KajoPicks: 15 South Korean high school dramas you need to watch

Patricia Hului

Feel like indulging in some teen dramas? Here are 15 South Korean high school dramas to watch:

1.School 2013 (2012)

We cannot talk about Korean high school dramas without putting KBS’s School anthology series on the list.

So far, seven School drama series have premiered since 1999.

The series has been noted for launching the careers of many rookie actors who have become household names in the Korean entertainment industry today.

For instance, School 2013 (2012) was the launching point for actors Lee Jong-suk and Kim Woo-bin.

This edition was set at Seungri High School, apparently one of the worst-ranking schools out of the178 high schools in Seoul based on its academic scores.

The drama depicts the real-life issues faced by Korean high school students like bullying, school violence, mental health, suicides and private tutoring.

Watch the trailer here.

2.Who Are You: School 2015 (2015)

Here is another of our favourites from the School series, Who Are You: School 2015. We love it mainly because of Kim So-hyun’s impressive performance playing two different characters in the drama.

She plays the roles of Go Eun-byul and Lee Eun-bi, identical twins who were separated as children.

Eun-bi lives in an orphanage while her sister was adopted.

After intense bullying by her classmates, Eun-bi tries to commit suicide. Eun-byul coincidentally is there and rescues her sister.

She decides to switch places with her twin after she realises that Eun-bi has lost her memory. Eun-byul reasons that with this, Eun-bi can start a new life unknowingly as her twin.

Trouble starts when Eun-bi’s bully transfer to the same school and recognises her.

You can watch the drama on KBS World Youtube Channel.

Watch the trailer here.

3.Dream High (2011)

Imagine Disney’s High School Musical as a Korean drama series and almost all the leads are played by K-pop singers.

Starring miss A’s Bae Suzy, 2PM’s Ok Taecyeon, T-ara’s Ham Eun-jung, 2PM’s Jang Woo-young and IU, the drama was a hit when it was first broadcast.

The only non-Kpop idol among the cast is Kim So-hyun, who trained for three months for his role in the drama.

It follows of the story of six students of Kirin High School who dream of becoming K-pop idols.

Besides showcasing the difficult training and competition in making K-pop singers, the drama also highlights the dark side of Korean entertainment like sexual harassment.

The drama marks the acting debuts of Suzy and IU who later continued to take lead acting roles in Korean dramas.

Watch the teaser here.

4.Reply 1997 (2012)

Do you want a glimpse of Korean high school in the 1990s? Reply 1997 (2012) centers on six friends who lived in Busan.

The storyline goes back and forth between their past as 18-year-old high school students in 1997 and their present time as 33-year-olds at their high school reunion dinner in 2012.

The drama is praised for being well-researched since it was able to recreate the South Korea in the late 90s with accuracy.

Reply 1997 stars Jung Eun-ji, Seo In-guk, Hoya, Shin So-yul, Eun Ji-won and Lee Si-eon.

Since the drama is set in Busan, most of the cast members are from the region who can speak in the local Gyeongsang dialect.

The drama was a hit among South Koreans with the last episode recording the highest ratings at the time for a Korean cable drama.

5.The Heirs (2013)

While Reply 1997 offers viewers some realism, this Korean high school drama is the exact opposite.

Written by Kim Eun-sook, The Heirs (2013) is set in a high school which caters only to the rich and privileged.

It is a classic Cinderella story where rich boy Kim Tan (Lee Min-ho) falls in love with his housekeeper’s daughter Cha Eun-sang (Park Shin-hye).

Plus, a series set among the rich is not complete without some chaebol (Korean conglomerate) drama.

From family squabbles over inheritance to embezzlement charges, The Heirs (2013) is definitely a higher level of teen drama.

Watch the trailer here.

6.Class of Lies (2019)

How about watching a Korean high school with a dose of mystery?

Class of Lies (2019) follows the story of Gi Moo-hyeok (Yoon Kyun-sang) who goes undercover as a substitute teacher Gi Kang-jae after his lawyer’s license is suspended.

In order to regain his license, he is determined to solve the murder case of a female student which made him lose his license in the first place.

As Moo-hyeok continues to dig deeper into the case while undercover, he uncovers a secret society of privileged students that controls the students and also the teachers.

The secret club is called Veritas Club that aims to falsify awards and student records so that the members can enter prestigious universities. Perhaps Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin have heard of this club before?

Anyway, the drama is aired on OCN channel which is widely known for their thriller and mystery series selection.

Watch the trailer here.

7.Sassy Go Go (2015)

Kang Yeon-doo (Jung Eun-ji) is the leader of street dance club ‘Real King’. The members are students who come together because of their poor academic performance with Yeon-doo herself positioned at 196th out of the 200 students at her school.

Meanwhile, Kim Yeol (Lee Won-keun) is the highest ranking student and the president of Baek Ho, an elite club composed of students from the top fifth percentile in school. He is known for his intelligence and arrogance.

