Drama Reactions & Reviews
If You Like… Contract Marriages
by | September 19, 2013 | 261 Comments

We’re rolling out a new feature, which we’re calling the “If You Like…” series, intended to help you wade through dramaland waters for your favorite plot devices, character types, or recurring themes.

‘Cause you know you’ve got your favorites—or your Achilles heels, as the case may be—whether it’s a soft spot for heartbroken second leads or a need to watch every separated-at-birth show ever created. And while you may have no trouble sussing out what all the crossdressing dramas are (they’re a bit obvious that way), perhaps you’re in the hunt for a less visible trope, or want more dramas that don’t make it on the usual lists of recommended titles.

I’m taking on contract marriages for this first post because I’ve been watching the drama Sweet 18, which I missed when it aired a decade ago. There’s probably a series review post in the works so I won’t give away too much here, but I’ve found it a surprisingly addictive watch despite the age of the show, and it reminded me just how much I love stories of people being shoved together first and then falling in love.

The forced proximity conceit can work in various forms, whether we’re talking reluctant roommates or housekeepers-employers or dorm buddies. But there’s something special about matrimony that makes it my favorite version, when lead characters think they can escape the trappings of a paper-only marriage with their hearts intact, only to fall hard. Maybe it’s because there’s an added gravity to the proceedings when you say “I do,” even if you don’t really mean it at the moment. Or maybe it’s because this subverts the expectation of marriage as a happily-ever-after “reward”—instead, marriage is the vehicle and the setting. The starting point, not the resolution. Muahaha.

Note: We aren’t necessarily endorsing the dramas mentioned here. Some are valid recommendations, while others are included because they fit the category. We’ll leave it to you to judge whether to watch.


1% of Anything (2003)

The premise: A kind schoolteacher helps out an elderly man who turns out to be a chaebol chairman. To her shock, she’s named the beneficiary of his huge fortune following his death—and the old man cuts out his own grandson from the will. There’s a caveat, however, that he may inherit if he marries the woman Grandpa has picked. The cold businessman grandson thus strikes up a reluctant acquaintance with the heroine, resulting in a contract marriage that is supposed to be temporary but which eventually grows into romance.

Caveat: I haven’t watched 1% of Anything, but as one of the earliest contract-marriage dramas, it seems remiss to leave it off the list. So this isn’t an outright recommendation as much as it’s a heads-up, if you want to see Kang Dong-won back when he was still doing dramas (sigh), playing a bristly chaebol who wants to earn his success on his own terms, falling for Kim Jung-hwa as a sweet heroine. The two apparently butt heads quite a bit at the outset, which gives way to attraction as they grow closer.

The story’s based on a popular novel written by Hyun Go-eun, who was also the drama’s scriptwriter. At 26 episodes, it’s a bit longer than most trendy rom-coms, but considering how much I love stories where the guy is initially a jerk but soon finds himself getting jealous and petty, I may have to put this on my list.


Sweet 18 (2004)

The premise: A marriage between the grandchildren of two lifelong friends is arranged when the leads are mere children. Years later when the heroine graduates from high school, gramps is eager to get the kids hitched, and though the modern leads find the arrangement old-fashioned and unrealistic, they settle for a contract marriage where they both get to keep their own personal lives to themselves… which lasts all of about a minute.

I’m currently loving this show, which shows some signs of aging but does hold up over time with a strong central couple whose relationship development is believable and sweet. The drama is an opposites-attract romance where she’s the bubbly, heart-on-her-sleeve ball of emotion, while he’s the reserved serious workaholic who could use a bit of loosening up. One of my favorite aspects of the show is that they go into the marriage treating it like a roommate scenario, and then have to deal with the pounding hearts when attraction starts growing (especially for him). But since they’ve drawn that platonic line so clearly, it takes extra effort to cross it, and watching them dance around it trying to muster up the nerve to broach their real feelings (and then backing off, then approaching again) is a big part of the fun.

The tone is upbeat and comedic, and Sweet 18 is a classic old-school romantic comedy with simple conflicts and meddling second leads who can be annoying, though they’re fun to hate because they are ultimately ineffectual (Lee Da-hae plays the scheming ex). Plus, this is the show that got leads Han Ji-hye and Lee Dong-gun dating in real life for several years. They’ve since broken up and she’s gotten married, but the chemistry is there, and very cute.


Full House (2004)

The premise: The heroine is conned out of her house and kicked out by the haughty movie star who moves in. She negotiates a deal to stay as his maid, but in the wake of compromising gossip the star decides to quiet the scandal with a quiet contract marriage. Cue hijinks.

Probably one of the most popular contract-marriage dramas around, Full House was a sensation at home and across Asia. But you probably know that, and I bet you’ve probably already seen it. So maybe this entry really only applies for, oh, two of you out there who’ve never heard of the show.

Full House is a light, mindless watch that zips by quickly and, like many rom-coms of its time, relies on rather simplistic conflicts and plot turns that aren’t entirely logically sound. I know, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any rom-com that is completely logically sound, but this one really glosses over its plot holes and hopes you don’t stop to question it too hard.

The chemistry between Rain and Song Hye-gyo was never the sizzling kind, ending up with a cute but kind of sexless relationship where bickering acts as a stand-in for romantic development. So I wouldn’t get your hopes up for pounding hearts or sexual tension, although the characters go through the motions well enough to carry the drama’s thin plotline. I couldn’t imagine getting hooked on the show nowadays, but it could make for a good marathon watch on a rainy weekend.


My Little Bride (2004)

The premise: Similar to Sweet 18, this one marries off two youngsters because of pressure from elders, although the heroine is still in high school—and the hero’s a teacher at her school. They keep their marriage quiet for the sake of her reputation and bicker like dogs at home, but it’s not long before the lines start blurring and hearts skip. (Note: My Little Bride is a movie, not a drama series.)

There are a few aspects about My Little Bride that may trip you up. The teacher-student scenario, perhaps, or the age gap. Stars Kim Rae-won and Moon Geun-young are only six years apart in age and she was 17 when the film came out, so it’s not like we’re dealing with an actual child bride, per se. But the hero and heroine have known each other all their lives and have a very sibling-like relationship full of name-calling and petty squabbling, which makes the process of romantic awakening potentially unsettling. I have to find any story where the hero is waiting for his wife to grow up to be a little bit squicky.

On the other hand, the movie does attempt to smooth out some of those bumpy moments and the plot stays in sweet and innocent territory. Both actors are very appealing, and in the end I found myself rooting for those kids to work it out, even if I didn’t really believe the romantic chemistry between them—it’s definitely a chaste kind of love. As a fluffy comedy, it’s a zippy two hours. If you want a more believable romance, I’d go for Sweet 18 instead.


Delightful Girl Chun-hyang (2005)

The premise: Based on an old folktale in which young lovers secretly marry, Delightful Girl Chun-hyang updates the story with modern-day characters. The marriage between two high school juniors is necessitated as a damage-control measure when they’re caught in a (totally innocent, we swears) compromising situation. They decide to keep the relationship strictly buddy-buddy until they’re older, at which point they’ll re-evaluate whether they want to stay married. (Hint: They do.)

