13 Korean Dramas Based On True Events That Are Simply Riveting

If you watch dramas a whole lot, then one day, you might have wondered where the creators got their inspiration from. 

For many of these writers, they base their drama on events that have taken place in real life or actual people. 

In this post, I’ve listed 13 amazing Korean dramas that are based on real events and real people that I know you’ll love watching. 

From inspirational stories to tearjerkers that will make you run the gamut of smiling, these dramas are perfect viewing material. 

Here are 13 super good Korean dramas based on true stories you need to check out ASAP: 

1. Signal

Signal Kdrama

Signal is a crime thriller that follows a team of detectives who communicate with a mysterious walkie-talkie that connects them to the past, and they use this device to solve cold cases and prevent crimes from happening.

The drama is based on the infamous Hwaseong serial murders that took place from 1986 to 1991, where 10 women and girls were brutally killed by an unknown assailant. 

The case was recently solved in 2019 when the killer confessed to his crimes after 30 years.

2. Hymn of Death

The hymn of Death

This tragic Kdrama is based on the sad love story of Korea’s first soprano singer Yun Sim-deok and the genius playwright Kim Woo-jin.

They met at Tokyo Music School in the Japanese colonial period, but Kim Woo-jin was already married. 

So, they decided to end their lives together by jumping off a ship in 1926. 

Their story has inspired so many artists and writers, and you can watch this drama that is based on real life on Netflix. 

3. Fight For My Way

Fight for My Way kdrama

In this slice-of-life, romance drama, we follow the struggles and dreams of four friends who try to pursue their passions despite the harsh realities of life.

The main couple is inspired by the real-life couple of MMA fighter Choo Sung Hoon and model Yano Shiho, who supported each other through thick and thin. 

As history would have it, the writer of the drama was touched by the scene of Yano Shiho crying while watching her husband fight and wanted to show the challenges and joys of being an athlete and a partner.

4. Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth

Hwarang Kdrama

Hwarang: The Poet Warrior tells the story of an elite group of young men who were trained to become the leaders and warriors of the Silla Kingdom. 

The drama is based on the actual Hwarang, who were a noble class of male youths who existed from the 6th to the 10th century. 

They were known for their beauty, loyalty, and martial arts skills. 

The drama also features the love triangle between King Jinheung, his half-brother Seok Hyun Jae, and the female physician Ah Ro.

5. D.P.

DP Kdrama

D.P. is a military drama that follows a soldier who is assigned to the Deserter Pursuit unit, which is responsible for catching soldiers who escape from the army. 

The drama is adapted from the webtoon D.P. Dog’s Day, which is based on the author’s own experiences of serving in the military. 

The drama exposes the harsh realities of bullying, violence, and desertion that occur in the army, and the psychological trauma that the soldiers face.

6. Move To Heaven

Move to Heaven Kdrama

This is yet another fantastic Korean drama based on real-life events, but it’s actually a drama adaptation of the non-fiction essay Things Left Behind by Kim Sae Byul, who is the founder of the trauma cleaning company Bio Hazard. 

The essay was published in 2015 and it reveals the work and stories of the trauma cleaners, who clean up the scenes after someone passes away. 

The drama centers on Geu-ru, a young man with Asperger syndrome, and his reluctant, ex-convict uncle Sang-gu, who become trauma cleaners for the family business Move to Heaven. 

In the course of doing their work, they discover the stories and secrets of the dead through their possessions and slowly come to cherish each other.

7. The Red Sleeve

The Red Sleeve Kdrama

This romantic historical Korean drama based on a true story chronicles the love story between King Jeongjo and a court lady named Seong Ui Bin. 

The drama is adapted from a novel of the same name, which is based on historical records and documents. 

It shows us the many political and personal conflicts that the couple faced, as well as their devotion and sacrifice for each other – it’s romantic in all the ways that matter. 

8. Taxi Driver

Taxi driver kdrama

Taxi Driver is a very interesting crime action drama that revolves around a mysterious taxi service that avenges the victims of crimes that the law cannot punish. 

The drama is inspired by the webtoon The Deluxe Taxi, which is based on real cases of social injustice and violence that the author witnessed or heard of. 

The drama also raises questions about the morality and legality of vigilante justice, and the role of the media and the public in exposing the truth.

9. Through the Darkness

Through the Darkness kdrama

In this intense thriller drama, we meet a criminal profiler who analyzes the behavior and motives of serial killers. 

The drama is adapted from the non-fiction book of the same name, which is co-written by journalist Ko Na Mu and Korea’s first criminal profiler Kwon Il Yong. 

The drama delves into the dark and twisted minds of the killers, as well as the personal and professional challenges that the profiler faces.

10. Listen To Love

Listen to love kdrama

Listen To Love is a 2016 drama that stars Lee Sun Kyun and Song Ji Hyo as a married couple who face a crisis when the wife cheats on her husband. 

While the inspiration isn’t that clear, a lot of people have pointed out that the plot is eerily similar to a viral post on a Korean forum where a man asked for advice on how to cope with his wife’s affair. 

11. Narco-Saints: Suriname

Narco saints suriname

Again, this Korean crime drama based on real-life events depicts the rise and fall of a drug lord who built a drug empire in Suriname. 

The drama is actually based on the real-life of Cho Bong Haeng, who fled Korea in 1994 after being suspected of fraud and moved to Suriname to start a drug smuggling business. 

He was later arrested in 2009 after a joint investigation by Korea, Brazil, and the United States.

12. Reply 1988

Reply 1988

This drama that follows the lives and friendships of five families who lived in the same neighborhood in Seoul in 1988 quite literally defines nostalgia and once you watch it, you’re going to love it.

The drama is based on the real events and culture of the 1980s, such as the Seoul Olympics, the democratization movement, and the popular music and fashion trends. 

The drama also features a mystery of who the female protagonist ends up marrying among her four male friends. 

One of the candidates is Choi Taek, who is inspired by Lee Chang Ho, a famous Go player who became a professional at age 11 and won numerous international tournaments.

13. Bachelor’s Vegetable Store

Bachelors Vegetable store

Bachelor’s Vegetable Store is a comedy-drama that follows the success story of a young man who turns his small vegetable store into a nationwide franchise. 

The drama is based on the real life of Lee Young Seok, who started his business in 1988 and expanded it to 33 outlets across the country. 

The drama showcases the hardships and triumphs of the entrepreneur and his friends, as well as their romantic relationships.

This is definitely one of the best Kdramas based on true-life events, and I advise you to check it out when you can. 

14. Just Dance

Just Dance Kdrama

Park Se-wan and Jang Dong-Yoon play the roles of high school students who dream of becoming dance sports champions in this amazing drama

The drama is based on a documentary of the same name that aired on KBS1 in 2017 and won the Best Educational Show award at the 54th Baeksang Arts Awards. 

The documentary followed the real stories and struggles of six girls from a vocational high school in Geoje, a city known for its shipbuilding industry.

What do you think? Have you ever wondered where the creators of your favorite dramas got their inspiration? 

Sometimes it’s webtoons, sometimes it’s one in a long line of adaptations, sometimes it’s an original story, and sometimes, as in the dramas in this post, we get very interesting Korean dramas that are based on true stories. 

Don’t forget to let me know which ones I missed in the comments below and check out the related posts for even more fantastic recommendations. 

Happy watching!

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