Korean school drama series deal with stories within the walls of the academy, friendships, first loves, the relationship between students and teachers, and more.
Teen Korean dramas are horribly romantic, and almost always characterized by a simplistic script from the guy-meets-girl genre (and these are always rich guys, poor girls, and vice versa). On the other hand, despite the excessive preoccupation with matters between him and herself, K-drama school dramas remain more conservative.
Since the pursuit of Korean television series is far from exhausting, it’s time to present some of the most addictive Korean high school dramas!
1. At Eighteen
Being eighteen is tough. Being forced to transfer because of a violation you didn’t commit is even worse. Choi Joon-woo (played by Ong Seong-wu) is a cute loner guy in a new school. Struggling to express himself, he soon bonds with his classmates, Yoo Soo-bin (played by Kim Hyang-gi) and Ma Hwi-young (played by Shin Seung-ho), as they each face the prejudices and pressures of entering adulthood.
The students of Class 2-3 in this 2019 Korean high school drama are probably the highlight of the show. At Eighteen (also known as Moment of Eighteen) is not afraid of showing what many teen students go through. This is especially true when it comes to the way their family life affects them and their studies.
It also goes far to show how a good teacher can affect them in a positive way, primarily through their home teacher, Oh Han Kyeol (played by Kang Ki-young).
2. Dream High
This is a classic teen Kdrama anyone can sink into. Dream High takes us to the performing arts high school Kirin High School. With dreams of becoming K-pop idols, they must learn the necessary skills to stand a chance.
Throughout their school years, six students each go on their own personal journeys to get over their insecurities and weaknesses. They find friendship and comfort in one another.
The K-pop world is a harsh and unforgiving place. That reality is perfectly portrayed here, which is one of the reasons this 2011 high school Kdrama is a classic today. The cast is out of this world, with many memorable actresses and actors in their early roles, such as IU, Suzy, and J.Y.Park.
The choice of actors is also good because each has experience in the K-pop world, reflecting the cast’s outstanding performances. It’s funny, heart-warming, and just a good time! They don’t call this a classic for no reason.
Most adults tend to romanticize their teenage years. That’s because compared to the trials and tribulations of adulthood (jobs, taxes, romances, taxes, bills, and taxes, etc.), life seemed so simple then. However, for our six protagonists, teenage years are just getting rougher. At 18, each faces the pressures of deciding their life choices and discovering who they want to be.
This is probably one of the most realistic coming-of-age Korean teenage drama series. The characters of the core friendship group are well-written. The squad dynamics do not feel forced, and it is nice to see clashing personalities still get along.
No character is genuinely dislikeable. Can we also take a moment to appreciate the OST? The soundtrack is stunning. With excellent acting, realistic scenarios and stories, and beautiful cinematography, this is a sad K-drama that will bring you back to your teen years, with all its glory and depression.
4. Master of Study
This is the power of having a fantastic teacher! Kang Seok-Ho (played by Kim Soo-Ro) is a lawyer in charge of Byung Moon High School. However, after seeing himself in many of the delinquent students. Thus, he sets up a particular class to get five of the most troublesome students into prestigious universities. He also makes plans to reform teaching in the school. Throughout the K-drama, he becomes closer to his students and saves the school.
When a student has a teacher willing to go far for them, it can completely change their life. This is the core message of the Master of Study, and it is portrayed beautifully. Like in A-Teen, none of the students are terrible.
Many of them are disadvantaged due to their home life. The cast has great chemistry, each selling the student-teacher relationships. The supporting cast is just as gifted. This drama has a unique storyline and excellent characters that still stands up to many k-dramas today.
5. Hi! School – Love On
Let’s spice things up! This is a fantasy romance. After unintentionally saving Shin Woo-Hyun (played by Nam Woo-Hyun), an ageless and nameless angel in charge of guiding souls into the afterlife, she soon becomes mortal as punishment.
Taking on the name Lee Seul-bi (played by Kim Sae-Ron), this angel struggles to adjust to her human life. Meanwhile, this high school Korean series also shows the dark side of teenage pressure.
Hi! School – Love On is hilarious. Kim Sae-Ron is excellent at playing the fish out of water trope. However, some questionable characters exist, like the high school ethics/civics teacher Ahn Ji-Hye (played by Choi Su-rin). That storyline was unnecessary. However, The cinematography is top-notch! Seriously, this is a beautiful high school Kdrama. It’s a tremendous, unique Asian teen series with excellent characters and hilarious scenarios.
