Since the tastes of Korean viewers and international viewers sometimes differ, one drama might be a total hit for one audience but a miss for another. Here are ten times a Korean drama did poorly in Korea but went on to become famous internationally.
1. Doom At Your Service
The 2021 supernatural drama Doom At Your Service stars Park Bo Young as a woman who’s diagnosed with cancer and only has one hundred days to live. After cursing the world to be doomed, she receives her wish as the immortal Seo In Guk appears, spending the remainder of her days with her as romance brews.
2. Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo
The 2016 historical drama has an amazing cast of Lee Jun Ki, IU, Kang Ha Neul, and more. The drama follows IU’s character as she travels one thousand years back in time, trapped in someone else’s body. She ends up in the middle of a war for power and taking the throne.
3. Welcome To Waikiki
2018’s Welcome To Waikiki follows three men who go all-in on a guesthouse to pay for the film project of their dreams. They soon learn that it’s not as easy as to make a profit as they all thought it would be.
While Korean viewers voiced their disappointment for the 2021 drama’s plot and received extremely low ratings, international fans enjoyed the romance between the two characters who proved that opposites attract. A flirty guy who’s been avoiding relationships ends up with a girl who doesn’t believe in love, with steamy chemistry that left fans blushing.
5. Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo
2016’s Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo starring Moon Ga Young and Nam Joo Hyuk is a breath of fresh air. Following the ups and downs of a group of college athletes, including weightlifter Kim Bok Joo, international viewers loved the funny and heartfelt moments. The drama even inspired a restaurant in The Philipines, based on the one in the drama.
Taking inspiration from Pierre Choderlos De Laclos‘s 1782 French book Les Liaisons Dangereuses, 2018’s Tempted shows how reality unfolds when a rich young man seduces a college student to win a bet—but ends up falling in love instead.
7. Uncontrollably Fond
After a couple experiences a rough breakup, they end up reuniting years later in 2016’s Uncontrollably Fond. Meeting as a famous actor and documentary producer, played by Kim Woo Bin and Suzy, they are given a second chance as romance starts to brew again for the two.
8. Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth
With many famous faces like SHINee‘s Minho, Park Hyung Sik, Park Seo Jun, Go Ara, and BTS‘s V, the 2016 historical drama Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth still had a bumpy road for its initial ratings. That didn’t stop the group of men called Hwarang from working their way into international fans’ hearts as they lived in the Silla Kingdom. Even after the drama ended, the actors have stayed friends.
9. True Beauty
ASTRO‘s Cha Eunwoo, Hwang In Yeop, and Moon Ga Young enjoyed playing their roles in 2020’s True Beauty based on Yaongyi‘s webtoon of the same name. When a female student’s life turns upside down after learning how to do makeup, international viewers were loving the journey and how the love triangle unfolds.
10. Extraordinary You
Starring SF9‘s Rowoon and Kim Hye Yoon, 2019’s Extraordinary You captured viewers’ interest from its unique plot. A high school girl experiences holes in her memory, only for her to realize she’s actually in a cartoon. While trying to find what’s real, she meets a male high school student who’s a background character, teaming up together and sparking a romance along the way.