This drama totally won my heart, and remains one of my favorites even when looking back on it years later and seeing its flaws with the benefit of time and distance. The Hong sisters have gotten more high-concept, punny, and complex in their stories since then, but here in their first drama, the relatively simple story has a winning freshness. (Well, it felt pretty fresh in 2005.) It’s consistently funny and leads Jae Hee and Han Chae-young hit on a nice balance between bickering and attraction—the love connection feels credible, and when you’re invested in that, you’re willing to follow the characters through everything.

Because the couple is married while they’re still in high school, they never act genuinely married, nor can they ignore each other, and no they’re not dating either. It’s the in-between-ness that keeps everyone on their toes, and the drama follows them over a span of years so we watch them growing into adults as their romance grows too. There are a couple absurdly persistent second leads, but the strength of the central pairing trumps their meddlesome ways.


Goong (2006)

The premise: In a fictional Korea where the monarchy still exists, the young crown prince approaches adulthood and is deemed ready for marriage. We can thank more grandfathers for the pairing of the snobby royal heartthrob and a plucky ordinary high school student. She enters the palace and learns how to be a princess (clumsily), but eventually wins over the nation and, more importantly, her husband.

The alternate reality Goong builds, not to mention the gorgeous costuming and sets, are enough to make this drama a recommended watch; there’s still nothing quite like it. Based on a manhwa, the show retains that fantasy feel and builds up the lead couple’s romance in a gradual but compelling escalation. I’ll admit to finding Joo Ji-hoon’s cold prince to be a prime jerkwad of a hero and was rooting for them mostly for Yoon Eun-hye’s sake, but they did have pretty fantastic chemistry (and pretty hot make-out sessions, a rarity amidst all the closed-mouth kisses we normally see).

There are some issues of pacing (slowish, thanks to a late-game four-episode extension) and palace politics I could have done without (none of which I remember, because that was never the point). It’s not a seamless affair and Goong wasn’t a crack drama for me. But for a romance that starts out as a forced arrangement, we get a pretty engaging transformation between the two, and in particular on the hero’s side. Because the whole purpose to having assy cold-hearted heroes is to see them tumbling off their high horse when they fall in love, isn’t it?


I Love You (2008)

The premise: Here’s a backward romance in action: A mismatched couple hurries into marriage when a one-night stand leads to pregnancy. They can fall in love—or, you know, get acquainted—later.

The cast comprises three couples, each depicting a different type of modern marriage as they encounter conflicts and figure out how to navigate their relationships. I Love You is based on a popular manhwa but never made a big splash as a drama, which isn’t too surprising given its low-key vibe. That’s not a criticism—the relaxed air is part of its charm—but it doesn’t have the big dramatic set-pieces or sweeping arcs that tend to hook viewers.

Though not strictly a contract marriage premise, I Love You sort of qualifies in that it features a couple who gets married before they’re in love, letting the marriage set the stage for relationship to bloom rather than acting as the endpoint. It’s also an opposites-attract romance and a bit of a May-December setup (perhaps May-September is a better descriptor?) with Seo Ji-hye playing a 21-year-old and Ahn Jae-wook playing a 35-year-old, even if he’s a very immature one. So while I Love You lacks a punchiness that drives a lot of my favorite rom-coms, it might fit the bill if you’re in the mood for something a bit more laid-back.


Accidental Couple (Just Looking) (2009)

The premise: An ordinary citizen helps out a movie star, protecting her image from potential scandal, which turns a bit sideways and gets him involved instead. The couple decides on a contract marriage for six months, intending to divorce quietly after the frenzy subsides.

This drama is all about Hwang Jung-min, who is wonderful (no surprise, as he is wonderful in everything) playing the humble everyman who gets caught up in the press whirlwind and whose only desire is to be of assistance. Kim Ah-joong is fine as the star, though I think both casting and writing make for a heroine who could be interchangeable with any number of other actresses. The drama runs the couple through many of the expected tribulations, with divorce being both a goal and a threat at various points.

I wouldn’t look to Accidental Couple as much of a romance story, but it does have some worthwhile elements. Namely, the bromance that develops between Hwang Jung-min and his young brother-in-law (Baek Sung-hyun) all but takes over the show, which is not a bad thing. Joo Sang-wook plays a forgettable second lead, while Lee Chung-ah has a cute but fairly minor supporting role.

I’m pretty sure you’d be able to predict exactly how Accidental Couple unfolds, but sometimes you just want something comfortable and familiar. We can’t live solely on crack (dramas), right?


It’s Okay, Daddy’s Girl (2010)

The premise: This example is different in that the contract marriage belongs to a secondary couple, so the premise listed here is about their relationship rather than the show as a whole. The bride chooses to marry in a sacrificing gesture to help her bankrupt family, while the groom is a prodigal son whose parents strong-arm him into marrying a respectable girl hoping she’ll be a good influence and curb his wild ways.

I have to start off with the warning that It’s Okay, Daddy’s Girl is not a drama I’d freely recommend to anyone—it is incredibly flawed and strangely paced and just kind of weird all around. Even so, I think of it fondly for all the heart-warming character bonds that developed (in between the crazy other stuff), and this marriage is one of the show’s highlights.

At first, the bride seems to have essentially thrown herself onto a sacrificial altar to save her family (and we may have to overlook how the whole setup of her needing to marry for money is rather gothic to begin with). Look at that picture—she’s crying her way down the aisle, fer Pete’s sake. Her husband is a big baby without any desire to do anything worthwhile with himself—his family is rich, he gets an allowance from mommy, and he spends his days (and nights) partying with his bro-dudes. But then when the wife actually needs emotional support, the playboy rises to the challenge and to everyone’s surprise (including his own), he kinda likes being the decent man. His marriage rewrites his life’s script, and he finds that when he’s given an option other than nightclubs and womanizing, he enjoys the alternative. The marriage goes from sham to earnest, and offers a rewarding resolution.

(Even if the drama is a mess.)


Ojakkyo Brothers (2011)

The premise: Another secondary pairing. Two co-workers have a one-night stand that leads to pregnancy, and are pushed into marriage by their families. The couple hits upon a contract marriage as a compromise, intending to keep up appearances to the outside world for the sake of their child while keeping their distance at home.

There seem to be two main types of contract marriages: the kind where both sides enter it with equal indifference, and the kind where one side is well on their way to falling in love while the other side takes his sweet old time, hmph. This drama falls into the latter category, which is not inherently better or worse than the other kind but which does make for a potentially more frustrating scenario because we have to watch one side suffering in silence while the other side stays oblivious. (It’s for this reason that I tend to appreciate the mutual discovery when both sides start from zero and end up in the same place.)

As a weekend family drama with a longer episode count, Ojakkyo Brothers is paced accordingly, which means that things take a little while to really kick into gear for this couple, especially since this is not the only loveline cooking. The groom’s reluctance to marry the woman he knocked up can be teeth-grindingly frustrating, but to even the score, the bride’s jealousy and hurt feelings can feel excessive in the wake of their contract arrangement. However, one upside to these longer dramas is that the character development feels more realistic, the trajectory more complete. This is a couple who started things by running out on their own wedding ceremony (work crisis!), who end up at mutual understanding and working toward a genuine marriage.

