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Top 10 Classic Korean Dramas to Watch

Updated on July 8, 2016

1) Sandglass (1996)

Choi Min Soo (Park Tae Soo)

Park Sang Won (Kang Woo Suk)
Go Hyun Jung (Yoon Hye Rin)
Lee Jung Jae (Baek Jae Hee)

'Sandglass' was one of the most popular dramas in 90s and also had the third highest rating of all time. Business owners and students even went home early to watch the show every Monday through Thursday evenings. Sandglass revolves around the Gwangju massacre, where two best friends are torn apart between friendship and politics. Tae Soo (Choi Min Soo) grows up to be a tough gangster, while Woo Suk (Park Sang Won) becomes an intelligent prosecutor. Tae Soo meets Hye Rin (Go Hyun Jung), the daughter of a rich casino vendor and the two fall in love. With a blend of history, politics, melodrama, and action, this drama is a true classic and is not to be missed!



2) Autumn in My Heart (2000)

Song Seung Heon (Yoon Joon Suh)

Song Hye Kyo (Yoon/Choi Eun Suh)

Won Bin (Han Tae Seok)

'Autumn in My Heart' is perhaps is one of the most classic melodramas of all time. Autumn in my heart is part one of director Yoon Seok Ho's tetralogy of season-themed dramas 'Endless Love,' combining the four seasons of love: Autumn In My Heart, Winter Sonata, Summer Scent, and Spring Waltz. Joon suh (Song Seung Heon) and Eun Suh (Song Hye Kyo) believe to be biological siblings when later on they find out they've been switched at birth. Years later, Joon Suh meets an old friend, Tae Seok (Won Bin) and soon a love triangle emerges between the trios.

Autumn in My Heart

Autumn in My Heart
Autumn in My Heart

3) Heo Joon (1999)

Jung Kwang Ryul (Heo Joon)

Hwang Soo Jung (Lady Ye Jin)
Lee Soon Jae (Doctor Yoo Ui Tae)

Heo Joon takes place during the Joseon Dynasty, where a man name Heo Joon (Jung Kwang Ryul) becomes a legendary doctor. From treating the poor to even the royal prince of the palace suffering from an illness, using traditional herbal medicine, Heo Joon's skills become noteworthy. Along the way, he meets Lady Ye Jin (Hwang Soo Jung) who is one of the nurses at the royal palace.

Heo Joon

Heo Joon
Heo Joon


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4) The Rustic Period (2002)

Ahn Jae Mo, Kim Young Chul (Kim Doo Han)

Choi Chul Ho (Uhm Dong Wook)
Lee Won Jong (Goo Ma Juk)
Lee Chang Hoon (Hyashi)

Another historical drama set during the 1950s, which tells the life of politician Kim Doo Han (Ahn Jae Mo). After his father's death, Kim Doo Han sets forth to become a leader against the Japanese. Learning kung pao, and going through numerous trials and encounters along the way, Kim Doo Han fights to defend the country of Korea. Filled with history, politics, action, and not to mention rowdy men, this is one captivating show!

The Rustic Period

The Rustic Period
The Rustic Period

5) All In (2003)

Lee Byung Hun (Kim In Ha)
Song Hye Kyo (Min Soo Yeon)
Park Sol Mi (Seo Jin Hee)
Ji Sung (Choi Jung Won)

Actors Lee Byung Hun and Song Hye Kyo star in this classic thriller depicting the life story of poker player Jimmy Cha. Both orphaned when they were little, Kim In Ha (Lee Byung Hun) and Min Soo Yeon (Song Hye Kyo) find themselves in the middle of a chaotic situation. In Ha ends up in prison after committing an unintentional crime while Soo Yeon is sent to live at a church. In Ha begins to live a life of a gambler, frequenting at casinos. In Ha falls in love with Soo Yeon and they meet years later, as the two try to get back together again.

All In

All In
All In

6) Piano (2001)

Jo Jae Hyun (Han Wook Kwan)
Kim Ha Neul (Lee So Ah)
Jo In Sung (Lee Kyung Ho)
Go Soo (Han Jae Soo)
Jo Min Soo (Shin Hae Lim)

Piano tells the story of gangster, Han Wook Kwan (Jo Jae Hyun) who one day sees a piano teacher, Shin Hae Lim (Jo Min Soo) and instantly falls in love at first sight. Shim Hae Lim has two children, Lee So Ah (Kim Ha Neul) and Lee Kyung Ho (Jo In Sung). But after the sudden death of Hae Lim, Wook Kwan raises the three children on his own. Years later, now all grown up, Jae Su (Go Soo) and Lee So Ah (Kim Ha Neul) begin to like each other, but are unable to say due to them being "family." While, Kyung Ho goes on to become a gangster. The drama follows the life of the struggling family. The mesmerizing sound of the piano resonates throughout the story, adding another rich layer.



