Drama Reactions & Reviews
Dramabeans Top 10: Korean dramas about friends-to-lovers romances
by | October 30, 2015 | 131 Comments

javabeans: Did everyone like the first Top 10 feature? I can say I thoroughly enjoyed it… in that capping my workload to just 10 entries (…ish) is really working for me.

girlfriday: Being limited is really liberating. It also means we have the energy to think up new lists on new topics, which keeps it fun for us.

javabeans: Yes, I’m already looking forward to the next several Top 10 lists, which we’ve already got planned out. Though I won’t ruin it by blurting out the topics just yet. For now, it’s all about friends!

girlfriday: Well, friends who secretly lurrrrve each other and spend decades angsting about how they’re supposed to just be friends.

javabeans: Orrrrr friends who don’t secretly love each other until twenty years later, and then all of a sudden are hit with the love bug. I like those too, because when they aren’t in love at the start, the dynamic is totally different. I like when the girl can just slum around and be totally normal around the guy, who’ll fall in love with her in spite of the bedhead and messy pajamas.

girlfriday: Yeah the comfortable platonic closeness is what I love about these kinds of romances. Un-romances? They get to have all the benefits of a best friend without the romantic complications, leading to a kind of intimacy you don’t normally get. Of course, then comes the feelings and the angst, but there’s fun in that too.

javabeans: We did debate back and forth about what “qualified” as a friends-to-lovers romance, because there’s a tricky gray area in the middle. Usually when the leads were childhood first loves who may not have even kissed or confessed their feelings, which makes them seem more like friends, but if those feelings were there at the start, we opted not to count them. (Examples: Will It Snow For Christmas, 49 Days, I Miss You, that kind of thing.)

girlfriday: Mostly, we were thinking of dramas where you actually spend a good chunk of the drama with the two leads being friends, and either being blind to their feelings or not seeing each other romantically yet.

javabeans: It wasn’t until we compiled the list that we realized, with some surprise, how many friends-to-lovers dramas came from this year. Stealth trend!

girlfriday: This is one trend that I’ll never tire of, so it can just stay forever and ever! FRIENDS 4EVA!

javabeans: Also, if you notice some funny counting in the Top 10 list, shhhh! Just go with it. Math was never our forte.

girlfriday: It’s not that we can’t count… it’s jut that we couldn’t cut any more. And we figured drama content was more important than numbers.

javabeans: Amen.


1. Jealousy (1992)

javabeans: Ah, Jealousy, the one that started it all. Not only was it the first trendy Korean drama to grace the airwaves, it was also the first straight-up rom-com, a ratings blockbuster (56.1% ratings!), and a prime example of this trope, centering around longtime friends who gradually awaken to their feelings and take a miniseries to figure out how to make it work. Buddies throughout school and entering the real world together, these two leads were so comfortable with each other that it didn’t occur for the heroine to feel any differently until the day the hero announced that he had a girlfriend he wanted to introduce her to. Cue jealousy, angst, tears, and hilarity as they spent sixteen episodes trying to adjust to the new dynamics in their relationships—growing apart, growing up, and finally, growing closer again.


2. Propose (1997)

girlfriday: This is one of dramaland’s classic friends-to-lovers rom-coms, starring Kim Hee-sun and Ryu Shi-won back when they were the bright young It-stars of the late ’90s. They were two best friends who lived down the street from each other, who had been together for every moment of their lives, big or small. It wasn’t until they grew up that feelings started to creep into their once-comfortable dynamic, and suddenly sleepovers began to feel awkward and romantic suitors sparked newfound jealousy. The blurring of lines and romantic confusion led to some heady angst for both of them, but he was always her shoulder to cry on, even when her heart was broken over another man. Theirs was the kind of love that had always been there from the start; they just took the long way around to put a name to it. And a ring on it.


3. Bottom of the 9th with 2 Outs (2007)

awcoconuts: This 2007 drama remains in my heart as one of the friends-to-lovers shows to beat. While it deceptively didn’t have much to do with baseball, there were plenty of ball-game metaphors thrown in that helped set the stage for the two thirty-year-old leads. She’s an aspiring writer who decides to move out when her mother keeps nagging her to make something of herself, while he’s a successful marketing executive who hasn’t had more than the casual fling since the departure of his first love. Unexpectedly, the two besties are forced to live together, and while initially they drive each other crazy, the sparks begin to fly.

The duo were comfortable in a way that only two contemporaries who’ve known each other since birth could be—not only did they know each other’s romantic histories, but they supported one another through breakups, and began to yearn to fill the hole in the other’s heart. It wasn’t just the adorable chemistry; the show was pitch perfect in depicting the post-college, young-professional stage of life, in which you are acutely aware of your carefree youth slipping away, and every decision is that much more weighted. When they finally got together, it wasn’t just a blithe affair, but the result of two adults concluding, after serious consideration, that their relationship was more meaningful than any other.


