Sports Korean dramas have always been an overlooked genre. But if you’re looking for inspiring stories, you are sure to find a lot of them here! Injected into the exciting and challenging world of sports, it’s easy to find characters that you will come to love after seeing them rise through the struggles.
If you are into these types of shows, here are 10 Korean Sports Dramas that should be worth your time!
Fight for My Way (2017)
This drama is about chasing dreams even if you don’t seem to measure up to what the highly competitive society demands. It follows the lives and struggles of Dong Man (Park Seo Joon) and his friends. But we will focus on Dong Man who was a promising, competitive athlete before he had to give up his dream after an incident in high school got him barred from competing in Taekwondo. Years later, his life didn’t turn out to be as successful as he would have hoped it to be as he struggles with a low-paying job. So, he decides to make something out of himself and give back to his family by pursuing his passion for sports. He goes back to training, but now as a mixed martial arts fighter. However, the road is not so easy for Dong Man. Besides the physical aspect of training, his character had to grow as well if he wanted to succeed in this pursuit.
Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo (2016)
Kim Bok Joo (Lee Sung Kyung) is an aspiring weightlifter in college who’s on the path to self-discovery. Unlike most people her age, she has not yet enjoyed her first love. Instead, she focused on weightlifting, which somehow made her an awkward young lady. Besides the sport, her other priority only involved her family. She hangs out with her two besties, who are weightlifter athletes themselves, and off-campus she helps her dad out with his small restaurant. Bok Joo’s dad grew up weightlifting himself, and he was her staunch supporter along with her coach and assistant coach. However, even with the most determined heart and the best support system, life can throw curveballs. The story did not shy away from mental health issues and disorders as it showed how Bok Joo struggled between her one-sided love and the pressure of being an athlete which sent her spiraling down to depression. However, when one falls from grace, it doesn’t mean that you’ve lost the battle.
Heading to the Ground (2009)
For as long as he can remember, Cha Bong Gun (U-Know Yun Ho) has dreamt of becoming a professional soccer player. But even with his great potential, life seemed to be determined to throw him off his course to achieve his dream. As a teenager, Bong Gun gets falsely accused of a hit-and-run. Since there is evidence to support the accusation, he is sentenced to some time in prison. However, seeing his son arrested was too much for Bong Gun’s dad, and this caused his fatal heart attack. The injustice of the false accusation and the untimely death of his father left Bong Gun emotionally scarred. It haunts him to be labeled as a murderer with no way of defending himself. But, he refuses to let prejudice and rejection take over his dream. In between part-time jobs and looking after his family, he pushes himself to continue his soccer training. Then, one day, he meets Kang Hae Bin (Go Ah Ra), an attractive and independent rookie sports agent who’s trying to make her mark in this male-dominated world of professional soccer. In this story, we have a soccer player desperate for a chance to prove his worth and a newbie sports manager determined to not be limited by prejudice. Will they be able to overcome all obstacles by relying on each other’s strengths, or are their dreams still headed for the ground?
Hot Stove League (2019)
Hot stove league is used to refer to a baseball’s off-season. It’s coined after the idea of baseball fans gathering around a hot stove during winter, to discuss the different teams, the players, and how their performances are shaping up to be for the next season. In this drama, the story is about a baseball team called Dreams, which had the worst performance in the league for four consecutive years. This pushed their former general manager to resign, and the team hires a new one, Baek Seung Soo (Namkoong Min), whom they’re banking on to help improve the team’s standing. Despite his lack of experience in baseball, Seung Soo boasts an impressive resume having brought sports teams to numerous wins, except that they always got disbanded in the end due to reasons that are out of his control. Although his colleagues at Dreams are satisfied even with just placing second to the last for the next season, Seung Soo shoots for the farthest star by aiming for victory. He is determined to stop at nothing to bring this team to the top of its game. He finds a solid partner in turning these plans into reality in Dreams’ Operations Manager, Lee Se Young (Park Eun Bin), who happens to be the first female baseball team manager in Korea and has dedicated a decade of her life working for Dreams. The road to the top became less challenging, thanks to the other team players who worked behind the scenes and yet are crucial players to the gameplan.
Thumping Spike (2016)
A budding young female volleyball player named Kang Se Ra (Hwang Seun Eon) had an unfortunate incident, resulting in a sudden slump which caused her to be in trouble with the law. To dodge a potential lawsuit, she found herself stuck coaching this floundering men’s high school volleyball team where Hwang Jae Woong (Song Jae Rim) is the star player. However, the team is only as strong as their weakest link. Despite Jae Woong’s skills and sporting prowess, the rest of the team is nowhere near his level and the team’s record remained abysmal. Adding to that, Se Ra and Jae Woong are constantly butting heads. But annoyance turns into romance as sparks start to fly on and off the court. Se Ra realized that behind Jae Woong’s sarcastic exterior, he has a tender side to him. With love in the air, will this be enough to turn the team’s performance around?
