There are a handful of Korean drama clichés that never get old, and ~epic hugs~ are just one of them. These affectionate gestures (which are often shown in different angles or in slow-mo) usually signal a turning point in the relationship of the characters. But sometimes, they're strategically included in a scene just to make our hearts flutter (and maybe make us scream a little bit out of kilig).
Here are the five different types of K-drama hugs you can expect in virtually any Korean romantic series, plus a few of the most memorable on-screen hugs we've seen so far!
1. The Back Hug
What's a Korean drama without the trademark back hug? The others on this list might be seen in series from other countries, but the back hug? It's definitely a K-drama thing.
It could be a surprise move to show the female lead how much the male lead appreciates her, just like how Vice Chairman Lee Young Joon (Park Seo Joon) hugged Kim Mi So (Park Min Young) from behind in What's Wrong With Secretary Kim?
Of course, females show the tender gesture, as well. Remember how Yoo Hye Jung (Park Shin Hye) gave Hong Ji Hong (Kim Rae Won) a back hug as they were parting ways one night in Doctors?
Of course, it's not always a 100 percent sweet move. It can be a "Please, protect me from my eomma" kind of back hug, like what Reply 1988's Deok Sun (Lee Hyeri) did to Jung Hwan (Ryu Jeon Yeol).
And there's also the, "Please, calm down, don't hurt him!" back hug, as demonstrated by Ra Eun Ho (Kim Sejeong) with Hyun Tae Woon (Kim Jung Hyun) in School 2017.
2. The Tree Hug
Similar to the iconic back hug, this one happens when the other least expects it and causes him or her to freeze in place. For instance, in one scene of My Husband, Mr. Oh!, Han Seung Joo (Uee) eagerly hugs Oh Jak Doo (Kim Kang Woo) while he remains stunned and unable to move at all.
Sometimes, the person being hugged couldn't resist and ends up returning the gesture. This scene in Fight For My Way started with a stunned and unresponsive Ae Ra (Kim Ji Won) when Dong Man (Park Seo Joon) gave her a surprise hug. She eventually gives him a pat on the shoulder to comfort her crying bestie.
In some dramas, tree hugging follows another trademark K-drama move: the wrist grab. In Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, the lead actor (Lee Joon Gi as Wang So) grabs the wrist of the lead actress (IU as Hae Soo) and pulls her in a tight embrace while she stays still in his arms.
3. The Drunk Hug
This one is just like the tree hug… except the hugger is under the influence of soju or makgeolli. The lack of inhibition, plus a drunk confession that usually accompanies the hug, makes it so ~*relatable*~. Take Suspicious Partners' Noh Ji Wook (Ji Chang Wook), for example.
The drunk hug could happen post-breakup, too. In The Great Seducer, the female lead (Eun Tae Hee played by Joy) hugs the male lead (Kwon Shi Hyun played by Woo Do Hwan) to show him she misses him and she wants him back.
4. The Bear Hug
It's the kind of hug we would love to get at the end of a looong, stressful day. It's that warm embrace where the lead guy envelopes the girl in his arms and keeps her there as if to melt all her worries away. And unlike the tree hug, the girl reciprocates. Who wouldn't love a bear hug from Gong Yoo like in this scene from Big, amiright?
The bear hug can also be a form of PDA that's totally worth the unnecessary attention. Take it from Strong Woman Do Bong Soon's Ahn Min Hyuk (Park Hyung Sik) and Do Bong Soon (Park Bo Young).
It can also be a way for the couple to kiss and make up. Remember when Kim Bok Joo (Lee Sung Kyung) got jealous and Jung Joon Hyung (Nam Joo Hyuk) hugged her tight to make amends in Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo?
Be warned: Bear hugs can also be heartbreakers. That's if a precious second lead witnesses it. Imagine being in the shoes of Cheese In The Trap's Baek In Ho (Seo Kang Joon).
5. The Gajima Hug
It's the hug that will just wreck you. Gajima is the romanized version of a Korean sentence meaning, "Please, don't go!" The tragic hug sometimes signals goodbyes, like when Goblin's Sunny (Yoo In Na) parted ways with the Grim Reaper (Lee Dong Wook).
The more common version? When the gajima hug is done as someone's desperate attempt to stop his or her love's inevitable death. The perfect (and most agonizing) example is when Ji Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun) sobbed while hugging Kim Shin (Gong Yoo).
As if that wasn't enough, the same drama destroys you with the reverse situation happening to the same lead characters.
The Straddle Hug
This hot, intimate hug doesn't happen often, especially when the actors in the K-drama are conservative. But we can count on sexy oppas like Park Seo Joon to tease us with this gesture every now and then.
The Straddle In Bed Hug
Dramas like Something In The Rain even take it a notch higher. Here, Yoon Jin Ah (Son Ye Jin) straddles Seo Joon Hee (Jung Hae In) in bed and hugs him in a warm, intimate embrace.
The "Oh, I'm So Clumsy, Let Me Hug You For Support" Hug
Even though it never really happens IRL, this cliché of a hug can still make an impact—especially when the characters' chemistry and prolonged eye contact (like Joon Gi and IU's) just work.
The Sleepy Shoulder Hug
This sweet hug is pulled off by cute, innocent-looking pairs like I Am Not A Robot's Yoo Seung Ho as Kim Min Kyu and Chae Soo Bin as Jo Ji Ah.
The Cuddle Hug
Lastly, this is the hug where the characters share a cozy embrace while in bed. You won't be able to help feeling kilig with these clips from Weightlifting Fairy and Fight For My Way. Enjoy!
Can you name other dramas where these common types of hugs happened?
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