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KajoPicks: 10 South Korean campus romance dramas to watch

If you are looking for South Korean campus romance dramas to watch, here are KajoMag’s suggestions:

1.My ID is Gangnam Beauty (2018)

The time you spend on your tertiary education is also the perfect time to discover more about yourself. And this drama offers a lot of lessons on self-discovery and staying true to oneself.

Based on the webtoon of the same name published in 2016 by Naver Webtoon, it centers around Kang Mi-rae (Im Soo-hyang) who grew up with low self-esteem due to be being bullied for being ‘ugly’.

Before she enters university, she decides to undergo plastic surgery to become ‘beautiful’.

However, her campus life turns complicated when some people find out about her surgery and ridicule her as a ‘plastic surgery monster’.

In the same time, Mi-rae begins to build her self-esteem when she befriends her former schoolmate Do Kyung-seok (Cha Eun-woo).

Romance starts to unfold between the two as Kyung-seok proves to Mi-rae that he doesn’t care about looks since he knew how she looked like before her plastic surgery.

The ‘villain’ of this Korean campus romance drama is Hyun Soo-ah (Joo Woo-ri). She masks her own insecurity by using her beauty and innocent persona to manipulate others into liking her.

Overall, My ID is Gangnam Beauty (2018) is entertaining to watch with realistic conflicts and no exaggerating plots.

Well, except for Eun-woo whose look is unrealistically handsome (and it is his natural look btw).

2.Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo (2016)

Inspired by the life of Olympic gold-medalist Jang Mi-ran, this Korean campus romance drama is set in a sport college.

Kim Bok-joo (Lee Sung-kyung) is a naturally gifted weightlifter whose father was also a former weightlifter.

She develops a crush on her friend Jung Joon-hyung’s (Nam Joo-hyuk) older brother, Jung Jae-yi (Lee Jae-young).

Joon-hyung, who is a competitive swimmer and Bok-joo are both childhood friend from they were in elementary schools.

They enjoy teasing each other and he eventually falls in love with her.

Generally, the drama focuses on the ups and downs of young athletes in achieving their dreams while finding love along the way.

3.What’s Up (2011)

This drama circles around a Korean campus romance going around in a university musical department.

Jae-Hun (Lim Ju-hwan) is a high school dropout who roams the streets at night with his two best friends.

After some struggles, he decides to go to university to study acting.

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In the meantime, Park Tae-yii (Kim Ji-won) comes to Seoul to take an audition for entry into in the university.

She lives in the countryside with her grandfather, and inherited her musical talents from her father.

The third main character is Ha Do-sung (Daesung) who is the famous rock star Hades who presents himself by hiding his identity through a mask.

Due to his secret family background, Do-sung can’t reveal his real identity. So, he tries to live quietly without drawing attention to himself and joins the university.

Fourthly, Kim Byeong-gun (Jo Jung-suk) is the odd one out in his family of businessmen. He wishes to pursue a career in musicals, despite his fear of performing in front of others.

Meanwhile, Eun Chae-young (Jang Hee-jin) is the experienced actress who wants to prove that she has talent and not just a pretty face.

Finally, Oh Doo-ri (Lim Ju-eun), is an talented actress who prefers to spend her time playing first-person shooting computer games than rehearsing.

This group of young adults end up together in Haneul Arts University’s musical department.

Together, they learn what does it need to be successful in the musical world.

4.Love Story in Harvard (2004)

By the title of this drama, you can guess the campus romance takes place at Harvard University.

The first half of the drama set in the Ivy League university following the relationship between a law student Kim Hyun-woo (Kim Rae-won) and a medical student Lee Soo-in (Kim Tae-hee).

Things get complicated when Hyun-woo’s coursemate Alex Hong (Lee Jung-jin) also falls for Soo-in.

Hyun-woo and Soo-in eventually starts dating but their romance was short-lived.

Soo-in leaves Hyun-woo to work in South America and never contact him again.

Then the second part of the drama sets in Seoul when everyone graduated and living their own lives.

An unexpected circumstance brought all three together again and just like what happened in college, the trio involves in another round of love triangle.

5.Love Rain (2012)

If you are into mellow, cinematic love stories, this is definitely the Korean campus romance drama for you.

Set in the ’70s and in the present day, it has Jang Keun-suk and Im Yoon-ah playing dual roles.