4. The Time I’ve Loved You (2015)

HeadsNo2: Setting out with a star-studded cast and based off a hit Taiwanese drama, The Time I’ve Loved You had all the makings of a sweet slice-of-life drama based on two longtime friends who would eventually realize that they were each other’s soulmates. No surprises in this sort of straightforward premise, and surprises aren’t what you sign up for—it’s the interpersonal relationships, the love, laughter, tears, and the ability to see something special blossom between two people who know each other better than they know themselves.

We saw the beginnings of what this drama really could’ve showcased, though unfortunately, the show went in a different direction after a last-minute writer switch. Even so, there was an indelible quality to certain moments that made them as memorable as they were fluffy, whether it was our best friends’ secret hideout, our heroine’s metaphorical choice of scene-stealing shoes, and that adorable time the hero did the heroine’s makeup. It all sounds like small stuff, and in the end, it’s always the small stuff that comes together to make a cohesive whole with genres like this. In this case, it was a compendium of the little things that led these two best buddies of seventeen years to find out that their perfect match was right there all along.


5. Twenty Again (2015)

girlfriday: What’s great about the relationship in Twenty Again is that it focused on developing the heartwarming friendship first and foremost, namely because of the misunderstanding set into the premise: He secretly loved her for twenty years but thought she was happily married to the love of her life, while she was actually in the middle of a divorce. The two old friends reunited and immediately reverted to petty immature teenagers every time they were near each other, making for some truly memorable acts of childishness from two adults who had yet to grow up.

The heroine’s journey of self-discovery began when she went back to college late in life, but it was really the reunion with her old friend that spurred her to change, because he remembered her exactly as she was—the awesome, spunky girl she used to be before she became a mother at 18—and was determined to remind her of it. Behind the scenes he was as selfless as a friend could be, secretly arranging it so that she could cross off the items on her bucket list when he (mistakenly) thought she was dying, or trying to save her marriage when he thought that’s what she wanted. Okay, so he may have been a pigtail-pulling grumpypants grade-schooler to her face, but nobody’s perfect.


6. Answer Me 1997 (2012)

gummimochi: You can’t think of lifelong friends-turned-lovers without thinking of Answer Me 1997, the nostalgia-filled series that brought us back to simpler times of in-person social networks and actual phone calls, and all the heady feelings of that unforgettable teenage first love. The series was centered around a tightly knit group of high schoolers, who stuck together through thick and thin during life’s most turbulent time, otherwise known as high school. At the heart of the group was a feisty everygirl and the boy next door who was always showing how much he cared, while being deathly afraid that she might catch on. He knew every lovable quirk and annoying habit about her, and there were no secrets between them… apart from the tiny one where he was totally smitten with her.

Amidst the constant bickering and swapping of inside jokes, we got a refreshingly grounded couple who could be honest with each other about practically everything, as they grew up side by side. From that first confirmation kiss to the I-don’t-care-if-you’ve-got-a-cold make-out session, Answer Me 1997 reminded us that there’s always a chance to escape that dreaded Friend Zone.


7. Ex-Girlfriend Club (2015)

javabeans: Perhaps these two weren’t 100 percent platonic friends initially, but they did stick themselves firmly in the friend zone when they reunited years after drifting apart. Working together to adapt his hit webtoon—all about his exes—into her movie gave them a chance to reconnect over late-night planning sessions and team bonding trips, reminding them why they’d been so good as friends before and making us all wonder why that went awry. With three ex-girlfriends hovering around, being adorably pesky and meddling, romance wouldn’t get much of a chance to rear its head… but that’s the thing about love—once it’s taken root, no amount of hilarious interference and outlandishly elaborate schemes can prevent it from continuing its course. Our heroine may have been the fifth wheel at the start, but examining his past loves and why they ended also gave her the opportunity to understand exactly where they’d gone wrong before, and find a way out of the friend zone the second time around.


8. Plus Nine Boys (2014)

LollyPip: There were several lovelines in tvN’s coming-of-age series about a family of men, all in their cursed “plus nine” year, all trying to overcome their terrible, terrible luck in the romance department. But the main love story was undoubtedly the one at age 29, between two old friends who had known each other since college and now worked together. The problem was that she knew better than anyone that he was a notorious ladies’ man, and when he found himself falling in love with her, she was fiercely determined to guard her heart from him.

No longer happy being friends, the hero had to jump through hoops to convince his friend that his feelings were genuine, which became the heart of the show, as he spent his days pining and going to great lengths to prove his love. No guy was ever so pitiful, or so adorable. The biggest problem for these two friends was knowing each other too well, and your own internal obstacles can often be the hardest to overcome. But trust can be earned, history doesn’t have to repeat itself, and curses can be broken. All hail the power of love.


9. Personal Taste (2010)

gummimochi: After being taken for granted by a longtime boyfriend, who can blame a girl for welcoming a kind, considerate, handsome and attentive roommate who’d become her gay best friend? If only she knew that her new BFF had a hidden motive for wanting to live under the same roof.

