11 Swoony K-Dramas That Show The Beauty & Pain of First Love

Best romantic Korean drama about first love

Do you remember your first love? The chaos of it all? The intensity? The thrill? The excitement? The sheer passion? The riot of emotions?

You guys, I know we all have stories to tell and I could go on and on and on for an entire day about the first time I felt my heart flutter.  

Whether you are nostalgic for your first love or still waiting for it, you will love these kdramas that show the beauty and pain of first love. 

1. It’s Okay To Not Be Okay 

Its okay to not be okay

This Kdrama follows the healing journey of two people who are haunted by their past traumas.

Moon Gang-tae (Kim Soo-hyun) is a psychiatric hospital worker who has to take care of his autistic older brother. He’s very capable, but clearly has unresolved issues from his childhood.

On the other hand, Ko Moon-young (Seo Ye-ji) is a famous children’s book writer who has antisocial personality disorder. When they cross paths, they end up forming a bond that helps them (as well as those around them) heal their emotional scars.

This gets forgotten a whole lot, but Gang Tae and Mun Young met as kids and while she didn’t really reciprocate his feelings (atleast, the way I saw it), he was so obviously whipped from the first moment. Also, there weren’t any exes in the picture, so it’s safe to say that she was his very first and last love. 

You can watch IOTNBO here: Netflix

2. Hotel Del Luna

Hotel del Luna deana

Hotel Del Luna is a fantasy drama that revolves around a hotel for spirits, run by the mysterious and grumpy Jang Man-wol (IU). She is cursed to stay at the hotel forever until she atones for her sins. 

Gu Chan-sung (Yeo Jin-goo) is a skilled hotelier who becomes the manager of the hotel after a fateful encounter with Man-wol as a kid. He helps the spirits to settle their grudges and move on to the afterlife, while also getting involved in Man-wol’s past and fate.

This is yet another Kdrama where the leads were each other’s first loves. For those who don’t know, this drama leans into the reincarnation trope heavily, and the male lead is the reincarnation of the very first person that was nice to the female lead hundreds of years ago.

You can watch Hotel Del Luna here: Netflix | WeTV | Apple TV | Prime Video | iQIYI 

3. A Love So Beautiful

A Love So Beautiful Kdrama

Shin Sol Yi (So Ju Yeon) and Cha Heon (Kim Yo Han) are childhood friends, neighbors, and classmates at Chun Ji High School.

Sol Yi is a lively and bubbly girl who has a crush on Cha Heon, a smart and aloof boy who always gets perfect scores and positively redefines the word “aloof”. 

The drama follows their friendship and romance from high school to adulthood, as they face various obstacles and misunderstandings.

The beauty of this utterly wholesome Kdrama is the innocence of the affection between the leads and how I could really feel that this was all new to them and they were fumbling about the place. 

You can watch A Love So Beautiful here: Kakao TV | Netflix

4. See You In My 19th Life

See You In My 19th Life dramas

See You In My 19th Life doesn’t have the most unique premise (we’ve seen loads of reincarnation dramas at this point), but the leads and the unique angle made it so stunning and interesting to watch.

We get to meet Ban Ji-eum (Shin Hye-sun), a woman who can recall all of her past lives, and Moon Seo-ha (Ahn Bo-hyun), a man who is the heir of a wealthy family. 

In her 18th life, she was born as the daughter of a wealthy family and that’s when she met Seo Ha. At 13, he was a few years younger than her (or at least shorter), but she knew that in all her lifetimes, she had never felt a love as strong as she felt for him.

Unfortunately, she died shortly after meeting him, and right before dying, she promised him that she would come back. This time around, she was determined to reconnect with him. 

You see, in her 3rd life or so, when she died and reincarnated, she had tried to pick up where she left off in her previous life, but she was thrown out – that’s when she learned that she couldn’t just waltz back into her past family’s life.

One thing I loved about this Kdrama about an enduring first love was how well-suited the leads were – she was impatient, he was patient; she was plucky, while he didn’t mind staying in the shadows; and even though they were different, their chemistry was so evident. 

You can watch See You In My 19th Life here: TVING | Netflix 

5. Because This Is My First Life

Because This is My First Life

Once you watch this drama, you’ll understand why I felt like the theme of first love for the three couples was so, so important. 

Yoon Ji-ho (Jung So-min) is a struggling writer who moves in with Nam Se-hee (Lee Min-ki), a frugal and rational computer engineer who owns a house. 

They agree to a contract marriage for mutual convenience, but soon develop genuine feelings for each other, and the drama also follows the lives of their friends and their different perspectives on relationships. 

You can watch Because This Is My First Life here: Netflix | Viki | iQIYI | WeTV | Disney+ Hotstar | Apple TV 

6. Lovers of the Red Sky

Lovers of the red sky kdrama

Stunning in more ways than one, Lovers of the Red Sky is one of those romantic historical fantasy Kdramas that you watch once and simply never forget – it’s right up there with The Scholar Who Walks The Night in my books. 

It stars Kim Yoo-jung as Hong Cheon-ki, a female painter who works for the royal palace, and Ahn Hyo-seop as Ha Ram, a blind astrologer who can see the stars. 

Their parents were friends and over the course of one day, they met and became friends, got into a whole lot of trouble, and somehow managed to further strengthen the ties of fate around them. They meet many years after and she recognises him as the very first person she gave her heart to. 

