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K-dramas that local celebrities can’t get enough of

By Myla Torres-Eder Published Oct 25, 2023 1:37 pm

With the almost weekly arrival in the Philippines of South Korea’s most gorgeous oppas, there’s no denying that Pinoys have been captivated by the world of Korean dramas. And why not? K-dramas today seem to have everything for everyone—from eye candy lead stars who bring out the kilig to gripping plots that leave you wanting more.

But if you’re relatively new to Hallyu and just starting to navigate the world of K-dramas, let these celebrities, who have been K-drama fans for years, show you the way.

Gelli de Belen-Rivera: Moving, Taxi Driver Season 2

Gelli de Belen has been an avid K-drama fan since Coffee Prince (circa 2007). Her current favorite? Taxi Driver Season 2.

“Oh, I really love the episodic storyline with its conflicts with the main characters. After every episode or two, there is a resolution for a particular storyline, which satisfies me right away, even if the main characters' problems still continue. I am a fan of justice being served to the hateful villains of the episodes,“ Gelli tells PhilSTAR L!fe

Taxi Driver Season 2 stars the charismatic Lee Je-hoon. The series is about a group of individuals who help their clients take revenge against those who have wronged them. 

Another must-watch these days for Gelli is the much-raved (for a lot of good reasons) Moving, Korea’s take on humans with superpowers. Think X-Men series and family drama in one package.

“I just finished Moving .... and boy was I moved! I love this show. It’s relatable on so many levels. Even if the characters have superpowers, they are all human and have weaknesses still. Even with their superpowers, it actually seems that they are even more vulnerable than the regular folks. Perfect ensemble of truly amazing actors fit for their roles. Hoping there will be a second season soon.”

Taxi Driver Season 2 is available on Viu Philippines, while Moving is streaming on Disney+.

Janice de Belen: The Killing Vote, Mask Girl, Moving

Gelli’s sister Janice has also been influenced by her younger sibling and their friends when it comes to K-dramas. Aside from Moving, the actress seems to be into a lot of thrillers these days, including The Killing Vote on Prime Video and Mask Girl on Netflix.

In The Killing Vote, starring Lim Ji-yeon and Park Hae-jin, those who have evaded the punishment of the law are subjected to a death penalty vote. Meanwhile, Mask Girl is about a masked Internet personality who gets embroiled in an unexpected case.

“Of course, I would recommend them. Interesting stories keep me hooked. Usually, if a drama doesn't interest me in the first 20 minutes, I give up. But these dramas kept me hooked till the end,” Janice says.

The Killing Vote and Mask Girl are streaming on Prime Video and Netflix, respectively.

Shaira Diaz: The Killing Vote, Arthdal Chronicles Season 2, A Time Called You

Actress and Unang Hirit host Shaira Diaz is a certified Hallyu stan as her IG feed shows her fangirling adventures here and abroad. Like a true K-drama fan, she watches two series simultaneously to “avoid the frustration of waiting for new episodes to be uploaded.” She’s into different genres like period dramas or sageuk, action, thriller, and romance.

Arthdal Chronicles is a fantasy period drama that initially drew me in because of Song Joong-ki and Kim Ji-won. Although the cast changed in Season 2, the show remains promising due to the exceptional talent of actors, particularly Lee Joon-gi, the setting, and the cinematography. If you have an inclination for stories revolving around tribes, deities, and warriors, I highly recommend watching this series,” she says.

The Killing Vote is also on her watch list since the series raises timely and thought-provoking issues.

The Killing Vote, on the other hand, delves into the theme of systemic injustice. It vividly illustrates how online platforms can wield significant influence over people’s opinions,” she explains.

“The show raises thought-provoking questions about the circumstances under which it might be justified to defy the law and whether it is morally acceptable to place the reins of justice in the hands of strangers through online voting. The system tends to favor individuals with wealth and power, even if they are criminals. It’s an enthralling suspense-action series that I’m thoroughly enjoying. Very timely, right?” she adds.

