As we wave goodbye to 2020, it’s nice to look back at bygone years that have inspired K-dramas — whether it’s a dark past of history, a colorful era where everything’s analog, or a turn of the century. In that regard, here are some dramas you might enjoy watching while staying home:

Girls’ Generation 1979

Starring: WJSN’s Bona, Chae Seo Jin, Lee Jong Hyun, Seo Young Joo

This youth drama deals with the highs and lows of teenage students such as the pain of one-sided love, the bittersweet memories of high school, and the challenges of living in an uncertain time. The story takes place in the late ’70s in South Korea (particularly in Daegu), a transitional time when the country was getting back on its feet after the Korean War. It’s a turbulent yet captivating era that adds to the conflicts and growth of the characters.

Check out the drama below!

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Chicago Typewriter

Starring: Yoo Ah In, Im Soo Jung, Go Kyung Pyo

Set back and forth between the future and the 1930’s, “Chicago Typewriter” is a story about a writer, a ghostwriter, and a fan as they deal with friendship, love, and betrayal that lasts 80 years. A famous writer named Han Se Joo (Yoo Ah In) is experiencing writer’s block until he meets a hardcore fan (Im Soo Kyung) and a ghostwriter (Go Kyung Pyo) who will help him find his groove back. It’s a journey that spans many years and one that will give viewers a peek into the tumultuous Japanese colonial era in Korea and the struggle of the nation at that time.

Check out the drama below!

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Mr. Sunshine

Starring: Lee Byung Hun, Lee Tae Ri, Yoo Yeon Seok

This drama is a groundbreaking series that swept over the nation with a renewed interest in a part of Korea’s history of fighting for independence. “Mr. Sunshine” has everything: a compelling storyline, amazing actors, detailed sets, and period costumes. Its cinematography will leave you breathless while the characters’ developments will leave you hanging for more. You’ll be able to have a glimpse of Korea’s glorious and dark past.

Melting Me Softly

Starring: Ji Chang Wook, Won Jin Ah

In the year 1999, (which for most Gen Zs is probably already considered retro) a TV experiment that aimed to show how to freeze people temporarily for 24 hours goes terribly wrong. So wrong that the two individuals (played by Ji Chang Wook and Won Jin Ah) were kept frozen for 20 years and woke up still the same state while everyone else around them has become old. Now they have to catch up with missed opportunities like old flames, careers, and a chance to grow old with their loved ones.

Check out the drama below!

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The Best Hit

Starring: Yoon Shi Yoon, Cha Tae Hyun, Kim Min Jae, Lee Se Young

Loose faded jeans, lots of plaids, hair spray, oversized T-shirts, and bandanas — these are some of the trends that were popular in the ’90s. “The Best Hit” is a story about idol culture and the challenges experienced by the youth. It’s an unforgettable drama that brings back all the good times in an era that’s filled with grunge fashion and music.

Check out the drama below!

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Hotel Del Luna

Starring: IU, Yeo Jin Goo

If you’re looking for a good period drama, then this just might be for you because it shows all the different eras in Korea. Jang Man Wol lived in the Joseon Dynasty, and because of a crime she committed, her soul was made to manage a hotel that caters to the dead. She lived a millennium with her appearance remaining unchanged, and with that comes scenes and fabulous outfits from different eras!

Check out the drama below!

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Miss Korea

Starring: Lee Yeon Hee, Lee Ki Woo, Lee Sun Gyun

Set in 1997, a cosmetics company is on the brink of ruin because of the IMF crisis in Korea. A group of men from the company pin their hope on a beautiful young woman, (Lee Yeon Hee) who works as an elevator girl, and transform her into a beauty pageant contestant who just might have the chance of winning the prestigious “Miss Korea” title.

Check out the drama below!

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Go Back Couple

Starring: Son Ho Jun, Jang Nara

Wouldn’t it be ideal if we could travel back to the past to correct the wrongs of the present? That’s what exactly happens to one married couple (played by Son Ho Jun and Jang Nara) who get the chance to literally go back to the years of their youth and the choice to either walk away from each other or do it all over again. It’s a drama that will make you both laugh and cry as well as root for the characters. As a couple that has gone through a lot, they try to navigate their lives and ultimately decide if they will go for a fresh start with — or without each other.

Check out the drama below!

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Love Rain

Starring: YoonA, Jang Geun Suk

Sometimes it’s hard to forget your “first love,” and this drama will definitely give you all the feels. Starring YoonA and Jang Geun Suk, this drama tells the story of “the one that got away” 40 years ago. Two people who loved each other deeply meet again in the present with a son and a daughter who just might get to live the destiny that eluded them years ago.

Check out the drama below!

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The Reply Series

Starring: Seo In Guk, Jung Eun Ji, Eun Ji Won in “Reply 1997”; Hyeri, Park Bo Gum, Ryu Jun Yeol in “Reply 1988”; Jung Woo, Go Ara, Yoo Yeon Seok in “Reply 1994

The “Reply series,” which consists of “Reply 1997,” “Reply 1994,” and “Reply 1988,” is a South Korean anthology television series composed of three dramas. These dramas are the ultimate throwback to ’90s Korea, as told by a vibrant group of friends. The settings are extremely accurate with nostalgic references to pop culture that Koreans from the older generation can relate to. There are also stories of the turbulence of young love: the first crush, biggest heartbreak, and finally, finding that one true love.

Check out “Reply 1997” below!

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Check out “Reply 1994” below!

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Check out “Reply 1988” below!

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Hey Soompiers! Which of these K-dramas inspired by the past is your fave? Let us know in the comments below!

DianneP_Kim is an English magazine and online editor based in South Korea. She is the author of a K-pop style book published by Skyhorse Publications, New York, and has recently released her second book about BTS. Check it out on Amazon, follow her on Instagram @dianne_panda, and subscribe to her YouTube channel at iwonderkorea!

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