There are thousands of K-Dramas to choose from… but how do you pick? A great way to spot an amazing K-Drama is by choosing a famous Korean actress and seeing which series was their best! By doing that, you’ve guaranteed yourself an entertaining experience. Here are just 5 to get you started:
Note: Cable K-Dramas and Terrestrial K-Dramas are rated in different ways and, as such, can be difficult to see which is higher than the other. Therefore, we have put two series that could possibly be switched. For reference: the highest recorded for cable was 28.4%, and the highest recorded for terrestrial was 66.9%.
5. Ha Ji Won (Something Happened in Bali)
Lee Soo Jung (Ha Ji Won) is a travel agent seeking good luck in Bali after a harsh childhood. She meets Jung Jae Min (Jo In Sung), Kang In Wook (So Ji Sub), and Choi Young Joo (Park Ye Jin) there, three seemingly perfect people entangled in a love triangle. When Lee Soo Jung returns to Seoul, her desire for success leads her to ask Jae Min for a job, setting off a course of events that further complicates the love triangle.
As one of Korea’s most sought-after actresses, Ha Ji Won is loved for her versatility and variety. She has won many awards and took part in several popular K-Dramas.
Close second, if not tied: Secret Garden
4. Choi Ji Woo (Stairway to Heaven)
The relationship between childhood sweethearts Cha Song Joo (Kwon Sang Woo) and Hang Jung Seo (Choi Ji Woo) becomes complicated when Jung Seo’s father remarries. Jung Seo now has a new stepmother, a new introverted stepbrother, Han Tae Hwa (Shin Hyun Joon), and a mischievous stepsister, Han Yu Ri (Kim Tae Hee). Tae Hwa eventually falls in love with Jung Seo, and Yu Ri decides to pursue Song Joo. However, nothing can shake the bond between Jung Seo and Song Joo, not even Song Joo’s departure to America. However, on the night of his return, Jung Seo is hit by a car and believed dead. Having lost her memory in the crash, she is taken in by Tae Hwa, who moves and gives her another name. Five years later, Song Joo sees someone who looks exactly like his lost love Jung Seo.
If you’ve seen Crash Landing On You, you know just how important this K-Drama is to Koreans, and in turn, Choi Ji Woo. She is one of the initiators of the Hallyu Wave as she has starred in many famous series that spread Korean culture around the world.
Close second, if not tied: Winter Sonata
3. Song Hye Kyo (Autumn in My Heart)
Yoon Joon Suh (Song Seung Heon) and Yoon Eun Suh (Song Hye Kyo) grew up as siblings, but Eun Suh was actually from a different family as there was a mix-up at the hospital where she was born. The switch was discovered when Eun Suh got in a car accident, and they found that her blood type was different from her parents. Eun Suh’s life took a turn when the girls were returned to their respective families. Soon after, the Yoon family left for America, and Eun Suh was left living with her real family in Korea. Years later, Joon Suh returned to Korea and, by chance, is reunited with Eun Suh.
Song Hye Kyo is another initiator of the Hallyu Wave as she has starred in 4 critical K-Dramas to the spread. She is well-loved by both Korean and international fans.
Close second, if not tied: Full House
2. Lee Young Ae (Jewel in the Palace)
This K-Drama is based on a true story about a legendary woman in a male-dominated world, Jang Geum (Lee Young Ae), who later became the first woman to become the supreme royal physician. Despite her low-class status, Jang Geum overcame many trials, and we see her journey to become the royal cook, then the royal physician, and finally the King’s personal physician.
Regarded as perhaps one of the most influential K-Dramas ever made, Jewel in the Palace stands strong at number 10 on the highest-rated terrestrial K-Dramas. As such, Lee Young Ae became well-loved and well-respected by the nation.
Close second, if not tied: Saimdang, Memoir of Colors
1. Jun Ji Hyun (You Who Came From The Stars)
Do Min Joon (Kim Soo Hyun) is an alien who landed on Earth 400 years ago during the Joseon Dynasty period. He is extremely handsome and has enhanced vision, hearing, and speed. Later, he discovers that he only has three months left on Earth. That’s when he meets Cheon Song Yi (Jun Ji Hyun), the biggest Hallyu star in Korea.
Jun Ji Hyun rose to fame in one of the highest-grossing Korean comedy films in history and several popular K-Dramas. She is so influential that her appearance in You Who Came From The Stars caused lipstick and a jacket to sell out worldwide.
Close second, if not tied: The Legend of the Blue Sea and a special shoutout to the movie My Sassy Girl