Welcome back to our tour for those just entering the world of Korean Dramas! Our first two stops featured gateway dramas and young love dramas to really get you into the spirit of Korean romance TV shows! We hope you enjoyed those, and if you haven’t read them yet, go on back and start at the beginning! This is a process, after all.
For today’s stop, we are going to take a look at possibly my favorite sub-genre:
I love some good tension when it comes to romance. Not just internal conflict, which you might find in melodramas (something you might note I did not include in my tour. Not my fav), but external, scary, fast-paced AWESOME tension. There are so many of these that it was hard for me to choose, but I did my best for you! And fair warning…three of them have the same actor. I don’t know how that happened, but he just picks the best dramas. Lee Jong Suk for the win!
This drama wins the award for creepiest bad guy. He had me on edge! But the romance that develops through all the intrigue and danger is what makes I Hear Your Voice really shine. This drama is about a young man with the ability to hear what other people are thinking. He is on a mission to save a lawyer from a murderer she put into jail as a child with her testimony. She happened to save his life when they were younger, and he won’t stop until he knows she’s safe.
As a warning, if you haven’t experienced it yet, this might be your first “noona romance!” “Noona” or, in hangeul (Korean writing) “누나”, is a term that means “older sister.” I have a Korean friend who is maybe four years younger than I am, and he calls me 누나, so it doesn’t mean you have to be related. A noona romance refers to the female character being older than the male character. It’s strangely rare in American romance, but is definitely a thing for Korean dramas! It weirded me out at first, but I soon got used to it. They are a fantastic pair!
Oh the feels! Finally, I get to add an Lee Min Ho drama onto these lists. He was the first actor I got totally addicted to, and I watched every drama he’s made! City Hunter was his first foray into action, and I thought it paid off pretty well.
It’s been a while since I saw this one, but it is an action/romance about an undercover assassin working at the Blue House (Korea’s White House), and is on a mission to get revenge for the death of his father. While at the Blue House, he meets fellow body guard, Kim Na-Na, a spunky young woman who happens to have ties to his past. Our sexy assassin uncovers numerous political plots, and in his quest to avenge his father, he finds purpose and love.
If you ask me honestly, I will tell you that I liked Healer more than the very similar City Hunter, but they are both really fun to watch, and will get you hooked immediately!
Here he is again! That Lee Jung Suk really knows how to pick the dashing hero role.
You guys, this drama was AMAZING. It totally blew my mind when I watched it, and from beginning to end, it kept the intrigue high. W features a leading lady whose father is the artist of a world-famous manhwa (Korean manga/graphic novel). Our girl Oh Yeon Joo accidentally gets pulled into the manhwa world, and comes face-to-face with its hero, Kang Chul. The lines of reality and fantasy become blurred when Kang Chul begins to make his own decisions in the story, and Yeon Joo often gets pulled into the manhwa at the most unlikely times.
And that plot summary really just scratches the surface of the first episode…there is so much in this drama. And it really does have it all–the romance is perfect, the action is gripping, and the plot will keep you guessing until the last episode.
If you’re feeling like a little touch of levity makes your action-packed romance sweeter, then You’re All Surrounded is for you! It tells the story of a group of rookie detectives doing their best to protect the city they love, and survive some highly suspicious crimes that might be related to main character Eun Dae Gu (Lee Seung Gi), and his mysterious past. The comedy in this one had me belly laughing pretty much every episode, but then they knew how to reel it back in and get us focused on a thrilling plot I just had to resolve.
If you liked Lee Seung Gi in My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, then feast your eyes on him here, because he is scrumptious as a police officer! It took me a few episodes to get into this (their set up is a little slow-moving), so give it a solid three episodes!
Recognize him? Yes, our darling Lee Jung Suk sneaks in for the third time, and caps off our action drama list!
To be fair, this one was really quite similar in feel to I Hear Your Voice, so it can be easy to get the two of them mixed up. But Pinocchio has a little more quirk, and a young coming-into-your-own kind of vibe. It is the story of a boy who washes up on the shore of a poor community, having hit his head and lost all his memories. He grows up with a girl his age, and they both end up entering the same internship for a news station. But his past begins snaking its way into his present, and both of them must work together to find answers to the questions that will affect their futures.
My synopsis doesn’t remotely tap into what this drama is really about, but it’s a rather complicated plot, and all you really need to know is the leads have great chemistry, the plot had me sucked in every single episode, and the characters are well-constructed for every role. It was a fantastic action drama! I rate it right on par with I Hear Your Voice.
And there you have it!
Those are my top 5 action dramas for beginners getting into Kdramas. Obviously I’m more into shows that are romance-centered but action driven. The action is all for the romance, in other words. And if you kind of like that too, then I know you will love these Kdramas!
Did I leave any out? Are you thinking of trying any of these? Let me know in the comments below! And stay tuned for the last two stops of our tour soon!