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The Best Korean Dramas for Intermediate Language Learners

Watching TV shows in a second language has been known for being an efficient and fun way of practicing listening skills in practical settings. You can see how the vocabulary and grammar from textbooks are incorporated in casual conversations, and also learn about the cultural context of the language as well. Korean is no different and recently, Korean dramas have taken North America by storm. Their popularity has sparked an interest among language learners. So for this post, I’d like to show you some of the best Korean dramas you can watch to help improve your Korean skill.

The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince
Courtesy of Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation

The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince (커피프린스 1호점)

Also known as Coffee Prince, the show features a romantic comedy story of Choi Han-kyul, a young and spoiled heir of a thriving coffee business (portrayed by Gong Yoo). Go Eun-chan, a tomboyish girl, pretends to be a boy to get a job at Han-kyul’s cafe (portrayed by Yoon Eun-hye). Things take a twist when Han-kyul pretends to be Eun-chan’s  gay lover so he can escape the coercive blind dates that his grandmother arranges for him. Coffee Prince still remains as one of the most popular shows in Korea. 

Guardian: The Lonely and Great God
Courtesy of Hwa&Dam Pictures

Guardian: The Lonely and Great God (아름답고 찬란하신 도깨비)

If you find yourself interested in Gong Yoo from Coffee Prince, Guardian is a Korean drama that should be next on your next playlist. Gong Yoo returns as Kim Shin, a goblin and guardian of souls, who is looking for his human bride to end his immortal life. Alright, it seems far-fetched but this show has received a lot of positive reviews. Guardian tells the mystic tale of Kim Shin, his peculiar roommate Grim Reaper (portrayed by Lee Dong-wook), and his human bride (portrayed by Kim Go-eun). The show has since become a cultural phenomenon in South Korea, receiving more than 30 awards and nominations at Korean film festivals.

Courtesy of Seoul Broadcasting System

Secret Garden (시크릿 가든)

Produced by the the same team behind Guardian, Secret Garden is another Korean drama that has gone on to win numerous awards. The show consists of a twisted fantasy-like story about a stunt woman named Gil Ra-im (portrayed by Ha Ji-won) and Kim Joo-won (portrayed by Hyun Bin), a high-end department store CEO. Things get interesting when Ra-im and Joo-won magically switch bodies. The twisted and dramatic plot paired with these two charming characters has given Secret Garden a lot of praise. 

My Love from the Star
Courtesy of SBS

My Love from the Star (별에서 온 그대)

My Love from the Star is another Korean drama that falls under the same romantic story line as some of my previous recommendations. However, this show also adds a touch of science-fiction to its story line (yes, there’s an alien involved). Do min-joon (portrayed by Kim Soo-hyun) is an alien who landed on Earth during the Joseon Dynasty and has been waiting for 400 years for the day he can return to his home planet. 3 months before his departure, he falls in love with  a famous actress Cheon Song-yi (portrayed by Jun Ji-hyun) and becomes involved in unpredictable accidents that happen to her. Not only is this My Love from the Star regarded as one of the best Korean dramas in Korea, it also gained a big following in China too.

Courtesy of KBS2

Descendants of the Sun (태양의 후예)

Descendants of the Sun follows a more serious tone compared to the other Korean dramas mentioned in this list. Episodes revolve around topics that include humanism, sacrifice, love, and patriotism portrayed by Korean stars Song Joong-ki as Captain Yoo Si-jin and Song Hye-kyo as Dr. Kang Mo-yeon. Si-jin and Mo-yeon meet during their peacekeeping mission in Uruk (a fictional country). As they encounter natural disasters and epidemics, they find themselves bracing for the worst and falling in love at the same time. Descendants of the Sun was such a huge hit in Korea that its left a mark both culturally and economically. The success of the drama has given rise to the popularity of “soldier talk”, a style of Korean speaking only used in the military. It also boosted inbound tourism,  overseas sales of products (exports) and created new jobs.

Learn Korean online at LingQ


How to Import Your Favorite Korean Dramas from Viki into LingQ

In case you don’t know, Viki is a great resource for learning Korean using Korean Dramas (Japanese and Chinese dramas are included as well).

Take a look at this:

Korean Drama

Pretty cool, right? You can watch the video and study at the same time.

Learn Korean with the LingQ podcast

LingQ, has recently announced that you can import videos from Viki and study them on LingQ as well.

But why use LingQ instead of Viki? The BIG reason is because you can study using the best Korean dramas on LingQ’s mobile app. Viki’s mobile app has yet to incorporate a learning feature and also, their learn mode is only available for people who live in Canada or the United States! If you’re in Korea and want to study using Viki, you’re out of luck…

To import Viki content into LingQ, just use the LingQ browser extension (ChromeSafari, or Firefoxand click import. Wait a few seconds and voila, you’re lessons is ready to go.

Korean Drama

You can access the lesson on LingQ. What’s great is that LingQ splits up the transcript using timestamps. So when you read a sentence (using sentence mode at the bottom of your phone screen), you can click the speaker icon and LingQ will play the audio that directly relates to that sentence. Pretty incredible if you ask me.

Learn Korean on LingQ's mobile app

How to Import Your Favourite Korean Dramas from YouTube into LingQ 

Not too long ago, LingQ shared a post that explains how you can import K-Pop Lyrics into LingQ using YouTube and create interactive lessons so you can learn Korean faster. I’ll quickly show you how to import clips of your favourite Korean Dramas into LingQ from YouTube as well.

Once again, you’ll need to download the LingQ browser extension: ChromeSafari, or Firefox

Then, head over to YouTube and search for your favourite Korean drama and click on the LingQ extension. Your video must have captions in order for it to work in LingQ.

Learn Korean on LingQ

Open your lesson and now you can study using LingQ by reading the transcript, listening to the audio, and watching the video… all in one platform.

Learn Korean online on LingQ

Please note, since these transcripts are auto-generated, they may not be 100% accurate (which is why I prefer using Viki’s content). To fix this problem, you’ll need to find the transcripts from another source. Lucky for you, this website should have what you’re looking for.

Download the transcript, convert it into text and you can add them into your lesson. (Click edit lesson and paste your text in the box).

Learn Korean online at LingQ

Good luck!

Learn Korean online using LingQ


Julie Yoon has been teaching Korean and English in formal and informal settings for ten years. She has been learning French as a third language.


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