Move over, Kim Bok Joo! There’s a new weightlifting fairy in town. The world watched with bated breath the other night as Filipina weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz made history and became the Philippines’ first-ever gold medalist at the Olympics. We have to admit, we got a little teary-eyed as we heard the Philippine national anthem being played in an Olympic medal ceremony for the first time. All the excitement has us wanting good old sports-themed content for our next K-drama night! Check out this list for a variety of adrenaline-pumping dramas (in more ways than one) that will keep you on an Olympics high.
Must-Watch Sports-Themed K-Dramas
1. Cheer Up! (2015)
Where you can watch it: Viu
This touching teen drama will have you crying buckets of tears. It follows the lives of the students of elite school Sevit High, where they’re pressured to excel academically. Yeon Doo (Jung Eun Ji) has low grades that make her an outcast at school, but she finds comfort in performing with street dance club Real King where she’s the leader. When she and her club members are forced to merge with elite student club Baek Ho to form a cheerleading squad, she learns not to judge a book by its cover.
2. Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo (2016)
Where you can watch it: Netflix, iQIYI
While this drama is one of the cutest rom-coms we’ve ever watched, it is also a coming-of-age tale about achieving your dreams. Titular heroine Bok Joo (Lee Sung Kyung) is a young athlete who aspires to win a gold medal in weightlifting at the Olympics. It’s heartwarming to watch her conquer her insecurities and gain confidence as the drama goes on. The series also shines a spotlight on other sports as Bok Joo studies in a college for athletes. Her friend (and spoiler: eventual BF), Joon Hyung (Nam Joo Hyuk), is a swimmer, while her roommate, Shi Ho (Kyung Soo Jin) is an Asian games-winning rhythmic gymnast.
3. Thumping Spike (2016)
Where you can watch it: Viki
In this heart-pounding web series, popular volleyball player Se Ra (Hwang Seung Eon) is forced to coach the faltering volleyball team from Dae Han High School after she gets into an altercation with its team captain, Woo in (Lee Tae Hwan). As she helps them up their volleyball game, the team’s star player, Jae Woong (Song Jae Rim), keeps getting in the way. But does he really hate her, or will their antagonistic relationship lead to ~something else~?
4. Fight For My Way (2017)
Where you can watch it: Netflix, Viu, iQIYI
This slice-of-life drama is all about the very real struggle of becoming successful in your chosen field. Our protagonists are both down on their luck, but they continue to try and turn the tides. Dong Man (Park Seo Joon) used to play taekwondo and is now a frustrated mixed martial arts fighter with dreams for the big time. He must learn to navigate his friendship and growing feelings for his friend, Ae Ra (Kim Ji Won), while they both aim for career success. The way they support each other makes us wish we had the same type of relationship in our lives!
5. Short (2018)
This four-episode drama gives us a little window into short track speed skating, an Olympic sport South Korea is famous for. It follows the story of Kang Ho Young (Kang Tae Oh), a skater from the countryside who enters Kangbaek University after getting scouted. He becomes rivals with Park Eun Ho (Yeo Hoi Hyeon), who comes from a sports family and is known as the King of Short Track Speed Skating. As the series goes along, they start forming a friendship.
6. Hot Stove League (2019)
Where you can watch it: Netflix, Viu
If you’re looking for a tale of passion and camaraderie that will give you all the feels, Hot Stove League is it. Baek Sung Soo (Nam Goong Min) becomes the new general manager of professional baseball team Dreams, aiming to transform them from last in the league to champions. This drama isn’t really about playing actual baseball games. It’s about learning about all the work that goes into creating a winning team from scouting players to marketing. We rooted for the Dreams every step of the way!
7. Run On (2020)
Where you can watch it: Netflix
This slow-burn romance has two leads with instant chemistry, both looking for their place in the world. Seon Gyeom (Im Si Wan) is a national track and field athlete who finds himself questioning where he wants to go with his sprinting career when he saves a fellow athlete from bullies. Mi Joo (Shin Se Kyung) works as his translator, and as they get to know each other, they influence each other for the better—and Seon Gyeom finally realizes where to take his career. Don’t expect any convoluted love triangles or plot twists here. This drama relies on thought-provoking dialogue to get its point across.
8. Racket Boys (Ongoing)
Where you can watch it: Netflix
This drama documents the misadventures of a struggling middle school badminton club in the countryside, training boys and girls to one day become national athletes. This is a true sports drama that follows a ragtag group of athletes as they join tournaments and aim to become champions. You’ll recognize some familiar youthful faces in the club: Korean-Malaysian actor Tang Joon Sang of CLOY and Move To Heaven fame, Kim Kang Hoon who played the young Jae Hoon in Mouse, and award-winning actress Lee Jae In of the film Svaha: The Sixth Finger.
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