Over the last few years, our world has seen a paradigm shift in the power to influence the masses from the hands of the West to those of the East. The South Korean Hallyu Wave has been taking the world by storm. The global popular culture scene is almost entirely dominated by South Korea now. The country’s K-Pop music industry is at the very forefront of this massive revolution. Bands such as BTS, BLACKPINK, EXO, NCT, TXT, Stray Kids, and TWICE, among many more, are the pallbearers in this movement. However, the country’s film and television industry come a close second.
In fact, in recent years, we have seen movies from South Korea sweeping all major awards in some of the biggest film festivals all across the world. The best examples are Parasite and Minari who won Oscars in major categories. The popular K-Drama industry has also found a gigantic global audience. This has largely been possible due to OTT platforms like Netflix picking up these dramas and making them available for streaming globally. In our article today, we will talk about the 15 Best Slice Of Life K-Dramas That You Must Watch.
1. Reply 1988
Reply 1988 is one of the most popular South Korean dramas of all time. It is the third installment of the Reply series with the first two being Reply 1997 and Reply 1994. The third season starred popular actors Park Bo Gum, Lee Hye Ri, Go Kyung Pyo, Ryu Jin Yeol, and Lee Dong Hwi in the main roles. This slice of life drama mainly focuses on the lives of five friends who live in a small neighborhood in downtown Seoul.
The story starts when this group of friends is in their late teens. It then fast forwards to their mid-twenties. It then has snippets from the present time – when Reply 1988 actually aired on tVN. The plot of the K-Drama brilliantly depicts human relationships between people who have known each other for a very long time. In Reply 1988, one can learn about love, friendships, and family. For people who are not Korean natives, the drama gives them a glimpse of life into the 80s and 90s of South Korea – back then the country was yet to become the superpower that it is today.
2. Age Of Youth
Hello My Twenties! or Age of Youth is a South Korean drama with two seasons comprising a total of 26 episodes. In both seasons, the cast is recurring. We have Han Ye Ri, Han Seung Yeon, and Park Eun Bin in the leads. Ryu Hwa Young and Park Hye Su appear in the first season as main leads. Ji Woo and Choi Ara appear in the second season as main leads.
As the name suggests, Age If Youth is a group of 20-something-year-olds who are trying to find themselves in this world. This group of people undergoes several experiences to find their lives. The K-Drama also shows how people in their twenties often find themselves in despair and what they do to overcome such feelings. Age Of Youth brings out the problems that are faced by the younger generation in South Korea. The series was distributed by JTBC in 2016 and 2017. You can now watch it regardless of where you are in the world on Netflix.
3. Because This Is My First Life
Because This Is My First Life starred Lee Min Ki and Jung So Min in the lead roles. The plot of the series is very simple – it follows the life of a couple who undergoes various experiences in their marriage, careers, and other relationships in their lives. According to the storyline, Nam Se Hee is an employee in the IT Sector. However, he is very awkward socially. The man gets married to a writer called Yoon Ji Ho.
Ji Ho happens to be homeless and the two share a marriage that is based on a two-year contract. They agree to not catch any feelings for each other as their relationship is purely professional – that of a landlord and tenant. However, inevitably, with the passage of time, their lives and stories take a different turn. There are expectations from society, their families, and their own personal traumas. Several of the couple’s friends also have many opinions to give on love and marriage and the story explores those too. It is an interesting watch if you’re looking for something more realistic than with any heavy storyline. The series first aired in 2017 and was distributed by tVN.
4. Be Melodramatic
Be Melodramatic is a South Korean drama that aired in the months of August and September in 2019. The series starred Chun Woo Hee, Jeon Yeo Bin, Han Ji Eun, Ahn Jae Hong, and Gong Myung in the lead roles. The plot of the storyline is very straightforward – the series uses a show in a show backdrop to depict everyday stories of some 30-year olds. This is a popular concept in South Korean television that has been used in several other k-dramas too. The show has a large ensemble cast with two colleagues falling in love with each other, a single mother and her daily struggles with work and life, and several other such stories. The show was distributed by the JTBC channel.
5. Fight For My Way
The drama Fight For My Way was very popular in South Korea. The cast consisted of big names such as Park Seo Joon, Kim Ji Won, Ahn Jae Hong, and Song Ya Hoon. Fight For My Way is a slice of life K-Drama that most of Gen Z and Millenials can relate to. The plot of the story revolves around the lives of a group of four friends who struggle hard to realize their dreams and ambitions. Even though they are underqualified for the field they have chosen, they work hard to make it big. Along with all this, we also see romance blooming between two friends. Fight For My Way aired in 2017 and was a very popular drama. It was distributed by KBS2.
6. One Spring Night
The k-drama One Spring Night is relatively new as it aired only in 2019. Actually, one could say that One Spring Night was more of a mini-series than a K-Drama. The series was distributed by MBC. The main roles are played by Jung Hae In, Han Ji Min, and Kim Jun Han. The story is fairly simple. A librarian has been in a long-term relationship with a banker for four years. This is certainly a long time. But regardless of the timeline, she falls in love with a pharmacist and single dad. The two began seeing love and relationships in a new light. Middle-aged relationships are not highlighted very often in South Korean dramas. That is why One Spring Night came as a breath of fresh air to the saturated ‘love story’ theme of a television series.
7. Matrimonial Chaos
Divorce Chaos or Matrimonial Chaos is actually is a remake of a Japanese TV Series of the same name. The show was aired by KBS2 in 2018. As the name suggests, Matrimonial Chaos follows the lives of several people in their 30s as they undergo experiences related to marriage, love, and relationships. In South Korean society or any Asian society for that matter, divorce is not seen in a good light. This is especially true for the older generations. However, with changing times, relationships and people are changing too. This series also talks about divorce in great detail and its impacts on an individual. Matrimonial Chaos stars Cha Tae Hyun, Bae Doona, Lee El, and Son Seok Koo in the lead roles.
8. Lovestruck In The City
The K-Drama Lovestruck In The City has a very interesting concept where we see the characters answering questions in an interview as the story unfolds. It is a Netflix Original series that aired between 2020 and 2021. A young architect falls in love and ‘fake’ marries a girl he meets during a holiday. However, as work comes calling, he must return to Seoul. After spending two blissful months together, the two lovers make promises of meeting in Seoul on a set date, however, this doesn’t quite go as planned. The story tells us why Eun Ho lied about her past. Ji Chang Wook and Kim Ji Won play the main roles in Lovestruck In The City. It is interesting to find out if the two of them finally do end up together or not.
9. Prison Playbook
You will be pleased to know that Prison Playbook is the highest-rated drama in the history of South Korean television. The series, also known as Wise Prison Life, was aired on tVN for a total of 16 episodes in 2017. Park Hae So and Jung Kyung Ho played the lead roles in Prison Playbook. The story is very interesting, and is actually a pressing issue these days – it follows the life of a man who has wrongly been accused of assault. And the accused is not an ordinary man, but a superstar baseball pitcher. The sportsman is convicted of assault after he saves his sister from being attacked sexually. The story tells us deeply about the lives of convicts in correctional facilities, their families, and officers on duty here.
10. Itaewon Class
Another super hit drama on our list, Itaewon Class is a simple yet moving story about a boy who just wants to lead a normal life – something his father would have been proud of. Itaewon Class stars Park Seo Joon, Kim Da Mi, Yoo Jae Myung, and Kwon Nara in the lead roles. The show was aired on JTBC in 2020 but is available for streaming worldwide on Netflix. A young boy aims to get into the police academy but instead ends up behind bars after getting into a brawl with a powerful businessman who killed his father. After he gets out of prison, he wants to lead a simple life and start a restaurant in downtown Seoul’s famous Itaewon neighborhood. This was his father’s dream that he aims to fulfill.
11. A Poem A Day
You Who Forgot Poetry or A Poem A Day is a medical South Korean drama that was aired on tVN in 2018. Though the plot is slightly cliche, the story follows the lives of the various people, in different professions, who work in a hospital. We have doctors, rehabilitators, therapists, nurses, interns, and trainees. Everyone’s experience is different. How do these frontline workers get by every day as they walk amongst the dead? How do they feel after making someone’s life better? Watch A Poem A Day to find out right away.
12. The Best Moment To Quit Your Job
Some of the most popular K-Dramas are often adapted from webtoons. The Best Moments To Quit Your Job is one of them. The story here follows the lives of four women who are fresh out of college and have just started working. How do their lives change as they go through their professions without any experience? Well, it certainly is a good thing that they have each other. These four friends stick by each other as they enter adulthood. Compared to the other dramas in our list, The Best Time To Quit Your Job is relatively unknown. However, that doesn’t mean that it is any less exciting to watch.
13. Misaeng: Incomplete Life
The K-Drama Misaeng: Incomplete Life is a 2014 television series that is also based on a popular webtoon of the same name. The drama had a total of 20 episodes and was aired on tVN. Again, like most other tVN dramas, Misaeng: Incomplete Life was a huge commercial hit and recorded very high viewership levels. In the main cast here, we see Yim Si Wan, Kang So Ra, Kang Ha Neul, and Byun Yo Han. The storyline centers on a popular East Asian board game Baduk. A young man has always dreamt of becoming a professional Baduk player. However, he fails to do so which compels him to leave his dreams behind and enter the real world where he has no eligibility except a negligible high school equivalency exam. However, he gets hired at a large trading company. The rest of the storyline follows his experiences and those who are around him, as he incorporates everything he has learned so far from Baduk in his professional life.
14. Romance Is A Bonus Book
The K-Drama Romance Is A Bonus Book starred Lee Jong Suk and Lee Na Young in the lead roles. Romance Is A Bonus Book Was aired by tVN in 2019. The story is about an author and a single mother who go way back into their childhood and have known each other almost all their lives. But when Dani’s husband leaves her, she is in desperate need of money. She starts working as a housekeeper for Eunho but interestingly, he has no idea that it is actually his friend Dani doing all the work. However, Dani’s secret is soon outed and now she must find a stable job. The rest of the plot follows their stories as their lives change forever that the two of them start falling for each other.
15. Hospital Playlist
Though Hospital Playlist is also a medical drama, here the story doesn’t follow the lives of everyone involved in the working of a holiday. Rather, Hospital Playlist is about a group of friends, who are doctors, and how they go about leading their lives when one of them turns out to become the owner of the hospital they all work. Hospital Playlist has a total of 2 seasons. In fact, the second season is all set to air on the 17th of June. Hospital Playlist was the most viewed K-Drama on Netflix in South Korea during all of 2020. The series is distributed by tVN. The cast includes Jo Jung Suk, Yoo Yeon Seok, Jung Kyung Ho, Kim Dae Myung, and Jeon Mi Do in the lead roles. Interestingly, Hospital playlist follows Prison Playbook in tVN’s Wise Life series.