Moreover, the rest of the drama is so winning that even if you find yourself throwing up your hands in the air regarding Ryu Soo-young and Choi Jung-yoon’s marital courtship, you’ll have plenty of time to squeal in glee over the uber-cute romance unfolding concurrently between Joo-won and UEE. (That one has nothing to do with contracts, but I’m sure we don’t care.)


And in the Not Quite Married category (not to mention not quite recommended)…

Mary Stayed Out All Night (2010)

The premise: The heroine wants to avoid getting pushed into an arranged marriage with a chaebol’s son, so she pretends to be married to a rocker boy, but the ruse eventually gets discovered, then at some point she agrees to play the part of prospective fiancée to the chaebol guy anyway and moves in with him, and then is maybe dating the musician too, or breaking up with him repeatedly, and there’s a lot of fake marrying and cohabitating but not a lot of logic.

Here, the contract scenario (albeit a faked marriage) is used to deflect the threat of a real marriage, which is a premise that sounds wacky and hilarious. Plus, the heroine spends time living with both male leads. How great is that, right? (Not actually that great, unfortunately.) You would expect that over the course of playing house with her not-really-husband, the couple would get caught up in loads of uproarious (and romance-building) incidents. To be fair, there are several cute moments between them in the early parts of their fake relationship. But there’s a lot of nonsense cluttering up the works with needless angst (and gangsters and loan sharks and kidnapping), not to mention some really insane parenting.

Ultimately Mary is a show that had room for solid contract-marriage shenanigans but let go of a lot of opportunities with sloppy writing. For a show about two fake marriages, it doesn’t really have much to do with marriage… although it doesn’t really have much to do with reality either so maybe it’s all a wash.


Lie To Me (2011)

The premise: The heroine tells a white lie about being married to save face in front of a smug frenemy, but her story soon spins out of control and entangles the chaebol hero as her surprised “husband.” Conveniently, the hero later requires a fake wife for a business dealing, extending their ruse. They don’t end up married, but after two charades acting the part, at least they find love.

The premise of Lie To Me is classic rom-com stuff. It’s got the requisite comic misunderstandings as the heroine runs her mouth off with wishful thinking, only to find that she has to put her money where her mouth is. Plus the budding chemistry really works, replete with those confusing line-crossing moments when the facade cracks and we’re wondering whether the couple is still acting or really feeling something. The couple is wondering the same thing, caught up in the confusion of blurring boundaries and growing attraction. Those are definitely the show’s highlights.

If that’s enough to sustain your interest, there’s a fluffy fast-forwardable story in there. Where the show falters is in taking its paper-thin conflict and trying to fill sixteen hours with it, when really it should have been a cute two-hour movie. This results in too much screen time with annoying meddlers and needless hand- and heart-wringing angst. Let the fast-forward button be your guide.


Big (2012)

The premise: The drama’s ostensibly about a high schooler who swaps souls with a comatose grown-up, but the marriage comes into play when he falls for his shell body’s ex-fiancée, who then offers to marry our hero (wrong body and all) to “protect” him. Yeah, it doesn’t really make sense.

To be fair, I think there exists a way to take the components of Big and arrange them in a way that works out, more or less. The problem is that the show didn’t quite manage to accomplish that, mucking up the works with confusing execution. The heroine’s decision to marry the hero to offer him some sort of legal and emotional protection could (should) have utilized the contract scenario in a more effective way, prodding the two souls to find love in spite of their unromantic arrangement. That’s the whole point of shoving them together, right? But they were already living together since the shell body was already her fiancé, so we didn’t need the marriage to further the existing premise. Thus when “real” marriage is introduced as an option, it rather feels like a woman sacrificing herself as a martyr for a cause, which is about as unromantic as you can make a marriage.


Haeundae Lovers (2012)

The premise: While investigating a crime, the hero is injured and stricken with amnesia, whereupon he is taken in by the heroine’s surrogate family of reformed ex-gangsters. To bail her out of a tough fix, he’s persuaded to step in as her groom, and both find themselves acting the part of the loving newlywed couple to deflect suspicion.

Haeundae Lovers may be a case more of flawed execution than conception, because the broad strokes of the courtship totally hit the right narrative buttons for me. Amnesia, fish out of water, surrogate family, fake courtship? Yes, yes, yes, yes. Plus Jo Yeo-jung and Kim Kang-woo have strong chemistry, mixed in amongst the comic relief moments. There are plenty of those, although my main complaint is that the tone often skews excessively broad, which keeps the show’s emotional beats from landing with sincerity. Though there are some likable characters, this is mostly a silly drama with silly characters.


Empire of Gold (2013)

The premise: This is not a romantic drama, and in fact very little of the show involves a romantic arc. Still, there’s a contract marriage in it, with a chaebol daughter agreeing to marry the ambitious self-made businessman in a purely professional arrangement. It qualifies. Just barely.

This is a drama I’m not up to date on, so I’ll let you figure out whether it’s one you’re up for watching. By all accounts Empire of Gold is a solid show, but it’s definitely a harder-edged drama with a serious tone, and more about power and money than love stories. Furthermore, I don’t know that the marriage above is one to root for. But hey, it was worth a parody in Master’s Sun—which flirted with a contract marriage for half an episode, by the way. That wasn’t quite enough to merit its own entry—nor did Master use the plot point for romantic effect—but I always appreciate a cheeky nod to one of my favorite common drama tropes.


And we’re done!

I did briefly debate whether to expand this post to include contract dating relationships, but decided against it because fake-dating, while sharing similar aspects, doesn’t have quite the same dramatic effect as a marriage does. Still, if you’re interested, you could give the following a try (if you haven’t already seen them, which you probably have): My Name Is Kim Sam-soon, Dal Ja’s Spring, Coffee Prince, and Personal Taste.

A key difference with these dramas is that the romance doesn’t necessarily hinge upon the contract in the same way that the marriage stories do. In fact, many of them just set us up with the contract as a catalyst for the acquaintance, opening the show up to other storylines for the rest of its run. Which makes it a different kettle of fish.

Let me know if I’ve missed any key dramas—gotta add ’em to my watch list.


261 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Nurul

    I really love Full House , Goong and Delightful Girl Choon Hyang..

    You should add Wonderful Life to the list ^^

    • 1.1 hawaiianseoul

      second that! I was hoping wonderful life would be on here too. XD Jaewon feels.

      • 1.1.1 Mystisith

        Me three. It was more melo than rom-com truth to be told, but I liked it.

        • rhumball

          me Four. i love “Wonderful Life” 😀

          • Ram

            me five hahha wonderful life is one of my fave dramas♥

    • 1.2 ckdarkraven23

      I love, love, looooooove contract marriages! i watched almost 85% of the dramas mentioned here. Can’t go wrong with Full House, Delightful Girl Choon Hyang, Ojakkyo, My Little Bride (movie), Sweet 18 & Goong 🙂

      • 1.2.1 May

        Does anybody know where I can watch Ojakkyo?? Everybody keeps saying its so good but I have no way to watch it TT.TT

    • 1.3 WintermelonT

      OMG I thought I was the only one thinking about Wonderful Life. Been reading and scrolling to see if it was on Javabean’s list.

