8:00 am EST, January 8, 2020

The best Asian romance dramas to watch on Netflix

If you’ve decided to dip your toe into watching some of the amazing Asian romance dramas on Netflix, we’re here to help with suggestions of our favorite ones!

One of the great things about Netflix is that it’s made it much easier for viewers to enjoy series from all over the world. And East Asia happens to have a great number of quality romance dramas to fill in the void of the American market.

From innocent tails of young love to historicals, and to fantasies – there’s a little bit of everything for fans to enjoy!

Here’s our recommendations for Asian romance dramas on Netflix:

The best Asian romance dramas to watch on Netflix:

‘The Untamed’

If you haven’t heard of The Untamed yet, I might be a little worried about what you’ve been up to. The Chinese television series is based on the novel Mo Dao Zu Shi by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu.

The show revolves around the story of two male cultivators who are described as soulmates and their journey from barely being able to tolerate each other to then hate being separated.

At the start of the show, we find Wei Ying WuXian (played bu Xiao Zhan), who has been reincarnated after a troublesome past. It’s not long before he runs into Lan Zhan Wanji (played by Wang Yibo) who recognizes him easily despite his mask.

Viewers are then brought back years into the past to find out how the two met and also everything that happened to tear them apart before the show continues on in the present to resolve the mystery of how they resolve everything.

Aside from the pair’s romance storyline, there’s also a rich plot of how the different clans interact with one another before and after defeating a big enemy. They have a lot of evil that they have to go up against. But there are also lighthearted and fun moments entwined in the plot as well.

To be honest, it’s enough to watch the show just to see Lan Zhan staring longingly at Wei WuXian.

Related: 10 best WangXian scenes from The Untamed

‘Love Alarm’

Inspired by a Duam Webtoon of the same name by Chon Kye-Young, the South Korean series Love Alarm is centered on the story of a revolutionary app that notifies users when someone close by loves them (romantically). It may sound like a simple plot, but the way that the series shows the consequences of what that means makes it more than the average show.

The main character Kim Jojo (played by Kim So-hyun) is a hardworking student who has basically had to raise herself through the years ever since her parents passed away. Living with her aunt and cousin who constantly remind her of her past and hold her accountable for her parent’s debt as well as her grandmother’s nursing home.

What Jojo doesn’t know is that she has a secret admirer, Lee Hye-yeong (played by Jung Ga-ram) who has tried to hide his feelings for her. Until his best friend Hwang Sun-Oh (played by Song Kang) comes back to Seoul right around the time the Love Alarm app is released and everything starts to change.

In trying to learn about Jojo, Sun-oh starts to fall for her too. Meanwhile, everything gets more complicated and even though there’s happiness in falling in love there are burdens too.

‘Something in the Rain’

If you’re in your thirties, working hard, and having everyone ask you why you’re not married yet than you might connect with Something in the Rain. The South Korean drama follows the story of Yoon Jin-ah (played by Son Ye-jin) as she tries to deal with the reality that everyone is commenting on being single at her age as she secretly starts to have feelings for someone younger than her.

The drama starts off on a low end, with Jin-ah dealing with her long term boyfriend who doesn’t want to commit, a job she’s good at but doesn’t love, and living at home with her parents still.

When her brother’s friend, and her best friend’s brother moves back to Seoul they catch up and quickly learn they have more chemistry than they remembered. But Seo Joon-hee (played by Jung Hae-in) is younger than Jin-ah and it’s not something that any of their family would understand.

There’s also added drama when Jin-ah’s ex comes back into the picture, trying to win her back over but doing it in all the wrong ways! It’s a bit of an emotional Asian romance drama, but worth checking out.

‘Love O2O’

K-Dramas on Netflix in 2019

Love O2O is one of my go-to Asian romance dramas whenever I need a pick-me-up.

Love O2O follows Bei Weiwei, an aspiring game developer, who excels in both her studies and as her avatar in the online game A Chinese Ghost Story. When her in-game “husband” leaves her for another woman, Weiwei is suddenly approached by the game’s number one player: Yixiao Naihe. Naihe suggests that they pair up, in order to enter a competition exclusively for couples, and the two immediately hit it off.

