The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Dear kfangurl: What are some romance dramas featuring regular guys?

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Today’s post is inspired by Jesse!

In the course of one of our chats scattered across the blog, where I was trying to think of dramas to recommend to Jesse, I’d suggested Romance Is A Bonus Book. He’d ultimately sounded quite happy with this suggestion and said that he would probably check it out soon, but, he’d also said this, about the first time he’d considered watching the show:

“I remember at the time that I came across the show in a search awhile back, I saw the word “success” (as in Cha Eun-ho is a successful author) and completely lost interest. I didn’t want to see successful characters! I wanted to see losers and average Joes, because that’s who I could relate to at the time. I wanted to see love interacting with unremarkable people so I could nod and say, “See, Jess – it happens. Just you wait…”

..And that made me realize that Dramaland’s been so focused on creating everygirls and everywomen to give the female viewers (traditionally a majority) someone to identify with, that it’s forgotten that our growing number of male viewers would also appreciate an everyman to identify with. So I set about coming up with a list of dramas featuring regular guys – instead of the usual chaebol prince, or requisite geeenius – as romantic leading men.

Coz a regular guy deserves to feel the feels too, yes?

Dear Jesse and every other guy out there who’s felt marginalized by Dramaland’s penchant for unreasonably successful male lead characters,

I’m sorry that Dramaland hasn’t caught up to the fact that its male viewer demographic is changing, nor adjusted its programming to equalize things more. That kinda sucks, now that I think about it.

I’m really glad that you’re here though! I love that we’re seeing more and more male drama fans in our midst. You bring male perspective to our discussions, and that makes all our conversations feel richer and more interesting. Thank you! 🙂

I haven’t seen ALL of the dramas out there, but I’ve seen quite a few, so I’m here to share with you, what I hope will be a list of dramas that will feel more relatable than most.

As always, if you guys have insights, perspectives &/or more drama titles to share, please tell us all about it in the comments below! ❤

What kind of shows qualify to be on this list?

Lemme see.. I know some good ones!

Since today’s focus is on the more relatable romantic leading man, here are the guidelines I’ve decided to work within:

1. He’s not a chaebol prince, nor a genius, nor uber successful;

2. He can have a job or be a professional, since regular guys have jobs too;

3. He can be a senior executive, if he comes across as a relatable regular guy;

4. Kinda spoilery? But he has to be our romantic leading man and therefore get the girl in the end;

5. Said girl may or may not be an everygirl;

6. No period dramas, or dramas with fantasy elements like time travel etc, to maintain relatability.

Guess what? I’m happy to report that I have a decent number of shows to share, that fulfill these criteria. 😀

REGULAR GUY ROMANCE SHOW SUGGESTIONS

20th Century Boy and Girl

Regular Joe cred: He’s got a job as an investment banker, but he’s very down-to-earth and feels like a decent, normal guy.

Other notes: Angst-lite and warm, Show’s more a friends-to-lovers story than a tale of a top actress falling for a regular guy. The bestie gal pal just happens to be a successful actress, is all. Some suspension of disbelief required; ie, how does the top actress walk around without a gaggle of fans rushing to say hello all the time? Great if you’re looking for something light and easy.

Flash Review is here.

Answer Me 1988

Regular Joe cred: There’s a love triangle in this, and strong fan feelings about both contenders, so I’ll just say that everyone’s pretty much a regular Joe in this show. And the one character who’s some kind of genius, is mostly awkward at everything else.

Other notes: Such a warm sense of community in this show, that I almost love that more than the main love triangle. All the characters have their time to shine, as Show focuses on both the kids and the parents.

Review is here.

Answer Me 1994

Regular Joe cred: Like Answer Me 1988, there’s a love triangle in this too, and strong fan feelings about both contenders, so I’ll just say that everyone’s pretty much a regular Joe in this show, regardless of their occupation.

Other notes: Again, very strong warm family feels. This time, instead of a wider community, it’s more of a found family vibe, with most of our characters living under the same roof.

Review is here.

Be Melodramatic

Regular Joe cred: Because this features an ensemble cast, there’s more than one loveline in this show. Importantly, all the male love interests in this drama world are regular people. The one male love interest who’s extra successful at his job is played by Ahn Jae Hong, who is cut from a different, more unassuming cloth than the usual sharply chiseled male lead, which makes him more relatable.

Other notes: A really refreshingly written drama that feels quirky and funny, without feeling try-hard.

Review is here.

Fight My Way

Regular Joe cred: He’s a regular guy who happens to be an ex-taekwondo athlete trying to make good as an MMA fighter.

Other notes: She’s a regular gal, who works in a department store and aspires to be a newscaster. A friends-to-lovers story that feels organic and endearing. The final episode feels overly neat, but Show is otherwise solid and enjoyable. Bonus points to Show for being about underdogs striving to break into careers for which they feel under-qualified.

Review is here.

Find Yourself [China]

Regular Joe cred: He’s an intern fresh out of college.

Other notes: She’s his manager, he’s considered a family friend. He’s attracted to her; she’s under pressure to find a husband and settle down, now that she’s over 30. Show is light and quite fluffy, but manages to serve up some thoughtful nuggets via voiceovers by our various characters.

Review is here.

Five Children (Five Enough)

Regular Joe cred: Both leads are single parents in regular jobs.

Other notes: A sweet story of a second chance at love, and how that involves much more than just two people being in love; it’s also about the intricacies and challenges of meshing two families.

Flash Review is here.

In Time With You [Taiwan]

Regular Joe cred: He’s a regular guy who has a job at the airport.

Other notes: She’s a manager at a shoe company. They’ve been friends since high school, and have been besties since. A very relatable friends-to-lovers story, and this OTP is so natural together.

Flash Review is here.

Let’s Eat 2

Regular Joe cred: He’s an insurance advisor by day, and food blogger by night.

Other notes: She’s a neighbor and long-lost schoolmate. As they bicker and bond over food, feelings blossom. The food porn is not the most attractive in this installment, but this is the best handled OTP arc of the 3 Let’s Eat shows, in my opinion. As a bonus, there are community feels from the coming together of the ragtag bunch of neighbors in the building.

Review is here.

Life is Beautiful

Regular Joe cred: Everyone is a regular Joe!

Other notes: A family drama set in gorgeous Jeju Island, there are several lovelines in this show, with couples of varying ages and life stations taking turns in the spotlight. Shout-out to Show for not only presenting a rare gay loveline, but handling it with a great deal of sensitivity.

Review is here.

Miss Korea

Regular Joe cred: He owns a small company, but his company isn’t doing great.

Other notes: She works as an elevator girl in a department store. In an attempt to save his company, he and his team work with her, to prepare her to compete in the Miss Korea pageant and love blossoms in the process. Understated and warm, I feel this show is pretty underrated.

Review is here.

Ojakgyo Brothers

Regular Joe cred: Everyone’s a regular Joe!

Other notes: A family drama featuring OTPs of varying ages and life stations. Our youngest OTP is Joo Won’s quiet detective, to UEE’s self-absorbed rich girl who finds herself stranded without her usual resources. A very heartwarming drama all-around.

Review is here.

One Spring Night

Regular Joe cred: He’s a single father who works as a pharmacist.

Other notes: She works at a library, and meets him by chance one day, when she pops into his pharmacy for a hangover cure. An instant connection evolves into stronger feelings, and this would-be couple has to navigate the complications of their circumstances, where she wants to break up with her parent-approved boyfriend, and he’s not considered a good match because he’s a single dad. Show does a nice job handling character development and the couple dynamics are healthy yet believable.

Review is here.

Plus Nine Boys

Regular Joe cred: He’s 29 and works for a tour agency.

Other notes: She’s his friend and colleague. A friends-to-lovers set-up, with a love triangle thrown in, this show is warm, everyday and relatable. Our story also features 9-, 19-, and 39-year-old male characters, all trying to overcome the “curse” of the plus-nine age, which is supposed to bring more hardship than average.

Flash Review is here.

Thirty But Seventeen

Regular Joe cred: He’s a quiet and reserved set designer.

Other notes: She wakes up from a 13-year coma, and finds that her entire life has changed. A lovely, warm story of healing and found family.

Review is here.

Twenty Again

Regular Joe cred: He’s a theater arts professor.

Other notes: She’s his ex-schoolmate, returning to earn the college degree she never got, because she’d fallen pregnant at age 19. A friends-to-lovers story that’s sensitively handled, with a lot of the spotlight on her rediscovering her self-worth.

Review is here.

We Married As A Job [Japan]

Regular Joe cred: He’s a computer nerd.

Other notes: She chooses to earn a living as a housekeeper because of the tough job market, and because of.. Developments, they agree on a contract pretend marriage that’s purely professional. Feelings grow, and it’s all very endearing and cute. Both our leads are polite and dorky all the way through, and Show is quintessentially quirky in its Japanese way.

Flash Review is here.

When The Camellia Blooms

Regular Joe cred: He’s a policeman whose greatest asset is his earnestness and passion.

Other notes: She’s a single mom who runs the neighborhood bar. He falls instantly in love, and proceeds to court her in his dorky, earnest way. A serial killer is thrown into the mix to spice things up, but this show truly shines in its character moments and relationships.

Flash Review is here.

IN CLOSING

I hope you guys will find something relatable to watch, from this list! Some of these shows are a little older, but they are all solid watches that I personally enjoyed.

As always, if you guys have other shows to recommend or insights to share, please tell us about it in the comments – coz sharing is caring. 😉

I hope this helps!

Love! ❤

~kfangurl

Can you feel.. my heart?

POST-SCRIPT:

1. If you feel that I missed anything, or if you have your own insights that you’d like to share with the rest of us, do tell us about it in the comments!

2. Do you have a question of your own? Drop me a comment here or on the Dear kfangurl page, or send me an email!

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

181 thoughts on “Dear kfangurl: What are some romance dramas featuring regular guys?

  1. Sadly, I have to rescind my recommendation of My Fellow Citizens. They basically write the wonderful female lead out if the second half of the show. Alhambra syndrome all over again, except this time the character started out as an equal rather than just a possible love interest.

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  2. Same here. I recently dropped Rugal even though it has Choi Jin Hyuk. But if it were one of my biases, I would’ve stuck it out. 😥

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    • I guess that was the answer to my post?
      So a certain actor will make you watch a drama you don’t even like because he is handsome? That is one way to watch dramas 😀
      May I ask who those biases are?

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      • Yes. But that was before you began your personal attack on me. So we can just peacefully exist on the blog and I won’t engage further.

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        • I won’t apologise for what I said.
          But I am apologising for hurting your feelings with what I said.

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          • My feelings aren’t hurt so there’s no need to apologize for that. I just don’t go in for personal attacks online. Especially somewhere like a Kdrama blog because that’s not how we behave in this community. It would be irrational to attack somebody that I don’t even know anything about personally. You were the very one who’s entire argument was people shouldn’t speak in an aggressive manner to one another. but the moment you THOUGHT that I wasn’t hearing your argument, you went on the attack. I do feel I’m right but I was not ignoring your point of view. But I was trying to get you to SEE that what’s different in other cultures may be okay for them – not that you had to accept or even like them.