Personal Taste opened its doors to two strangers whose relationship was built an innocent misunderstanding that led to identity confusion and some hilarious roommate hijinks, like shower mishaps and chainsaw shenanigans. Things were bound to get complicated when that gay best friend (who’s actually straight) started developing genuine feelings for her. Come clean and lose a meaningful friendship, or say nothing and keep those building emotions (and sexual frustration) bottled up? But if you made me choose… but really, there is no choice—I’d be all over him in a heartbeat. Game Over.


10. Persevere, Gu Hae-ra (2015)

LollyPip: This drama gave us a sweet, heartwarming story about a ragtag group of kids who just wanted to sing, and all the heartbreak, professional and personal, that goes along with that dream. Add in a central lifelong friendship that was torn apart early on by mutual tragedy and misunderstanding, and you had a friends-to-lovers story prime for angst.

The two leads had felt a connection the moment they met as children, and grew up knowing every heartfelt desire, embarrassing phobia, and dream for the future about each other. The fact that they were so close, and had so nearly confessed their mutual feelings, only made the sting of separation worse when he bore the brunt of a noble sacrifice that looked like betrayal. Still, he quietly helped her whenever he could, even when she would never know, showing his love to us but never to her. It may have been a long and painful road back to romance, but ultimately, a bond this tight was too strong for evil presidents, guilty consciences, and crazy fangirls to keep apart forever.


10. (+1) Let’s Eat 2 (2015)

javabeans: For being a drama centered around food indulgences and the current “meokbang” trend of eating onscreen, Let’s Eat 2 was surprisingly sweet and character-driven. These two leads weren’t exactly longtime friends, but having been classmates in grade school gave them a refreshing familiarity when they reconnected as adults and new neighbors. Because their initial dynamic was more driven by aversion (hers, after he’d unwittingly inflicted hurtful scars as a child) than attraction, they skipped the pleasantries and cut right to the straight talk with each other. The heroine could only be uptight and nervous around the object of her crush, but the hero inspired no awe, and thus got the full force of her energetic, emotional, sometimes abrasive whirlwind of a personality. One of the best things about these friends-to-lovers relationships is how the characters often find love when they aren’t looking for it; it just comes along and slaps them in the face one day, and the lucky ones know to grab on when they have the chance. And if that comes with a heaping portion (or sixteen) of delicious food-porn goodness, then count ’em extra lucky. Serve me up.


10. (+2) The Producers (2015)

girlfriday: The Producers highlighted some of the best and the worst of the friends-to-lovers trope by giving us a pair of best friends who were already a couple in every way… except the one that matters. Being best friends of twenty years meant that these two had no qualms about living together, relying on each other for the little things, and being a shoulder to cry on during their toughest moments as battle-weary television producers.

But it was self-awareness that they lacked, which was all the more ironic because they were the subject of a fake documentary within the show, in which their innermost feelings were caught on camera. Sometimes they were frustratingly blind to the fact that they were already in love, and other times they were the sweetest embodiment of showing their love in actions, not in words. Just… sometimes you need SAY THE WORDS though, okay? Orrrrrrrrr you could just light all the streetlamps from now to the end of days and follow her from the broadcast station to the retirement home and hope she figures it out someday. Your call.

+4 Honorable Mentions:

13. I Need Romance 2012: These two grew up together as neighbors in attached houses, knew everything about each other, and were the oldest of friends who even salvaged their friendship after dating. But these friends also kept their benefits, which knocks them off the official Top 10 (+2) list.

14. Bubblegum (2015): This couple will probably work their way up to the Top 10 (+2), if they keep up the cute devotion of the hero who dotes on the girl he grew up with, making sure she eats right, dresses warmly, and doesn’t get her heart broken by bad men. I’m pretty sure we can think of one way to ensure that. It might take sixteen episodes to get there though.

15. Because It’s the First Time (2015): This drama is another one that just started, but it features a sweet lifelong friendship that in practice feels a lot like a romance. She’s his first love, but he’s decided that it’s time to grow up and date lots of girls, though it doesn’t stop him from acting like her boyfriend when the need arises. We’ll look forward to seeing how he gets her onboard the romance.

16. She Was Pretty (2015): This one’s not in the Top 10 proper because technically these two were first loves, not merely friends… but with a friendship so heartfelt and poignant, we couldn’t leave them off entirely. The drama found a way to preserve their pure-hearted childhood sweetness as they transitioned to adult romance, and given how feel-good and gratifying the development was, we figured nobody would mind us sneaking them on the list. It’s not cheating if everyone wins, right?


131 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. news

    I love both Bottom of the 9th with 2 Outs and Because It’s the First Time.

    The runner up for me is Answer Me 1997. The dragged out secret husband ruined it for me.

    • 1.1 AJ

      This was back when the idea was fresh, I thought 1997 was and is one of the best dramas I’ve ever seen!

      • 1.1.1 Holly S


      • 1.1.2 Carinne

        Ditto.^ ^ v

  2. birdscout

    Fantastic post! I love this idea! Thank you, dramabeans team!

