KajoPicks: 5 South Korean dramas for bookworms to watch
Calling all bookworms out there! If you love reading and K-dramas, here are five South Korean dramas about books for you to watch:
1.Romance is a Bonus Book (2019)
If you want to take a glimpse behind the Korean publishing industry, this is the K-drama for you.
This ‘noona’ romance drama follows the story of a 37-year-old divorced woman starting over with a new job at a publisher.
Kang Dan-i (Lee Na-young) is a former advertising copywriter. After her divorce, she has a hard time starting her career over due to a long break she took to focus on her marriage.
Dan-i later joins a publishing company as a temporary task team member. The publishing company’s editor-in-chief Cha Eun-ho (Lee Jong-suk) happens to be a long time friend of Dan-i who harbours romantic feelings towards her.
Besides giving the audience a glimpse of the work behind publishing a book, the series highlights the problems faced by ‘gyeongdanyeo’.
‘Gyeondanyeo’ is a Korean acronym for women who left their careers to get married or have children.
According to Korea Joong Ang Daily, these women who have difficulty getting rehired in South Korea experienced the same challenges as Dan-i.
Besides that, when they do get hired, gyeondanyeo tend to get paid lower than their previous earnings.
This series marks Lee Na-young’s return to small screen after nine years and Lee Jong-suk’s last drama before his military enlistment.
2.Because This is My First Life (2017)
Speaking of discrimination in South Korea, here is another drama which highlights the social issues faced by Korean women.
Assistant screenwriter Yoon Ji-ho (Jung So-min), is constantly under pressure to appease her family while pursuing her dream of becoming a successful writer.
She grows up getting sidelined by her patriarchal father who favours Ji-ho’s brother – Yoon Ji-suk – over her.
Due to this, Ji-ho ends up losing her apartment to her brother despite being the one paying for the deposit and maintenance.
She ends up being a housemate with IT employee and socially awkward Nam Se-hee (Lee Min-ki).
Like many writers, Ji-ho loves to read. In the drama, she always shares the content of her favourite books with her new housemate and her friends.
For bookworms, you might want to take note on the books she quotes in the drama. (Don’t worry, some of the Korean books mentioned are available in English translations.)
3.When the Weather is Fine(2020)
If you are a bookworm and love to write too, the main character of this drama has your dream job.
Im Eun-seob (Seo Kang-jun) ’s daily life comprises of drinking coffee in the morning, reading, writing on his blog while running a bookshop called ‘Goodnight Bookstore’ in a rural village of Gangwon Province.
The best part? He hardly has any walk-in customers and his profits come from online book sales. Basically, he has the dream job of an introvert who loves books.
On top of this, Eun-seob turns his bookstore into a book club meeting at night for the village residents to share their poems, book passages and stories.
Then, his life gets exciting for him when his former classmate and neighbour comes back to town.
Cellist Mok Hae-won (Park Min-young) quits her music teaching job in Seoul and decides to come home after getting tired of the city life.
She reconnects with her former classmates including Eun-seob. To earn some income, Hae-won takes a part-time job at Goodnight Bookstore.
Together, they start to heal from their past wounds and eventually fall in love with each other.
The drama is based on a book itself of the same name by Lee Do-woo.
4.Chicago Typewriter (2017)
Are you a writer having writer’s block? This is the drama for you.
On the outside, Han Se-joo (Yoo Ah-in) is a celebrity author with a large fan following.
Little do his fans know, but he is struggling from a severe writer’s block.
In the meantime, Jeon Seol (Im Soo-jung) is a veterinarian and fanatic of Se-joo. The duo is joined by Yoo Jin-oh (Go Kyung-pyo), a ghostwriter.
It seems that the three of them have nothing to do with each other at first. (PLOT TWIST) Actually, they are the reincarnations of three resistance fighters who lived during the 1930s Japanese occupation of Korea.
Se-joo in his past life fought against freedom of speech under Japanese rule as a writer and in his present life is fighting against himself to overcome his writer’s block.
For writers, this drama is inspiring as it poses the question, “Why do you write in the first place?”
5.Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung (2019)
Speaking of fighting for the freedom of speech, Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung follows the story of female historians in the early 19th century.
With the intent of planting spies in each chamber of the Royal Palace, four female historians including Goo Hae Ryung (Shin Se-kyung) are hired to record what is going in the palace.
Their job is to record what is going on everyday and the collection will be compiled into the Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty.
However, these four historians suffer from discrimination from their colleagues.
While the characters in this drama are purely fictional, the Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty is a real thing.
It is the annual records of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea which were kept from 1413 to 1865. During that time, professional historiographers were hired to collect documents and wrote daily accounts including state affairs, meteorological phenomena and among other things.
Overall, the drama emphasises on the importance of historians and history books. As what Hae-ryung said in the drama, “Even if you slash my throat, our brushes will not stop writing. If I die, another historian will take my place; if you kill that historian, another will take their place. Even if you kill every historian in this land, and take away all the paper and brushes, you won’t be able to stop us. From mouth to mouth, teacher to student, elder to child, history will be told. That is the power of truth.”