Slice of life Korean dramas

Slow-motion scenes and coffee foam kisses might give you the impression that Korean dramas are over-the-top and dramatic, but that’s not always true. In fact, K-dramas can be your best companion when it feels like there’s no one who can truly understand you. Here are 20 slice of life Korean dramas that will not only speak to you, but also tug at your heartstrings.

1. Thirty-Nine (2022) 

Slice of life Korean dramas - Thirty-Nine
Image credit: JTBC

Main Cast:

  • Son Ye Jin as Cha Mi Jo
  • Jeon Mi Do as Jung Chan Young
  • Kim Ji Hyun as Jang Joo Hee

Starring Son Ye Jin from Crash Landing On You, and Jeon Mi Do from Hospital Playlist, Thirty-Nine gives you a glimpse into the lives of 3 women who are 39 years old.

The trio has been best friends for 2 decades since their high school days. Although they come from different backgrounds and work in different fields, they’ve stuck together through thick and thin.

Cha Mi Jo is a successful dermatologist, while Jung Chan Young is an acting coach. Jang Joo Hee works at the department store as a manager.

This drama is packed with hilarious moments that you can laugh along to, and realistic challenges that you can relate to.

2. Twenty-Five Twenty-One (2022) 

Slice of life Korean dramas - Twenty-Five Twenty-One
Image credit: tvN

Main Cast:

Twenty-Five Twenty-One follows an interesting concept as the story is told through the perspective of the protagonist’s daughter.

After stumbling upon her mother’s diary that was written in 1998, Na Hee Do’s daughter reads the diary entries, and the drama brings us back to the year of the IMF crisis from the present day.

Before becoming a mother, Na Hee Do used to be a professional fencer. Filled with big dreams and ambitions, Hee Do had a bright future ahead until the IMF crisis hit her hard.

Despite the unprecedented struggles, Hee Do’s life didn’t seem to be all that bad after she encountered Baek Yi Jin.

Like everyone else, Yi Jin’s family was severely affected by the financial crisis. Instead of complaining about his situation, Yi Jin stepped up to lift the financial burden off his parents’ shoulders.

Besides the cute chemistry between Nam Joo Hyuk and Kim Tae Ri, this drama focuses on hope and growth, and shows us that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel.

Read our review on the 1st episode of Twenty-Five Twenty-One

3. Move To Heaven (2021) 

Slice of life Korean dramas - Move To Heaven
Image credit: Netflix

Main Cast:

  • Lee Je Hoon as Cho Sang Gu
  • Tang Jun Sang as Han Geu Ru
  • Hong Seung Hee as Yoon Na Mu

What does it take for a drama production to win 3 awards at the 2021 Asia Contents Awards? Well, Move To Heaven has the answer to this question.

Inspired by a Korean book titled Things You Left Behind, the drama depicts real-life experiences of a trauma cleaner.

When a loved one passes away, their family members contact trauma cleaners to clean and sanitise the house of the deceased.

Han Geu Ru’s father operated a trauma clearing service till the day he died. Following his father’s death, Geu Ru is taken care of by his uncle, Sang Gu, who now runs the trauma clearing service with Geu Ru.

Check out our review on the 1st episode of Move To Heaven.

4. Work Later, Drink Now (2021) 

Slice of life Korean dramas - work later, drink now
Image credit: TVING

Main Cast:

  • Lee Sun Bin as Ahn So Hee
  • Han Sun Hwa as Han Ji Yeon
  • Jung Eun Ji as Kang Ji Gu
  • Choi Si Won as Kang Buk Gu

Based on the Korean webtoon of the same name, Work Later, Drink Now tickled the fancy of many viewers with tons of laugh-out-loud scenes, and moments that make you wonder if the producer of the drama is a mind reader.

Ahn So Hee, Han Ji Yeon, and Kang Ji Gu are good friends for several reasons: they’re single, fiercely loyal, and they love drinking alcohol. 

So Hee works at the broadcasting station, while Ji Yeon is a yoga instructor, and Ji Gu is a YouTuber.

This drama shows you the value of friendship, and the wild drinking culture in Korea. Thanks to the viewers’ overwhelming love and reception, the drama returned with season 2 in 2022. 

5. Lost (2021)

Slice of life Korean dramas - Lost
Image credit: JTBC

Main Cast:

  • Jeon Do Yeon as Lee Boo Jung
  • Ryu Joon Yeol as Lee Kang Jae

What happens when we do our best, but it feels as though our lives amount to nothing at the end of the day?