    • 2.1 Growingbeautifully

      Hi @birdscout and JB
      I do really like these series of Top 10 articles too, however I have a question for JB.

      Does Top 10 mean:
      1) among the shows with the friend to lover theme, these are the best made shows in your opinion?
      2) among the shows with the friend to love theme, these are the best examples of that theme?

      If it is 1), which I believe is the way most of us are understanding Top 10, then we consider this list as a recommended list of relatively good shows.

      I notice that there is some confusion and I thought I’d ask. 🙂

  3. Ricko

    9th with 2 outs is the best for me….

    • 3.1 risa

      That was the first one I thought of. If anyone has trouble finding it, look for it under “9 ends 2 outs” , lol.

  4. Kels

    Can we have love-hate romances please?

  5. 22

    Honestly, the first drama that would come to my mind about the friends-to-lovers trope is definitely Answer Me 1997. It portrayed a lot of things as to how weird it could feel if your best friend has a huge crush in you, how you will feel if your crush went out with your own brother, how to effectively friend zone but ultimately how your best friend could be the one for you. I really love the fact that the show allowed Shiwon almost 6 years to develop romantic feelings for Yoonjae becasue considering the type of person she was it would be absurd if she liked him just like that. And by the end of the 6 years she was solid about her feelings.

    • 5.1 Evie

      Shiwon /did/ like him just like that, though. She had the “realization” that she saw him as a man (or, liked him) the night when he ~saved her from the stranger following her home from work at the convenience store. I think she started to subconsciously suspect it when things initially got awkward between them when she began “dating” (if you could even call that dating) Tae Woong and she had to become mindful of her behaviour. Yoonjae’s confession at her birthday was really what drove it home for her; I’ve always taken her expression during that (incredible) scene as her beginning to understand that she felt the same way but didn’t want to do anything about it, or even knew how. Remember, that very night she told Tae Woong that her “heart beats for someone else”, and before she leaves for Seoul, you see her wearing Yoonjae’s ring. She didn’t need those 6 years to develop romantic feelings, she had them all along — she needed those 6 years to come to a place where she’d do something about them. Her heart never actually changed between the time Yoonjae confessed (“you’re the friend that means most to me, that I know”) and when she did to him on the hospital steps (“the person that I care about most is only you.”)

      Tl;dr: Answer Me 1997 is probably my favourite drama ever, hahah.

      • 5.1.1 Chesens

        Very well said Evie! That’s how I saw it too.

        It was beautifully put into perspective in the show when Yoon Jae said that the timing is really important. When the boy becomes a man, the girl has to be in the same place too where she also turns into a woman for romance to really grow. This is as real as it gets.

  6. blo

    I love all these new additions to Dramabeans so much! You guys are awesome.

  7. dkaoru

    when I saw the post title, my mind went immediately to Twenty Again! Cha Hyun Seok + Ha No Ra! I love them so much, haven’t squeee so much watching a drama lately.
    Then I read the post and saw Answer me 1997 and was like of course! how could I forget Yoon Jae and Shi won. ow i feel all nostalgic now. I’ll go re-read old recaps nowww hahahahha.

  8. Myvilvil

    Twenty Again is the best not only as friends to lovers romance drama but in other aspects of life as well.

    • 8.1 jusash

      Agree, easily one of the better ones.

    • 8.2 mjfan

      totally agree

  9. Mallow

    I liked reply 1997 at least more than the Korean version of the time I loved you. Reply 1997 was although super draggy with the husband stuff but it is so heart warming 🙂 but the time I loved you was way too annoying, it could be a movie…Instead of a drama

  10. 10 hipployta

    Bottom of the 9th with 2 Outs…when I FINALLY started to watch it about two thirds through its run I discovered greatness

  11. 11 yaya

    Twenty Again defitnetly my favorite.

    I stopped watching Personal Taste after episode 8 and have yet to restart it.

  12. 12 tapioca pearl

    I love this kind of storyline, but I didn’t realize how many shows had this storyline! I’m really optimistic about Bubblegum because I feel like that’s the kind of show I wanted The Time I’ve Loved You to be like. Ugh, its potential of what it could’ve been still hurts. I’m mad at what it didn’t do.

    She Was Pretty is my crack right now, so I am okay with it being sneaked into the list!

  13. 13 Sour Grapes

    The Time I’ve Loved You? Taiwanese original – a 100 times yes, but that awful remake it probably the worst example of friends turned lovers I’ve seen in my life. Answer Me 1997 is number one for me.

    • 13.1 jusash

      Ditto on the Ha Ji Won/Lee Jin Wook one.

      It felt so draggy, I left and only tuned in again on the last episode.

    • 13.2 knookey

      Now I’m keen to watch the Taiwanese one! I’ll add that to my list ^^

    • 13.3 ultramarineblue

      +100000 Watched and loved the Taiwanese version first so I was really excited about the Korean remake but tuned out after episode 3.

      • 13.3.1 Andrea

        Just a heads-up: the Taiwanese version is called “In Time With You”.

