They say there is a thin line between love and hate. Boy meets girl and BOOM! It’s hate at first sight. The battle lines are drawn, and the volatility of their dislike is so heated that they are better off apart than together. The chinks in the armor crack, and the spark of hostility has ignited a flaming passion. The one-time enemies are now hopelessly and passionately in love. Have you ever loved and thrived on the push and pull of apathy and ardor between a couple, the intensity of their feelings so strong that it burns up the screens? K-dramas have given us several such moments. Here are eight such K-dramas which have made many hearts skip a happy beat.
“Love to Hate You”
When a man-hating lawyer and a matinée star who distrusts women meet, it’s a given that they are match made in hell.
Yeo Mi Ran (Kim Ok Bin) is a badass and can pull some serious punches. She is a gutsy lawyer and a martial arts expert, but when it comes to love and relationships, she lives by her rule book. Mi Ran’s dating history translates as love them and leave them—no marriage, just dating. Nam Kang Ho (Yoo Tae Oh), a drop-dead handsome superstar, is the ultimate romantic hero on screens, though his reality off-camera is very different. Kang Ho is weary of women—he regards the feminine species as calculating. The thought of romancing his co-stars is so repulsive that he needs calming pills before a shoot. Mi Ran has taken a dislike to Kang Ho ever since she heard him trash talking women. However, when she lands up in a male driven celebrity law firm which also represents Kang Ho, a contractual relationship with him is certainly not on her scheme of things. Kang Ho and Mi Ran are an explosive combination, and the attraction between the two is irresistible. But will they be able to tide past the scandals exploding around them?
“Love to Hate You” is a breezy rom-com and has all the tropes and cliches associated with the genre. However, it scores on several aspects: a strong female lead who has no qualms in being a rebel in her personal and professional life. In a society that is quick to judge and brand women, Mi Ran is unapologetic about her personal choices and decisions, and Kim Ok Bin is a scene stealer who plays her part effortlessly. Yoo Tae Oh is perfect as the pensive superstar Kang Ho as well as the swoon-worthy boyfriend who can sweep you with his seductive charm. And another highlight is the crackling friendship between Kang Ho and his bestie/manager Do Won Jun (Kim Ji Hoon). It’s a bromance that goes through its own evolution.
Yoon Hye Jin (Shin Min Ah) is smart, ambitious, and impulsive. She loves her high-end brands as much as she loves fitting implants and drilling cavities into people’s teeth. Hye Jin decides to quit her clinic in the city and moves to Gongjin, a laidback seaside town which holds a special place in her heart. It’s there that she runs into Hong Doo Shik (Kim Seon Ho), popularly called Chief Hong, the town’s chief handyman. He is Gongjin’s Mr. Popular and its most reliable citizen. There is nothing that Doo Shik cannot do, and it all comes with a price tag. It’s friction at first sight as Hye Jin’s prickly sophisticated personality and cautious attitude are the polar opposite to Doo Shik’s easygoing and optimistic attitude. As Doo Shik in his own way makes Hye Jin realize how life does not come with a user manual, the two empower each other as they deal with their emotional issues and fall in love on the way.
“Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” is a comforting and wholesome watch. There is a love story playing out while also focusing on basic human issues of self-acceptance, loss, abandonment, regret, guilt, and heartbreak unfolding. “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha” is unmissable just like Kim Seon Ho’s and Shin Min Ah’s dimples.
“The Innocent Man”
When a bright medical intern named Kang Ma Ru (Song Joong Ki) takes the fall for his girlfriend Jae Hee (Park Si Yeon) for a crime he didn’t commit, his entire life is turned upside down. Betrayed by the one woman he loved, his dreams are crushed, and Ma Ru is on the path of self destruction. As a gigolo bartender and swindler, he is coldly dispassionate and has no qualms in using people. When he runs into Eun Gi (Moon Chae Won), a brusque heiress, he finds the perfect bait to exact his revenge on Jae Hee. Ma Ru calculatedly plays Eun Gi and makes her fall in love with him, only to break her trust and heart. But life comes full circle when Eun Gi swears revenge on Ma Ru.
“The Innocent Man” is one of those romance dramas that sucks you in. Even though the writing stretches at points, the angst and heartbreak of its lead couple draws you into their narrative. Song Joong Ki gives a nuanced performance as the tormented Kang Ma Ru and is supported by a brilliant Moon Chae Won.
Start watching “The Innocent Man”:
“Mad for Each Other”
You have a detective who handles violent crimes but cannot control his temper and a woman who is so taken up with her own assumptions and delusions that she angers everyone around her. What could possibly happen when these two meet? Mayhem? Noh Hwi Oh (Jung Woo) is on detention after a botched investigation and is seeking help for his anger issues. Min Kyung (Oh Yeon Seo) has paranoia and anxiety after a bitter experience with her former boyfriend. Hwi Oh and Min Kyung are not only seeking therapy at the same place but ironically happen to be next door neighbors too. They can’t stand the sight of each other, and their encounters are nothing short of a pressure cooker waiting to explode. But the gripping and squabbling develop into an affection of sorts.
