Upcoming K-Drama in 2022

I don’t know if it’s because spring is coming or just because February is the month of love, but things in dramaland are lightening up considerably and I couldn’t be happier! Rom-coms and lighthearted slice-of-life dramas are in, depressing thrillers and makjang are (mostly) out… with a few exceptions, of course.

After finding the offerings of the first month of 2022 to be completely underwhelming (with the exception of All of Us Are Dead), I’m ready for February to inject new life into the k-drama scene. It’s hard to find motivation to write when the dramas airing are so uninspiring, but I really feel like this month will be different. I can feel it in my bones! We have fifteen new shows airing, and at least one of them has to be good, right?

Netflix seems to be the go-to streaming service this month, with much-anticipated titles like Kim Tae-ri and Nam Joo-hyuk’s youthful Twenty One Twenty Five, chemistry fairy Park Min-young’s classic workplace rom-com Forecasting Love and Weather, Son Ye-jin’s return and the daily woes of friendship and love in Thirty-Nine, and delicious contract marriage hijinks in Business Proposal. I have to say, I’m excited about all four of them, as well the much darker-looking Netflix Original Juvenile Justice. Bring it on, dramaland!

Feb 2: The Driver (더 드라이버)

Airing location & schedule: Wednesday on MBN.

Cast & crew: Ahn Jae-wook (Mouse). PD: Kim Seung-woo (Starting Point of Dating).

One-line synopsis: A middle-aged man who is laid off at work becomes a designated driver.

Goodies: Teaser

My thoughts:

Excitement level: Low

Dubbed as MBN’s two-part “Lunar New Year Special”, I expect The Driver to be tailor-made as a heartwarming tale to be enjoyed by families all gathered around the TV. Honestly, this looks cute. It gives me Late Night Restaurant vibes, but instead of a chef listening to people’s stories it’s a driver. I’m sure it will be a pleasant watch, it just doesn’t really attract me. One thing of note is that this is directed by actor Kim Seung-woo, who actually starred in Late Night Restaurant seven years ago, so maybe my estimations about the similarities are not too far off.

 

Feb 3: Kissable Lips (깨물고싶은)

Airing location & schedule: Thursday on Idol Romance (streaming on Viki).

Cast & crew: Kim Ji-woong (The Sweet Blood), Yun Seo-bin (Not Found Love), Moon Ji-hoo (Part-time Mello). PD: Seong Do-joon (Wish You: Your Melody From My Heart)

One-line synopsis: A vampire who is about to die searches for a human with pure blood in order to save himself and become human again.

Goodies: Trailer 12

My thoughts:

Excitement level: Low

There isn’t a lot of info on this one, but I’ve never been a fan of vampire stories and will give this a pass. I do find it interesting that it’s created by the Korea University of Media Arts, though.

 

Feb 11: First Love Again (첫사랑 만 세번째)

Airing location & schedule: Friday on Viki.

Cast & crew: Jeon Chang-ha, Jin Gun.

One-line synopsis: The author of a popular web novel who remembers his past two lives meets the first love he encountered in his previous lives.

Goodies: Teaser

My thoughts:

Excitement level: Low

No, you’re not going crazy. Yes, this was in last month’s round-up, but the release date was pushed back to February. I still have very little interest, so I don’t think I’ll be checking this one out.

Feb 12: Twenty Five Twenty One (스물다섯 스물하나)

Airing location & schedule: Saturday/Sunday on tvN (streaming on Netflix).

Cast & crew: Kim Tae-ri (Mr. Sunshine), Nam Joo-hyuk (Start-Up), Bona (The Secret of the Grand Mansion: The Missing Girls), Choi Hyun-wook (Racket Boys), Lee Joo-myung (Check Out the Event). PD: Jung Ji-hyun (You are My Spring). Writer: Kwon Do-eun (Search WWW).

One-line synopsis: After the IMF crisis of 1997 wreaks havoc on their lives, a young fencing prodigy and a boy from a wealthy family who loses everything grow close and fall in love.

Goodies: Teaser 123456

My thoughts:

Excitement level: High

Kim Tae-ri looks so radiant! I am so excited by the pedigree of this drama. I have adored Kim Tae-ri since Little Forest, Nam Joo-hyuk has had a special place in my heart since Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, and You are My Spring was one of my favorite dramas of last year. This show looks perfect for the upcoming spring season, all light and fresh and youthful. Definitely gives Our Beloved Summer vibes, but something tells me I’ll like this one more. I’ll definitely be tuning in!

 

Feb 12: Forecasting Love and Weather (기상청 사람들: 사내연애 잔혹사 편)

Airing location & schedule: Saturday/Sunday on JTBC (streaming on Netflix).