        I share everyone else’s feelings: I *LOVED* the Taiwanese version, and was so excited for — and then devastatingly disappointed by — the Korean version.

  14. 14 Cocoboo

    I never thought about this type of romance drama until this year due to dramas like The Time I’ve Loved You. I really like these friends-to-lovers stories. Their close friendships are pleasant to watch.

    Glad to see Let’s Eat 2 mentioned! Loved the main leads and their chemistry!!! 🙂

    • 14.1 emi

      I couldn’t get over how he’d broken up with Lee Soo-Kyung in between the seasons. Tsk. Tsk. Playah, playah. I had no faith he’d stay with Baek Soo-Ji, so couldn’t invest.

      • 14.1.1 Sour Grapes

        Same. I wonder if he will be getting yet another girl in Season 3. This kind of premise works for James Bond type of characters, but for a rom-com lead it’s just wrong.

        • kanz

          Same here.. Actually I was very sad Lee Soo Kyung was not in Let’s Eat 2 because their bickerings are cute.
          But then again Let’s Eat 2 has better story and plot development. Although I wish they could remain just friends.

        • Fish N' Chips

          Seconded. Nobody wants a kdrama male lead who has a different loveline every season :/ where’s the loyalty

      • 14.1.2 Chandler

        Uh, but why are we assuming that he broke up with her? She could have broken up with him or it could have been mutual.

        Anyway, the fact that the drama didn’t reveal why the breakup happened pissed me off so much that I couldn’t watch either. But it’s more because the drama didn’t give their romance the closure it deserved.

        • brokbsb

          GDY actually implied the reason of the break up. I don’t remember the episode but he said “when you date a girl, she immediately thinks about marriage but how can I get married with my way of living (job)?”

          I actually like the love line of the 2nd season better. The 1st one felt forced to me and GDY-BSJ looked more real imo.

          • Sour Grapes

            Errr, not a single person mentioned which love-line was better, we are talking about flawed set-up. It was supposed to be a rom-com, but there is nothing romantic about a lead who changes his object of affection in between the seasons.

      • 14.1.3 kae

        YES, YES! After watching the first Let’s Eat I was more than ecstatic about the 2nd season. But when it came, how do the writers expect us to forget everything that happened in season 1 and root for a new female lead without any concrete reasons?

        They should have just made a prequel to Let’s Eat 1.

        • TrinPie

          Or gotten a totally different actor for the main character.

  15. 15 pohonphee

    Bottom of the 9th with 2 Outs, Answer Me 1997, I Need Romance 2 are my favorite personal choices. The Time I’ve Loved You can be one in the list if they stayed true to the Taiwan version, but they were not. I dream this kind of relationship in real life, but I have not :p

  16. 16 Savannah

    Reply 1997, has my heart forever. Everything just resonated so well with me, and every time I think of friends to lovers storylines, this drama is always the first one I think of. I’ve actually watched the series 7 times (EKKK!) but now I kind of want to watch it again…oh dear…

  17. 17 bbstl

    9 End is always the one to beat for me too.

  18. 18 Jennipoh

    I’d put Sweet Buns starring Choi Kang Hee and Park Kwang Hyun in there too, though they were technically frenemies not friends. But that one is still my all-time favorite love-hate romance since I discovered it 6/7 years ago.

    • 18.1 blunderflunder

      Hi, just wanted to thank you for mentioning Sweet Buns – I’m watching it right now and it’s awesome! I love their bickering, the acting is great, the story interesting (so far), and the drama doesn’t feel very outdated, even though it’s been 9 years now (gah, I’m old). A great find, thanks again!

  19. 19 mira

    Bottom of the 9th with 2 Outs and She was Pretty(which doesn’t exactly fall into the same genre, may be remotely yes)

  20. 20 Ck1Oz

    I’ve rewatched so many favourite scenes from 9 Ins and 2 outs that it’s ridiculous. Plus Reply 1997.

    Gosh I love these 2 shows.

    And have to quickly finish ep 1 Bubblegum. I was pretty bummed out to read ep 2 spoilers in the comments. Hope this show lives up to the story. It makes a change for LDW to play a warm and nice guy.

  21. 21 ObsessedMuch

    I have watched 6/ 10(+2) and 3 from the honorable mentions. It sees i loved this trope without even realizing it! Thanks for the list JB and GF. You made it easier to decide which show to watch next.

    But what about Pinocchio? Even though they were an Uncle-niece pair, they were still best friends, plus they lived together! And it was the classic case of suddenly realizing that you like each other as more than friends (or a fake relationship).

    • 21.1 ObsessedMuch

      seems* not sees

    • 21.2 Growingbeautifully

      I too thought of Pinocchio, but was not too sure if it fit in with the criteria. Being childhood friends, more than ‘first loves’ in practice, for many years, before acknowledging that they could not be uncle and niece …. I thought this show might just make the cut. 🙂

      • 21.2.1 ObsessedMuch

        IKR? It fits the theme perfectly for me! And it would actually be on the top of my list.

