Kim Eun Sook is a household name when it comes to the South Korean screenwriting scene.
First gaining attention with Lovers in Paris, she is known for writing iconic kissing scenes with romantic, almost borderline cheesy lines. These scenes would make you either swoon, cringe or even both.
One of the most standout examples being the famous ‘wine kiss’ in Descendants of the Sun (2016).
While its heroine Dr Kang Mo Yeon (Song Hye Kyo) is enjoying her wine straight from the bottle, she offers some to Yoo Si Jin (Song Joong Ki) who refuses, saying that dispatched troops are not allowed to drink.
Noticing that Yoo is watching her intently, Kang says “You look like you really want to drink this” and offers him the bottle.
Yoo then says, “I think I found a way”, walks straight up to her, grabs her by the chin and kisses her.
Who wouldn’t swoon?
Admittedly, some of the Kim Eun Sook’s plotlines can be pretty cliched. Poor girl falls in love with rich boy, with the universe somehow against them. In the end, they live happily ever after.
Nonetheless, they make good guilty pleasures especially if you want a quick escape from reality into the larger than life fantasy of Korean dramas.
With more than 10 projects under her belt, we break them down to five best award-winning dramas written by Kim Eun Sook you must watch for your K-drama starter pack:
Goblin is Kim Eun Sook’s second collaboration with director Lee Eun Bok after Descendants of the Sun.
It was the second highest rated drama in Korean cable television history behind Reply 1988.
Perhaps contributing to Goblin’s success was lead actor Gong Yoo’s return to the TV screen after his blockbuster movie Train to Busan.
Kim Eun Sook revealed in a talk show ‘Signal’ last year that Gong Yoo was the actor that had rejected her the most often, refusing to work with her until Goblin came along.
Gong Yoo plays the Goblin or Kim Shin who needs a human bride to end his immortality.
Some criticised the huge age gap between the two lead characters Kim Shin and Ji Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun) – he’s 37, she’s 25 – but Goblin was a commercial success.
It was awarded the Grand Prize (Daesang) for Television honour during the 53rd Baeksang Arts Awards.
2.Descendants of the Sun (2016)
A -listers including Won Bin, Jo In Sung, Gong Yoo and Kim Woo Bin all said no to playing the male lead in this drama.
Some said they were uncomfortable playing the role of a soldier while others reportedly could not commit to the pre-production format of the show.
Most Korean dramas out there are shot in ‘live-shoot’ system. Meaning the storyline might be changed depending on public feedback but at the cost of long filming hours.
However with pre-production format, the drama is filmed entirely before broadcast allowing the producers to plan for its distribution better.
The risk is that if the audience ends up not liking it, there’s no way to go back to change the plot.
The pre-production format worked out for Descendants of the Sun. Being pre-produced allowed them to air it in China simultaneously with South Korea, bringing in more profits.
If you hadn’t guessed from the wine kiss, the plot is the love story between a soldier Yoo Si Jin (Song Joong Ki) and Doctor Kang Mo Yeon (Song Hye Kyo).
This was also Song Joong Ki’s first project after finishing his mandatory military duty.
Besides the script, another contributor to the success of this drama was the great chemistry between the ‘Song-Song Couple’.
And they proved their off-screen chemistry was real when they married in October 2017.
Descendants of the Sun earned Kim Eun Sook her first KBS Drama Award for Best Writer.
3.The Heirs (2013)
This is Kim’s first teen drama based on the love story between a rich kid (Lee Min Ho) and a poor girl Cha Eun Sang (Park Shin Hye).
Kim Eun Sook revealed that she wrote it specifically for Lee, calling it a teen romance for grown-ups.
She won Outstanding Scriptwriter award for The Heirs during the 2nd Asia Rainbow TV Awards in 2014.
The Heirs was the first Korean drama co-produced by American digital distribution platform DramaFever.
4.Secret Garden (2010)
This drama won numerous awards including Korea Content Awards: Prime Minister’s Award in the Field of Broadcasting and Korea Drama Awards for Best Writer.
Other awards were Seoul International Drama Awards: Outstanding Screenwriter and Baeksang Art Awards for Best TV Screenplay.
Another Cinderella story by Kim Eun Sook, the story follows Gil Ra Im (Ha Ji Won) a stuntwoman who falls in love with Kim Joo Won (Hyun Bin), the CEO of a department store.
This was Ha’s first project after taking 4-year break from dramas.
Secret Garden was so successful that the fashion items such as Joo Won’s sequined sweater and catchphrases were all the rage back then.
And who can forget the legendary ‘foam kiss’ scene? The scene probably inspired half of the men in South Korea to lean over and kiss their girlfriends while their lips are tainted with cappuccino foam.
5.Lovers in Paris (2004)
Speaking of catchphrases, no other Korean drama has sparked more trends and parodies than Lovers in Paris.
Even if you have never seen this drama, you have probably seen entertainers mimicking its lead role Han Ki Joo (Park Shin Yang)’s famous line “Let’s go, baby!” in variety shows.
Kim Eun Sook co-wrote Lovers in Paris with Kang Eun Jung winning the Best TV Screenplay award together in 2005 Baeksang Arts Awards.
It is another cliched story of the poor Kang Tae Young (Kim Jung Eun) working for the rich Han Ki Joo as his housekeeper.
The series became one of the highly rated Korean dramas of all time. It also won several high-profile awards including SBS Drama Awards: Special Award in 2005.