The way that Weiwei’s online life, and real life, overlap is one of the most interesting parts of this series. The romance is sweet, and devoid of the usual jealousy trope when other potential love interests are introduced. I cannot stress just how much trust the main couple have in each other. Also, the supporting cast are delightful and there are some interesting B-stories involving them.

‘Strong Girl Bong-soon’

While Love O2O might just edge out the win for my favorite Asian drama, Strong Girl Bong-soon takes a very, very close second place. Much like Love O2O, the series subverts several of the expected tropes, and provides a fresh, exciting series that is equal parts delightful, ridiculous, but full of heart. It is one of the most-watched K-dramas on Netflix for a reason.

The show follows the titular Bong-soon, a girl born with superhuman strength, a trait that is passed down through the female side of her family. Bong-soon wants to find a partner who matches her characteristics, and falls for a local police officer, Guk-doo. She takes a job as a bodyguard to the heir of a wealthy family, Ahn Min-hyuk. The two clash, as Bong-soon tries to keep him, and the whole neighbourhood safe, especially following a slew of kidnappings.

Fast-paced and quick-witted, Strong Girl Bong-soon is a must watch, especially if you like street-level superheroes, mixed with a little bit of romance.

‘Boys Over Flowers’

Boys Over Flowers is probably one of the most iconic Asian dramas, and is often the first one watched by most new fans — and for good reason. It has seen several versions hit the screen, one as recently as 2018 in China, called Meteor Garden, which is also available on Netflix. Classic is probably the most accurate descriptor of the series, which hits several expected tropes of the genre, but never in a way that feels tired or overwrought.

The series follows Jan-di, a girl from a humble background. After she saves a boy from committing suicide, Jan-di gains the attention of F4, a group of wealthy boys who attend the exclusive Shinwa High School. Jan-di is given a scholarship to the school, which alters her entire life, particularly as she gets closer to the boys, eventually falling for Ji-hoo.

Things get significantly more complicated from there — especially as Jun-pyo is in love with Jan-di — as the close-knit F4 slowly begin to fall apart. It is well worth the watch, as are the many, many, many other adaptations.

‘Oh My Ghost!’

A series that edges more into fantasy and comedy territory, Oh My Ghost! also has an interesting romance angle with a supernatural twist. It — like many of the shows on here — can border on the ridiculous, but in the best possible way. I had several laugh-out-loud moments while watching, which is a rare occurrence for me.

Oh My Ghost! is centered around Bong-sun, a sous chef at a local restaurant. Bong-sun has very few interests, and is a little bit of a loner. Oh, and thanks to her grandmother, who practices Shamanism, she can see ghosts. Things escalate when Bong-sun is possessed by one of the ghosts, Soon-ae, who died before she could lose her virginity. While in control of Bong-sun’s body, Soon-ae seduces all of the men around her, including Bong-sun’s arrogant boss, Sun-woo.

It’s not all hilarity relating to Bong-sun and Soon-ae’s clashing personalities. There’s an interesting investigative side-story, as they try to uncover the mysterious circumstances under which Soon-ae died. So, if you like your comedy and romance mixed in with a little bit of mystery, Oh My Ghost! is the show for you.

‘Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo’

Much like Boys Over Flowers, Mischievous Kiss is also a staple when it comes to Asian romance dramas, having seen several adaptations in Japan, Korea, China, and Taiwan. Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo is the most recent of these adaptations, and the second in Japan, but is perhaps the one I enjoyed the most.

It follows Kotoko Aihara, a girl who underperforms at school, but is hard working, gentle, and kind. Kotoko has been in love with the most intelligent and popular boy in school, Naoki Irie, ever since he gave a speech at the entrance ceremony. In her third year at school, Kotoko decides to write a love letter to Naoki, but is instantly rejected. She vows to get over him… right up until her house is destroyed by a falling star. Kotoko and her father are taken in by the Irie family, as Kotoko and Naoki continue to clash.

Though Kotoko and Naoki infuriate each other, they each make the other’s life far more interesting, and they begin to fall for one another. Although, the realization on either side isn’t all that straightforward, as obstacles continue to come up in the form of outside sources. However, it makes the finale of the first season all the sweeter for it…

For more suggestions on Asian romance dramas that aren’t on Netflix read below:

Korean Dramas that’ll help you get into Korean Television

By Nasim Mansuri

Want more from the world of Korean television? The Korean approach to making TV shows is drastically different from the one taken with shows in the West. Many of the aspects we’re used to seeing neglected on screen are given a lot of attention: character arcs are deeply explored, chemistry is built over time with lots of screen time in ways much more profound that physical contact, and bonds between characters of different ages are given relevance. Oh, and food montages. There are a lot of food montages.

