We’ve shared the Asian drama remakes we’re totally falling head over heels for. We’ve also spilt our honest thoughts on South Korea’s highest-rated K-dramas. Now, in time for South Korea’s awards season honouring outstanding dramas and films, we’re giving you award-winning K-dramas to catch up on before a new batch of winners pours in this year.
Mr. Sunshine (2018)
This drama is a fictional take on the situation between Japan and Korea in the late 1800s to the early 1900s. It depicted activists fighting for independence from the political powers taking over at the time. Lee Byung-hun plays Eugene Choi, a former Joseon slave who becomes a U.S. Marines officer. Eugene falls in love with Go Ae-Shin (Kim Tae-ri), the granddaughter of an aristocrat. Throughout the story, the two navigate Korea’s social disarray as well as fight the prejudice surrounding their romance.
Mr. Sunshine was nominated across five awarding bodies from 2018 to 2019. It secured the Grand Prize at the 6th APAN Star Awards. Lee Byung-hun’s performance also won him the Best Actor Award in the 55th Baeksang Awards.
Why you should watch it: If you’re not into romantic comedies but still interested in gripping stories that have a hint of romance, this one's for you. The mix of suspense and drama in every episode is well-balanced. It’s also penned by Kim Eun-Sook, who is known for her other iconic works Lovers In Paris (2004), Descendants Of The Sun (2016), and Goblin/The Guardian: The Great And Lonely God (2016). If that doesn’t guarantee its storytelling quality then we don’t know what will.
Stranger (2017, 2020)
East Asian dramas rarely air multiple seasons so you know something’s that good when you get a part two. Stranger, with its first season set in 2017, stars Cho Seung-woo as prosecutor Hwang Si-Mok. After undergoing surgery to treat his hypersensitive hearing, he lost his sense of empathy due to brain trauma. He then meets police lieutenant Han Yeo-Jin (Bae Doona). The two started working together, unravelling a much bigger case than the one they’re initially working on. After solving the case in the first season, the two reunite once again for another rollercoaster ride of a case in the 2020 sequel.
This drama won the Grand Prize in the first Seoul Awards in 2017 and the 54th Baeksang Awards. It also won Best Screenplay for screenwriter Lee Soo-yeon. Cho Seung-woo, meanwhile, won Best Actor.
Why you should watch it: Perfect for those who love heart-racing dramas, this is something that will keep you hooked from start to finish. The second season also doesn’t disappoint; it keeps things familiar yet fresh for both old and new fans.
My Mister (2018)
My Mister earned nominations and awards across six awarding bodies, the most notable being Best Drama and Best Screenplay from the 55th Baeksang Awards.
Why you should watch it: You’ll surely find something in common with any or all of the main characters. A heartwarming drama about family, friendship, and platonic love, this is a feel-good story that is simple to watch yet leaves a lasting impression.
Light In Your Eyes (2019)
Kim Hye-Ja (Han Ji-MIn) found an old watch at the beach that allowed her to turn back time. Learning its power, she used the watch to prevent her father from dying in an accident. However, each turn meant losing her youth. After many attempts, she ends up trapped in her 70-year-old self (played by veteran actress Kim Hye-Ja who has the same name as the drama’s main character). Choosing to retire in a nursing home to deal with the consequences of her actions, she accidentally reunites with Kim Sang-hyeon (Nam Joo-Hyuk), who she shared a friendship with when she still looked like her 26-year-old self.
This drama earned seven nominations in the 55th Baeksang Awards, winning the Grand Prize award. It’s also been nominated for two awards, one of which is Best Drama Series, in the 24th Asian Television Awards.
Why you should watch it: Asian dramas often have a unique way of telling time travel stories and this one is a good testament to that. It tells a gripping story about sacrifices in the name of the people we love but also learning to never overexert ourselves to the point that we’re left broken. Put this on queue if you love wistful storylines.
Dr. Romantic (2016, 2020)
This series’ title is a bit on-the-nose for a medical drama with a big romance subplot. But don’t let its cheesiness fool you. The plot is actually more complex than it sounds.
It revolves around Kim Sa-bu (Han Suk-kyu), a former surgical superstar who left behind his glamorous past to live in isolation in a small town away from the city after a tragic incident. With a new name and identity, he started training a group of doctors in the town’s humble hospital to pursue excellence without compromising principles for money. Surprisingly, romance takes a bit of a backseat in the story (at least in the first couple of episodes) as it allows the characters to grow and heal first before giving them romantic character arcs.
Dr. Romantic swept multiple awards in the 24th SBS Drama Awards in 2016, winning the Grand Prize, Excellence Awards for its leads, as well as Newcomer Awards for some of its supporting cast. The drama’s director Yoo In-sik also won Best Director in the 53rd Baeksang Awards for his work in this series.
Why you should watch it: Medical dramas bring a different kind of suspense. However, Dr. Romantic balances this level of intensity with heartwarming and heart-fluttering moments.
Which of these decorated dramas will make it to your watchlist? Make sure you keep checking this space for more binge-worthy recommendations from us!
Speaking of must-watch dramas, if you’re in need to satisfy your Vincenzo fix after the series’ wrap up, here are more dramas to watch starring the cast!