If you've ever watched a Korean drama (a.k.a. a K-drama), be it a series or a movie, you know what it's like to experience a dozen different kinds of emotions in just a few hours. Things start out slow, then the climax rips your soul apart, then the ending leaves you sobbing from satisfaction or deep in despair over a lack of sequel. No matter the genre, Korean entertainment simply keeps you glued to your screen.
Should you be in the mood for some melodramas, specifically ones with love stories that make you sob your eyes out, we put together a list of recommendations. For anyone who loves rom-coms, especially those of the early '00s, you'll find a familiar happiness when you watch Korean romance movies. Like those '00s favorites, the plotlines aren't always the most realistic, but the scenes are an emotional roller coaster. Ahead, the best K-romance movies to stream now.
More Than Blue
This 2009 South Korean movie is about two orphans, Kang Chul-gyu ("K") and Eun-won ("Cream"), who meet in high school. The two quickly form a bond, but because Kang Chul-gyu has terminal cancer, which he keeps a secret from Cream, he urges her to marry someone kind and healthy. Eventually, Cream falls in love with another man, but only because she wants to appease K...and viewers discover that she has known about his cancer all along. We won't spoil the rest of this love story. (FYI: The Korean title of the film translates to "A Story Sadder Than Sadness," which means you should get your box of tissues ready.)
My Sassy Girl
This 2001 movie is one of South Korea's highest grossing comedies of all time; its success and international reception has been compared to that of Titanic. The story explores the relationship between Gyeon-woo and a girl who is never named. Gyeon-woo's first encounter with "the girl" is when he rescues her from falling off the edge of a train platform. The two fall for each other, but ultimately break up—so they write love letters to each other and stick them in a time capsule, to be read two years down the line. When Gyeon-woo arrives to open the time capsule...and we'll just leave it at that.
This 2003 melodrama was directed by Kwak Jae-yong of My Sassy Girl and stars Crash Landing on You's Son Ye-jin. The film starts with present day Ji-hye (Son Ye-jin) finding a box of old letters and a diary that detail the story of her mother's life. As she reads the letters, we're drawn into her mother's life through flashbacks, which are intertwined with Ji-hye's own love story. This movie explores the relationships of both women (Son Ye-jin plays the daughter and mom) in tandem. Viewers are gifted with plenty of light-hearted moments as well as tearjerker scenes.
The Beauty Inside
Right after he turns 18, Woo-jin, starts waking up every day as a different person. One day he's an old man, the next he's a woman, a child, even a foreigner. Only a few people know about Woo-jin's strange condition, and he's able to hide it from the world because he works behind the scenes as a furniture maker. Then, of course, enters Yi-soo, who works at a furniture store. The two embark on a relationship that's filled with twists and turns, and it'll keep viewers guessing until the end.
Mood of the Day
Kim Jae-hyun is a sports manager who boards a train to Busan to track down a basketball player for business. Bae Soo-jung works in an advertising agency and—surprise—is also traveling to Busan for work. On the train, Jae-hyun hits on Soo-jung, which turns her off. But then she overhears one of Jae-hyeon's phone calls regarding the basketball player, who she needs to meet for advertising purposes. Soo-jung realizes that building a rapport with the guy will help her achieve her business goal and the two set off to look for the basketball player together. You can probably guess what happens next.
A street magician, Jo-goo, falls in love with a girl, Yeo-ri, who has the ability to see ghosts ever since she survived a car accident in high school. Yeo-ri not only can see dead people but is haunted by one of her best friends, Joo-hee, from the accident. His presence causes her to live a very solitary life. Upon discovering her secret, Jo-goo sets to help her find love and happiness, not realizing that the two will eventually fall for each other. But Joo-hee is always there and watching...
On Your Wedding Day
What would you do if you received a surprise wedding invite from the person you've loved for most of your life? This film explores the complicated relationship between Woo-yeon and Hwan Seung-hee from their high school days to adulthood. The realistic ending in this movie will resonate with those who have ever fallen in love with a friend.
Snow Is the Sea
You know a movie is a tearjerker when one of the main characters, who suffers from a severe illness, falls in love (see A Walk to Remember, Five Feet Apart, etc). This 2015 melodrama centers around Sun-Mi, who has a blood disease, and falls in love with Sang-Woo, who works at an aquarium. He proposes to her, not knowing the difficulties that the pair will face due to her health. Will they be able to face her illness together, or will this tear them apart?
Two Faces Of My Girlfriend
Gu-Chang is a 30-year-old virgin who has never had a girlfriend and is down on his luck financially. (He constantly flunks job interviews and receives money from his divorced sister and nephew.) But his life changes when he meets a woman named A-Ni. Everything appears to be going well, but then Gu-Chang realizes something is a little different about the woman he's seeing. It turns out A-Ni has a split personality disorder.