When the Real King and Baek Ho clubs are forced to create a cheerleading squad, both groups put aside their differences to work together.

Meanwhile, Kim Yeol slowly falls for Yeon-do despite their contrasting personalities and preferences.

Watch the trailer here.

8.Moments of 18 (2019)

Do you remember when you were 18 years old?

Choi Joon-woo (Ong Seong-wu) is forced to transfer to Cheonbong High School for a violation he did not commit.

As transfer student, he becomes a subject of ridicule and prejudice from his new classmates.

One of his classmates, Yoo Soo-bin (Kim Hyang-gi) is the top student of the class. She has a helicopter mother who dictates her every move.

Moments of 18 tells the story of teenagers discovering themselves while going through their daily lives as high school students.

Watch the trailer here.

9.Best Mistake (2019)

If you want to watch Korean high school drama but do not have the time, this is the series for you. Each episode only runs for 8 minutes.

Kim Yeon-do (Lee Eun-jae) wants to get rid of a boy who just won’t leave her alone.

In desperation, she posts a random photo of another boy claiming that he is her boyfriend.

Later, she finds out that the boy in the photo is Ji Hyun-ho (Kang Yoo), one of her classmates.

Nonetheless, her posting creates some buzz in the school.

It has simple storyline circling around high school romance and friendship.

Watch the trailer here.

10.Hi! School: Love On (2014)

This Korean high school drama stars Kim Sae-ron, Nam Woo-hyun and Lee Sung-yeol.

It is teen romance fantasy series about an angel who accidentally becomes human after unintentionally saving a male student in danger.

Since then, the angel whose name is Lee Seul-bi slowly learns how to be a human while studying in a high school.

You can watch this drama on KBS World TV on Youtube.

11.Extraordinary You (2019)

Speaking of high school fantasy drama, here is another one for you.

Extraordinary You (2019) is based on the webtoon “July Found by Chance” which was first published in January 2018.

Can you imagine finding out that the world you live in is a comic?

One day, Eun Dan-oh (Kim Hye-yoon) finds out that she is just an extra character in a Korean comic.

She realises that all of her actions are predetermined by the comic artist and she is destined to die because of her lifelong heart condition.

So, Dan-oh decides to fight back against the comic artist and write her own destiny.

Sooner or later, some of her classmates start to realise that the reality they live in is in fact inside a comic book.

What happen when Dan-oh goes against the comic artist? Will she able to change her reality and not die?

Overall, Extraordinary You is a fun and amusing drama suitable for lighthearted entertainment.

Watch the trailer here.

12.Love Alarm (2019)

Love Alarm (2019) made headlines for being the first Korean series confirmed for pick-up by Netflix.

It follows the story of a technology that enables users to discover love through an application that notifies whether someone within the range of a 10-meter radius has romantic feelings from for them.

With this kind of app, it is bound to be downloaded by teenagers.

So what happens when a group of high schoolers get carried away with the app?

Watch the trailer here.

13.A-Teen (2018)

In the recent years, Korean web dramas began to gain its popularity among viewers due to its short running time per episode.

One episode could last between eight minutes to half an hour, which is different from the usual Korean dramas which take about an hour.

PlayList Global is known to be one of the famous production companies for web dramas and viewers can easily watch their series on YouTube.

One of the series is A-Teen (2018) starring Shin Ye-eun, Lee Na-eun, Shin Seung-ho, Kim Dong-hee, Kim Su-hyun and Ryu Ui-hyun.

It follows the story of six students and how they deal with their high school years.

Watch the trailer here.

14.True Beauty (2020)

This Korean high school drama made a lot buzz when it came out especially because of the ‘Second Lead Drama’ phenomenon.

It is a term coined by K-drama fans when the second male lead character is more suitable with the female lead character compared to main male character.

In True Beauty (2020), both Lee Su-ho (Cha Eun-woo) and Han Seo-jun (Hwang In-youp) fall for Lim Ju-kyung (Moon Ga-young).

Ju-kyung has been constantly discriminated by her family and bullied by her peers due to being perceived as ugly.

Before she transfers to her new school, Ju-kyung masters the art of make up and transforms her look completely.

There in her new school, she is regarded as ‘goddess’ by her new classmates.

The drama is based on the Line Webtoon of the same name by Yaongyi.

Watch the trailer here.

15.A Love So Beautiful (2020)

This series is a Korean remake of a Chinese drama of the same name, which is based on a novel To Our Pure Little Beauty by Zhao Qianqian.

It centers around Sin Sol-i (So Joo-yeon), a cheerful girl who studies at Chun Ji High School.

She has a crush on her classmate and neighbour Cha Heon (Kim Yo-han).

While she repeatedly confesses her love to Cha Heon, he never expresses his feelings in return. The plot follows Sol-i and Cha Heon with their friends as they go through high school and eventually adulthood.

Watch the trailer here.