6. Page Turner
Page turners are a silent but essential part of musical performances, especially the piano. They are faster than the piano player and turn the page during the performance without mistakes.
After losing her sight in a car accident, piano prodigy Yoon Yoo-Seul (played by Kim So-Hyun) struggles to get back into playing the piano. In this short drama, a fellow pianist Seo Jin-Mok (played by Sin Jae-ha), and her former rival Jeong Cha-Sik (played by Ji Soo), work together to help her. They become her page-turners in this coming-of-age tale.
In this 2016 short drama series, every scene plays a role. This makes Page Turner one of the most impactful Korean high school dramas on this list. The way the producers approach classical music is unique. It’s not dumbed down but is full of knowledge and adds to the story’s realism.
It looks like a classic musical school where people know what they are talking about. The storyline is well-written, and none of the characters are forgettable. It’s a drama with several messages and themes of overcoming hardship and becoming better for it. Isn’t that what makes the teenage years unique?
7. School Series
Okay, I cannot mention a list of high school Korean dramas without literally mentioning the anthology series named School! Beginning in 1999, each season brings on new characters and trials. From finding love, facing bullying, dealing with mental health, and even finding a lost twin (yeah, 2013 is a lot to process), this series shows school life’s ups and downs. One of the best things to know is that each season is different.
What can I say about a classic franchise? Each school series has three things in common. 1) An OST fit for the hall of fame. Each OST lives up to the hype, with excellent lyrics and unforgettable melodies. 2) The characters are unique. No two characters throughout the series are the same. 3) The storylines are unique. Bar from the first one, there’s always some twist throughout the series. I’d recommend School 2013 more than the others.
8. Secret Campus
Step back to the early 2000s drama scene. Lee Min Ho is the actor of actors! He plays Park Du Hyeon, one of the central characters among six students. Like many other Korean school dramas, this is a tale of the trials and tribulations of teenagers of that time.
Be warned! Secret Campus was made in the early 2000s, so it has some outdated tropes. Another warning, this series gets dark! It is not afraid to be realistic about teen issues, such as self-esteem issues and parent pressure.
These problems are respectfully tackled, and each character is given an arc. It’s great to see a show not give the rosy picture of teenage life many others in this genre give off. Despite its outdated points, I’d still recommend this because the pros far outweigh the cons.
9. After School, Lucky or Not
I’ve had enough dark girls and gloom, don’t you think? Teenagers aren’t all ‘the end of the world is nigh.’ This is also when most people are not afraid to take life by hand. In this comedy, Kim So Eun (played by Kim So Eun) is a timid girl who finds the after-school club ‘Lucky or Not.’ In this, each member draws a piece of paper with a challenge on it. Their job is to complete the challenge.
This is one of the most easy-going and hilarious shows. The challenges range from swapping ‘souls’ with one another to becoming the most searched term on the internet; these are hilarious.
The cast was from a competition show and are newbies. However, they carry it well. Many of them are idols, so expect the OST to be brilliant. Overall, this school Korean drama is light, hilarious, and reminds you that there is fun in youth (something many dramas forget).
10. The School Nurse Files
School nurses rarely get the spotlight in k-dramas. Mix the natural power of School Nurses who can seemingly cure cancer to get your butt back to class with the ability to see human desires, feelings, and spirits as “jellies” you get The School Nurse Files.
The story follows Ahn Eun-young (played by Jang Yu-mi), who tries to protect her students from the harmful jellies that take monster form. Along with her is the Classical Chinese teacher Hong In-Pyo (played by Nam Joo-hyuk), who can create a shield to protect against the jellies.
All right, I’m just going to say it. This is one of the weirdest dramas I’ve ever talked about. Based on the novel School Nurse Ahn Eun-young by Chung Serang, there’s something rather refreshing about this genre.
The fact that it is focused on a nurse with a lollipop-looking magical sword swinging around at CGI creatures is only something you can find in Korean dramas. Imagine that on an American Soap Opera! In all seriousness, this was fun. It looks cartoonish at times, but did you read the premise? This is a drama that is more fun than usual.