“Mad for Each Other” touches upon themes of mental well-being but does not overdramatize it. The show sensitively approaches the subject along with a quirky warm romance, which makes you want to watch it for the fun of it.
“Touch Your Heart”
He is a brilliant and self-contained attorney, and she is a vivacious yet naive superstar. They have absolutely nothing in common. Oh Yoon Seo (Yoo In Na) starts working at a law firm to prepare for her next film, and she is assigned as a secretary to Kwon Jung Rok (Lee Dong Wook), a workaholic lawyer with a reticent personality. Unlike the rest of his colleagues, Jung Rok is not starstruck by Yoon Seo’s presence. On the contrary, he is exasperated by her since Yoon Seo’s constant goof-ups and mess-ups wear down on his patience. But it does not take long for Jung Rok to succumb to Yoon Seo’s charm. Jung Rok realizes that underneath her superficial and sometimes ditzy exterior, she is a warmhearted and straightforward person.
Lee Dong Wook and Yoo In Na’s on-screen compatibility comes to the fore once again after their screen outing in “Goblin.” They will give you some delightful moments with the sheer innocence of their love story. “Touch Your Heart” is a feel-good and simple romantic drama that will give you several reasons to smile.
Start watching “Touch Your Heart”:
What happens when you have a man in the pursuit of revenge and a woman wrongly accused for a crime she didn’t commit? Jo Min Hyuk (Ji Sung) has the looks, the wealth, and intelligence. But deep inside, he is an empty shell, cold and detached post the tragic death of his girlfriend. Kang Yoo Jung (Hwang Jung Eum) has served a prison sentence after taking the blame for her boyfriend. Though Min Hyuk is engaged to Se Yeok (Lee Da Hee), he is unable to get closure since his girlfriend’s demise. Yoo Jung is trying to get her life together after serving a jail term, but she realizes the biggest hurdle on her way is Min Hyuk. Min Hyuk sees Yoo Jung as the reason for his misery and leaves no stone unturned in making things tough for her. When Min Hyuk’s best laid plans go awry as he falls for Yoo Jung, the two discover some bitter truths.
“Secret Love” is a taut and intense drama which keeps up the momentum with its pacy plot. The palpable chemistry between Ji Sung and Hwang Jung Eum is searing as the two are drawn into a web of deceit and passion.
Start watching “Secret Love”:
“I Am Not a Robot”
Kim Min Kyu (Yoo Seung Ho) is super intelligent and mega rich as he is the youngest and largest shareholder of a successful finance company. But Min Kyu lives a secluded existence thanks to his strange malady. He is allergic to people, and any contact can trigger strange reactions in him. Jo Ji Ah (Chae Soo Bin) is a hustler and a go-getter who is focused on inventing something out of the box. Part of the many jobs on her roster is that of a personal shopper. And Ji Ah finds herself shopping for Min Kyu, who seems to be the most insufferable of all her clients. They bicker and banter nonstop, which leads to an important discovery—she does not trigger Min Kyu’s symptoms.
“I Am Not a Robot” is a clever drama with a witty and engaging plot. The characters are well etched and have an interesting arc, and their cute romance is as entertaining as their strange quirks.
Start watching “I Am Not a Robot”:
Prosecutor Noh Ji Wook (Ji Chang Wook) avoids Eun Bong Hee (Nam Ji Hyun) as much as he can, even though she keeps crossing his path. Ji Wook defended his one-time trainee Bong Hee when she was wrongly accused of murdering her boyfriend. The incident had left Ji Wook taking a fall in the eyes of the law which once revered him, and he is now a disgruntled personal lawyer at an agency. While Bong Hee has feelings for him, Ji Wook steers clear from her path as much as he can. But as danger looms ahead of them, the two end up protecting and falling for each other.
“Suspicious Partner” is a well-blended plot of thriller, romance, and humor. And Ji Chang Wook and Nam Ji Hyun have undeniable chemistry which is quite a scorcher!
Start watching “Suspicious Partner”:
Hey Soompiers, which one of these enemies-to-lovers couples is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!
Puja Talwar is a Soompi writer with a strong Yoo Tae Oh and Lee Junho bias. A long time K-drama fan, she loves devising alternate scenarios to the narratives. She has interviewed Lee Min Ho, Gong Yoo, Cha Eun Woo, and Ji Chang Wook to name a few. You can follow her on @puja_talwar7 on Instagram.
Currently watching: “Call It Love.”