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Relational drama

Three popular Korean dramas focus on the human yearning for bonds of friendship and family

Hospital Playlist Hospital Playlist/Netflix

Relational drama
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As more Americans are streaming Korean dramas online, especially after the success of Squid Game, the array of options can be overwhelming for a novice. Here are three popular shows available on Netflix that portray themes common in K-dramas: strong family ties, loyal friendships, the restoration of broken relationships, and good overcoming evil.

Hospital Playlist (2020-ongoing)

Five 40-year-old surgeons, friends since medical school, reunite as colleagues in this slice-of-life drama. The Yulje Medical Center gang includes the gregarious single dad Lee Ik-jun, unfeeling Kim Jun-wan, mama’s boy Yang Seok-hyeong, tone-deaf Chae Song-hwa, and Ahn Jeong-won, the pediatrician who wants to be a Catholic priest. Hospital Playlist follows the friends as they help each other navigate family, romance, and their patients’ life-and-death situations. Add to that ’90’s K-pop hits as the gang forms a cover band to relive their medical school days. (Rated TV-14 for occasional coarse language and some sexually suggestive themes.)

It’s Okay To Not Be Okay (2020)

Moon Gang-tae has taken care of his older autistic brother, Sang-tae, since their mother died when he was 12. The psych ward caregiver’s life changes as Ko Mun-yeong, an author of macabre fairy tales, reenters his life. Lacking self-control due to a personality disorder, she shows him how to let loose, while he helps to keep her in check. Their budding romance does not leave out Sang-tae, whom Mun-yeong hires as an illustrator. The trio form their own kind of family living in a castle-like mansion, even as the menacing presence of Mun-yeong’s witch-like mother mounts. (Rated TV-MA for explicit language, some violence, and a scene of censored nudity.)

My Mister (2018)

Abandoned by her mother as a child, 21-year-old Lee Ji-an shoulders her mother’s crushing debt and the responsibility of caring for her disabled grandmother. She believes people give up helping hopeless causes after four tries. Hardened and desperate for cash, she strikes a deal with the CEO of the company where she’s hired as a temp worker to take down his rival Park Dong-hoon. But the more she gets to know the stoic 45-year-old structural engineer, the more she sees how he protects his family, often at his own expense. He even extends kindness to her. As the unlikely pair become friends, Ji-an switches to helping Dong-hoon. Dong-hoon’s compassion for Ji-an embodies the call to love our neighbors from the parable of the good Samaritan. (Rated TV-MA for language and some violence.)


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