11. Puberty Medley
Don’t go picking fights you can’t win! That’s the lesson of our protagonist Choi Jung Woo (played by Kwak Dong-Yeon and Sung-Hyun Baek).
As an adult, Choi Jung Woo goes back to his old country high school. While there, he receives e-mails from former classmates and acquaintances. Reminiscing on his youth, Jung Woo remembers when he picked a fight with Brown Bear (Choi Tae-Joon), resulting in a one-on-one boxing match.
He also recalls standing up for his seatmate Im Deok-won (played by Kwak Jung-Wook) and asking out the class president Yang Ah-young (played by Lee Se-young). This is based on the webtoon of the same name.
One of the best things about this Korean school drama is Choi Jung Woo’s reasoning. In the first episode, he bravely accepts the boxing match and asks out Ah-Young because he thought his father would be transferred to Seoul before anything happened.
However, at the end of the first episode, his father chooses to stay. This means Jung Woo had to face the consequences of his choices; something teenagers do not realize. The fact that he now must own up to these choices allows for some excellent character development.
This also happens because of the friendships he makes with Ah-young. There are also some hilarious moments, so don’t watch this at 2:00 AM unless you want to be evicted.
12. Hip Hop King: Nassna Street
Here is another teen K-drama about following your dreams. Young-Baek (played by Lee Ho-Won) wants to be a rapper. So much so that he lives in his hometown to go to Doobak High School for training. Along with fellow students, Song Ha-Jin (played by Lee Na-Eun), Kim Tae-Hwang (played by Shin Won-Ho), and Seo Ki-Ha (played by Han Hyun-Min), they each discover more about Hip-Hop and how it influences them.
Like most musicals, this 2019 Korean high school drama contains multiple OSTs and songs to jam to. The acting is on point, and like Page Turner, you get the sense that the characters know what they are talking about.
It investigates the culture and nature of hip-hop and develops characters that are influenced by it. If you are interested in Hip Hop, look it up.
This is not for the faint of heart. If you do not like violence and adult themes, do not watch this one. On the outside, Oh Jisoo (played by Kim Dong-Hee) is considered a model student. However, to achieve his dreams, he begins a side hustle of drugging young women for clients as part of a dating scheme.
This then leads to a dark path when the phone used to organize these ‘dates’ is taken by Bae Gyuri (played by Park Ju-Hyun). On top of that, another girl Seo Minhee (played by Da-bin Jung), gets wrapped up in the hustle.
I warned you that this is not for the faint of heart. This is where people do whatever it takes to make ends meet. You expect to loathe Oh Jisoo completely, but we don’t. Kim Dong Hee does such an excellent job of pulling the complexity and moral dilemmas the character is going through. The same goes for the whole cast, where no character is 100% good or 100% evil.
Jisoo and Gyuri are on entirely different sides of the coin. Gyuri comes from a stable household but has the constant pressure to take over her parent’s company. This adds to her domineering personality, which blends well with Jisoo’s more reserved personality.
There are plenty of heavy subjects, and some scenes are brutal. The cinematography demonstrates this darker and harsher look, almost looking like Parasite. If you can stomach these topics, watch Extracurricular.
14. Magic School
No, I am NOT going to Hogwarts (unfortunately). This Magic School is more about card tricks and magic shows. The plot centers around four men taking different paths in life. Each learns magic for their reasons, but together they decide to help one another.
The problem with this plot is that there is none. Each character goes through their motivations and has an issue to solve, from confessing their love to finding answers about their dead brother. As the art of magic, there is more to this short 2017 Korean school drama, than meets the eye.
15. Class of Lies/ Mr. Temporary
Yoon Kyun-sang stars in this crime school drama as Gi Moo-Hyeok, a selfish defense attorney that cares about his reputation and money. However, he loses it all after his shoddy defense of student Kim Han-soo (played by Jang Dong-Joo).
Determined to regain his law license and win this case, Gin goes undercover as a substitute teacher at Chunmyung High School. Under the disguise of Gi Kang-Jae, he soon becomes aware of the Veritas Club. All the students part of this are rich, intelligent, and ruthless. There is more to the murder than meets the eye.
I don’t know what it is about k-dramas, but they know how to create a good crime story. Right from the first episode, you are sucked in. You know something is amiss in the courtroom, leading both the defense and prosecution to know something is incorrect. The atmosphere is continuous.
