I’ve ordered it in terms of how much I like it vs. how school drama-like it is, putting an emphasis on friendships.
There’s actually 3 sections on this page:
1. Reply 1997 / Answer Me 1997 (2012) 10/10
Genre: Teen / Friendship / Comedy / Romance
Set in Busan in 1997 (and 2012) about a group of high school friends.
I love this drama so, so much ♥ ♥ ♥
Elements: friendships, family, teachers, girls/boys, high school student problems
2. School 2013 (2012) 9/10
Genre: School / Friendship / Teen
It’s a school drama. Purely and entertainingly a school drama. With studies, friendships, families, teachers, bullies, etc. It’s the fifth part of KBS’ School series that ran in 1999-2002, 2013, 2015.
I also really love this drama. It has the best bromance, Lee Jong-suk and Kim Woo-bin ♥
I would describe this as teen angst but it’s not super heavy on the emotions.
Elements: friendships, parents, teachers, bullying, outcasts, studies
3. Angry Mom (2015) 9/10
Genre: Family / School
Jo Kang-ja was once known for being a tough, feared troublemaker in high school. When she gets pregnant in her late teens she decides to become a responsible mother. When Kang-ja discovers her daughter, who is now a high school student, is being bullied she decides to go back to high school to protect her daughter, as a student.
This is such a good drama! The main character is the mother, rather than a teenager but it’s still a really great school drama! It’s on the heavy side of emotions, to let you know.
Elements: family, bullying, teachers, friendships
4. Sassy, Go Go / Cheer up! (2015) 8/10
Genre: Friendship / School / Romance / Family
At the elite Sevit High School, there are two clubs. There is a dance club called Real King, where students ranked in the bottom 5th percentile gathered together. Baek-Ho, on the other hand, is a so-called cheerleading club comprised of students in the top 5%. All they do is study but they joined the club to look good on their university applications.
It’s really, really good but my feels are not as strong as the above dramas. I would actually consider it better made than Angry Mom. I struggled on rating Angry Mom as 8 or 9. Angry Mom’s really intense, dramatic, crazy and amazing. Sassy, Go Go seems so normal in comparison but it’s just as good! It’s so much harder for a normal thing in comparison to be amazing don’t you think? I only ranked it after Angry Mom because although I loved this drama I was squealing more when watching Angry Mom. I still replayed the romantic scenes in this drama 5 times each though.
This one has a more light-hearted flow to it if that’s what you are looking for.
Note: Ji Soo and Go Su-hee are in both Angry Mom and Sassy, Go Go.
Elements: friendships, teachers, studies, parents
5. Monstar (2013) 8/10
Genre: Romance / Music / School / Teen
Min Se-yi transfers to a new school where popular Men In Black member Yoon Seol-chan attends.
It stars Yong Jun-hyung (Beast) who sounds so sexy, like most Korean rappers. Their music scenes, especially the first few, are so good!
Elements: friendships, bullying, outcasts
6. Goong / Princess Hours (2006) 8/10
Genre: Romance / Comedy
Imagine that South Korea still had a monarchy. A normal high school girl overhears the handsome prince that goes to her school proposing to a girl only to be rejected. She then goes home only to find out she has an arranged marriage with that very same prince. She doesn’t want to but her family is in debt and she has no choice.
It’s half nostalgia but I’ve watched this drama so many times. It’s my first Korean drama ship ♥
Elements: friendships, family
7. The Heirs / The Inheritors (2013) 8/10
Genre: Romance / School
The drama follows the rich and elite students at high school. Poor, cynical Cha Eun-sang goes to the U.S. in search of her older sister. She encounters Kim Tan, who was sent to study abroad by his jealous older brother. She soon returns to Korea and Kim Tan’s fiancée, who came to the U.S., also brings him back to Korea. Cha Eun-sang and her deaf mother, who is a conglomerate family’s housekeeper, moves into the conglomerate family’s house due to lack of money. She soon discovers it’s Kim Tan’s house.
It’s filled with stars, loveable ones (except I don’t like Park Shin-hye). ♥ Lee Min-ho, Kim Woo-bin, Jung Krystal (f(x)), Kang Min-hyuk (CNBLUE), Kang Ha-neul, Park Hyung-sik (ZE:A), Choi Jin-hyuk ♥
Elements: friendships, family
8. Hi! School – Love On (2014) 7/10
Genre: Fantasy / Romance / School / Teen
An angel (think Death God guide) saves a male student from danger so she has to become human. The student she saved thinks she’s a lost, amnesic child so she ends up living with him and his grandmother.
