Today, we are going to list some of the Korean Series that touch on serious topics and bring social issues to the forefront. While Korean Series usually divert our minds to light-hearted rom-coms and cliche storylines, they also do a great job of bringing out some of the most serious topics. From thrillers to rom-coms, these Korean series focus on taboo topics.
Korean Series That Challenge Social Stigmas
9. Top Management
Top Management is a 2018 Korean Series based on an internet novel. It is directed by Yoon Sung Ho and features Seo Eun Soo, Ahn Hyo Seop, Cha Eun Woo, a.mond, Jung Yoo Ahn, Lee Joo Seung and others.
The Korean series tells the story of a new manager at an entertainment agency who uses her ability to see the future to succeed in the industry. While this series is very light-hearted, it shows the glamorous celebrity world from the perspective of the managers and idols and the other players in the industry.
8. Strangers From Hell
Strangers from Hell is a 2019 Korean series adapted from the webtoon of the same title by Kim Yong Ki. The series features stars like Im Si Wan, Lee Dong Wook, Lee Jung Eun, Ahn Eun Jin and others. The series aired on OCN and is available to watch on Prime Video with a subscription.
The series follows Yoon Jong Woo, a young guy who moves to Seoul from the countryside after a college friend offers him a job.
He decided to live in Eden Gosiwon, a cheap share house to save money. Soon, mysterious events start occurring in the apartment and Jung Woo starts to fear the apartment’s residents.
This adrenaline-pumping thriller depicts the gradual unravelling of one’s persona due to their environment and paranoia. The series is labelled as unhinges and is a must-watch.
7. One Ordinary Day
One Ordinary Day is a 2021 Korean series starring Kim Soo Hyun, Cha Seung Won, Lee Seol, Ki Shin Rok and others. It is a remake of the 2008 British TV series “Criminal Justice”. The series is directed by Lee Myung Woo and written by Kwon Soon Gyu.
It explores the flaws in the criminal justice system through the case of a straight-A university student who gets framed as the lead suspect in a murder case.
The series aired in 8 episodes on Coupang Play. It is available to air on Viu for international viewers.
6. It’s Okay To Not Be Okay
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay is a 2020 Korean series directed by Park Shin Woo and Jung Do Yoon and written by Jo Yong. The series stars Kim Soo Hyun, Seo Ye Ji, Oh Jung Se, Park Gyu Young and others. All 16 episodes of this series are available to watch on Netflix.
The series revolves around Moon Gang Tae, a community health worker at a psychiatric ward and Ko Moon Young, a popular writer of children’s literature who has been suffering from mental health issues and often comes across as selfish, arrogant and rude.
The two fall in love, overcoming their ghosts from the past and finding their identities in the process
Through the various characters of this series, the show shines a light on various mental health issues and shows how important it is to seek help when needed.
5. Jealousy Incarnate
Jealousy Incarnate is a 2016 Korean series featuring Gong Hyo Jin, Jo Jung Suk, Go Kyung Po, etc. The series has 24 episodes and it is available to watch on various platforms like Viki, Netflix as well as the YouTube channel of SBS.
The series follows the lives of Lee Hwa Shin, a successful anchor belonging to a well-to-do family with and commendable education background and Pyo Na Ri, a meteorologist who went to a third-rate college and only has a temporary contract with the station.
However, the drama becomes too much when the two rivals fall in love. Despite the light-hearted and comedic mood, the series touches on issues like breast cancer, gender stereotypes, etc.
4. When The Camellia Blooms
When The Camellia Blooms is a Korean Series aired by KBS in 2019. Directed by Kang Min Kyung and Cha Young Hoon and written by Im Sang Choon, the series also features Kang Ha Neul and Gong Hyo Jin. The series is available in 20 episodes on Netflix.
The series follows Dong Baek, a single mother who moves to the small town of Ongson where she runs a bar-restaurant Camellia while also taking care of her son Pil Gu. While the neighbourhood might whisper about Dongbaek, the local police officer Hwang Yong Shin falls deeply in love with her. The series raises awareness of the prejudice that society has towards single mothers and celebrates their hard work and struggle to raise their children.
3. Our Blues
Our Blues is a 2022 omnibus-style Korean series that follows the daily lives of diverse characters that are somewhat interconnected in one way or another. The series has 20 episodes and it is available to watch on Netflix.
From teen pregnancy to mental health issues, Our Blues does a great job of representing uncomfortable issues in the conventional and rural settings of South Korea.
2. Extraordinary Attorney Woo
Extraordinary Attorney Woo is a Korean series directed by Yoo In Shik and written by Moon Ji Won. The series features Park Eun Bin, Kang Tae Oh, Kang Ki Young, and others. The series has 16 episodes and all of them are available on Netflix.
The series does a great job of bringing out the top of Autism at the forefront of society, taking a small step in the right direction.
The series follows 27-year-old Woo Young Woo who has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. She graduated at the top of her class from the prestigious Seoul National University due to her high IQ of 164, impressive memory and creative thought process. Throughout the series, we follow her life working as a lawyer.
1. My ID Is Gangnam Beauty
Adapted from the webtoon of the same title by Gi Maeng Gi, My ID is Gangnam Beauty is a 2018 Korean Series. It features Im Soo Hyang, Cha Eun Woo, Jo Woo Ri, Kwak Dong Yeon, Park Joo Mi and others. The 16-episode series is available to watch on Viki, Netflix, Prime Video, Apple TV, and Disney+.
The series revolves around Kang Mi Rae, a girl who has bullied her whole school life for her looks. It has resulted in her becoming insecure, cautious and withdrawn around people.
Mi Rae decided to get plastic surgery for a fresh start when she got into one of the top universities in South Korea. The show touches on important topics like plastic surgery, beauty standards, mental health issues, bullying, etc.
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Ritrisha is an avid reader who likes to spend her time either reading books or learning about the beautiful cities across the world. Currently, she is pursuing a degree in English, aspiring to travel the world one day.