Cheer Up!/Sassy Go Go (2015)
Set in the fictional Sevit High, an elite high school in Seoul that caters to the rich and academically gifted children, Cheer Up follows the lives of five students as they struggle to survive in a world where academic achievement is everything. Kang Yeon Doo (Jung Eun Ji), Kim Yeol (Lee Won Geun), Seo Ha Joon (Ji Soo), Ha Dong Jae (Cha Hak Yeon), Kwon Soo Ah (Chae Soo Bin), and their friends find themselves trapped in a harsh educational environment that emphasizes competition. Sadly it’s a life they are made to follow due to their overly-ambitious parents. To help boost their poor academic performance, they are forced to set aside their differences to form a cheerleading squad. What follows is a series of struggles and triumphs, as these young boys deal with differences, betrayals, lies, academic pressures, family issues, and mental illnesses. Over the course of these cheerleading battles, the mismatched group of teens eventually forms a deep and unbreakable bond, as they learned how to live, love, and cherish their youth.
Just Dance (2018)
When the city of Geoje faced restructuring, many of its residents packed up to relocate as things have gone slow and mundane. However, in that city was a group of teenage girls who were destined to bring liveliness back. The story revolves around Lee Shi Eun (Park Se Wan) who dreams of pursuing university education. To make it a reality, she joins the dance sports club to boost her school credentials. Along the way, Shi Eun builds solid friendships with the members of the club. As they try to find their purpose, each of the girls brings with them inspiring stories despite their disheartening family backgrounds. Through dancing, they were able to pursue and enjoy a passion, while forging a friendship that would have been unlikely to happen based on their personalities. Guiding them along the way was a teacher who never gave up on their shortcomings and insecurities. She helped nurture the confidence of her students to persevere because no matter how hard life is, there is always a silver lining.
This story takes place during the turbulent years of the Japanese occupation until independence and a few years before the war that divided the two Koreas. This story is about the first and last time that Korea had a single, unified national basketball team. They also made history by advancing to the quarterfinals in the 1948 London Olympics. It follows Kang San (Do Ji Han) who was born to a life of poverty but dreams for a better life. He finds success through the game of basketball. Min Chi Ho (Jung Dong Hyun) is also a basketball star but with nationwide popularity. His fame allowed him to inspire his compatriots amidst the struggles they had to endure during the Japanese occupation. He and San became big rivals in the court. But beyond the game they also find themselves competing for the affection of the same woman, Choi Shin Young (Lee Elijah).
To The Beautiful You (2012)
Goo Jae Hee (Sulli) is a Korean girl who lives in the United States. One day, she chanced upon a track and field competition on TV when Kang Tae Joon (Choi Min Ho), one of the high jump competitors, caught her eye. Since then she was smitten and began to idolize the young athlete. Tae Joon is actually no stranger to fame as he is widely known for his best record in the World Junior Championship in high jump. But, he is also popular with the ladies due to his good looks. After he injured himself, he announced that he would no longer do high jumps anymore. The news drove Jae Hee to go back to Korea and enroll in the same school where Tae Joon attends. Unfortunately, it was an all-male school. Determined to see him jump again, the lovestruck Jae Hee disguised as a male student so she could join the exclusive Genie High School. In a stroke of luck, she was assigned the same room as her idol, but it was more to Tae Joon’s benefit because it was through her that he found his smile again. But will everything change when he finds out the truth?
High School King of Savvy
Lee Min Suk (Seo In Guk) is a varsity hockey player at his high school. This earned him a lot of admirers, and one of them is his “groupie” classmate, Jung Yoo Ah (Lee Yeol Eum). On the day that his highly successful brother was scheduled to come home, Min Suk gets a mysterious phone call from him saying he won’t be able to return. Since both brothers have an uncanny resemblance, albeit nine years apart in age, his older brother begs Min Suk to impersonate him at his new job—only disclosing that he has to go into hiding for a while. As he goes to stand in for his older brother, Min Suk meets Yoo Ah’s older sister, Jung Soo Young (Lee Ha Na) who is a contract worker at the same company who eventually grew feelings for him. In this double life, Min Suk struggles between ice hockey and being a corporate director. He also had to contend with two sisters who had no idea that they had fallen for the same person!
Found anything you like? We hope that you have the stamina for these sports dramas as they are sure to get your heart racing!