K-dramas may be the epitome of romance but they are sorely low on queer representation. Finding a queer K-drama is uncommon, and finding a good queer K-drama is rare. This is why we’ve really gone through the haystack to present you with the best of needles. No need to go scouring the internet for some healthy queer representation in Korean media; here are 5 K-dramas that focus on LGBTQ stories!
To My Star (2021)
A heartwarming romance between an actor and a chef, ‘To My Star’ is one of the best Korean Boys’ Love (BL) dramas. The story follows actor Kang Seo Joon, as a scandal forces him to leave his home and share an apartment with Han Ji Woo. The forced proximity trope works really well here. The friendly and outgoing Seo Joon clashes with Ji Woo, who is reserved and likes to maintain order. Through bite-sized 15-minute episodes, boundaries are tested and connections are formed. The two begin to look at each other in a new way. A portrayal of nuanced, realistic people, ‘To My Star’ is a quick watch that hits the emotions in all the right places.
You Make Me Dance (2021)
This BL drama kicks off with a plot that requires you to stretch your imagination a little. A creditor moves in with an aspiring dancer to make sure the latter wins his audition and pays back his debt. The shaky foundation coupled with a clunky pace lends the show a slight awkwardness, but it makes up for it in the cuteness department. The highlights of the show include the stunning dance sequences and the recurring symbol of a red thread of fate. If you can enjoy a show’s visuals and emotional beats in spite of a flimsy plot, then ‘You Make Me Dance’ is a lovely watch.
Semantic Error (2021)
The enemies-to-lovers tale, when done well, is always charming to watch. ‘Semantic Error’ demonstrates this charm by keeping the stakes low. Chu Sang Woo and Jang Jae Young are college students who get in a tiff over a group project. A petty revenge scheme follows and the two end up spending more time together than they meant to. Compellingly drawn characters — Sang Woo and his computer-esque way of thinking, Jea Young and his easy confidence — bring new life to this common trope. Watch ‘Semantic Error’ if you’re looking for a short but delightful college romance.
‘Nevertheless’ tries to paint a realistic picture of casual relationships and sexual desire but fails. Where it doesn’t fail is its portrayal of a lesbian relationship. One of the highlights of an otherwise average show, this storyline follows Yoon Sol and Seo Ji Wan. It is intriguing to watch Sol deal with her unrequited feelings for her long-time friend while Ji Wan is only just coming to realise hers. The story is simple and sweet but the actors’ nuanced performances make you feel for the characters — particularly as they struggle with the all too familiar predicament of queer women not knowing the line between platonic and romantic affection. Overall, a super heartwarming watch.
Out of Breath (2019)
If you’re looking for a quick watch with your dinner, this short three-episode web series is a good fit. This Girls’ Love K-drama follows Ha-Eun who, after dealing with a break-up, is persuaded to join a dating app by a friend. As she moves from one relationship to another, she also hovers in the space between being in and out of the closet. The story tackles these issues in a lighthearted way, through little moments between characters who feel authentic and genuine. This slice-of-life web series is worth checking off your list.
While 2020 may have been the year for K-dramas to finally venture into the BL and GL territory, the 2021 releases show characters with more depth and stories with more nuance. We can only hope that the trend continues.