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[Drama Chat] If you had to recommend ONE drama to a newbie…

Part of being a K-drama fan means dragging others into the wonderful place we call dramaland. Now, some will be naturally curious and ready to experiment. But others will need to be forced persuaded with that one show that exemplifies all the things we love about dramas — and all the things they do so well — in one tidy 16-episode package.
 

What’s that ONE DRAMA you would recommend to someone who wants to dip their toe into the K-drama universe, and why is it your pick?

 
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Yumi’s cells as I describe it as an adult version of Inside out. It’s very funny, shows a lot of tropes but is not tired and has an interesting take on a love story. I think it’s a gentle introduction and is to relate to as it’s a romance.

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*easy

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That's a show I always think would be a perfect drama for a start. It's so well written!

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🥰 It really is, different but not too different so a gentle introduction but once in they would want to watch more.

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Are they working on the 3rd, or is it done? Kim Go-eun seems busy with other projects.

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I don’t think so, a few beanies said they gave scenes from the third partner to Babi so there would not be a lot of original story to play with.

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I see. Thank you!

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Unfortunately, I think we will never see a third season.
But that would be my favorite sequel, if I could make a wish.

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Oh no. No no no no. ONE DRAMA?! How could you do this to me (and many others, I'm sure) @missvictrix?! I didn't want to answer this question, but I'll be thinking and rethinking about it for weeks if I don't give an answer now. So here goes...

GOBLIN. It's funny, romantic, exciting, heart-wrenching, epic. It's not perfect, but it's a very strong gateway drug, er, drama.

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Would you warn the newb about the ending?

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Nah. I did think about that before I chose the drama, but I know a couple of people who started with it and didn't have very strong opinions about the ending. It was their first drama, after all. They're not yet as savvy as regular beanies.

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Yes! I think a newbie need a perfect happy ending. Goblin an amazing show and top 10 ever but hard ending to start with-in my humble opinion

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viewers from the West may be weirded by the main romance between a grown man and a student in a uniform. I know that it bothered me in the back of my mind and I wasn't able to immerse in their relationship although I thought the ending was touching. I wasn't gutted though by it. It's the second leads' story that was more heartbreaking and really got to me. But in a good way, it made me feel the feels. The sound design was also really good in this drama. It felt like film quality. Not too mention the music was really good too.

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Goblin is poetry.

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It depends on their time tolerance to new things:

If it is a movie, PARASITE

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If it is a short series, BABYSITTER.

If it is a normal run series, ALONE IN LOVE.

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I started alone in love but the picture quality was not that good. It also is clearly an older drama and that might not give a good impression of the directing etc and uniquely K-drama elements in prep for a modern follow up if they like that drama.

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Maybe it's a good rec for an older person. My mom would re-watch old dramas over and over. She thinks that most of the new K-dramas have lost their Koreaness.

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It depends on the person.

If it's a romantic open person, I can advice a very Kdrama-esque drama with tropes, beautiful leads, good kiss scenes ;

If it's "just" a romantic person, I would choose something more slice of life to turn down the Kdrama-esque side ;

If it's someone who doesn't like romance and more interested in action or darker story, I would choose more like an OCN/Netflix/Disney drama.

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Eh, I like the OCN/Netflix/Disney+ shows haha

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King the Land.

1. It is recent.
2. It introduces the tropes and then some, and so if the person likes such things...they're definitely in for a lot of fun as they get into more dramas.
3. It's got romance, lots of comedy, and some seriousness--but not too much seriousness, like "nature of the human experience" serious.
4. K-dramas often have "that one weird thing" that makes you really scratch your head...KtL minimizes that weirdness to secondary characters.
5-∞. Junho.

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If they like King the land and then go on to other romance with comedy they will be confused by the noble idiocy break up and poor communication, the wasted air time on annoying second leads and the random stalker plot😬😆

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There won't be a drama that encapsulates everything engaging about lighter K-dramas, but for me King the Land comes the closest most recently. It's a balanced show, and I feel that it stands as an excellent "most typical of class" example of drama rom-coms today.

