It is true that when it comes to love, age is just a number, and Korean Dramas have their fair share of these storylines. We often see May-December romances where an older guy falls in love with a much younger woman, but there’s also particular interest when an older woman falls for a younger man. In Korea, they call this a noona romance.
Noona is actually one of the terms used to refer to an older female—an honorific of sorts. If you’re not bothered by this type of romantic connection, here are 12 that are worth watching!
My Name is Kim Sam-Soon
Dubbed as the OG of noona-romance and one of the highest-rated of all time, this series revolves around a sassy baker named Kim Sam-soon (Kim Sun-ah). She is often underestimated by others for her lack of success, her weight, and her being single. Sam-soon had a humiliating break-up and Hyun Jin-hun (Hyun Bin), the chaebol owner of an upscale French restaurant, saw it all. Sam-soon ends up working for Jin-hun. The two started on the wrong foot, but a twist of events pushes him to pretend to be Sam-soon’s girlfriend. Throw in the return of Jin-hun’s ex-girlfriend (Jung Ryeo-won) and a hunky Korean-American doctor (Daniel Henney), and drama ensues.
A Witch’s Love
A Witch’s Romance is actually a remake of the popular Taiwanese show, “My Queen.” It’s a story about Ban Ji-yeon (Uhm Jung-hwa), a 39-year-old investigative reporter who is passionate about her job. Her headstrong personality didn’t sit well with her workmates, so they called her a ‘witch’ behind her back. Ji-yeon has a hard time opening her heart to others after she was left at the altar by her groom-to-be. But when she meets Yoon Dong-ha (Park Seo-joon), she’s starting to find a new spark in her life once more, but freaked after learning that he’s only 25-years-old. But will that be enough to turn her back from a new romance? What would she do if her ex decides to come back into her life?
Romance is a Bonus Book
Cha Eun-ho (Lee Jong-Suk) is a successful author and a chief editor at a book publishing company. Kang Dan-i (Lee Na-Young) is a mother and former successful advertising copywriter. This is a noona romance because of the age difference between Dan-I and Eun-ho—she’s 37 to his 32 and therefore is his “noona”. Kang Dan-i, is actually a childhood friend who has fallen on hard times due to her divorce, inability to find a job, and newly minted status as a single mom. Dan-i was once a superstar in the marketing world but gave it all up to take care of her family. Now that she wants back in, she faces age discrimination and malicious comments during interviews about being out of the workforce for too long. As a character, Eun-ho is mature and supportive. This drama shows how Dan-i rebuilds her life and how Eun-ho came in at the right time.
Secret Love Affair
This is a dark and serious love story between an older woman who works at a music university, and a gifted pianist. It stars Kim Hee-ae, who plays Oh Hye-won, a woman in her 40’s who fell for a 20-year-old Lee Sun-jae (Yoo Ah-in). They met at a piano recital which was done at Hye-won’s workplace which is an art gallery. If the age difference was not enough, Hye-won is actually married to Kang Joon-hyung (Park Hyuk-kwon). Sun-jae was a gifted pianist and he was scouted by Joon-hyung as his student. Will Hye-won be willing to risk her marriage for this secret romance? This drama is truly a gem to watch as the chemistry between Yoo Ah-in and Kim Hae-ae is really intense and unique.
I Can Hear Your Voice
After witnessing his father’s murder, a young Park Soo-ha gains the ability to hear people’s thoughts just by looking into their eyes. During the trial, the threats of the murderer Min Joon-kook (Jung Woong-in) never swayed a brave Jang Hye-sung (Lee Bo-young) from testifying, but this would actually change her life. A decade later, Soo-ha (Lee Jong-suk) meets his childhood crush and heroine who is now a cynical lawyer. She is older than her, but that never changed how he felt for Hye-sung, but will she ever reciprocate these feelings? Turns out Hye-sung’s life is threatened because the incarcerated killer is now free and out to exact his revenge on her. Soo-ha comes to her rescue using his unique ability.
When the Camellia Blooms
When the Camellia Blooms is a mix of comedy, romance, and social issues. It’s about a single mother named Dong Baek (Gong Hyo-jin) who moves to the small town of Ongsan. However, she raised some eyebrows when the locals realized she’s opening a bar—this was frowned upon in a conservative neighborhood. She catches the eye of a tenacious police officer, Hwang Yong-shik (Kang Ha-neul). Bothered by the whispers of and gossip about her, Dong Baek is hesitant about Yong-shik’s advances. He isn’t put off by her single-mother status or her job. By chance, her ex-boyfriend, baseball star Kang Jong-ryeol (Kim Ji-suk), reappears in her life which only complicates things. Add a serial killer into the mix, and the stakes are up, in both Dong Baek’s life and love life.
