There are a number of romance dramas in 2021 that truly shined for their interesting and engaging plots. But more than that, these shows also introduced us to some memorable couples. If you want to look back on the year that passed based on the romance stories that aired, here are ten dramas with main leads who are definitely worth shipping.
Lee Su Ho (Cha Eun Woo) and Lim Ju Kyung (Moon Ga Young) showed notable chemistry throughout the series, which aired from December 2020 to February 2021. It all started when Ju Kyung got fed up with the bullying she faced in her old high school. So she decided to master her makeup skills and enter her new high school looking like a goddess. Fortunately, she succeeded but despite her efforts to hide her secret, Su Ho still found out. Fortunately, he never gave her secret away, which marked the beginning of their friendship. But as their friendship grew into something more, fans enjoyed how both felt something more towards each other, but were too afraid to move further.
Hospital Playlist 2
Another couple who grew from friends to lovers is Lee Ik Jun (Jo Jung Suk) and Chae Song Hwa ( Jeon Mi Do). In the second season of this medical drama. The chemistry these two had onscreen was adorable and believable that fans couldn’t help but wish it was true! It was already revealed in season 1 that Ik Jin has feelings for Song Hwa, but she was too afraid to ruin what they have. While this trope is often seen in K-dramas, the way it developed in this show showed a more realistic and heartwarming storyline. Director Shin Won Ho explained that he intended for the characters and fans to fall in love little by little.
The Red Sleeve
The Red Sleeve tells the story of Crown Prince Yi San (Lee Junho) and his court lady, Sung Deok Im (Lee Se Young) in the Joseon period. Yi San wants to be a revolutionary ruler, while Deok Im is a headstrong woman who wants to live her life independently. But Prince Yi San wants her to be his royal concubine and pursued her. And even though this goes against what she wants, Deok Im eventually agreed to form a union to help her troubled realm. Eventually, she accepts his love for her. Although the couple hasn’t been together for most of the series, they still managed to tug our hearts. They both did so well that they nabbed the Best Couple Award at the recent MBC Drama Awards.
Youth of May
‘Youth of May‘ is one of the most memorable series to premiere in 2021. Set against the backdrop of the Gwangju Uprising, this drama features an old-school love between two people. Undeniably, Lee Do Hyun and Go Min Si were the perfect choices to play the roles of Hwang Hee Tae and Kim Myung Hee respectively. The story gives us a peek into the love and sacrifices of ordinary youths who became heroes when faced with extreme situations. The little moments that the main couple share helps Hee Tae to survive his life without Myung Hee. She helps him overcome trauma and comforts him when he needs it the most. These two actors breathed life into their characters and made them so relatable that they snagged the Best Couple award at the 2021 KBS Drama Awards!
Viewers enjoyed seeing Yumi (Kim Go Eun) and Goo Woong (Ahn Bo Hyun) fall helplessly in love with each other. Yumi’s Cells” tells the story of a woman in her 30s named Kim Yumi and the 200 different cells living inside her brain that control her behaviour. As a first in k-dramas, you’ll see these animated cells related to each other to decide what action Yumi should take. But more than that, fans also got hooked on the relationship between Yumi and Goo Woong who gave a very realistic portrayal of the struggles that arise between a couple in love. However, cracks soon begin to appear in their relationship as the series reached its finale. This gives fans something to look forward to for the next season.
Hometown Cha Cha Cha
There is no denying that the popular tvN series was able to hook numerous followers with its interesting and feel-good story. “Hometown Cha Cha Cha” is a comedic healing romance between a dentist named Yoon Hye Jin (Shin Min Ah) and Chief Hong (Kim Seon Ho). The heart-fluttering romance of Min Ah and Seon Ho, have been revealed one by one with exciting developments and drawn explosive reactions from the viewers. This drama gets all its big rom-com moments right: be it the scene where Hye-Jin walks through the rain when she realises what her heart wants, Du-Sik handing over her lost shoe to her, or the couple working through Hye-Jin’s rather sweet bucket list. Despite K-drama tropes aplenty, Min-a and Seon-Ho are extremely believable in their roles. Their terrific on-screen chemistry made Hye-Jin and Du-Sik a couple to root for!
If we are being completely honest, the show doesn’t involve romance in general. This story is mainly a dark law thriller featuring the titular character Vincenzo (Song Joong Ki) and a corrupt lawyer Hong Cha Young (Jeon Yeo Been) who decides to work together to fulfil their needs. While Vincenzo wants to retrieve tons of gold hidden in the basement of a building, Cha Young wants to seek revenge for her father’s murder. The duo decided to work together to take down villain Jang Joon Woo (Ok Taecyeon). This unconventional couple endeared fans because they both worked so passionately together. They also gave audiences many laughs with their undercover costumes and antics. Although they didn’t have much physical interaction, the build-up of tension until the very end was totally worthwhile and perfect.
“Mr. Queen” is a historical fusion drama that was one of the most successful releases of 2021. It tells the story of a man from modern times whose soul is trapped in the body of a queen from the Joseon dynasty. Shin Hye Sun stars as Kim So Yong, the Joseon queen with the soul of Blue House chef Jang Bong Hwan trapped inside her. Kim Jung Hyun plays her husband King Cheoljong, a weak and ineffective king on the outside but is sharper than he appears. The romance between the royal couple isn’t immediate given their circumstances, but the build-up was done very well. So, if you don’t mind some gender-bending story, Mr Queen is the perfect drama that will get you hooked.
Im Siwan and Shin Se Kyung also won the hearts of viewers for their respective roles as Ki Sun Kyum and Oh Mi Joo. Run On is a romance drama about people coming together after living in different spheres of life. Sun Kyum is a former sprinter who’s working to become a sports agent, and Mi Joo, a foreign film translator. Despite being total opposites, they get to a point where they are willing to accept their differences and meet each other halfway. The two start to form a connection, which leads to a deep relationship. Run On is a meaningful series that deviates from the standard feel of Korean romance dramas. It skips the mushy lines and predictable sweet moments, but it carried a healthy amount of fan service that also relates to career-driven individuals who still have relationship inhibitions.
The King’s Affection
This drama is based on a popular Korean manhwa set during the Joseon Dynasty, which was a time when twins were considered an ominous sign. So when the Crown Princess Consort gives birth to twins, an order is sent to kill the daughter. To save the baby girl, she is secretly sent out of the palace. This drama starred Rowoon as Jung Ji Woon and Park Eun Bin as Lee Hwi, the crown prince who was actually the rejected princess. Jung Ji Woon becomes Lee Hwi’s tutor and begins to have feelings for her. While their love story started innocent and harmless, it slowly deepened as the series progressed evidenced by their fiery chemistry.