    • 21.3 cupkate

      Yes! I actually thought of Pinocchio too. Thought it would make the cut. I mean they were friends before they realized they want more than tha.

  22. 22 pigsnout

    Answer Me 1997 ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

  23. 23 nil

    Last year’s song of the year “SOME” really well fitting for this theme.
    So basically every show that featuring this song (as a tease sung by one of character, played on their tv/radio, or they actually put a fragmen of the song as BGM, or anything) has friends-to-lovers story. May it be the main focus of the story or just secondary one.
    With it, can we count healer, you’re all surrounded, detective grandpa over flowers, and some other i suddenly can’t remember?

  24. 24 winda

    because it’s first time♡♡♡ i like their potrait about college students and friendship.. i can’t choose which one…choi minho..or kim minjae.. ㅋㅋㅋ anyway all gominam at this drama…super recommended…because this drama story is sweet, funny, romantic…good job for the actors and can’t wait for next eps.. dramabeans…please recaps it too!^^

  25. 25 An

    I think I would not count a few of these in my list, just for semantics (I don’t see Personal Taste and Twenty Again as friendship to lovers type story..) I’m surprised AM 1994 didn’t make your list..

    My favorite is 9end 2 outs and and both AM 1997&1994

    • 25.1 Peeps

      Re 1994: Those two were not friends. They were more like brother and sister.

    • 25.2 Jena

      I agree with you about Twenty again. It supposed to be Friends to Lovers but they hadn’t been friends in 20 years so it really does not flow into the friend 2 lover zone the way that 9 Ends 2 Outs did. Those 2 ( 2 main characters of 9 Ends 2 Outs) knew each other intimately and that is what makes a Friends to lovers drama.

  26. 26 toomanycolours

    Answer me 97 and Bottom of the 9th… are wonderful! I loved them!
    I also liked the couple in Operation Proposal (though i preferred the japanese version). They were really cute.

  27. 27 es

    AAAHHH for me, it’ll always be Reply 1997. It owns my heart and will most likely own it forever, and was the drama that made me realise my love for the best-friends-turned-lovers trope in the first place.

  28. 28 ara

    9 ends two out, Reply 1997 and INR 2 are the most show that I re-watch multiple times, she was pretty is on the way cause it just filled me,

    I watched almost all except the dramas from 90 and 2015 the timed I loved you

    • 28.1 bd5

      Agree that those are the best romcoms listed since they had the best writing (really good and believable dialogue), albeit the INR2012 probably doesn’t qualify as they were first loves who later became platonic (when not doing the “friends with benefits” thing).

      One big omission would be “Coffee Prince” as Eun-chan and Han-kyul had “brother-sibling” relationship before it became something else.

      • 28.1.1 Chesens

        But they weren’t really much of friends as they were more professionally involved to start with. And the hyung-dongseang relationship was just their excuse to be together considering that that’s the closest thing they could be before the truth came out.

        So I don’t think they’d fit the category.

  29. 29 Gaeina Lee

    Gummimochi: “But really, there is no choice—I’d be all over him in a heartbeat. Game Over.”

    Ahh, house-mate hijinks, I love it! Likewise, I would be all over him in a heartbeat too.. ^^

    If it’s love lost, I would vote for “Love Letter”. *sigh*
    If only Andrea did not turn in to a man in white collar, he and Eun Ha would be ranked in this chart as well. Those 2 poor-loving souls.. *sigh*

  30. 30 Vickie

    Would love to see dramabeans’s top 10 on supernatural themes like arang and the magistrate and master sun or top 10 shower scenes 😍😍😍😘I’m sure Lee dong wook will make 5 out of 10.then top 10 ost that captivated our hearts, I would say thump thump in greatest love and dong yi ost. Top 10 chemistry between leads like how gong hyo Jin manages to always have hot chemistry with her male leads-the greatest love, pasta and master sun. Top 10 cliché word used in the Drama like joo joong won’s get out or dokko Jin always saying ‘I’m dokko Jin’ or top 10 amazing house in the drama like in secret garden and you who came from stars . I have a whole lot of suggestions. Hope dramabeans will consider these. Cos it will be so much fun. Who thinks the same as me. My name is Victoria all the way from Nigeria Africa

  31. 31 mianmian

    How about Reply 1994? Because technically Oppa was her brother’s best friend who became her friend that she grew up with but then was more like a brother that she developed feelings for later… Hmm is that too close to “(non)-siblings” turned lovers?

  32. 32 Z

    I haven’t seen all the dramas on this list, but the ones I’ve seen, at least one half of the pair was harboring a secret crush the whole time. It got me thinking, I don’t think I’ve seen a Friends To Lovers yet where one side wasn’t pining away for most of the run. I’m racking my brains and I can’t come up with one that I’ve actually watched myself. Someone help me out with this.

    • 32.1 Moonbean

      Of the ones I watched only Let’s Eat 2 completely fits this…

    • 32.2 bakachild

      9end2outs fits that bill pretty much. For most of the run they’re friends supporting one another and you find out in flashback (spoilers) that their timing was just always off and on had feelings for the other at some point in the past but the other wasn’t in the same place(i.e. in a relationship) so they got over it.