When Seo In-ha (Jang Keun-suk) and Kim Yoon-hee (Im Yoon-ah) first meet during their university students in the ’70s, they fall in love almost immediately.

However, life hits hard on them and circumstances brought them down different roads.

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Fast forward to 2012, old In-ha (Jung Jin-young) is now unhappily married to Baek Hye-jung, one of Yoon-hee’s former best friends.

Fate brings the couple back together and they decide to make up for lost time.

But wait, since this is a Korean drama we are talking about, things can never be as easy as that.

In-ha’s son Seo-joon (Jang Keun-suk) meets Yoon-hee’s daughter Ha-na (Im Yoon-ah) by chance.

Despite arguing so much at first, the two gradually fall in love.

What happens to the young couple when their parents announce that they are getting married?

6.Age of Youth (2016)

Remember during your university days when you get to live under one roof with people from different backgrounds? This Korean campus romance drama will remind you of those days.

Also known as Hello, My Twenties!, this drama stars Han Ye-ri, Han Seung-yeon, Park Eun-bi, Ryu Hwa-young, Park Hye-su, Ji Woo and Choi Ara.

The story follows five girls who live together in a sharehouse called ‘Belle Epoque’ while studying in a university.

First we have Yoon Jin-myung, a business major who carries a complicated family problem on her shoulders.

Then Jung Ye-eun, a religious culinary art major and Song Ji-won, the supernatural believer who majors in journalism.

To add in the diversity in this group, we have Kang Yi-na, the sugar baby who has eyes for expensive things and Yoon Eun-jae who is the typical girl from the countryside.

Typically, it is a slice-of-life drama focusing on the struggles of college students nowadays.

7.Go Back Couple (2017)

If you had a chance to go back to the time when you are studying in university, what would you change?

For divorced couple Choi Ban-do and Ma Jin-joo (Jang Na-ra) who first met on campus, they vow not to fall in love with each other again.

Putting aside the fantasy aspect of the drama with all the time-travelling going on, Go Back Couple (2017) offers a handful of real-life lessons.

Some people might have a clear idea on what they going to do with the career, but the reality is not everyone can get their dream job. In fact, an architecture graduate might end up working as an insurance agent or a medical sales representative.

The drama shows that is okay as long as you are happy and living a fulfilling life.

When going back to the past, both Ban-do and Jin-joo have the opportunity to make good on their biggest regrets like appreciating the people around them.

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8.Naeil’s Cantabile (2014)

Adapted from the Japanese manga Nodame Cantabile by Tomoko Ninomiya, this drama sets in a music school.

It stars Joo Won and Shim Eun-kyung with Park Bo-gum, Go Kyung-pyo and Baek Yoon-sik.

The story follows of Cha Yoo-jin, a third year music student who majors in piano and dreams of being a world renowned conductor.

While he is undeniably talented in music, Yoo-jin’s fear of flying has become a hurdle in achieving his dream.

What happens when Yoo-jin meets a fellow genius pianist who is a free spirit and a bit of an odd character?

Watching this drama now would definitely give a sense of blast from the past, because two of South Korea’s leading actors today, Park Bo-gum and Go Kyung-pyo, are just playing supporting roles in this drama.

9.Reply 1994 (2013)

This second installment of the Reply series is set in 1994, and circles around six university students.

They come from different provinces of South Korea and live together at a boarding house in Seoul.

If you are familiar with the Reply series, this drama follows a nonlinear story-telling where it shifts between the past in 1994 and the present in 2013.

It keeps the viewers guessing which male character will be the husband of Sung Na-jung (Go Ara).

Imagine the American series How I Met Your Mother set among college students in the ’90s South Korea.

Speaking of the ’90s, the drama also depicts the historical events as well as pop culture that took place from 1994 and the years that follow.

Reply 1994 (2013) is one of the highest rated Korean dramas in cable television history, so you have to watch it to understand the buzz around it.

10.Love Playlist (2017)

Still want a dose of Korean campus romance dramas, but don’t have the time? Here is the series for you.

Love Playlist is a South Korean web series that spanned over four seasons from March 9, 2017 to August 8, 2019.

One episode is about 15-25 minutes, hence it is a perfect drama to watch for a quick break.

Moreover, you can watch it for free on Youtube.

The story revolves around a group of college students as they fall in love and break up while trying to get a degree.

Do not forget to check out our recommendation of Chinese campus dramas and coming-of-age dramas to watch!

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at Kajomag.com or Twitter at @patriciahului.

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