10 Must-Watch K-Dramas About War
These South Korean shows can seem really intense if you are not familiar with the genre.
Western war movies are very popular among viewers because of the atmosphere they create and because they let people know the true events of the most significant battles or the most devastating tragedies that happened during wartime.
However, the events depicted in these movies are mostly about World Wars I and II, the Vietnam War, the Holocaust, or some other wars of particular importance to the West. Therefore, war K-dramas deal with the fact that there's almost no representation of Korean wars in the movie industry, so they release their own products.
Here are the most accurate and compelling South Korean war dramas.
1. Comrades (Legend of the Patriots)
This 2010 K-drama pays tribute to all of the soldiers who gave their lives during the Korean War. The story of the show follows Commander Lee Hyun Joong, a war veteran who seems moody and complicated, but is willing to protect his team at any cost. And when he once again finds himself on a battlefield, his life changes forever.
2. Swing Kids
Quite an unusual take on a war series. The premise of the show is not really about the war itself, but rather about the way people live during the war. The K-drama is set during the Korean War and depicts the lives of North Korean and Chinese prisoners of war in a camp on Geoje Island in South Korea.
And in this terrible time and in the most inappropriate place, a sergeant is ordered to form a tap-dancing team from the prison. This is how the "Swing Kids" are formed, but there's an unfortunate catch...
3. Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War
The fictional story at the heart of this K-drama is actually quite relatable to viewers, as it deals with the never-ending issues of family loyalty. The story revolves around Jin Tae and Jin Seok. The two brothers are forced to join the army during the Korean War. Jin Tae is much stronger than his brother, so throughout the series he does everything possible to keep him safe from danger.
4. Mr. Sunshine
One of the most popular South Korean war dramas is Mr. Sunshine. The series is set in Japanese-occupied Korea in the early 1900’s. The K-drama focuses on many of the core issues that mankind was facing at the time, such as the complex question of national identity, or the questions of actual freedom and the desire to live in peace.
All of this is depicted through the eyes of a Korean independence fighter and his love interest as they deal with the grim realities of war.
5. My Dearest
A great example of a K-drama that shows how hope can lead to success. Set during the Qing invasion of Joseon in the 1600's, it follows the lives of two people who fall in love at the most inappropriate time. The female lead is Yu Gil Chae, a beautiful outcast who develops a crush on Lee Jang Hyun, a mysterious man who appears out of nowhere in her hometown.
The slow-burning romance of their complex relationship is the central story of this K-drama, but the ongoing war is what really makes their lives miserable and challenging.
The fantasy drama focuses on a military mission to solve the mysterious murder that happened in the demilitarized zone between South Korea and North Korea. When the soldiers found out about the case, they decided to form an elite search unit to investigate. However, during their search, they realize that they are dealing with inhuman creatures.
7. The Nokdu Flower
The events of the K-drama happened during the Donghak Peasant Revolution. The story centers around brothers who have different mothers and end up fighting for different sides of the fight. Baek Yi Kang was born out of wedlock, he is the son of a rich man and a lower class woman, and that's why he is not well respected in the society. His younger brother Yi Hyun is smart, handsome, educated and well-behaved, but still treats his brother properly. The war brings many difficulties to their already complicated relationship.
8. Song of the Bandits
Another K-drama set during the Japanese occupation, this action series tells the story of how the mistreated South Korean people did everything they could to save their country and be free. The series follows the Joseon people as they cross the Tumen River to Gando, and while part of them does so just to have some sort of a fresh start, the other half is ready to form a brave army and protect their motherland.
9. Descendants of the Sun
One of the most beloved war K-dramas has a heartbreaking love story at its core as it follows a soldier and a doctor in a war-torn country. When it seems like there's no chance of a happy life with the one you love, there's only hope that can save you. It brilliantly portrays the tremendous sacrifices people make in times of conflict and highlights the importance of both humanitarian aid and peacekeeping efforts.
Another take on the fantasy war drama in South Korea is Kingdom, as it follows the Crown Prince as he attempts to save his people in a conflict with zombies. The invasion of these inhuman creatures may also have something to do with the unexpected death of the King. And that's what the Prince wants to find out during the war.