LIST: Golden K-dramas you can binge-watch over and over again
Official posters of SBS' "Secret Garden" and MBC's "Coffee Prince."
Released/SBS and MBC
LIST: Golden K-dramas you can binge-watch over and over again
Ratziel San Juan ( - November 13, 2020 - 2:56pm

MANILA, Philippines — The caliber of K-dramas has evolved over the years, introducing audiences to new faces and inventive storytelling techniques.

Nonetheless, a handful of timeless shows have endured so well that they deserve to be rewatched, especially now during the quarantine.

Audiences can enjoy these series again and again for their endless replay value.

Secret Garden (2010)

“Secret Garden” narrates a uniquely sweet story between the cold CEO Kim Joo-Won (Hyun Bin) and the tomboy stuntwoman Gil Ra-Im (Ha Ji-Won), whose fates entwine after a magical body swap.

Although Joo Won was repelled by Ra Im, his romantic moves sealed the deal for the two. They gradually learn about each other even as Joo Won’s mother disapproves of their relationship.

Why rewatch: As cliché as some of the show’s elements were, its treatment of the body swap plot brought out a refreshing comedy. Both lead actors were able to pick up the smallest details of their counterpart, making the audience fall in love with their characters more.

‘Full House’ (2004)

“Full House” features aspiring scriptwriter Han Ji-Eun (Song Hye-Kyo), who was tricked by her friends into selling her house through a “free vacation.” Her house went to Lee Young-Jae (Rain), a famous actor Ji Eun met during her vacation and who coincidentally bought her property.

Ji Eun initially worked as Young Jae’s housekeeper to buy her house back. Young Jae draws up a fake marriage contract with Ji Eun later in the series to make his crush jealous, but they eventually catch real feelings for each other.

Why rewatch: Ji Eun and Young Jae had countless swoonworthy moments together despite their love-hate relationship at the start. And who could forget when Ji Eun performed her iconic Bear Dance to Young Jae’s family?

‘Stairway to Heaven’ (2003)

“Stairway to Heaven” tells the tale of childhood friends Han Jung-Suh (Choi Ji-Woo) and Cha Song-Joo (Kwon Sang-Woo), as they navigate through challenges in their lives and families.

Jung Suh and Song Joo planned to study abroad, but only the latter was able to continue after the former’s step-family interfered. Jung Suh rushed to meet Song Joo upon his return, only to be hit by a car and lose her memory. Song Joo is now determined to get Jung Suh back after finding out that she is still alive.

Why rewatch: The series is known for its hauntingly beautiful plot with a bittersweet ending that proves compelling enough even with a rewatch. The show also delivered some remarkable performances with its strong cast.

‘Princess Hours’ (2006)

“Princess Hours” depicts a modern monarchy in South Korea, with lead characters Shin Chae-Kyeong (Yoon Eun-Hye) and Crown Prince Lee Shin (Ju Ji-Hoon) being together through an arranged marriage set by their grandfathers.

Chae Kyeong agreed to the marriage as a way to repay her family’s debt, despite her and Lee Shin not having feelings for each other. Their relationship only began to blossom when they spent more time together as Chae Kyeong dealt with her royal duties and Lee Shin opened his heart to her.

Why rewatch: What makes this series worth returning to is its perfect timing in developing the lead characters’ feelings for each other. The emotions Chae Kyeong and Lee Shin portrayed individually and together resonated with the audience from start to finish.

‘Coffee Prince’ (2007)

Coffee Prince features coffee shop owner Choi Han-Kyul (Gong Yoo), as he unwillingly runs a coffee shop with all-male employees to attract more customers. Through this process, he met Go Eun-Chan (Yoon Eun-Hye), who crossdresses as a guy due to her desperation for the job.

However, when they both developed feelings for one another, Han Kyul started questioning his sexuality and avoiding Eun Chan. His worries eventually ended when he discovered the truth about Eun Chan’s identity.

Why rewatch: Gong Yoo and Eun Hye’s undeniable on-screen chemistry is one resounding reason to rewatch the series. The authenticity of the characters made them unforgettable to the audience, even years after.

‘My Lovely Sam Soon’ (2005)

My Lovely Sam Soon is a romantic comedy about pastry chef Kim Sam-Soon (Kim Sun-Ah) and restaurant owner Hyun Jin-Heon (Hyun Bin), whose first encounter is in the men’s restroom after witnessing Sam Soon’s breakup with her cheating boyfriend.

Jin Heon later hired Sam Soon as a pastry chef. They usually bickered but got closer as they eventually learned of each other’s struggles.

Why rewatch: The show is memorable mainly due to Sam Soon’s character breaking stereotypes of adult women, from her appearance to her aspirations in life, which.was made more apparent through a sensitive portrayal on these issues.

‘What Happened in Bali’ (2004)

“What Happened in Bali” tackles a complicated love story between energetic tour guide Lee Soo-Jung (Ha Ji -Won) and wealthy son Jung Jae-Min (Jo In-Sung), who is involved in a love triangle with his fiancee Choi Young-Joo (Park Ye-Jin) and her old flame Kang In Wook (So Ji-Sub).

The series starts with Young Joo running off to Bali to have one last moment with In Wook before getting married, when Jae Min decided to follow her there. The three of them encountered Soo Jung as their tour guide. Their lives unraveled following an unfortunate incident after the tour.

Why rewatch: This series stands out for its strong plot and surprising ending, aside from exploring deeper themes of love. The unpredictability of the characters’ motivations and how it plays out with the others made all their actions in the show believable.  

‘Boys Over Flowers’ (2009)

“Boys Over Flowers” illustrates how a glaring class difference can get in the way of love, with elite son Gu Jun-Pyo (Lee Min-Ho) and working student Geum Jan-Di (Ku Hye-Sun) overcoming many obstacles that came their way.

Jan Di became a target for Jun Pyo in the beginning after standing up to her bullies, the infamous group F4. Hellbent on breaking her, Jun Pyo eventually found himself falling for her.

Why rewatch: Despite some problematic plot points, the series was able to incorporate many familiar tropes into the story that made it bizarrely irresistible to watch. The show could even double as a travel catalog if only for the destinations featured as part of the F4’s lavish lifestyle.

‘Lovers in Paris’ (2004)

“Lovers in Paris” tells the story of film student Kang Tae-Young (Kim Jung-Eun), who had to make ends meet by working as a housekeeper for businessman Han Ki-Joo (Park Shin-Yang) despite not being qualified enough.

To give her job back, Ki Joo hired Tae Young as his fiancee after finding out she is from the same hometown as the wife of his potential business partner. Their plan backfired and caused them to part ways on bad terms, but they later reconciled after a series of coincidental encounters.

Why rewatch: Aside from the romantic setting of Paris that helped in establishing their attraction for one another, Ki Joo and Tae Young had memorable chemistry on-screen. Even when Tae Young gets humiliated, she just shrugs it off with her iconic catchphrase “Aja!”

‘Winter Sonata’ (2002)

“Winter Sonata” is a tear-jerker about Kang Jun-Sang (Bae Yong-Joon), who believed that no one truly loved him until he met Jeong Yoo-Jin (Choi Ji-Won). Their love abruptly ended when Jun Sang got in a car accident.

Jun Sang suffered brain damage and had all his memories before the accident removed. He went to the United States to start his new life as architect Lee Min-Hyung. When he returned to Korea, Yoo Jin called off her engagement when she saw him on the street, wondering if he was her first love.

Why rewatch: The series is remembered for its cinematic quality and exploration of contemporary themes. Moreover, its commendable take on the different kinds of love allowed the audience to relate to all the characters.

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