Tune in for Love
This movie explores the relationship between Mi-soo and Hyun-Woo over the course of a decade. The pair meet as teenagers while working together at a bakery, but as adults they go down different paths. They try to find their way back to each other again, but one of them has a secret that will threaten the relationship. This love story is a tale of love, separation, and growth.
Part romance, part psychological thriller, Park Chan-wook's sexy film tells the story of two women who fall in love in Japanese-occupied Korea. Lady Hideko is a wealthy heiress living on a remote estate who dreams of escaping the yoke of her abusive Uncle Kouzuki, who keeps her trapped at home performing readings of erotic novels. Enter Sook-hee, a young con-woman who arrives on the scene as a lady’s maid to steal Hideko's fortune.
This off-kilter romance tells the story of housewife and former model Sun-hwa, who suffers in an abusive marriage, and Tae-suk, a young squatter who is constantly on the hunt for his next shelter. After Tae-suk attempts to lodge in Sun-hwa’s home for the night thinking that no one is home, Sun-hwa decides to join him on his squatting adventures to escape her husband. While the two never steal from the homes they crash, they inevitably get themselves into some trouble with the law. At once yearning and contemplative, this quiet film asks how people can find connection in an apathetic and classist world.
Be With You
Son Ye-jin stars in this blockbuster rom-com about a woman who returns home one year after her death. While she has no recollection of her passing, she soon learns only has until the end of the rainy season to be with her family on earth.
Seo-hyun, an ordinary housewife married to a successful architect, strikes a romance with her younger sister’s fiance, U-in, in this quiet and affecting movie. Seo-hyun must choose between her pleasant yet ordinary life with her husband and young child or a passionate love with a younger man. This slow burn of a movie tugs at the heartstrings and makes you wonder what you would do if you had to make such an impossible decision.
Chul-min, a former boxer who's closed off to the world, is working as a parking lot attendant when a visually impaired woman, Jung-hwa, walks into his tollbooth to watch TV. Jung-hwa's bright spirit reaches through to Chul-min's heart and they start a romance, but their happiness may be shortlived. This intense yet heart-warming film follows the couple as they fall in love while facing their own challenges in life, and the main couple, played by So Ji-sub and Han Hyo-joo have amazing chemistry.
Kang In-soo is a street musician who hopes to turn his love of music into a full-time career. When Yoon Sang-yi, a keyboardist at a major record company, discovers In-soo's YouTube videos, he recommends In-soo for his company's rookie discovery project. As the two work and live together in the company dorm, feelings begin to blossom and they have to overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of them being together. This BL (acronym for Boys Love) film is a realistic romance that tugs on the heartstrings and also includes original music performed by the leads Kang In-soo and Lee Sang.
Il Mare: A Love Story
Eun-joo, an aspiring voice actor, has been living alone in a lake house named Il Mare, after her husband went abroad and never came back. When she moves back to the city, she leaves a note for the new tenant, asking them to forward any mail to her. The new tenant, Sung Hyun, writes back, but his letter is dated two years in the past. If the story of a time-traveling epistolary romance sounds familiar, this 2000 Korean romance was remade as the 2006 film The Lake House, with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves.
This action-romance follows Kang-il, a rescue firefighter who is grieving his late wife, and Mi-soo, a doctor at a general hospital. When Mi-soo makes a misdiagnosis and her patient's husband sues the hospital, she learns that Kang-il can serve as a character witness, since he was at the hospital that day and later assaulted by the husband. Mi-soo goes to great lengths, even volunteering as a paramedic, to get close to Kang-il, who gives her the cold shoulder. Eventually they bond through their dangerous work, but their love may not be strong enough in the face of Kang-il's grief and Mi-soo's ulterior motives.
Sweet & Sour
A rom-com that shows both the highs and lows of a relationship, this film follows Da-eun, a nurse, and Jang-hyeok, an engineer. The beginning of their relationship is sweet and loving until Jang-hyeok gets a new job with a long commute that strains their relationship. It also doesn't help that he begins to bond with a female co-worker at his new job. The romance has been lauded for depicting realistic relationships, though its ending can be divisive.
In this 2019 rom com, recently-single 30-somethings find themselves bonding while recovering from their harsh breakups. Jae-hoon recently broke up with his fiancée on his wedding day, and since then he's been drinking often and going through the motions at his advertising agency. Seon-yeong joins the same agency, and soon after Jae-hoon and their colleagues witness her breakup with her cheating boyfriend. The pair starts to get closer over time, while dodging office gossip and judgment.
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