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            • Well I only know what I read so I build my opinions based on that.
              I don’t even know what attack you mean. The twisted part? We are all twisted a little at least. I just don’t like your perspective on this matter. Maybe a better choice of words would have been better.
              You feel you are completely right. I just think what I had to say was at least somewhat right. This whole thing was just me trying to put an end to it. Maybe in a rough way.

              “But I was trying to get you to SEE that what’s different in other cultures may be okay for them – not that you had to accept or even like them.” Well with each of your comments it felt like you were trying to make me accept it.

              “You were the very one who’s entire argument was people shouldn’t speak in an aggressive manner to one another” – I was only refering to family and friends not people in general.

              I feel like we are misunderstanding each other. Maybe because we seem to be opposites. I also don’t like when people attack each other (unless it is about something severely unresonable). But I do have to say I also felt attacked in an subliminal way even if that wasn’t your intention.

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            • I only know what I read and with that I build my opinion.
              I don’t even exactly know which part the attack was? The twisted part? We are all twisted at least a little. I just don’t like the way you are twisted. Which means I don’t like your view on this matter.
              Maybe it was the wrong choice of words. But it was just my attempt of ending it. Maybe in a rough way.

              “You were the very one who’s entire argument was people shouldn’t speak in an aggressive manner to one another” – I was only refering to family and friends. And also this is not even remotely aggressive in Germany.. has nothing to do with culture it is just a fact.

              “But I was trying to get you to SEE that what’s different in other cultures may be okay for them – not that you had to accept or even like them.” Well I have to say which each comment it felt you were trying to make me accept it.

              “I do feel I’m right…” – Well I also think that I am at least partially right. I would never say I am 100% right because I ain’t god.

              “…but I was not ignoring your point of view” – Well it definitely felt like it.

              I feel like we misunderstand each other a lot. Maybe because we are opposites.
              I also don’t like when people attack each other online.
              You have to know with every comment you wrote I also felt subliminally attacked.

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  3. @beezrtp – I do like some actresses and I start watching shows because of them but if I don’t like the storyline or the execution I drop it no matter who the actress is.

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  4. The Package. He is an everyman office employee who falls in love with a freespirited tour guide / PhD student while on vacation in France. The leads share free-flowing banter (something that needs to be showcased more in dramas) with each other and openly communicate and resolve conflicts together. Heartwarming tales of their fellow travelers are also unraveled theoughout the tour.

    An underrated gem in the tradition of Because This is My First Life and Be Melo.

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  5. Here’s my plug for Hogu’s Love. The lead is a sweet, unambitious boy, and the female lead is the talented, ambitious one. I Do, I Do features a similar role reversal. My Ahjussi features a typical hardworking salarymen in middle man.ageme t, as does Go Back Couple. Misaeng is all about guys laboring away as low level drones in a brutal corporate environment.My Fellow Citizens is about screw up, fly by the seat of their pants small time grifters. Midnight Diner is about a middle aged guy who runs a tiny dive of a diner.Oadam Oafam is about the struggles of an excon to adjust to society after his release from prison.

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    • Thanks for plugging Ho Gu’s Love, Brenda! 🙂 That show didn’t work for me personally, but I know that lots of folks loved it, and loved him as an average Joe leading man. 🙂

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  6. I loved A poem a day.. it was warm, had lovely poetry, and the male lead was an everyday guy… And. A decent one… Plus there is a love triangle. Please do give it a see if you get some time

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    • Hi there BK, I did enjoy A Poem A Day quite well! I didn’t include the show on this list as the lead is a pretty successful doctor, but you can read my review of the show here. 🙂

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  7. Some dramas that come to mind are (other than the ones listed): Ho Goo’s Love, 9 End 2 Outs, Delightful Girl Choon Hyang, My Girlfriend Is A Gumiho (I think he was a stunt director…don’t remember exactly), Pinocchio, Pretty Noona, Sweet 18 (he is a cop)…maybe You’ve Fallen For Me. I also love when the hero is a normal guy (have always been a fan of slice of life rather than high stake romance)

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    • Hi there snow, thanks for the show suggestions! 🙂 Gumiho and Pinocchio didn’t make the list because of their fantasy premises.. and I didn’t include Ho Goo, 9 Ends 2 Outs and Pretty Noona coz I personally didn’t enjoy those shows very much, for differing reasons. 😅 But indeed, Ho Goo, 9 Ends, Delightful Girl, Sweet 18 and You’ve Fallen for Me do feature regular guy romantic male leads! 😀

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      • Oh totally missed the ‘fantasy’ part 😀

        I didn’t like Pretty Noona either…hehe

        I loved Ho Goo’s Love and greatly enjoyed 9 Ends 2 Outs. 🙂

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  8. Just googled Life is Beautiful. 63 episodes!! Do I want to invest 63 hours of my life into one drama? Ahhhhhhhh! Decisions, decisions

    May I also add to the list Long Vacation (Japanese classic) and Jealousy Incarnate (Male lead is a reporter, albeit a quite successful one)

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    • I know 63 eps sounds like a lot! But I loved that show so much that I never wanted it to end, truly. ❤ Give it a try? You just might end up feeling the same. Plus, I thought Lee Sang Yoon looked adorable in this as a dive instructor. So young, tanned, sporty and cheeky. Squee! 😍😍

      Thanks for adding Long Vacation and Jealousy Incarnate to the list! 🙂

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  9. I was looking for a list like this. Finally. Know I have to check what is available for me. Thanks Jesse for asking this awesome question and thank youkfangurl for this awesome answer 🙂

    Fight my way does seem out of place because the ex athlet turning MMA fighter ain’t very regular/average :DDD

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    • That’s great that this list will come in useful for you, Larius! 😀 Hm.. that’s true that most regular guys may not be ex-athletes.. In his case, though, that’s just his occupation, and he does come across as a very normal guy, trying to make his way in life. 🙂

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      • That is true – still didn’t make it through the drama .. had to drop it 😀

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        • Ahahaha!!! Right.. you often don’t jive with the shows I like. In which case.. I don’t know how well this list will serve you in the end, Larius! 😅 Maybe look through the comments; there are some shows suggested that I didn’t manage to get into, like Emergency Couple. I wonder if that would work for you? 😉

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          • I was actually pretty excited when I started Emergency couple but after 5 episodes I dropped it… hated it…

            Yeah I always go through the comments but most people here like a lot of dark shows :DDD

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            • I forget if you’ve watched Go Back Couple, Larius. (Sorry if we’ve talked about this before!) But I feel like you’d like it, and it’s not dark, and I liked it way better than the little that I saw of Emergency Couple! 😀

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              • No we haven’t talked about this one. 🙂 The plot sounds promising. Not a big fan of Jang Nara but I might give it a try. Especially because it is actually available here ^^

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                • Yay! I’ve found that I’ve been enjoying Jang Na Ra more and more, so I hope that the show will give you a better view of her, and more than that, that you’ll enjoy the watch! 😀

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              • I finished Emergency Couple. It was pretty bad but I watched for the flashbacks of Kang Ha neul as the younger version of the ML.

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                • You have fangirl fortitude that I lack, Beez! 😆

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                    • Finishing a drama because of a handsome guy is something I can’t do mostly because I am a dude :DDD

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                    • No actresses inspire you to watch something (or stick with something) that you might not otherwise?

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                    • I don’t speak for Larius, but historically that has indeed been the case with American movies and has been a huge factor in the dramatic pay disparities for male vs. female actors.

                      Both men and women would go see a film based primarily on the male lead, but not the female. (Porn being the exception, for that rare man who would debase himself even to glance with desire at nude women, other than their one true love. Think “abs plus.” Heh. I can make that joke since it’s you, Beez. Thank you for being you!)

                      We guys are doing our best to evolve, however, and we may even be doing the best we can, given how little we have to work with. Bless our hearts.

                      As to why even women had this tendency in the past, it’s that annoying alpha male thing so many of us are programmed to respond to.

                      The man who stands up and proclaims with no doubt or even a shade of nuance, “follow me, guys, I know how to solve this crisis!” When in fact he’s dumb as a brick, hasn’t given the problem a moment’s thought, and doesn’t even grasp the importance of consulting with others to gather their insight or engage their ownership. He just knows that he’s meant to lead . . . and that others are meant to follow. Him. Yet the rest of us respond to that shallow confidence. (I’m not a follower, at all, but on average, “we” do.)

                      All that said, for these romance dramas, both my wife and I definitely go with ones where we’re attracted to/like the actress. Even as the primary reason. Because it’s romance and K-dramas actually give romance its due.

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                    • Awwww. thanks for appreciating my unapologetic personality, merij1!

                      What you’ve said of romance and Kdrama is so true. And I recognize the plight of finding Kdrama actresses that inspire viewers into watching just for them. I think (acknowledging that this is MY opinion and could be 100% wrong for other viewers) the conformity of the K actresses faces to an “ideal” makes it harder to attach to any one actress (with some exceptions, of course). Whether it’s from plastic surgery (at one point everybody wanted to look like Kim Tae hee) or a matter of casting directors picking a certain type all the time, not to mention the cookie cutter “Candy” characters, make it harder to connect with any one individual.

                      “Candy” is a description used around Kdrama community to describe the plucky, down-on-her-luck but-never-lets-it-get-her-down heroine who is poor but juggles multiple jobs, while taking care of her ill grandmother and paying for her younger sibling’s (dosaeng) school tuition. I’ve never seen it myself, but the name and description are taken from a famous Manhwa (Korean comic book).

                      I hope it changes soon from only one ideal of beauty; that being, pointed “V” chin; double eyelids; thin pointed nose.

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                    • Yes, I noticed and read up on the Candy trope a while ago. Combined with the Chaebol prince — whether a known prince or the :Prince and the Pauper” disguised variant — it’s basically Cinderella, over and over again.

                      Which is why I loved Dan-i’s rejection of that opportunity when presented with it at the start of Love Is A Bonus Book.

                      Even though Candy’s are a regular thing in these shows, there are many few exceptions. And those are the ones my wife and I are drawn to.

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                    • @beezrtp New comment at the top

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                    • @beezrtp – I do like some actresses and I start watching shows because of them but if I don’t like the storyline or the execution I drop it no matter who the actress is.

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  10. I don’t think the chaebol prince-ordinary girl pairing is simply wish fulfillment for the sake of a predominantly female audience. If it was all for the ladies, the nice guy would get the girl more often – there is a depressing number of young women appreciating cold arrogant jerks, but most of us over 25 have learned our lesson, or am I being naive? Anyway, I think it is more about societal expectations.