    • 1.4 Narina

      I think the drama Golden Bride(2007-2008) also kinda fits in this category as the lead didn’t get married out of love but made a sort of comprise because of their situations.

    • 1.5 Celina

      Two others to add to the list — if not quite contract marriages… they all have the delightful forced living arrangements 🙂

      Snow White (2004)

      Dal Ja’s Spring (2007)

      Witch Yoo Hee (2007)

    • 1.6 Steph

      Yes, I loved Wonderful Life. That little girl was the cutest! Delightful Girl is and will always be one of my favs.

  2. Caitlyn

    I keep seeing Sweet 18 on my Plan to Watch list but skipping past it to watch something else. I don’t know what it is, something isn’t grabbing me. But hmmm, maybe I won’t skip past it next time.

    • 2.1 KimYoonmi

      Sweet 18 is fun to watch, rewatch, but is easy to forget, which is why it keeps showing up on the “What is that drama” list. It’s very low key and has a slight slice of life feel with some whacky, but heart-felt moments.

      It’s the kind of drama you marathon and come back to when you want medicine, but never quite makes your heart pound so fast that you can hear it in your ears.

      • 2.1.1 Steph

        Yeh, so many people keep telling me its so good and it’s just not clicking with me. I’ve tried to watch it several times over the last FIVE years and I just can’t get past ep 6 or 7. The acting is so over the top.

    • 2.2 Moko

      Aww I started it and I like it a lot.
      I don’t even mind the overacting because that girl is so cute. I
      rather take good and cute overacting than serious and boring melo.
      The couple looks so good together and even the usual drama tropes are bearable and easy to watch.

  3. Ivoire

    Interesting thread, thank you!

    • 3.1 lady

      yes please do more of these… I WANT MOAR!!!

    • 3.2 hgirl

      I love this feature!! I third the call for more!

    • 3.3 redfox

      thank you as well, could you do one with all the dramas about Nine Taled Foxes LOL
      totally not cause of my nickname. cause I am interested in shapeshifting.

      • 3.3.1 ahjummabunny

        I was thinking mythical creatures but that least would be too short. Maybe general fantasy.

        • redfox

          well, I have stumbled upon quite many foxes, but I can´t remember, I kind of did not save the names in memory

      • 3.3.2 jxng

        Can you also do one on Betrayed Love, like those bf that left the heroine and wanna come back but the heroine is halfway into another new and better relationship. I like those heart-wenching love triangle. (Example: There’s one family drama (I forgot the name) that Lee Sang-yoon acted as the guy tat saves the heroine, who is a vet that was betrayed by her fiance)

  4. reeen

    Oh, I like this new series!

    My favourite contract marriage has to be the one between Lee Yoon Ji and Kim Dong Wook in Dandelion Family. It’s a family drama, so they are one of several couples the show focuses on and not all of them are very watchable, but Lee Yoon Ji and Kim Dong Wook scenes were just wonderful and heartwarming.

    • 4.1 reeen

      why do all my comments get caught in your spam filter? it really takes the fun out of participating on this site. 🙁

    • 4.2 risa

      Yes, Dandelion Family had an especially sweet contract marriage story. IMO, the drama was just so-so (I recommend watching it with a FF button), but Lee Yoon Ji and Kim Dong Wook were adorable in it and I loved watching their characters slowly fall in love with one another.

      Thanks for the new feature!

  5. Nadia

    Brilliant! Gosh, I don’t know how you manage to do all this..where do you find the time? lol.

    I’ve watched most of the dramas listed – I really loved Delightful Girl Choon-Hyang (i’ll admit it made me cry buckets of tears every now and then, but it was all good). And I’ll always have a soft spot for Full House coz that was one of the first kdramas I watched…and yep, it’s pretty mindless but I’m drawn to all things cute 😉

    Thanks Javabeans! Can’t see what’s next 😀

  6. soprection

    Ooh, this seems like a really useful, timely segment. Thank you!

    I’m personally a big fan of the arranged/contract marriage trope as long as no one’s being forced into it, although I wouldn’t have thought to include shotgun marriages. I think it sets up an interesting dynamic (and I’ll pretty much watch any drama that deals with marriage because I find it intriguing) so this is an awesome inventory and I definitely will check out some of the shows on the list.

    I started watching I Love You and Full House but lost interest with both. The male lead of I Love You was just terribly infuriating and Full House seemed to be going in circles but it was my first K-drama so I’ll cut it some slack. One of these days I’ll have to get to Goong so I can finally see what all the fuss is about.

    • 6.1 ahjummabunny

      I don’t know why but I don’t like Ahn Jae Wook. I’ve only seen him as a lead three times he was just so pathetic in Goodbye my love and just general cuss-worthy in the other dramas.

  7. Jadis

    So glad Sweet 18 is mentioned! It’s one of my favorite k-dramas of all times. Han Ji-hye and Lee Dong-gun were absolutely adorable together; like Javabeans said, they had such amazing chemistry together that lasted from beginning to end throughout the show.

    • 7.1 nynaevealmeera

      I have such fond memories of that drama since I watched it when I was in high school (and was therefore not a jaded drama-watcher yet).

      Sigh… I was one of the people who were actually sad when Lee Dong-gun and Han Ji-hye broke up. To add insult to injury, she is now actually married to a real-life prosecutor. Talk about irony, huh?

      • 7.1.1 Rach^^

        Lee Da Hae looked absolutely terrible in this drama. Her hair was a perpetual oil slick.

        • JD


  8. kopytko

    1% of Anything is one of the first kdramas I have ever seen. It was because of Kang Dong Won of course, but I grew to like Kim Jung Hwa too.
    From today’s point of view the story is cliche ridden, but when I watched it (almost 5 years ago, time flies…) I did enjoy it. As I said, there are lots of common tropes and situations, some problems are made overly dramatic, yet still it’s far from cringeworthy.
    I would recommend this drama also to viewers who have a soft spot for the best oppas in the world, especially those with megawatt smiles.

    • 8.1 damianna

      i love 1% of anything too. i fell in love with the two of them after that. oh kim da da was her nickname or something right? can’t remember much but it was sweet. megawhatt smile is apt! kang dong S(woOn).

      • 8.1.1 kopytko

        Kang Dong Won is sure a very handsome man, but by megawatt smile I meant Kim DaDa’s oppa, the doctor. The actor’s name is Kyung Joon and I have seen him only in the film What Happened Last Night? except for 1%oA.

        • damianna

          ah. hence the ‘oppa’. had to google him but i still can’t remember. he’s cute though. my memory’s a bit rusty. a lot actually. but i remembered kim da da and mostly kang dong won =)

    • 8.2 AnitaLotti

      1 % of Anything is always a nice rewatch for me as I like both the primary and the secondary couple. Admittedly, I also watched it when I was new to the scene and not as demanding and jaded as today, I might find it cliche ridden as well as a first time watcher. But the relationship of the hero and heroine and the secondary couple developped in a way, I have not seen duplicated in another drama that way.

      Though it falls strictly more in the family drama category in my opinion it is worth a giving it a try. Just be prepared that everybody who cannot run fast enough will get hitched in the last few episodes.

