Life in your 20s can be sometimes confusing. Somewhere along the queue to buy groceries, you suddenly want to question your life choices. Now you're not sure if you want to change careers, get married, or just buy turon.
The good news is that you are not alone. Even in the midst of what seems like an unfamiliar drive down a rough road, there are those who are willing to ride shotgun with you. Having a friend who understands your struggles and gives wise words to live by makes a difference. And sometimes, that friend can come in a form of a good K-drama with a well-written plot and relatable characters.
If you feel stuck on a road and need a companion along the ride, here are seven K-dramas you can take with you:
1. My Liberation Notes (2022)
Sometimes, it's on your commute when *adulting* hits you the hardest. Why can’t you have a better financial situation? Why are your peers doing much better than you? And is there even an end to this boring loop you're trapped in? The Yeom siblings are no stranger to such thoughts. Yeom Ki Jung (Lee El), Yeom Chang Hee (Lee Min Ki), and Yeom Mi Jung (Kim Ji Won) struggle in establishing a social life due to the distance between their home and workplace. Their days roll into the same dull routine until things start to look different when a mysterious man moves into the neighborhood.
My Liberation Notes is a beautiful depiction of normal day-to-day issues an adult faces in the real world—dealing with feelings of stagnation, seeking meaningful relationships, and longing for liberation from a boring, mundane life.
2. Because This Is My First Life (2017)
Who's in it: Jung So Min, Lee Min Ki, Park Byung Eun, Esom
Things getting dicey at work, getting kicked out from your own home, and basically just worrying about rent prices—Yoon Ji Ho (Jung So Min) is one relatable character when it comes to career and financial dilemmas. As she searches for a house to stay in, she meets Nam Se Hee (Lee Min Ki), a frugal app developer who sticks to a calculated, routine-led life and also happens to be searching for a new housemate. To solve their current problems, both agree to live together which eventually snowballed into a marriage contract deal. This might seem like your usual cohabitation K-drama trope, but believe me when I say that this show has a unique core that is sweetly deep and reflective.
Because This Is My First Life is a simple, endearing love story that sheds a light on the realities of marriage, healing from failed relationships, and making the best lemonades out of the lemons life keeps throwing at you.
3. Run On (2020)
Ki Seon Gyeom (Im Siwan) is an awkward sprinter who finds himself on a new path far from the track field. After meeting Oh Mi Joo (Shin Se Kyung), a witty and confident film translator, he starts to ponder about life and his dreams. Seon Gyeom gets entangled with an assault case which makes him leave all his accomplishments behind. He starts to hang out with Mi Joo and learns more about emotions and how relationships work. A story that shows the reality of how your chosen path can arrive at a dead end, Run On serves up beautiful realizations about career plans and how it's okay to give up on them. You are allowed to just flow with the spontaneity of life and it’s even okay to stop and press delete. This might seem scary but truth is, there is always another chance of starting afresh. You can take a blank page and write again. You can choose to face a new path and run again. To run on—this time, with the people you love.
4. More Than Friends (2020)
Who's in it: Shin Ye Eun, Ong Seong Wu, Kim Dong Joon, Ahn Eun Jin
Stuck in unrequited love for years? Kyung Woo Yeon (Shin Ye Eun) is that female lead who can mostly relate with you. She is a timid dreamer who has been in love with a disconnected soul, Lee Soo (Ong Seong Woo), and gets *friend zoned* over and over again. I love how this drama can take a simple plot and build suspense and anticipation around it. It’s like watching a game of tug-of-war between the characters as they explore their feelings and relationships. Aside from the main leads, this drama also boasts of their rich side characters with storylines most young adults could relate to. Like Kim Young Hee (Ahn Eun Jin), Woo Yeon's friend who excellently portrays a hardworking breadwinner. Her life packs one hell of an emotional punch that I dare anyone to sit through her scenes and not be moved to tears.
A charming and meaningful story between friends in the middle of pursuing their dreams, More Than Friends will take you on a sweet ride filled with warmth and hope that your situation can change—even how impossible it may seem.
5. Hello My Twenties / Age Of Youth (2016)
Who's in it: Ryu Hwa Young, Park Hye Soo, Park Eun Bin, Han Seung Yeon, Han Ye Ri
Moving out of your home and meeting new people in your 20s can be scary. Especially when you have to live with other people with varying lifestyles and backgrounds. Such was the case for Yoo Eun Jae (Park Hye Soo), an introverted 20-year-old girl in her first year of college. The story follows her relationship with her new housemates: four girls with incredibly distinct personalities and individual stories that will immediately draw you in. A steady blend of melodrama mixed with some comic relief and underlying suspense, this show will teach you that having a solid circle of friends in your 20s is indeed a life hack.
6. Love All Play / Going To You At A Speed Of 493km (2022)
Probably one of the worst feelings young adults experience is insecurity brought by expectations and comparisons coming from your own family. This drama has a painful yet hopeful way of portraying this reality. Park Tae Joon (Chae Jong Hyeop) is a badminton player filled with potential but is hindered by the comparison between him and his top athlete sister. Park Tae Yang (Park Joo Hyun) was a national badminton athlete who is living in the shadows of her past mistakes, thus leaving her in a bad slump and making her father disappointed. Badminton brings the two together in a lovely discovery about love, personal fulfillment, and reaching your dreams. Aside from juggling between romance and sports, Love All Play also brings a wholesome group of athletes that will make you laugh, pump your fist in the air, and just make you go aww in between scenes. It’s relatable, heartwarming, and will make you excited to push your limits and just serve your shuttlecock of luck towards life.
7. A Piece Of Your Mind (2020)
Who's in it: Jung Hae In, Chae Soo Bin, Park Ju Hyun, Kim Seong Gyu
Most of the time, slow-paced K-dramas find time to settle in before they can sweep you off your feet. But A Piece Of Your Mind is different. Armed with a unique plot that revolves around AI technology, themes about overcoming trauma, and cinematography that will take your breath away, this drama might just be the next touching show you need.
Known as the melodrama prince, Jung Hae In impresses once again in this tale about an AI programmer, Moon Ha Won, who seeks healing through inventing a device that can think and speak like his first love, Kim Ji Soo (Park Joo Hyun). In the middle of this project, he crosses paths with an audio engineer named Han Seo Woo (Chae Soo Bin). They formed a healing bond that focuses on how one person can support and soothe another without expecting anything in return.
A Piece Of Your Mind zooms in on emotions of loss and grief, finding comfort in the arms of a person, and moving on with a heart that is ready to love again.
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