    • 32.3 K Stars Fan

      Yes, definitely 9 Ends 2 Out is for what you are asking, the two leads were always in love but they really had bad timings when they were about to confess, love is all about timing…

  33. 33 Jyc

    1997 forever! ♥

    • 33.1 chankor

      Yep! Loved answer me 1997…. i have re-watched it to bits!!!

  34. 34 whitewire

    JEALOUSY is, hands down, the best in this list. Twenty Again is also nice. But Jealousy daaaang my heart can’t even handle the nostalgia.

    But I normally would count ALL ABOUT EVE as friendship to lovers too. At first I was contemplating if it’s friends-to-lovers or boy-meets-girl. It is the former yeeeees. Why??

    Hyung-chul (Jang Dong-gun) formed a friendship with Sun-mi (Chae Rim) at London. They have been mentioning that they are FRIENDS quite frequently. Initially when Hyung-chul was getting concerned for Sun-mi, it was because he felt the urge to take care of his FRIEND. They sustained it for long. They bonded AS FRIENDS. The rift started when Sun-mi discovers that he actually lied about being jobless — that he actually is a high-profile man. I think it was NOT included because.. The rift began early. But until Ep. 18 (out of 20), Sun-mi still considers Hyung-chul her friend. Her actual friend! Which kinda breaks Hyung-chul’s heart… Because he loves her for reaaaaaal. Ahhhhh!

    But JEALOUSY is quite stuck on me again now.

  35. 35 Alexis

    I just really hope that Bubblegum gets 10(+2) on that list someday! I loved the first two episodes. It just hits all the right notes for me! Bubblegum fighting!
    Oh and thanks for this awesome list!

  36. 36 Moonbean

    Thanks Javabeans and Girlfriday. I did love the If You Like feature and was

    • 36.1 Moonbean

      Oops, my message was posted prematurely. So I will continue here…

      … and was looking forward to more. I’m glad you have the 10 (+) and honourable mentions because Top 10s may include the most famous or recent of any type that most people would already know about or can easily find out. What I liked about If You Like feature was there may have been some you never even heard of…

      In terms of Friends to Lovers romances, I like the ones where they are truly friends in the beginning, even if they like each other they are not aware of it (a la Producers). I find the cases where one of them silently yearns for the other, watches that person date others and cheers from the sidelines pretending to be just a friend a bit too sad (for example Persevere, and as much as I enjoyed 20 Again, it doesn’t fit the bill either). Ex Girlfriends doesn’t fit my description either. For Me Personal Taste is more a story of Friends First, Lovers Later than a Friends to Lover because I take Friends to Lovers as long term friends. As in they were already friends off screen when the story started or childhood friends or something. So compared to those Let’s Eat 2 was more the type of story I liked. I did enjoy Plus Nine Boys’ friends to lovers take very much as well. Don’t even get me started on The Time Everyone Made Up a New Title for a Show…

      I enjoyed the story of the secondary pairing in Discovery of Romance.

  37. 37 pastmidnite 🌃

    You know, when I first read someone mentioned Healer upthread, I thought, Healer was not about friends turned lovers! But then again, come to think of it, CYS and SJH were actually childhood friends, although they didn’t remember each other. And SJH as Bong soo became friends with Young shin first before starting to develop romantic feelings. Well, techincally it’s Jung hoo who likes YS, but you know what I mean hahaha Too forced? Well, anything for your favorite drama to make it to the list LOL

    Anyways, haven’t watched all the dramas in the list. Yes for Answer Me 97! So happy SWP got mentioned 😀 Thanks, DB!

    • 37.1 Growingbeautifully

      Hi @pastmidnite 🌃

      Yes, come to think of it, our fave OTP of Young Shin and Jung Hoo were childhood friends. Young Shin regarded Bongsoo/Jung Hoo as the go to person to confide in and seemed to have no other friends. Healer could sort of fit the bill too. 🙂

      • 37.1.1 Snickers👽

        Very sort of. I don’t think SJH ever considered CYS as a friend. The other way, maybe, for a very short time.

        • Growingbeautifully

          Sort of a ‘sort of’ LOL!

        • pastmidnite 🌃

          That’s why I said PBS, not SJH, although they’re the same person LOL yeah, it’s a very sort of, I know 😀

    • 37.2 Mev

      😂 I love your comment and how your trying to add healer on to the list. It does sort off for young shins side as she saw bong soo as a friend but she already had a crush on healer. But let’s just ignore that part lol.

    • 37.3 Fab♥Hilleo

      YEAH, your arguments are totally valid @pastmidnite. Young shin and Jung-ho were childhood friends, co-workers, and again friends- albeit with a different Healer persona…and then partners in crime. ♥♥♥

  38. 38 badra

    So love answers me 1997 and Twenty again the best among my favourite Kdrama can’t stop rewatching them

  39. 39 Growingbeautifully

    Thanks Everyone in DB for the list.

