Dating reality shows have been around for ages, but the Hallyu-fied ones have only recently gained popularity worldwide. It's all thanks to the Netflix series, Single's Inferno. But way before the pandemic, there have been others with different formats and cast members that have amped up the romance for avid K-drama and K-pop fans.
Get ready for a sweet dose of kilig with these Korean dating reality shows:
1. We Got Married (2008 - 2017)
Where you can watch it: MBC Entertainment's YouTube channel (highlights and full episodes—mostly without subtitles, though)
This is the OG and probably the most popular Korean dating show in the past. And that's for good reason: it paired up Korean celebrities and asked them to live temporarily as married couples! Big K-drama and K-pop stars were matched and experienced their daily lives together. They had various entertaining missions like sweet photoshoots, dinner dates, and spending the night together. Among the couples that became so hyped were BTOB's Sungjae and Red Velvet's Joy because of their undeniable chemistry. Other big celebs who joined the show were Nam Goong Min, Super Junior-M's Henry, and Eric Nam with MAMAMOO's Solar.
2. Single's Inferno (2021 - 2022)
Where you can watch it: Netflix
With two seasons so far, this dating-slash-survival show has hooked international viewers. Young, attractive single people are brought to a "Hell Island" with basic accommodations and supplies. They must win challenges and create connections with fellow contestants to escape to "Heaven Island" and enjoy a luxurious night.
3. and 4. Heart Signal (2017 - 2020) and Friends (2021)
Where you can watch it: AYO's YouTube channel
Heart Signal brought together strangers who are looking for love under one roof. Think Big Brother, but the main mission is to anonymously text a different "housemate" every night. It's up to them how to send the right signals to the person they like. As they live together for a month, a panel of celebrities watch their romantic interactions and try to guess which relationships will blossom. Then came Friends which brought back some of the fan favorites from Heart Signal seasons two and three.
5. Love Catcher (2018 - 2022)
Similar to Heart Signal, a group of singles live in one house and are monitored 24/7 by cameras. The difference is that they're flown to a resort (in South Korea and Bali, Indonesia so far), and they participate in various challenges to find love. Another layer of thrill? Some are in it for love, while others are in it for money. The show takes cast members, hosts, and even the audience on a hunt for true love or money "catchers.”
6. Between Love and Friendship (2022)
Where you can watch it: Viu
Do you know anyone IRL where two friends form a love triangle with a person they both like? That's exactly the kind of drama that this short series stirs up. Will the contestants choose their friendship over love? Or will they abandon their chingu to pursue romance?
7. Change Days (2021 - 2022)
Where you can watch it: Netflix
Unlike the previous shows on this list, this one features real-life couples who are on the verge of breaking up. Pairs get swept into a romantic getaway and get faced with a choice: will they repair their relationship or pursue a new one? Who ends up alone and who ends up with new partners? So. Much. Drama! Naturally, the show receives a lot of criticism for the concept, so this is definitely not for a conservative audience.
Of course, this isn't an all-inclusive list. There are other unique shows that will be harder to watch than the ones we mentioned. For instance, there's Divorced Singles, which obviously feature people who have ended their previous marriages. There's also Merry Queer starring LGBTQ+ couples who want to get married and His Man, a gay dating reality series, which is perfect for boy love or BL fans. Whether you're a fan of dating shows or just curious about the concept, these Korean dating reality shows will bring on romance and keep you entertained. Enjoy!