Lost is a sombre drama that tells the story of Lee Boo Jung and Lee Kang Jae whose lives are dimmed by despair and fear.

Boo Jung is 40 years old – an age that is regarded as still young to some, and no longer young to others. Despite living her life to the fullest, she looks back and realises that she has achieved nothing. 

On the other hand, Kang Jae is 27 years old. His life is a paradox as he has nothing to fear, but deep down, he’s afraid that his life will be deemed a failure when he looks back on it a few years down the road. 

6. Do You Like Brahms? (2020)

Slice of life Korean dramas - Do You Like Brahms?
Image credit: SBS

Main Cast:

  • Park Eun Bin as Chae Song Ah
  • Kim Min Jae as Park Joon Young
  • Park Ji Hyun as Lee Jung Kyung
  • Kim Sung Cheol as Han Hyun Ho

Love and music intertwine in Do You Like Brahms? to show you that happiness is a journey, and not a destination.

When Chae Song Ah was a university student, she wanted to major in music. However, her parents were not supportive of her dream, and she ended up majoring in business.

Nevertheless, she musters the courage to pursue her dreams in spite of her parents’ opposition. She decides to study music by matriculating at the same university where she studied business.

Park Joon Young also has a passion for music, and he’s a gifted pianist. When he catches feelings for his friend, Lee Jung Kyung, who comes from a chaebol (a large conglomerate run by a family), he tries his best to stay away from her. 

7. When The Weather Is Fine (2020) 

Slice of life Korean dramas - When The Weather Is Fine
Image credit: JTBC

Main Cast:

  • Park Min Young as Mok Hae Won / Irene
  • Seo Kang Joon as Im Eun Sub / Kim Jin Ho

When The Weather Is Fine is for those who want to rekindle their spark in the midst of a mundane and repetitive lifestyle. 

Mok Hae Won steps into what we call the “real world” as a cellist, but her journey is more challenging than she ever imagined. She finds herself constantly in conflict with the people around her, which eventually turns her into a private person with trust issues.

The demanding city life coupled with her strained relationships drain Hae Won’s energy. After much thought, she returns to her hometown called Bookhyun Village.

One day, she visits a bookstore run by Im Eun Sub located in her hometown. She notices how simple and carefree his day-to-day life is, and she begins to reflect on the purpose of life. 

8. Be Melodramatic (2019)

Slice of life Korean dramas - Be Melodramatic
Image credit: JTBC

Main Cast:

  • Chun Woo Hee as Im Jin Joo
  • Jeon Yeo Been as Lee Eun Jung
  • Han Ji Eun as Hwang Han Joo
  • Ahn Jae Hong as Son Beom Soo
  • Gong Myung as Choo Jae Hoon

Be Melodramatic doesn’t only portray the struggles of women in a realistic manner, but it also seeks to provide solace and comfort through friendship and love. 

Im Jin Joo, Lee Eun Jung, and Hwang Han Joo just entered their 30s. As they embark on a new phase of their lives, they are faced with a new set of challenges.

Jin Joo is a playwright with a unique personality, while Eun Jung directs and produces documentaries. Han Joo works at a production company in the day, and she nurtures her child at night. Although she struggles as a single mother, she works hard to give the best to her child.

9. The Light In Your Eyes (2019) 

Slice of life Korean dramas - The Light In Your Eyes
Image credit: JTBC

Main Cast:

  • Han Ji Min as Kim Hye Ja 
  • Kim Hye Ja as Kim Hye Ja 
  • Nam Joo Hyuk as Lee Joon Ha

The Light In Your Eyes is about discovering the value of your life, and reflecting your relationships with your loved ones. 

Following her father’s unfortunate fatal accident, 26-year-old Kim Hye Ja is desperate to try all means to get him back using a watch that has the ability to rewind time.

With a single focus to save her father, Hye Ja rewinds the mysterious and magical watch. However, she does more than what’s required, and ends up becoming an elderly woman.

Inevitably, her family and friends no longer recognise her, including Lee Joon Ha, the love of her life.

10. Black Dog (2019)

Slice of life Korean dramas - Black Dog
Image credit: tvN

Main Cast:

  • Seo Hyun Jin as Go Ha Neul
  • Ra Mi Ran as Park Sung Soon
  • Ha Joon as Do Yun Woo
  • Lee Chang Hoon as Bae Myung Soo

Set in a private Korean high school, Black Dog sheds light on the sacrifices and hardships of teachers.

