Popular K-Drama Tropes

popular k-drama tropes

Popular K-Drama Tropes.

*Last edit 02-09-19.

Diving into a new culture is such an enriching, eye-opening experience, especially when you can learn all about the popular tropes in that country/their dramas. I was the girl in high school who aced psychology, creative writing, and most importantly world cultures. The latter is a personal favorite of mine. My teacher loaned me a copy of The Tao of Pooh, and it was love at first read. Coincidentally enough, my love for different cultures and history simmered on the back-burner for quite a few years as other real life priorities took precedence.

Fast forward to the present and I honestly wish I had learned about k-dramas much sooner.

Of course, there are plenty of k-drama quirks I haven’t even touched base on. As time permits, and if I remember, I will do my best to add more content and grow this website. There are tons and tons of makjang (crazy) tropes integrated into k-dramas, so don’t feel too bad if you don’t see yours make the list.

popular k-drama tropes

I totally feel your pain, Oh Ha Ni. This is what runs through my head every time that I try to stop myself from marathoning a drama. It’s not that they’re cheesy or dramatic or have the worst plot devices ever. I just enjoy the stories, the characters, the acting, and the way that k-drama makes anti-social me feel like I belong.

During my years of k-drama drama, I’ve recognized some trends. I’m sure this list isn’t new to any fellow k-drama enthusiasts out there, but I had fun piecing all of these together for you. Keep reading to see some of the popular k-drama tropes I’ve featured.


1. When distressed, characters really ham it up1 by dragging out certain emotions and/or words. Whether if be frustration, jealousy, anger, sadness, or extreme joy, k-dramas do it all, and they can surely do it well. Cue the dramatics.

popular k-drama tropes

2. What’s a k-drama without a piggyback ride? If a character is hurt, sick, drunk, or unconscious, this is their prime source of transportation. It’s also the craziest and least efficient way to get to the hospital, but it’s really touching to watch, so there’s that.

popular k-drama tropes

3. Want to see the kiss to end all kisses? You might want to buckle down and contain your excitement because k-dramas are light in the physical affection department. Don’t expect an epic kiss of the Princess Bride variety. Instead, you’re in for a bit of a slow burn. It might be a good idea to start practicing your patience skills because k-dramas can severely test them at times. But, trust me, there are some rare heavy kisses that will give you butterflies.

4. What would a k-drama be without some kind of epic, crazy business power play to rise to the top? There are plenty of dramas out there that revolve around characters being greedy and wanting to get to the top of the conglomerate business ladder by any means necessary. Their goals are usually power, revenge, or money.

popular k-drama tropes

5. The back hug! Need I say more? Not trying to fuel my Lee Min Ho obsession and slight bias (sorry, not sorry) but I always think of this little gem between Yoon Sung and Kim Nana. Who can deny the preciousness of Yoon Sung hugging her from behind and then resting his chin on Nana’s shoulder? *swoons*

6. Dashing good looks rings in at number six. I’ve yet to watch a k-drama without a ridiculously attractive male lead. (Okay, with a few minor exceptions.) Most male leads are good looking and they know it. Some even exploit it to their own advantage. I’m looking at you, Dok Go Ma Te.

7.  Two for one special? The female lead has two ridiculously handsome and wealthy men vying for her heart at the same time. Oh, yeah. This happens far more than I care to admit. Cue the eye roll.

8. Food. K-dramas wouldn’t be complete without our characters gorging on a ton of food. That, or they’re constantly thinking of food. Sometimes I wonder how our favorite characters don’t end up in a serious food coma. Warning: never watch k-dramas on an empty stomach. You’ve been fairly warned.

9. K-Drama Truck of Doom. Oh yes, this is totally a thing. If you’ve made it through multiple dramas and have yet to witness the truck of doom at all, consider yourself lucky. This is a common trope in many contemporary k-dramas. Warning: Sometimes this trope is completely gut-wrenching. 

10. Amnesia. This is one plot line I’ve witnessed more in older k-dramas than newer, but it’s still a part of current dramas as well. This is one of my least favorite tropes of all time as it’s usually integrated to the story in an unnatural way.

And there you have it. I’ve listed 10 popular k-drama tropes you’ve probably experienced at least more than once, but this just scratches the surface. There are many, many more tropes I haven’t even touched the surface on. If you’d love to see me expand this page and add more popular k-drama tropes, please like this page and leave a comment.

If you’ve enjoyed reading about popular k-drama tropes, come check out my reviews page for some more drama inspiration. Fighting, friends!

 1ham it up:

to show expressions or emotions more obviously than is realistic. Here’s a picture of Philip hamming it up for grandma when he was only three.

Usage notes: usually said about expressions made to amuse others
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of ham (an actor who performs with very obvious emotions and expressions)

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