The 20 best high school K-dramas you must watch right now
High school is a time of life that no one ever forgets, and there's something so fun about watching K-drama characters go through the trials and triumphs that accompany this coming-of-age phase. The great thing about K-dramas that take place in high school is that they range from goofy ones based off mangas, like Boys Over Flowers, to nostalgic ones, like Answer Me 1997, to more dramatic, serious ones, like School 2013, so there's one for every mood you're in. Here is a list of 20 of the best high school K-dramas that you absolutely have to see!
1. School 2015
Lee Eun Bi (Kim So Hyun), a student at Gangnam's top high school, suddenly and mysteriously wakes up with total amnesia. However, when she discovers she was once cruelly bullied, Eun Bi becomes determined to right the wrongs of her past by transforming herself into a popular and glamorous girl. But along the way, she begins to recover fragments of her memories that slowly reveal the insidious truths of Segang High School...
2. School 2013
The iconic "School Series" that ran from 1999-2002 gets a serious reboot more than ten years later. This new installment features a cast of millennials engaging with contemporary high school life, concerns, and dreams. Jang Na Ra and Daniel Choi star as two teachers who will hopefully be able to turn a class of delinquents around. But what do you get when you pack the entire spectrum of high school into one small room? More drama than four years can handle!
3. Dream High
Produced by Bae Yong Joon and Park Jin Young ("JYP"), this hit musical show follows six students at Kirin Art High School as they try to achieve their dreams of stardom. Go Hye Mi is a talented singer forced to deal with her previously wealthy family's financial woes. She auditions for Kirin Art High School, but is rejected in favor of her best friend Yoon Baek Hee, and a bitter rivalry is born. Meanwhile Song Sam Dong is a country boy with an ear for music despite his hearing problems, who falls head over heels for Hye Mi and follows her to Kirin. But Sam Dong isn't the only one in love with Hye Mi. Jin Guk is Hye Mi's childhood friend and a talented rapper. He debuts in a small group called Group K with Baek Hee and Jason, an American exchange student who develops a bickering relationship with singer Pil Suk, a girl with a strong voice and an image problem. As these six students compete against each other and sing their hearts out, one question remains: which student will succeed to become the world's superstar pop idol "K"?
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4. Dream High 2
The follow-up to the 2011 smash hit Dream High , Dream High 2 boasts an (almost) all-new cast, but with the same music-and-dream centered story that made the first show so addictive. In Dream High 2 the beloved arts school has fallen on hard financial times and a famous entertainment company is attempting to buy it out. When three talented girls who have formed a group called HershE transfer to Kirin, they wind up teaming up with—or sometimes competing against—one of Kirin's boy groups. Lian dreams of becoming a famous actress, while Nana has an extraordinary voice but is haunted by her past. Ailee is a talented but airheaded performer. Meanwhile, Shin Hye Sung, who has her own set of musical skills, clashes with bad-boy Jin Yoo Jin, who dreams of becoming a rock star. Shenanigans, musical battles, competitions, and unexpected teamwork return in Dream High 2 bringing the same magic as the first. Prepare to watch the romantic and musical sparks fly!
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At the prestigious Shin Hwa High School in Seoul, four boys comprise the group known as the Flower Four. The crème de la crème of the most powerful families from Korea, these spoiled, rebellious, flirtatious and cruel boys rule the school. Enter Jan Di, a girl of humble upbringing who is accepted into Shin Hwa on a swimming scholarship after accidentally saving the life of a Shin Hwa student. Not one for following the rules blindly, Jan Di faces immediate scrutiny from the entire school and in particular the boys of the Flower Four and their leader, Goo Jun Pyo, who dislikes her instantly. Through her charm and undying optimism, she slowly begins to capture the hearts of those around her, even the icy boys of the F4.
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This perennially favorite series finds itself in its third incarnation with an all-star cast of South Korean pop stars. Sulli stars as Gu Jae Hee, a love struck high schooler who’s hell bent on transferring to an all-male prep school. Disguised as a boy, Jae Hee infiltrates the campus and finds herself thwarted by lovable goofballs and heartthrobs, but she never loses aim of her mission to rehabilitate the elusive Kang Tae Joon (Choi Minho), a promising young athlete who abruptly and mysteriously retreated from his beloved sport. Will Jae Hee heal Tae Joon’s wounds without blowing her cover?
High school may be tough, but Woo Hyun (Nam Woo Hyun) has a guardian angel looking over him — literally. Disguised as a naive high schooler, Lee Seul Bi (Kim Sae Ron) descends from the heavens to protect Woo Hyun's life, but discovers she's got a thing or two to learn about life as a teenager, including the pains of falling in love. Can this cherubic guardian protect the apple of her eye and also manage to survive high school?