Cast & crew: Park Min-young (When the Weather Is Fine), Song Kang (Nevertheless,), Yoon Park (You are My Spring), Yura (Radio Romance). PD: Cha Young-hoon (When the Camellia Blooms). Writer: Seon Yeong (Drama Special Season 3: Like a Miracle).

One-line synopsis: Bright and shining romance blossoms between coworkers in the Korean Meteorological Agency while they live their day to day lives.

Goodies: Script reading, teaser 12345trailer

My thoughts:

Excitement level: High

I know international fans hate long titles, but can I just say that I actually prefer the Korean sub-title, The Cruelty of Office Romance? I don’t know why, but the “cruelty” just really piques my interest. I love me some Park Min-young and I’m really in the mood for light and frothy romance, so I’m going to eat this one up! Song Kang, on the other hand… well, he’s going to have to work very hard to get the sour aftertaste of Nevertheless, out of my mouth. Han So-hee managed to do it with My Name, though, so I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

I’ve seen a lot of people criticize Park Min-young for taking so many romance roles but… she’s good at it? Why do people always get their panties in a twist about someone else’s career? She’s playing to her strengths and doing rom-coms while she’s still young enough to get offered them and I applaud her for it. I’m skeptical about the chemistry between her and Song Kang, but let’s be honest, Park Min-young is a chemistry fairy. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything where I didn’t feel sparks, so I’m going to have trust in her expertise. I’ve been rewatching When the Weather Is Fine recently because it’s the perfect time of year, and I can’t get over how stupidly pretty and charismatic she is. I can’t wait to have her on my screen again!

 

Feb 16: Thirty-Nine (서른, 아홉)

Airing location & schedule: Wednesday/Thursday on JTBC (streaming on Netflix).

Cast & crew: Son Ye-jin (Crash Landing on You), Jeon Mi-do (Hospital Playlist 2), Kim Ji-hyun (Artificial City). PD: Kim Sang-ho (Ping Pong Ball). Writer: Yoo Yeong-ah (Encounter).

One-line synopsis: Three women who have been best friends since high school share their emotional, hilarious, unexpected lives as they are about to turn 40.

Goodies: Script reading, teaser 1234

My thoughts:

Excitement level: High

Has there ever been a drama with a girlfriend trio that disappointed? Work Later, Drink NowBe MelodramaticInto the RingBecause This is My First LifeWeightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, and now Thirty-Nine. This drama will have to be really bad in order to disappoint me, because while my expectations are high, I just want to see these three fantastic actors be best buddies. Really. That’s all I’m asking for! I’m very excited to see Son Ye-jin back on the small screen, and I hope this will finally be the drama of hers that I end up loving. I think she does a fantastic job in her films, but her drama choices never quite pull me in.

 

Feb 16: Grid (그리드)

Airing location & schedule: Wednesday on Disney+.

Cast & crew: Seo Kang-joon (Love Refresh), Kim Ah-joong (Live Up to Your Name), Kim Mu-yeol (Bad Guys: Vile City), Kim Sung-kyun (D.P.), Lee Si-young (Sweet Home). PD: Khan Lee (The Divine Move 2: The Wrathful). Writer: Lee Soo-yeon (Stranger 2).

One-line synopsis: A ghost that disappeared after saving humanity years ago reappears and helps a serial killer escape.

Goodies: Script reading, trailer 12

My thoughts:

Excitement level: Medium

Okay, this synopsis doesn’t sound all that great, but considering this writer and this cast, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Sadly, I don’t have Disney+ and they haven’t been releasing their Korean content outside of Asia anyway so I’ll have to pirate this, but if I hear good things I definitely plan on picking this up. I’m always up for more Seo Kang-joon, and I’m fascinated to see this writer tackle the fantasy genre (I know it’s billed as sci-fi, but unless the ghost isn’t really a ghost, I’m calling this fantasy).

 

Feb 16: Semantic Error (시맨틱 에러)

Airing location & schedule: Wednesday/Thursday on Watcha.

Cast & crew: Seoham (One Fine Week 2), Jaechan (Youtuber Class Season 2).

One-line synopsis: Based on a manhwa, an inflexible engineering major finds himself in hot water when his decision to remove the names of the freeloaders on his group project ruins the academic plans of the school’s most popular student.

Goodies: Teaser 12

My thoughts:

Excitement level: Low

This appears to be Watcha’s first original drama, so I’m curious to see how it fares in terms of popularity. Watcha is a more mainstream company than most others who have produced content centered on gay couples, so maybe this one will reach a wider audience. I have to say, the teasers seem MUCH higher budget than most of the Korean “BL”s I’ve seen!

