When it comes to family, it's probably the rule and not the exception that there'll be squabbles over anything ranging from the mundane choices in bread to the ultimate decision on inheritance. And, when it comes to South Korea, where the family living under the same roof is often multigenerational, even an individual's personal decision in love and career may involve the entire extended family. So it's time to recommend some Korean dramas that are essentially soap operas that perfectly exemplify how family works (or doesn't work) in a society where traditions and modern values often collide.

Although the Korean soap operas are similar to their American counterparts with a huge ensemble cast in a contemporary-themed story that branches into many subplots, the best thing about the Korean dramas is that they have an ending — They generally don't even extend into a season 2, unlike the American ones that seem to run on forever. The format can be daily or weekly. Lately, the trend seems to be more with only 50 episodes, which run about 6 months with 2 episodes a week. By contrast, a regular drama has 16 to 20 episodes and completes in 2 to 3 months max. 

Here are a few of the most popular family-centric soap operas available on DramaFever:

1. You're the Best, Lee Soon Shin, starring Lee Ji Eun (IU) and Jo Jung Suk (2013, 50 episodes)

Lee Soon Shi is the name of a famous Korean general in history, but here, Lee Soon Shi (IU) is the youngest sibling and least successful in her family. Soon Shin finds herself desperate to help ease the family's financial burden when her father passes away suddenly. Her sunny and spirited attitude attracts Shin Joon Ho (Jo Jung Suk), a talent agent banking on a comely return-on-investment. However, both of them get more than they expected when their partnership turns both of their lives around for the better. Along the way, you'll meet many extended family members whose stories crisscross and connect with one another.

This drama became a top-rated series, and it is also a perfect example of the long format fostering the growth of young, rising actors who have become today's stars. IU recently shined as the leading lady in Scarlet Heart: Ryeo, and Jo Jung Suk starred in Jealousy Incarnate and Oh My Ghostess.


You're the Best, Lee Soon Shin

Starring Lee Ji Eun (IU) and Jo Jung Suk

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2. Unstoppable High Kick, starring Kim Hye Sung and Jung Il Woo (2006, 167 episodes)

This famous daily sitcom with 167 episodes drew such high ratings that it was followed by two spin-offs: High Kick Through the Roof and High Kick 3: Revenge of the Short Legged.

The young leads, notably Jung Il-Woo (Return of Iljimae) and Kim Bum (Boys Over Flowers ) saw their career take off with this series. Part family drama, part comedy, the story follows the loves and lives of the quirky Lee family through three generations.


Unstoppable High Kick

Starring Kim Hye Sung and Jung Il Woo

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3. Pink Lipstick, starring Park Eun Hye and Park Kwang Hyun (2010, 149 episodes)

If this drama were a romance novel, it would definitely be an unstoppable page-turner. A kindhearted wife is betrayed by her husband and her best friend. She also discovers her ex is responsible for her father's death, and she turns into an avenger who executes a careful plan for revenge. 

Will she still find true love? It'll take 149 episodes to find out in this very popular series, and the leading actress Park Eun Hye (Jewel in the Palace, Yi San) won an acting award.


Pink Lipstick

Starring Park Eun Hye and Park Kwang Hyun

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4. Ice Adonis, starring Lee Yoo Ri and Hyun Woo Sung (2012, 108 episodes)

Romance and revenge definitely take the front seat in this drama series. The turbulent ups and downs in Yeon Hwa's life, caused by her evil stepsister, seem incredibly unbelievable but are perfect for anyone with K-drama cravings. Ultimately, it's all about what jealousy and greed, driven by passion, can do to the many characters who are related by family connections. 

Will Yeon Hwa ever be able to break through her shackles and shine brightly once again, like the Ice Adonis flower? Viewers couldn't get enough of this ratings winner which topped the charts for 18 consecutive weeks, and it was extended by 8 episodes.

5. You Are Too Much, starring Uhm Jung Hwa and Jang Hee Jin (2017, 50 episodes)

This family drama definitely has a strong "soap" flavor. The villains are represented by a capricious diva singer, a self-centered tycoon, and his iron-willed mother. The younger set, including the tycoons' adult children and a poor singer who imitates the diva singer for a living, are involved in romantic entanglements and inheritance struggles. Family values definitely mean something else here.

The tycoon's family in this drama is particularly dysfunctional, as contrasted with the imitation singer's family that is poor but generally happy. But fate at the hands of the scriptwriter will somehow connect the two families into one big family feud. Will anyone be a winner at the end?


You Are Too Much

Starring Uhm Jung Hwa and Gu Hye Sun

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Are you interested in these Korean soap operas or family dramas? Which ones do you recommend?

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