I also remember thinking at the time that I would have enjoyed KtL more had I not already seen the dramas that I think you're referring to, Reply, and that is yet one more reason that it is my choice for this prompt.

Also, Junho. My newbie won't get that sort of kissing in many other dramas, either...but that doesn't dissuade me from my recommendation in the least.

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I like your thinking that if they watch this drama first it will serve them better than the other way round☺️

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That is exactly what I thought! 😆

But I was so happy so see my fave mentioned that I decided to let them be disappointed/confused ever after!! 😆

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Hurray!

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I could vote for that. It really is the perfect happy romance show. No long time jumps, no long misunderstanding, funny laugh out loud scenes. Really a perfect first show

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It has to be Crash Landing on You. It's the quintessential rom-com, and it was a blockbuster hit, so they may have heard of it or know someone who has watched it. (But personally I never recommend K-dramas to people or try to drag others into dramaland.)

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(Me neither).

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Interesting that you don't recommend. Are people just too critical of the genre? I even got my dentist to watch Attorney Woo. But most people don't know I watch

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Personally, I think watching Kdramas is not just about finishing a show, it's the understanding of all things that made Kdramas different from other series: the tropes, the pacing, the feeling like reading a novel with a beginning and an end, the meta-references,... So I just feel recommending a show is sort of futile in that sense. We all have access to all types of info, so if one wants to step into Kdrama land, they can try out 1 or 2 shows on their own decision. It takes time to get into it. Of course, I'm happy to make my suggestions when asked. I just don't actively try to convince anyone to watch any show.

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I can definitely see your point. Entertainment is a very personal experience. And time is precious. Most people I know don't have the time to spend watching a 16-20 hour drama, especially when first introduced.
All of the things you mentioned are exactly why I was drawn to dramas, but I definitely had to be in the right time and mindset to dive in

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I agree about CLOY and I'm amazed it isn't higher up in this thread - but maybe that's because it was my gateway drama. I know people on DB who haven't loved it, of course, but I don't know anyone in real life who didn't. I've launched a few people into dramaland by recommending it. Also, equally: Healer. Wait, let me say that louder for the folks in the back: HEALER.

Depending on the person's tastes, I might suggest Beyond Evil for mystery/thriller, I'm Not a Robot for quirkiness, fantasy, and feels, or 1% of Something (2016) for classic rom-com with tropes aplenty.

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I was also amazed that CLOY wasn't mentioned earlier and isn't being used as the header image. To me, it's the only correct answer to this question.

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🤣👉🏾 ‘To me, it's the only correct answer to this question’.

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It's also amusing how the prompt says "ONE DRAMA" in capital letters, yet Beanies are listing their entire watch list. 🙃

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@panshel "Using the prompt as a springboard and going freestyle" is a major event in the Beanie Olympics. 🥇

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@elinor Let’s not forget nested replies within replies within replies within replies to the point when the reader lost the whole context of the initial prompt/thesis, and only few beanies now joke between themselves, and that joke “reappears” in multitude of other comments to unrelated posts and all the other beanies are scratching their heads trying to figure out why the beanies are suddenly bringing up “talking horse”. 😂😂

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Absolutely! I used it as a gateway drama to a couple in their 60s. They loved it - wanted to watch an episode every night. And they really were annoyed at the ending :) :)

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I lost my Kdrama virginity to CLOY, and haven't looked back since. But as others have said, you need to know your audience. My brother couldn't even make it through the first episode--he thought the FL was silly and obnoxious. On the other hand, he loved Mr. Sunshine. His wife was captivated by Misty. Another sister-in-law enjoyed Extraordinary Attorney Woo. There's really no one-size-fits-all show.

Unfortunately, none of the relatives I just mentioned has watched another Kdrama. I stopped giving them recommendations after a couple of tries.

