5 K-Dramas to Help You Get Through the Pandemic

The perfect antidote to these challenging times.

The perfect antidote to these challenging times.

by Samantha Lui
November 13, 2020

Nine months into a global pandemic, it’s safe to say that everyone is feeling a little bit of cabin fever. 

Thankfully, being cooped up in my little apartment has allowed me to find new things I never knew I needed to cope. While several of you likely played Animal Farm with your friends, I was busy watching Korean dramas. 

K-dramas have served as the perfect antidote during these challenging times. They offer escapism, adventure, romance, action and fantasy. That’s why I want to share some of my favourite K-dramas with you. Most of these are on Netflix, so you don’t have to go very far trying to look for them. 

Below are five must-watch series to uplift you during the pandemic: 

Crash Landing on You

This series is about a South Korean heiress (played by Son Ye-jin) who, while paragliding in Seoul, South Korea, is swept up in a sudden storm and crash-lands in the North Korean portion of the DMZ. There, she meets a Captain (Hyun Bin) in the North Korean Special Police Force. They eventually fall in love, and their future is come into question due to ongoing tensions between South Korea and North Korea. 

This was the first J-drama I watched, and boy, did it set my expectations really high! 

It was full of romance, action and heartwarming friendships. But not only that, my favourite part of this drama was how it gave audiences a sense of what life is like in North Korea. While some parts were clearly dramatized, writers worked with North Koreans living in South Korea to make things as authentic as possible. 

Itaewon Class

If you love a rags to riches story, then this drama is for you.

This series is about a high school drop-out named Park Sae-ro-yi, looking to seek revenge on a restaurant CEO named Jang Dae-hee, who is responsible for the death of his father. Throughout the series, audiences will get to see the corruption, lies and betrayals that unfolds between the two businesses. 

The best part of this drama was how Park Sae-ro-yi sought revenge by opening his own restaurant, hoping to one day beat Jan Dae-hee. What I found most compelling was seeing a high school drop-out  get successful after going through so much hardship. 

The series also features a fierce female lead played by Kim Da-mi, who helps Park Sae-ro-yi with his struggling business. And not only that, the original soundtrack for Itaewon Class is top-notch, featuring a song by my favourite BTS member, V, who wrote and produced the song.

Reply 1988

This is what I would call a slice-of-life series. Set in the year 1988, the show revolves around five friends and their families living in the same neighborhood in Seoul. 

While this doesn’t sound like much, watching Reply 1988 feels like an indie movie. Throughout the series, you witness each family and character going through hardships, friendships and also experiencing love. 

It’s also very nostalgic. As the title notes, the show is set in 1988. Characters don high-waisted jeans and Air Jordans, sneak into R-rated movies and obsess over new music. And while it takes you back to the ‘80s, what shines most in this series is the relationships each character has with each other. 

It’s Okay To Not Be Okay

This series is the definition of healing. 

The show tells the story of a romance between Moon Gang-tae, a caretaker at a psychiatric ward, who does not have time for love, and a successful children’s book author named Ko Moon-young, who does not know the feeling of love. 

Together, with Gang-tae’s autistic brother, the three eventually learn how to become a family. 

This drama tackles taboo topics such as mental health, depression, loneliness and anxiety. But through the warmth of its characters, the show has some incredibly heartwarming and uplifting moments. 

The series also features very unique visual storytelling, using animations to narrate stories written by Ko Moon-young. Many of these stories highlight the loneliness she feels inside. And throughout the show, you will witness how she opens up and feels happiness again. 

Boys Over Flowers

If I were still in high school, I would be all over this show. 

Boys over Flowers is a classic, and has played a major role in bringing Korean pop culture to the mainstream.

The series is about a working-class girl named Geum Jan-di, who gets tangled up in the lives of a group of wealthy young men in her high school, who go by the name F4. Geum Jan-di ends up falling in love with the group’s leader, Gu Jun-pyo. 

This show is the definition of escapism, and it makes the fantasies of many high school girls come true. Throughout the series, Geum Jan-di is given makeovers, free clothes and vacations as Gu Jun-pyo tries to romance her. He’s a bad boy with a hidden soft side, and Geum Jan-di is the one who helps him open up. 

I realize that this show hasn’t aged well, as it includes some very problematic behaviour by Gu Jun-pyo as he tries to force his love on Geum Jan-di. 

But seeing that this show is over a decade old, I’m willing to let that slide. It could also be because Lee Min-ho is the man behind Gu Jun-pyo. He is perfect in the role, and I just can’t get over his long permed, wavy hair.