Top 5 K-Dramas For Beginners!

My Top 5 K-Dramas for Beginners!

So, you've exhausted the sea of western entertainment and stumbled upon my article on starting out with watching Asian Dramas - Good for you. 

In this article, I will address some of the dramas I personally think is best suited for new or inexperienced viewers. Just as a short disclaimer, I do not discriminate or mean any harm to foreign cultures, but merely account for the differences between cultures. This is my personal list and my opinions I express through the article. 

Without boasting too much, I would like to say that I have had my fair share of Asian Dramas, with 96 completed series to 52 movies, ranging from countries such as Thailand, Taiwan, South Korean and China. I've been around quite a lot over the course of my Asian adventure - and I've enjoyed every step of the way. 

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Asian culture has a high expectancy of being very different from your current culture, especially if you're not part of their culture or live in a region that's geographically close. So, you can expect to adapt. But for the purpose of this article, I have collected my list of Asian Dramas that share a likeliness with the western culture.

Of course, this list will be SPOILER FREE - Wouldn't ruin it for you :) 

This list is in a random order. I've linked every drama so with one click you can access them and watch their trailers on this site.

Just sit back, relax and enjoy some drama. 

So, without further ado, let's get right into the exciting part! Here my top 5 list of good dramas for beginners!

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Number #1 -  Descendants of the Sun (2016) 

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This drama scores 10/10 on my list... and for a good reason. 

Genre: Action,  Comedy,  Medical,  Melodrama,  Military,  Romance

MDL Score: 8.8

Country: South Korea

Episodes: 1 Season 16 Episodes

Duration per episode: 60 minutes

Network: KBS2

This drama has everything from a brilliant plot to an amazing pacing regarding the storyline. Descendants of the sun take both the sides of the soldiers as well as the doctors. It's an amazing bridge that takes foothold it both bases of saving and taking lives. The main couple, seen in the picture above, is played by the brilliant Song Joong Ki and beautiful Song Hye Kyo, who you wouldn't know because you're new, but will come to love. 

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The secondary couple is just as amazing - and funny.

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The story is about Yoo Shi Jin. He's the captain of the Korean army special force - yes, he's a badass. He meets Kang Mo Yeon, who's a doctor. To no one's surprise, they meet at a hospital. Although they share a few dirty looks, they begin dating as Shi Jin's charms are too cute to deny. 

But, they break up due to the fact that their job is getting in the way of their personal lives. I guess being in the special force, having to deal with being picked up by a helicopter at the hospital just before a movie date, kind of ruins the fun, huh? 

Yeah, the special force is badass - and they know it too. 

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Well, it's not the end. As Doctor Mo Yeon refused the sexual advances of the hospital's chairman, which is understandingly when you size him up with Shi Jin. To teach her a lesson, she's assigned to lead a medical team in Urk, where there's a fictional war brewing. There, amidst the bullets and bombs, Shi Jin and Mo Yeon meet again. Will the new beginning have a different end? 

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What to expect from this drama: 

You'll have the complete pack of an action/romance series that'll leave you with laughs and tears. The combination of action and romance, complete with the medical themes, are breathtakingly beautiful in terms of delivering a final product of high quality. This is a must watch. 

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... And you'll come to love these two: 

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Number #2 - Healer (2014) 

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Genre: Action,  Comedy,  Drama,  Mystery,  Romance,  Thriller

MDL Score: 8.9

Country: South Korea

Episodes: 1 Season 20 Episodes

Duration per episode: 1 hour 5 minutes 

Network: KBS2

This Drama also takes a 10/10 according to my personal scores. 

Ah, this takes me back. I've seen a few Asian dramas before seeing this series in the past, but this one was the one for me. It made me sign my deal with the devil to give up my social life in return of spending all my hours watching this drama. Yes, let me tell you this, it's very addicting. You have been warned. 

Boy, don't let me get started on this drama. My two best pointers are the romance and action - Yes, I'm a sucker for romance. It's combined, thoroughly worked out, amazingly portrayed and executed professionally. The plot is amazing and leaves you with both twists and turns throughout the lifespan of the series. 

The comedy is also worth mentioning. 

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I completely fell in love with the characters that made up this drama. I mean, just look at this: 

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How can you not relate to this? -pff, and people say movies are unrealistic. 

On to the more important matters. You want to know what it's about. Good for you that I'm here. 

The story is about this errand boy who's known as Healer. He's played by my favourite actor in South Korea, whom you'll see more to further down the list. It is, of course, the handsome Ji Chang Wook who plays the main male lead. In the story, Healer takes on any task for the right amount of money, as long as it doesn't involve murder - understandingly. He keeps his identity anonymous and off the grid, yet large organisations uses him as a tool to expand their businesses. 