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Yay! I’m not alone - I’m slogging through CLOY right now and the FL is silly and annoying. Every time she starts being tolerable she does or says something completely obnoxious & I don’t know what Binnie sees in her!!! I don’t think I like the writer’s FL’s - I didn’t finish YFAS as I’m the one person on this earth who didn’t find Cheon Song yi cool and endearing….

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I found Cheon Song yi a lot worse than not cool and endearing...

And I don't like any of this writer's characters, no matter male or female.

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I found the FLs in both Crash Landing and My Love From the Star annoying at first, but they grew on me pretty quickly. I think it's a testament to both actresses' abilities to show how their characters grow and develop over time. It's also a reminder to me that I shouldn't necessarily judge people based on my first impression of them. More than one close friend has told me that they didn't really like me when we first met!

But that's just my reaction... everyone sees things through their own personal lens.

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Certainly cannot disagree with your viewpoint - I only wish that applied to me for these beloved dramas, really wanted to love both. I dropped YFAS at ep10 and I’m watching ep10 CLOY in 20 min increments - I think I’ll finish it for the sake of it. Just goes to show how “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” applies!

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For me, life’s too short to spend time forcing myself to keep watching a show I’m not enjoying. My motto: “If the show’s a flop, it’s okay to drop.” 👎🏼

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It's definitely CLOY for me. Everyone I know whose first dram is CLOY, loved it and got hooked to Kdrama after that!

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I wouldn't be watching KDramas at all if someone hadn't recommended them to me. It just took a Korean friend to describe the plot of 'Fated to Love You' and I was on board, then looked for every drama Jang Hyuk was in next. Two years later, after watching a few with me, my sister and her partner decided to subscribe to Viki because of Doctor Stranger. Now my nephew watches with his teenagers and happy me...my teen grandniece and her boyfriend join me every saturday night for supper & two episodes of "Crash Landing on You". It's her boyfriend's 'first' and he surprised me by how much he comments and asks questions. I think they'll love 'Moving" next.
There's also three other friends who liked my recommendations and are watching regularly. We meet once a month for snacks and watch a first episode of something we haven't seen, new or old, then discuss it ...like a book club. It took 8 years to spread the word... but it's nice to finally have a KD buddy-watch group to share thoughts with. So yes, my vote for someone new would definitely be "Crash Landing On You."

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Descended from the Sun because it is the drama that got me back into Kdramaland.

I think it's very fun and swoony to watch. The OTP and the second lead couple are worth rooting for. Cinematography is gorgeous. I think it is one prototypical Kdrama.

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But with a warning to never look up the leads online while watching in case it ruins the immersion.

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Good suggestion.

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lol...

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Taxi driver 2
Because:
1. The story is catchy and easy to follow.
2. Quiet male lead but not the weirdly quiet type. He speaks and does so eloquently when he needs to.
3. The male lead is good in actions. A bit too good that it enters the territory of superhero but that’s what makes it addictive.
4. Smart and brave female lead.
5. Endearing supporting characters.
6. Humour done right. Not too gory. Happy ending for main characters. Some hint at romance.
7. No toilet jokes.
8. If one is interested enough, there’s season 1 to binge and season 3 to anticipate.
9. If one is interested in the male lead, there’s Signal to dig deeper into Kdrama land.
10. After Signal, the rest is history.

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If one needs something more swoony, I'll recommend Dr. Slump. I've finished ep10 and it's hitting all the right notes for me.

If one is interested in a historical setting, then Knight Flower would fit the bill.

The reasons I recommend these 2 shows:
- light and fluffy enough but not superficial
- not tropey in a Kdrama typical way.
- fun and entertaining
- good pacing, not too fast not too slow
- leads are gorgeous to look at
- not too long (although I'm not sure if Dr. Slump keeps being this good the last 6 eps)
- I like how the romance developed in these shows.