Season 1: Episodes 1-12
Kim So Eun (Kim So Eun) is a timid, unadventurous high school student until one day she receives a mysterious note inviting her to the after school “Lucky or Not Club.” It’s there that she meets five flower boys (played by the idol group 5urprise) who choose her to be their new leader. Each day, the club draws a random slip of paper that contains a fantastical and extraordinary mission the group must complete, the process of which draws out Kim So Eun’s adventurous and bold side. An experiment in the new “drama-toon genre,” After School: Lucky or Not is a colorful and fun short series that is reminiscent of a manhwa.
Season 2: Episodes 13-25
School's back in session, and everybody's favorite group of boys (reprised by the idol group 5urprise) are back for a new semester of extracurricular antics. This season, the magical mentors reassemble with their newly elected leader (played by Song Joo Hee of Hello Venus), a bashful student who quickly discovers a new breed of cram school that's full of wondrous adventures and life lessons.
Shut Up: Flower Boy Band is the story of a high school rock band dealing with friendship, rivalry, romance and a passion for music. Byung Hee is the crazy, free-spirited leader and vocalist of the popular underground rock group, Eye Candy. Rounding out the band are Ji Hyuk, the chic Hyun Soo, playboy Ha Jin, silent Do Il and baby-faced Kyung Jong. When their troubled high school is forced to shut down, the band debates whether it's even worth returning to school at all. However, due to a growing rivalry with their new school's current ruling band, Strawberry Fields, Eye Candy decides to attend Jungsang High out of spite, and try to rule the school once again. Shut Up: Flower Boy Band is a music drama like you've never seen before; relentless and highly stylized, these flower boys aren't out to be your friendly, neighborhood idols. Lee Min Ki takes a break from his real-life rock career to return to television. He's joined by Kim Myung Soo, better known as "L" from the popular K-Pop group Infinite, Sung Joon ( Lie to Me ), and Yoo Min Kyu.
When a crazed fan takes it too far with Yoon Seol Chan (Yong Jun Hyung), member of top K-pop boy band Men in Black, he lashes out at her. But in the age of viral videos, no indiscretion is forgiven, especially this one. To take the heat off the ensuing media fiasco, Seol Chan’s management company quietly shoos him off to school, where he is joined by a group of misfits, including transfer student Min Se Yi (Ha Yeon Soo), a talented oddball from New Zealand. In true coming-of-age fashion, this exiled group of students discovers the connections that bind them together: music and friendship. It’s back to school for the surly Seol Chan, but is he willing to learn anything new?
Aftermath is a supernatural crime drama based on the popular Naver webtoon by Kim Sun Kwon ("Survivors of Those Days," "K Errands Center"). It is a thrilling story of murder, mystery, and love that was made exclusively for Naver TVCast for viewing on mobile devices. Ahn Dae Yong (Dong Joon) is a quiet high school student who suddenly develops the super power to predict who is a murderer and who is about to die. Those who appear to have red eyes are destined to die soon, while those with blue eyes are about to commit murder. Ahn Dae Yong decides to use this power to save lives and becomes an unexpected hero for the people.
12. Playful Kiss
An adaptation of classic manga Itazura No Kiss, Playful Kiss is a warm, bubbly drama about falling in love and growing up along the way. Oh Ha Ni, nicknamed "Noah's snail" by her father and friends for her ability to keep trying even though she isn't the brightest in the bunch, has one goal in mind: to capture the heart of school genius, Baek Seung Jo. After harboring an all-consuming crush for years, she finally gets up the courage to give him a letter confessing her feelings. Seung Jo, an icy perfectionist, coldly rejects her. When Ha Ni's house is destroyed by an earthquake, she and her father move in with an old family friend—none other than Seung Jo's father. Now, Ha Ni and Seung Jo must deal with the awkwardness of living under the same roof. Can one determined, warm-hearted high school girl melt the heart of this closed-off genius? Kim Hyun Joong, leader of popular boyband SS501 and famous for his role in Boys Over Flowers is joined by promising newcomer Jung So Min.
A worthy successor to the international hit Boys Over Flowers, Heirs follows a group of privileged, elite high school students as they are groomed to take over their families' business empires. These wealthy students seem to have everything under control–except their love lives. Kim Tan (Lee Min Ho) is heir to the Empire Group sent to study abroad in the U.S. In reality it's a form of exile, as his elder half-brother back home (Choi Jin Hyuk) schemes to take over the family business. While in the States, Kim Tan bumps into Cha Eun Sang (Park Shin Hye), who's arrived from Korea in search of her older sister. He feels himself falling for her, never realizing that she's the daughter of his family's housekeeper. When his fiancée Rachel Yoo (Kim Ji Won) arrives to bring him back to Korea, his heart is torn between love and duty. Meanwhile, Rachel's half-brother Choi Young Do (Kim Woo Bin) develops his own crush on Eun Sang. Who said being a rich, beautiful high school student was easy?