    Chaebols are hereditary aristocracy in all but name, and Koreans are equally fascinated and repulsed by their excesses (this is a country where celebs are not allowed to lead loud scandalous lifestyles, after all). Having that power is obviously something to aspire for, but for an ordinary person, rising to the upper class is as good as impossible. One has to be a genius (route for the ML, if he is not already born into it), or has to be extremely laudable (the route for the FL: long-suffering but cheerful, nice and forgiving to the point of being dumb; aka typical candy). The difference between the two routes comes from the expectations of a very patriarchal society. A man must be talented and ambitious to make his own way up; a woman sweet and submissive so she deserves to be elevated. After all, in the end it is the man who shall become the provider of the family, the woman’s role is to be the stay-at-home caregiver. God forbid she is too successful, because for a man to make less than his woman, it means he is a failure. There is a very telling scene in My Mister, when he is finally promoted and his mother tearfully apologizes to her daughter-in-law that she had to be the main breadwinner so long… it’s not that he has been a lazy bum mooching off his wife, but it was apparently shameful that he earned less than her.

    I’m fairly new to kdramas, but the only one I know where these gender roles are reversed is Encounter. It certainly has its shortcomings, but the ML is a nice but ordinary guy AND he gets to be with the chaebol princess AND neither of them have any problem with her being richer and more successful than him…

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    • Hi Luna, thanks for sharing some great insights! 😀 You’re right, the stories are written that way not just for the sake of audience relatability; there are other societal mindsets and expectations that play into it. Thanks for drawing our attention to these other factors, it definitely adds richness to our understanding! 😀

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    • @Luna – That’s because all Park Bo gum has to do is unleash the sun by smiling. Even if it isn’t, you believe everything’s going to be okay. 😆

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      • You might be onto something. 😀 It was my first non-sageuk kdrama and I was on a Bogummy high after Moonlight Drawn by Clouds… I doubt I would truly enjoy it anymore, not after Something in the Rain and One Spring Night, so I just hold on to the memories and not plan to rewatch it, ever. 🙂

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        • I recently rewatched Moonlight Drawn by Clouds. You may come back to it someday. Especially if there’s ever a time that Park Bo gum is gone from your screen for any length of time. In fact, I don’t think he’s done his military service yet. So when you’re missing him then, maybe you’ll revisit Moonlight. It was such a sweet drama.

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          • @beezrtp Oh the one I don’t dare to revisit is Encounter. 🙂 Moonlight Drawn by Clouds is indeed a cute little show and I might rewatch it soon, due to my newfound interest in Chae Soo Bin. I didn’t really notice her before, but then MDBC is a drama meant to showcase Park Bo Gum’s talent more than anything. 😀

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    • I agree with your statement to a large extent. I also feel that the show creators want to try the tried and tested script of chaebol prince-ordinary girl pairing because that is usually liked by the audience. They do not want to risk to take things the other way round that is a rich girl and an ordinary boy setting. This doesn’t always work in term of rating and viewership.

      As you already said that a lot has to do with the patriarchal mindset so the audience just does not want to see the things in a different light. It is not a common thing in just K dramas but even in my country, the dramas feature the same story setting.

      The patriarchal mindset is so prevalent everywhere that it will take ages to break it. *sigh*. But, still, we have a lot of other dramas that have completely different and meaningful storylines.

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  11. The Hospital Playlist squad. Reply 1988 x Grey’s Anatomy vibes.

    On the romance side, the Ikjun / Gyeo-ul and Seok-hyung / Minha couples are progressing steadily in the recent episodes.

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  12. Ji Sung in Defendant. He’s a successful prosecutor but it’s my understanding they don’t make tons of money unless they’re on the take.

    My Beautiful Bride. The Banker is an ordinary guy with extraordinary skills that have nothing to do with his job.

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    • Thanks Beez! Hm.. did Defendant have a romance? I didn’t finish the show (coz it was hard to watch, not because it wasn’t good), so I’m not sure. But Jesse was looking for romantic leads who’re regular Joes. I didn’t include My Beautiful Bride on this list for that reason.. I can’t imagine a regular guy being able to do what he does, in searching for his missing bride.. 😅

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      • No, Defendant has no romance. I didn’t clock that. I only got “regular guy” in my head, which I took to mean – not chaebol which is why my list included Oh My Ghost and Jealousy Incarnate. I’m on the same page now. ☺

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  13. Yesssss! 20th Century Boy Girl was my first pick too. And I agree with pretty much everything you said about Let’s Eat 2 (love Dujun!), 30 but 17, and when the Camillia Blooms. Would also add Weightlifting Kim Bok Ju (college student) to this list, Love Rain (artist/fashion photographer), Prison Playbook (regular Joes that happen to have found themselves on the wrong side of the law 😂), Boyfriend/Encounter (Park Bo Gum is an intern, basically), Miseang (another intern), Because this is our first life (Lee Min Ki nails this role as an OCPD computer programmer), Something in the Rain (animator for a video game company), For Chinese, Put Your Head on My Shoulder (physics major—STEM-swoon).

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  14. A rock solid list. I love (and have seen) every show listed. Now I am determined to remember a couple more to add (runs to master list of watched shows!). I will get back as soon as I can. But in the mean time I wanted to say how much I have enjoyed your posts that are answers to questions. Your thoughtfulness is incredible. We are all lucky to have found you. XO, Amy

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    • Aw, thank you Amy!! ❤ I'm so happy that you guys found me too! 😀 And given our similar tastes in dramas, I'm not at all surprised you watched and loved all of these, coz I only included titles that I genuinely enjoyed. SO, YES PLEASE, do share any additional titles you have, that fit the bill! 😀

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  15. Familiar Wife! With Ji Sung and Han Ji-min. The male lead is as ordinary an office worker as you will ever find.

    And not insanely charismatic either. He’s handsome and a decent person but the whole premise is that he was a failure as a husband and gets a 2nd chance.

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    • Ooh, I really liked Familiar Wife, actually! 😀 I disqualified from my list because I’d limited myself to shows without any fantasy bents, but, if Jesse’s cool with a fantasy set-up, I do second Familiar Wife! 🙂

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      • Wow, you’re fast. I figured you’d be in bed by now.

        True on the fantasy do-over, but his ordinariness was so huge in this show it stands out from all the others I’ve seen so far.

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        • I promise I’m heading to bed, right after this comment! 😀 You’re right, his ordinariness did shine through, despite the fantasy set-up. Very everyman, and his problems with his wife were also very normal and relatable! 😀 Ji Sung’s so ordinary here, but wait till you see him in Kill Me, Heal Me! 😀 (Is that still a contender? Or have you successfully started on Sungkyunkwan Scandal with your wife? 😄)

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          • She’s taking a break from having a life of her own and is working all night long doing Covid-19 tracing from our living room! Ugh. Pretty heavy phone conversations with those infected or their survivors.

            I’m watching S3 of Westword and skimming through what I judge to be the best parts on The K2 — basically any scene featuring Healer guy or that wonderful baddie older woman.

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            • Gosh, contact tracing and heavy phone conversations sound like a tough combination! More power to your wife, MeriJ!

              I actually enjoyed K2’s interactions with the baddie older woman in Show’s first half.. she became a lot less interesting to me in the second half, the more desperate she got. But I’ll let you be the judge of that! 😉

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          • OK, we just started Kill Me, Heal Me and love it so far.

            But, OMG, actress Hwang Jung-eum looks so much Han Ji-min, who starred with him in Familiar Wife.

            Since both my gal and I are very fond of Han Ji-min, that’s a good thing, btw. This psychiatrist character Jung-eum is playing is just the type of strong but charming female lead we like, so great recommendation!

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            • I loved Kill me Heal me and Ji-sung is insanely fabulous in his role. His character transitions from one to another were so so brilliant. Interesting the haircut that Hwang Jung-eum sports in this show is very much similar to that of Han Ji Min. I saw it quite early in my K-drama journey so I also thought that she is Han Ji-Min.

              On a different note I just loved the OST in this show. Especially the rap in the background. 🙂

              But I feel that in this show the guy is not regular types after all he is a chaebol 😀

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              • I feel like I should help to clarify.. I’d suggested KMHM to MeriJ on another comment thread, so at the time, the regular Joe wasn’t a requirement, nor a lack of fantasy. Coz you’re right, as excellent as KMHM turned out to be, it definitely doesn’t feature a regular guy! 😀

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            • That’s really cool, that you guys like it pretty much immediately! 😀 And yes, I think you’re right; Hwang Jung Eum and Han Ji Min do look kinda similar, especially with the hairstyle. I think after some time, they ought to start looking more distinct to your eyes, so it shouldn’t be TOO trippy! 😅

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              • Ditto to what Kfangurl just said cause I, personally, don’t think the two actresses resemble each other at all!

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                • It’s a superficial similarity, obviously, accentuated by Hwang Jung Eum’s hair styling, per Soumya’s comment above. Even on a superficial level, Han Ji-min’s nose has that cute lift at the bottom and Hwang Jung Eum’s lips are different.

                  But in the only other show where we’ve seen Ji Sung, he was paired with our Ji-min, so it’s kinda wild!

                  If I hadn’t seen her turn as the raging round one wife in Familiar Wife, I’d say that Han Jin-min is a more subtle actress than Hwang Jung Eum. But that might just be how the female lead on KMHM was written.

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                  • @merij1 Having watched them both in a variety of things, I’d say you’re dead on with that assessment. Hwang Jung Eum is only now starting to live down her reputation of being known as “The Screecher”.

                    I have a find place on my heart for her though because she was actually in the very first Kdrama I ever watched called “Can You Hear My Heart”. I’ll never forget my son yelling from the other room asking me “what are you watching that somebody’s doing all that screeching?” Then to find out that’s her nickname in the Kdrama community really tickled me.

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              • YES! that is what I am trying to say that I thought them to be same when i started watching K dramas but with time I got familiar with their faces and not I find them pretty different. 😀

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                • It might be just certain certain moments. We didn’t think she looked like Han Ji-min at all until the scene outside the nightclub early on when his cruel but cool persona had taken over and fell for her.

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      • Hmmm. I’ll allow it! I appreciate the care taken to avoid fantastical plot lines in the list, as they have proven to be a difficult hurdle for me to overcome. How well you know me! But I guess technically second chances are a real thing, even though it sounds like in this case it’s literally a completely separate chance with no residual consequences from the initial failure.

        I’ve often wondered if it’s possible to make a completely different choice if everything remained the same and I was just placed back in that moment of truth. I know I’ve made some crummy choices, but I also know why I made them. The reasons weren’t good, but they’d still be there if I had a do-over. In the moment, barring some phenomenal supernatural vision showing me in no uncertain terms how poorly that decision was gonna pan out for me, I would almost assuredly make the same call and face the same consequences.