Never have I ever been scarred by bullies through the screen. We know there have been typical mean girls and popular boys in these dramas, but the Veritas Club is terrifying. It’s a solid crime drama.
16. Moorim School: Saga of the Brave
This Korean school drama is more like Harry Potter than the last fantasy school. The story follows Yoon Shi-Woo (played by Lee Hyun-woo), a successful idol. He develops a hearing problem no doctor has seen before. Hwang Sun-ah (played by Jung Yoo-jin) tells him about the Moorim Institute, claiming her father can help him.
Along with Sun-ah, he soon clashes with his roommate Wang Chi-Ang (played by Lee Hong-bin). Wang Chi-Ang is the arrogant illegitimate son of a wealthy Chinese businessman.
One of the school genre’s critical milestones is academic stress attached to one of the students. However, here, that’s not the focus of the Moorim Institute. Instead, it is focused on teaching the students virtues such as honesty and sacrifice.
The fantasy setting adds to the uniqueness and brings a mystery element to the show. Yoon Shi-Woo and Wang Chi-Ang’s relationship from hated enemies to bromance is the highlight of the drama. It’s a whimsical drama that spins the genre on its head.
17. High Kick! The Revenge of the Short Legged
Here’s a legendary situation comedy featuring the tales of Ahn Nae-Sang (played by Ahn Nae-Sang) and his family.
Ahn Nae-Sang was bankrupted by his friend and left with lots of debt. To ensure his family’s safety, he moves them all to the countryside, where the only place open to them is with his brothers-in-law Yoon Kye-Sang (played by Yoon Kye-Sang) and Yoon Ji-Seok (played by Seo Ji-Seok). This teen sitcom chronicles their life in the countryside, most of which is in the country high school.
Whoever oversaw casting deserves a raise. Although most of the characters have the same name as their character, each character still makes their mark and feels like a family.
With episodes ranging from 5 minutes to 15 minutes, there are so many hilarious moments that made the 2011 K-drama a classic cultural reference. This humor gets better as the characters develop over the series. It’s not called a classic for no reason!
18. Law School
The 2021 Law School is one of the Asian shows that made Netflix a popular place to find original K-drama series. Hankuk University Law School is one of Korea’s most prestigious law schools. Yang Jong-hoon (played by Kim Myung-min) is a prosecutor turned professor who does not mince words. However, soon teaching becomes more challenging as, during a supervised mock test, a murder takes place. Each of the students and Professor Yang Jong-hoon is the main suspect.
This law squad is one of the best groups of friends in Korean dramas. Each character is so developed and goes through their crap, yet always manage to be there for one another. The more mature setting also lends itself to dealing with serious subjects more efficiently.
There are so many funny moments many of us can relate to, like waking up late or studying until our noses bleed. This is a successful drama due to the coherent plot that flowed and the enduring characters you can’t help but love.
19. High School King of Savvy
Lee Min Seok (played by Seo In Guk) is an average high-schooler who excels in hockey. However, when his older brother (who looks exactly like him) has to go into hiding, Min Seok takes on his identity Lee Hyung-suk and his place as the director of the Retail Team at Comfo company. To help him with his new position is temp worker Jung Soo-Young (played by Lee Ha-Na).
Well, this is an odd premise. You don’t know anything about running a business when you’re a teenager. This is a romantic – comedy, as the romance between our leads and their comedic interactions are the focus.
Jung Soo-young is a bit much in some scenes, but it is no fault of Lee Ha-Na’s abilities. However, I question the logistics of an 18-year-old and a 28-year-old being together. There are some hilarious moments, and the supporting cast heightens the humor.
20. Black Dog
I say it once. I’ll repeat it. Having a brilliant teacher can change a student’s life. After a teacher saved her life during a school trip, Go Ha Neul (played by Seo Hyun Jin) now dedicates her life to making a difference in her student’s life as much as that teacher did for her.
However, working at a private school is no easy matter. Thankfully, she makes alliances with the head of the school’s career counseling department, Park Sung Soon (Ra Mi Ran), and fellow teacher Do Yeon Woo (played by Ha Jun).
