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12 K-Dramas About High School And First Loves That Are Worth Watching

Experience major throwbacks to your teenage life!
PHOTO: (LEFT TO RIGHT) Love Alarm/Netflix, Instagram/tvndrama.official
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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.

We listed below some of the best Korean dramas so you can relive your first love, unforgettable friendships, academic pressures, and everything else that made high school the best and worst times of your teenage life.

1. Princess Hours (2006)

Where you can watch it: Viu

Princes Hours 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.

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Although a lot of aspects of the show are far from realistic, what would make you reminisce about 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 friend zoned).

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2. Boys Over Flowers (2009)

Where you can watch it: Netflix, Viu

Boys Over Flowers is the Korean adaptation of the 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.

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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!

3. Dream High (2011)

Where you can watch it: Netflix, Viu

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

What would resonate with you in Dream High 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.

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4. Reply Series (2012 and 2015)

Where you can watch it: Netflix and Viu

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?!

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 (friend).

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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 as 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.

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.

5. School Series

Where you can watch it: Netflix and Viu

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

6. Cheer Up! aka Sassy, Go Go (2015)

Where you can watch it: Viu

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).

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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—perfect for a feel-good binge-watch over the weekend!)

7. Love Alarm (2019)

Where you can watch it: Netflix

Kim So Hyun is always a favorite when it comes to playing the role of a high school student and Netflix's Love Alarm is no exception. In this webtoon-adapted K-drama, she plays the role of Kim Jojo, who gets caught in a love triangle with Jung Ga Ram and Song Kang. The catch? It involves a mobile app that tells you if someone is into you! 

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8. Sky Castle (2019)

Where you can watch it: Netflix and Viu

Did you know that this series was immensely popular due to its realistic portrayal of what school life is like in South Korea? It's even the second highest-rating K-drama of all time! Sky Castle is about a bunch of high school students from affluent families who go through the pressure of studying just to get admitted to the top university in the country. Their parents are weilling to do everything just to achieve this, even if it affects the mental and emotional state of their children. You see, when a student passes the admission exam, it's a great pride to the family and it escalates them to the ~*top of society*~. 

 

9. Extraordinary You (2019)

Where you can watch it: Netflix and Viu

From the webtoon July Found By Chance, Extraordinary You is not your typical high school drama because the lead (Kim Hye Yoon) is a supporting character who is lives inside a manhwa! Despite her *small* role, she is very determined to become the star of her own life. And so she finds ways to get that goal! What makes Extraordinary You an ~extraordinary~ K-drama is that most of the scenes are feel-good lang talaga, and will remind you of the good days as a high school student. Who remembers bumping into their crush in the hallway or walking happily to school with their BFFs?!

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10. Extracurricular (2020)

Where you can watch it: Netflix

Everyone has a different side to them (even the "good student" in class) and Extracurricular (Kim Dong Hee, Park Ju Hyun, Nam Yoon Su, and Jung Da Bin) shows that in a gripping, sometimes disturbing, but totally captivating plot. We won't spoil anything for you, but let's just say that each student in this K-drama has their own "extracurricular" activities outside the school. For some, their reason for engaging in these illegal undertakings is to find the means to graduate. For others, it's more of a coping mechanism for problems at home. 

11. 18 Again (2020)

Where you can watch it: Viu

What would you do if you were given the chance to re-live your life as a high school student again? In the Korean remake of the Hollywood movie 17 Again, a struggling appa (father) was able to go back in time. But the thing is, he's the only one who was granted to do this! Meaning, everyone around him is still living their life in the present while he became the younger version of himself. LOL. 18 Again is a K-drama full of life lessons that your high school self will definitely agree with. Plus, Lee Do Hyun is a total campus crush cutie here!

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12. True Beauty (2020)

Where you can watch it: Viu

Fun field trips, getting kilig with your gwapong classmate, and struggling to keep our grades up to keep our parents happy—really, True Beauty is the K-drama version of our high school lives! This series (which, btw, is adapted from a webtoon) revolves around Im Ju Kyung (Moon Ga Young), a girl who's insecure about her looks. She would often hide her ~true beauty~ by piling on makeup. Her classmate, Lee Suho (Cha Eun Woo), doesn't mind this at all, but due to her traumatizing past, Ju Kyung is still afraid to show her bare face to the world. And then there's Han Seojun (Hwang In Yeop), who likes her because of her personality. Kilig, 'no

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