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KajoPicks: 15 webtoon adaptations into Korean dramas you should watch

A webtoon is a type of digital comic that originated in South Korea. Just like how J-dramas are often inspired by manga or anime, there are more South Korean dramas based on webtoons these days.

So here are KajoMag’s pick of 15 webtoon adaptations into dramas you should watch:

1.Orange Marmalade (2015)

Watch the trailer here.

This Korean drama is based on the Naver webtoon of the same name published from 2011 to 2013.

It stars Yeo Jin-goo, Kim Seol-hyun, Lee Jong-hyun and Gil Eun-hye.

The story goes that 300 years ago, humans and vampires signed a peace treaty.

Nonetheless, they still do not get along well with each other. Even though the vampires no longer rely on human blood as food, they are still discriminated on by humans.

This causes many vampires to hide their identities including Baek Ma-ri (Kim Seol-hyun). She falls in love with Jung Jae-min (Yeo Jin-goo), the most popular boy at her high school (of course). What happens when Jae-min finds out Ma-ri’s true identity?

Orange Marmalade won the Best New Actor (Yeo Jin-Goo) and Popularity Actress Award (Seol-hyun) during the 2015 KBS Drama Awards.

2.Hey Ghost, Let’s Fight (2016)

Watch the trailer here.

How do you get rid of a ghost? Use holy water, crucifix or long chanting? In this drama, the male lead character gets rid of ghosts using nothing but his fist.

Park Bong-pal (Ok Taec-yeon) uses his ability to see ghosts to banish ghosts.

When he is tasked to get rid of a ghost at a haunted high school, he comes across Kim Hyun-ji (Kim So-hyun) who became a wandering spirit due to a traffic accident.

With Hyun-ji, Bong-pal finds that he can fight even stronger ghosts. Together with two other Bong-pal’s collegemates, they form a ghost fighting team.

Sometimes scary, sometimes funny, the drama is overall entertaining to watch.

3.The Tale of Nokdu (2019)

Watch the trailer here.

Jeon Nok-du (Jang Dong-yoon) lives on an island with his father and older brother.

Since he was young, his father would never allow him to go to the mainland. He grows up becoming a good swordsman.

One day, his father and older brother are attacked by a group of female assassins.

To find out who and why his family was attached, Nok-du has to disguise himself as a woman to enter a mysterious women-only village.

There, he meets Dong Dong-ju (Kim So-hyun), a woman who refuses to become a kisaeng.

Based on the webtoon by Hye Jin-yang published in 2014, the drama was one of the most talked about Korean dramas in 2019.

4.What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim (2018)

What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim started first as a novel of the same title. Written by Jung Kyung-yoon, the novel was published in 2013.

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Then in 2015, it was serialized into a webtoon via KakaoPage.

The drama adaptation of the webtoon takes place in 2016 with Park Seo-joon and Park Min-young in the starring roles.

What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim marks Min-young’s first romantic comedy role since her debut in 2005.

Meanwhile, Seo-joon’s performance in the drama gained positive reviews among the critics being dubbed the ‘master of romantic comedy’ by the Korean press.

The plot revolves around the ambitious and self-absorbed vice-chairman of a major corporation Lee Young-joon (Seo-joon). One day, his highly capable secretary of nine years Kim Mi-soo (Min-young) decides to resign from her job.

Will Young-joon let her go or will Mi-soo have a change of heart?

The drama is one of the highest-rated Korean dramas in cable television history.

5.Gangnam Beauty (2018)

Watch the trailer here.

At first glance, the drama is a basic campus romance story. Boy likes girl, girl keeps on rejecting boy and the girl finally realises that she likes the boy too.

However, its underlying theme of superficial beauty standards not only resonates in Korean society but the rest of the world.

The title of the webtoon and television series, Gangnam Beauty is actually a derogatory term in South Korea. It refers to those who are attractive but look as if they went through plastic surgery.

Im Soo-hyang’s portrayal of Kang Mi-rae, who decides to get plastic surgery after years of being bullied for her looks, is praise-worthy.

She starts being insecure even after her plastic surgery and slowly recovers her self-esteem throughout the drama.

Mi-rae also receives help from her collegemate, Do Kyung-seok (Cha Eun-woo) who look beyond her look.

Furthermore, the drama is able to portray rare themes in Korean series such as bulimia and discrimination based on physical looks in South Korea.

6.Save Me (2017)

Cults, violence, secret society, torture and even murder; this drama has them all.

Based on the popular Daum webtoon Out of the World by Jo Geum-san, the drama stars Ok Taec-yeon, Seo Ye-ji, Jo Sung-ha and Woo Do-hwan.

It centres around Im Sang-mi who moves from Seoul to Muji-gun, a suburban town with her family.

Sangmi’s brother, Sang-jin is bullied mercilessly at school pushing him to suicide.

The incident causes Sangmi’s to fall apart. Taking advantage of their state, the leader of a church called Goseonwon lures Sangmi’s into their community. Disguised as a peaceful church, Goseonwon is actually a religious cult.

Sang-mi becomes trapped until three years later, Sang-mi’s previous classmate Han Sang-hwan comes back to town.

Together with three friends, the group tries to expose the dark reality of the cult.

Watch Save Me’s trailer here.

7.Love Alarm (2019)

Watch Love Alarm’s trailer here.

What if we have an app that tells us there is someone we like within our vicinity? Would our love life be easier then?

