10 Heartbreaking Korean Melodramas That Are Worth The Tears

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Stock up tissue boxes as these weep-fest Korean melodramas will surely numb your heart for a while.

In early 2000, Korean melodramas pushed the emergence of Hallyu to a more dominant position and recognition. “Season dramas” such as Autumn Tale and Winter Sonata became household dramas for families, who were able to relate on the unfortunate fate and satisfying triumphs of the lead characters.

Although these days melodramas are not as agonizingly conceived in a series-of-unfortunate-event setup, it keeps the staple ingredient of the painstaking narrative for the main leads before hitting happy endings. Improvement on tugging the viewers’ hearts with less tears is also a significant change compared to how we remember Choi Ji Woo or Song Hye Gyo crying almost every episode in their earlier projects.

Sometimes the amount of tears you shed for Korean melodrama does not make it unforgettable. You cry at the actual moment while watching it, but it does not leave a lingering effect.

But there are stunningly captured Korean melodramas that remain carved in the viewers’ hearts, because of how beautifully and emotionally it was imagined. Each frame lets you feel the rush of the tears, and the nuance of hope for the character to be emancipated from his agonizing situation. Such power and dedication are needed to perfectly picture melodramas.

Let’s look back on some of the most recent Korean melodramas, which left us feeling sweetly depressed due to the amount of emotions we invested. Stories which gave us a prolonged inability to move on past the aftermath. Characters who provided us harrowing answers to life questions that we are too proud to ask.

1. Scarlet Heart Ryeo

Inspiring Korean Dramas

photo credit: SBS

For people who have experienced the bliss of falling in love, they would know how love is not love without pain and memories. Scarlet Heart Ryeo runs a tormenting conflict driven plot, cushioned by languid story building. The stunning attention to depict the hero of the story paid off, as viewers gravitated to his harrowing journey. In return, the audiences show their appreciation by feeling the numbing anguish of his character.

Given the heavy plot and all the tragedies that happened in the story, a happy ending does not fit the framework of the narrative. 4th Prince So‘s open-ended closure on losing his one great love and longing to find her in the future, reiterates how the story focuses on the love journey and not on the fulfillment. Scarlet Heart Ryeo treads on the reality that a happy ending does not measure how great a love can be.

2. Queen For Seven Days

Seven Day Queen

photo credit: KBS

Queen for Seven Days is a breathtaking chronicle about a woman, who puts her faith on love, only to be lured inside a web of doubts and betrayals . Though not achieving a happy ending fully, this historical masterpiece appeals to people who know that love waits and endures. It will challenge your emotional strength in a way that ice cream and chocolates won’t be able to help.

The heartfelt devotion of the main leads to bring out evolving dimensions for their characters, strongly keeps the plot balance. It supports the vibrancy of the love tale, even the unhappy facet of it.

3. Uncontrollably Fond

Uncontrollably Fond

photo credit: SBS

Uncontrollably Fond taps into those memories of lost and depressing love that people don’t want to look back anymore in their lives. It is not a happy-ever-after kind of romance that appeals typically to almost anyone. Instead, it delves on the most shameful, most regretful, and most painful things that anyone can do because of love.

Limited by its realistic approach, the writing flows to the agonizing dying-man-all-willing-to-protect-his-woman premise. It leaves a love lesson on how the pain we feel to fight for our love does not mean less to the love we gave to stay in a relationship.

4. Scent of a Woman

Korean Melodramas

photo credit: SBS

Scent of a Woman lets you feel the tears and the optimism of a dying woman, who has deprived herself of the many comforts of life, only to wake up one day, stumbling on an unfortunate news that she is bound to die. She goes through the stages of grief when the realization hits her. When she finally accepts that it won’t do her any good, she decides to fulfill her bucket list, and uses her abundant savings to splurge on the luxuries she has previously chosen to evade.

One of her bucket list wishes is to fall in love. But just when that wish is set to come true, she faces the dilemma that she is not ready to give up her life because of the man she loves.

5. The Princess’ Man

Korean Melodramas

photo credit: KBS

The agonizing yet tender Joseon set Romeo-and-Juliet period drama, bravely presents the risks in committing yourself to someone, and the bittersweet pain of coming to terms that love has always casualties.

The lead couple for this historical drama encounters mishaps and sufferings until they finally claim the fated love they deserve. Their steadfast faith to be with each other at the expense of defying their families can make the heart-rending narrative worthy of a binge cry.

6. Five Fingers

Five Fingers

photo credit: SBS

When you have the protagonist, villains, and counter-villains living under the same roof scheming on how they can make each other suffer and retaliating at the same time, you get the best drama ensemble acting wise. Five Fingers tells the story of a dysfunctional family that mutually detests each other. The intense, unlimited angst thrown at each other proves how money is thicker than blood and first love.

Full of flavors and sentiments, Five Fingers takes pride on the cohering storytelling, which puts the actors to the acting limit without showing any sign of defiance. It is a sweet tears and bliss story that you can share with your family.

7. May Queen

May Queen

photo credit: MBC

Sitting on a 38-episode melodrama with birth secret, super evil villains and revenge driven plot is a feat that is hard to accomplish. But the oil exploration and shipbuilding industry premise provides layer of curiosity and drama which viewers can rely on.

What I liked about this drama is they compensated the long run to explain everything they had to clear.  They make sure that characters revolve and redeem their personas.  It is a good yardstick for melodramas that do not take romance as an integral part. While not that much stimulating, it does not lose its track to where it is heading.

8. Alice In Cheongdamdong

Korean Melodramas

photo credit: SBS

What would you do if you truly love the person but you started off with not the right intention? This question is answered by the Cinderella story of Alice in Cheongdamdong. It highlights interesting characters, reality slaps, gold-digging lessons, PTSD nonsense and thought-provoking love arguments.

There are a lot of reality check frames in the drama inferring love disparities. That makes the texture of the story different from your typical you-and-me-against-my-rich-family premise, since the lead girl is blatant with her intentions of marrying for money even if she knows that it will destroy her. She is honest to emphasize that – when you build a future with someone, love is the foundation but money will sustain it.

9. That Winter, The Wind Blows

That Winter the Wind Blows

photo credit: SBS

That Winter the Wind Blows treads on this premise – “I pretended to be a long lost brother to a blind heiress because I needed money to continue to live, only to find myself waking up wanting to protect my fake little sister every single day.”

Jo In Sung and Song Hye Kyo’s small screen pairing produced a stunning melodrama, with ample ardent scenes to engross the audiences’ hearts without bordering to hallow weep fest. It leaves a lingering message that loving someone when you are literally blind takes faith beyond reasons, and finding a reason to live because you love someone takes bravery beyond faith.

10. Mask

Korean Melodramas

photo credit: SBS

Mask, having damaged characters, entices you by how much it deconstructs the main leads’ motivations and frailties on what they are willing to give, because of greed, vengeance and sacrificial love. Swerving from the musty melodrama trademark, it raises its fight club banner through lies, devious plots, and ruthless counter attacks for reasons of being blindly in love, and the thirst to achieve a payback.

The story evolves around a poor woman, who is hired to pretend as the daughter-in-law of a rich family, when the real rich girl died because of an accident. The lie that she agrees to do backfires, when she wakes up falling in love with her husband.

If you are up to exercise your tear ducts and to immerse in breathtaking stories that inspire, take a pick on this selection whenever you have a long weekend to spare.

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