        But the fact that it instigated this much thought, and the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed the film “The Family Man” which seems to loosely share a similar premise, I’ll call it good. 🙂

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        • Ooh, if you don’t mind do-over dramas with a fantasy construct, then I’d also like to suggest Go Back Couple. It’s also a do-over one, but somewhat different from Familiar Wife in treatment and tone. The funny is rather more petty and childish in tone, but the heartwarming stuff is lovely. At just 12 eps, and with an obviously smaller budget than its shinier cousins, it’s like the little drama that could. 🙂

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        • In Familiar Wife, there are severe consequences that result from the do-over. On several levels. Even near the end, I wasn’t sure the OTP would survive them.

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  16. Another great post! Drama worlds, especially kdrama worlds tend to be populated with chaebols and geeeeeniuses of every ilk but apparently there still seems to be us common folks in some of ’em too. 🙂

    I’d say jdramas have plenty of regular Janes and Joes, only romance is a bit scarce in them these days. It wasn’t always so though and there were quite a few romantic jdramas back in the day. You can still find some of those if you look hard enough. 😀 Then there’s my twdrama romcom staple The Pursuit of Happines that actually has more than one couple and not a chaebol or genius in sight.^^
    Few of other suggestions:
    Bad Family (ML is an ex gangster but a total softie underneath the gruff extrior, drama is a hoot)
    Father is Strange (a family drama with several couples from different walks of life)
    Just You (another family drama with several couples)
    Yoo Na’s Street (ML is a [mostly] unemployed student when the drama starts and his ladylove is a pickpocket – so perhaps not quite ‘average’ 😉 )

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    • Ah, thanks for adding to the list, Timescout! 😀 I haven’t seen most of the ones that you listed, so thanks for making sure they didn’t get missed out! I almost added Father is Strange, but I decided not to, because Lee Joon’s character is a top star actor, and I was trying to avoid any very successful male leads. 😅 But, it’s true that the show is very enjoyable, and there’re lots of other regular people in the drama world! 😀

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      • Well, he wasn’t actually all that successful to begin with. An ex idol with an attitude and best known of his bad acting skills. 😁

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        • Oh! Is that right! 😆 Sorry, it’s been a while since I saw it, so some details are hazy. In that case, I second Father is Strange! 😀

          @Jesse: Father is Strange is a heartwarming family drama, and there’re several lovelines. One of the best family dramas in recent years, I think. 🙂

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          • I like the sound of that! I’m a big fan of multiple lovelines, and I honestly don’t think I’ve seen a family drama yet. That should make for a…well…a larger slice-o-life!

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            • Ah, family dramas (in the k-universe, anyway) are typically upwards of 50 episodes. I know, it sounds intimidating! But, the best ones (which are the only ones I’d ever recommend to you!) make you want them to never end. The other family dramas on the list are Life is Beautiful (my favorite family drama of all time), Ojakgyo Brothers (my 2nd favorite family drama of all time), and Five Children. So, it can take a little longer to settle into its groove, with its higher episode count, but these 4 (including Father is Strange) are worth it. 🙂

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              • Not to worry–I’m no stranger to long shows! One of the first dramas I watched was a Taiwanese drama called, “When I See You Again” which was a respectable 32 episodes. (Although they were only 45 minutes each and Wikipedia only shows it being 20 episodes…so maybe Netflix is messing with me.) After that, I tackled a Chinese drama called “Good Times” which was a beefy 47 episodes! (And there must be some anomaly going on because I can’t find either of those are on your main list! It…isn’t…possible!!!) I’ll admit the 47-episode run felt pretty darned long, but “Good Times” wasn’t a family drama as best as I can remember. I imagine a show about an entire family with multiple lovelines will carry a longer narrative better. I am moved by your passion, and you have never steered me wrong, but I just don’t know if I can commit to a long term drama relationship right now. The idea of taking on a family at this time in my life…it’s just a bit much. I’m playing the field, exploring my options. I’ll settle down at some point I’m sure, but I can’t be tied down to one show when there are so many more out the clamoring for my attention. 😉

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                • Lol, I can’t keep up with all of the dramas out there, and I’ve been watching more Korean dramas than Chinese or Taiwanese dramas, so it’s quite likely you won’t find many of the Chinese or Taiwanese titles you might search for, on this blog. 😅 I’m sorry in advance?

                  I giggled at your desire to play the drama field, HAHA. 🤣🤣 I appreciate your serial monogamy (hur, see what I did there? 😆), but just so you know, many drama fans do just fine watching multiple dramas at once – so that there’s always something that fits their mood that day. I watched Life is Beautiful as a drama nightcap, and it was lovely to wind down to an episode of it at the end of the day, because it was always so warm and inviting and comforting. Ok, that’s my last ditch attempt to get you to reconsider putting off the family dramas; of course you should do whatever you want. 😉

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                  • I second Kfangirl on her list of family dramas and on why they are such fun to watch. But just FYI they are more cheaply produced and the quality is noticeable on screen. At first, that can be very jarring. But once you get past that they are some of the most realistic storylines you will find in K-drama. I was also intimidated by the high episode count but after watching Ojakgyo Brothers I was hooked. There is always an overly angsty period in the third or fourth act – I often use the fast forward button through that. The nicest part of family dramas is the multi generational story lines. I love seeing young love and older love developing. In short there is nothing as satisfying as a good family drama – for all the reasons Kfangirl stated – warm, inviting, comforting. But also some of my favorite love lines and most romantic storylines came from family dramas. Perhaps it is the extra episode count allows for real character development making that relationship develop slower and making it feel more organic and real. Just my two cents.

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                    • I do remember liking the feeling of familiarity that formed when I could experience 20+ hours with the characters. But the shows that I watched (not family dramas) at that length had a lot of fluff. When I say “a lot” I mean only like 3-5 episodes worth, which is a small percentage, but it added up. And it also seemed to be cyclical in that the same hang-ups would crop up two to three times, just in slightly different ways. It’s like, “C’mon, you can trust her now! Don’t question her intentions! —Ah geez, you’re questioning her intentions! Guess you won’t be talking together for another 1.3 episodes. Again…”

                      But, as I said, that was when there were really only one or two couples doing all the things. Spreading the love to a family may cut back on all that. You and KFG make compelling arguments. I do like comforting shows with great dialogue and romantic storylines.

                      Ack! Why didn’t I discover this stuff ten years ago!?

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                    • Whaddaya mean ya can’t binge watch shows as they air?! Professional bingers such as myself hone our skills by practicing in the downtime. When an episode airs, I watch it repeatedly for hours on end until the next one comes out in a kind of faux-binge.

                      If you can maintain your stamina watching the same thing over and over, you’ll be able to get through any show no matter how tedious or poorly-paced. And it provides the fortitude to take on emotional titans like “My Mister” with uncanny poise. 😉

                      For real though, I don’t know how I got through “My Mister” that fast. I think it was the equivalent of getting a brain freeze by eating too much ice cream (or drinking a Slurpee) too fast. Sure, I got it done, but then I got hit with acute anguish for like a week afterwards. I think your method of mixing heavy with light is much healthier and gives you a heightened appreciation for the levity of happier narratives; a nice warm fire is far more welcome after you’ve been out in the cold for a bit!

                      I’m glad to know some shows are stunning enough to command your full attention; even if it disturbs the flow of the others, it means you’ve really come across something special and can appreciate what it takes to do that with so many options out there. I might be able to start juggling shows at some point, but just like juggling in real life, I think I’m good with two and might be able to handle a third, but eventually one of ’ems gonna get dropped. 😉

                      I don’t know if I have the guts to start a show if it hasn’t already ended. The thought that I might have to (gulp) wait for the next show for any length of time is unbearable. I think I’ve still got some residual angst from some book trilogies that I mistakingly got into before the final installment was finished. Time had never moved….so…slow….

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                  • All is forgiven! I don’t think I’ve watched anything but Korean dramas since my first ten shows or so; for some reason they were the most readily available or most accessible at the time. *Shrug* Dunno. But at least I know it’s not something wrong with my browser or the page loading. It just never occurred to me that there’d be anything out there you hadn’t at least dropped. Perception of Dramaland omnipotence shattered! 😉

                    Serial monogamy indeed! Well played! My brain compressed a bit working that out, but it’s fine now. 🙂

                    I would often furrow my brown in confusion when you’d refer to a show as a “pallet cleanser”, or “reprieve”, or, in this case, a “nightcap”. (I may not be quoting verbatim…which is sad because these phrases are so short, but I coulda sworn I’ve seen ’em used.) Now I know why. The dramas were those things in relation to other edgier, tenser shows you were watching. It all becomes clear now!

                    While I do like the mixing of flavors (in many things including Slurpees and ice cream) in general, and have in fact done it with as many as four dramas (technically only two because the other two were repeats) at one point, I found it to be in conflict with my laser-focused binging tendencies. Even if I’m not consuming 4-6 episodes at a time, I’m usually so transfixed that I can’t imagine using my free show-watching time on anything else. If, however, I am willing to set it aside, I immediately question the extent of my enjoyment. It’s like a good book. When I was really into a novel, I would read it until my eyes dried out and began to close against my will at 3am. With that kind of enthralled pursuit, I could never imagine taking a break to eat, let alone pick up another book.

                    Maybe if the family drama is, as you say, warm, inviting and comforting, it may not carry the angst and suspense that drives other shows forward. I could possibly see that working out in tandem with another hardcore show.

                    That said, I’m curious: were you juggling multiple shows when watching the likes of “Healer”, “NIF” and “My Mister”? I just wonder if the ability to do multitask-viewing changes at all if it’s something you’re super into, or if you have the capacity to step back from any show at any time?

                    I mean…damn, that’s cold. But respect. 😉

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                    • I’m throwing my 2cents in here to say that I think most of us will watch a few ongoing dramas – meaning you’ve only got 2 episodes a week of the on air dramas and you squeeze in the bingers while waiting for next week’s episodes. Also whenever there’s a lull in good stuff to watch – meaning nothing you’re interested in – that’s primetime to binge the stuff on your watch list.

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                    • Ahaha!! Well, let me say that I used to be a serial monogamist as well. I only used to watch a single show at a time, and it would be one that had completed its run, so that I could watch back-to-back episodes, to my heart’s desire. But somewhere along the way, I started adding shows to my drama plate, so that I’d have a few shows to choose from at any given time. And then I started blogging, and my drama plate just exploded. I now often watch at least 4-7 shows at the same time. BUT. I’m not THAT cold, in that, if a show truly grabs me, I’ve been known to drop every other show and just focus on the one, because of how good it is, and how engaged I am. I did that for NIF for sure, and I think I also did that for Healer. I didn’t do that for My Mister, because that was a show where each episode felt a bit hard on the heart. I often felt like I needed to breathe and recover, after an episode of My Mister. I don’t know how you marathoned that, honestly. Your heart’s stronger than mine! 😀

                      Also, if I’m watching a show as it airs, there’s no option to binge-watch it, so I jump a little later than when it first airs, then enforce the spacing out of episodes by distracting myself with other shows, while watching an episode a day, of the show in question, if that makes sense. 🙂

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                    • I thought juggling multiple shows was too difficult at first too but I think it’s because of trying to keep all of the foreign names and faces straight at first. Because when you think about it, we always juggled multiple shows a week on American [insert country here] tv. It’s no different.