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The drama revolves around the story of a disruptive technology that enables users to discover love through an application. It notifies whether someone within the vicinity of a 10-meter radius has romantic feelings for them.

Based on the Daum webtoon of the same name, it stars Kim So-hyun, Jung Ga-ram and Song Kang.

Chon Kye-young, the webtoon author, is one of South Korea’s most popular graphic novelists.

The plot circles around Kim Jo-jo, a high school student who is having a hard life after the deaths of her parents.

Her high school life gets complicated when two boys, popular kid in school Hwang Sun-oh and his best friend Lee Hye-young start to pay attention to her.

A commercial success, Love Alarm (2019) was one of Netflix’s top releases in 2019.

8.Extraordinary You (2019)

Speaking of high school drama, Extraordinary You has almost all the things a high school drama needs; humour, romance, suspense and a little dose of fantasy.

The series follows high school girl Eun Dan-oh (Kim Hye-yoon) who is a student at a prestigious academy.

Things turn upside down for her when she find out that the world she lives in is a fantasy world of comics.

Dan-oh and everyone around her are just characters in a comic book entitled ‘Secret’.

She later finds out that she is just a supporting character in the comic and is expected to die soon.

What happen when Dan-oh decide to go against the writer’s storyline and create her own destiny? Will it work or will the plan backfires?

On top of that, who else beside Dan-oh are aware of that they are just characters in a comic book?

Based on the webtoon July Found by Chance, the drama stars Kim Hye-yoon, Rowoon, Lee Jae-wook and Lee Na-eun.

9.Tale of Fairy (2018)

Tale of Fairy is a popular webtoon by Dol Bae published via Naver Webtoon in 2017.

In 2018, it was adapted into a drama starring Moon Chae-won, Yoon Hyun-min, Seo Ji-hoon, Jeon Soo-jin and Kang Mi-na.

It revolves around a 669-year-old who has lived since the Goryeo dynasty. In this modern time, she works as a barista and has a special ability to talk to plants.

The plot starts to climax when she meets two potential reincarnations of her former husband.

Watch the trailer here.

10.A Girl Who Sees Smells (2015)

After the murder of his sister by the ‘Barcode’ serial killer, Choi Moo-gak (Park Yoo-chun) is determined to become a police inspector and solve her case.

Meanwhile, Oh Cho-rim (Shin Se-kyung) witnesses the murder of her parents,becoming the sole witness of the Barcode serial murders.

However, both of them are traumatised in their own ways after the murders.

Moo-gak becomes unable to smell or taste while Cho-rim acquires a strange ability of being able to see smells as patterns in the air.

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Together, they both work to solve the series of the Barcode murders.
It is adapted from the KTOON webtoon of the same title by Seo Soo-kyung.

11.Itaewon Class (2020)

This webtoon adaptation tells the story of ex-convict Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo-joon) whose life has been turned upside down after he gets expelled from school for punching a bully and his father is killed in an accident.

Following his father’s steps, he opens his bar-restaurant DanBam (Sweet Night) in Itaewon.

Alongside his manager, Jo Yi-seo (Kim Da-Mi) and his staff, he aims for success while battling against a food conglomerate, Jangga Group.

Currently, Itaewon Class is the seventh highest rated drama in Korean cable television history.

It is based on the webtoon of the same name published on Daum.

Watch the trailer here.

12.Strangers from Hell (2019)

If it is broadcast on OCN, you know it would be a good, chilling thriller.

Also known as Hell is Other People, it follows Yoon Jong-woo (Im Si-wan) who moves to Seoul after landing an internship.

While looking for accommodation, he stumbles upon Eden Studio. It looks ominous but it is a cheap dormitory.

Jong-woo decides to stay because he is low in money.

What happen when things start to get weird in the dormitory?

It adapted from the Naver webtoon of the same name by Kim Yong-ki.

Watch the trailer here.

13.Memorist (2020)

Based on the Daum webtoon of the same name by Jae Hoo published on 2016-2018, this crime drama stars Yoo Seung-ho, Lee Se-young and Jo Sung-ha.

It follows Dong Baek who uses his power to read people’s memories to solve crimes as a detective.

Together with criminal profiler Han Sun-mi, they team up to stop a serial killer. In a classic Korean drama’s turn of events, their pasts begins to unravel as the murders start to escalate.

Watch Memorist’ trailer here.

14.Pegasus Market (2019)

Moon Suk-goo (Lee Dong-hwi) works as a manager at Cheonrima Mart, which belongs to the Daema Group.

Cheonrima Mart’s future looks bleak as they don’t have many customers.

One day, Jung Bok-dong (Kim Byung-chul), who was an executive at Cheonrima Group, is demoted to the CEO position at Cheonrima Mart.

Suk-Goo begins to have hope that the store will experience a turnaround with the new CEO.

However, Bok-dong wants to destroy Cheonrima Mart to take revenge on the parent company for his demotion.

Unexpectedly, Bok-dong’s actions soon causes the store to attract customers.

It is based on Kim Gyu-sam’s webtoon of the same name.

15.Method to Hate You (2019)

Watch this drama here.

If a campus romance drama is your thing, this is the drama for you.

Also known as How to Hate You, this web drama follows the dating adventure of a college freshman Oh Mi-ri.

It also stars Na Jae-min, Lee Jong-won and Kim Ji-in as Oh Mi-ri.

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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