5 K-drama remakes worth watching

The beauty of K-drama remakes of popular series is that the new setting breathes new life into the drama. PHOTOS: TVN DRAMA/YOUTUBE, NETFLIX, JTBC DRAMA/YOUTUBE

SINGAPORE - Watching the remake of a show that you loved can sometimes feel tedious and even like a waste of time, as you already know the plot and characters.

However, the beauty of K-drama remakes of popular series, such as Money Heist, The Good Wife and Designated Survivor, is that the new setting, be it cultural or political, breathes new life into the drama.

For instance, recent Netflix hit Money Heist: Korea - Joint Economic Area sets the action in an imaginary unified Korea, instead of the original Spain.

Another K-drama remake Cleaning Up, which is airing in South Korea, takes the original 2019 British drama about office cleaners and insider trading, and gives it a twist to address the societal and financial pressures of city living in South Korea.

The hotly anticipated adaptation of classic 19th-century novel Little Women recently filmed some scenes in Singapore with actors Wi Ha-joon and Kim Go-eun, which caused a stir among K-drama fans.

Little Women, which has been adapted numerous times, was last seen on the big screen in 2019, and starred Saoirse Ronan, Florence Pugh, Timothee Chalamet and Meryl Streep.

The K-drama version, which also stars Nam Ji-hyun and Park Ji-hu, will air later this year.

In the meantime, here are five other K-drama remakes of American and British shows worth binge-watching.

1. One Ordinary Day (Viu)

One of the top K-dramas of 2021, it boasts brooding cinematography and an intelligent, fast-paced script that will grip you from the first episode. PHOTO: VIU

Based on award-winning British television series Criminal Justice (2008 to 2009), One Ordinary Day (2021) follows a university student (Kim Soo-hyun) whose life changes overnight when he is accused of murder after making a bad choice.

The riveting eight-parter also stars Cha Seung-won as a third-rate lawyer. Both leads play off each other with great chemistry and turn in top-notch performances.

One of the top K-dramas of 2021, it boasts brooding cinematography and an intelligent, fast-paced script that will grip you from the first episode.

The BBC original, which starred Ben Whishaw, won two British Academy Television Awards for Best Drama Serial and Best Craft Writer.

It also spawned an American remake, The Night Of (2016), which won lead actor Riz Ahmed an Emmy.

2. Entourage (tvN)

The series is loosely based on Hollywood actor Mark Wahlberg's experiences as an up-and-coming film star with his posse of childhood friends. PHOTO: TVN

The 2016 remake of Entourage was not quite the hit that the American series was, when it ran from 2004 to 2011 for eight seasons and even spawned a movie in 2015, albeit one which bombed at the box office.

Like the original, the South Korean version follows a movie star and his entourage of buddies, including a pal nicknamed Turtle in both.

The series is loosely based on Hollywood actor Mark Wahlberg's experiences as an up-and-coming film star with his posse of childhood friends.

The K-drama - starring Cho Jin-woong, Seo Kang-joon, Lee Kwang-soo, Park Jung-min and Lee Dong-hwi - might not have hit the mark with its raucous American-style bro humour, but it is still rollicking good fun, with lots of star cameos.

These include actresses Song Ji-hyo and Kim Tae-ri, actors Ha Jung-woo and Kang Ha-neul, and girl group Mamamoo.

3. The Good Wife (tvN)

A still from The Good Wife, starring Jeon Do-yeon. PHOTO: TVN DRAMA/YOUTUBE

The story of a disgraced politician, brought down by a sex and corruption scandal, and his good wife standing stoically by her man is a familiar one.

However, both the American series and its Korean remake were able to give the legal and political drama a deeply personal twist by focusing on the wife's return to the courtroom after a long absence.

Jeon Do-yeon is perfect in the meaty titular role, originally played by Julianna Margulies, who won two Emmys and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of a steely yet vulnerable lawyer.

In the 2016 K-drama, the wayward husband is played by Yoo Ji-tae, who is given a shadier plotline than his American counterpart (portrayed by Chris Noth).

While the original series ran for seven seasons for a total of 156 episodes from 2009 to 2016, the Korean version had only one season of 16 episodes.

As such, it was unable to give too much screen time to the cast of secondary characters who added much colour to the American series, some of whom even appeared in the spin-off, The Good Fight (2017 to present).

4. Designated Survivor: 60 Days (Netflix)

The writing and pacing are tighter compared with the original. PHOTO: NETFLIX

Do not let the highly improbable plot of American political thriller Designated Survivor (2016 to 2019) deter you from watching Designated Survivor: 60 Days (2019).

Ji Jin-hee takes on the role - played by Kiefer Sutherland - of a low-level politician who becomes president after an explosion kills off everyone else in line to the top job in the country.

Over the course of 60 days in 16 episodes, Ji's character attempts to make sense of the bombing while maintaining his integrity.

The writing and pacing are tighter compared with the original, which dragged over three seasons and had storylines which required serious suspension of belief.

Although the K-drama's plot borrows heavily from its predecessor, the different political landscape, especially with the looming spectre of North Korea, makes for some suspenseful twists and turns.

Coupled with smart writing and fleshed-out characters surrounding the president, Designated Survivor: 60 Days blows the American version out of the water.

5. The World Of The Married (Netflix)

A still from The World Of The Married. PHOTO: JTBC DRAMA/YOUTUBE

South Korea's highest-rated series in cable television history, The World Of The Married (2020) is a faithful remake of British drama Doctor Foster (2015 to 2017).

The story of a doctor (Kim Hee-ae) whose life unravels after she discovers her husband's affair - and even has to treat his pregnant mistress - sent pulses racing in South Korea, where infidelity is often spoken of only in whispers.

Additional plot lines about gender inequality and the widening social divide were added to the binge-worthy tale of revenge served cold.

Kim won Best Actress at the Baeksang Arts Awards for her portrayal of a betrayed spouse, who plots vengeance beneath a calm exterior.

Likewise, British actress Suranne Jones, who played the same role in the original, won Best Actress at the British Academy Television Awards.

This classic tale of a woman scorned, inspired by the ancient Greek myth of Medea, has also been remade in other countries, including France, the Philippines and Russia.

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