We celebrated Halloween a few weeks ago but I am still in the 'spooky' mood. Whenever I finish a long and emotionally tiring drama, I like taking a drama-break with something totally different and maybe a bit out of the box of the usual intense triangular romance that I prefer. As you know, there is a great variety of Korean dramas and everyone can find something that they will like. Do you want a good old family drama? No problem. Maybe some blood and investigations? There is plenty as well. But what if you want romance with a twist, let's say some ghosts or vampires? Don't worry, Korean dramas have it all. Don't get me wrong, I am definitely not a horror movie fan (note: Koreans are also ' bloody' good in the horror movie genre) but after years of romance-drama watching, I do appreciate a supernatural twist here and there. These dramas probably won't give you nightmares, but will keep you entertained and hyped as they mix romance and mystery well. Without further ado, let me jump into my as usual subjective, top 5 ranking of my favorite Korean romance dramas with ghosts!
- No*5 - Master Sun
Original pictures from "Master's Sun" a 2013 SBS drama.
Now is when you let go of a horrified scream "WHAAAAT only number 5??". Yes, 'Master's Sun' is a very popular Korean drama, beloved in Korea and among international viewers. As this is a subjective ranking, let me express an unpopular view here. I highly dislike the actress Gong Hyo Jin. Ok, now I said it. I feel like she always plays the same neurotic, old spinster that is supposed to be funny but ends up being super annoying. Unfortunately, 'Master's Sun' is no exception to this rule. The drama follows Tae Gong Shil who started seeing ghosts after an accident, but although many years have passed she is still terrified to be around them (ok, who can blame her, ghosts are scary...).
Tae Gong Shil crosses paths with Joo Joong Won, a rich and greedy CEO with a dark love-trauma. They decide to team up as our CEO needs help to chase some ghosts and make more profit, and Tae Gong Shil discovers that as long as she can touch the CEO she is temporarily safe from ghosts.
This drama made it into my top 5 ranking, because of the great performance by actor So Ji Sub that plays a difficult to like yet so very charming rich guy. The story itself is also entertaining, as each ghost story has an interesting plot and the whole drama gravitates around a traumatic event that we uncover piece by piece.
For who? If you are looking for a drama with ghosts, and you don't want to slap Gong Hyo Jin whenever she comes on screen.
- No*4 - Oh My Ghost
Original pictures from 'Oh! My Ghost" a 2015 tvN drama.
'Oh! My Ghost' was a drama I originally ignored because of the unappealing plot description and the strange drama-poster. The drama follows Bong Seon, a skilled cook and food blogger, with absolutely no confidence in love and life. One day she gets possessed by a lustful virgin ghost, masterfully played by actress Kim Seul Gi, who wants to get rid of her virginity in order to ascend to heaven. As Bong Seon has a secret crush on chief cook Jo Jung Suk, who also happens to be her boss, our virgin ghost will make him her number one target. Of course, what follows is a cute comedy as the real Bong Seon sometimes regains control of her body, and finds herself in the most embarrassing situations, while gaining confidence along the way. This drama would have been your typical sweet romance comedy, if not for the mystery death of our virgin ghost and some gloomy characters that surround her. The chemistry between the main OTP was very sweet, and the director managed to strike the right balance of getting the virgin ghost to intervene without totally overshadowing the character of Bong Seon.
For who? If you are looking for a romance story with a shy girl that changes throughout the drama.
- No*3 - Let's Fight, Ghost
Pictures from 'Let's Fight, Ghost" a 2016 tvN drama.
I was a bit skeptical with the pairing in this drama of actor Ok Taec Yeon (who is 27) and my beloved teenage actress Kim So Hyun (17 !), but when I realised that Ok Taec Yeon is playing the character of a young 1st year college student I decided to give it a go. The main couple forms some kind of fighting duet, that gets rid of nasty ghosts in exchange for payment. This drama is perfect if you want to just switch off from your routine and watch something entertaining and funny with bits of half comic, half scary, ghost scenes. It probably won't leave a lasting impression, but Kim So Hyun is cute and talented as usual, and the drama is fun to watch.
The concept of this drama is a bit different, as people can actually see some ghosts - the very scary ones of course. Plus our main guy, can not only see all the ghosts but also touch and fight them. The touching possibility, as you can imagine, opens the door for a human-ghost romance story.
I need to add a special applause for two side characters, a pair of weird seniors, that run a ghost hunting college club. They have added a bit of goofy but irresistible comedic vibe to the drama. I also liked to see actor Kwon Yool in a mysterious villain role (this is revealed quite early on in the drama - although we don't know who he really is at first).
For who? If you want to laugh a lot and occasionally be a little bit afraid.
- No*2 - Aran g and the Magistrate
Pictures from 'Arang and the Magistrate' a 2012 MBC drama.
It has been a long time since I wanted to write about this drama! 'Arang and the Magistrate' is a drama that is hard to label and put into a specific category. This drama has a very original and interesting plot as it is a ghost drama set in the Joseon era. It plays with supernatural drama codes, incorporates other mythical creatures such as the grim reaper or gods while taking place in a rather conventional Joseon era setting. The story is entertaining and interesting, but the strongest part of the drama is the actors and their skillful performance. If you enjoyed the drama ' Scarlet heart: Ryeo' mainly for the masterful 4th prince, you should try watching 'Arang and the Magistrate' as actor Lee Joon Gi plays the main role. Lee Joon Gi plays the title's magistrate, a mean government official who travels the country looking for his mother who disappeared. He also happens to see ghosts, but can't be really bothered by this ability as he mainly ignores them. That is, of course, until he meets the beautiful virgin ghost called Arang, who was murdered and wants to seek revenge for her wrongful death. This drama has elements of comedy with a good amount of suspense and mystery.
For who? If you love historical dramas, prioritise great acting and want to try a ghost story.
- No*1 - Who are you?
Pictures from "Who are you" a 2013 tvN drama.
'Who are you' is the story of a female detective, Yang Shi On, who wakes up from a long coma and tries to reconstruct her shattered memory and regain control over her life. After waking up from a coma, she also started to see ghosts. This drama made me think of the movie 'Sixth sense' as all the ghosts try to tell her something. They want her, as a policewoman, to uncover the mystery behind their deaths or fulfil their dying wish. The whole drama also gravitates around the main plot of a handsome man that appears in front of her and seems to know her, but that she can't remember. The drama is very smartly made, there is no place for stupid side characters or unnecessary plot developments. The main girl is very mature and composed, although a bit confused at first, she doesn't run around scared of her visions, but genuinely tries to help the ghosts and also learn more about herself. There is some romance, with actor Ok Taec Yeon playing a detective (we see him again in a ghost drama! I guess he likes this genre), but this love plot is not the central piece of the drama.
I really love this drama because it was nicely directed and, at least for me, was quite dark and romantic. The main mystery takes a long time to be uncovered, but there are plenty of smaller mysteries to resolve, so you will be entertained from the beginning to the end of the drama. Also, we get to see a lot of actor Kim Jae Wook in heartbreaking scenes, throwing long melancholic glances. I really like this actor, I adored him in Bad Guy and Mary stayed out all night, but for some reason he is not cast a lot in main roles and we don't see a lot of him- which is such a waste (I could totally picture him as a cruel Goryeo era prince!)
For who? If you are into dark romance stories and don't mind a bit of a slow paced drama.
For more Top 5 drama recommendations, check out my KBeauty and Asian Dramas blog – Korea in Beauty
Have you seen and liked these dramas? What other ghost dramas would you recommend?