      • 8.2.1 harukogirl

        “Just be prepared that everybody who cannot run fast enough will get hitched in the last few episodes.”

        LOFL that is the perfect description :D. Despite that and a few other flaws, I loved this drama too 🙂

    • 8.3 KimYoonmi

      1% of anything has some pacing issues, but it’s a cute watch. I wouldn’t put it ahead of Sweet 18, but definitely ahead of Sweet 19. It won’t be that memorable in the long run, nor something I’d really want to rewatch, but it has its own addictive charm.

      If you’re in it for the eye candy, it doesn’t disappoint.

  9. snow_white

    Marriage of convenience is my most favorite theme!! 🙂
    I LOVE Delightful Girl Choon Hyang and My Little Bride…..and yay that you are watching Sweet 18…it’s really good…..
    Thanks for all the other recommendations….

    • 9.1 gmei

      I love both.. and both played my favorite Korean song for all time.. the Wedding Song..Neol Sarang Hagesseo (I Will always Love You)

      neol saranghagesseo onje kachina
      neol saranghagesseo chikeum I sungan chorom
      I sesang ke nugu posa neol saranghagesseo

      It was sung on Moryong and Chunyang school gym wedding and in a Noraebang scene in Little Bride.

  10. 10 Redskirt

    Love the premise of your new series! It’s very helpful for those of us on the hunt for our next dose of crack (ahem) before October hits.

    Oh October…

  11. 11 Zsa

    Thanks for taking the time…this is indeed helpful in getting me to watch dramas I may have missed…yes, wonderful life is another similar drama…but I am wondering what’s the next theme is gonna be…perhaps Noona-dongsaeng….or will that be too many shows to cover?? Haha…

  12. 12 kkkk

    sweet 18 is very good, i recommand it for everyone

    it has the hooked effect since the first episode, i enjoyed it a lot

    • 12.1 Jooona

      i remember it was broadcasted with Dae Jang Geum as its rival still this drama can get above 15%-16% rating

  13. 13 PerkyJazz

    How about Creating Destiny with Ki Tae Young and Eugene?

    • 13.1 paper

      And they ended up getting married in real life afterwards LOL

      Creating Destiny was a cute drama to watch 😀

      I also recommend Dandelion Family the contract marriage between Lee Yoon Ji & Kim Dong Wook is so cute :3 Though its 50 episodes & it did piss me off with one of the sisters story line -_- Its still a nice drama to watch overall if you enjoy weekend dramas.

      Its so depressing to find that I have watched all the above mentioned dramas T_T Well I will have when I finish Empire of Gold (currently on episode 6)~ its so HARDCORE…. I can’t stop watching though @_@ Mmmm Go Soo *__*

      • 13.1.1 girlatsea

        Loved me some Empire of Gold. I still have to watch the last two episodes but it’s safe to say that it definitely has some of the best writing I’ve seen a while. It’s too bad I waited 22 hours for some romantic development to no avail. Although the drama is so good you almost forget about it lol ^^;;

        • paper

          Yeah I don’t think the romance is gonna happen but WHO CARES?!?!?! Its so friggin good @_@

    • 13.2 Mayisoon

      Creating Destiny is a good one, though by the time the marriage takes place they are already in love, no? I had an enjoyable time watching them work things through during their forced engagement.

    • 13.3 Chandler

      Creating Destiny is definitely worth a watch just for the fact that it’s the beginning of an actual romance. So cute. But I definitely had to fast forward because there was a secondary storyline that I really didn’t like. Still loved the chemistry between the main leads!!!

  14. 14 damianna

    chun hyang is my favourite. i’ve rewatched it like a gazillion of times. after fullhouse, my country (malaysia) is pretty much swept by hallyu. almost every romantic novels that came out after that had contract marriage element in them. some got turned into movies as well.

    after reading this, i feel like watching sweet 18. i don’t know why i didn’t watch that back then. ah, it was because didn’t like han ji hye after watching summer scent. i hated jung ryeo won during my name is kim sam soon too but nearing the end, her character redeemed herself. then i watched which star are you from and love her till now. oh i’m rambling.

    please have a post on contract dating too if you don’t mind

  15. 15 mymilkysu

    Creating Destiny! 🙂
    The one with Eugene and Ki Taeyoung.. The premise too at first a contract relationship. XD
    I can’t ever forget this one.. since they ended up married in real life! XD

    • 15.1 DarknessEyes

      Yeah, Creating Destiny!! That one was great lol…… after all, it did “create destiny” xD

  16. 16 callalilly

    Awesome post!

  17. 17 kit

    Hee, marriage contracts are another step above having to live together as roommates.

    Innocent Steps (2005), the film starring Moon Geun Young and Park Gun Hyung (who are currently starring in Jung Yi together ugh that drama why do I still watch the highlights on the youtube channel). It was pretty cliche – the plot, the symbolism, etc but when I first watched this I was wibbling all over the floor and it still holds a special place in my heart. And c’mon, falling in love through the samba? Can it get any better.

    • 17.1 Rexy

      I see I’m not the only person who remembered Innocent Steps! I definitely feel the same way about it–full of clichés, but there’s just something about it…

  18. 18 snow_white

    But in My Little Bride, he was not actually a teacher at her school….he was assigned to that school for a short period for his training or internship kind of thing…..

    • 18.1 adette

      yeah, he was a “student teacher.” its one of the things you have to do to get accredited to be a “real” teacher, is a certain amount of hours as a student teacher.

  19. 19 mika

    Out of your list of 15, I have not watch 7 of them. Make that 6 as I intend to watch the first one. I don’t remember watching any Kang Dong-won dramas.

  20. 20 mariam

    I HAVE SEEN THEM ALL!!, thanks u guys, this is very helpful and makes me want to see some of them again.

    • 20.1 javed

      plz contact me dear

  21. 21 TS

    Thanks for all these! I think I’ll try It’s Okay, Daddy’s Girl. The description just appeals somehow.

    • 21.1 anduril

      For all that it was a B drama, it had a charm that makes it one of my more favorite dramas. Actually, I like it in large part because of the marriage contact pair, their story line.

  22. 22 Carole McDonnell

    lovvvvvvvvvve the forced marriage scenarios.Thanks for the list!!!

  23. 23 Bellamafia

    Whoaaaa…I have no life..I’ve seen them all..

    • 23.1 paper

      YES!!! I’m not the only potato here 😀 Howdy future BFF *waves*

      I’m trying to fix my tumblr Kdrama page but it seems like such a hopeless task when I have to write code for 380+ kdrama T_T I’m 100% sure i’ve watched at leased 450 kdrama but its hard trying to remember (since i’ve lost 2 HD’s worth of data) so i’ve been going through dramawiki from 1999 LOL….

      Ugh… I need a LIFE asap… Uni & work are not enough to keep me away from kdrama~

      • 23.1.1 BellaMafia

        *waves back* howdy to my fellow potato. I keep track dramas that I’ve seen on a spreadsheet. They are 211 dramas so far.. and more to watch. Nothing can come between me and my korean dramas, oh gosh..

