Almost every network, cable channel and streaming service active in South Korea has a new show out in May as the spring K-drama season continues to heat up.
Here’s the month’s new K-drama line-up.
Korea’s latest period drama stars Lee Joon (The Silent Sea ) as Lee Tae, a young man whose father overthrew the king and took the throne for himself, with the assistance of Park Gye-won (Jang Hyuk, Voice ).
Lee Tae eventually replaces his father, but instead of ruling wisely he is determined to rule with an iron fist. He finds opposition in the counsel of Gye-won, who wields more power as vice-premier.
Also sucked into the power struggle is the noble family of Yoo Jung (Kang Han-na, My Roommate Is a Gumiho ), a free-spirited woman who has captured Lee Tae’s heart. (KBS2, May 2)
Acclaimed film actor Kwak Do-won (The Wailing ) returns to the small screen for the first time in almost a decade in the comedy-drama There Is No Goo Pil-soo , the latest show from Backstreet Rookie writer Son Geun-joo.
Kwak plays the titular Goo Pil-soo, a promising boxer in his youth who is now in his 40s and running a small bar. He has a wife and son he would do anything for and he is still looking for his big break.
Yoon Doo-joon of K-pop boy band Highlight plays the 20-something Jung Seok, a smart youth who believes the path to success lies in founding a start-up company. (Seezn, May 4)
Netflix’s third original Korean drama series of the year is the fantasy The Sound of Magic from Itaewon Class director Kim Sung-yoon.
Beyond Evil’s Choi Sung-eun plays Yoon A-yi, a student who supports her younger sister through part-time jobs. Despite her workload and the absence of their parents, she manages to score top grades at school.
Competing with her for the top rank, and falling for each other in the process, is Na Il-deung (Hwang In-yeop, True Beauty ). A-yi then meets the mysterious magician Lee-eul (Ji Chang-wook, Backstreet Rookie ), who puts on shows for people who believe in magic. (Netflix, May 6)
Joining the SBS drama line-up in May is Woori the Virgin . Written and directed by Jung Jung-hwa (The Wind Blows ), the show features Lim Soo-hyang (When I Was the Most Beautiful ) as an assistant writer on a hit show.
She is in a relationship with detective Lee Gang-jae (Shin Dong-wook, Now, We Are Breaking Up ), but she is adamant about keeping her virginity until their wedding night.
However, during a check-up with her gynaecologist, she is accidentally artificially inseminated. The father is Raphael (Sung Hoon, Love ft. Marriage & Divorce ), the CEO of a cosmetics company, who is in a loveless marriage with Lee Ma-ri (Hong Ji-yoon, My First First Love ). (SBS, May 9)
The Target director Chang hops over to the small screen for mystery series Rose Mansion , with Lim Ji-yeon of Luck-Key in the starring role. Lim plays Ji-na, a hotel worker who is secretly plagued by low self-esteem. One day, her older sister Ji-hyun goes missing and Ji-na travels to the Rose Mansion Apartment, where her parents live.
She finds the residents there suspicious and – with the assistance of detective Min-soo (Yoon Gyun-sang, Class of Lies ) the only person she can trust – soon faces unexpected occurrences as she digs in to Ji-hyun’s disappearance. (TVing, May 13)
Disney+’s latest Korean show is the fantasy romance Kiss Sixth Sense , with Yoon Kye-sang (The Good Wife ) and Seo Ji-hye (Dr Brain ). Ye-sool (Seo) has had a special ability ever since her youth: she can see a person’s future if her lips touch theirs, but she has no way of knowing when the vision will come to pass.
Ye-sool works at an advertising company and she hates her boss Min-hu (Yoon). One day, their lips accidentally touch – and she is shocked to see a vision of them naked in the same bed. (Disney+, May 25)
Two years after It’s Okay to Not Be Okay , Seo Yea-ji is returning to screens in the tvN drama Eve as Lee La-el, whose family is destroyed by a powerful individual. La-el decides revenge is best served cold, and prepares for 13 years to get her own back.
When the day finally comes, she enlists the help of human rights lawyer Seo Eun-pyung (Lee Sang-yeob, On the Verge of Insanity ) and puts into plan a headline-grabbing two trillion won (US$1.6 billion) divorce lawsuit. (tvN, May 25)
So Ji-sub of Oh My Venus returns as Han Yi-han, an elite surgeon who specialises in general and cardiothoracic surgery. One day, a patient dies in his operating theatre – despite the surgery having gone well. His medical licence is suspended.
Four years later, he returns as a lawyer with a focus on medical litigation. While working alongside a public prosecutor (played by Lim Soo-hyang) who lost a loved one thanks to Yi-han’s supposed surgical error, he tries to uncover the truth of what really happened to the patient. (MBC, May 27)
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.