There are a lot of dark secrets at Seonam Girls High School, but nothing is too difficult to solve for the school's Sherlockian group of private investigators. Mentored by their teacher Ha Yeon Joon (Kim Min Joon), these beautiful and intelligent sleuths — Ahn Chae Yool (Jin Ji Hee), Lee Ye Hee (Lee Hye Ri aka Hyeri), Yoon Mi Do (Kang Min Ah), Kim Ha Jae (Lee Min Ji), and Choi Sung Yoon (Stephanie Lee) — use investigatory finesse to solve hot-button cases, including abortion, bullying and suicide.
15. God of Study
Based on a highly popular Japanese manga, God of Study is a compelling underdog story of competition and romance. Kang Suk Ho may not be the most successful lawyer, but the last thing he expects is to be called back to his old high school. Run-down and full of slackers and teenage delinquents, he is called in to deal with the administrative details of the school being shut down—he has no idea it will change his life forever. While wandering the school halls, he is touched by the plight of the students who, like him, come from mostly poor families and bad situations. He strikes a deal with the school board, and they give him a year to turn things around. Suk Ho picks troublemaker Hwang Baek Hyun, sweet Gil Pul Ip, headstrong Na Hyun Jung, rich slacker Hong Chan Doo, and lazy Oh Bong Goo as the five students he must somehow help get accepted into Korea’s top university. Soon, this group of five mismatched students have formed an odd bond that results in romance, conflict, and even miracles.
In an imaginary world, modern-day Korea is run by a constitutional monarchy facing crumbling popularity after the recent death of the reigning King. To try to help the situation, the Royal Family decides to marry off the Crown Prince, Lee Shin, prior to his ascension to the throne. To their horror, however, they discover that the dead King's father, Shin's grandfather, had a pact with a commoner that their grandchildren would marry. Enter headstrong, klutzy, Shin Chae Kyung, an average girl who is now suddenly engaged to the country's Crown Prince. Prince Shin has no intention of making things easy for his commoner fiancée, however, especially since he’s got his eye on someone else. Chae Kyung soon finds her work cut out for her in adapting to palace life and trying to please the Royal Family. Her optimistic spirit captures the attention of Lee Yul, the other contender for the throne who, while trying to win the Princess in order to gain the throne, finds himself falling in love with her for real. Among the plots, deceptions, and expectations in the mix, can the Royal couple see one another for who they really are and manage to fall in love?
17. I Am Sam
Rookie high school teacher Jang Yi San (Yang Dong Geun) has seen his fair share of disrespect from insolent high schoolers, but he’s in a run for his money when he’s suddenly assigned to oversee a classroom of misfits and delinquents. One of them is Yoo Eun Byul (Park Min Young), the daughter of a notorious mob leader. Together, Eun Byul and Yi San come to learn that nature’s first mortal enemies — students and teachers — really can learn a thing or two from one another. And just maybe, they can bring out the best in each other.
18. Answer Me 1997
It’s official: the 90’s are back! The warm glow of nostalgia lights up this delightful high school drama following a group of friends through those halcyon days of — you guessed it — the last glorious decade of the 20th century. This sweet drama is sure to please anyone who has fond memories of innocent kpop, Guess t-shirts and Super Nintendo. Starring Jung Eun Ji of the kpop group APink, Seo In Gook (Love Rain), Shin So Yool, and former 90's k-pop idol Eun Ji Won of Sechs Kies!
Lee Yoon Ho (Jung Il Woo) is the resident "bad boy" of his high school - famed for his love of motorcycles and the unstoppable "high kick" with which he defeats opponents in his frequent fights. His younger brother and best friend Lee Min Ho (Kim Hye Sung from Kingdom of the Wind), on the other hand, is a straight-A student who would rather spend his time building models and running web blogs. The two brothers are opposite in every way, but stand by each other through everything, as Min Ho deals with bullying and Yoon Ho fields an intense crush on his female teacher. Their father (Jung Joon Ha), meanwhile, is a shiftless dreamer who lost his job due to wild investments and now allows his domineering doctor wife (Park Hae Mi) to bring home the cash. Grandfather Lee Soon Jae is the heart of the family, a feisty, money-hungry patriarch with a ridiculous addiction to pornography. Uncle Min Yong (Choi Min Yong) is a recently-divorced teacher who's enjoying his newly single status by toying with both his co-worker and his ex-wife. These are just a few of the characters in this warm-hearted, often witty story about the ups-and-downs, love triangles, and generation gaps of an unusual, rambunctious family.
20. Coming Soon: Orange Marmalade
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Despite a 200-year-old treaty between humans and vampires, both races still don't get along. Amidst the looming tension, Jung Jae Min (Yeo Jin Goo), a posh yet kindhearted high school student, quickly falls for the mysterious new girl Baek Ma Ri (Seol Hyun). But can Ma Ri conceal her true vampire identity and give love an honest chance? If these star-crossed lovers can find the courage to make the leap, Jae Min and Ma Ri may just be the key to a final resolution between humans and vampires...
How many of these high school K-dramas have you seen? Are you watching School 2015? Do you love it like I do? Comment below!