    It gets me thinking how I may engineer having more time to get to watch some of these shows and even re-watch the ones I’ve seen before. I do really like the friends to lovers theme. I feel in real life that it’s one of the best relationships on which to base a long and happy romance and marriage. With the sufficiently managed expectations of a known quantity and the means to communicate well, friends as couples will have a good head-start to a realistic lifelong commitment.

    That said, in dramas, I’ll still enjoy the couple’s confusion and cross-wired dynamics, frustrations and embarrassments and their finally coming together, feeling like they are simply coming home. Such a warm feeling! 🙂

  40. 40 blg

    I absuletely love this segment! I am myself obsessed with making list (it sounds weird i know but it helps me relax) so im happy i can read others’

  41. 41 namedx

    Loving the top 10 +alpha thrown in for good measure, ladies! 9 end 2 outs gets my vote!! I’ve re-watched that drama countless times and have still not grown tired of it. Tough one to beat that, in my books!

  42. 42 Blcktron

    Personal Taste and Bottom of the 9th with 2 Outs are my two favorite friends to lovers drama’s ever, sooooo good, these made soo ae and son ye jin my favorite female actors

  43. 43 Stacy

    Can’t wait for Bubblegum to enter top-10, coz drama and OTP seems to be unique and absolutely adorable. Thank you for the list

  44. 44 Jules

    I’ve seen and enjoyed (almost) every drama on the list (why are the oldies so hard to find?), buuuuut what about the besties in Feelings?

    • 44.1 Jules

      (And thank you for taking the time to write up these posts! I really enjoy reading them.)

  45. 45 Wag_a_Muffin

    Since I’m always looking for quality K-Dramas I haven’t watched yet–may I assume that any drama on this list is recommended? I mean, if it’s in the top 10 list, it should be worthy, right?

    • 45.1 kanz

      The ones recommended:
      9 Ends 2 Outs, witty and funny
      Twenty Again
      Answer Me 1997
      Producers, but their romance is actually frustrating
      Let’s Eat 2, love for mukbang scenes

  46. 46 fab

    NO. You might wanna check out the reviews first.

  47. 47 Sorry, just my opinion

    To be perfectly frank, I prefer it when the top 10 are limited to Dramabeans and Girlfriday’s top choices only. Nothing against the other recappers, but the results feel a bit muddled when you try to combine 5+ peoples opinions into a top 10 list. To me, it felt more like an attempt to have fair representation across the board, rather than rooting out the creme-of-the-crop for this category (otherwise, how could The Time I Loved You make the list, when the general consensus is that it was awful? Even JB and GF criticized it in the podcast.)

    I mean, the first entry for this series was great… so I guess I’m confused as to why it changed this time around. This list could’ve easily been trimmed down to 10 otherwise.

    • 47.1 Chandler

      I think I ultimately like having all the recappers involved, simply because there actually are some gems that GF and JB miss out on, and that’s why, in it’s own way, this system is ensuring more dramas the chance of getting mentioned.

      That said, it is a bit jarring to see The Time I’ve Loved You in 4th place, above a handful of dramas that I consider much better. Oh well, to each their own 🙂

      • 47.1.1 Sorry, just my opinion

        I guess my issue is that all the series listed on here, I know they’ve seen, or at least attempted to watch. They’ve mentioned them in other posts, podcasts, ratings, or recaps… and I don’t think it’s necessary to watch every series in existence in order to know whether or not it belongs on the list. Even for people who haven’t watched Healer, they know it was a massive fan-favorite; just like Heirs was largely panned, despite the ratings fan-frenzy. But there should be a better requirement than “this plot fits the bill, so it’s in.” I thought this was supposed to be a top-ten list, not an elementary school award ceremony, where everyone wins a prize.

        • Chandler

          Yeah, I get it.

          I think I’m ultimately a little bit disappointed with how this particular list turned out too. Because, you’re right, a drama shouldn’t be on here unless it’s a stand-out example of a friends-to-lovers romance. And there are some on this list that feel a bit thrown in. Also, why do I feel like something is missing from this list? There are an awful lot from 2015. I just feel like there has to be more friends-to-lovers romances in between 2005-2014…

          Of course, I’m just happy to see them putting in the effort to do it at all. It might be that they don’t want the Top 10 feature to be too competitive and just want it to include a nice mix of dramas.

    • 47.2 pogo♥Sassy Go Go

      yeah, The Time We Had to Do Our PPL has a higher position on the list than Answer Me 1997?!!

      WTF kind of blasphemy is this?!

  48. 48 samoa

    In real, Lee Da Hae and Lee Dong Wook 10 years of friendship.

  49. 49 samoa

    and the most romantic reel to real, best friends to lovers to husband and wife is none other Janet Hsieh and George Young.

  50. 50 korfan

    gummimochi’s “Game Over” …… ah, the memories of that drama!

    Great post guys! Thanks!

    • 50.1 Chandler

      Haha! I laughed at that too. Ahhh, memories.

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