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Would love to watch Signal, and Stealer The Treasure Keeper but in US they aren't on major steaming- Netflix, Amazon, Disney+. Not even Viki.

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I'm in the Midwest. Stealer free on Tubi here:
https://tubitv.com/series/300001002/stealer-the-treasure-keeper

I believe I watched the extraordinary Signal on Netflix. But it is now also free on Tubi here:
https://tubitv.com/series/300009893/signal-subbed

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Thank you!! I looked at Tubi but assumed it had a cost involved. Does that mean they have commercials? I just watched Marriage not Dating on Amazon Freevee- it was the only way- and it was sooo painful. I'm really picky about ads.

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Tubi may also be ad supported. Until about a year ago it was still possible to watch it on Viki.

But I know what you mean about ads. I hate them.

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I don't believe either of these has ads on Tubi, but could be wrong. I stopped watching television for 30 years (with exceptions for things like baseball world series) because of ads. If there's ads, I'm out of there. I don't have enough time in my life to waste on storytelling interrupted by ads.

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"I don't have enough time in my life to waste on storytelling interrupted by ads."

This goes on my quote of the year board!!!

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Stealer is also on the Roku Channel, at least in Northeast/Mid-Atlantic USA. I'm pretty sure it's free with commercials.

Roku Channel is also the only place I've been able to find Circle: Two Worlds Connected, which I can't recommend highly enough, especially if you are into sci-fi/fantasy and/or Yeo Jin-Goo.

Signal has hopped around... from Netflix to Viki, and currently to Paramount+. (Does anyone know anyone who actually subscribes to Paramount+?)

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Taxi Driver is actually an excellent starter kdrama! It has the quirkiness of kdramas with an approachable action-vigilante story. Does not require too much commitment in the language department. Because kdramas in translation are only as good as subs and this is not a subbers dig, but the shows are so much better when you know korean.

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To hook my friends, I try narrating or showing clips of swoony scenes, but none worked. I later realized that no amount of persuasion would work until and unless people discover the fun in kdramas by themselves.

Recently, one of my friends asked for K-rom-com recommendations because they were bored with the other language offerings. Guess what she chose? Bora Debora . A drama that I did not suggest and dropped at Ep 1. I warned her that it had criticism on the behaviour of the female, but she enjoyed it so much that she completed the drama within a week.

To conclude, it is much easier to recommend dramas to people who are already K-fans than to get a person into this field.

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Personally, I think swoony scenes are meaningless without context. I had looked up two kiss scenes from dramas that I was not watching but people were squeeing over (Good Job Ep 10 and The Law Cafe Ep 11), but I was devoid of any feeling because I didn't know the characters. I think you have to watch the OTP's slow-burn romance yourself to make the buildup to the kiss worth it.

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I agree. I only look up kiss scenes if I have read all of the recaps.

(Not to mention that I watched all of Good Job and still felt nothing for the kiss.)

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I also think handsome faces are meaningless without context. I'm not smitten by a handsome face without seeing him in action.

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Yes! Very true.

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😂😂😂 but the numbers speak otherwise because there are instances where a specific shower/shirtless scene brings more traffic to a drama.

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And I didn't think an Asian man was that attractive until I started watching Dramas- I know strike me with lightning!!! So most people won't be dawn to that. Now- only Asian please (except my husband and sons🤣🤣🤣)

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I don't think "swoon" is strictly related to kiss scenes. It can be loosely attributed to any simple gesture of care like holding hands, holding umbrellas (common theme in kdramas) etc., In fact, it doesn't even have to be a gesture because Kdramas are full of beautiful dialogues and sometimes words are enough to make one swoon ❤

Plus, there are a lot of clips by fans in youtube/Insta/Twitter who do edits with context in a precise manner because the attention span of people on internet is less.

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I'm a sucker for a charming smile. 😁

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I agree in most of the cases, but not all. I confess that I went and saw Anothr Miss OH after seeing the kiss here.