        • paper

          Yeah I started making a spreadsheet on google docs since yesterday~ it took about 3hours and i’m still not done (-_- “) I’ve been watching kdrama for 14 years now @_@ First one was 사랑해 당신을 (so sweet~ I wanna see it again 🙁 ) & my forth one had Go Soo in it and i’ve been a fan ever since~~ He is so handsome to watch onscreen! I’m still searching for that drama 🙁 I have it on VHS LOL… should really get around to ripping it off and putting it on my compy >_:D HELL YES!!! THANK YOU EDUCATION~<3

          • mira

            My dear fellow potatoes 😀
            I also keep track of dramas I have watched but in Pinterest. May be you guys can try it. It’s visually informative/entertaining, I can add comment and I link each PIN to either viki/dramafever or if cant find them there then dramawiki!
            Have fun 😛

    • 23.2 Julia BB

      I wish I had started keeping a drama list from day one. One day I made the claim that I must have watched at least 100 dramas, then felt the need to quantify it to know for sure. Since then, I keep adding to that list, and it helps a lot when my swiss cheese brain can’t remember the name of a drama.

  24. 24 tebz10

    Omigosh! That wedding of the contract marriage couple in Ojakkyo was a hoot! I still remember when the couple ran our of their own wedding to cover a story. The girl’s mom still insisted on getting a wedding photo without the couple, then just photoshop them afterwards. Haha!

  25. 25 Pelicancharm

    Another vote for Sweet 18. That drama does stand the test of time. I watched it 10 years ago, and recently went on a marathon while waiting for Lee Dong Gun’s new drama to air. It’s still as good as ever with a very young Lee Da-Hee as the antagonist and she looked a lot better in here than now.

    Watch it!

  26. 26 mc

    Sweet 18 was one of the first k-drama i obsessed over shortly after it aired and i could still watch it again and again.

  27. 27 Monstermom

    Ooooooooh, thank you! What a great idea for a recommendations series, and great choice to open with contract marriages (since I’m a total sucker for that ;- ) )! Sweet 18 was one of the first K-dramas I ever watched (good lord, it’s nearly ten years old – how did that happen?!) and I must say I’m really looking forward to a review of it!

    I was worried at first I’d have already watched all these dramas, but there turns out to have been a few I’ve missed (and a few I’ve chosen not to watch – like Big – or given up on – like MSOAN) so they’re definitely going on the list. Thank you!

  28. 28 minipastelcolours

    I had watched almost all series in the recommended list and actually none from non-recommended :O

    Anyway, I love sweet 18. It have adorable leads that makes me go “omo omo” when the attraction starts. The chemistry between the both leads is so cute, which makes it so addictive to watch with.

    Needless to say, I love choon hyang, because the cast really refined the story plot (I mean come on, it’s rom com so there are many ridiculous plots that won’t happen in real life). It’s laugh out loud funny and built characters that I cared for and stood by. With the great chemistry among the characters, even with it’s flaws, it was still ah-may-zing to watch. It’s one of the series that I would love to rewatch over time despite it’s age. Too cute 🙂

  29. 29 kay

    I loved sweet 18,it is one of my favorite dramas. One percent of anything was a little slow and the bickering seemed too much at times but it was a good drama overall. You can find a nice reviews at film-enthusiast at b l o g s p o t. Other contract marriage dramas are wonderful life. Other contract relationships are creating destiny and brilliant legacy. Brilliant legacy has a similar theme to one percent of anything.

  30. 30 kstobias

    Good read! I’ve seen a fair number of these but I keep skipping over Empire of Gold. Need to make sure I see it now…
    And personally, my crack of choice is time-travel. Can’t wait to see that discussion! (Because of course there’ll be one, right? RIGHT?!) 🙂

  31. 31 luvnlife

    Thanks for taking the time to put this together. I’ve been waiting for a list like this to come out! I would love to see a list of opposites attract (bad boy meets good girl). Keep up the good work!

  32. 32 HC

    Wow, I’ve seen more on this list than I thought. I guess I like contract marriages??

    (BTW, isn’t EoG’s contract marriage the other way around? –She proposes that they marry as a weird form of collateral/guarantee?)

  33. 33 wintergirl

    I Summon You, Gold has two secondary characters in a contract marriage that is followed and fleshed out rather nicely. It’s 50 episodes and ending soon.

    • 33.1 Windsun33

      ISYG actually has three I think, if you include Mong Hyun. It is not a drama I would particularly recommend, mainly because it is one of those 50 episode beasts with about 20 episodes too much. It had a lot of promise for a while, but as happens too often, it kind falls flat near the end.

  34. 34 Jules

    This is my favourite drama trope, so it’s probably not surprising (to me, at any rate ^o^) that I’ve seen almost all of the dramas listed. Notable exceptions: 1% of Anything and Accidental Couple, because I couldn’t stand the female leads.

    My favourites: Sweet 18, because you could see the characters falling and love, and because nothing the irritating second female lead (and the male lead’s equally irritating sister) did could split them up – instead, their actions had the opposite effect and merely served to bring the two closer together.

    Delightful Girl Chun Hyang, because… honestly, I can’t even be objective. I just love everything about this drama and the main couple (okay, okay, not everything: I hated the second female lead with a blinding passion. I can’t even think about Chae Rin without wanting to strangle someone.).

    And on that note… *g* Thanks, Javabeans! 🙂

  35. 35 Love dramas

    Oh my! Contract marriage is one of my favorite elements. I loved it prior to watching kdramas and it really sucked me into kdramas which I had been holding out on. In 2004, I watched sweet 18 and I was hooked instantly. I subsequently watched 1% of anything. It took awhile to get into that one. I have seem a lot of the ones after that except the Ahn Jae Wok one.

    It seemed so popular back then (2003 to 2006). I guess they moved onto contract dating lol.

  36. 36 Ceecile

    “The groom’s reluctance to marry the woman he knocked up can be teeth-grindingly frustrating” See i didn’t feel that at all because I think shotgung weddings are stupid and ultimately potentially selfish. Even more so when it’s because of a drunken love-less one night stand. That he was the bad guy because he didn’t want to marry her was frustrating to me. Especially if you consider that she was already in love with him so in a way she kind of had ulterior motives. Not to say he wasn’t to blame for other reasons like when he was intent on her getting an abortion, that pissed me off. But it also annoyed me how he HAD to ~take responsability.

    Though I’m aware of how hard it is for single mothers in Korea so I tried to put it into perspective.

    I totally went off topic and got all serious there. Sorry about that!

  37. 37 Ace

    I think I’ve checked the 1st ep of 1% of Anything but I don’t remember why I didn’t continue watching it. Might try it out again after the Fall Season kdrama clusterf*** passes together with Sweet 18 and I Love You.

    Full House – I remember watching it with my mom back then and she was questioning every illogical and irrational stuff that happens, and since I was new to kdramas I just told her to hush and try to enjoy the cute. Love SHG’s outfits and earrings. Great OST.

    My Little Bride – I remember it was MGY, but the story was kinda meh. I loved MGY in one thing only: Autumn In My Heart.

    DGCH – out of all the Hong sisters dramas that I’ve watched, this is at the bottom of my list. I didn’t watch HGD and Big for some reason or another and I just noticed the other day that they were all shown at KBS. My fave HS dramas were/are all from SBS (MGIAG, TMS, YB, MG).

