Over the past few years, Korean dramas have become hugely popular all over the world, propelling the little peninsula nation to new heights in tandem with K-pop in terms of international popular culture. The characters, loves, and cultural touchstones featured in these dramas have captivated audiences and helped them learn more about Korean history, culture, and traditions. Even while some people may romanticise very genuine persons and situations, their influence on tourism and general understanding of South Korea is evident.
Fantasy dramas have progressively improved in quality and appeal over the past ten years, while historical and romance dramas have continued to be mainstays on television networks and online services. The conclusion of the drama Alchemy of Souls in early 2023 suggests that the genre has a bright future and demonstrates how far these narratives may be developed using the clichés that viewers are accustomed to. These are the top fantasy dramas from Korea to date.
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A Korean Odyssey
A Korean Odyssey, written by the notorious Hong Sisters, among of the most well-known Korean drama writers, was published in 2017. When a young girl who can see ghosts and spirits develops into an adult, she runs a business that essentially buys haunted homes, exorcises the ghosts, and then sells the property for a big profit. This attracts the attention of both individuals with supernatural abilities and immortals on the hunt. An unusual romance emerges as demons hunt her down and her talents. Although it is set in the present era, A Korean Odyssey is partially based on the Chinese novel Journey to the West.
Alchemy of Souls
Alchemy of Souls in 2022 is one of the Hong Sisters’ most challenging initiatives to date. Although the fantasy action series is set in a fictional nation, it has elements of a historical drama. Nak-su, the most dreaded assassin in the land, transfers her soul into another body, forcing her to start over on the run. She encounters a nobleman named Jang Uk after arriving to the Songrim, one of the four houses of mages that govern the country. She becomes Jang Uk’s instructor and teaches him how to become a wizard while being in a frail body. This enables the two of them to face the threats lying in the shadows together.
Doom at Your Service
Doom at Your Service, which was published in 2021, centres on a relationship between a human and the gods’ messenger. When the human, Dong-kyung, learns she has an aggressive brain cancer, she is an editor at an online novel company. She makes the decision to wish that everyone and everything in the world will perish one night after wishing upon a shooting star. Her wish is heard, and Myul Mang, a divine messenger who literally carries disaster, makes a deal with her to fulfil it.
The television show Extraordinary You, which is based on the Korean webcomic July Found By Chance, explores many Korean drama cliches in various ways. A high school student learns that the world she lives in is a webtoon and that none of the characters are real. She decides it’s time to change her fate and rewrite the story on her own when she discovers she’s only a character that exists to be there. But she begins to understand the repercussions of rewriting a story that wasn’t hers in the first place when she meets an anonymous student in her class.
Many people rank Goblin near the top of their lists of favourite Korean dramas, and for good reason. A former commander from Korea’s past who appears with Gong Yoo and Kim Go-eun is transformed into a goblin after being cursed to witness the deaths of all his loved ones. He meets a high school student who he believes to be his destined bride and the only person who can lift his curse of immortality centuries later. While their story is intertwined with that of a Grim Reaper who falls in love with the proprietor of a chicken business, none of these individuals’ journeys will be easy.
Hotel Del Luna
In Hotel Del Luna, IU, a GTist Korean singer, co-stars with Yeo Jin-goo. The Hong Sisters’ novel Hotel Del Luna is set in the same hotel. The sinful Jang Man-wol (IU), who discovered the hotel attached to her soul, runs the magical hotel where spirits go when they have unfinished business in the land of the living. A human made a promise to his son to work at the hotel twenty years prior to the start of the series, and when the time comes, he is compelled to take over as manager of Hotel Del Luna. His arrival will cause a chain of unstoppable events that will alter his life forever.
My Love from the Star
When it was released in 2013, the song “My Love from the Star,” also known as “You Who Came From the Stars,” became an immediate success. Kim Soo-hyun plays an alien who arrived on Earth in the Joseon Dynasty and is now a professor at a university. His formerly tranquil life is upended when he meets a Korean actress with a lot of problems, especially when he learns that she lives next door. But because it’s almost time for him to head back to his home planet, things get complicated when they start to get romantic.
My Roommate is a Gumiho
The fabled nine-tailed fox known as the gumiho, or a gumiho, appears in the male lead of the Korean film My Roommate is a Gumiho. Although Shin Woo-yeo (played by Jang Ki-yong) is approximately a thousand years old, becoming a human is his greatest aspiration. One day, a college professor decides to help an inebriated girl, and she swallows his precious bead in the process. She will die and he will never become a human if they are unable to extract the information from her. Naturally, they make the decision to share a home till they determine what to do next. The Korean webtoon on which My Roommate is a Gumiho is based.
Tale of the Nine Tailed
Tale of the Nine Tailed features Lee Dong-wook, Jo Bo-ah, and Kim Bum and depicts what occurs when the worlds of humans and gumiho collide. Over the course of 16 episodes, a human television station producer spots a 1,000-year-old gumiho on a quest. She follows him home, learns his secret, and realises he is not as human as she first believed. She also becomes entangled in a game being played by his brother and him. But as it turns out, they were destined to be together, and their relationship is much more complex than first appears.
The King: Eternal Monarch
The King: Eternal Monarch, a fantasy drama in which two parallel but entirely dissimilar universes merge, stars Lee Min-ho and Kim Go-eun. The Kingdom of Korea continues to exist today in one alternate reality. The king’s Emperor, Lee Gon (Lee), unintentionally lands in the present. There, he meets Kim, a detective who might hold the key to learning the truth about what led to his father’s murder. Characters continue to engage and learn that there is another universe out there as the two universes continue to clash, leading to romance and troubles.
The Legend of the Blue Sea
The Legend of the Blue Sea was a success when it was released both locally and abroad. It is one of the few mainstream Korean dramas that address the subject of mermaids. The main characters, who meet in contemporary Seoul, are the reincarnations of two lovers from Joseon-era Korea. The story is based on a traditional Korean folktale but with a contemporary twist. A mermaid (Jun Ji-hyun) encounters a conman (Lee Min-ho) in the present day and travels with him all the way to her native Korea. The show had one of the greatest ratings of the seasons, which ran from 2016 to 2017.
W: Two Worlds
The CW is currently adapting W: Two Worlds, popularly known as W, for an American audience under the title Angel City. In the original story, a surgeon becomes hooked into the webcomic her father creates while looking into his disappearance. She runs across the series’ affluent lead there, saves him from an untimely death, and unintentionally alters the plot. Her actions are reflected in reality, but when the line between the actual world and the webtoon starts to blur, something more sinister is going on.
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