Go Ha Neul teaches the Korean language at the said private high school. Ha Neul became a teacher as she was indebted to her high school teacher who went out of her way to save Ha Neul’s life.

During her time there, Ha Neul meets devoted teachers, such as Park Sung Soon, who are willing to fight for the students against the corrupt nature of the school system.

On the flipside, she also begins to see that the school system is a dog-eat-dog world, and it’s not a place for the faint-hearted.

11. One Spring Night (2019)  

Slice of life Korean dramas - One Spring Night
Image credit: MBC

Main Cast:

One Spring Night follows Lee Jung In and Yoo Ji Ho who are stuck at the crossroads of friendship and love.

Jung In meets Ji Ho for the first time when she visits his pharmacy. Following their first encounter, they find themselves engaging in more conversations, and confiding in each other.

Besides friendship and romance, this drama also grapples with societal expectations that weigh us down.

12. My Mister (2018)

Slice of life Korean dramas - My Mister
Image credit: tvN

Main Cast:

  • Lee Sun Kyun as Park Dong Hoon
  • IU as Lee Ji Ahn

My Mister is one of IU’s most recognised works to date. This drama has a melancholic mood and a wistful atmosphere as it explores what it means to be truly happy in a cold, cruel world.

Park Dong Hoon is an adept engineer, and his wife, Kang Yoon Hee, is a successful lawyer. On the surface, it seems like he has everything – a happy family, and a stable career.

However, Dong Hoon’s life becomes a mess when he finds out that his wife is having an affair with his boss, who’s also his university junior. To make matters worse, he doesn’t have anyone to pour his heart out to as his brothers and mother depend on him.

Lee Ji Ahn works part-time at the company Dong Hoon works at. She’s hostile and indifferent to those around her, and she never smiles. But deep down, she has a warm heart as she does her best to nurse her ailing grandmother, and pay off the debt her father left her with.

13. Matrimonial Chaos (2018) 

Slice of life Korean dramas - Matrimonial Chaos
Image credit: KBS2

Main Cast:

  • Cha Tae Hyun as Jo Seok Moo
  • Bae Doo Na as Kang Hwi Ru
  • Lee El as Jin Yoo Young
  • Son Seok Koo as Lee Jang Hyun
  • Wi Ha Joon as Kim Shi Ho

Matrimonial Chaos focuses on the highs and the lows of married couples.

Jo Seok Moo’s life used to be smooth sailing as he graduated from one of the best universities. However, his life completely changes when he decides to chase his dream of becoming a musician.

While he struggles to find a job in his dream profession, he works at a security service company to earn a living.

To make matters worse, he wants to split with his wife of 3 years due to the stark differences in their personalities.

14. Live (2018)

Slice of life Korean dramas - Live
Image credit: tvN

Main Cast:

  • Lee Kwang Soo as Yeom Sang Soo
  • Jung Yu Mi as Han Jung Oh

Live revolves around the lives of police officers who work day and night to protect citizens from danger and harm.

When Yeom Sang Soo decided to become a police officer, all he wanted was to live a peaceful and ordinary life. However, every case he handles becomes a mess, and his day-to-day life as a police officer isn’t as simple as he’d thought it would be.

Han Jung Oh is a female police officer who fights against male dominance in her workplace. When Sang Soo and Jung Oh work hand in hand, they bond as they face injustices and endure challenges together.

15. Prison Playbook (2017)

Slice of life Korean dramas - Prison Playbook
Image credit: tvN

Main Cast:

  • Park Hae Soo as Kim Jae Hyuk
  • Jung Kyung Ho as Lee Joon Ho
  • Krystal Jung as Kim Ji Ho 

Prison Playbook takes place inside a prison, and it explores the relationships among the inmates. 

Kim Jae Hyuk used to be one of the best baseball players with a bright future ahead. But when he exerts force and violence on a man who tried to sexually assault his sister, he’s sentenced to prison for a year.

In the beginning, he’s bitter about his time in the prison cell. However, he meets inmates from all walks of life. Over time, they teach him 2 important lessons: don’t judge a book by its cover, and it’s possible to turn over a new leaf.

Fun fact: Prison Playbook was produced by the same director of Reply 1988.

16. Fight For My Way (2017)

Slice of life Korean dramas - fight for my way
Image credit: KBS2

Main Cast:

  • Park Seo Joon as Ko Dong Man
  • Kim Ji Won as Choi Ae Ra
  • Ahn Jae Hong as Kim Joo Man
  • Song Ha Yoon as Baek Seol Hee

Ko Dong Man and Choi Ae Ra have been best friends since young, and it seems like there’s nothing that can possibly change their friendship or cause it to waver. But as they get further from achieving their dreams, they find themselves relying on each other more than ever and seeing the other person in a different light. 