The education system in career is rough for students. That is a fact. However, dramas do not typically express the struggles teachers go through. It’s a complex system filled with politics, ego, and different departments fighting for funding and resources. It’s tougher to be a teacher than most school dramas show. The 2019 Black Dog empathizes with this point. They are showing how the purest of wishes teachers have for their students is twisted into something else under the education system.
21. Hello My Teacher/Biscuit Teacher and Star Candy
Na Bori (played by Kong Hyo-Jin) is a 25-year-old aspiring teacher who wants to return to her old school because of her high school crush, fellow teacher Ji Hyun-woo (played by Kim Da-Hyun). However, to get the job, her contract requires her to essentially babysit the King of the school Park Tae-in (played by Gong Yoo). However, as romance buds between Na Bori and Park Tae-in, they are forces trying to stop them. This drama also goes by the name Hello, my teacher.
Do not date your teacher! I repeat, no dating teacher. That being said, this is a fictional world. In this imaginary world, there is a very realistic romance.
Na Bori can be so childish and unsure of herself, while Park Tae-in is so mature that it’s hard to remember who is the older. However, the acting, especially Gong Yoo, is solid. There are many hilarious moments, especially with his earlier pranks on Na Bori. However, maybe this is a storyline we leave in the past with teachers dating students.
22. Extraordinary You
Imagine one day waking up and finding out your entire existence is a cartoon. And you’re not even the main character! Eun Dan Oh (played by Kim Hye-Yoon) discovers her entire existence, including her heart disease and engagement to Baek Kyung (played by Jae-Wook Lee), an act known as the ‘stage’ area.
Dan Oh is determined to make her own story in the ‘shadow’ area, including finding someone she loves. With hints that her character is to die, a no-named character known as No.13 (played by Rowoon) seems to be the answer to her questions.
Extraordinary You is based on the webtoon anime July Found by Chance. It takes many of the tropes we associate with romance teen series and turns them on their head.
Dan Oh is not a typical protagonist. She’s loud, expressive, and unladylike. Contrasting her with the supposed female lead Yeo Joo-da (played by Lee Na-Eun), who is always basking in the sunlight and looking fantastic, is hilarious. Kim Hye-Yoon’s performance throughout is a scene-stealer. This is a hilarious, heart-warming, heart-breaking, and satisfying Korean drama with lots of skinship.
23. All Of Us Are Dead
ZOMBIE! Yes, the zombie apocalypse has infected high school. Even the world’s end can’t stop teachers from wanting your essay on time! Because of a scientific experiment by a psychotic science teacher, the remaining students must use whatever supplies they can find to stay alive until help comes. They even reference Train to Busan.
The 2022 production team should be commended for the makeup and CGI departments. These zombies are amazing. Do you remember when the Walking Dead was about fighting zombies and was good? This perfectly brings back those vibes.
It’s a Korean high school zombie drama/action-packed, and the characters are developed and bloody violent. Please give me the death! Of course, the characters are multi-dimensional and make decisions based on fear. If you are a fan of zombie flicks, give this a go!
24. Green Mothers Club
Being a mother is a tough job. Many women state that they lose themselves in their role as a mother. Five mothers, each with a child in grade school, keep their competition close for their children. However, as a mysterious death occurs at their apartment complex, multiple secrets and dilemmas are revealed.
This 2022 Kdrama is a mixed beg. You either love it or hate it. Personally, it was boring. The beginning was boring. Even though the mystery is intriguing, the characters are still so boring. Also, the French-speaking segments are just wrong.
Look, these are amazing and talented actresses attached to this drama. However, this is one for you to decide for yourself.
25. The Sound of Magic
Do you know one of the best things about magic? It gives you hope in the darkest of times. Yoon Ah-Yi (played by Choi Sung-Eun) has had a rough time. Making a silent wish for her life to be better, her wish takes her to an abandoned park where she meets the mysterious magician Ri Eul (played by Ji Chang-Wook). In the abandoned amusement park, Ah-Yi finds hope again.
This is one of the most underrated Korean school dramas of a long time. First, it is beautiful. Most of the CGI is usually to make goofy-looking things such as The School Nurse Files.
However, the magic and effects are just stunning. The storyline between these two is jammed back, linking to the suspicious nature with which people associate magic. There’s no romance, but there is a ton of chemistry, and a bond is formed between the cast. Seriously, do yourself a favor and watch this masterpiece.