    Goong – Hehe. I enjoyed this, but yeah the extension slowed down the momentum. But I remember my mom and aunt waking me up in the middle of my beauty rest because they had to watch episodes 17 to 24. One of my favorite score in a kdrama.

    Accidental Couple – I enjoyed this. Not much melodrama (except Joo Sang-wook’s character was frustrating) and I love both leads. This drama introduced me to Lena Park (singing “That Fool” in the OST) so for that alone, I’m thankful.

    Ojakkyo Brothers – I was really more invested with Ryu Soo-young and Choi Jung-yoon’s romance than the leads. It was slowa dn a little bit frustrating, but it was done very well.

    MSOAN – I enjoyed the …. comments in the recaps, hahaha!

    LTM – I enjoyed the weecaps AND the comments. Except for Sung Joon, the leads are still on my s***list and I’m still of the opinion that they’re overrated.

    Thank you for this new feature, javabeans. I can’t wait for the ebook to come. *off to re-read MSOAN and LTM recap/weecap comments*

    • 37.1 Ace

      Forgot to add Hong Soo Hyun to the exception in LTM. She’s awesome.

  38. 38 Rivendell

    Hi javabeans!
    Awesome post! But dayyuuumm I’m the midst of my exams?! I have to virtually remove my hands from touching my computer to google all these dramas.
    Anyway, I was wondering if you could do a list that covers dramas where the leads meet when they’re young, fall in love, get separated, meet when they’re old and *fast forward* happily ever after (most of the times at least).
    I’m a slobbering idiot for these kind of shows. There’s something whimsical about love that stands the test of time. *Sighs*
    Thanks in advance! :))

    • 38.1 J

      Well, you’re basically requesting half of korean dramas out there lol

      I’ll challenge!

      Endless Love
      Winter Sonata (Yonsama-Choi Jiwoo)
      Spring Waltz
      Tree of Heaven (Lee Wan-Park Shin Hye)
      Stairway to Heaven (Kwon Sangwoo & Choi Jiwoo), well this one’s got the most depressing ending but the journey was epic!

      – geez, Heaven must be full of separated lovers in kdrama mind kk –

      Sad Love Song (Kwon Sangwoo & Kim Heesun)
      All In
      I Miss You

      Well, im sure there’s plethora more but somehow it eludes me.

      • 38.1.1 ilikemangos

        Shout out to tree of heaven with my girl park shin hye and my boy lee wan! You need to come back to the screen!

      • 38.1.2 J

        Oh, I just recall a few more.

        Moon Embraces the Sun (although quality and chemistry wise I can’t be sure)
        I Hear Your Voice
        Fashion 70s
        Gaksital’s OTP has element of this although the arc becomes very secondary towards the end
        Only You (they meet as adults but got separated and meet again a few years forward when she already raises his son)

        • Rivendell

          Really? I thought this concept featured more prominently in the past though? Kdrama land seems to have fleeed from this concept.
          1. Autumn in my heart. (Sad as hell!! But MGY and the younger lead were awesome there. Thats the only reason why I eagerly anticipate MGY dramas so much. But she’s given me slim pickings so far I must- aka hate-every-other-thing-she-has-been-as-of-late)
          2. Summer Scent
          3. I miss you
          4. Green Forest My Home (TW drama- I know DB is primarily KDrama but seriously, this show is my guilty pleasure. I even have the DVD- that says A LOT. I strongly recommend this show if you need to believe in the power of true love once again lol.)
          Only can remember these so far.
          Keep it coming y’all!

          • J

            Fellow T-drama lovers here, though recent offerings have been lackluster :/ I lament the days when Qiao En, Ming Dao, Ethan, F4 boys, SHE girls, Wu Zun, Rainy, Wallace, etc were still in the Taiwanese scene – those days had the best, most swoonworthy dramas.

            Anyway, if you like this trope, you’d probably have seen Autumn Concerto or At The Dolphin Bay (watch. it. won’t. regret. it) but if you don’t, I think you’d like it!

  39. 39 J

    Please do one on the “I’m gonna turn this plain girl into a beauty to make my ex jealous” trope. This is def. my no.2 favorite after contract marriage/dating!

    • 39.1 Monstermom

      Oh, is this a trope? Could you give some (fairly well known) examples, I’m not sure I understand it? It sounds kind of fun… 😀

      • 39.1.1 J

        Yeah, this is otherwise known as the Pygmalion trope where one falls for their own creation. Not necessarily to anger an ex but for less-noble intents in general.

        Examples being YTB, Lee Soon Shin the earlier part before birth secret angst took over the fun

        OR this Taiwanese drama called Miss No Good where the heroine coerces the hero to makeover her so she looks pretty to her first love (and the rest you can guess right?)

        As for Kdrama, I can’t remember many with this trope but it’d be fun to watch/know some 😀

        • Monstermom

          Aaah, thank you, now I get it… The Taiwanese one actually sounds pretty fun, maybe I should take a look at that! (I’ve only ever watched a couple of Taiwanese dramas, Devil Beside You and… something I actually can’t remember what it was. They didn’t quite grab my interest, but maybe it’s time to give it another go?)

          Thanks for taking the time to go back and explain it to me! 🙂

  40. 40 Dorotka

    “1% of Anything” was among the first dramas I watched. It is… old :–) But I liked it (though not much the melo story of the heroine’s sort of adopted sister). It was also my first meeting with Korean food (on the family tables) and habits.

    “Sweet 18” – I’m also watching!! Last episode left. I find it quite funny, especially Lee Da-hae (though sometimes the heroine’s screaming goes on my nerves).

    “Full House” didn’t leave much impression on me and I have definitely no urge to watch it again, sorry fans.

    “Goong” on the other hand is a show I liked (minus the extension with burning palace) and I sometimes re-watch some scenes. The chemistry was undeniable and the kissing… aaaah… ;–) And I actually liked the crown prince and found his behaviour and his suppressed love understandable.

    “Delightful Girl Chun-hyang” – I liked the first half, not the second one. There was too much angst/melo for me and too little fun.

    I think I would still include “Wonderful Life” (2005), as there it’s the child who brings the couple together, many times actually. An I had a very strong second lead syndrome there for Lee Ji Hoon, the restaurant owner in Lee Soon Shin.

    • 40.1 Dorotka

      Oh, forgot to mention that contract marriage is one of my favourite tropes in dramas! :–)

    • 40.2 Dol

      I agree with you about the crown prince in Goong. I was rooting for him the whole time. 🙂

  41. 41 DarknessEyes

    Thanks!!! Haha, I happen to love these too xD

  42. 42 ilikemangos

    Haha — are you brushing up on some lee dong gun to get ready for his soon comeback? Sweet 18 was always a show even back then that i had wanted to watch. Maybe i’ll go back and watch it once the review comes out.

    Anywho, you forgot another recent forced marriage type of thing — King 2 Hearts! They married at first even though they hadn’t loved each other yet.

    • 42.1 ilikemangos

      Or rather, it was an engagement type of thing. She was still considered the princess

  43. 43 Enz

    Tahnks javabeans! What a great idea to list out dramas according to drama tropes.

