Summer is officially in full flood right now, and while we're still in warm, hazy days, and some of the world at least has extra time to watch dramas now that school is out, what better time than to delve into some dramas that seem specially made for the season? Here are five summer-time dramas.
#1 Summer Scent
This is the least famous of the Four Seasons dramas, but also arguably the most beautifully filmed. Song Seung Hun and Son Ye Jin, in a drama that helped catapult them to their current superstar status, fall in love against the backdrop of rolling green hills and a luxurious hotel resort in a mountain village. The set seems to be perpetually lit with sunlight. The main couple's fateful first meeting takes place in the hils where the heroine has gone to gather wildflowers.
This is a delicate, warm, lovingly filmed drama (in the first half at least). The drama captures well the sense of pervasive well-being and the laziness of the air that summer engenders, and is shot through with green and pink and faded gold colors, from the fields Hye Won (the heroine) is constantly wandering in to the roses she uses to decorate the resort right down to her flower-like wardrobe. Things derail a bit into messy angst in the second half, as they're wont to do in the Four Seasons dramas, but this is a near-perfect summer drama.
#2 Buzzer Beat
Japanese drama Buzzer Beat captures the giddiness and the effervescent magic of first love and youthful crushes. Yamashita Tomohisa (better known as Yamapi) and Kitigawa Keiko, two of the leading stars of Japan's younger acting crowd, make luminous sparks together as a talented basketball player who has lost his edge and a struggling young musician. Both have big dreams, and when they meet by chance, quickly become friends who support each other, until suddenly, all they can see is each other.
Full of tiny moments of film magic, Buzzer Beat is both an addicting and tender romance and a story about a group of young people who hang out on the beach and in restaurants, fall in love and find friendship – amid the shifting rivalries and intense emotions of youth. It's a perfect summer drama.
#3 Corner with Love
There's something about summer that just stirs the desire (at least for me) to watch low-key, intimate romances with lots of warmth and a trace of magic. They're as hard to find as four leaf clovers, but so worth it when you do. Taiwanese drama Corner with Love is the story of a spoiled but kind-hearted rich girl (Barbie Hsu of Meteor Garden) who finds herself penniless and alone when her parents go bankrupt and disappear. Leaving Shanghai for her parents' house in Taiwan, she finds that it now belongs to a poor family that runs a restaurant. With no other choice, she stays and works at the restaurant, where sparks of all kinds fly with Qin Lang (Show Luo), the owner's hot-tempered grandson. The drama is flawed, with the conflicts between Xin Lei and Qin Lang occasionally getting repetitive, but it is oh so addicting and entertaining and ultimately romantic. Qin Lang and Xin Lei live, work, and fight in close quarters amid the heat of Taiwan, and the chemistry sparkles. Definitely worth a watch.
#4 Playful Kiss
Speaking of low-key romances, this is practically the epitome of the genre. If you're looking for high-powered romance, this isn't it. But Playful Kiss is a world that is wonderfully easy and delightful to live in, capturing all the wistful, consuming emotions of first love and teenage romance. Youth dramas such as Playful Kiss and Heartstrings plunge us back into that world most of us have left behind and capture all the magic those years sometimes possess, and for that we love them. Bubbly, stubborn Oh Ha Ni (Jung So Min) has had a crush on icy, good-looking genius Seung Jo for as long as she can remember. When she and her father move in with his family, she finally gets her chance to attract his attention.
Always adorable, never high-maintenance, this is the drama version of the cute kid on the block who gets away with everything because of his smile. Watch it on Dramafever
#5 Full House
Oh, Full House. A classic and the gateway Kdrama for many people, it's hard to mention this one without getting a foolish grin on the face. Like Corner with Love, it has its flaws – too long and repetitive, and visually it's all too painfully clear that this was filmed in the early 2000s, right before Kdramas made a big leap forward in both popularity and production values. But it's still absolutely hilarious (Song Hye Kyo and Rain have exquisite comic timing) and wildly addicting and there's something about it that just transcends its own limitations.
Crackling chemistry between the leads, a well-written plot on the whole, and lots of shenanigans make this one to watch in the summer. Struggling writer Ji Eun (Song Hye Kyo) returns from vacation to find that her friends have sold her house to arrogant superstar Young Jae (Rain). She agrees to move in as his housekeeper to win back her house, but winds up as much more of a housemate and growing distraction, and a tempestuous relationship blossoms. The originator of many of the Kdrama tropes we see in current dramas.
Other summery romances that didn't quite make the cut: Wish to See You Again, ToGetHer, Heartstrings, Lie to Me