“Moon that Embraces the Sun” (해를 품은 달)

A sweeping dramatic series set in Korea’s Joseon era, the “Moon That Embraces the Sun” is a love story that at times is painfully heartbreaking. But, it’s also filled with hope and humor. That combination makes for an addictive series that will leave viewers hungering for more.

“Secretly, Greatly” (은밀하게 위대하게)

“Secretly, Greatly” starts off as a comedy and veers off into a drama with a graphic, violent ending. Had the film stuck to one genre, the result would’ve been more cohesive and effective. Still, it’s a worthwhile film that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats. Kim Soo-Hyun shows impressive range in his dual portrayal of a North Korean spy and the dimwitted village idiot that’s his cover.

“Thieves” (도둑들)

A blockbuster hit in Korea, “Thieves” features an all-star cast that includes Jeon Ji Hyun and Lee Jung Jae. (The duo shared the big screen in the 2000 film “Il Mare” — the film that was later remade as “The Lake House” with Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock.)

“Producer” (프로듀사)

“Producer” is Kim Soo Hyun’s followup to the phenomenally popular series, “My Love From Another Star.” A light, romantic comedy, this K-Drama series touches on how ruthless Korea’s netizens can be over what they perceive to be an unforgivable lie.

“Dream High” (드림하이)

“Dream High” is one of those series that starts off with a ridiculous premise. But, if you stick with it, you’ll be amused, angered and (at times) deeply touched. Yes, this is a glossy high school musical with a love triangle. But it also deals with child abandonment, sexual assault and the abuse of children by the system set in place to manufacture “idols.” This isn’t just a Korea thing. Think about all the American boy band members who have revealed how they were abused by their predatory management.

“My Love From Another Star” (별에서 온 그대)

Sold as a romantic comedy, “My Love From Another Star” definitely delivers on that front. But it’s also a wonderful story about true love, alienation and sacrifice.

“Coffee Prince” (커피프린스)

On the surface, “Coffee Prince” is your standard boy-meets-girl romantic comedy with a few roadblocks thrown in for good measure. Thanks to the chemistry shared by the attractive leads (Gong Yoo and Yoo Eun Hye), the series is highly watchable and I understand why so many fans are repeat viewers. But beneath the cute exterior, the series deals with issues such as sexual confusion, gender roles and poverty.

“Answer Me 1988” (응답하라 1988)

One of the things that I really enjoy about the “Answer Me” trilogy is the lifelong friendships that that characters share. Whereas the first two series focused primarily on the teenagers, “Answer Me 1988” delves into the backstories of their parents as well. And that, to me, made this chapter a standout. The parents’ storylines were as interesting–if not more–than the who-will-she-marry premise that is predominant in each of the “Answer Me” installments.

“Answer Me 1994” (응답하라 1994)

“Answer Me 1994” aims to leave viewers guessing as to which man Na Jung will marry. But more interesting is the lifelong friendship that these seven college roommates share.

“Answer Me 1997” (응답하라 1997)

Everything that “How I Met Your Mother” did wrong (including its series finale), “Answer Me 1997” does right. Funny and poignant with superb acting by the entire cast, the series tells the story of 6 childhood friends whose lives are intertwined through adulthood. Kudos to K-pop Hoya (of the group Infinite) for his thoughtful (and unstereotypical) portrayal of a gay teenager who is in love with his best friend; and to the writers for not portraying it as “weird.”

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