Oh, the pains that come with growing up/learning how to be an adult. Sometimes, you’re stuck on the road and drenched in the pouring rain without an umbrella. Sometimes, you don’t get along with your new housemates. Sometimes, your first love ends up with your friend. It sucks, right? There are just days when we don’t want to *adult*, and would rather go back to our childhood when the only thing we cared about is whether Disney will do reruns of Totally Spies on weekends. Now, we want to run away from our problems, and just chase after our dreams, lol.
These days, we find comfort in watching our shows and dramas, since they provide a quick esape for us from reality. (Let's be real, some of our fave ones are usually *too good* to be true.) If you’re looking for realistic and relatable series that shows exactly the pains of growing up and learning to be good adults, here are 10 K-dramas (that you can watch on Netflix and Viu) about growing up that will comfort you the most:
1. Hello, My Twenties! (2016)
New school, new apartment, new people to get along with—what’s scarier than that? Hello, My Twenties, also known as Age of Youth, shows the story of five twenty-something girls (starring Ryu Hwa Young, Park Hye Soo, Park Eun Bin, Han Seung Yeon, and Han Ye Ri) who live in the same house called “Belle Epoque.” This drama proves that first impressions don’t always last: While they started out rough, they eventually found a support system in each other. Belle Epoque translates to “beautiful age” in French, which fits this K-drama’s theme.
2. Reply 1988 (2015)
Out of all the Reply series, we pick this one as our favorite. Set in the ‘80s, a group of friends who live in the same neighborhood since their childhood (who we call as the Ssangmundong Squad, formed by Park Bo Gum, Ryu Jun Yeol, Lee Hyeri, Go Kyung Pyo, and Lee Dong Hwi) go through the ups and downs of growing up together, until they get old. Tbh, we're pretty sure this drama is a hit among Pinoys because of the extremely relatable kapitbahay culture. There are so many themes and storylines in this drama that you're sure to find one to relate to (and cry about). Be sure to have a box of tissues with you when you decide to watch this!
3. Itaewon Class (2020)
What will you do if life pushes you to the ground? Stay in that place, or work your way up? This is Park Saeroyi's (Park Seo Joon) dilemma in this K-drama, set in the bustling area in the city of Seoul. Itaewon Class is a melting pot of diverse characters (Kim Da Mi, Lee Joo Young, Kim Dong Hee, Chris Lyon, Ryu Kyung Soo) that you will become attached to, and mirrors life and how it should be lived. The best lesson learned here: When you have grit, there is no reason for you to quit. If you’re looking for motivation, let this drama empower you.
4. Misaeng (2014)
An underrated find, Misaeng is a realistic take on the working class and the corporate world. Similar to what you might be going through right now, this K-drama places us in the shoes of new employees, employees being mocked by seniors, and companies facing issues. It’s a gentle reminder that while everything may go downhill, your biggest takeaway will always be growth. Starring Im Siwan, Kang So Ra, and Kang Haneul, Misaeng bagged several awards during the year it was aired.
5. Fight For My Way (2017)
Ever been trapped in a job that’s far from what you want, and felt like a candle slowly losing its burn? Nothing’s more soul-crushing than waiting for the clock to strike five day in and day out. Fight For My Way brings hope to dead-end dreams. The drama explores the quarter-life struggles of best friends Choi Ae Ra (Kim Ji Won), Ko Dong Man (Park Seo Joon), Kim Joo Man (Ahn Jae Hong), and Baek Seol Hee (Song Ha Yoon) and how they conquer it with the help of each other.
6. My ID Is Gangnam Beauty (2018)
What happens when you enter college with a fresh start, armed with your goals and skills, and then all of a sudden, people start digging up your past? It’s stressful, not to mention how much it dampens your self-confidence. My Id Is Gangnam Beauty portrays the life of Kang Mi Rae (Im Soo Hyang) who went through plastic surgery, and was bullied for the drastic change in her facial features. She then encounters Do Kyung Seok (Cha Eun Woo), who would let her know that there’s more to her than meets the eye. Watch this if you need a confidence boost, and a hint of kilig on the side.
7. School 2013 (2012)
From the entire School series, we pick the angst-filled 2013 version as our favorite with its true-to-life representation of how school systems work—intense examinations, unfair distribution of power, and what it’s like to live under constant pressure. Lee Jong Suk, Kim Woo Bin, Jang Nara, Choi Daniel, Park Se Young, and Kwak Jung Wook give another definition to what high school is all about, and presents friendships in a way how most beautiful stories are told.
8. Dream High (2011)
The pressure you experience in school is depicted in the K-drama, Dream High, which revolves around the story of high school students (Suzy, Kim Soo Hyun, IU, Ok Taecyeon, Ham Eun Jung, and Jang Woo Young) who aim to become known in the music industry someday. This drama is proof that friendships are broken and mended, competition is fierce, and the journey to the top is a long and challenging, but when you keep the faith and continue working hard, nothing is impossible.
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