 

Feb 18: I Haven’t Done My Best Yet (아직 최선을 다하지 않았을 뿐)

Airing location & schedule: Friday on TVING.

Cast & crew: Park Hae-joon (The World of the Married). PD: Im Tae-woo (Sketch). Writer: Park Hee-kwon (The Third Charm), Park Eun-young (Vivid Romance).

One-line synopsis: Based on a Japanese manga and film, a man in his 40s shocks his father and his daughter when he announces he is quitting his job to become a webtoon writer.

Goodies: Teaser 12

My thoughts:

Excitement level: Medium

That’s a relatable title if I ever saw one! What can I say? I kind of like dramas about seemingly pathetic people doing things that disappoint the people around them, only to come out the other side as winners (which I’m assuming is what this drama will do). I’m not overly familiar with the cast or the crew, but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for this one.

 

Feb 21: Business Proposal (사내 맞선)

Airing location & schedule: Monday/Tuesday on SBS (streaming on Netflix).

Cast & crew: Ahn Hyo-seop (Lovers of the Red Sky), Sejeong (The Uncanny Counter), Kim Min-kyu (Snowdrop), Seol In-ah (Mr. Queen). PD: Park Sun-ho (Wok of Love). Writer: Han Sul-hee (Ugly Miss Young Ae Season 17), Hong Bo-hee (High Kick! The Revenge of the Short Legged).

One-line synopsis: Based on the webtoon Office Blind Date, a young woman goes on a blind date in place of her friend and acts as obnoxious as possible so the suitor loses interest, only to discover that he’s her new boss.

Goodies: Teaser 12

My thoughts:

Excitement level: High

Oh, this is SUCH a dramarrific setup! The whole blind date angle reminds me of She Was Pretty, and I’m honestly totally on board to watch a classic k-drama rom-com. I hear it’s also a contract relationship, so we seem to be checking off all the boxes of your quintessential old-school, shenanigan-filled romance. This could be absolutely delicious or absolutely horrible, but I’m obviously hoping for the former. No matter which way it goes, I’ll be watching–at least at the beginning.

 

Feb 23: Kill Heel (킬힐)

Airing location & schedule: Wednesday/Thursday on tvN (streaming on Viu).

Cast & crew: Kim Ha-neul (18 Again), Kim Sung-ryung (Going to the Blue House Like This), Lee Hye-young (A Year-End Medley: Extended Version). PD: Noh Do-cheol (Partners for Justice: Season 2). Writer: Lee Choon-woo, Sin Kwang-ho (Schoolgirl Detectives).

One-line synopsis: Three very different women struggle to achieve their dreams and desires at the home shopping network they work at.

Goodies: Teaser 12

My thoughts:

Excitement level: Low

Are home shopping networks still a thing? I guess I figured that in the day and age of the internet and Amazon they would have been made obsolete. Even just thinking of home shopping networks makes me think of Dal Ja’s Spring! I love stories centered around women, but I’m not particularly attached to anyone in the cast (although Lee Hye-young was phenomenal in Mother) and nothing about the poster or the teaser really pique my interest. If this ends up being really good, though, I very well might pick it up!

 

Feb 23: Sponsor (스폰서)

Airing location & schedule: Wednesday/Thursday on iHQ, MBN.

Cast & crew: Lee Ji-hoon (River Where the Moon Rises), Han Chae-young (A Pledge to God), Ji Yi-soo (When the Camellia Blooms), Koo Ja-sung (Genesis). PD: Lee Cheol. Writer: Han Hui-jeung.

One-line synopsis: Four people run towards their various desires, including success, revenge, children, and love.

Goodies: Teaser 12

My thoughts:

Excitement level: Low

Yes, this is another show that was postponed. I originally included Sponsor in my November round-up last year, but the production became rife with conflict and filming had to be suspended. The writer AND director ended up being replaced because of it all. Sounds like a hot mess! One that I will be avoiding at all costs!

I think they did some reworking with the footage that they had already shot, because they made the original teasers private and released new ones. They do nothing to make me more interested.

 

Feb 24: Cherry Blossoms After Winter (겨울 지나 벚꽃)

Airing location & schedule: Thursday/Friday on Heavenly (streaming on Viki).

Cast & crew: Ok Jin-wook (Be My Dream Family), Kang Hui (Life of Jung, Lee, Ro, and Woon). PD: Yoon Joon-ho (Justice Team).

One-line synopsis: Based on a webtoon, after both of his parents pass away, a boy moves into his friend’s house, and their relationship begins to turn romantic.

Goodies: N/A

My thoughts:

Excitement level: Medium

Unlike most of the gay Korean romances we’ve been getting, this one involves a team that has a bit more experience, which raises my expectations somewhat. Also, I admit that I’m just a sucker for cherry blossom and spring motifs, and I really like both the title and the poster. I can be shallow sometimes.

