As young adults, there will be a stage in our lives where we have to strive so hard to improve ourselves and establish an enjoyable career. There are times when we try to reflect on our life choices and ask ourselves what went wrong. Welcome to adulting—where doses of self-doubts are supplied regularly.
As we try to keep our silent battles, portraying real-life situations in TV shows allows people to understand that what we are going through is valid. We usually get comfort once we discover that others are going through the same thing as ours. That kind of comfort can come in the form of a Korean series that's so relatable, it's as if it was written based on our life struggles.
If you are looking for inspiration, here are 10 K-dramas that will motivate you in life:
1. Itaewon Class (2020)
Who's in it: Park Seo Joon, Kim Da Mi, Yoo Jae Myung, Kwon Nara, Ahn Bo Hyun
Have you ever felt that life is just so unfair? That no matter how hard you try to succeed, it's the system and outright injustice that keeps on pulling you down. This is exactly the situation that Park Saeroyi has gone through. From getting expelled from school, the accidental death of his father, and his imprisonment, it was a hapless series of events but he knew that it wasn't the end. After his release, Saeroyi opened the DanBam Pub in Itaewon and soon met Jo Yi Seo. From there, he successfully got *revenge* and the rest is history.
Itaewon Class is a masterpiece that tackles the issues of inequality and discrimination based on social status. It portrays the harsh reality where our system favors those who are privileged. However, Park Saeroyi's story is proof that even an underdog can succeed through sheer determination. And sometimes, we just need a certain someone who will bring out the best in us and be our companion through thick and thin.
2. Start-Up (2020)
Who's in it: Bae Suzy, Nam Joo Hyuk, Kim Seon Ho, Kang Han Na
Establishing yourself in hopes of getting a stable career is not an easy thing to fulfill. In Start-Up, Seo Dal Mi, Nam Do San, and Han Ji Pyeong's lives are relatable to anyone who's striving to make their dreams come true. Whether it's being an employee or starting your own business, you will definitely see yourself in them. Set in South Korea's fictional Silicon Valley called Sandbox, Start-Up features characters that started from humble beginnings.
The drama is an accurate depiction of modern times. While there's no identified strong antagonist, it made us realize that sometimes, our biggest enemy in life is ourselves—our self-doubts, insecurities, expectations, and even past traumas. These are the things that we can overcome little by little, as we imagine a bright future waiting ahead for us.
3. Record Of Youth (2020)
Who's in it: Park Bo Gum, Park So Dam, Byeon Woo Seok, Kwon Soo Hyun
They say that we should make the best out of our days while we're young. But while we are trying to make memories that will last a lifetime, it's also the same period where we chase our dreams and prepare for our future. The adulting life can either make you or break you, and this is what Record Of Youth is all about. Three young people try to enter such competitive industries: Sa Hye jun and Won Hae Hyo are models-turned-actors who came from different social backgrounds. Meanwhile, Ahn Jeong Ha is someone who sacrificed her office job to pursue her passion for make-up. The story features the rough beginnings of the main characters and how they reach for success.
Record Of Youth follows a beautiful story of career growth, friendship, and love—three key life factors that we aspire to establish in our 20s to early 30s. It's a simple yet moving drama that will encourage the viewers to never stop dreaming because the fulfillment of our dreams might just be around the corner. We just need to make some sacrifices and wise decisions.
4. Fight For My Way (2017)
Who's in it: Park Seo Joon, Kim Ji Won, Ahn Jae Hong, Song Ha Yoon
Sometimes, you just want to go back to your childhood when you are not yet tasked to make ends meet. It's the time when you have more fun playing with your favorite toys than trying to balance your finances so you can pay your bills. Life is totally different as we grow, and the characters of Choi Ae Ra, Ko Dong Man, Baek Sul Hee, and Kim Joo Man can attest to that. One day, they were all just learning in the four corners of the classroom. The next day, they found themselves in the real world that seems to be a survival of the fittest.
Fight For My Way revolves around the lives of four millennials seeking for happiness and contentment through the fulfillment of their dreams. If you are a fan of the friends-turned-lovers concept, you will definitely enjoy this. After all, it's also nice to grow and spend your life with someone who has been there since the beginning.
