The Cinderella trope is a commonly used one in most Korean dramas. Longtime fans would find this story familiar – poor, hardworking girl meets rich but rude boy, and somehow they fall in love and by the end of the show, they live happily ever after. Although such fantasies are still popular despite the current day and age, as time and generations advance, realistic dramas with a slice-of-life sort of humor seem to be growing in production and popularity. Here are a few of our favorites for the independent, modern woman.
1. “Search: WWW”
Starring a veteran trio of Lim Soo Jung, Jeon Hye Jin and Lee Da Hee, the drama revolves around the careers of these three strong women. The men in the drama are almost secondary to the plot line, as most of it focuses on the career struggles and development of the working women. Although it seems like it may be directed at a more mature audience that can relate to working life, it is a great watch that will inspire younger ones to dream big.
2. “Age of Youth” (Series)
“Age of Youth” spans two seasons and its relatability was such a huge hit that a it was remade into a Chinese version as well. The show features five female university students as they live in the same house as flatmates, navigating growing up, college life and job hunting. The girls come from a variety of backgrounds as well and we get glimpses of how they handle their familial relationships as well. Although the show isn’t flashy or overly dramatic, it presents a straightforward, realistic take on young adulthood that is comforting.
3. “Hotel Del Luna”
We know, we know. It’s a fantasy drama — but hear us out. While its set-up may be thrillingly magical, the characters are very much realistic, especially Jang Man Wol, as played by IU. Man Wol is one of the few female leads in Korean dramas that is purposefully written as flawed. She treads the line between antagonist and protagonist, oft showcasing varied sides to her. The character highlights a very human trait of being contradictory, as she is very much stubborn, spiteful, impatient, as she is loving, fiercely loyal and highly capable.
4.”The Beauty Inside”
Lee Da Hee must be on a roll — she stars alongside Seo Hyun Jin in this romcom about a CEO that has facial recognition problems, who falls in love with a top star. The drama, while seemingly setting up the characters of Seo Hyun Jin and Lee Da Hee to become rivals, actually showcases them aiding each other, albeit in a tsundere manner. “The Beauty Inside” also demonstrates a role reversal, of Lee Da Hee’s character who is a rich chaebol daughter, falling in love with a to-be monk.
5. “Be Melodramatic”
Last but not least, we have “Be Melodramatic“, that features a motley cast of friends that navigate their late twenties. Realistically sappy, we are introduced to a single mom that tries to balance work and raising her precocious son, a documentary producer that is coming to terms with the death of her significant other, a drama writer that struggles in her career but finds love and comfort in an old friend. Spoiler alert! Not all of them end up coupled up by the end of the drama, but it definitely still is a happy ending, proving that you don’t need romance to be content in life.