Happy early Valentine’s Day! This week is a little different, as Good Donut brings you a LIST of recommendations perfect for anyone who seeks a lil’ romance in their life. Although I could’ve waited for the actual day, I figured it’s nice to have this list in advance so you could plan accordingly~
The reason this is exclusively a kdrama list is because no one does rom-coms quite like Korea. The sweetness, the cinematography, the comedy, and the relationship dynamics are perfect for Valentine’s Day, and GD thinks you should always give new things a chance. In other words, let The Notebook rest. Or at least pair it up with something new.
Anyway, whether you watch them alone or with a partner, these shows will hopefully put you in the mood for love. But just a tip from me to you, they’re always way better if you pair them up with some delicious donuts 😉.
Note: the dramas are listed alphabetically.
1. Because This Is My First Life
Ji-Ho (Jung So-min) is a tv writer who needs to find a place to live. Se-Hee (Lee Min-ki) is an aloof techie who owns his home, but owes a lot on his mortgage. They begin an arrangement in which they become housemates.
GD’s thoughts: This is probably my favorite drama off this list mainly because it’s so real to life (yes, even with Se-Hee’s weirdness). The relationship between the two is as hilarious as it is sweet, and seeing them go from housemates to friends to eventual spouses (they eventually get married as part of the deal) is honestly a very entertaining evolution to these two, especially as feelings start to trump practicality. The couple became so iconic the two actors even made a cameo as spouses in another drama (“What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim”)! The side characters are all very entertaining and fleshed out, and the morals and ideas explored aside from the leads’ budding romance are fresh but also easy to relate to (sexism at work, contradicting wishes when it comes to marriage, online dating).
2. Extraordinary You
Eun Dan-Oh (Kim Hye-Yoon) lives a perfect, princess-like life. She has a loving father, a beautiful home, and attends a very prestigious school with her equally-cool friends. The only issue is Dan-Oh has a life-threatening heart condition. That, and she learns that she’s actually a side-character in a manhwa (comic book), and all her actions are controlled by the writer and only meant to get the leads together. Armed with self-awareness and encouraged by the mysterious stranger who can act outside of the manhwa (SF9’s Rowoon), Dan-Oh sets out to change her life.
GD’s thoughts: I only began watching this for Rowoon but I was surprised at how quickly it snatched my attention. For its entire duration I kept looking forward to seeing more episodes as Dan-Oh navigates acting as a lovesick teenager for the bad boy Baek Kyung (Lee Jae Wook) in the manhwa while also falling in love with Haru (Rowoon) outside of it. Her attempts to take control of her own life will have you rooting for her not just because she’s the heroine, but because there’s a deeper commentary we can all relate to here: we often feel like we’re not in control, that life dictates where we should be and what we should do. What we have to do is try to break free from that and draw our own paths, and Dan-Oh makes sure to show us that. Rowoon’s acting is honestly amazing for someone with so little acting experience, and he manages to keep up with the other, more seasoned actors like Hye-Yoon and Jae Wook. Also, Baek Kyung’s evolution from soulless bad boy to loving friend is fantastic to watch, and at least for me he kind of stole the show in the second half.
3. Just Dance/ Dance Sports Girls
This drama is set in a town with limited prospects, as students are encouraged to begin work in the shipbuilding industry as soon as they finish high school, despite the industry being in decline. Thoughts of leaving town in pursuit of something more are seen as silly, and so 6 high school girls (and one boy) decide to escape their bleak life into the world of dance, with a goal of winning a dance sports competition.
GD’s thoughts: This is more of a slice of life drama than romance, although there is a love story between one of the girls, Shi-Eun (Park Se-Wan) and Seung-Chan (Jang Dong-Yoon), the boy who discovers he’s goddamn good at dancing and gives 0 shits about how feminine it makes him look. What makes this drama stand out is how nostalgic it feels through its use of imagery and coloring, paired up with the beautiful soundtrack. You will get attached to all of the girls as they deal with making choices for their future, fight against their less-than-understanding parents, train hard to achieve their goal at the dancing competition while becoming a tight-knit family. I breezed through the episodes because I couldn’t stop pressing “play next”.
4. Strong Woman Do Bong Soon
Do Bong Soon (Park Bo Young) comes from a family of women with supernatural strength. She uses that strength to help people, one of them being Ahn Minhyuk (Park Hyung-Sik), the CEO of a gaming company. Minhyuk hires Bong Soon as his bodyguard, which works out perfectly for Bong Soon as her dream is to develop a video game with herself as a character. While her career sets off on the right track, her love life suffers, as she’s in love with her childhood friend, detective Kook-Doo (Ji Soo), who already has a girlfriend. Kook-Doo ends up pulling Bong Soon and Minhyuk into the case he’s investigating, and a love triangle is formed.
GD’s thoughts: Okay, I know the words “love triangle” are very off-putting, but this is really, totally a triangle. Minhyuk is so nonchalantly flirty with Kook-Doo it’s hilarious (and even Bong Soon thinks they could end up together), and all three of them seem to really care about each other. Although the endgame couple was always going to be BongBong and MinMin, this is one triangle I didn’t mind having, especially thanks to Park Hyung-sik’s mad bi energy. The dynamic between Bong Soon and Minhyuk is also hilarious, as it reverses the damsel in distress trope to make Minhyuk the one being carried bridal-style away from danger, and side characters like Kim Won-Hae’s Gwang Bok (who is madly in love with Minhyuk) are hysterically comical. If you’re tired of bland action movies and want to see ladies kicking ass and guys being awesome and boyfriend-material, this one’s for you.
5. Fight, My Way
This drama tells the story of underdogs with big dreams trying to find success in their late 20s. As childhood friends, they live together and support each other on their journeys of growth and discovery, with love blossoming between them.
GD’s thoughts: Park Seo-Joon will always be incredible in romantic dramas, and paired up with Kim Ji Won they created a fresh and heartwarming relationship for their characters. Seo Joon plays Ko Dong Man, a former taekwondo player who ended up becoming a nameless MMA fighter. His childhood best friend, Choi Ae Ra (Ji Won), works at the information desk of a department store, but wishes to become a TV announcer. Because they’ve known each other for so long, they bicker and banter all the time, but when push comes to shove, they always help and support each other, and eventually, they fall in love. Ae Ra is incredibly badass and isn’t afraid to kick people’s asses when needs be, and Dong Man is right there to support her and hype her up. Similarly, as Dong Man’s career starts to pick up, Ae Ra is there to encourage him and give him strength. Their dynamic was so lovely to see, and it definitely makes you yearn for a relationship like theirs, where you know everything about each other and have been together since you were kids. Seeing them grow and find success in their lives as well is just an added bonus to the already sweet story of their love. Really makes you see life in a different light.
So there you have it. Mystery, comedy, fantasy, action, slice of life, there’s something for everybody on this list. Whether you choose any one of these dramas, prefer to stick to your own stuff, or forego the Netflix for the chill, I wish you a very happy Valentine’s Day. First and foremost, treat yourself and love yourself, and have a fun and love-filled day however you see best.
See you next week!