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              • Have you watched “My golden life”? That is the only family drama I have ever watched comprising of 52 episodes. It was quite a good drama that I really liked. But, I still wonder how I was able to come around watching that one!!🤷‍♀️ Because now I am quite intimidated by lengthy dramas and I just don’t watch them anymore.

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                • I’m afraid I haven’t seen “My Golden Life”–I’m not sure I’m familiar with it. I think once I realized shows could be as little as 16 episodes (and some even fewer), I starting filtering anything out that was much longer than that. I drew a line in the sand! –But the great thing about drawing lines in the sand is that they’re really easy to move and sometimes the wind just wipes them out without you knowing. 🙂

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                  • I very much understand what you are trying to say . When I used to watch English series then the season wise watching didn’t felt daunting but with Korean dramas I just skip a drama if it is says 20+ episodes.

                    I heard a lot about My Golden Life specially the praise for Shin hye sun. And I was pretty impressed with Shin hye sun in her other show “30 but 17 “. So , when I stumbled upon my golden life on Nfix I somehow watched it. So, you can say that I watched it for the actress and if she was not there then I would have simply skipped it no matter how good the show was.

                    I really love the way you have framed the sand lines analogy. It feels quite poetic. Hehehe.. 😊😊😊

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                • No, I haven’t seen My Golden Life. I find that I can no longer watch Park Shi Hoo, unfortunately. 😛

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            • Father is Strange is nice, but I prefer Five Children aka Five Enough.

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  17. Although I balked at the thought of anybody deciding not to watch RIABB, I totally get what Jesse is saying! I love my chaebols and time traveling alien pretty boys, but I also like stories with ordinary guys, and there seems to be a shortage of those in Dramaland. The dramas on this list are wonderful, and they offer a little bit more reality then the fluff I go for, so I’m really excited to take a look at some of these!! (P.S. Seeing how hot PSJ looked in that screenie for Fight For My Way is convincing me to do a rewatch. DAMN YOU, PARK SEO JOON AND YOUR VERY CHISELED FACE!!!)

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    • Well, Jesse now says he’s enjoying RIABB very well, so that’s fixed! 😀 And yes, there DOES seem to be a shortage of regular guys in Dramaland, but I’m pleased that the list turned out fairly robust. 🙂 I sincerely enjoyed all the ones on this list, so YES, please consider adding the ones you haven’t seen to your list! 😀 Also yes, Park Seo Joon is definitely very appealing in Fight My Way; I understand your dilemma! 😆

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      • Yes indeed, I am locked and loaded on RIABB. With very little on the docket this weekend, it may very well become the focus of another binge. A necessary evil, considering the monumental list I have to make my way through! 🙂

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        • Oh! I meant to ask, do you watch all the way to the end of each episode? Coz one of my favorite things in RIABB, are the semi-epilogue bits, where they sprinkle little characters thoughts as text on a page (instead of a voiceover). I loved how those gave additional context and color to the episodes themselves. 😀

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          • OOooOOO! No, I didn’t even know that was a thing! What the world?! …I’ve even stopped a wee bit early (unless it’s a huge emotional/dramatic moment) because most shows seem to have a 1-2 minute recap/overlap at the beginning. Different music, sometimes a different feel, but during the binge, keeping hold of the plot is key.

            Fortunately I’m only two deep in RIABB right now, so I can go back and catch up without losing a lot of momentum. 🙂 Thank you for bringing that up!

            Uber noob right here. Big ol noob. Didn’t even know to watch through the end of an episode. How much have I been missing out on all these years?!

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            • Oooh. Jesse. I hate to break it to you, but Weather had similar epilogues too, and even done in a somewhat similar style. It’s Eun Seob’s blog entries at the end of the day, and they often include thoughts and reactions not captured in the main episode. I am loving these epilogues, and I find them very endearing. Go back and check ’em out?? Also, if you watched Crash Landing on You, that had epilogues too. You From Another Star (alien-human romance, so you’re probably not going to watch that for a while!) had epilogues too, and a friend of mine watched the entire series without realizing, until he read my review, and then he was all D’OH! And he went back to watch ’em all. 😆 Guess you’re not alone? 😀

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              • 8o Good gravy, I’ve been short changing myself! Gah! Yeah, now I’m gonna have to go watch the endings. I’m still not sure I can support a habit of using a post-credit content to flesh out the story, but my personal take is irrelevant. There is more to be seen, so I must see it. Glad to know I’m not the only one missing out though. Maybe it’s a guy thing?

                Fortunately I haven’t seen Crash Landing or You From Another Star yet, so I haven’t missed those epilogues. I had been eye-balling You From Another Star because it’s gotten rave reviews (including a glowing and incredibly robust one from this very blog), but, as your parenthetical accurately predicted, I was having a devil of a time relating to an alien for some reason. …Maybe if he was a relatively unsuccessful alien working in retail who crashed to earth when his jalopy of a ship broke down I could get into it, but I’m preeeeety sure that’s not the premise. 😉

                Still, my cold self-centered heart seems to be thawing to the idea of more…unconventional slices of life. But good golly that just opens the floodgates… 🙂

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                • I don’t know, I actually kinda like epilogues, when they’re well done. Of course, they’re not always well done, and then it feels try-hard and cringey, but when they’re well done, it feels like I’m extending my enjoyment of the episode, by just a little bit. And sometimes, the epilogues add an additional layer of meaning that I really like. Granted, that’s not fair to all the viewers who don’t stick around for the credits, but once you know that sometimes shows do this, it becomes a bit of a habit to stick around, just to make sure you don’t miss anything. At least, that’s what I do. 😊

                  Also, naw, I don’t think it’s just a guy thing. My mom and sister have been known to miss epilogues for the same reason. See? You’re really not alone! 😆

                  Pwahaha!!! I can’t stop giggling at your ideal relatable alien, you are hilarious! 😆 I LOVE IT. Now I need to see an affable, slightly clumsy alien crash landing his patched-up jalopy and finding human love. 😂😂😂 Also, to your question, you’re right, the alien from You From Another Star is quite the successful alien, complete with superhero-esque powers. It’s a fun fantasy story though, so.. maybe one day? 😀

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                • I don’t know about you, but be cautious. For me wherever something is really, really hyped, it can actually ruin it for me because ultimately it can’t live up to the hype and then I’m disappointed. That happened to me because I didn’t watch You From Another Star when everyone else did. I mean, I thought it was good but… Just too much hype.

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            • @ Jesse Gray – Oh No! You have to watch you the end even if there’s no epilogue because many times the start of the next episode SEEMS to be the same scene, but sometimes it’s a variant of it with slightly different dialogue or a different slant/point of view. The ol’ Kdrama fake out. I totally understand though because I don’t like previews so I try to look away when they show them at the end.

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              • When we finish the episode proper, one of us places their finger on the Pause or Skip button so we can stop the moment the preview starts, while still viewing whatever came just before it.

                Many shows end with still photos recapping the most poignant scenes in the episode you just finished. We like to savor those.

                Others have a legit epilogue with entirely new material. Crash Landing on You is only one we’ve watched that takes this to an extreme, sharing full scenes that were cut from the episode to keep it moving more briskly. They’re the equivalent of full length bonus scenes on a feature film’s DVD.

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                • Well, isn’t this just dandy?! Seems like eeeeeveryone here knew about this little fact except ol’ J-Money (and KFG’s mother and sister). I thought my days of getting left out of the know ended with high school, but apparently not! Now I find out I’ve missed like 90% of what the show had to offer just ’cause it didn’t occur to me that there’d be bonus content after the credits. It’s a cruel reality to wake up to, but better late than never I guess… ;p

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                • @merij1 Most times the epilogue comes after the credits and after the previews. What I do is watch the first two episodes all the way to the end. If there’s no epilogue (I’ve seen many shows not have one on the first episode but do on the subsequent ones 🤷). But once I know they don’t have them, then I don’t look for one and fast forward through the previews to the next auto starting episode.

                  Oh yeah. You have to also watch out – some shows, usually around episode 8 or thereabouts will have behind the scenes for an additional 5-10 minutes. I’ve often wondered – and maybe if Kfangurl sees this she’ll know the answer – I’ve wondered about the inconsistent length of the episodes. 59 minutes. 64 minutes. 69 minutes. All for the same show! I know the way they show commercials is strange – 15 minutes straight after a show. That would give me just enough time to go wash dishes before the next show comes on. lol But even with the designated long commercials, I find the varying lengths of the episodes of the same show to be strange.

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                  • I think the varying episode length is mostly for cable channels (TvN and JTBC) while terrestrial channels have more consistent episode length? But maybe that’s just my impression from the recent shows I watched. I actually like it, because it gives more freedom for the director to keep their vision intact, rather than skipping or shortening scenes, or adding fillers, just to get each episode to the standard minute count. (of course this assumes the director is good at their job, and won’t put out unnecessarily bloated episodes just because they can)

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                  • To my understanding, the shows on the broadcast networks are capped at 60 minutes, so all those shows have to keep to that cap, or face penalty for unfair competition. But cable shows have much more freedom to play with their episode lengths. Plus, cable shows’ commercials are structured differently; I see that they’re embedded within episodes instead of played in a chunk afterwards. So perhaps longer episodes give rise to more opportunities to show commercials? I’m not sure about that, but I hope that helped to add a bit of context! 🙂

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                  • I do the same Beez – epilogues can be great especially with CLOY and Longest Day in Chang’an.

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                    • Longest Day is on my list.

                      Liked by 2 people

                    • IMHO Longest Day was absolute pure eye candy and I am referencing the production values (lighting was spectacular). Not a lot of romance so it may not grab your interest Beez. This drama is not for everyone. Political intrigue to the max. I had to re-watch some episodes as it is fast and furious and is quite complicated. It is a 10 course sit down dinner complete with wine and dessert so if you start this drama you may not want to leave that table except for potty breaks.

                      As for Memory – well that was a delight . Just finished it and it is a really lovely. These two actors really must get along in real life as you cannot fake that kind of natural chemistry.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • The poster for Longest Day really peaked my interest with the one guy holding the flute and the other the sword. I have to admit that what kept me from starting it then was hearing that the bromance is more than a bromance. No offense to anybody but I’d rather watch heterosexual interaction. But now that I’m hearing good things about it, I’ll try harder to find time to watch it.

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  18. Jealousy Incarnate

    Although the ML is a news reporter. he’s played by Cho Jung-Seok who is the very embodiment of the everyman.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, thanks for adding to the list, Beez! ❤ I recall his character was a star reporter though, not just a regular reporter..? I was trying to avoid overtly successful male leads. 😅 But I guess he's more normal than the second lead who's a chaebol.. It's all relative? 😆

      Liked by 3 people

      • He started out as a field reporter, an exiled one at that. He moved on (or returned) to become an anchor. But to me he’s just so relatable.

