I began watching Korean dramas earlier this year, around the time India went into a strict lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic. I had been curious for a while—it was hard not to be, when colleagues kept exchanging recommendations and discussing plot points around you in office. In March, as the anxiety and uncertainty ratcheted up, I decided to try one episode of Crash Landing On You. Five months later, I am an active part of the Kdrama recommendation ritual.
These dramas, for me, were a portal into a new world and culture, but one that was also similar to India in many ways. If you search online, especially on Netflix, you can go down a rabbit hole that will help you escape reality for a long, long time.
But is it just discovering a new world that kept me hooked? Not entirely. These shows, be it dramas, rom-coms or just comedies, are all filled with characters who are flawed and layered, but (mostly) good at heart. Some of my favourite lead characters have oodles of empathy and kindness and are always ready to lend a helping hand. At a time when it felt like the world was burning, these shows became the balm for my anxious soul.
Fair warning — most Korean dramas come with their share of problems. Some of them are self-aware, but others can be quite problematic. And yet, the women characters are often able to find their ground, fighting off ahjummas (Korean word for ‘older women’) trying to convince them to get married.
While we enter the bazillionth month of limbo over the pandemic, here are five Korean dramas that will leave you feeling warm and distract you from the hopelessness of the real world.
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