5 binge-worthy K-dramas of all time: Reply 1988, Hospital Playlist, and more

'Reply 1988' and 'Hospital Playlist' main posters (Images via IMDb)
'Reply 1988' and 'Hospital Playlist' main posters (Images via IMDb)

Opening the door to the K-drama universe is nothing less than opening a treasure chest. Ask a Korean culture enthusiast if the international blockbusters Squid Game and Hellbound remain their top favorite shows, and a majority of them would outrightly refuse.

Before the two shows broke into the West, ardent fans across the world had already experienced K-dramas that left a forever imprint on them.

Known for their fresh take on life, romance, comedy, and friendship, binge-watching K-dramas is the best way to enjoy weekends or holidays. The best part about them is that they end within a limited number of episodes, around 20 on average.

5 evergreen shows in the history of K-dramas

One doesn't need to think twice before starting a K-drama. These shows do not require much commitment, unlike others that stretch for 5 or 10 seasons and even have multiple spin-offs. They finish off rather quickly, which means viewers get the closure they need in just one season.

Take a look at the five evergreen K-dramas that ardent fans swear by.

(Note: This article reflects the views of the author. The list is devoid of rankings. Numbers are only used to present dramas in an order.)

1. Reply 1988

All these kdrama talks bring me back to Reply 1988.It's been 6 years since it last aired but it's still my fave kdrama. With a plot about friendship, family & romance, this coming-of-age series definitely left an indelible impact in me. 🥺🤍

The 2015 series, with a multi-star cast of Park Bo-gum, Hyeri, Ryu Jun-yeol, Go Kyung-pyo, Sung Dong-il, Ra Mi-ran, Lee Mi-yeon, and many others, remains a must-watch (and re-watch) drama of all time.

Reply 1988 takes viewers back to an era long lost - without the internet. It shows the bond between families staying in one neighborhood and the kids growing up together. It sheds light on life, friendship, youth, dreams and parental support, taking the viewers on an emotional and fun rollercoaster journey of several equally important characters.

The millenial urge to run away and cocoon yourself in Reply 1988 rewatches.

In the Reply trilogy, this one is etched in K-drama fans’ minds forever. It also has the second-highest viewership ratings in tvN's history as of March 2022.

2. Hospital Playlist - 2 seasons, 12 episodes each

Lift your headBaby, don’t be scaredOf the things that could go wrong along the way...With a Smile - A Lacking 5 Fluff FMVTheir wholesome friendship lights my darkest days. So I hope this brings joy to all of you too, the friends I’ve made through Hospital Playlist❤️

Hospital Playlist was a success the moment it aired on Netflix in 2020. It stars a range of famous and talented actors such as Jo Jung-suk, Jeon Mi-do, Jung Kyung-ho, Yoo Yeon-seok, and Kim Dae-myung.

The story focuses on a group of doctors whose friendship began in university and follows them as they navigate through highs and lows. Despite the extreme pressure and non-stop nature of their jobs, they dedicate one day of the week to doing the one thing they all love - playing music.

With an amazing range of OSTs, the show is hailed for its realistic portrayal of medical professionals’ lives.

It’s funny how our brain and heart works. how passionate we are about hospital playlist, about their story, about their friendship, and one day we’re gonna wake up, suddenly realize that we’re moving on… 💔 #HospitalPlaylist

The show never loses its focus on friendship and by blending it with emotional and funny stories, it remains one of the best friendship K-dramas of all time. Though season 2 gave fans a heartwarming ending, their demand for season 3 continues.

3. Sweet Home

Netflix’s Sweet Home served as the rise of Song Kang, who is now often called The Son of Netflix. Based on a webtoon of the same name, the apocalyptic drama attracted the global audience to the K-drama world of thrillers.

The show also stars Lee Do-hyun, Go Min-si, Lee Jin-wook and Lee Si-young, among others. It revolves around the protagonist, Cha Hyun-soo, who puts his nerd knowledge into practical experience when humans start turning into blood-thirsty monsters and vicious creators attack humankind.

It gives fans an adrenaline rush and always keeps them on their toes while thinking about the next steps.

Last November 19, 2020 Netflix dropped the first teaser of Sweet Home

Sweet Home ended with a cliffhanger in 2020 but unfortunately, there has been no news regarding its sequel yet.

4. Fight For My Way

@OFFICIALBTOB ✧ day 24: favorite OST fight for my way, ambiguous !!! #BTOB_10TH_ANNIVERSARY #BTOB @OFFICIALBTOB

An evergreen K-drama list without Park Seo-joon and Kim Ji-won's Fight for My Way is incomplete. The iconic Aegyonic battle between Ko Dong-man and Choi Ae-ra remains a classic moment in K-drama history.

The 2017 drama tells the story of four underdog friends who dream big despite their under-qualifications in an extremely competitive South Korean society.

Never losing sight of what they want, even when reality burdens them, along with spending adulthood with close friends forms the premise of the show.

Because of what happened yesterday. Dong Man & Ae Ra feels so real right now. They're friendship is legit ! FIGHT FOR MY WAY will always be the best because of them !!! 💘(excuse me with the watermark, I took the screenshot from one of my edits on IG) 😂

5. Full House

FULL HOUSE - 5/10one of first kdrama that i watched but istg i literally dont remember any scenes so lets give it a half (╥﹏╥)

A bonafide classic, 2004's Full House stars K-pop legend Rain and actress Song Hye-kyo in the lead roles. The show became one of the first to have be of the romantic comedy genre, propelling the Hallyu Wave globally.

The series has the age-old 'opposites attract' trope, bringing in a nostalgia for the simple 2000s drama. A naive scriptwriter and a popular actor fell in love with each other after they signed a contractual marriage to live under the same roof.

The scriptwriter’s friends take advantage of her innocence and sold off the property to the actor. Not having anywhere else to live, they start living together and thus brew a romantic comedy.

Other honorable mentions for evergreen K-dramas include Secret Garden starring Hyun Bin and Ha Ji-won, Healer starring Park Min-young and Ji Chang-wook, It’s Okay, That’s Love starring Gong Hyo-jin and Jo In-sung and Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo starring Lee Joon-gi and IU.

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Edited by Saman
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