        But if I have to remove Jealousy Incarnate from the list, I’ll replace it with Oh My Ghost. He is a successful chef but not on an Emeril Lagasse or Gordon Ramsey level. He only has the one local restaurant.

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        • I mean…they can be a little successful. I’m not THAT big of a loser. Slightly above average I’d say. Relatively. 😉 As long as the lead can’t spontaneously buy a 747 (and the airport it’s sitting in) so he can fly his love interest to some exotic locale using the flight training he casually picked up whilst studying abroad, I think I can get there. I’ll take a down-on-his luck guy any day because even at my best I feel like I’m just a bad load of laundry away from being right there with him, but someone who’s getting by–even it’s with a Beemer and a decent condo–is palatable.

          That said, the restaurant owner could be okay if he was still in his first five years of ownership. My understanding is that restaurant owners work 65-80 hours a week (if not more) and don’t start turning a profit until 3-5 years in. A struggling entrepreneur has promise. But if the guy can come and go as he pleases, almost never has anyone actually in the restaurant, and still seems to be doing okay for himself, then I call foul. Not in general of course. Can’t watch a whole lot if there’s not some suspension of disbelief. I’m just thinking about the average Joe’s struggle and how much it needs to be fudged to make romance (at least one that’s fun to watch) feasible.

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          • @Jesse Gray Well the chef’s success in Oh My Ghost is pretty “regular guy” in my opinion. He’s hands-on in running his restaurant. However, I saw you mentioned to others here that fantasy might rule this show out. But it’s cute and funny, if you’re ever in the mood for that. And it stars two “every girl” types (in my book). Park Bo young and Kim Seulgi.

            Park Bo young is a fan favorite and, get this – I, who have very few female biases – adore Kim Seulgi.

            She’s really good as the over sexed virgin ghost in this, but because she’s not considered your typical K-beauty, she’s yet to get any leading roles except for little 4-episode specials here and there (where the role actually calls for her to be the “ugly” loser). I’m rooting for her to be recognized as lead material so that I can see more of her on my screen. Besides being multi-talented and have the oh-so-important “likeability” factor, I think she’s as cute as a shiny button.

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            • @Beez First, I Googled Kim Seulgi, and I can confirm she is exactly as “cute as a shiny button”. Admittedly buttons (shiny or otherwise) have never been my gold standard for cuteness, but I get yer meaning. 🙂 If she’s talented too, then I would have to cast my vote to see her in more as well.

              Second, what does “over sexed virgin” mean? I feel like those are contradictory terms, but I can easily believe its just a phrase I’m not familiar with. Like I know what the words mean, but wouldn’t a virgin be grossly under sexed? I guess it’s largely irrelevant for a ghost, but I’m guessing my understanding of that is also off the mark in context of this show. So confused!

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              • Jesse – I would just like to hop in here to say a few words about Kim Seul-Gi. She is one of the greatest actresses working in Korea at the moment. She is a wonderful comedian, with excellent timing and is also adept at playing the heavier moments. I fell in love with her in the very corny named Flower Boy Next Door. But she really steals the show in Oh My Ghostess. Also the very short Splash, Splash, Love is a fun watch. I call it historical-lite. She is always worth watching and I can’t recommend her enough.

                Liked by 2 people

              • @Jesse Gray Ok. I’m going to try to explain this although, admittedly, no one ever came out and explained it to me but you’ll hear it said all the time in Kdramas. For instance, in DOTS, the female in the second lead couple (can’t remember their names), said to the guy “I can go with you to your ex’s wedding wearing white so I’ll show up the bride”. (In case you didn’t know, it’s also considered a no-no here in the west to wear white to a wedding for that very reason.) Anyway, she asked him “don’t I look beautiful?” And he told her she looked like a virgin ghost. You’ll hear it all the time. The meaning that I take from it is when a young woman dies a virgin then she haunts as a sex starved ghost.

                In Oh My Ghost, Kim Seul gi is such a ghost and goes around possessing other women and trying to have sex with men while occupying those women’s bodies. She’s doesn’t have much success because, I’m not recalling to much of that early part of the story, but I think an ambulance has to be called for the men before they can compete the deed, leaving her very frustrated. 😆

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            • @Beez – right with you on Kim Seul Ki. Love her. I am watching her in Find Me in Your Memory and she is delivering a great performance. I love her spunk.

              Liked by 1 person

        • Ah, I see, well then I think Jealousy Incarnate fits the bill more than Oh My Ghost. 🙂 I disqualified shows with fantasy elements from this particular list, to maintain relatability, and ghosts and body possession is kinda too fantastical I think 😅

          Liked by 1 person

    • For my mind, a very good all round show!

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  19. Dear KFG,

    OHMYGOSHTHISISSOCOOL!!! How in the world did you get such a robust list assembled this fast?! I mean, having hundreds of dramas under your belt is one thing, but to be able to reference them with this kind of agility and thoroughness is a bit uncanny. It’s like the magic I used the think the classic radio DJs had when a caller would request a song and they’d be able to play it two seconds later. (This was back when records and cassettes were the only music media out there.) Didn’t find out until later that is was all a clever ruse.

    But this is no ruse! –Wow. Just wow. Almost twenty shows that meet a pretty stringent criteria. If I’d had to bet, I would have put the over/under at like five. *MIND BLOWN* Thank you so much for this! 😀

    First, I will say that it took me a long time to realize that Dramaland was inhabited mostly by female viewers, and that the shows were more/less tailored for that demographic; I was always thinking, “Man, they sure know how to tug at a guy’s heartstrings!” I guess it’s a credit to the writers and the genre as a whole that I never felt like I was enjoying them in spite of some bias. I’m getting a better idea of the moments and events that have a tendency to woo the ladies, but I don’t know how frequent they are in terms of swoons-per-hour. I just know that I never felt bereft–like I was wading through a bunch of dull stuff to get to a scene that I could connect with.

    Maybe that’s because no matter which side of the relationship you relate to, the heart of it doesn’t change. Both people want the same thing, even if it is expressed in different ways. As long as the exchanges are well-written, I don’t know how it can’t be universally uplifting/heartbreaking. It’s not like the guys are cardboard cutouts doing nothing more than giving the girls someone to pine for and kiss. They are, for the most part, fleshed out characters with pretty compelling arcs of their own.

    That said, the amount of guys waltzing around amongst the upper echelons of society was something I noticed pretty darned quick. There was (or at least there seemed to be before this post 😉 ) a dearth of everymen out there finding success and happiness in relationships. In all fairness, it wasn’t like the successful guy always got the gal and the schlub got squat. If memory serves, it was the successful suitor prevailing over another successful suitor, so there wasn’t an immediate contrast.

    I think the main thing that gave me some difficulty digesting the story, other than my inability to identify with elite heartthrobs, was what their money or affluence allowed them to do. Happily, Shows never really allowed their leads to be attracted to money; many times they would reject the offer of a grand gift or accommodation. I could appreciate that there were no gold diggers or opportunists who were even initially drawn to the allure of money. (In fact, I remember several times where the lead guy was built up as the evolutionary apex of his sex in terms of looks, charms, talent, and wealth, and while the lead gal was impressed at a distance, as soon as they started interacting up close she seemed immune to his overt charms.) But money and success always gave the guy all the free time and vast connections needed to dapperly pursue and opportunely appear with a regularity and focus that few blue-collar fellas can manage.

    That’s just not fair.

    But in any case, this is quite a satisfying list of exceptions, and I’m happy to say I’ve actually seen some of them! “Let’s Eat 2”, “One Spring Night”, and “We Married As a Job” all somehow crossed my path, and I thoroughly enjoyed all three. I wasn’t aware of the fact that I was watching an “everyman” as the lead at the time, but looking back, it all becomes clear. The shows stood on their own, but I’m sure they certainly had more appeal, even if it was subconscious, because the gentlemen were humble 9-5ers, who actually had to show up to work every day.

    Maybe it also helped the couples start a little closer together, which in turn allowed for more subtle interactions and greater relational magnification. They didn’t have to overcome the obstacles of being from “different worlds” or deal with an inflated ego. We didn’t have to wait for the guy to actively seek the girl out because there was no way she could reach his lofty perch at the outset. They had fewer superficial (I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way) hurdles which meant more time dealing with the real relational difficulties and awkwardness that occurs between two people. That’s the good stuff.

    I’m currently making my way through “Romance is a Bonus Book” now, and pleased to say I’m digging it despite the fact that the guy has a pretty schwanky homestead and is enjoying adoration and popularity. –As mentioned earlier, the leading lady doesn’t care one gosh darned bit about any of it, so it’s not really helping him out. I am quite curious to see how he escapes the friend zone; the walls seem to be astronomically high and thick in this particular instance.

    Once I finish with that, I now have fifteen more shows with relatable blokes to prioritize and binge. 😀

    Oh! And now that ya got my brain on this track, I can think of two other dramas I liked that would fall in this category: “When a Snail Falls in Love” and “Live”. To be fair, neither of those (particularly “Live”) have romance at the forefront…so I guess they aren’t stellar examples. But the leading guys are merely officers of the law–civil servants–and they do have relationships. So… Yeah, okay…they aren’t great or even middling examples. *Sigh* I tried. 🙂

    Thanks again, KFG! This post spoke to me–in more ways than one! 😀

    Liked by 4 people

    • I love this “… in terms of swoons-per-hour.” 😆 😆 😆

      Liked by 2 people

    • Aw, YAY that you enjoyed this post, Jesse! 😀 I thought you’d get a kick out of it as well, since what you said was the inspiration! 😀

      Lol at the radio station analogy! 😆 To be fair, I didn’t just pull everything directly outta my brain.. I did have to refer to my list of dramas, and see which ones jumped out at me as contenders. 😉 I’m sorry, does that break the magical illusion? 😝😅

      But YES, almost 20 shows that meet the criteria, and I’m sure I missed some, since others are pitching in with suggestions too! 😀 So you’ll have MORE than 15 shows to prioritize and sift through, when you’re ready for ’em! 😀 You’re right, if a story is well-written, and the characters and relationship is fleshed out nicely, then it’s likely that we still get the feels from watching the show. But the Aha! moment I had when I thought about your comment is valid too; there’s just something intangibly special about feeling like you can relate to a character; like, hey, that could just as well be me! Which is why I was inspired and challenged to create this list 😁

      And you make an interesting point, that without different worlds to contend with, the story is forced to focus on things that are much more relatable, like personality differences. I guess drama writers just like to amp up the drama, and putting their leads in different worlds earns them an automatic baseline of built-in conflict to work with? 🤔

      Ooh, that’s great to hear, that you’re enjoying RIABB quite well after all! 😀 Yes, you’re right, even though he’s more successful than the average Joe, it doesn’t earn him any brownie points with her whatsoever. 😆 I guess that solves one of the issues of having a ultra successful male lead who has resources to impress his lady love. This lady love ain’t impressed whatsoever. Worse, she treats him like a little brother. Ouch. 😆

      Hahaha, your thought process with When a Snail Falls in Love and Live, is JUST like my thought process with My Mister and Misaeng, when we first started this conversation! 🤣🤣 I tried, too!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Your epiphany was indeed on the money! Being able to really buy in to the character makes a show more than mere entertainment. Mild therapy? Healthy escapism? Don’t know, but I like it! It also helps that most of the leads are what most folks would agree constitutes “good guys”, and in Dramaland, that usually works out to be an asset instead of a liability.

