It feels like just yesterday I was watching these K-dramas as a kid, which are now referred to as “older K-dramas.”
It’s easy to get excited and sucked into the dramatic world of K-dramas these days, but there are lots of K-dramas from way back when that can be thoroughly enjoyed today. Here’s a look at 10 of those older K-dramas that you should definitely give a watch!
“Full House” stars a young Song Hye Kyo as Han Ji Eun and Rain as Lee Young Jae in this classic love story between a famous star and normal woman. The two decide to have a contract marriage while living in the same house. Although they’re technically married, they can’t stand each other. They eventually learn to coexist and start to develop feelings as they come to realize they can’t live without the other.
This adorable love story will have you longing for a similar romance to Ji Eun and Young Jae’s. Their love-hate relationship is heart-fluttering to see even though Young Jae can be mean at times. Their budding romance gives off serious chemistry, and you’ll also appreciate the aegyo Song Hye Kyo has in the series!
Here’s a glimpse:
Watch “Full House”:
In this modern sageuk, Yoon Eun Hye stars as Shin Chae Kyung, a normal high school student who is forced into an arranged marriage with the Crown Prince, Lee Shin (Joo Ji Hoon). The marriage is tough for Chae Kyung as Shin has someone he’s already in love with — Min Hyo Rin, played by Song Ji Hyo. Chae Kyung must learn to put up with the cold-hearted Shin.
“Goong” is one of those K-dramas that any K-drama newbie will totally fall in love with. It’s got so many epic K-drama tropes that are thoroughly entertaining and will keep you on your toes. There’s also a sweet love triangle with Lee Yul (Kim Jeong Hoon). The set design and costumes are also fantastic, as the series has both modern and historical influences. It’s definitely one that will be enjoyed if you were to watch it today!
“Worlds Within” stars Hyun Bin as Jung Ji Oh and Song Hye Kyo as Joo Joon Young in this realistic K-drama about the ups and downs of being in a relationship. The two characters both work in the world of K-dramas, as they are both production directors. They are constantly faced with the pressures of having to deliver a high-rating K-drama while being in a sustaining relationship.
If you’re into a series that gives insight into what being in a relationship while having a career is like, “Worlds Within” is the perfect watch. There isn’t anything too dramatic that happens, but you’ll appreciate the realness of love and breakups. There’s also some sizzling romance between the two leads that you won’t want to miss!
Watch “Worlds Within”:
Old school heartthrob Go Soo stars as Kang Jin in this suspenseful melodrama alongside Han Ye Seul as Ji Wan. The two fall in love and are tragically torn apart. Years later, the two meet by chance again, but Ji Wan is engaged to someone else, played by Song Jong Ho.
Melodramas were pretty dramatic back in the day, and this one is no different. It’s suspenseful and will keep you on the edge of your seat, wondering what the fate of the two main leads will be. You’ll also appreciate seeing a very young cast of Kim Soo Hyun, Nam Ji Hyun, Do Ji Han, and Song Joong Ki! Talk about a killer cast, right?
Watch “Will It Snow For Christmas?”:
Another Hyun Bin K-drama classic to watch, “My Name is Kim Sam Soon” stars Hyun Bin as a restaurant owner named Hyun Jin Hyeon and Kim Sun Ah as Kim Sam Soon. Kim Sam Soon is a 30-year-old “ajumma” (old lady) whose boyfriend cheats on her — amongst other unfortunate events. She ends up getting a job at the restaurant Jin Hyeon owns, and the two form a hate relationship. But when they pretend to be boyfriend and girlfriend for the sake of Jin Hyeon, the two discover that they have a lot more in common than they thought.
This hit K-drama is a must-watch for anyone who appreciates a feel-good romantic comedy. It’s got the same feel as the hit movie “Bridget Jones’s Diary” — the charm and lovable main female lead will have you laughing and totally relating.
Watch “My Name Is Kim Sam Soon”:
Eric Mun plays Kang Tae Joo, an event planner who falls in love with a poor girl by the name of Han Eun Soo (Jung Yu Mi). Their relationship gets complicated when Cha Hye Rin (Yoon Ji Hye) and Shin Joo Hyuk (Lee Kyu Han) step into the picture. Hye Rin and Tae Joo get into a fake relationship with each other to make Joo Hyuk jealous, but Hye Rin’s feelings for Tae Joo become real, which complicates his relationship with Eun Soo.