Following these series, A Time Called You, starring one of her oppa Ahn Hyo-seop is next on Shaira's watch list “for a lighter and refreshing story.”

Arthdal Chronicles and A Time Called You are available on Netflix.

Mariz Umali: King The Land, Dr. Romantic 3, Moving, Strong Girl Nam Soon

The allure of K-dramas has provided an escape, even for news personalities who often deal with distressing stories. For Unang Hirit host and anchor Mariz Umali, the romantic comedy series King The Land, starring Lee Jun-ho and Im Yoona, was the perfect companion while she was on medical leave.

“Recently, I was on medical leave after undergoing a gynecological operation, and one of the reminders of my OB was for me to remain stress-free so that I would heal faster. So, as always, I would find solace in Korean dramas,” she tells L!fe

King the Land, which I just finished recently, became my companion during my recovery period, providing the stress-free respite my doctor had recommended. The plot, characters, and beautiful cinematography provided the distraction that I needed, enabling me to forget the challenges of the outside world momentarily,” she continues.

And there’s more on Mariz’s list, if only she had all the time in the world to chill. The long-time K-drama fan is planning to watch sequels of popular series she enjoyed in the past.

“I really love medical dramas, so I’m sure Dr. Romantic 3 will not disappoint since I also loved Dr. Romantic 1 and 2. The series didn’t just showcase the technicalities of the field but delved into the emotional and ethical dilemmas faced by medical practitioners. I’m also excited to see Moving, Alchemy of Souls, and Strong Girl Nam Soon, especially since I also loved Strong Girl Bong Soon, which was its prequel.”

King the Land, Alchemy of Souls, and Strong Girl Nam Soon are available on Netflix, while Dr. Romantic 3 is streaming on Disney+.

Sandra Aguinaldo: Dr. Romantic 3

Like her friend Mariz, broadcast journalist and documentarist Sandra Aguinaldo is also a long-time K-drama enthusiast. As a true fan, she didn’t want to miss the latest installment of Dr. Romantic.

Sandra shares, “Dr. Romantic 3 is highly recommended because the story is tightly sewn with lots of drama and a little bit of comedy and romance. Ang pinakagusto ko dito ‘yung characters ng doctors and nurses. I love watching them hurdle the challenges inside the ER and the operating room. It makes you want to root for them. Moreover, every character is given time to shine and prove they belong in Doldam Hospital.”

“I am not done watching this series, but I’m excited about how the characters will evolve, including the villain's character. Actor Han Suk-kyu as Kim Sabu is perfect for the role. Ahn Hyo-seop as Seo Woo-jin is also showing his much-improved acting skills,” she adds.

Arianne Bautista: King the Land

With its good-looking leads, romantic plot, and cinematography, many Pinoy K-drama viewers, including model and actress Arianne Bautista, got hooked on King the Land.

“I’m currently watching King the Land, and K-drama fans should watch this because it’s just a feel-good series full of comedy and kilig. It’s my stress reliever as of the moment.”

The series about a hotel heir who falls for his employee is the stuff of classic K-dramas that never really gets old.

Lyn Ching: Crash Landing on You, Princess Hours, Coffee Prince

While some prefer bold and exciting new plots, some miss the charm of K-dramas from the past. TV host Lyn Ching dishes on her old-time favorites.

“The ones I recommend are still my old favorites—Crash Landing [on You], Princess Hours, Coffee Prince—kasi I love light and happy ones with happy endings. These K-dramas can still make me laugh even after so many years.”

“And at this point in our lives, with all the horrors happening in the world, now more than ever, we need shows that can make us forget all the crap around us for a while. I don’t want dramas; I don’t want tears; I want a funny story well told,” she says.

Crash Landing on You and Coffee Prince are on Netflix, while Princess Hours is on Viu Philippines.