While the best K-dramas to watch have gained global popularity with diverse themes, Korean shows with romantic storylines and crackling chemistry between leads have a separate fanbase. From the star-crossed lovers of Crash Landing on You (2019) to the transformation of a fake relationship into a real one in Business Proposal (2022), romantic K-dramas have managed to tug at the heartstrings of viewers over the years. Keeping up with the tradition, 2023 has seen equally entertaining releases.
From shows like Bora! Deborah, which portrayed the mushy, romantic feelings of the leads in-depth, to Korean dramas like Our Blooming Youth that explored the complications of relationships, 2023’s lineup includes brilliant names that are enough to pique a rom-com lover’s interest.
Not to forget the historical romance My Dearest, starring the popular duo Namgoong Min and Ahn Eun-jin, which is officially one of the best K-dramas to watch in 2023. The love story enjoyed a solid 12.2 per cent finale viewership rating nationwide, according to Soompi (via Nielsen Korea).
Check our complete list on K-dramas to watch!
Romantic K-dramas that are a must-watch in 2023, according to IMDb
Directed by: Kim Sung-yong
Cast: Namkoong Min, Ahn Eun-jin, Lee Hak-joo, Lee Da-in, Kim Yun-woo
IMDb rating: 9.5
Synopsis: Even after two failed marriages, noblewoman Yoo Gil-chae (Ahn) of the Joseon dynasty dreams of finding true love. Meanwhile, the enigmatic Lee Jang-hyun (Namkoong) doesn’t believe in marriage. What happens when they meet amid the tumultuous Qing invasion?
About the show: One of the best historical K-dramas to watch in 2023, My Dearest will return with Part 2 in October.
See You in My 19th Life
Directed by: Lee Na-jung
Cast: Ahn Bo-hyun, Shin Hye-sun, Ha Yoon-kyung, Ahn Dong-goo
IMDb rating: 8.5
Synopsis: Ban Ji-eum (Shin) can remember her past lives. Currently in her 19th life, she wants to reconnect with Moon Seo-ha (Ahn), a boy she first met as a 12-year-old in her 18th life. When their paths finally cross, Ji-eum discovers that the grown-up Seo-ha despises relationships.
About the show: One of the best Ahn Bo-hyun shows, See You in My 19th Life is an adaptation of a webtoon of the same name by Lee Hye.
Love to Hate You
Directed by: Kim Jeong-kwon and Choi Soo-young
Cast: Kim Ok-vin, Yoo Teo, Kim Ji-hun, Go Won-hee
IMDb rating: 7.9
Synopsis: Yeo Mi-ran (Kim) is a highly competitive attorney at Korea’s Gilmu Law Firm. Circumstances force her to fake date popular actor Nam Kang Ho (Yoo), who deeply mistrusts women. However, sparks fly when the two non-believers of love start pretending to like each other and grow closer.
About the show: One of the highest-rated romantic K-dramas to watch in 2023, Love to Hate You is also best known as Love Battle.
Crash Course in Romance
Directed by: Yoo Jae-won
Cast: Jeon Do-yeon, Jung Kyung-ho, Lee Bong-ryun
IMDb rating: 7.8
Synopsis: Retired national athlete Nam Haeng-sun (Jeon), who runs a side dish shop, navigates the private education field to help her daughter. There she comes across Choi Chi-yeol (Jung), a popular private instructor, also known as the 1 Billion Won Man. As their shared passion for teaching brings them closer, the two discover a deeper connection that starts blossoming into a romance.
Call It Love
Directed by: Lee Kwang-young
Cast: Kim Young-kwang, Lee Sung-koung
IMDb rating: 7.8
Synopsis: Sim Woo-joo (Lee) learns about her father’s affair just before his death. She is then kicked out of her house by his mistress. As Sim embarks on the road to revenge, she ends up falling in love with Han Dong-jin (Kim), the son of her enemy.
About the show: One of the best romantic K-dramas to watch on Disney+, Call It Love’s screenplay is written by the very popular duo Kim Ga-eun and Kim Ji-yeon.