These two are destined to love each other, but they also face the threat of a demonic force that is trying to destroy their world.

You can watch Lovers of the Red Sky here: Viki

7. Playful Kiss

Playful Kiss Kdrama

If you’ve been in Kdramaland for any length of time, then you probably have heard of this high school romantic Kdrama.

It is based on a Japanese manga called Itazura na Kiss, which is super popular, and it stars Jung So-min as Oh Ha-ni, a clumsy and optimistic girl who has a crush on Baek Seung-jo (Kim Hyun-joong), a genius and arrogant boy who rejects her time and time again – but this doesn’t make her give up. 

After an earthquake destroys her house, she and her father move in with Seung-jo’s family, who are old friends of her father, and she tries to win Seung-jo’s heart, while also dealing with school, family, and friends. 

Just like Sol Yi from A Love So Beautiful, she falls for him first, but when he does fall in love with her, it’s all-encompassing, and I like that they were each other’s first love. And for Seung Jo, this was an equally new experience and I love the way he sort of muddled his way through it. 

You can watch Playful Kiss here: Viki | AsianCrush | Tubi | Netflix  

8. Moon Embracing The Sun

Moon Embracing the Sun kdrama

This  Kdrama is based on a novel of the same name by Jung Eun-gwol, and it tells the story of a secret love between Lee Hwon (Kim Soo-Hyun from It’s Okay To Not Be Okay), a fictional king of Joseon, and Wol (Han Ga-in), a female shaman. 

Wol was born as Heo Yeon-woo, the daughter of a noble family who won the love of the then-crown prince, Hwon and was made his crown princess. But, she was cursed by the Queen Dowager and her allies and was believed to be dead. 

Years later, after being saved by the woman tasked with killing her, she reappears as a shaman, and Hwon recognizes her as his true love.

Right off the bat, one thing you should know about Moon Embracing The Sun is that the chemistry between the leads is incredible. It was all the more sweeter knowing that they fell in love with each other as kids, and they were finally able to get their HEA.

As a bonus, if you liked this drama, you might also like The Forbidden Marriage; you can read my review here.

You can watch Moon Embracing The Sun here: Viki | Apple TV | Netflix | WeTV 

9. Come And Hug Me

Come and Hug Me kdrama

Chae Do-jin (Jang Ki-Yong) is a detective who is the son of a notorious serial killer, while Han Jae-yi (Jin Ki-Joo) is a popular actress who is the daughter of one of the killer’s victims. 

They were childhood sweethearts but were separated by this tragedy, and years later, they meet again and try to overcome their pain and fear. 

If you’ve seen Jang Ki Young act, then you know he can really, really act, so get ready because you’re going to be pulled so deep into Jo’s bottomless eyes. 

Years after my first watch, I still shiver when I think about how Do Jin and Jae Yi were so conscious and determined to protect their love. It was the sweetest thing ever. 

You can watch Come and Hug Me here: Netflix | Viki 

10. Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo

Scarlet Heart moon Lovers kdrama to watch

This historical fantasy drama that is based on a Chinese novel called Bu Bu Jing Xin, and it stars Lee Ji-eun (IU) as Go Ha-jin, a 21st-century woman who travels back in time to the Goryeo era after a near-death experience. 

She wakes up in the body of Hae Soo, a noble lady who is related to the royal family, and somehow, she gets involved in the palace politics and the love lives of the princes, especially the 4th Prince, Wang So (Lee Joon-gi), who becomes the King Gwangjong. 

Wang So didn’t have the best childhood so he was incredibly aloof (to date, I feel he’s the epitome of Tsundere male leads), cold, and downright mean. To him, Ji Eun was a breath of fresh air and watching him live lightly for the first time made my heart sing. 

You can watch Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo here: Viki | Netflix

11. Touch Your Heart 

Touch Your Heart kdrama

Touch Your Heart is based on a web novel of the same name by Yegeo, and it stars Yoo In-na as Oh Yoon-seo, a famous actress who is involved in a scandal that ruins her career. 

She decides to take a role in a legal drama, but she has to work as a secretary for a real lawyer for three months to prepare for the role, so she ends up working for Kwon Jung-rok (Lee Dong-Wook), a cold and talented lawyer who does not like her. 

They start off on the wrong foot, but gradually develop feelings for each other, and while I wouldn’t call him an ogre, he was quite difficult when they first met. 

For both leads, this was the first love that bloomed slowly and surely, and it definitely helped that they had so much chemistry with each other. 

You can watch Touch Your Heart here: Viki | Netflix | MAX Stream


What do you think? How many of these dramas have you watched? If you’re ever been in love, tell me about it!

Thinking about first love is one of the most humbling things to do, and watching the leads try to make sense of their changing feelings makes me so happy. 

Don’t forget to check out the related posts below and let me know what you think in the comments below.

Happy watching!

Sora

I'm the girl for the job if you want amazing drama recommendations (no, really!), OST recs that will leave you deep in your feelings, and genuine drama talk that you can only get from a viewer with lots of biases. I'm always on the lookout for new dramas to watch, so don't hesitate to leave a comment with something you think I'll enjoy and I'll send a reply ASAP. Thanks for visiting!

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