Best Summer Vacation K-Dramas

Hi everyone! K-Drama Today has been having a summer vacation the past couple weeks, while I’m going through a busy period at work. Sorry about that!

Because of work, I’m putting Hwajung uncaps on hold until late July. Then I’ll be back to kvetching about my second lead syndrome (choose In-Woo!) and the latest plot twists.

I have a few posts in the pipeline, so I will post some new stuff in July. Just not as much as usual.

And because it’s summer, here’s my list of favorite summer K-dramas:

1. Coffee Prince. Of course. It’s not just set in summer, but watching it also makes the sun come out. Thank you, Gong Yoo and Yoon Eun-Hye, for making the entire universe brighter. The characters and the slice-of-life plot remain enjoyable, although it came out in the summer of 2007.

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2. City Hunter. This summer thriller came out in 2011. Despite similarities to 2015’s Healer, City Hunter is arguably better—at least if you’re looking for a gripping, suspenseful conclusion and a compelling bad guy. It doesn’t hurt that this is the role Lee Min-Ho was born to play. Even if you roll your eyes at his popularity, it’s hard not to admire how he owns this series.

3. That’s Okay, It’s Love. One summer melodrama to rule them all, if you can handle that it isn’t a romantic comedy. The laughs here are strictly gallows humor. But the chemistry is electric. Summer has never looked quite so lush—and beauty so fragile. (And who’s better dressed, Gong Hyo-Jin or Jo In-Sung? They both look dynamite.) This series makes me feel like I’m on a tropical island.

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4. Master’s Sun. This romantic comedy with ghosts is set in summer, like so many East Asian ghost stories. Despite the third act plot slow-down, the chemistry between Gong Hyo-Jin and So Ji-Sub makes it a delight. And Gong Hyo-Jin rocks the summer fashion again.

5. My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox. If summertime heat makes it hard to pay attention to the subtitles, try this rom-com, another from the Hong sisters. It moves at the pace of a lazy summer day. Not much plot but so much pretty! This show gave me a total girl crush on Shin Min-Ah. And Lee Seung-Gi’s not bad either.

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6. Rooftop Prince. Summer makes me want to live in a rooftop apartment in Seoul. And this show features the ultimate rooftop apartment makeover. The goof-ball time travelers from the Joseon era include Yoochun (Sensory Couple) and Choi Woo-Shik (Hogu’s Love). The plot wanders, but the absurd humor is perfect for a hot afternoon with an iced coffee.

7. I Hear Your Voice. I’m not one of Lee Jong-Suk’s many fans, but he and Lee Bo-Young still make a great pair in this summer romance about a burnt-out defense attorney, the high school kid crushing on her, and the murderer who has it in for them. Does it make sense? Not always, but the feels are pure summer.

8. Shut Up Flower Boy Band. Okay, I know it isn’t strictly a summer show. But it does feature a hero and heroine living in rooftop apartments. And everything about the scrappy group of friends and the rock music feels like the K-drama equivalent of a good summer mix tape. Plus watching High Society is making me miss Sung Joon’s big hair in Shut Up.

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9. Swallow the Sun. Ji Sung has other good series set in the summer (like Protect the Boss) but Sun is the one that best channels the feeling of a summer beach-read. James Michener’s Jeju Island, perhaps?

10. If summer heat makes you want to watch snow and chilly weather, uber-melodrama That Winter, the Wind Blows delivers all the cold the title promises. You’ll want to bring a parka. And snow shoes.

Alternatively, for icy cold without the tears, try the very light I Need Romance 3. Sung Joon is at his most charming here, opposite the beautiful, quirky Kim So-Yeon. Bring a fuzzy blanket and a good-looking younger lover. ♥

10 thoughts on “Best Summer Vacation K-Dramas

  1. I love the site! I couldn’t remember the names of the ones you recommended to me since it’s been so long, but I popped on the site and sure enough, “Coffee Prince” was at the top of your summer watch-list! This is a great list for me!

    • Hi sweetie! I’m so glad you stopped by! And yes, this is a lot like the list I run through with everyone when “what drama should I start with?” comes up. The first episode of Coffee Prince is pretty weird and off-kilter, but it quickly steals your heart.

  2. Thanks for the suggestions. I decided to go with “My Girlfriend is a 9 tailed fox”. I wanted something light and fun as I am suffering through “Something Happened in Bali”. This entire week I looked at all things cow in a new light. Mi Ho might be my favourite k-drama character for her love of cow alone.

    • Cow! Yes, she really is ridiculously cute. Whenever I think of a gumiho now, I always think of her. She’s the essence of gumiho! I mean, if gumiho’s were cute and mostly harmless.

  3. Hi Odessa,

    This is not related to the above content, although I do like the drama suggestions given. I couldn’t find your email anywhere to contact you so I decided to just post a snippet of my business here. I have read the article that you posted on ravishly with the subject line “Why do so many American feminists love sexist Korean TV dramas” and I really like your nuance in breaking down the many problematic aspects of Kdramas reflecting on Korean culture, especially coming from a feminist stance. I work for an early stage startup that focuses on multidimensional, feminist, edgy and controversial topics and works on bringing it to the limelight. We have a podcast linked to our page and would like to feature you on our episode which will be focusing on this very subject.
    Please email me if you are interested in discussing this further. I look forward to hearing form you!

    • Just be sure to skip the first episode! I was just thinking about this show today because I was reading about Jeju Island. Most shows don’t make me want to visit Jeju, but the scenery in this show made me put Jeju on my must-visit bucket list.

    • OMG, a chance to teach on Jeju!!! My jaw drops in astonishment and envy. The tangerines would make up for the windy weather, right? But if I ever make it to Jeju, I’d probably be disappointed not to see Ji Sung standing on every cliff-face staring moodily out to sea.
      Maybe it’s all the brooding the characters do, but the landscape in STS reminds me a little of Ireland or the Scottish Highlands.

    • And it’s too bad that reasonable parents have to let kids make their own decisions! 🙂 There are so many temptations to interfere!

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