While K-dramas have interesting plots with lots of twists and turns, there are just some scenes and moments that come up again and again, and when the background music changes you already know what’s going to happen. Without these K-drama clichés, they simply wouldn’t be K-dramas! Here are 11 of the most overused clichés in modern K-dramas.
Back hugs are the number-one cliché in K-drama-land (and admit it, you love it!). They can range from a heartfelt back hug that stops the girl from leaving, accidental back hugs, back hugs to ask for forgiveness, or just a simple, everyday back hug when everything is going well. Every K-drama has this one, from Pinocchio and Healer to The Heirs.
Hospitalization seems to be a must in every K-drama, whether the character ends up there as a result of a car accident, terminal illness, amnesia or any number of other reasons. Some K-dramas are centered around a hospital, while others use it as a way to get one character worried about another. You can find some of the most heartbreaking hospital moments in dramas like Oh My Venus and Master’s Sun, and there are some great hospital scenes in shows like My Love From Another Star, It’s Okay, That’s Love, and this epic fight scene from 2016’s Doctor Crush.
Another overused K-drama cliché is the wrist grab. This cliché is mostly used following an argument. It was used in the above-mentioned clip from Doctor Crush, and The Heirs took this cliché to another level with the famous double wrist grab.
All roads lead to… Jeju Island!
For Koreans, Jeju Island, is the place to go with your better half. In fact, the Seoul to Jeju Island air route is the busiest in the world. Even if K-drama characters don’t plan it, when one main character is in Jeju Island, the other also just happens to be there. Blood, My Lovely Sam Soon, and Boys Over Flowers all featured the gorgeous scenic backdrop of Jeju Island.
What’s a K-drama without a piggyback ride? The female leads almost always end up drunk, with a sprained ankle, or just plain exhausted, and the fastest way to get around in a K-drama is a piggyback ride. You can find some of the cutest ones in Personal Taste, Heartstrings, and I Can Hear Your Voice.
Bad Boy Turns Good
Whether it’s Boys Over Flowers or You’re Beautiful, the bad boy who finds the girl annoying at first, will definitely be nice to her, and only her, by the end of the drama.
Second Lead Syndrome
Commonly known as Second Lead Syndrome, it’s when the second lead star likes one of the main characters but is destined not to be with them. This happens in almost every K-drama, yet one can’t help shipping the nice guy (aka the one who won’t get the girl in the end), with the main girl. This is often connected to the bad boy turns good cliché as when the bad boy turns around and starts being nice, that means that the second lead gets shoved aside. This cliché is completely inescapable.
Rich Guy, Poor Girl
This one is definitely an overused K-drama cliché. The guy is rich beyond belief and the girl has to work 24/7 to make ends meet. Boys Over Flowers is definitely a drama that seems to have all the clichés covered and this one is no exception. Rooftop Prince is another one that heavily uses this cliché.
Coffee Prince, You’re Beautiful, and To the Beautiful You are just a few K-dramas that use this cliché. The gender-bender plot device happens when a female lead character pretends to be a boy. Life lesson: all you need is short hair and baggy clothes and voila, you’re a guy.
Hate at First Sight
More often than not, the main couple who are destined to be together, hate each other at the beginning of a K-drama. But, as the drama progresses, the two gradually (and obviously) fall in love. She Was Pretty used this cliché as did Falling for Innocence.
Couple accidentally faces each other, eyes lock, theme song plays softly in the background, zoom in on guy’s face, zoom in on girl’s face, they both lean in, eyelids flutter and close, almost there, the chorus starts exploding and then… they kiss. And then the camera’s zoom button breaks due to overuse! The slow-motion kiss is possibly in every K-drama that ever existed.