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Well, the kiss scenes in Another Miss Oh are HOT 🥵. Ahh.. that kiss scene against the wall. *fans self*

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That ONE! I had to, not strong enough 🤣🤣

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I didn't like that drama but the kiss is impossible to forget.

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@isagc
It was okish, I didn't hate it, but didn't loved it also. I liked the sound effects behind the scenes part. And the deja vu angle was interesting. But the kiss was hot even if I didn't see the drama first, that was why I commented here.

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UNLESS, there’s something magnificent in the swooney scene that captures the imagination. For example, when I saw the splendid costumes and opulence of surrounding in swooney scenes of Faith (the only second kdrama I saw), I knew, I had to check it out cause I’d die from unfulfilled imagination. Worked like a magic charm on me, lol

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That's tricky, because it depends on both the specific genres that people like as well as the availability of any given show. As someone who doesn't typically seek out romances, I'm not sure I've have ever entered dramaland if the first recommendations I'd gotten had been typical "gateway" shows like Crash Landing on You or Boys Over Flowers. I'm also guessing newbies won't want to put up with ads or subscribe to drama-specific sites like Viki. My first instinct would be to recommend some of my favorite sageuks, since that's what got me into dramas, but none of those are currently available on "mainstream" sites. Therefore, based on what's currently on Netflix and assuming the person shared similar tastes with me, I'd probably go with Stranger, My Mister or Beyond Evil. They're all shows that feature great acting, writing and directing, and are pretty accessible to someone who's never seen a Korean show, although they won't work for the folks looking for breezy, sweet, or swoony.

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They're all shows that feature great acting, writing and directing, and are pretty accessible to someone who's never seen a Korean show

Now this makes me wonder what would be the factor that draws new people to Kdramas apart from their genre preference. Would tight script and great acting win over a subpar story that is mindless fun like "Boys Over Flowers" or "Squid Game"?

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I'd definitely prefer a great script and great acting, but yeah, someone just looking for a fun watch would probably make totally different choices. If easy accessibility were a non-issue, I might go with something like Twinkling Watermelon, which is both a delight to watch and has a very distinctively Korean mix of humor and serious themes.

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Twinkling watermelon is a great suggestion.

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Perfect idea!!! Has enough of everything- story, music, romance, mystery and the happy ending a newbie needs

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I will opt for the heavy dramas that emphasize on social commentaries, crimes, and non-romancy these days. Mr Ahjussi, Stranger, and Beyond Evil is something what I go for these days. Outgrew the stage where I-only-go-for-romance.

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Netflix has some good-to-excellent sageuks, including: Under the Queen's Umbrella, Mr. Queen, 100 Days My Prince, Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung, The King's Affection, and most recently, Capture the King.

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So far, I think five people around me have started watching kdramas. And depending on the type of person I either recommend ‘Stranger’ or ‘Weightlifting Fairy/CLOY’ or both.
Both have had high success rates.
My follow up drama recommendations will depend on which one they liked better. My dad loved Stranger and I recommended ‘My Ahjushi’ and he had since become a IU fan 😅.
Other dramas recommended were Vincenzo, Extraordinary Attorney and Hyena.
For romcom, there is a lot of options.

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I know a lot of people got hooked on CLOY and became kdrama fans during the pandemic. That would be my recommendation. Goblin is too heavy to start with, but obviously, my favorite.

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If I look at my behaviour I started with "something in the rain".
What did it for me? The visuals... I mean the cinematography. The colourful umbrella's in the rain vision seen from an above shot... then the story drew me in. And the fact a drama has an ending. 16 episodes, more or less.
I got tired of series with no-ending and each season a cliffhanger.
I drew other people in dramaland through the Goblin and Romance is a bonusbook.
Goblin is like a fairytale for adults and Gong Yoo is a nice desert.
Romance is a bonus book appealed to readers of books and Lee Jong Suk is nice to look at.