It stars Woohyun and Hoya from Infinite ♥ but L’s my bias ♥ ♥ ♥ so I’m waiting for him to be a leading man. I’ve only watched a few episodes of this maybe one day I’ll back to it… one day… It seemed to be quite school drama-ish which I put this here.
If you can’t tell from the fact I haven’t finished the drama but this is when the list starts to go down in terms of good drama / liking the drama. I did like this drama well enough but it was a tad slow/weird/not sure what’s going on? I’d like to finish it at least whereas the following dramas I either don’t want to finish it or I didn’t like it much. Writing this is making me want to watch it.
Elements: friendships, family
9. Dream High (2011) 4/10
Genre: Music / Romance / School
The students at Kirin High school dream of becoming K-pop idols. They spend their days training in singing and dancing.
I watched 11 episodes of this drama. Enough for Suzy to get together with someone and left it at that. I will not be watching the rest.
Elements: friendships, bullying
10. Who Are You: School 2015 5/10
Genre: Romance / School / Teen
Twins separated at birth. Eun-bi lives in an orphanage and is bullied at school. Eun-byul is adopted and popular at her school, only she knows of her twin after seeing a girl who looks exactly like her in a newspaper. One day she disappears while Eun-bi attempts to suicide and loses her memory. Eun-bi is mistaken as Eun-byul so she starts living as her.
As School 2013’s sequel I had high expectations. They were dashed so much. I came to hate the drama except for my love Yook Sung-jae ♥. I would suggest if you want to watch the drama to put it out of your head that it’s School 2013’s sequel.
Elements: friendships, bullying, family
11. Ma Boy (2012) 7/10
Genre: Romance / Comedy / School
Jang Geu-rim enters a boarding school. She ends up in the same class and room with popular CM star Irene who turns out to be a boy! (3 episodes)
This is a really short, cute drama. Kim So-hyun and Sun Woong (TOUCH) are super cute! He’s such a cute girl.
Elements: set in school
12. To The Beautiful You (2012) 5/10
Genre: Romance / School
Based on the manga Hana Kimi (Hanazakari no Kimitachi e). Goo Jae-hee, who lives in USA, sees a competition on T.V. and starts to idolise high jumper Kang Tae-joon. After he has an accident that could end his career Jae-hee decides to go to his school in Korea even though it’s a boys school.
I only finished the drama to stare at Minho. Well I only started it to stare at him but nobody else grew on me. I rather came to dislike everybody but him. The drama was as good as the manga was, bad! I’m pretty sure I’ve read the manga but I only vaguely remember the start so I don’t know if I finished it.
Elements: set in school
13. Boys Over Flowers (2009) 3/10
Genre: Romance / School
Based on the manga Hana Yori Dango. A bullying incident leads poor, hardworking Geum Jan-di to receive a scholarship to attend prestigious Shinhwa High School. The F4 are four rich ‘flower’ boys who rule the school and no one stands against them, until Jan-di.
This drama was nearly as bad as the manga so I didn’t like it, hated it even, I only read the first chapter of the manga but at least I made it until the third episode of the drama. I love Lee Min-ho but I really have no idea why everyone loved this drama, or the manga for that matter.
Elements: bullies, friendships?
14. Operation Proposal (2012) 5/10
Genre: Romance / Fantasy / Comedy
Kang Baek-ho and Ham Yi-seul have been best friends since elementary school. At Yi-seul’s wedding, to another man, he regrets that he has never confessed his love for her. A mysterious man who calls himself a time coordinator suddenly appears and offers to send him back to the past to be able to win Yi-seul’s heart but changing the future is not as easy as it seems.
Yoo Seung-ho’s so cute. I’ve only watched four episodes so I don’t know much. I’ve put this at the bottom because even though I’ve seen 4 episodes I still don’t know who the friends are. It’s more romance focused than school focused, basically I still don’t know what’s happening. I think the girl gets married to the teacher in present time too which is just gross. It’s like Reply 1997 because it’s set in the present and past, except in this drama he is actually going back in time.
1. Twenty Again / Second Time Twenty Years Old (2015) 7/10
Genre: Romance / Comedy / University
Ha No-ra became pregnant at age 19 thus she had to quit school and get married. She lived as a dependent housewife and mother. Now 38 and being pestered for a divorce, she is misdiagnosed with terminal cancer and told she has 6 months to live. So she decides to go back to school and experience university life for the first time. Her son and his girlfriend are also freshmen at the same university and her snobby husband secretly accepted a teaching job there too. Her prickly theatre arts professor turns out to be Cha Hyun-seok, who had a crush on her in high school.