Joseon Attorney: A Morality
Directed by: Kim Seung-ho and Lee Han-joon
Cast: Bona, Woo Do-hwan, Cha Hak-yeon, Song Geon-hee
IMDb rating: 7.7
Synopsis: After making a name for himself in the Joseon Dynasty by avenging his parents’ death, Kang Han-soo (Woo) becomes an attorney to help ordinary people get justice. Amidst performing his legal duties, he takes a liking to Princess Lee Yeon-joo (Bona). But will his busy life leave room for a new relationship?
About the show: One of the best romantic comedy K-dramas to watch, Joseon Attorney: A Morality is based on the webtoon Joseon Lawyer by Jeongjae & Shim Gun.
Our Blooming Youth
Directed by: Lee Jong-jae
Cast: Park Hyung-sik, Jeon So-nee, Pyo Ye-jin, Yoon Jong-seok, Lee Tae-sun
IMDb rating: 7.7
Synopsis: Suffering from a mysterious curse, Crown Prince Lee-hwan (Park)’s fate takes a turn when a convicted woman, Min Jae-yi (Jeon) frees him. In return, he vows to protect her from the false accusations of murdering her family. Romance ensues as the two find their way to freedom.
Directed by: Seo Min-jung and Lee Tae-gon
Cast: Yoo In-na, Yoon Hyun-min, Joo Sang-wook
IMDb rating: 7.7
Synopsis: Dating coach Yeon Bo-ra (Yoo), who also uses the pen name Deborah, helps others with finding romance but is unlucky in love herself. Her publishing planner, Lee Soo-hyuk (Yoon) oscillates between being passionate and withdrawn and isn’t too fond of Deborah. However, their work keeps drawing them closer.
About the show: One of the most popular ENA K-dramas, Bora! Deborah is also known as True to Love.
All That We Love
Directed by: Kim Jin-sung
Cast: Sehun, Jo Joon-young, Jang Yeo-bin
IMDb rating: 7.4
Synopsis: When Go Joon-hee (Jo) requires a kidney transplant, his best friend Goo Yoo (Oh) readily becomes the donor. After recovering, Joon-hee starts suffering from cellular memory syndrome, where the memory of the donors gets transferred to organ transplant recipients. Things get complicated when Yoo develops feelings for Han Seo-yoon (Jang), a transfer student, and Joon-hee starts experiencing it too.
About the show: One of the best romantic K-dramas to watch, All That We Loved brought K-Pop idol Oh Se-hun, aka Sehun, from EXO back on the silver screen after approximately four years. Before this, he was last seen as the protagonist in the 2018 Korean action drama Dokgo Rewind.
Directed by: Lee Hyun-Seok and Lee Min-Soo
Cast: Taecyeon, Won Ji-an, Park Kang-hyun
IMDb rating: 7.2
Synopsis: Half-human half-vampire Seon Woo-hyeol (Taecyeon) desperately wishes to become completely human but misses his chance. As a result, he is also forced to move in with the mean and cold-blooded human, Joo In-hae (Won). Given the mutual dislike for each other, will sparks fly between the two opposites?
(Hero and featured image: Courtesy Netflix)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
– Which is the most popular K-drama to watch in 2023?
Some of the most popular K-dramas to come out of South Korea in 2023 are The Glory Part 2, Dr. Romantic 3, Bloodhounds, Big Bet Part, Queenmaker, Divorce Attorney Shin, Mask Girl, Destined With You and Beyond Your Touch.
– Which is the No.1 Korean romantic drama?
Some of the best romantic K-dramas to watch are Crash Landing on You, Legend of the Blue Sea, It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, Heirs, Boys Over Flowers and Goblin.
– Who is the most loved romantic K-drama actor?
Some of the most loved romantic K-drama actors are Hyun Bin, Kim Soo-hyun, Ahn Jae-hyun, Son Ye-jin, Bae Suzy, Kim Hee-ae, Lee Min-ho, Song Hye-kyo, Lim Ji-yeon, Kim So-hyun and Lee Do-hyun.