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Wow! You need an award for perseverance to have that drama as your intro to K-dramaland themes; the role of the OST in the storytelling, the evil two faced status driven character who likes the person but not as a potential partner, sexism in the work place, noble idiocy, complex family dynamics, and nightmare boyfriends running alongside the best chemistry and portrayal of the joy of a relationship in the early phases.

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It sound crazy, but I was first attracted to the way it was filmed (as I said before) and then I was fascinated by the things that happened.
After I watched with horror how the mother hit the adult daughter. (Sexism in the workplace was appalling, but it was a theme I had seen in other movies before, so it didn't faze me as much as the mother hitting the daughter).
After something in the rain I started to read first all things about Korea.
Then Netflix released "Romance is a bonus book" and afterwards I kept watching more dramas. Nr 1 on my list is my ajussi.

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You found some great contrasting dramas to get the spectrum of cultural stories. Reading up definitely helps fills the gap. I went for podcasts and reading fiction.

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Funnily enough Goblin was my first drama - it did set the bar high in terms of drama ngl hahahah

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I think it might set the bar too high. 😆

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Our Beloved Summer
Twinkling Watermelon
18 Again
The Matchmakers

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To get a newbie hooked on the Kdrama world, I believe it is better to start with light-hearted dramas.

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I love these suggestions, 18 Again is based on an American film so would be great. I avoided sageuk’s as I think it may be too hard to understand the specific dynamics associated with them.

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I actually feel the reverse. Maybe because I started with sageuks myself? But I feel one learns so much about specific Korean customs and relationships, while being easier to accept because of it being a completely different genre from any show from their own country.

Afterwards it might feel rather funny to see most of those customs in modern dramas but it would be more graspable because one has formed a basis for them already...

At least that is how it was for me... I learned nearly everything about Korean hierarchy, obligations, names, and beliefs from Dae Jang Geum and a few other ones I watched first.

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Yeah, my first three dramas were Jumong, Dae Jang Geum, and Queen Seondeok so my sense of what might get someone hooked also skews strongly "really long historicals".

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I don't think anyone nowadays has the time or patience to start with really long historicals so I won't recommend them. But I do believe that they are the best for understanding a lot if you are in for the long run.

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My first drama was Faith, and my second drama was Sungkyungkwan Scandal. I was completely clueless about Korean history and culture, but these dramas made me curious.

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Same @wonhwa and a lot of beanies from the old days.

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@midnight,
That's exactly why I don't recommend the likes of Dae Jang Geum that we were addicted to. Even I will struggle to finish a 20 eps Kdrama these days. In my early days, I didn't have a problem sitting through a 100 eps sageuk.
It's weird because I don't have a problem watching Cdramas with 40 eps like A Journey To Love or Joy Of Life etc.

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I do think an issue with more recent k-dramas is that the episodes have gotten a lot longer. It's weird, but for me a 50 episode show with 45 minute to hour-long episodes feels much less daunting than a 16 episode show where every episode runs 90 minutes or more.

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Empress Ki was my second Kdrama. I was completely absorbed from beginning to end, even though in retrospect I realize I would have missed a lot of the historical and cultural context.

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My second drama was a sageuk- The Kings Affection and I watched because I wanted another show by Park Eun-Bin. My first was Attorney Woo. I like history so it was very interesting.

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Sorry for the late reply. You are right about Sageuks being hard but since the matchmakers was more fusion and had a lot of comedy scenes, I thought it would be different.

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I agree as a fusion Matchmakers is a great gateway into sageuks as it’s very sweet and has a great king and queen. The beanies above also made good points about the enjoyment they had starting with quality sageuks back in the day. I watched epic Chinese fantasy and fact based historical dramas in the early stages of watching Chinese dramas and enjoyed them. So i agree with the general message that the recommendation will be dependent on the person’s genre preference.

