What do feel-good family features and gritty tales of ambition have in common in the K-drama world? The classic, heartbreaking trope of love triangles. Whether you enjoy a ‘it’s complicated,’ moment or have a hankering for some good old-fashioned romantic conflict for your next binge-session – these K-dramas with love triangles are worth an addition to your watchlist.
From time immemorial – read early 12th century mediaeval texts of king Arthur’s less-than-honourable escapades – love triangles have been a romantic trope. And seeing as how the genre is the lifeblood of K-dramas, it’s no surprise that some of the most popular shows come with plenty of conflict and the classic ‘will-they-won’t-they’ dilemma – complete with moments of jealousy, fiery confrontations, and dreamy confessions. And although love triangles can quickly go from being exciting to redundant – character depth, relevant plot themes, and clever dialogues can truly transform the script and spark fan debates on who the better partner is (Team Edward vs Team Jacob t-shirts come to mind). Here’s our pick of K-dramas’ best love triangles that truly round out the series.
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Must-watch K-dramas with love triangles
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo
This drama follows the life of a naturally-gifted weightlifter – Kim Bok Joo – who aims to go to college to pursue her passion for lifting. Her best friend Jung Joon Hyung – also an athlete – aims to grow as a swimmer. As the two ambitious leads work towards their goals, the series explores themes of friendship and love. The latter, especially, is underlined by Bok Joo’s crush on Joon Hyung’s older brother – a doctor. At once heartwarming and hilarious – this coming-of-age drama features heartbreaks, engaging banter, and good old dreamy romances. You’ll find yourself rooting for the leads in this one.
IMDB rating: 8.4
Romance Is A Bonus Book
This series looks at Cha Eun Ho, a successful writer who also happens to be the youngest chief editor of a publishing company. He finds himself entangled in the life of his childhood friend Kang Dan Yi – a former popular copywriter who’s divorced, unemployed, and a single mother who lies to get temporary work in the same building as his work. As their love story blossoms, Eun Ho needs to compete with popular book cover artist Ji Seo Joon – who’s attempting to woo Dan Yi as well. The drama takes things a notch further – adding Eun Ho’s former casual partner and co-worker Song Hye Rin into the mix. If these dizzying set of events don’t already have you reaching for the popcorn, we don’t know what will.
IMDB rating: 8
This feel-good K-drama is one of the most beloved across the globe, taking you straight to the 1980s. It follows the lives of five families and their five teenage children – all of whom live in a small neighbourhood in Seoul. The storyline – broadly – is simple, with each character navigating the hiccups that come with life in general. Of these, the most talked about aspect is the love triangle between friends Choi Taek, Kim Jung Hwan and Sung Deok Sun. While Taek And Hwan consistently pursue Deok Sun, she finds herself attracted to them both at different points of time. The show, known for its poignant takeaways, offers a glimpse into the after-effects of waiting too long. Expect plenty of mischief and memorable dialogues along the way.
IMDB rating: 9.2
This show depicts the harsh realities of office culture, particularly entrepreneurial endeavours by following the journey of visionary Seo Dal-mi and programmer Nam Do-san. As the two work to build a startup under the leadership of investor Han Ji-pyeong – there’s plenty of depictions of pitches and networking. But what’s kept many viewers hooked is the very real retelling of modern-day relationships underlined by the love triangle between the three. In fact, one of the many discussions that followed the end of the series was the debate around who among Ji-pyeong and Do-san was a better match for Dal-mi. Heartwarming, witty, and wise watch the show for the complicated relationship statuses, stay for the engaging plotline.
IMDB rating: 8
This series follows an ex-con and his friends who work towards opening their own street bar. Meanwhile, the protagonist Park Sae Ro-yi also seeks vengeance for the death of his father. His eyes are on the prize as he navigates hurdles that come along the way. That said, in a refreshing switch up from the usual one woman-two men nature of this trope, he’s torn between the love of his life Oh Soo-ah and the woman who works by his side Jo Yi-seo. There’s plenty of heartbreak, betrayal, and drama along the way. The characters are complex and layered, making the storyline that much more engaging. Don’t miss out.
IMDB rating: 8.2
Hometown Cha Cha Cha
This series follows the contrasting lives of city-girl dentist Yoon Hye-jun and small-town jack-of-all-trades Hong Du-sik who lock horns after the former moves to the latter’s seaside home to set up a practice. As their romance blossoms through quirky misunderstandings and lighthearted banter – the storyline brings in Hye-jun’s former college senior – now a successful reality show director – Ji Seong-hyun. The latter always had a crush on her, keeping it to himself due to bad timing. As he finally gets around to pursuing her, Du-sik finds himself in competition with a man he greatly respects and enjoys spending time with. Despite the love triangle, this K-drama remains heartwarming and dreamily romantic and is the perfect feel-good watch.
IMDB rating: 8.4
She Was Pretty
This K-drama tells the story of Kim Hye-jin who peaks in childhood and becomes unpopular as she ages. On the flip side, Ji Sung-joon, bullied for being overweight in his childhood, grows up to be successful and conventionally attractive. Hye-jin backs out of meeting him years later due to embarrassment over the above-stated change in fortune, forcing her best friend to go in her place instead. This results in the latter landing a job at a fashion magazine under the new editor – Sung-joon – whom she begins falling for. As this love triangle develops, another staff member adds to the complication – falling for her just as Sung–joon begins to recall who she is. This one will have you rolling on the floor with laughter, all while keeping you hooked to the romantic developments.
IMDB rating: 7.6
If there ever was a way to accurately play out the words, ‘it’s complicated,’ these K-dramas with love triangles would be it. Not only do they come with the promise of some classic romantic conflict, but have also produced some of the most dreamy confessions in television history. We’re hooked, are you?
All images: Courtesy Netflix
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: There are a few: Reply 1988, She Was Pretty, Start Up, etc.