7) What Happened in Bali (2004)

Ha Ji Won (Lee Soo Jung)
Jo In Sung (Jung Jae Min)
So Ji Sub (Kang In Wook)
Park Yeh Jin (Choi Young Joo)

An orphan, Lee Soo Jung (Ha Ji Won) is a tour guide in Bali. One day she gives a tour to three people; Jung Jae Min (Jo In Sung), Kang In Wook (So Ji Sub), Choi Young Joo (Park Yeh Jin) whom she would meet again in Korea. Jae Min is the son of a rich company owner, who is engaged to Young Joo also from a wealthy background. But Young Joo is still unable to let go of her ex-boyfriend, In Wook. Later, the four of them find themselves entangled in a fierce battle for love.

what happened in bali

what happened in bali
what happened in bali

8) Stairway to Heaven (2003)

Kwon Sang Woo (Cha Song Joo)
Choi Ji Woo (Han Jung Suh/Kim Ji Soo)
Kim Tae Hee (Han Yu Ri)
Shin Hyun Joon (Han Tae Hwa)

Well known for its original soundtrack of classically arranged music such as 'Ave Maria,' 'Stairway to Heaven' tells the tale of Cha Song Joo (Kwon Sang Woo) and Han Jung Suh (Choi Ji Woo) are childhood friends who become lovers later on. Yu Ri (Kim Tae Hee) & Han Tae Hwa (Shin Hyun Joon) and Han Jung Suh end up living under the same household. Han Tae Hwa begins to fall for Jung Suh. Jealous, Yuri does all that she can to keep Song Joo and Jung Suh apart. Full of intensity, the twisted relationship between the characters will keep viewers coming back for more.

Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven
Stairway to Heaven

9) Lovers in Paris (2004)

Park Shin Yang (Han Ki Joo)
Kim Jung Eun (Kang Tae Young)
Lee Dong Geon (Yoo Soo Hyuk)
Oh Joo Eun (Moon Yoon Ah)

Part one of writer Kim Eun Sook and director Shin Woo Chul's Lovers trilogy; Lovers in Prague (2005), and Lovers (2006) following respectively, Lovers in Paris was a popular drama, making it the 11th highest rated Korean Drama, with actor Park Shin Yang and actress Kim Jung Eun winning numerous awards. Studying abroad in Paris, an aspiring screenwriter Kang Tae Young (Kim Jung Eun) becomes a housekeeper for Han Ki Joo (Park Shin Yang). With a push-pull relationship, the two embrace a conflicting relationship. With the incorporation of a catchy theme song by singer Jo Sung Mo, Lovers in Paris paints an unpredictable love story.

Lovers In Paris

Lovers In Paris
Lovers In Paris

My Girl

My Girl
My Girl

10) My Girl (2005)

Lee Da Hae (Joo Yoo Rin)
Lee Dong Wook (Seol Gong Chan)
Lee Jun Ki (Seo Jung Woo)
Park Si Yeon (Kim Seo Hyun)

Another successful romantic comedy, Joo Yoo Rin (Lee Da Hye) is a tour guide for a small company, fluent in several languages, she helps Seol Gong Chan (Lee Dong Wook) by translating for him and soon she is given a place to stay and gradually wins his heart. Along the way, Gong Chan discovers that Yoo Rin may be the key to finding his missing cousin whom his grandfather has been searching for a while. Jung Woo (Lee Jun Ki), a friend of Gong Chan, falls for Yoo Rin, as Kim Seo Hyun (Park Shi Yeon), Go Chan's girlfriend arrives at the scene, stirring up more commotion.

Do you have any comments? Leave them down below!

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    • profile image


      2 years ago

      All in was the best drama ever.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I'm curious as to why "Jewel in the Palace" wasn't on this list

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I loved Stairway To Heaven,Sandglass&All in.. I'm 15 so i didn't watch a lot of korean dramas fro m back in the days but it always feels good to go back in time and enjoy the classics.. Thanks for the post btw..

    • peachpurple profile image


      4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i had watched stairway in heaven, lovers in paris, my girl, all in. I love stairway the most. Similar to Winter sonata. Awesome drama.

    • peachpurple profile image


      5 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      i love stairway to heaven, Lovers in Paris and My girl. Stairway to heaven is romantic, lovers in paris is romantic and comedy while my girl is really hilarious. Have you watched Goong and Princess Hours? Those drama, I had watch 10 x in a year! Voted up


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