Korean shows often use a number of well-established tropes to touch hearts and keep fans hooked. Among these popular storylines, fake dating K-drama plots where protagonists enter pretend relationships only to fall in love eventually, seem to intrigue a lot of viewers.
A case in point is the Ahn Hyo-seop-starrer fake dating K-drama Business Proposal. It became the third most-watched Netflix series in 2022 globally, with a staggering viewership of 32.5 million hours.
Meanwhile, the 2022 romantic comedy Love in Contract where protagonist Choi Sang-eun (Park Min-young) fakes her way through relationships as a part of her date-for-hire job was an instant fan favourite.
Not to forget the 2019 Hyun Bin and Son Ye-jin starrer Crash Landing on You, which still remains one of the most popular Korean dramas of all time. According to South Korean data and analytics website Nielsen Korea, the drama’s final episode peaked at a 24.1 per cent rating, racking in an average 21.7 per cent overall viewership and surpassing TVN’s highest-rated drama, Goblin, at 20.5 per cent.
Check our complete list on K-dramas to watch!
These fake dating K-dramas will melt your hearts
Love to Hate You (2023)
Directed by: Kim Jeong-kwon and Choi Soo-young
Cast: Kim Ok-vin, Yoo Teo, Go Won-hee
Synopsis: Yeo Mi-ran (Kim), a highly competitive attorney at Korea’s Gilmu Law Firm, hates losing to men. When circumstances force her to fake date popular actor Nam Kang-ho (Yoo), who has trust issues of his own, sparks fly.
About the show: One of the highest-rated fake dating romance K-dramas to release in 2023, Love to Hate You is also best known as Love Battle.
Love in Contract (2022)
Directed by: Nam Seong-woo
Cast: Park Min-young, Go Kyung-pyo, Kim Jae-young
Synopsis: Talented and charming Choi Sang-eun (Park) is leading a successful life as a professional date on a contractual basis. However, when she develops unexpected feelings for two of her clients — Kang Hae-jin (Kim) and Jung Ji-ho (Ko) — she finds herself trapped in a love triangle.
Business Proposal (2022)
Directed by: Park Sun-ho
Cast: Ahn Hyo-seop, Kim Se-jeong, Seol In-a
Synopsis: Shin Ha-ri (Kim) shows up on a blind date in place of her friend to scare away her prospective suitor, Kang Tae-moo (Ahn). Upon discovering that Tae-moo is actually the CEO of the company she works for, Ha-ri plans to cut the meeting short. However, Tae-moo puts forth an unusual proposal.
About the show: One of the most-watched fake dating K-dramas on Netflix, Business Proposal is based on the 2017 web novel Sanae Matsun by Hae Hwa.
Crash Landing On You (2019)
Directed by: Lee Jung-Hyo
Cast: Hyun Bin, Son Ye-jin, Seo Ji-hye, Kim Jung-hyun
Synopsis: When heiress Yoon Se-ri (Son) of South Korea crash lands in North Korea after a paragliding mishap, she is rescued by army officer Ri Jeong-hyeok (Hyun). As he prepares to send her back to her country, she takes shelter in his home. However, when Jeong-hyeok’s neighbours discover Se-ri, the duo are forced to act as a couple to protect her identity.
About the show: One of the most popular Korean dramas, Crash Landing on You sees real-life couple Hyun Bin and Son Ye-jin share screen space together for the second time after the 2018 Korean movie Negotiation.
Her Private Life (2019)
Directed by: Hong Jong-chan
Cast: Kim Jae-wook, Park Min-young, One
Synopsis: Art curator Sung Deok-mi (Park) lives a secret life as a fan of K-pop idol Cha Si An (One). After a group of high schoolers violently attack Deok-mi outside her office assuming her to be Shi An’s secret girlfriend, her boss Ryan Gold (Kim) volunteers to pretend to be her boyfriend.
About the show: One of the best fake dating romantic comedies, Her Private Life is adapted from the 2007 novel Noona Paen Datkom by South Korean writer Kim Sung-yeon.
Something About 1 Percent (2016)
Directed by: Kang Cheol-woo
Cast: Ha Seok-jin, Jeon So-min, Kim Hyung-min
Synopsis: Lee Jae-in (Ha), the arrogant heir of the wealthy Lee family, has to settle down in order to inherit his ancestral fortune. With no intentions of getting married, Jae-in meets Kim Da-hyun (Jeon), a school teacher chosen by his grandfather, and offers her a contract to be his fake fiance.
About the show: Also known as 1% Of Something, this fake dating K-drama is an adaptation of the 2002 novel 1%ui Eoddungut by Hyun Go-woon.
Marriage, Not Dating (2014)
Directed by: Song Hyun-wook
Cast: Yeon Woo-jin, Han Groo, Jeong Jin-woon, Heo Jung-min
Synopsis: Successful plastic surgeon Gong Gi-tae (Yeon) is set on remaining a bachelor forever. Meanwhile, saleswoman Joo Jang-min (Han) is trying to get over her unfaithful ex-boyfriend. When the duo meet, Gi-tae suggests that Jang-min enter a false engagement with him.
Coffee Prince (2007)
Directed by: Yoon Jeong-lee
Cast: Gong Yoo, Yun Eun-hye, Lee Sun-kyun, Kim Young-ok
Synopsis: The grandson of the chairwoman of Dong-in Foods, Han-kyul (Gong) starts his own cafe to follow his dreams. When he hires tomboy Go Eun-chan (Yun) as one of the employees, Han-kyul mistakes her for being a man. Desperate for the job, Eun-chan keeps on with the facade. Facing pressure to get married, Han-kyul leads his grandma to believe he is gay and in love with Eun-chan.
About the show: An MBC production, this romantic Korean drama is based on The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince (2008) by South Korean novelist Lee Sun-mi.
(Hero and featured image credit: Netflix)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
– Which K-drama is based on a fake relationship?
Some K-dramas based on the fake dating trope include Business Proposal, Her Private Life, Crash Landing on You, Coffee Prince and Love in Contract.
– Which K-drama is based on a fake marriage?
Some of the Korean dramas based on the fake marriage trope are Ending Again, My Husband, Mr. Oh!, 100 Days My Prince and Because This is My First Life.
– Who is the No.1 actor in South Korea?
Some of the top actors in South Korea are Hyun Bin, IU, Bae Suzy, Son Ye-jin, Ahn Bo-hyun, Ahn Hyo-seop, Song Hye-kyo, Yoon Ji-ho, Joo Jang-mi, Kang Hye-soo, Hyun Ki-joon, Gong Ah-jung, Wi Mae-ri, Jeon Do-yeon and Lim Ji-yeon.