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My childhood wouldn’t have been the same without Chinese fact-based historical dramas :-)

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I love history but knew nothing about Korea w,hen I first started watching Kdramas. My first sageuk was very confusing! After I'd watched a few more modern dramas I was able to appreciate a sageuk. So I agree I wouldn't recommend starting with one. And I wish my first had been a fusion one as these are easier for a newbie to understand

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That's a lovely selection.

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For romcom lovers: Boys Over Flowers, Crash Landing On You, Coffee Prince, Goong, Full House, My Name is Kim Sam Soon, King The Land.
For melodrama lovers: The Four Season dramas (Autumn in My Heart, Winter Sonata, Summer Scent and Autumn in My Heart).
For legal drama lovers: Extraordinary Attorney Woo, Juvenile Justice, Stranger, Attorney Shin, Innocent Defendant, I Hear Your Voice, Law School, May It Please the Court, Hyena, The Good Wife, While You Were Sleeping, Punch).
For medical drama lovers: Romantic Doctor Kim, Hospital Playlist, Daily Dose of Sunshine, Good Doctor, Doctor Prisoner).
For thriller-lovers: City Hunter, Moving, Vincenzo, Taxi Driver, Healer, Kingdom, Signal, My Name, Mask Girl, Happiness, Flower of Evil, Through the Darkness, Mouse, Save Me, Nobody Knows, Voice, Tell Me What You Saw, Blind).

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History: Mostly light/fusion dramas like Hwarang, Live Up to Your Name, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, Alchemy of Souls, 100 Days, My Prince, Flower Knight, Matchmaker, Arang and the Magistrate, The Tale of Nokdu, Royal Secret Agent, Forbidden Marriage, Poong, Joseon Attorney, Lovers of the Red Sky, The Secret Romantic Guesthouse, Mr Queen.

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It’s interesting that you have so many from different genres, would you literally just give them the list or would you choose one randomly?

I am also interested in the age of some of the dramas as there may be elements that didn’t age well. I also worry about the unique elements of the ‘in your face’ work place bullying or sexism that a lot of the older dramas have. Good doctor they are outrageously prejudiced and I am not sure someone watching that today would be able to understand how that is not against the law, basic HR policies about acceptable behaviour towards colleagues etc with no context to the Korean drama sledge hammer approach to diversity and sensitive matters.

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I basically started off as someone who prefer watching the lighter dramas (think romcom and romance only) then gradually move on to the more serious, heavy and less romancey genres like medical, saeguk, slice-of-life and thrillers. So i thought of giving the dramas that I watched since I was a teenager till I am 37 years old (my current age).

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Thanks, that makes sense☺️

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I would recommend Healer due to being a drama that is as close to the westerns one that I have seen. It is action packed, good romance with a happy ending, great backstory with enough mistery to keep you hooked and other elements that are familiar to the majority pf non k-drama watchers. The korean traditions and customs are not the main focus, those are things that will draw them out because of not understanding or not being familiar with. Of course, for someone like me, those things attracted me more, but I know, from talking to many around me, I am an exception and not the norm.

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And I forgot to add that if you don't crave to watch more of Ji Chang-wook and therefore more kdramas, I don't know what will. My first kdrama was a sageuk, of course, I told you I am special that way, but one of his.

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Warrior Baek Dong Soo?

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My guess would be Empress Ki.

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No, Empress Ki. Then I watched Healer and some others with him and I was hooked.

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I just finished rewatching Healer. My first JCW drama was Warrior BDS. Excellent music and cinematography, plenty of manes of glory, so I forgave the messy plot and ignored the last episode.

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I didn't see it but I will look into it and give it a try, thanks. I still have a few sageuks clasics to see. I am halfway done with Rebel, I paused it because of CTK and JJS.

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Have you watched The Slave Hunters? It is my favorite sageuk.

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I tried it and paused it. Although it had my manly man Jang Hyuk, it just felt tacky some of the racy shots at the beginning. Not that I am a prude, I do enjoy some well manufactured and preserved skin, but it just felt unrealistic. I will watch it for sure and tell you about it.