  44. 44 jel

    I clicked onto this post because I saw the header photo and immediately thought “Sweet 18”!. When I first started on DB, the first thing I did was to check if there were recaps for Sweet 18, and I was sad there wasnt. Glad to hear a series recap may be underway!

    This show was really the show that got me hooked to Korean dramas, it was just so good. Previously, I was a little anti-Korean drama, didnt want to get on the wave, but all that changed with Sweet 18. The leads just had sizzling chemistry and you knew nothing could tear them apart. I must say I was sorely disappointed when they broke up.

    I marathon-ed the drama recently, and it really stands the test of time because I was still so engrossed it in. Till today, I dont really get that feeling with most dramas I’ve watched (except maybe Reply 1997) so that just shows how special Sweet 18 is in my heart.

  45. 45 cherkell

    Thanks so much for the insights! Fascinating premise for a post — kinda like a mini-Cliff’s Notes for the Korean Drama Viewer. 🙂

    I’ve watched pretty much all you’ve listed and never really took the themes to heart, preferring instead to enjoy the dramas as a sum of its parts. But I so loved “Accidental Couple” when it first aired and wondered why it didn’t get much press at that time. It’s one of the few I re-watch when time allows just to see the bumbling magnificence that is Hwang Jung-min. ^-^

    And “Goong.” Ah, “Goong”… Maybe it’s my operating on a severe sleep deficit these days, but every time I see a still shot or hear a snippet of OST from the series, I start tearing up again and this time was no exception. Made my Personal Top 5 List for that very reason. *sniffles*

    • 45.1 D's handphone

      It has been ages but Goong’s intro is still my ringing tone…

      • 45.1.1 sophie

        and Perhaps Love remain still in my handphone playlist for 7th year this year 😀

  46. 46 Patch

    Full House and Delightful Girl Chun-hyang were among the first kdramas I watched so they’ll always be special to me.
    Goong I fell utterly in love with. Objectively I know it dragged in places and the ending was a bit blah but it was so pretty and I shipped them so hard that I’ll always say it’s one of my favourite dramas. It’s my Korean HanaDan basically.

    Creating Destiny seems interesting but eep 31 episodes.

    I have a weakness for the male lead falling first and friends falling for each other.

    • 46.1 Liv

      Ditto for Full House – it has a special place in my heart because it was one of my first dramas. I don’t think I’d watch it again today though – I’d rather keep my fond memories untarnished. Goong…well, I think I like this drama more in retrospect than I did when watching it. Hearing any part of the OST today just makes my heart swell, but at the time I actually took a month off from watching it because it was just so slooow.

      I’m also with you on the male lead falling first – although my particular niche is when he’s been really horrible to the heroine. I appreciate the karmic value of a former jerk pining away for a totally oblivious heroine.

      • 46.1.1 Patch

        The man realising his feelings after being a jackass is one of my favourites too.

        I’m easy for this trope, give me male angsting and unrequited love and I’m there. Although for some odd reason I rarely fall victim to Second Lead Syndrome.

  47. 47 Mary

    Goong,Fullhouse,Delightfull Girl were the contract marriage dramas I enjoyed…..
    Little Bride was awesome as a movie
    I dont think Sweet 18 is as nice…..It gets boring after the the first few episodes……

  48. 48 True2U

    Hahaha, this was my fav. type of story and I still think it is. Here’s my rating on the ones listed that I’ve tried!!

    – 1% of Anything: BORING!!!!!! I tired it 3 times and end up dropping it.

    – Sweet 18 (2004): YES!!! This was an instant hit for me. Lol, Girl was serious about getting her man. *Smooths hair to the side*

    – Full House (2004): Got bored! I just couldn’t relate to non of the characters. So I dropped it

    – My Little Bride (2004): YES!! Loved it to pieces

    – Delightful Girl Chun-hyang (2005): Liked this one.

    – Goong (2006): I tired! Love Yoon Eun-hye from her Coffee Prince. But this was a mae for me and I did try 2 times to like it.

    – Accidental Couple (Just Looking) (2009)- One of best drama I’ve ever watched. It had me in stitches. This is where I started loving Hwang Jung-min. Watch 2 times already.

    – Lie To Me (2011): Dropped it!! Love both leads, but couldn’t get into this one. For some reason his little brother annoys the heck outta me.

    • 48.1 Laura

      About 1% of Anything – I kind of agree. Don’t remember much, dropped it somewhere (whilst trying to watch for the second time) and do not feel that I missed much. If I am not mistaken the male protagonist was a shouting brute-child… I like contract-marriage trope, and I kind of like those haughty chaebols (and their transformation), but these older dramas tend to present a man who’s either shouting and grabbing wrists or acting like a jealous silly child (not in a nice way), which I hate. If I am not mistaken, the protagonist of the Full House became “stupid” too… But I cannot really remember. Still. Little silliness is healthy and funny, childish stupidity all the time – baaad. I say, if you are a Man, act like a man.

      • 48.1.1 Pipit

        I like 1% enough to continue until more than few episodes, than forced myself to continue for some more, in the end I just dropped it. Somehow it wasn’t that appealing to me.

        • True2U

          I actually lasted to ep 4 or 5, but couldn’t take it anymore and dropped it.

      • 48.1.2 True2U

        That’s exactly my reasons for dropping both 1% and Full House. Both the male leads pissed me off. and the female leads just took all the crap they were dishing out to them.

        “but these older dramas tend to present a man who’s either shouting and grabbing wrists or acting like a jealous silly child (not in a nice way), which I hate. If I am not mistaken, the protagonist of the Full House became “stupid” too… But I cannot really remember. Still. Little silliness is healthy and funny, childish stupidity all the time – baaad. I say, if you are a Man, act like a man.”

        I AGREE!!!! Because it was went I first started getting in to K-drama, that I was surprise how these guys treated these girls. The drama Kim Sam Soon was the drama that actually changed it for me. Baby girl was not afraid to speak her mind. Since then I became a fan of KSA.

    • 48.2 Chandler

      Wow. We’re like the same person. I feel the same way about everything! I love Delightful girl, Accidental Couple, Sweet 18, and My Little Bride, but all the others you mentioned never really hooked me.

  49. 49 mommai

    Thank you so much for this awesome new series! I now have a couple new dramas to add to my must watch list! I wonder what is going to come next!

    This list reminds me a little bit of Bad Family (which, it is my favorite drama ever, so of course I ‘m biased) which had a whole contract family! I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone! 😉

    • 49.1 mommai

      Hm, that also made me wonder if you guys are going to have someone do a fauxcest post. The crossing family lines in Bad Family were funny without being squicky.

  50. 50 Penny

    Oh! I love this trope! I need to watch 1% of Anything now.

    My Little Bride: I loved how pissed off her mom was about the situation. She was kind of the voice of the audience. Also, he wasn’t her teacher at the beginning and was only an intern so he was probably in an even more precarious situation than she was.

    And yes, I may be explicating a little too hard because I really love that movie. LOL

    • 50.1 Anonymous

      I liked My Little Bride, and 1% of Anything was one of the first dramas I watched. The latter is very family drama-like, and not very similar to the former. I think the main point of the drama (it’s been awhile, the memory is hazy) was for the female lead to teach the male lead how to be a man and to gain a sense of familial compassion.

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