Do you feel dead inside? Do you need a pick me up? Most Kdramas do end with the warm fuzzy feelings but you have to go through a rollercoaster to get to those warm fuzzy parts. These are some KDramas that make me feel that warm fuzzy happy without any huge conflicts or make me feel frustrated/annoyed.
I didn’t list any of the super obvious romantic comedies that everyone already loves (we all know your boyfriend/husband/brother/father watches these in secret too!). These are the shows that make cry and you’re not sure why you’re crying. It’s usually a combination of intense happiness and sadness and you’re not sure which one it is.
This show gave me all those happy nostalgias feels. It reminded me of Korea as a kid when I used to visit my family in the summers. The production team and set designers put so much work into the details of the show. That old TV, the cassette players, right down to the pencil cases we had as kids. The hairstyles and make-up were also spot on. Every Korean mom had that short permed hair.
This show is about five families that live in the same neighborhood and their daily lives. It’s mainly about the kids who are in high school and growing up together. The main character is Duk Soon (Hyeri) and she is a happy high school student who spends her days hanging out with her neighborhood friends Sun Woo (Ko Kyung Pyo), Taek (Park Bo Gum), Jung Hwan (Ryu Jun Yeol), and Dong Ryung (Lee Dong Hwi).
One of them ends up being her husband and you find out at the end who she ends up with. Duk Soon is not the smartest or hard-working but she always makes everyone happy. She is living proof that you do not need to be at the top of your class to be successful and happy. Her sister is the complete opposite, she is at the top of her class and hates everyone.
All the characters in the show are amazing and their bond with each other is a gift everyone should have in their lives. You can also see the different types of struggles the parents go through and how they all help each other out. The part that really hit me was when the kids graduated high school and went their separate ways. They knew nothing would be the same again. I remember that feeling of emptiness every time I graduated and moved on to the next part of my life. This show will make you laugh and cry and it is 100% a must-watch.
This is my favorite of the Reply series mostly because it is the funniest one. They also go through events that happened in my lifetime, Sampoong building collapse in 1995 and the IMF crisis in the late 90s, things that I remember clearly when I was growing up. The interaction between all the characters is hilarious. It’s about a boarding house for university students in Seoul that’s run by a family with their daughter, Jung Ah (Go Ara).
All of the students who live at the boarding house are from different parts of Korea and all have heavy accents. Jung Ah and her family are from Masan. The focus is more on friendship and finding love than on family. There are no ridiculously rich people or anyone with painful pasts. All of the characters have their own charm and are loveable in their own ways. If you need some good heartfelt laughs, definitely watch this one.
This show is a gift from the writer Lee Woo Jung, the same writer that brought us all of the Reply series. It’s about 5 best friends who are surgeons at the same hospital, all in different specialties, and graduated medical school together. We go through the daily life of Ik Joon (Jo Jung Suk) general surgeon and single father to Woo Joo (Kim Joon), Song Ah (Jun Mi Do) neurosurgeon, Jung Won (Yoo Yun Suk) pediatric surgeon, Jun Wan (Jung Kyung Ho) cardiothoracic surgeon, and Seok Hyun (Kim Dae Myung) OBGYN. This show is different from all of the other medical kdramas. There is no ridiculous corrupt director who is looking to crush all of the low-income patients and no overly dramatic doctors who freak out at every urgent patient. There are many touching stories of each of the patients and their families as they go through losses and happy outcomes. If you are a kdrama addict, there are lots of unexpected cameos and jokes about other shows. This show is hilarious and an absolute must-watch. There are two seasons but I hope they decide to make more. If Grey’s Anatomy can make it to 18 seasons, this show should have at least 20!
My Father is Strange
This is one of those kdramas that aired daily. There are 52 episodes so I wouldn’t recommend binging it, unless you’re feeling really ambitious (or unambitious, depending on how you look at it)! It’s a story of an average Korean family with 4 kids getting through their daily life. The kids are Joon Young (Min Jin Woong) who is trying to pass his civil servant exam and the eldest, Hye Young (Lee Yu Ri) an accomplished lawyer who outsmarts everyone including her manipulative mother in law, Mi Young (Jung So Min) a mousey former judo champion who is trying to find her place in the world after being injured, and Ra Young (Ryu Hwa Young) a fitness trainer who is the typical youngest carefree child who always steals her sister’s clothes.
Their father has a huge secret that he has been hiding from his family that could possibly endanger their family. It is a sweet story about how the family gets through problems big or small together. It is hilariously funny and heartwarming at the same time. This is definitely worth the 52 episode time investment.
Contradictory to the premise of this show, it actually a feel-good show, and this kdrama will stay with you for a long time. It’s about a pro baseball player, Je Hyuk (Park Hae Soo, from Squid Game) who is charged and convicted for aggravated assault because he beat up a guy who tried to rape his younger sister. The director, Shin Won Ho also directed the Reply Series and Hospital Playlist. Notice a pattern? The title actually translates to “Wise Prison Life” and it’s fitting because it’s about how to navigate through prison life for Je Hyuk.
They go through the lives of all of Je Hyuk’s cellmates and the politics of the prison guards and everyone on the range. This show sounds like it doesn’t belong on this list but it does. Although this show may be downplaying the ugly side of prisoner life, it humanizes prisoners which is a risky move for a kdrama and this show was done so well. Every story of each of the prisoners and why they are in there is so touching and relatable. You feel sympathy and understand that anyone can end up in prison if they end up born into the wrong circumstances or make the wrong choice in life. This show is fantastic with a talented all-star cast. There are tons of laughs, tears and you end up rooting for all of the characters. This would definitely qualify as a must-watch.
This is also one of that daily kdramas and there are 50 episodes. This kdrama is about elderly parents and their four grown children who all got divorced and had to move back in with them. Joon Sun (Oh Dae Hwan) is the eldest, works as an action director, and has two daughters. His ex-wife is very close with his own family and was frustrated with him because of money issues. Ga Hee (Oh Yoon Ah) is the eldest daughter who has a son and her husband cheated on her with a younger colleague. She constantly jokes to people who ask if she’s married and says “I’ve already been and came back”.
Na Hee (Lee Min Jung, Lee Byung Hun’s wife in real life) is a pediatrician and has some complicated unresolved issues with her husband. Da Hee (Lee Cho Hee) is the youngest and broke off her engagement when he found her fiance (played by Ji Il Joo) making out with one of his colleagues. She quit her job and is finding what she wants to do with her life and finding out her self-worth. The story takes place in the home and at the market here the parents have a fried chicken restaurant. This show is a typical family story and how they come together when they need each other the most. They will make you laugh and cry in every episode. It is a nice easy watch with all the heartwarming moments.
If you have other kdramas that give you all the happy feels, leave your suggestions in the comments. I hope you enjoy these shows as much as I have!