Courtesy of Netflix
With COVID-19 raging through the world and emerging in the United States, Fairfax County Public Schools are closed until April 10 and there is no certainty as to what will happen after. With such an unexpected gift of time, students may decide to learn new hobbies, catch up on sleep, or binge watch TV shows on Netflix. The platform offers hundreds of shows from various genres in numerous languages, particularly Korean.
Korean dramas have recently emerged into the spotlight as more appear on Netflix. Here are my personal recommendations to kill time over the long break:
Love Alarm is a Korean drama set in modern-day South Korea where a special app exists — an app that alerts the user if someone within a 10-meter radius likes them. Besides the novel app concept, the plot itself is the generic K-drama with its poor, modern-day Cinderella female lead and rich, popular male lead, but I found the app and the culture it created to be unique enough for it to be an enjoyable watch. The good-looking male leads definitely didn’t hurt either.
Mr. Sunshine immerses viewers into the Joseon dynasty during the late 19th century, when tensions grew in the Korean peninsula before the Japanese annexation in 1910. The show’s centered around Eugene Choi, who was born a slave but escapes to the United States and returns to Joseon decades later and falls in love with a noblewoman. What I loved the most about this show was its insane production quality — from the background music to the acting to the cinematography, every episode felt like its own movie in a good way. If you’re looking for a period K-drama to drool over, check this out.
When the Camellia Blooms
When the Camellia Blooms, a romantic comedy with little hints of thrill, follows the life of a single mother, Dongbaek, as she moves to a town and opens a bar. She must battle social stigmas while an infamous serial killer begins to come after her as his next victim. After falling in love with Dongbaek at first sight, police officer Yong-Shik declares his love to her and tries to protect her by catching the killer. For me, the show’s endearing characters are what sold it. Each and every character finds their way into my heart and you can’t help but smile at the budding romance between the two leads. The thrilling, murder mystery moments also come in at the perfect times to keep you hooked.
Crash Landing On You
Crash Landing On You has met great success in the motherland and internationally despite its controversial plot, for good reason. The show features what all other Korean rom-coms do, star-crossed lovers, except with a twist — the leads are split by the DMZ (demilitarized zone) between North and South Korea. The story begins when South Korean heiress Seri gets into a paragliding accident that carries her across the border between the brother countries and literally crash-lands on Jeong-hyuk, a North Korean military officer, in North Korea. The two fall in love as the latter tries to help the former escape back to her country without getting caught. Controversies surrounded the show for romanticizing North Korea, but I think they handled the difficult topic well — after all, it’s fictional. Besides that, overall the show is extremely well-produced, features a strong cast, and adds its own twist to the never-failing Korean drama formula with its epic romance. There was a slight drag in the middle of the show due to its longer episodes, and I was not entirely satisfied with the ending, but I still definitely think that the show is worth watching, just for the experience.
For my final recommendation, I have chosen Itaewon Class. The show, based on a webtoon, follows the life of Park Saeroyi after he is wrongfully expelled from school, loses his father, and sent to prison — all because of Jangga Group’s ruling family. Out for revenge, Saeroyi works step-by-step diligently for years to open his own pub. Through his fight against Jangga Group, Saeroyi continues to strive for success as he grows his business with the respect and loyalty he earns from his manager and staff by never straying from his moral principles. Itaewon Class is a definite feel-good, inspirational show that keeps viewers watching in order to see Saeroyi’s revenge carried out, but its little hints of romance also add another dimension to it. I personally love the show for its whirlwind of emotions, perfect pacing, and unique characters — each has their own endearing, distinct personality, but still with complexity. The show isn’t over yet with two more episodes so I can’t say anything about how the ending will go, but regardless of the ending, Itaewon Class is a must-watch.