        I 100% agree with the notion that writers use the amped up drama of different worlds to build in conflict; when you’ve got to maintain tension and interest for 16 hours without getting redundant, starting big adds a lot of mileage. I respect the creative cleverness, but I applaud the ones that can somehow achieve the same effect starting smaller. I think another reason is that it’s more fantastic for the leading lady–literally. I mean if you want to tell an edifying story about love’s pursuit and triumph, might as well go big. I mean, I think it’s kinda greedy to give ’em the love of their life AND luxurious security, but why cut the dream short? The greater the distance, the higher the climb, the more powerful the love that overcomes.

        And yes, I actually genuinely laughed out loud a few seconds after I wrote the bit about “When a Snail Falls in Love” because I realized I’d done exactly what you did with your first attempt. I was going to comment on my hypocrisy but figured I’d wait and see if you’d notice. Never a doubt! 😀

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        • I vote for both mild therapy and healthy escapism! 😀 Sometimes, dramas literally save lives, by being the only thing someone in a bad situation can hold onto, and by being the mental and emotional escape &/or catharsis that they need. :’)

          I absolutely agree; it’s extra meaningful and lovely when a story can make the minutiae of life engaging and even compelling. I think this is why slice-of-life shows appeal to me. 🙂

          HAHA. Just goes to prove your point, that regular Joes as romantic leading men are a fairly rare thing in Dramaland! But! Hopefully that’s changing, and in the meantime, your list is growing! 😀

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          • Yeah…I guess I did validate the reasons for keeping the “everyman” aspect on the periphery, though as you’ve pointed out, the list of shows that feature regular Joe is swiftly growing–particularly when filtering out some of my own ridiculous preclusions. I’m convinced this genre definitely has the widest range of content and character journeys; even people who aren’t fans in general I think could all find at least one show that would rock their world. 🙂

            Oh, and I still say that being able reference this many shows just from looking at a list is still pretty darned magical. My list is in the low 40s at this point, and I still need to see screenshots or a poster to remember a lot of them. And even then my synopsis would probably consist of the one or two main scenes I remember that grabbed me. Keeping any level of details straight with the sheer volume of shows you and some others have seen is something to be admired.

            In my DJ analogy, it would be the equivalent of me asking for a song, and you knowing exactly where the cassette tape/record was located amidst shelves holding hundreds of albums, and then knowing exactly where the song was on the medium without a timecode (within 10 seconds or so of course). It may not be instantaneous, but it still teeters on the brink of being supernatural. 😉

            Liked by 2 people

    • @JG – I truly loved When a Snail Falls in Love. Watched it twice. I started it for Kai-Kai but I found all the characters fascinating and I enjoyed the story. I am also a big detective|murder|who -dun-it lover. This was right up my alley.

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      • @phl1rxd –It was my first ‘detective” drama. Had just enough of the romance to keep it balanced, and I too just enjoyed the story. Had a lot of moving parts but wasn’t overly complicated. I started to go for my second viewing as well, but they took it off of Netflix and I ended up snagging a drama from my ever-growing list. I would like to see it again though, as the relationship and characters (particularly Snail) were very unique.

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      • Yes, it had some great moments. Her drawings were alway interesting 😊

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  20. The most regular joe type of feels I got was from fight for my way. As soon as I read the title of this blogpost I suddenly remembered Fight for my way. 😀 I mean every character in that show felt pretty realistic and even their clothing and makeup was quite basic.

    I also very much agree with When the camellia blooms, one spring night and for that matter I think something in the rain was also fine although the show messed up in the last.

    Just between lovers was also one show where I felt that the character was quite simple with no over the top things. In my recent watch I will find you when the weather is fine the male lead felt quite regular. Let me know your take on this?

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    • Hi there Soumya! ❤ Yes indeed, Fight My Way is like a poster child for regular guy falling for his regular gal. 😀 As for SITR.. I only included shows I enjoyed on this list, and I personally didn't care for SITR, even though I watched it to the end. 😝😅 That's true.. Just Between Lovers featured pretty regular people.. I found it a hard watch though, with the lingering trauma that they both had to work through, regarding The Accident, and didn't think of including it. 😛

      Note to @Jesse: if you're ok with healing dramas that deal with people working through PTSD and a show that uses multiple flashbacks of One Big Traumatic Incident, this could be a meaningful watch. 😅

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think if the pick’ins were slim, I might be willing to dabble in the very volatile, frightening, and somewhat depressing world of PTSD. I mean, you struggle with the Dramaland version of it pretty much every time someone mentions SITR–and understandably so! 😉 Some wounds just don’t heal…

        Speaking of which, I’ve only seen one show that was billed as a “healing drama” (at least as far as I know), and I’ll need to wait until the dust settles on that before I’ll know if that’s my brand of vodka.

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        • I feel like there are different types of healing dramas.. For example, I found Just Between Lovers one of the more in-yo-face ones, because they keep the visuals, and therefore the memory, of the Incident very close by, almost all the way through the story. So you feel like you’re reliving the characters’ nightmare with them. Hard stuff. But then, on the other hand, Thirty But Seventeen, which I included in the list, is also billed as a healing drama, and that one doesn’t have the same vibe at all. You see the Incident once, in the beginning of the story, and thereafter, not really. So overall, the focus is a lot gentler, and the experience, much warmer too, as our characters find healing in one another. And then there’s Weather, which I haven’t quite seen enough to categorize yet, but it seems different from these other 2, in that it’s reserved and thoughtful and reflective. All that to say, it’s probably the case that some healing dramas would work better for you than others? 🙂

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          • I guess it’s not surprising that there’s significant gradience even within the sub-genres. I feel like I would want to relive the moment with the characters over and over so that I never lose my empathy for what they’re going through, but at the same time I only have so much emotional fortitude and patience. I want to have instant access to a character’s motivations and state of mind (particularly if/when they do something obnoxious or objectively foolish) , but I also don’t want to see the same thing over and over. Heck, I sometimes struggle with the amount of conversational flashbacks that happen in a normal show–particularly when they’re flashing back to something that happened less than five minutes ago. Pad-much, show? 😉

            So I think ideally I’d like the “in-yo-face” approach (provided I was ready to get emotionally shredded for awhile), but experience tells me I’d have more luck hanging with something like Thirty But Seventeen.

            All that said, “Weather” is the only “healing drama” I’ve seen, and for me the question isn’t so much how prevalent the inciting incident is, but more of how much healing am I supposed to be witnessing by the end? I don’t know what the bar is, and maybe I’m missing some of the nuance, but “healing” wouldn’t have been one of the top adjectives 🙂 that came to mind.

            In theory the most compelling healing dramas would be the ones that start off the darkest, but that only works if the heals are sufficient and truly elevate the characters at the end of it all…

            …But at this moment I’m mentally scratching my chin in thought. Wasn’t “My Mister” a healing drama? I don’t recall it being officially billed as such. The healing was definitely a strong theme, and was mentioned in your review, but does it not quite meet the criteria of an official “healing drama”? Does that particular sub-genre typically revolve around one primary incident instead of…well…pretty much an entire life gone awry?

            If MM would qualify, then I have in fact seen two healing dramas, but one of them was more of a “I made a full recovery from six bullet wounds in my chest, four stab wounds in my back, and a twenty-foot fall” kind of healing, and the other seemed more of a “I mostly got over a cold, but I’ve still got a lingering cough and my nose still kinda stuffs up at night” kind of healing. 😉

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            • That’s an interesting question! Hm.. I think it’s possible to say My Mister is a healing drama; at the same time, I feel like My Mister feels like it’s larger than a healing drama, if that makes sense? Like, it seemed to have a larger statement about humanity to make, and healing was just one sizable facet of its statement.. 😅 That’s just my gut feel, though, so it’s not like that’s cast in stone or anything!

              That’s a good point, that where the healing eventually leads the characters, is a key factor in how satisfying the overall watch is. If the healing isn’t convincing, then it might feel like a futile trip with the characters (*cough*SITR*cough* – even though that wasn’t a healing drama, but it did feel futile! 😆) I can’t speak for Weather yet since I haven’t finished it, but I do think the healing felt quite satisfying in both Just Between Lovers and Thirty But Seventeen! 🙂 Now you just have to decide which mood you’re in 😉

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            • Ah. This is my cue to advocate that both of you watch Chocolate (on Netflix). Thank you very much, KFG, for teeing that up so nicely!

              It doesn’t fit the criteria for this post because the male lead (Yoon Kye-Sang) is a variation on the Chaebol prince, albeit one who was forced into that role at profound personal cost and is doomed because doesn’t fit that lifestyle at all. (He wanted to be a chef like his mom.)

              He and his cousin (Jang Seung-Jo) have been pitted against one another by the grandmother and her DIL all their lives and both are seriously damaged goods as a result. Part of the show is about their journey to heal themselves enough to reject the family altogether and instead embrace each other (and love and art).

              The female lead (Ha Ji-Won) is even more damaged and the two leads have a childhood connection concerning this damage that he doesn’t remember. The epiphany where all that climaxes is pretty darn amazing.

              The show starts out in a hospital — the family business — but quickly shifts to a hospice for the rest of the show.

              In short, lots of PTSD, an extremely moving story about a group of damaged people learning to heal one another, and a pretty darn good romance story as well.

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              • Ahaha! Thanks MeriJ! Your Chocolate loyalty is excellent indeed! 😀 I haven’t written off Chocolate as yet, even though I didn’t take to the first episode. It’s not high on my list, but thanks to your loyalty to the show, I feel like I should give it another look. 😉

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  21. Great list Kfangurl and interesting topic.

    Below are some of my fave romance kdramas featuring regular Joe bloke doing regular things. One of the drama (not saying which one to avoid spoiler) technically doesn’t meet the criteria because the ML and FL don’t end up together, but I personally think it doesnt make their romance less than others.