I’ve only just started watching this. The art professor and the son are super cute. Especially the son.
I put this higher on the list even though she’s a mature age student because she’s all what am I doing, where am I going, how on earth do I use the website, why does everybody have friends but me… Just like I was.
Elements: students, studies, friendships
2. Cheese in the Trap (2016) 7-8/10
…up to ep.5? not far but far enough
Genre: Romance / Drama / School
A hardworking university student is suspicious of her popular sunbae.
I don’t remember the college applicable part of the story. I have a vague idea but I’m not sure if I’m getting it mixed up with Twenty Again. I do remember her waking up late for class (her hair stood out more than usual). I think something about assignments and of course her sunbae but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Elements: friendships, studies
3. Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo (2016) 9.5/10
Genre: Coming-of-Age / Romance / Comedy / Sports
Elements: friendship, sports
4. Heartstrings / You’ve Fallen for Me (2011) 5/10
Genre: Romance / Music / Youth / University
Lee Gyu-won majors in Traditional Korean Music and plays the gayageum. Lee Shin majors in Western Music and is the vocalist and guitarist of rock band “The Stupid.” The university is having it’s 100th anniversary celebration with their students putting on performances and Gyu-won decides to join.
Although the drama is so-so, I really love the OST’s. This is a great drama for CNBLUE fans with both Yonghwa and Minhyuk in it. Actually I thought this was a school drama like Dream High until I started researching to type this up. I wonder why I had that impression.
Elements: (music) studies, teachers, friendships
4. Reply 1994 / Answer Me 1994 (2013) 7/10
Genre: Romance / Youth / University
Set in 1994, university students from various provinces reside in a boarding school run by a couple with a daughter.
I haven’t finished this drama but I’ve yet to see the university. I’ve seen their sports ground but not the university. It’s mostly set in the boarding house. It’s in a similar style to Reply 1997, being it’s sequel. There’s too many male characters and none are really attractive/good-looking to me. Also they are all nicknamed, it’s hard for my incompetent mind.
1. I Hear Your Voice / I Can Hear Your Voice (2013) 9/10
Genre: Romance / Fantasy / Legal / Thriller
After his father is murdered, Park Soo-ha gains the ability to read minds and falls in love with an older girl who testifies against the murderer. They meet again when he’s in high school and she’s a lawyer but now she’s changed.
Park Soo-ha is a high school student so he is seen in school in the first episode but not much throughout the drama. He’s so hot in school uniform. There’s another two school students who play parts in the drama. They’re sort of important, but really just bring the comedy. They’re so cute.
2. Reply 1988 / Answer Me 1988 (2015) 8/10
Genre: Friendship / Family / Youth / Romance / Comedy
Five families that live in the same neighbourhood in Seoul 1988. Third installment of the Reply/Answer Me series.
The main kids are all in high school and there are some scenes set in school but not enough for it to be a school drama. There’s a lot of focus on studies of course, being Korean, but that and friendships are the closest elements to a school drama.
3. High School: King of Savvy (2014) 6/10
Genre: Romance / Workplace / Comedy / Family
A high school hockey player, Lee Min-suk gets a call from his older brother to impersonate him at his new executive job.
The drama is split pretty evenly between romance/work/school. Min-suk has his school friends and Jung Yoo-ah, right, has her friendship with Min-suk and his friends but it’s not enough to be a school drama.
4. Orange Marmalade (2015) 5/10
Genre: Romance / Fantasy / Teen
Vampires have evolved, they don’t need to live off humans for food but they are still discriminated against so they hide and pretend to be human. A teenage girl, wanting to quietly live pretending to be human, accidentally kisses the neck of the most popular guy at her school. Based off the webtoon by Seok-woo.
Compared to the other dramas in this section of my list it’s set heavily in school except when the drama switches to a historical drama in episode 5 for a few episodes for some reason. So I stopped at 4. Despite being set at school I wouldn’t call it a school drama. I don’t remember any friendship/teacher/school work elements. That’s why the genre is ‘teen’ rather than ‘youth’.
4. Plus Nine Boys (2014) 7/10
Genre: Romance / Family / Comedy
A family with males aged 9, 19, 29 and 39. The mother believes in the Korean superstition that anything ending in nine is cursed.
Only one couple, Yook Sung-jae and Park Cho-rong, are in high school. I love Sung-jae but I didn’t like Cho-rong’s acting as a cold girl, because she’s an idol, one with a ‘cute and innocent image’ so she’s not allowed to pull off an actual mean character. I don’t know why they still try. There are the elementary students as well which are both super cute and super embarrassing.