One of his jobs involves the main female lead, who's played by Park Min Young, The main lead works as a second rate tabloid reporter, at a company that will take a great importance in the storyline during future events. 

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She starts taking an interest in Healer, which leads to them discovering their common past - Uh, secrets. 

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No, Ji Chang Wook, you're certainly not - you're goddamn perfect. 

What to expect from this drama: 

A fully worked out plot packed with action and romance. It's kind of like watching a spy movie with all of the high-tech spy equipment! The characters are well thought out and have a reason behind their behaviour, which is awesome when you catch it - and cute!

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Me when Healer ended (Future you, should you accept this drama): 

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Lucky for you, I've made this list you can come back to - you're welcome. 


Number #3 -  Strong Woman Do Dong Soon (2017) 

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Damn... Another 10/10 - where do I keep finding all these good dramas? 

Genre: Action,  Comedy,  Investigation,  Romance,  Supernatural,  Thriller

MLD Score: 8.7

Country: South Korea

Episodes: 1 Season 16 Episodes

Duration per episode: 1 hour 10 minutes

Network: jTBC

This drama was a series I personally refrained from watching at first- boy did I just extend my suffering. This is a masterpiece. If a woman having the strength of thousands doesn't sound epic to you, then I don't know what does. 

You go, girl! 

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As you might have figured out, the story is about Do Bong Soon, played by Park Bo Young, who's stronger than a horse. She accidentally shows off her supernatural strength to the main male lead, played by Park Hyung Shik, which lands her a job as his bodyguard because he's being threatened by someone unknown. He finds himself disliking the police and wants to take matters into his own hands. 

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You can immediately feel the chemistry between them and the love triangle is one of the most entertaining I've watched in a long time - trust me, you'll find a lot of those here in Dramaland. 

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But, trouble in paradise eventually arrives. A series of kidnappings occur in her small neighbourhood and she must take up her strength to save her loved ones, however, with her strength comes a catch. She can't misuse it or she'll lose it. Will she be able to pull through? 

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What to expect from this drama: 

Comedy, action, and romance are the core themes of this drama. The pacing is good and while the storyline is more simple than the mentioned above, it executes it very well. The spin with the criminals and the police combined with the supernational elements might not be innovative and has been done before, but the final product of this series takes it to a new level. 

In conclusion, this is a very light-hearted drama that has a few darker undertones and delivers one hell of a drama!

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Number #4  The K2 (2016)

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The 10/10 just keeps comin'

Genre: Action,  Drama,  Political,  Psychological,  Romance,  Thriller

MDL Score: 8.2

Country: South Korea

Episodes: 1 Season 16 Episodes

Duration per episode: 60 minutes 

Network: TvN

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Oh, my god... Sorry got sidetracked. 

*Clears throat* 

Ha! You didn't escape him for long.Ji Chang Wook is back with a new masterpiece in 2016. In this series, he plays Kim Je Ha, who's a former soldier for hire, also known as K2. He becomes the bodyguard of Choi Yoo Jin, the wife of the presidential candidate. Ko An Na, or Anna who's played by Im Yoon Ah, is the secret daughter of the presidential candidate who was sent away since early childhood.  

Anna quickly catches Je Ha's attention with her rather... bizarre behaviour...

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... which draws them closer together. 

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She made Ramen while dancing, halleluja! - So cute tho.

This drama is very politically oriented, which takes the plot to a complicated level - in a good way. Mind games, manipulation, corruption - you name it, they have it. 

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This drama is definitely not lighthearted and carries heavy emotional scars and troublesome dilemmas. The character development was definitely present and as they grow on you, they grow as a person.

What to expect from this drama: 

I bet you're beginning to see a pattern. Action/romance is my forte. This Drama is no exception. It's a complete story that combines the best of the two genres. Like the rest of this list, the romance doesn't slow down the action and causes harm to the overall storyline, but becomes a vital part of it. Can't get too much into it as I don't want to ruin your experience! 

It's truly a beautiful story as well as a creative one. You can really tell that the script has been thoroughly planned out beforehand. The plot is definitely, without a shadow of a doubt, a 10/10 - good job, KBS2. I salute you. 

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Number #5 -  Man to Man (2017) 

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My personal rating: 9.5 

Genres: Action,  Comedy,  Romance,  Thriller

MDL Score: 7.9

Country: South Korea

Episodes: 1 Season 16 Episodes

Duration per episode: 60 minutes

Network: jTBC

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Man to Man is a Drama that lingers fresh in my mind. It's my most recently completed drama... And boy did I have a blast! 

