Red-yellow hued ginkgo and maple leaves, soft sweaters, and the delicious fragrance of spiced lattes and roasted sweet potatoes — autumn is undeniably magical and warm. Naturally, it serves as the backdrop for many popular Kdramas, especially of the romantic variety. Here’s a look at a few that we’re watching this season.
Some of the finest scenes in Hallyu history were shot as Seoul’s air turned crisp and the tops of trees began switching shades to a deep red-orange. Complete, with carpets of crunchy leaves for the lead characters to walk on. All while bantering or confessing their love to each other, of course. Some allowed viewers worldwide to vicariously experience the breathtaking quality of this season. Others set fashion trends that had sweaters and long skirts flying off the shelves of stores. Whether you’re an autumn aficionado or a Kdrama enthusiast (or both) — here’s our roundup of the most popular titles that champion the most magical months of the year.
Popular Kdramas featuring the autumn season in all its glory
Directed by: Lee Na-jung
Cast: Kim So-hyun, Jung Ga-ram, Song Kang
Release date: 22 August 2019
Synopsis: An application called ‘Love Alarm’ picks up on a crush within a 10 m radius and declares it to those around. However, it doesn’t reveal who the person is. Against the backdrop of this complex dating culture is hardworking high school student Kim Jojo (played by Kim So-hyun) who’s burdened with a set of personal challenges. She finds herself caught in a love triangle between her peers Lee Hye Yeong (played by Jung Ga-ram) and Hwang Sun-oh (played by Song Kang) — both stellar students with unique, differing personalities.
As the female lead explores the app, she walks through a blanket of red-yellow hued crunchy leaves. Around her, Seoul shines in the warm colours of autumn. The protagonists also get to know each other against this backdrop — their romance stirring up nostalgia about school days in this popular Kdrama.
The King: Eternal Monarch
Directed by: Baek Sang-hoon and Jung Ji-hyun
Cast: Lee Min-ho, Kim Go-Eun, Woo Do-hwan, Lee Hong-nae
Release date: 17 April, 2020
Synopsis: Stern, dedicated emperor Lee Gon (played by Lee Min-ho) is on a quest to shut the door to a parallel world opened by demons. In the process he meets the bold police inspector Jeong Tae-Eul (played by Kim Go-eun). The two forge an alliance — helping each other and falling in love in the process. Meanwhile, their coexisting realities collide.
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Autumn is at the heart of this show, adding to the magic of its fantasy premise. A popular scene occurs in a garden, where time stands still as Lee Gon takes a second to truly admire Tae-Eul. He explains the occurrence to her later, adding, “thanks to that, I saw something beautiful.”
Directed by: Lee Eung-bok
Cast: Gong Yoo, Kim Go-eun, Wook Lee-dong
Release date: 2 December, 2016
Synopsis: Kim Shin (played by Gong Yoo) is an immortal goblin who had a tumultuous past and is desperate to end his life. However, he needs to find his fated bride to pull the plug. Centuries go by until he stumbles upon Ji Eun-Tak — a cheery girl with a tragic life. Also in the mix is his roommate Wang Ye (played by Lee Dong-wook), a grim reaper who’s never found his romantic happy ending.
This popular Kdrama is hailed for its cinematography — most of which captures Seoul and Canada in all their autumnal glory. Red-yellow-orange hues make up the backdrop of the show’s most dreamy scenes, including moments when Kim Shin discovers his love for Ji Eun-Tak for the first time and the interactions they both have. Not to mention, the colours lend a rather warm, comforting quality to the show.
Autumn In My Heart
Directed by: Yoon Seok-ho
Cast: Song Seung-heon, Song Hye-kyo, Won Bin
Release date: 18 September 2000
Synopsis: Two girls born on the same day in October — Eun-Suh (played by Song Hye-Kyo) and Shin-ae (played by Han Chae-young) — are raised by two separate families. The former’s life is thriving with loving parents and a brother Jun-suh (played by Song Seung-Heon) while the latter has a single parent and financial troubles. A car accident and a blood test reveals the two were swapped at birth and they switch their families. Years later, they meet at a hotel under very different social and financial positions. Things begin taking a turn when Jun-suh and Eun-suh meet again. What follows is love, loss, and everything in between.
As the title suggests, autumn is at the heart of this show. Not only did it release during the season but it also features Seoul in its autumnal best — while serving as a metaphor for the characters’ rather moving stories. Most importantly, however, Song Hye-kyo’s outfits in this popular Kdrama inspired a fall fashion trend — long skirts, sweaters, the whole shebang.
Where Stars Land
Directed by: Shin Woo-chul
Cast: Lee Je-hoon, Chae Soo-bin, Lee Dong-gun, Kim Ji-soo, Rowoon
Release date: 1 October 2018
Synopsis: Two individuals with varying personalities work as first-year members of the Passenger Services team at Incheon Airport. This includes Lee Soo-Yeon (played by Lee Je-hoon) who had to give up on his dream of being a pilot due to poor vision andHan Yeo-reum (played by Chae Soo-bin) who’s clumsy yet simultaneously a perfectionist.
In several pivotal moments in the show, the backdrop is breathtakingly autumnal — adding to the warmth of the romance. That aside, a popular dialogue from the Kdrama is dedicated to the season. “ I was born in the summer, but my favourite season is autumn because ….. I met my mother and father in autumn.”
Romance Is a Bonus Book
Directed by: Kim Na-Young, Lee Jung-Hyo
Cast: Lee Na-young, Lee Jong-suk, Jeong Eu-gene, Wi Ha-joon
Release Date: 26 January, 2019
Synopsis: Cha Eun Ho (played by Lee Jong-Suk) is a successful writer and the youngest chief editor of a publishing company. His childhood friend Kang Dan Yi (played by Lee Na Young) — a former copywriter who’s now divorced, unemployed, and navigating life as a single mother — lies to get a job at his company. She also takes up a room at his place until she can find an apartment for herself. As their love story blossoms, Eun Ho has to compete with book cover artist Ji Seo Joon (played by Wi Ha-joon) who’s wooing her as well. All while dodging the advances of his co-worker Song Hye Rin (played by Jeong Eu-gene).
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Seasons are quite instrumental in this popular Kdrama, depicting moods and situations. For instance, rain lashed through Seoul when the lead’s life was at its worst, clearing to a crisp autumn when things began looking up. Eun Ho confesses his feelings to Dan Yi through an iconic dialogue that reflects this motif. “I don’t know when I started to like you. From spring to summer. From summer to autumn. And from autumn to winter. Do you know when the season changes? Do you know exactly when the winter ends and the spring begins? I don’t exactly know when my feelings for you started to grow.” Don’t miss out on the impeccable fall fashion and the stunning shots of Wi Ha-joon walking capturing Seoul autumn through his camera.
Which of these popular Kdramas are you adding to your autumn binge list?
All images: Courtesy Netflix
This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia India