K-Dramas for Men
Coke Zero was developed because the word “Diet” had the connotation of being for women. Dramas tend to have the same kind of connotation. While dramas flood the fiber “airwaves” of Korean TV, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some out there that men can enjoy, too. In fact there are some K-Dramas aimed primarily at men, and it’s not just because there’s a pretty leading lady. Okay, maybe that is a main reason. If you’re a man and you’re trying to see what all the fuss about is, here are some shows to get you started into the crack pipe that is Korean Drama. All of these dramas can also be watched for free on Hulu (US only).
1. IRIS (2009)
If espionage, bullets, explosions, and divine leading lady hotness is your thing, IRIS is going to be the one you want to check out first. Airing in 2009, it’s still one of the most expensive Korean dramas to ever air, and it features the two biggest names in the Korean entertainment industry: Lee Byung Hun and Kim Tae Hee. Kim Hyun Joon (Lee Byung Hun) and his best friend Jin Sa Woo (Jung Joon Ho) find themselves recruited by the NSS, a secret national security agency that protects Korea from internal and international threats. As they chase their supposed enemy (a secret organization that is trying to take control of both Koreas) they find themselves descending into a web of lies, deception, and betrayal. Oh and Kim Tae Hee plays the female expert agent Seung Hee, who Hyun Joon and Sa Woo both fall in love with from the get go.
It’s a rough three-fourths espionage tale, with a one-fourth love story thrown in there for good measure. But don’t worry gentlemen, contrary to popular k-drama story archs: no one is switched at birth, gets hit by a bus (unintentionally anyway), or does that thing where they stare at each other for too long. It’s an awesome display of what Korean writers and directors can do in a 20 episode series with a big budget, multiple foreign filming locations, and a few of the most famous actors and actresses in the business.
2. A Gentleman’s Dignity (2012)
Critically acclaimed as the male version of “Sex and the City”, a Gentleman’s Dignity is one of the most addictive romcom dramas you’ll find. Featuring one of the most popular drama actors in the business, Jeong Dong Gun, and the extremely likeable Kim Ha Neul, this series was at the top of the drama charts when it aired in 2013. The storyline is extremely relatable to guys: four best friends since high school chase after girls, get into trouble, and play baseball whenever they can. The drama follows them through their rich Gangnam socialite lifestyle as they gradually realize they have to trade something they cherish in order to lock up the girl they’re after.
I think one of the best things about A Gentleman’s Dignity is that most guys can relate to the story of being a part of a group that was at one time all bachelors. Also, the fact that it’s set in modern day Gangnam is even better. You get a feeling of what it’s like to be a rich bachelor in one of Seoul’s most exclusive quarters. And while yes it is a romcom drama, it never gets too melodramatic. Kim Ha Neul, who I wasn’t enthusiastic about in the beginning, eventually warmed up to me. One of the other main characters Meahri (Yoon Jin Yi), also gives non-Korean viewers a true glimpse of what Aegyo (uniquely Korean girlish flirting) is. Watch at your own risk: addiction will come fast.
3. Nine (2013)
Guys dig time travel. Why? I think it has to do with our obsession to want and do things over again. Luckily the drama “Nine: Nine Time Travels” deals with just that. Unlike the previous two dramas, Nine wasn’t broadcast on the main broadcasting channels, but instead aired on TVN which is one of the most popular cable channels in Korea. This is good, in that usually these dramas have more niche plots rather than the typical romantic comedy formula, as seen on SBS, MBC, and KBS. With a cast of relative unknowns, Nine stands strong with a compelling plot.
Nine follows Park Sun Woo (Lee Jin Wook), a primetime news anchor in 2012 who finds out his brother (Jeon No Min), who suffered from depression, was found dead in the Nepalese mountains. Sun Woo goes to retrieve the personal belongings and remains of his brother in Nepal, and finds an incense stick that when lit transports him to a moment of his choosing 20 years in the past to 1992. After recovering the entire set of 9 sticks, he goes back into the past to solve the mystery of who murdered his father and set his entire family spiraling into depression. However, his actions ultimately begin to change the present in ways he didn’t imagine.
I will say that of all the Korean dramas I’ve seen, this has to be the one I binged on the hardest. The Cable-TV aspect also made this drama seem a lot more independent in a way; similar to how an AMC or HBO drama feels compared to a prime-time show. Often when I see movies dealing with time travel, I wish the story could be broader and encompass all the implications of time-jumps, and Nine does just that. Its 20 episode count is just enough to make each time jump feel like an individual plot line, without making the story feel like It is dragging. If you don’t have too much time to kill, stay away from this drama, because more than likely you’ll finish it in four days with little sleep in between. So if you’re bored of the typical and predictable dramas, definitely make “Nine” your next watch.
Got some K-dramas for men that you think we missed? Let us know in the comments section, so that we can watch it ourselves and possibly note it a future revision of this article!