These K-Dramas Will Take You Straight Back To High School

Experience major throwbacks to your teenage life!
PHOTO: (LEFT) Boys Over Flowers/KBS, (RIGHT) Reply 1997/tvN

Every once in a while, it's nice to look back on high school. Whether you struggled back then or you were one of the lucky ones who had a blast, you'll definitely have so many memories from that time. Let these Korean drama series relive your first loves, unforgettable friendships, academic pressures, and everything else that made high school the best and worst times of your teenage life.

Princess Hours (2006)

The story largely centers on an arranged marriage in a fictional alternate reality where modern Korea (at that time) still has a royal family. It stars high schoolers Yoon Eun Hye as Shin Chae Kyeong and Ju Ji Hoon as Crown Prince Lee Shin. One grew up in a humble family, while the other was born into privilege. Even with their stark differences, they eventually develop amazing chemistry that made the story a favorite among K-drama fans.

Although a lot of aspects of the show are far from realistic, what would make you reminisce high school are the love triangles! We're sure you know of or have experience in memorable love triangles back then, and it can get very messy especially when someone does nasty things to try and beat their rival. You might be reminded of old high school friends or acquaintances, too, as you watch characters like Song Ji Hyo's Min Hyo Rin (the talented and ambitious girl) and Kim Jeong Hoon's Prince Lee Yul (the super nice guy who gets friendzoned).

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Boys Over Flowers (2009)

It's the Korean adaptation of Japanese manga Hana Yori Dango and the Taiwanese drama Meteor Garden. Geum Jan Di (Ku Hye Sun) gets entangled in the lives of four rich boys—the infamous F4—in her high school: Gu Jun Pyo (Lee Min Ho), Yoon Ji Hoo (Kim Hyun Joong), So Yi Jung (Kim Bum), and Song Woo Bin (Kim Joon). A simple yet feisty girl, Jan Di attracts the attention of arrogant (but secretly sweet) Jun Pyo. The problem is, she likes Ji Hoo over Jun Pyo and Jun Pyo's mom doesn't approve of him dating someone who isn't rich, but Jun Pyo doesn't let this stop him from pursuing Jan Di.

Like in every typical high school, there's a group of the most popular boys (like F4) that so many girls have a crush on. They're bound to give girls a ton of boy drama, too. Unfortunately, some of them are also notorious for bullying kids that either annoy or defy them—sometimes to the point of throwing flour and eggs to their victims!

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Dream High (2011)

Imagine if there's an actual academy that you can enroll in to become a K-pop idol. That's what Dream High is. The series was such a hit as it starred real-life idols Bae Suzy (from Miss A), Taecyon and Wooyoung (from 2PM), Eunjung (from T-ara), and IU. Actor Kim Soo Hyun (from My Love From the Star) also rose to fame after his role as a music prodigy in the drama.

What would resonate with you in this drama is how passionate the teens are with their talents. Possibly just like you, they didn't let setbacks or personal disadvantages hold them back from pursuing their dreams. Hopefully, you also found genuine friends who will support you and cheer you on while trying to achieve your goals.

Reply Series (2012 and 2015)

In Reply 1997 (2012), Shi Won (Jung Eun Ji) is OBSESSED with H.O.T, a Korean idol group that was huge in the late '90s. She loves the group more than anything (including her studies LOL), and would even go to the boy band's event in another city without her parents' permission. Who can't relate to takas moments like that?!

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Shi Won's other friends have their own personalities that would remind you of yourself or those that made your high school life so colorful. Like several teenage boys, her guy best friend (Yoon Yoon Je, played by Seo In Guk) develops a crush on her and tries to keep it a secret. Her female bestie, on the other hand, is someone she'd be mad at over petty things and make up with quickly. She also has a closet gay friend, a sporty buddy who doesn't know how to interact with girls, and a chismoso chingu.

Reply 1988 (2015), on the other hand, also revolves around a group of childhood friends who get into all sorts of drama during their prime teenage years in the late '80s. Lee Hyeri's Deok Sun also didn't do well in school. But she had other charms that made her lovable. She's always looked at her guy friends as merely her neighbors but she eventually develops feelings of affection for a few of them.

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Aside from the innocent crushes, young love, and teenage heartaches, you would remember the usual school activities. There were a mix of fun and serious study sessions for major exams and college entrance tests. There were school performances that you really put your efforts on and field trips you looked forward to. Nakaka-miss, no?

Note: There were actually three dramas in the series, but the second one (Reply 1994, which aired in 2013) was largely set in college, not high school.

School Series

This list won't be complete without Korea's famous School series. The three installments all showed the typical struggles and realistic issues that teenagers face in South Korea. Among the issues tackled are bullying, teen suicide, and intense pressures on academic excellence.

School 2013 starred young Lee Jong Suk as bullied kid Go Nam Soon. One of his bullies was Park Heung Soo played by Kim Woo Bin. On top of the hostile environment, their school ranks low in terms of academic scores, so their homeroom teachers make it a point to help the students overcome their trials.

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Who Are You: School 2015, meanwhile, featured a prestigious private high school with Go Eun Byul (Kim So Hyun) at the top of the popularity pyramid. She mysteriously disappears but gets "replaced" by her twin sister Eun Bi, who's her exact opposite in terms of personality. As Eun Bi lives Eun Byul's life, she develops feelings for the latter's best guy friend played by Nam Joo Hyuk. She also becomes the love interest of the protective tough guy character played by Yook Sung Jae. While the whole twin thing is far-fetched, the other facets of the drama might remind you of your younger self. It also touches on a serious issue: the suicide attempt of a teen after getting bullied at school and depressed by various circumstances.

Lastly, School 2017 focused more on the stress that studying can bring (aside from a mysterious troublemaker that the protagonist tries to unmask). The cheerful heroine, Ra Eun Ho (Kim Se Jeong), wants to become a webtoon artist by studying it in college. However, she faces threats of expulsion as she gets accused as the elusive troublemaker.

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Cheer Up! aka Sassy, Go Go (2015)

Did you go to a high school with ~*star*~ sections or elite clubs? This is what the fictional setting of Sassy, Go Go is all about. Because of the elitism, those at the bottom of the academic ranks were outcasts. One of them was Kang Yeon Doo (Jung Eun Ji). Although she doesn't get good grades, she leads a street dance club that gets forced to form a cheerleading squad together with the school's elites including Kim Yeol (Lee Won Keun).

In the series, you might remember one of your previous classmates who were all about getting good grades. Some would even join or lead school clubs just to boost their track record. Sometimes, they really just want to do well. But usually, they're pressured by their parents (like in the case of Chae Soo Bin playing Kwon Soo Ah and Ji Soo playing Seo Ha Joon). Aside from this, though, the main cast also encounters what most young people learn at this age: how to make genuine friends. (PSA: Sassy, Go Go is just 12 episodes long, and it's available on Netflix and Viu—perfect for a feel-good binge watch over the weekend!)

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