In Kdramaland, everybody gets a slice of the cake. So if you are looking for sports-themed dramas to inspire and entertain, here are 8 that are sure to hit the right notes!
Fight for My Way
As a teenager, Ko Dong-man (Park Seo-joon) had a promising future as a Taekwondo athlete. However, when he lost an important match to his biggest rival, he stopped fighting. His old coach keeps pleading with him to go back to the sport but Dong-man has no intention of competing again. So, he goes about his days, working for an extermination company, and settles for a life where he is constantly mistreated by his superior.
Although his personality may be rough around the edges, Dong-man is different when he’s inside the ring. He impresses with his signature Taekwondo kick. So, when life’s hardships pushed him to go back to the sport he turned his back on for so many years, we see how he struggled to coax back the skill into his system. From Taekwondo he goes into the cutthroat world of mixed martial arts.
It was a brutal struggle to get him going, but you can see that he rises to the occasion with determination. At a press conference, lead actor Park Seo-joon stated that, for him, the overall message of “Fight My Way” is perfectly summed up by Dong Man’s words in episode four: “Even if I don’t succeed, I’m going to just go for it!”.
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo
This sports-themed series smashes ‘ladylike’ stereotypes by focussing on female weightlifters. It showcases the struggle they experience between romance and the sport they love. Kim Bok Joo (Lee Sung-kyung) is the best weightlifter in her class, and she is also super bad*ss. She puts her focus on bringing success to her family rather than just sitting pretty. We can definitely learn a thing or two from her about prioritizing your dreams before anything else.
The show also touches on vulnerabilities, like how the women wouldn’t want their partners to see them competing because they think they look unattractive, and how they feel burdened because of the belief that guys wouldn’t be into girls that are stronger than them.
The show tells us that if your partner can’t love you for who you are, maybe they ain’t worth your time. Despite its light-hearted tone, this drama manages to empathetically show how real mental illnesses are, including eating disorders, depression, and trauma.
It may be cliché but the characters show that when you pursue what you love to do and work hard on it, it will soon pay off.
Hot Stove League
You can watch this show without much knowledge or interest in baseball, and still come out of it genuinely entertained.
This drama is an underdog story about a struggling minor league baseball team called Dreams. With a dwindling team spirit, even fans have lost faith and sympathy over Dreams, where coaches are fist-fighting and players are reluctant to be picked. At the bottom of the league, their new general manager, Baek Seung-soo (Nam Koong-min), and operations manager, Lee Se-young (Park Eun-bin), are faced with the daunting task of helping the team rise above their current situation.
Seun-soo believes in the power of rationality and also that it is his only chance in making Dreams the champion. Along with Se-young, who is the youngest and the only female operations manager in the league, the two had to strategize their way through the struggles. It turns out that the challenge in this uphill climb also goes beyond the field as they find themselves facing a series of life-and-death situations.
Kang Ho-young (Kang Tae-oh) is a short track speed skater who learned how to skate at a small skating rink in the countryside. He was later scouted by Kangbaek University which is famous for short-track speed skating. There, he meets Park Eun-ho (Yeo Hoe Hyun) who is referred to as “The King of Short Track Speed Skating.” He is the only child from a prestigious family in sports, but Eun-ho has been in a slump.
Ho-young turned out to be a rising competition for Eun-ho. The two compete against each other but eventually form a friendship. Outside the ice, they are also competing for the affection of Yoo Ji-na (Kim Do-yeon) who is auditioning to become a member of a girl group.
Puck is a 2 episode drama special that pays homage to the iconic film, “Rocky.” It tells the story of Joo-man (Lee Kwang-soo) who reluctantly works as a debt collector for a loan shark. Having done some pretty bad things in this line of work, but when he needs to collect money from a hockey coach, he learns the only way to get it is by joining the team.
Life slowly begins to take on a new meaning for Joon-man as he finds a better life in the ice-hockey rink. Puck is an inspiring story of redemption that also takes you skidding on the adrenaline-pumping thrills of ice hockey. It delivers both laughter and tears through its hero as he unexpectedly turns his life around.
King of Savvy
This drama is about a high school hockey player who leads a double life.
Lee Min-seok (Seo In-guk) is a rising hockey player at his high school leading an average high school life. Until one day, Min-seok’s older brother, who looks just like him except for the fact that he’s nine years older, calls and begs him to step into his place at his new job.
While his brother inexplicably goes into hiding for a while, Min-seok goes to work impersonating him. But it was only a matter of time before trouble started brewing. Min-seok finds himself clashing with Director Yoo Jin-woo (Lee Soo-hyuk), the son of the company president. How long can this young hockey player keep up with the charade before the truth catches up with him?
Thumping Spike is a mini-episode web-series adapted from a manwha (the Korean version of a manga) about a young women’s volleyball celebrity who ends up coaching a high school boys’ volleyball team.
The Daehan High School volleyball team has always aspired to reach the top despite always coming in last. But things were soon looking hopeful when volleyball goddess, Kang Se-ra (Hwang Seung-eon) came into the picture.
In one of Se-ra’s lonesome karaoke night turns, she found herself embroiled in a scandal after she lands herself at the police station by fighting the well-meaning high school student, Baek Woo-jin (Lee Tae-hwan). To dodge a potential lawsuit, Se-ra agrees to coach Woo-jin’s floundering volleyball team. But things aren’t any easier when she’s constantly butting heads with Daehan’s star player, Hwang Jae-woong (Song Jae-rim).
If you’re a true volleyball fan, you will find that the drills and games come out looking realistic. It doesn’t look cheesy or overdramatic, rather it highlights the fun and thrill involved.
To The Beautiful You
This series centers around Goo Jae-hee (Choi Sulli), a Korean girl who lives in the US. While watching a track and field competition on TV, she becomes attracted to one of the competitors named Kang Tae-joon (Choi Min-ho). She idolized the young athlete so much that she decided to transfer to Korea and enroll in the same school as Tae-joon after he sustained a potentially career-ending injury. However, the catch is that he goes to an all-boy school.
Driven to be close to Tae-joon Jae-hee disguised herself as a boy. When Jae-hee’s brother went to Korea and tried to knock some sense into her, Tae-joon accidentally overhears the truth, but chooses not to reveal what he knows.
Find out how this story unfolds as it is set against the backdrop of the physically-demanding world of track and field.
This drama series is set within the turbulent period between the Japanese colonial era and the division of Korea into North and South. Kang San (Do Ji-han) grew up in a poor village and was having difficulties in paying his tuition fees for school. He is also interested in basketball, so he applied to be a member of the school’s basketball team. Even if he has good skills, he was not chosen.
Meanwhile, a rich classmate, by the name of Lee Hong Ki, was chosen to be a part of the team, after his mother bribed the coach with money. Coincidentally, a man named Gong Yoon Bae (Han Young-soo), asked Kang San if he wants to join his ‘basketball game’ which involves gambling. He declines at first, but after seeing his mother’s hardships in trying to make ends meet, he accepts the offer in exchange for money.
He was undeniably good in the sport and this also helped Yoon-bae earn money. Since then, San has joined Yoon-bae and his men as he journeyed through life learning more about the sport, growing up, and finding love. The drama depicts the lives of young Koreans living during the Japanese occupation as they cope up with their own challenges and hardships. You also get to see basketball as it was played and enjoyed in this era.