5. Navillera (2021)
Who's in it: Song Kang, Park In Hwan, Na Moon Hee, Hong Seung Hee
Not everyone can easily figure out the things that they are passionate about. The story of Shim Deok Chul in Navillera is a perfect example of what passion can do to us. He's a 70-year-old man who proved that age is a mere number for someone who dreams. Meanwhile, 23-year-old Lee Chae Rok also fell in love with ballet after his tryouts with some sports. They're two different people from different generations who met each other by chance as they try to find their purpose.
Navillera is a wholesome and heartwarming series that can make you smile and shed some tears. It's a tale that will allow you to understand that things will fall into place when the right time comes. The series also started conversations about ageism and inspire people from different backgrounds.
6. Hospital Playlist (2020)
Who's in it: Jo Jung Suk, Yoo Yeon Seok, Jung Kyung Ho, Kim Dae Myung, Jeon Mi Do
Life can be very challenging but it will be much more bearable when shared with people you trust and who have the same interest as yours. Usually, medical dramas can give you tension and worry but Hospital Playlist will spare you from that. The plot features five BFFs who have been together since they were in med school. In their decades-long friendship, they find comfort in each other through food and band sessions that serve as their break from their hectic schedules.
Hospital Playlist is a slice-of-life series that delivers an unforgettable feel-good experience to its viewers. It's a drama that will remind us that friendships are valuable, and it's where we can all get life lessons.
7. Dream High (2011)
Who's in it: Bae Suzy, Ok Taecyeon, Kim Soo Hyun, IU, Ham Eun Jung, Jang Woo Young
Who can forgt this classic K-drama with a star-studded cast? I remember watching this during my high school years when it was aired on a local television channel. Life was so good back then when a P40 daily allowance can already buy you morning and afternoon snacks. This drama has inspired many people of my age—more than a decade after, the message of the show is still relevant and can be recommended for the younger generation to watch.
Dream High outlines a coming-of-age story about students who aspire to be K-pop idols. It's an uplifting series that shows moral lessons about friendship and life decisions. What else can we say? Since dreaming is free, make it big, and soar high!
8. Pinocchio (2014)
Who's in it: Lee Jong Suk, Park Shin Hye, Kim Young Kwan, Lee Yu Bi
First of all, let's just mention that seeing Lee Jong Suk and Park Shin Hye together in a K-drama is a whole treat! These two great actors portrayed characters who both aspire to become news reporters. Along the way, they get scarred and discouraged but as soon they grow and realize their higher purpose, there's no holding back in pursuing their dreams.
Pinocchio illustrates the entrance of two young people in their careers. As journalists, they have the responsibility to serve as society's watchdogs. This drama shows how journalists protect the truth—after all, it was instilled to us since childhood that honesty is always the best policy.
9. Racket Boys (2021)
Who's in it: Kim Sang Kyung, Oh Na Ra, Tang Joon Sang, Kim Kang Hoon, Lee Jae In
Going to a totally unfamiliar place where you have to meet new people can be stressful. But at the same time, it's an opportunity to immerse yourself in a new environment that can eventually lead to personal growth. Such is the situation for Yoon Hyun Jeong who took a leap of faith by coaching a badminton team on the verge of disbandment. Soon, the challenge of completing the team again was accomplished, and that renewed their dream.
Racket Boys is a sports genre series that will already give you an engaging build-up in the early episodes and as you continue, it will surely hit right home. The characters will make you feel their sincerity and will get you more attached. It depicts a process of following one's heart to make dreams come true. Another great takeaway is that the journey is worth remembering when you build friendships before reaching success.
10. Doctors (2016)
Who's in it: Park Shin Hye, Kim Rae Won, Lee Sung Kyung, Yoon Kyung Sang
Once a stubborn high school girl with a lot of childhood baggage, Yoo Hye Jung is not the type who easily trusted people not until she met her mentor, Hong Ji Hong. From having a life that seemed to be facing no direction, it gradually changed to a purposeful one as she became a neurosurgeon. At the same time, she was able to learn to open her heart again.
Doctors stands out in highlighting that it's never too late for a person to change, and one's current situation is not the final destination. It's always possible to turn the tables. This series is an eye-opener that it's better not to judge others because we have no idea of the trauma they're carrying. Kindness can reach far and the satisfaction that it can give is always priceless.
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