7 Hero-Centric Korean Dramas That Give Inspiring Life Lessons
Korean Dramas not only take you to myriad of places, they also let you meet fictional heroes who can teach you a thing or two about life.
As most enthusiasts would have been typically drawn to Korean dramas because of the saccharine rom-coms, others might have seen memorable stories, which left a deep impression in their hearts.
Over the years, viewers’ taste in watching Korean dramas would have expounded to lean on more serious themed dramas while still enjoying the light ones. It is given since audiences tend to outgrow the refreshing ones as they gain more experiences in life.
Let’s look back on some notable Korean dramas with memorable heroes, who stand out with their superb character portrayals.
“On career goals”
Misaeng leads you to a pensive mood to ponder on forgotten dreams, life regrets and what-nows. It highlights the pure emotions felt by salaried employees struggling everyday to get their job done.
Im Shi Wan becomes the non-top-university educated poster boy, who braves the odds as an intern to a big conglomerate company, Jang Geu Rae. He shows the heartbreaking downside of a typical salary man realm, who continuously perseveres to work on opportunities given to him to compensate from his educational background that does not appeal much in South Korea’s corporate world.
It is hard these days to find a human TV drama that follows the fundamentals of how and why storytelling emerges to inspire people. We frequently see stories to escape from the problems which we are facing, so sitting down upfront a courageous and flaw-filled TV presentation chronicling what is true and happening, what we hide to people relying on us, and what we don’t want to admit to ourselves because of too much pride will make you understand that career goals need not be happening in an instant and all at the same time.
“On Being Patriotic”
Staged in the post-Joseon-Japanese-Annexation era, Gaksital invites the viewers to a quintessential story along with stellar portrayals from the characters. It is a story of patriotism, friendship, love, family bond, and how much you put value on these things.
Joo Won’s impeccable Lee Kang To performance won me over convincingly. He gracefully dances, he sweetly sings in a humiliating-PSY-kind-of-way, and he gorgeously pulls off amazing combat scenes. He is reckless, uncaring, and puts up a strong face because of the hard life he has been through. He is temperamental and unyielding, but he puts family love on top of his priority.
Gaksital brims with so much depth and substance for youths of today to learn from. It successfully sends out the patriotic theme, where love, loyalty, family, and friendship are at stake. It makes you realize how living at present time in comfort is such a blessing, knowing that it can only come from the sacrifices and hard works of our ancestors.
3. The King of Dramas
“On Changing for the Better”
Staging a comeback to Korean drama production, Anthony Kim (Kim Myung Min), who used to be a big shot drama producer, beats all the odds and reforms himself so that he can return to the world he was once famous for. But he is set to compete with his former master and assistant to do that. With his keen mind and full heart, he manages to achieve his hard-earned redemption, but more than that, he comes to terms of what is lacking in him as a person.
It is a drama that narrates how a man reinvents himself to bounce back after a slump.
“On healing yourself through finding love”
Women can choose from princes, time travelers, rich guys, law enforcers, doctors, and prosecutors. But the night courier, who takes on highly confidential work commissioned secretly and dangerously by powerful men in the society, has definitely made K-drama female fans unanimously fancy Healer, played by Ji Chang Wook.
Healer treads on an addictive premise about a one-of-a-kind hero, who chooses to disconnect from the society, but accidentally grows attachment to a woman, who pulls him out of his hibernation. The drama quaintly links the relationship of the characters, and never misses its steps in binding the romance, the back story and the conflicts together.
Healer‘s journey provides a surmising moment on how much we will encounter pain in our lives, but if we open our hearts to people who can understand our pains, the reward is greater rather than wallowing on our personal grievances alone.
“On redeeming wrong choices”
With a dying man as a lead hero in charge to intellectually brawl with his superiors in the Prosecutor’s office, the stake is always at the highest as the people involved in Punch‘s drama race to protect their families, reputations and personal ambitions.
Kim Rae Won plays the role of a dying prosecutor Park Jung Hwan, who is on a quest to clean up the corrupted high officials of the office he belongs to. His strategic thinking defies the powers which his superiors use when he is on a spree to reveal their evil doings. It is an arduous and painstaking battle, but he manages to expose the truth before his passing.
What viewers would love about Park Jung Hwan is his ability to bounce back from oppression, even with nothing on his hand to help him fight off the immense powers and walls that his superiors built to hinder his justice seeking outrage. It’s your classic underdog story, polished in a mafia grit kind of way.
6. Scarlet Heart Ryeo
“On defying everything for the person you love”
Albeit the tormenting emotional strain I got from Scarlet Heart Ryeo, it belongs on the K-drama list that I fondly think of, because I love that it feels emotional and realistic due to the plot’s instability and the main characters indecisiveness. It is a situation that might have killed the drama, but because the essential character motivations are clearly drawn, as a viewer I enjoy that feeble and vulnerable facet of the production.
Enduring the painful relationship with his mother and loving a woman one-sidedly, 4th Prince So (Lee Jun Ki) made me want to rescue him out of the TV screen. When he finally gets the love he patiently waited for, it felt so fulfilling.
Just as life is short, love is also fleeting. The all-important love lesson Scarlet Heart Ryeo teaches is how loving someone does not stop when you give up on the person. It is a sweet reminder on keeping as much happy memories as you can to keep you going in moments when you yearn to be with that person in the future, but he cannot stay by your side anymore.
7. Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim
“On understanding you can rise again from life setbacks”
Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim narrates the story of an amazing triple board certified surgeon, Boo Yong Joo (Han Suk Kyu), who shuns his life to a remote provincial infirmary, where he became a victim of politics in the big city hospital he worked before. There, he meets three young doctors whom he inspired and nurtured to become righteous and skilled surgeons. But his past haunts him back as the villain who pinned the medical malpractice to him before is determined to destroy him fully so that he can achieve his greedy aspirations to become the CEO of the top hospital in Seoul. A VIP patient, though, decides to do his complicated operation with Teacher Kim. The almost impossible to survive surgery is nailed deftly by Teacher Kim and his team, leading him to redeem his lost and stolen glory.
Notching a successful medical story is unusual in K-dramaland, but the aligned surgeries and character back stories help with the thrilling and neat narrative execution. It provides lingering lessons, taken from real life’s pains, blisses and experiences.
Who is your favorite K-drama hero? Which K-drama has successfully caused you stare blankly at a window while contemplating on your current life status?
How does this story make you feel?