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South Korean Office Romances have been becoming increasingly popular in recent years, with the rise in Netflix users, more diverse productions aren’t just being created but are able to be viewed more internationally than ever before. From the popularity of suspenseful thriller ‘Squid Games’ and global success of the romance reality show ‘Singles Inferno’ in recent years, there’s been a growing appetite for people discovering the wide range of Korean media on offer. Here is a list of Korean dramas and movies from last year that maybe you wouldn’t typically think of watching if you’re a fan of office dramas as they interpret the genre in a new way. 

  1. Netflix Originals 
  2. Adaptations of Webtoons
  3. Unexpected Favourites 

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1. Netflix originals 

It is hard to begin this post without first mentioning the influential impact Netflix has had when it comes to the creation of and popularity of Korean based content. As the platform’s focus has shifted from its early intention of being a traditional movie rental service into one that favours long form ‘binge-watching’ productions, the already existing long form style of Korean dramas is the perfect fit for Netflix’s ideal content model.  Globally Netflix spends more than $10 billion developing content over a 12-month period and this money is being used in Korea to create exciting new content. Netflix is able to provide a platform for up-and-coming actors, writers, directors and production companies- even giving them the chance to become viral as even though Netflix’s own original content accounts for only 8% of its available dramas and movies, ‘Netflix Originals’ typically dominate the most-watched list. Here are some Korean office romance dramas that have been funded and marketed as Netflix original series to check out if you’re a fan of the genre. 

The interest of love (Drama)- 사랑의 이해 

‘The interest of love’ is a newly released series that follows the lives of four young adults that meet each other while working at the Yeongpo branch of KCU Bank as they try to understand the meaning of love in the modern world. This slice of life drama is very true to the genre of office romances and shows a very natural and slow-paced approach to the character’s growing relationships in and out of work. The show focuses on how messy and complicated office relationships can be and is a good drama to watch if you enjoy watching in depth character growth. 

Starring: Yoo Yeon-Seok, Moon Ga-young, Keum Sae-rok, Jung Ga-ram  

Available on: JTBC, Netflix 

Release Year: 2022

Forecasting Love and Weather (Drama) 기상청 사람들: 사내연애 잔혹사 편

‘Forecasting Love and Weather’ is a drama that shows a very true to life and realistic depiction of falling in love with a co-worker. This series is perfect if you enjoy non-traditional romance stories that aren’t too idealistic. The drama takes place inside a national weather service in Seoul, where love proves just as difficult to predict as the weather for a hardworking forecaster and her free-spirited co-worker. This drama has been popular in that it is able to show the relatability of office romances not being just between two people and shows that eventually everyone in the office can become involved in the story. The drama also covers very interesting elements that can occur in real life including social pressures, trouble with feeling fulfilled at work, difficulty getting on with co-workers and on again off again romantic relationships. 

Starring:  Park Min-young, Song Kang, Yoon Park, Yura

Available on: JTBC, Netflix

Release Year: 2022
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2. Adaptations of Webtoons  

‘Webtoon’ is a South Korean free content sharing platform that was launched in 2004 by the ‘Naver Corporation’. As the name suggests, it is a platform for posting ‘Webtoons’, which are compact, digitally created comics that are usually uploaded in a weekly chapter format. The popularity of ‘Webtoons’ within Korea is extraordinary, with the content having wide success across all age groups. In recent years, the use of adapting ‘Webtoons’ into mainstream media has been an easy way to create viral content by production companies. As popular ‘Webtoons’ already have an existing fanbase and followers before being developed, companies know that it is a sure-fire way to know what will be successful with audiences. Webtoons also give a platform for smaller, independent creators to publish stories and with less restrictions from larger media companies, creators are free to experiment with niche topics that don’t typically get covered in traditional media. The following productions are prime examples of this concept. 

She Would Never Know (Drama)- 선배 그 립스틱바르지 마요

‘She would never know’ is a drama based on the top rated Webtoon of the same name which has been read by nearly 14 million readers. The drama focuses on what it is like to have a crush on a co-worker and the possibility of coping with unrequited love. Although the drama is more comedy based it is able to manage its themes in a way that is realistic while being enjoyable to watch. Both the Webtoon and the drama adaptation of the story has been particularly popular in that the plot focuses more on how challenging and competitive working environments can be in addition to forming lasting work relationships. 

Starring: Won Jin-ah, Rowoon, Lee Hyun-Wook, Lee Joo-Bin, Lee Kyu-Han

Available on: JTBC, iQIYI, Netflix 

Release Year: 2022

Love and leashes (movie)-모럴센스

This movie was based on the Webtoon ‘Moral Sense: The Sensual M’ by the creator 겨울 (Winter). Although the original Webtoon ‘Love and Leashes’ is based on doesn’t have the viral popularity of Webtoon adaptations like ‘True Beauty’ or ‘Itaewon Class’, this film is a great example of how media’s popularity can shift based on presentation- as this film has been very successful since its release in 2022. ‘Love and Leashes’ is an unlikely movie to be set in an office considering the overall themes and title of the film. The plot itself focuses on blossoming love in the most unlikely of places and despite unusual circumstances. Don’t fear the title and sexual look of the film-it is a sweet story of challenging your own character and overcoming boundaries to find love. If you are looking for a new take on the office romance trope this film is definitely worth a watch. 

Starring: Seohyun, Lee Jun-Yeong 

Available on: Netflix 

Release Year: 2022
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3. Unexpected favourites 

When trying to discover new content to watch it’s not always easy to know what to invest your time into as there is so much to choose from. If you are a fan of dramas set in a realistic office setting but are looking for something new, maybe start with the recommendations below as they challenge a lot of aspects of the original genre while adding a new twist to it. 

Little Women (Series)-작은 아씨들

Little Women is a series unlike any other. This series is similar to ‘Squid Games’ in that it’s a based in reality thriller series that will leave you asking yourself ‘What would I do if I were in that situation?’ The series is about an office worker named Oh In-Ju as she finds her normal life turned upside down after her best friend’s mysterious death and being left 70 million won in embezzled money. The series is incredibly dramatic as the drama excels in communicating that Oh In-Ju is just a normal person who has been thrown into the secret life of her best friend. In terms of romance, this series focuses on chemistry rather than romance to keep the audience hooked. If you enjoyed ‘Squid Games’, then this drama is worth checking out as it has the same interesting structure of a ‘based in reality’ drama. 

Starring: Kim Go-Eun, Nam Ji-Hyun, Park Ji-hu 

Available on: TvN, Netflix

Release Year: 2022

Extraordinary Attorney Woo (Series)-이상한 변호사 우영우 

Similar to ‘Love and Leashes’ the Extraordinary Attorney Woo is worth watching if you like character growth driven stories as well as office related romance dramas. The series follows the career life of newly appointed lawyer Woo Young-Woo as she learns to navigate her autism in the legal world. The drama has an emphasis on breaking down stereotypes on conditions such as autism and highlights that everyone has the right to excel in their professional and personal lives. This drama has been widely popular since its release, both domestically and globally with actress Park Eun-Bin being noted for her incredible performance as Attorney Woo. If you like romance as a secondary story line in a legal office-based drama, this series is a perfect one to watch for a variety of audiences.  

Starring: Park Eun-Bin, Kang Tae-Oh, Kang Ki-Yeong 

Available on: ENA, Netflix 

Release Year: 2022

I hope that from using this blog post that you were able to find exciting new content to watch if you are a fan of Korean dramas and movies in office settings. Please comment any more suggestions for this topic below. 

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