In a time when we’re almost oversaturated with shows, which sometimes seem to blend together because they’re so similar, it’s nice to see human stories of love, identity and honor approached from a different angle.

Worried about where to watch? It’s easy! There are shows on Netflix, and even more on other legal streaming websites.

But a warning: if you’ve forgotten what it’s like to be thoroughly obsessed with something, K-Dramas are about to consume your life in the most amazing way.

So here’s a list of K-drama recommendations for you to get a feel for different types of Korean TV storytelling. Whether you like fantasy, hospitals, or history in your shows, there’s something here for you.

kdramas goblin

‘Goblin’ (2016)

Starring Gong Yoo (who you may know from Train to Busan) and Go-eun Kim, Goblin is a supernatural romance with a dash of historical drama, following the story of a man cursed with immortality who works miracles in the real world, while waiting to meet his Bride — the only person who can remove the invisible sword from his chest and finally allow him to rest in peace. But of course, things with his Bride don’t go quite as expected. Oh, and his roommate is literally the Grim Reaper.

With huge production value, some of the best actors in the industry, and some really powerful themes on life and death, Goblin is a show you’ll binge-watch, laugh, and cry about. You’ll also fall in love with every single character (and wish Gong Yoo made more shows dressed in ancient armor).

If you liked this: Coffee Prince (a Twelfth-Night-like romantic comedy starring Goo Young), Legend of the Blue Sea (a mermaid/human romance), Strong Woman Do Bong Soon (a fun comedy about a woman with Herculean strength)

kdramas the heirs

‘The Heirs’ (2013)

The Heirs is possibly simultaneously the most cliched and the most obsession-inducing show Korean television has ever produced. You’ll either love it or hate it (but you’ll probably love it). Starring two of the most famous actors in the industry — Park Shin-hye and Lee Min-ho — it follows a poor highschooler who falls in love with an estranged heir to a fortune with a myriad of family problems.

The show is packed with incredibly attractive actors, lots of emotional moments, and the most scalding slow burn of all time. It also features a badboy with a heart of gold that puts Draco Malfoy fanfics to shame and a lot of dramatic music swelling that you’ll laugh about at first but end up singing along to through your happy tears near the end.

If you liked this: Boys over Flowers (also starring Lee Min-ho and actually The Cheesiest Show of All Time), Pinocchio (a story about journalists with intense family baggage), Secret Garden (a badass stunt actor and a spoiled CEO… with an eventual bodyswap!)

kdramas emergency couple

‘Emergency Couple’ (2014)

Emergency Couple (starring Choi Jin-hyuk, who plays the older brother in The Heirs) starts with a story of young love between a rich boy and a poor girl, who elope despite family disapproval. Unfortunately, six years later, they’re divorced and hate each other with a passion. Even worse, it turns out that they’re both now residents at the same hospital and have to work side-by-side if they want to keep their jobs.

A wonderful exploration of the meaning of marriage, rekindling the flame, and finding a balance between ambition and love, Emergency Couple is just as profound as it is funny and sweet.

If you like this: Doctors (another hospital show), Marriage, Not Dating (that fake marriage fic you always liked except in a show), Kill Me, Heal Me (an urealistic but fun take on Dissociative Identity Disorder)

kdramas jumong

‘Jumong’ (2006)

While the West has Game of Thrones, South Korea was way ahead of everyone in 2006 when they made Jumong — a historical period drama about the founder of the kingdom of Goguryeo. Based on ancient legends, it’s the story of his life, from his early days as a prince through his adulthood as he fought to build a new kingdom.

With epic strong female characters, amazing costumes, heroic swordfights, and a dash of magic, Jumong might actually be the most epic historical show of all time. It’s a kind of transporting show that we rarely see on screen, as it takes you on a journey through the ancient history of another part of the world, the glory of which deserves to be appreciated.

If you like this: The Kingdom of the Winds (a sequel to Jumong, starring the same lead actor, Il-guk Song), The Moon Embracing the Sun (a more romantic historical drama)

What’s your favorite Asian romance drama on Netflix?

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