The plot is pretty hectic and there’s a lot of emotional investment involved in the series, but it’s definitely a must-watch just on the fact that it keeps you on your toes throughout the whole series. If you’re looking for a good dramatic watch, this one has got the angst and toxicity of an all time high. You’ll also be able to see the epic chemistry between Eric Mun and Jung Yu Mi — not to be missed!
Watch “Que Sera Sera”:
“Attic Cat” is a classic love story about a man who learns to love. It stars Kim Rae Won as Kyung Min and Jung Da Bin as Jung Eun. Kyung Min and Jung Eun end up sharing a rooftop together and happen to fall in love.
Although the story is not that different from what we’re used to, you have to appreciate Kim Rae Won as his acting capabilities. His role as Kyung Min is still talked about today, and people love his character’s quirky and hilarious behavior. You’ll laugh and fall in love with his charm as well as his love story.
Watch “Attic Cat”:
What Happened in Bali
If you’re into super dramatic K-dramas, it’s guaranteed that nothing will top this one. “What Happened in Bali” stars Ha Ji Won, So Ji Sub, and Jo In Sung. It’s an obviously impressive cast and enough of a reason to watch the series, but the story will also have you sucked in.
Ha Ji Won plays Soo Jung, a poor travel agent who is working in Bali trying to make ends meet. She meets Kang In Wook (So Ji Sub) and Jung Jae Min (Jo In Sung) in Bali, and the three get entangled in a serious love triangle. This love triangle is not the type of love triangle that we’re used to today. It’s entwined with passion, seething jealousy, hate, obsession, and mental instability. It’s really a dramatic series that is guaranteed to stick in your mind for years to come.
Stairway to Heaven
Starring Kwon Sang Woo as Song Joo and Choi Ji Woo as Jung Seo, “Stairway to Heaven” was the popular SBS K-drama that aired in 2003. Not only were the two main leads mega stars, the extended cast was also reputable — Shin Hyun Joon, Kim Tae Hee, Park Shin Hye, Lee Wan, and Baek Sung Hyun.
The story is a heartbreaking one, as Song Joo and Jung Seo fall in love at a young age, but are torn apart as they get older. When the two meet again, Jung Seo gets into a tragic accident and suffers from amnesia, which obviously prevents her from being able to remember Song Joo.
I remember first watching this series and bawling my eyes out. It was a tragic fate that the two lovers had been met with, and it seemed like they just couldn’t catch a break! Although it’s sad, the story is pretty dramatic, therefore really easy to binge. The chemistry between Choi Ji Woo and Kwon Sang Woo is also worth mentioning, because they’ll have your heart totally aching!
“Star In My Heart” stars Choi Jin Sil as Lee Yun Hee, a poor orphan who aspires to become a fashion designer. She lives with her stepmother and comes to meet a singer named Kang Min Hee, played by Ahn Jae Wook. Min Hee ends up falling in love with Yun Hee, as does his best friend, Joon Hee (Cha In Pyo). What commences is an intense love triangle and battle for love.
“Star In My Heart” was a hit sensation in the ’90s, and girls were totally smitten with the two male leads. The storyline made it especially epic. I mean, what girl wouldn’t want a famous superstar and a famous fashion designer to fall head over heels for them? The thing that also made this series that much more epic and memorable was the soundtrack. The popular OST was a bestseller at the time and is still a karaoke anthem!
The song and K-drama was even mentioned in “Reply 1997.” Here’s a clip from it:
Watch “Star In My Heart”:
Hey Soompiers! Which of these older K-dramas is your favorite? Or which one are you going to watch? Let me know in the comments below!
binahearts is a Soompi writer whose ultimate biases are Song Joong Ki and BIGBANG. She is also the author of “K-POP A To Z: The Definitive K-Pop Encyclopedia.” Make sure you follow binahearts on Instagram as she journeys through her latest Korean crazes!
Currently watching: “The Last Empress” and re-watching “Coffee Prince.”
All-time favorite dramas: “Secret Garden,” “Goblin,” “Because This Is My First Life,” “Star In My Heart”
Looking forward to: Won Bin‘s return to the small screen