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Or Empress Ki?

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Couldn’t agree more - I think Healer is such a well done all rounder drama. I live watched it back in the day and it kept me engaged and guessing with the appropriate amount of swoony romance interwoven with an interesting backstory and present day impact. I loved both leads and the supporting cast. It’s also one that would live up to a revisit.

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It depends on the genre.

Do you want fun? Mr. Queen.
Do you want heavy social commentary? Life.
Melo-romance? You Are My Spring.
Rom-com? Business Proposal.

It all depends on the genre.

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Crash Landing on You. It's not even my favorite or even in my top ten. However, it is a good introduction to kdramas as there is romance between two beautiful people who are good actors and a small town feel (the North Korea part is the best part of the drama IMO) which shows the longing of the "simpler life" (before subways or Subways) and sense of community. CLOY has a lot of elements that are hallmark kdramas (the production, the fashion, the relationships) that if you like them, you can delve deeper in other dramas that explore them more fully.

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I've suggested several dramas that don't appeal to me, but align with that person's preference. Yeah, "Boys Over Flower" is one of those.

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CLOY is so recommended, but I have never even been able to start it. The thought of a romanticised DPRK (NK) gives me shudders.

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CLOY does not romanticize the DPRK government. As someone descendant from people who came from the north and still have extended family who live there (there but the grace of God might have been my fate) I have no problems with depictions of the people of now North Korea being people, which is what most of the first part of the drama is.
I think one thing that the drama tapped into was the separation aspect of the Korea—my older relatives all felt the trauma of having to leave their home in the north and there was an intense longing to be reunified with those that couldn’t leave. That theme resonated with me.

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I think one of my main sticking points is knowing how much starvation and health problems there are there- so having good looking kdrama stars acting in those roles hurts. (I have complicated family ties to NK as well)

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I understand, and that is a perfectly valid reason to not watch it. I think CLOY is a well-made drama and that is why I would suggest it as an intro to a newbie. But it certainly is the case that it won’t work for everyone. I have dramas I won’t watch or will drop quickly if an aspect or theme disagrees with me—even if the show is very popular or people are raving about it. After all, it’s just a drama, and watching a show should entertain, be thought-provoking or have some net positive value to the viewer. I am grateful to be able to watch or not watch what I want and respect the right of others to do the same.

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I agree with @pynyc. It is a beautiful drama that I enjoyed a lot. The reason I didn't choose it is because I didn't like the ending that much but you might like it. I think it portrays life of normal people in a comunist country the best and is against NK or comunist leadership. Some things that were so close to my experience was the electricity being cut, making food from scratch, doing exercises in the morning, watching clindestine western movies. Or their experience in a western world for the first time. I am sure there more examples as such but I have seen it a long time ago and I do not remember all. It is a good story that reminded me that the majority of people are good in the world and we share same values no matter where we are from.

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Agree with every word.

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you're right, the parts you mentioned were the most valuable parts totally worth watching. the parts I didn't like was other stuff.

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Lately I think that one drama would be Mr. Queen!! Its very clever and full of comedy! Its a whole package, also is a good gateway to sageuks! Also whoever I have recommended it to, have thoroughly enjoyed it!

Otherwise I would recommend something from the many fantasy dramas that Korea offers- Master's Sun/Legend of the Blue Sea/Mystic Pop Up Bar/My Girlfriend is a Gumiho/Arang and the Magistrate/ - because those are unique to Korea.

Can't go wrong with few classics- Coffee Prince, Kill Me Heal Me.

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Like Flowers In Sand! It has romance, mystery, coming of age, slice of life, and sports drama tropes, all mixed in a glorious way. And it is 12 episodes.

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I think this is a good choice since I think it would appeal to some western drama fans. I don't know why, but I think it just fits nicely with some similar western shows?

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I don't watch Western shows, but I thought that a story about a loveable underdog would have universal appeal.

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Under the Queen’s Umbrella.

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