    – Because this is my first love: socially ackward IT nerd
    – Emergency couple: resident doctor
    – Just between lover: part timer
    – Padam padam: ex convict turns handyman (this is fantasy drama so technically doesn’t fit the criteria, but the ML and FL are totally normal and their romance is one of my fave)
    – Weighlifting Fairy: student/athlete
    – Come and hug me: police officer
    – Producer: well… producer
    – Pasta: chef
    – Marriage Not Dating: cosmetic surgeon
    – Third Charm: cop turns chef
    – Welcome to Waikiki: director wannabe, rookie actor, freelance writer

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    • Thanks for adding to the list, Yoona! 🙂 I know which show you’re talking about! 😉 @Jesse if you want to know which show it is, let me know! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, KFG! I wanna–nay, I need–to know! That list just became a minefield! How can I peruse its titles knowing that one of them is gonna leave me hollow inside?! If I had to randomly guess I’d say Weightlifting Fairy, only because it sounds like the couple would be young enough to rebound from a relationship that didn’t work out and still leave things hopeful for the future. I can’t imagine it’d be Waikiki ’cause no writer in their right mind would write a writer into a story and not have them find love. That sort of thing just isn’t done.

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        • Haha, that’s a pretty good guess, but that’s not the correct answer. 😉 Since you asked, and also, while I’m at it, I’ll also mention other shows on Yoona’s list that I’ve seen, but didn’t include in the list, and the reasons why. Then you can decide whether to add them to your list! 🙂

          [SPOILER!!]
          Emergency Couple: I tried dipping my toe in, but found the initial antagonism between the OTP rather too aggressive for my taste, and dropped out early. Which means I can’t speak for the rest of the drama; I can only tell you I didn’t take to it myself.
          Just Between Lovers: This is the PTSD show, and I didn’t find it an easy watch. The repeated flashbacks to the scene of the incident were plentiful and I found that hard-going. That said, there is romance in this, and the leads do help each other heal, and they have a happy ending.
          Padam Padam: I liked this one very well, but it’s a fantasy show, which includes a supporting character growing actual angel wings. I thought that might be too fantastical for your taste.
          Weightlifting Fairy: I loved this show, and the OTP are regular students, albeit in a sports college. I didn’t include it because I thought that perhaps you might find the context too young? Like as you said, college couples don’t always work out, so even though we get a happy ending, it does feel less.. secure? because of their youth. If you’re ok with a youth drama, this one’s really heartwarming and sweet, tho. 🙂
          Producer: Quite an enjoyable watch, actually, despite Show’s early-episode identity crisis, coz it was trying out a mockumentary approach and then switched to more traditional storytelling after its first few episodes. Regular Joes navigating romance? Check.
          Pasta: I really liked this when I first watched it, but now, I find Chef too shouty and his love interest too smitten with him even while he’s shouty. He’s also a bit of a celebrity chef, so I don’t know if he’s average enough for your taste. 😉
          Marriage Not Dating: A really fun rom-com. I wasn’t sure if him being a cosmetic surgeon and coming from a well-to-do family was a deal-breaker.
          The Third Charm: This is the one where there’s no happy ever after for the couple. BUT, I did find it a very meaningful watch. It’s like a celebration of the people that you’ve loved and lost, for the value that they bring to your life, even though the connection is impermanent.
          [END SPOILER]
          I hope that helps! 😀

          Liked by 2 people

          • @kfangurl – Padam Padam – I can’t figure out why they went that route. Yes, Kim Bum played mysterious and ethereal AND regular youth whose been incarcerated perfectly but it was … just … weird to include it in an otherwise-more-grounded-than-anything-else- Kdrama-has-to-offer show. (At least I found it so up until that point in time of my Kdrama journey.)

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            • Padam Padam was very interesting.. the details are hazy to me now (it’s been such a long time! 😅) but I remember the show playing with timelines and different realities, so I think it wasn’t just Kim Bum randomly being an angel.. there was some kind of fantasy premise going on; Jung Woo Sung’s character getting 3 near-death miracles, and having to learn from them etc. I think there were probably life lessons built into the show, which might’ve made it feel more grounded, but this was definitely a fantasy drama. 😅

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              • Oh yeah. I’d forgotten about that.

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                • You know, just thinking about Padam Padam, I think Jo Wpo sung brought such gravitas to it (despite him being kind of a goofy ex con. But then, even in his most serious movies, he always strikes me as a little goofy. It’s the way he looks off into space instead of directly into his costars eyes, or something).

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  22. It wasn’t in the first few minutes, but I think Se-hee (Because this life is my first) falls under this category. Wanna hear your thoughts because I still can’t stop thinking about him! haha Like, literally there’s nothing special about him except that he’s just this honest and warm person. And you’d think if we say honest, means foot in mouth, but he isn’t. He’s just you know, the normal but with a cat.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Totally agree with this one. The cat made his character even more relatable!

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      • Right! Few episodes in and I’m starting to fall in love with him but I just can’t seem to know why/how? I live for male lead characters that respect boundaries i.e “can i kiss you?” “shall we sleep together?” Always asking for Ji-hoo’s consent first! Guess he’s not a regular male lead after all?lol I luff him so much. 🥺

        Liked by 2 people

        • I think it’s also because he’s so sincere and serious about respecting those boundaries. He’s completely guileless, as he asks, “Can I kiss you?” Some guys might use that as a line to appear smooth, or say it because it’s the right thing that they’re expected to say. Se Hee says it because he sincerely is just speaking his mind. That’s my 2 cents. 😀

          Liked by 3 people

    • Oh yes that is so true.! I also think Se-Hee was quite a regular kind of guy working as a software developer. I also loved the way he treated Ji-Ho all the time and the way he always knew his boundaries. It was quite refreshing.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Good call! I really liked BTIMFL, and the leading guy fits the criteria from what I remember. Even though he has a top position in the company, is the highest paid, and leads a relatively frugal life, he’s still not quite making ends meet. Probably because of the cat. Even without taxi rides and medical bills, that blue-eyed ambulatory cotton ball is costing him at least $50 a month! 😉

      And this is one of the reasons I like reading other people’s perceptions. As a guy, I thought he was relatively cold and mechanical–presumably unattractive from a female’s perspective–until the last two episodes of the show. Maybe it’s his unintentional coolness? He does small things that in a certain context show affection, but he’s not “trying” per se. And in his mind, his world, the things he says and does are out of a place of consideration and kindness, regardless of how calculating they seem. I dunno. It sounds like respecting boundaries is a quality that really resonates strongly with you…and Se-hee doesn’t even approach the boundaries. …Or begin to approach approaching the boundaries. 😉

      If you’re digging him now, it’s only gonna get worse (or better, I guess?) as the show goes on and you see more sides of his character.

      Liked by 1 person

      • @Jesse Gray – I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that he’s played by Lee Min ki. Now that you’ve pointed out his cold demeanor and oddness, I wonder if I’d feel the same way if he were short and pudgy with glasses and acne? Hmmm🤔

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        • Hey Beez! Well, if you haven’t seen “We Married as a Job” (though with your viewing prowess I would be surprised if that’s the case), it may be a way to test out your fortitude. He doesn’t have pudge or acne…but he does have glasses! And he’s pretty darned short.

          It turns out I’m a pretty poor judge of which guys are considered alluring by the general female audience (astounded revelation, I know), but I’d be willing to bet Gen Hoshino is more of a solid “guy next door” type as opposed to “smoldering schmexy guy next door” type.

          I’ll admit that I’ve often wondered if I find certain things tolerable, endearing or irresistible because of who is doing them. I wouldn’t feel bad about it if I was actually in love with the person because I think that’s part of what love does, but I can’t say I’m in love with the characters in a drama. Or can I? “If she was real, I’d totally love her”. …No, that doesn’t sound right. I don’t think I could say that until that love costs me something, and a fictional character can never cash in.

          I guess I’ll just have to one day hope I can transcend my superficiality. I wish you better luck in your introspection! 😀

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          • @Jesse Gray – I have not seen We Married As A Job. (I’ve only completed one Japanese drama.) But I googled the actor and he looks totally cute with the glasses on. Without them, not so much. lol Although, there are guys that you really can’t tell from still images because it can just be “something” about their facial expressions or the way carry themselves…

            As to my superficiality and introspection – ha! I tell my family all the time when they’re trying to get me to watch some American tv show with some average-looking actor as the lead: “No thank you. I can see average-looking people in real life.”

            My shallowness – I embrace it! 😆 😆 😆

            Liked by 1 person

            • Haha! I love the honesty, @beezrtp! I appreciate the inclusion of all types and looks, and I like the fact that we seem to see more “everyman/everywoman” types in media instead of just the general “ideal” image (that could never be maintained based on the portrayed lifestyles of many of these characters). That said, if I’m gonna stare at a piece of art for 16 hours, I’d much rather gaze at daVinci’s “Mona Lisa” than Picasso’s “Dora Maar”. 😀

              Aside: I remember sitting around with the family during one of the holidays and we were trying to think of a movie to watch. I happened to have a few DVDs with me and one of them was the first “Thor”. (Don’t ask me why I had it with me–it’s one of the weakest entries in the MCU. But whatever.) Both my mom and sister groaned in protest at the idea of sitting through a comic book movie…until i showed them the cover with Chris Hemmsworth. Suddenly they were very interested in seeing how this fascinating tale of classic Norse mythology played out.

              So you are not alone, Beez! 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

              • I’m reminded of a comedianne who said that back in the 90’s when WWE was so popular with kids. Her grandson ran up to her and said “Granny, we need to pay cable $30 to watch The Rock”. She began berating the kids about the value of money and she said, just as they showed her a picture, “What the heck is The Ro– get my purse.” 😆

                Liked by 1 person

            • Beez – it is really cute. If you need a break from a heavy drama check it out. If I remember correctly it was a pretty quick watch.

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    • Hi iyamwaadaa! I did enjoy Se Hee too, and for me, I think I found him melty because he wasn’t TRYING to be melty.. he was simply being sincere and honest, and I found it very endearing, that he straightforwardly, without any intention of trying to woo or impress, simply believes that his chosen course of action is only the right thing to do. I thought there was something very attractive about that. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I’d maybe rec Just Between Lovers.

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    • Thanks bev! You’re right, it does feature a regular Joe. Just.. a regular Joe who’s severely traumatized, so it was a hard watch for me. 😬😅 But, fair point, that the show deserves consideration too! 🙂

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  24. thanks for list 🙂 , so many to watch for me , so few of which I have watched
    best time to catch up on drama

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Hi kfangurl it’s so nice to see another post from you so quickly. Apart from a couple I have not seen, I have seen most of them and of the ones I have seen I loved them all. I’m starting to see a theme here for me. Perhaps I just like dramas with regular people. Just seeing the shows on this list put a smile on my face as I remember all the good things about each show. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi D! 😀 Thanks for enjoying the post! 🙂 And yes, perhaps there IS a pattern here, since you enjoyed all of the shows on this list that you have seen! 😀 ..which makes a pretty strong case to check out the few on the list that you haven’t yet seen? 😉

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  26. I loved When the Camellia Blooms. Such a cute couple!

    Liked by 1 person

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