Kim Seol Woo, played by Park Hae Jin, is a man trained in special investigations, or NIS, and is a ghost agent. He excels in his job and uses every asset of his life, dedicating himself for the greater good of his country. Such things as love interests and marriage are only done for the mission. But when he meets the female lead, Cha Do Ha played by Kim Min Jung and the Korean actor Yeo Woon Gwang played by Park Sung Woong, his life gets turned around. Now the rules are different, maybe a different tactic should be issued? 

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The whole thing centers around the presidential election, however, state secrets, corruption etc. blurred the lines of right and wrong. The mind game is real with more secret agents than you signed up for - literally. 

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The story is fun, packed with action and, this shouldn't come as a surprise anymore, romance. 

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What to expect from this drama: 

I loved the story, which kept me at the edge of my seat the whole way through. It had me laughing and crying from both sad and touching moments. 

Also one of my favourite parts of this drama is that the bad guys aren't bad just because. They have a genuine reason behind their doing, and at the end I found myself hating none of them, which is a rare occurrence. All leading roles had strong personalities, which had character and guts. 

I really hope you'll give this drama a chance. It's really worth it! 


Honorable mentions: 

Goblin (2016) 

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My rating: 9.0

Genre: Comedy,  Friendship,  Melodrama,  Romance,  Supernatural

MDL Score: 9.0

Country: South Korea 

Episodes: 1 Season 16 Episodes 

Duration per episode: 1 hour 15 minutes 

Network: TvN

(Related Content)

Goblin Special: Every Moment of It Shined (Compilation) 

Goblin Special: The Summoning (Compilation)


Falling for Innocence (2015) 

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My rating: 9.0

Genres: Comedy,  Melodrama,  Romance

MDL Score: 8.4

Country: South Korea 

Episodes: 1 Season 16 

Episodes Duration per episode: 60 minutes 

Network: jTBC


I Hear Your Voice (2013) 

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My rating: 9.0

Genres: Drama,  Friendship,  Law,  Mystery,  Romance,  Supernatural,  Thriller

MDL Score: 8.8

Country: South Korea  

Episodes: 1 Season 18 

Episodes Duration per episode: 60 minutes  

Network: SBS

Comments (101)

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  • Reply
    AIR Jun 24, 2017

    Shopping King Louis would be another good one to start with! Weightlifting fairy kim bok joo, Let's fight ghost, you who came from the star, and she was pretty would also work! xx

  • Reply
    oreobingsu Jun 24, 2017

    this list is really up-to-date and is a great recommendation; however, as much as I love JCW and K2, i think it's a pretty serious and heavy drama for beginners so I'd suggest, You Who Came from the Stars probably?

  • Reply
    nayosh Jun 23, 2017 - edited

    out of this list I'd suggest healer to a beginner , but I think the list is very recently based I don't see it as fair to the many great older dramas

    • Reply
      SarahEm 24 days ago

      I think if I had started out with an older drama, I wouldn't have been obsessed with K-dramas as I am now. IMO newer dramas are better to start out with, because they reel you in with great cinematography and better video quality, and older dramas are the ones that make sure you never leave the world of K-dramas.

  • Reply
    cllanti Jun 23, 2017

    I found the plot of Strong Woman to over the top so I would be hesitant to suggest that one. Healer though I loooved, and I have suggested that to several people.

  • Reply
    divalia Jun 23, 2017

    Im trying Strowng Woman now. :)
    I just finished Shopping King Loius xDD and couldnt decide which show I should watch next.

  • Reply
    TaemonRebel Jun 22, 2017

    This is very updated list for beginners starting with very recently aired dramas so for the people who have been watching for awhile...of course this list wouldn't be a good start. Secret Garden now would be really bad compared to these new romances, as well as BOF and Goong. Its being updated with the times so these are pretty perfect for drama watchers starting now.
    The K2 was good until the end, it got draggy.
    I personally refuse to start Strong Woman because well its very unrealistic to me and I chose Weightlifting Fairy over it to watch.
    I really want to watch Man x Man.
    DOTS is definitely a beginners drama now for high production value in dramas now.
    I still need to watch Healer.
    I Hear Your Voice is an awesome beginner drama.
    Goblin, once again great at the beginning but draggy near the end but it was pretty excellent.

