved it being a mini-drama as there wasn’t much to the story other than the lead characters. Having 4 episodes in total with each having a runtime of around 50 minutes, ‘Short’ can be binge-watched within a day.
Where To Watch: Rakuten Viki
The 2021 k-drama ‘Twenty-Five Twenty-One’ is one of the most popular k-dramas right now. Starring Nam Joo Hyuk, Kim Tae Ri, Bona, Choi Hyun Wook, and Lee Joo Myung. The story follows the life of fictional national fencer Na Hee Do through the eyes of her daughter. Going through her life, the story follows how Hee Do became one of the prominent fencers in South Korea after her school fencing team breaks up after the IMF crisis. Along with the sports theme, the k-drama also focuses on love and friendships in the young adult’s life.
Watching four teenagers and one adult navigate their life is one of the most interesting things you can watch. Currently ongoing, the k-drama is keeping the viewers glued to their screens wondering what will happen to the lead couple. Having 16 episodes in total, each episode has a runtime of 1 hour 10 minutes.
Where To Watch: Netflix