26. The Heirs
You saw this one coming. The Heirs is a classic teen romance Cinderella story. Cha Eun Sang (played by Park Shin Hye) catches the attention of Kim Tan (played by Lee Min Ho), heir to the Empire Group. He is also engaged to hotel heiress Rachel Ryu (played by Kim Ji Won).
However, Choi Young Do (played by Kim Woo Bin) is another heir to a conglomerate with feelings for her. Meanwhile, Yoon Chan Young (played by Kang Min Hyuk) grew up with Cha Eun Sang. However, he soon falls in love with Lee Bo Na (played by Krystal Jung).
There are so many people falling in love in this own group; you need to map it out. But, this drama is OK. Back in 2013, it was hailed as an example of a rom-com. However, now, it’s just … meh. Unless you have the urge to watch Korean hot movies.
Cha Eun Sang is a horrible character, doing nothing but cry. Lee Bo Na is way better, and the second lead couple is so cute. They were more interesting than the love triangle. The cast does a fantastic job with their roles, but the story and characters fall to today’s standards.
27. Playful Kiss
Guess if you can recognize this plot line? We have talked about it before. Ha Ni (played by Jung So Min) is a bubbly but not academically intelligent popular girl who falls in love with Seung Jo (played by Kim Hyun Joong). However, he does not feel the same way as her.
When an earthquake destroys Ha Ri’s home, her family moves in with her father’s childhood friend. This friend is Seung Jo’s father. So, they now live under the same roof.
Did you guess? This is an adaptation of the J-drama Mysterious Kiss. When talking about this one, most people on the internet say it is either better or comparable to its Japanese counterpart. I disagree.
The Korean male lead is way more of a jerk, while the Japanese were a lot more awkward. Hari is a bit much, but it’s her character. Personally, the Japanese version was better.
28. Boys Over Flower
If you didn’t see Heirs coming, then you should have seen this one coming. The classic rich boy/ poor girl love story made people swoon.
Jan Di (played by Kyu Hye Sun) is accepted into Shin Hwa High School after saving someone’s life. There, she becomes the target of bullying from the elite F4. Led by Goo Joon Pyo (played by Lee Min Ho), the school torments Jan Di until she finally kicks Goo Joon Pyo. Now, she becomes friendly with the boys and discovers more to them than meets the eye.
Can I say this? This was a classic when it came out. It has stellar acting from its cast. There is a natural chemistry between Kyu Hye Sun and Lee Min Ho. However, this story is so … toxic. This is still better than the Heirs because Jan Di is a character, at least in the beginning, until she turns into a damsel. But, when you compare it to today’s standards, it seems so toxic and outdated. Maybe it’s the fantasy of rich guys willing to do anything for you.
The Korean school drama Boys Over Flower has been adapted from a 2005 Japanese production by the same name and was later adapted into a Chinese Drama (Meteor Garden, 2018).
29. White Christmas
It might sound like a comforting Kdrama, but it’s not. Seven students and a teacher, each trapped in Susin High School, soon begin to receive abusive letters. As Christmas Eve comes around, the gang realizes there is a killer amongst them.
Central to this drama is one question, are monsters born or made? Right from the start, the school is made to be a prison. Students study all day and night and are isolated in the mountains. There are minimal decorations; even the dinner is akin to that seen at prisons.
The claustrophobia adds to the suspense; as you know, they are trapped. You don’t know who is good or evil. If you are looking for a good thriller, check out White Christmas.
30. Cherry Blossoms After Winter
Seo Hae Bom Haebom is a timid boy who has lived with Taesung and his mother after his parents passed away.
Now, being seventeen years old student, Seo Hae Bom enters the same class as Jo Tae Seon. From living under the same roof to studying in the same class, and being next to each other 24/7, it is making the whole situation more embarrassing.
In high school, the two begin to spend more time together, and although over the years they have developed a kind of sibling love, the new intimacy sparkles an unexpected romance to blossom between the two.
Cherry Blossoms After Winter is based on a short Korean web Manga by the same name. Finally, a brave BL drama breaks the traditional Korean school/teen drama framework. I had zero cringe vibes, and it was not weird to watch. On the contrary, it’s such a cute and sweet show I think my blood sugar rose just from watching it. As short as it feels, it is seen as having more investment than the other Korean BL series.See also: Top 13 Best BL Manhwa Full Of Love