  • Reply
    HealerDoge Jun 21, 2017

    Thank you all so very much for stating your opinions, regarding which drama would be good for a starter. As a writer, it's very pleasing to see people's responses, whether it being critique or compliments. You guys amazed me with the amount of feedback!
    This was my first article, so I'm a writer in training if you can call it that. So, thank you for giving me the opportunity of improving by leaving a comment below. Please, do list your own lists of good dramas below to expand the list of choices for the newcomers. Just remember that everyone is entitled to their own opinions - Happy Watching :)

  • Reply
    Linky Jun 21, 2017

    This would be my list by genre:

    Healer (Action Romance)
    You Who Came from the Stars (Sci Fi Fantasy Romance)
    Coffee Prince (Romantic Comedy)
    She Was Pretty (Romantic Comedy)
    Empress Ki ( Melodrama Historical Romance)

  • Reply
    Lucy Jun 21, 2017

    I almost agree but can't help it wondering what does "K2" do among a list of such great dramas ... Madame Choi was epic but I can't say the same about neither the story nor the main couple.

  • Reply
    crashotaku4ever Jun 21, 2017 - edited

    I started DOTS as my first kdrama and it was so boring that i felt to sleepy after watching 3 ep .I started with dots becoz of the high rating and SJK as i have loved him in my first kmovie the werewolf boy. But then i started with healer and i got hooked to kdrama's .As i was blessed by god becoz after completing healer i found that k2 is airing.And now i m addicited to kdrama and handsome ji chang wook smile.

    • Reply
      adrastea Jun 21, 2017

      yeah he is adorable in Suspicous Partners <3 all his dramas are good

  • Reply
    summs Jun 21, 2017 - edited

    all great kdrama thanks for the read.(didnt really enjoy k1 ) my first drama was last Cinderella that i just happened to come across. i was already an anime addict. my fav dramas atm are.
    1. moon lovers
    2. goblin
    3. descendants of the sun
    4. weightlifting fairy kim bok joo
    5. oh my venus.

  • Reply
    khjfan01 Jun 20, 2017

    I don't know about the other dramas on ur list, but Strong Woman Do Bong Soon I think is a really good drama to start with.. it's an easy watch for a beginner..
    Those new to kdramas def need to see
    Boys Before Flowers
    Dae Jang Geum
    My Name is Kim Sam Soon
    Full House
    and Secret Garden

  • Reply
    MelissaSternenberg Jun 20, 2017 - edited

    I feel like this list is overly recent for someone who's a beginner.

    • Reply
      Soju Jun 20, 2017

      Amen

    • Reply
      oreobingsu Jun 24, 2017

      I think that's the point. For beginners, they have to watch the most recent ones first bc they are "better"(?) in terms of visual quality, effects, etc. And when they're finally hooked to Kdramas, they can start watching the iconic and legendary dramas we're all talking about. I hope you get what I mean xD

  • Reply
    siracorn Jun 20, 2017 - edited

    Do people really intentionally get into asian dramas? I always got the feeling that we all got curious about something our friends watched or something. For beginners I would recommend not reading any lists and just treat a drama like any cooky mini-series and not as a weird side genre. This is just a list of dramas you liked. Which is valid also I guess.

    But seriously. Watching dramas is not a skill, it's a passive hobby. There is no such thing as a beginner. Just people who have watched more or less dramas. New and old fans.

    • Reply
      siracorn Jun 20, 2017

      It's literally a list of the authors favourite dramas tho. The author who claims to be quite the seasoned drama watcher.

    • Reply
      Youlie Jun 20, 2017

      I agree with you. There is no dramas for beginners. Obviously, if we're all here, it's because we liked something in the very first drama we watched. Mine was Why Why Love, a Taiwanese Drama. Not sure I would still like it as much now as I did back then, but I still remember how hooked I was. My sister, who is literally a beginner (she's at her first), is currently watching Dream High (which she chose by herself), and she loves it. So the best is just to pick one and dive into it.

    • Reply
      namopanik Jun 21, 2017

      I agree with you too, siracorn. The list could also be called 'a few recent most hyped dramas I liked'.
      At first I thought that recommending dramas like K2, DOTS or SWDBS which have mixed feedback at best would be counterproductive, but then again I was sucked in with an atrocity called Mary Stayed Out All Night and it worked just fine, so it really doesn't matter where one starts.

    • Reply
      Jemerald523 Jun 22, 2017

      I think what the writer means about "Beginner" are those who have watch one or two asian dramas and want to watch more and get hook..
      If you're asking if there are people who intentionally get into asian dramas? I will say yes.
      But yeah some of his list is not recommendable to beginners and mostly are recent.. There are so many good old asian dramas.

    • Reply
      oreobingsu Jun 24, 2017

      But how did your sister know about Dream High? It's probably because it's popular or high rated, or maybe someone recommended it to her. There may be "no dramas for beginners" but still, this list is just one of the many that may help people who are new to the world of Asian Dramas.

  • Reply
    mei-255 Jun 20, 2017

    I agree with Healer and Goblin

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