17. Strongest Deliveryman (2017) 

Slice of life Korean dramas - Strongest Deliveryman
Image credit: KBS2

Main Cast:

  • Ko Kyung Pyo as Choi Kang Soo
  • Kim Seon Ho as Oh Jin Gyu
  • Chae Soo Bin as Lee Dan Ah

Choi Kang Soo and Lee Dan Ah are driven by the same purpose in life: money. To them, success is equivalent to affluence, and they work towards achieving their goal with no regard for anything else. 

Although they begin as delivery workers, they climb up the social ladder while competing with people of power and money, such as Oh Jin Gyu.

However, they gradually learn that money doesn’t always translate to happiness and success.

18. Good Manager (2017) 

Slice of life Korean dramas - good manager
Image credit: KBS2

Main Cast:

  • Nam Goong Min as Kim Sung Ryong
  • Nam Sang Mi as Yoon Ha Kyung
  • Lee Jun Ho as Seo Yool
  • Jung Hye Sung as Hong Ga Eun

This series explores the question of whether money or justice is more important.

Kim Sung Ryong works as an accountant for a group of gangsters. Driven by greed, the gangsters get Sung Ryong to infiltrate a huge company as a manager, and tasks him to embezzle money.

Initially, Sung Ryong is motivated to accomplish his mission. But as he spends more time with his colleagues who are doing their best to survive the corrupt nature of the company, he begins to see that fighting alongside them is more important than accomplishing his given task.

19. Reply 1988 (2015) 

Slice of life Korean dramas - Reply 1988
Image credit: tvN

Main Cast:

  • Lee Hye Ri as Sung Deok Sun 
  • Ryu Joon Yeol as Kim Jung Hwan
  • Park Bo Gum as Choi Taek
  • Ko Kyung Pyo as Sung Sun Woo
  • Lee Dong Hwi as Ryu Dong Ryong

Set in a neighbourhood called Ssangmundong, Reply 1988 is a heartwarming and moving drama that navigates through first love, family, dreams, and friendship. 

Sung Deok Sun, Kim Jung Hwan, Choi Taek, Sung Sun Woo, and Ryu Dong Ryong are childhood friends who live in the same neighbourhood. This drama follows these 5 characters closely from their high school years to adulthood, and peppers their journeys with snippets of their childhood memories.

Deok Sun has a bright and bubbly personality, but she shares her own struggles of being the middle child at home, and ranking 999th academically in school. More importantly, she doesn’t have a dream, and she’s often envious of those who know what they want to achieve in life.

Jung Hwan is quiet and observant, and he’s good at both his studies and sports. Unlike Jung Hwan who comes from a well-to-do family, Sun Woo’s family struggles to make ends meet. He does everything he can to lighten the burden off his mother’s shoulders by getting into medical school, and staying away from trouble. 

Choi Taek is a gifted baduk (strategic board game) player, but when he’s not playing the game, he’s slow-witted and dense. Finally, Dong Ryong is a troublemaker who wants attention and love from his career-driven parents.

20. Misaeng: Incomplete Life (2014) 

Slice of life Korean dramas - Misaeng: Incomplete Life
Image credit: tvN

Main Cast:

  • Im Si Wan as Jang Geu Rae
  • Lee Sung Min as Oh Sang Shik
  • Kang Ha Neul as Jang Baek Ki
  • Kang So Ra as Ahn Young Yi
  • Kim Dae Myung as Kim Dong Shik
  • Byun Yo Han as Han Suk Yool

For those who’ve stepped into the corporate world, you should give Misaeng: Incomplete Life a shot because not only will you be able to relate to this drama, but you’ll also be comforted by it.

Jang Geu Rae dreamt of becoming a professional baduk player from a young age. But the reality ends up being vastly different as he becomes an intern in a reputable trading company.

He begins to realise that his department is made up of unique individuals who share different personalities. During his time there, he faces the harsh reality about the corporate culture, and does his best to survive. 

Slice of life Korean dramas that hit close to home 

These slice of life dramas may not be the most accurate representation of your personal experiences, but we can assure you that they will make you feel less alone in this strange journey called life. After all, it’s called a slice of life instead of a whole chunk of life for a reason.

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Cover image adapted from: KBS2, tvN, KBS2

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