Something in the Rain
This series is a story about a childhood friendship that developed into something more. It all started when Yoon Jin-A (Son Ye Jin), starts to look at the younger sibling of her best friend, Seo Joon-Hee (Jung Hae In), in a different light. She looks at him like her younger brother, too, but he ends up falling for him and his endearing personality. With how close their families are, they found that it was a real struggle when they decided to be a couple. So, they have to sneak around a lot! They also have to deal with various differences and get into some petty fights owing to their immaturity. But how they make their way through those challenges is the cute and romantic ride that reveals the beauty of overpowering love.
Temperature of Love
This romance melodrama is about an aspiring drama writer named Lee Hyun-soo (Seo Hyun Jin). She meets On Jung-seon (Yang Se Jong), a young chef, through an online site. After they met in person, they realized that their lives and ambitions are more intertwined than they had expected. They fall for each other, but Hyun-soo prefers to focus on her career instead. Their relationship is complicated even further by Park Jeong Wu (Kim Jae Wook), Jeong Seon’s business partner. Jeong Wu is also attracted to Hyun Soo and he won’t take no for an answer. Meanwhile, Hyun-soo’s friend, Ji Jong Ah (Jo Bo Ah), falls for Jung-seon and is used to getting what she wants in life. This drama is a heart-fluttering series that knows how to excite viewers with sudden bursts of sweetness.
Encounter tells the love story between a successful but emotionally damaged hotel CEO and a younger man she met in Cuba. Apparently, that encounter proved to be a fateful one. Even as the two went back to their separate lives, Cha Soo Hyun (Song Hye-kyo) and Kim Jin Hyeok (Park Bo Gum) surprisingly meet again when Jin Hyeok lands a job at the hotel where Soo Hyun is the CEO. It’s a noona romance of sorts since the age difference between the leads comes into play throughout the series. But will age and their circumstances in life come in between what they truly feel for each other?
Hello My Teacher
Na Bori (Gong Hyo Jin) is a 25-year-old woman who desperately wants to be a teacher at the high school she was kicked out of due to a misunderstanding with her teachers. After getting her GED, she rejects job offers from other high schools because she has her eyes set on her old high school so she could work alongside her high school love interest, the art teacher Ji Hyun Woo. But the only thing that will allow her to get the coveted job is by signing a contract to essentially babysit Park Tae In (Gong Yoo), the school’s troublemaker. Tae In is considered the “king” of high school and enjoys playing mean tricks on Bori, but this is actually his way of hiding his loneliness. The two gradually grew close to each other, but this budding relationship does not sit well with some people around.
Wok of Love
This drama is set in a run-down neighborhood where a former loan shark gangster, Doo Chil-sung (Jang Hyuk) runs a Chinese restaurant. A 31-year-old Seo Poong (Lee Jun-ho) loses his job and ends up working at the restaurant and is soon joined by a privileged chaebol heiress, Dane Sae-woo (Jung Ryeo Won), whose family has fallen on difficult times. Although she is older than him, that didn’t stop Seo Poong to be attracted to his noona. It so happens that Chil-sung also harbors some feelings for Sae-woo as well. The drama tells their stories of love and healing set against the backdrop of a hectic kitchen.
When I Was the Most Beautiful
Oh Ye-ji (Im Soo-hyang), is an art student who has always wanted to be a ceramic artist. She heads to school in Yangpyeong to study and teach at the same time. There she meets Seo Jin (Ha Seok-jin) and his younger brother Seo Hwan (Ji Soo). Hwan is Ye-ji’s student who falls in love with her. He takes her to his father’s workshop to confess his feelings, but when they get there, Ye-ji meets Jin. Jin is attracted to Ye-ji even though he is aware of Hwan’s feelings towards her. He doesn’t even hesitate to win her over and they eventually get engaged.
I was introduced to Noona Romance with Dal Ja’s Spring. My top 10 would be (In no particular order. Some are Japanese) Dal Ja’s Spring Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy (Hello My Teacher) What’s Up Fox (Something in the rain feels like a rip off of this one) The Woman Who Still Wants to Marry I can hear your voice Melancholia Kyou wa Kaisha Yasumimasu (Fukushi Shota also did Starman ~ Kono Hoshi no Koi) Hajimete Koi o Shita Hi ni Yomu Hanashi (Fukada Kyoko also did Second Love) Gokusen Season 1 (not really romance but it was funny. Nakama… Read more »