 

Feb 25: Juvenile Justice (소년 심판)

Airing location & schedule: Friday on Netflix (all 8 episodes).

Cast & crew: Kim Hye-soo (Hyena), Kim Mu-yeol (Bad Guys: Vile City), Lee Sung-min (Money Game). PD: Hong Jong-chan (Her Private Life). Writer: Kim Min-seok (Notebook from My Mother).

One-line synopsis: A judge who works with juvenile offenders must balance her personal negative feelings towards young criminals and her duty as a fair administer of justice in a society that pushes young people to the brink.

Goodies: Teaser

My thoughts:

Excitement level: High

I love it when K-dramas really tackle social issues, so I have high hopes for this drama that seems to be addressing a hugely complex and controversial topic in Korea right now. There is a lot of discussion lately in the news and media about Korea’s Juvenile Act which, among other things, prevents children under the age of 14 from receiving criminal punishment. You can read the law in English here at the Korea Legislation Research Institute’s website. Kim Hye-soo is always a delight to watch, as is Lee Sung-min, so I really hope the script can live up to the stellar cast. I don’t recall any dramas that have specifically been about juvenile offenders, so I love how this show is taking the tired, overworked legal drama and turning it into something new and, hopefully, refreshing and nuanced.

 

Feb 28: Military Prosecutor Doberman (군검사 도베르만)

Airing location & schedule: Monday/Tuesday on tvN.

Cast & crew: Ahn Bo-hyun (My Name), Jo Bo-ah (Tale of the Nine Tailed). PD: Jin Chang-gyu (CHIP-IN). Writer: Yoon Hyun-mo (Lawless Lawyer).

One-line synopsis: Two very different military prosecutors, one who only cares about money and success and another who only cares about revenge, team up and start to learn from each other.

Goodies: Script reading, teaser 123456

My thoughts:

Excitement level: Medium

I’ll be honest, I don’t get the Ahn Bo-hyun thing. At all. He’s just never really impressed me very much in any of the roles I’ve seen him in. However, I stay open-minded about all actors, because so much depends on directing and writing, so I’m willing to give him a chance. I’ve loved Jo Bo-ah since the Shut Up: Flower Boy Band days, so if anything I’ll watch this just for her! I’m so glad she’s playing lead roles again after a string of years stuck as the second lead.

 

Feb TBA: Shinjikki (신지끼)

Airing location & schedule: on YouTube.

Cast & crew: Lee Yul-eum (Nevertheless,), Shim Jin-hyuk (I Hate Going to Work). PD: Park Chae-woon (Meet Mr. Daddy), Choi Jung-min (Path).

One-line synopsis: Based on the myth of Shinjikki of Geomun Island, an exiled naval general in the Mahan period falls in love with a mermaid who can see the future.

Goodies: Trailer

My thoughts:

Excitement level: Medium

Okay, I’m fascinated by this. Yes, it looks super low-budget and there is so little information available right now, and almost nothing in English (just really bad English subtitles on the trailer), but I can’t recall a single drama set during the Mahan period. Mahan was a confederacy in modern-day Chuncheong and Jeolla from around the 1st century BC to the 5th century AD. It’s an earlier period than most sageuks portray, predating Baekje and the Three Kingdoms period. There have been multiple mermaid stories in dramaland (The Legend of the Blue SeaSurplus Princess), but none that focus exclusively on ancient myth. I highly doubt this will have very good subtitles, but I really would like to check it out in the future.

 

There are a few shows that are supposed to air in February that I’ve left off the list because they don’t have a specified date and/or don’t have any promo materials. KBS’s Crazy Love starring Kim Jae-wook, Krystal, Yoo In-young, and Ha Jun was supposed to begin airing in February but no date, posters, or teasers have been released yet. Season 2 of MBC and wavve’s Tracer will be coming February 18, but considering the fact that the second season is airing less than a month after the first season ended, I really don’t consider it a second season. JTBC’s Flying Butterflies starring Kim Hyang-gi, Oh Yoon-ah, and Choi Daniel was supposed to air on February 14 but has been postponed multiple times with no promo material available. Season 3 of TV Chosun’s hit makjang Love (ft. Marriage and Divorce) (that I’ve brainlessly been following) is scheduled to air on February 26, with even star Park Joo-mi sharing the date on her Instagram post recently, but no posters or teasers have been released yet. I’m skeptical that any of these will actually be released in February, and I anticipate many of them will be pushed off to March or April instead.

But even without those shows, this February batch has me very excited! Which shows are you guys most eager to watch? Let me know!

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