What to Watch if You Liked Start Up

In my ongoing quest to recommend dramas by their writers rather than their actors, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to explore more of what writer Park Hye Ryun has to offer. She is SO VERY SKILLED at tying together warm characters and tight plots that I find myself entertained every time I watch. And look at Start Up! Kim Seon Ho shot onto the A-list because of the drama, as have other Park Hye Ryun second leads. Come see what else you should watch if you liked Start Up.

Park Hye Ryun’s writing credits include Start Up, While You Were Sleeping, Page Turner, Pinocchio, I Hear Your Voice, and Dream High. She tends to stick with the same actors over and over, which doesn’t really test their range, but we’re not aiming for high art here.

Instead, I know that when I watch a Park Hye Ryun drama, I’m in for three things:

  • characters who are funny and warm and relatable
  • a drama whose plot will always surprise me, whether it has fantasy elements or not
  • a very satisfying ending 

So where should you start? 

First, I highly recommend While You Were Sleeping. This drama was a great introduction to the boy-next-door heartthrob Jung Hae In, and the story itself was brilliantly woven with fantasy elements amid quests for justice. The romance is warm and steady, and the families surrounding the main characters were a delight and made me laugh more than once. The mysteries of the prophetic dreams and the main mystery itself were tightly written, and tugged at my heartstrings more than once. 

You also can’t go wrong with I Hear Your Voice, a kdrama classic starring a much younger Lee Jong Suk, Lee Bo Young, and even Lee Da Hee. Lee Bo Young is a bold and brash public defender who gets entangled with Lee Jong Suk, a 19-year-old who can hear people’s thoughts. They team up to solve difficult cases and dodge a vengeful murderer. There’s noona romance, forced cohabitation, difficult families, and all sorts of delightful tropes to add depth to the story.

If you don’t want fantasy elements, Pinocchio or Dream High might be the right choice for you. Pinocchio stars Lee Jong Suk and Park Shin Hye as childhood friends who want to make it in the cutthroat world of broadcast journalism, while solving the mystery of what happened to Lee Jong Suk’s family. Dream High is about the students of a musical academy (yes, kind of like Fame) coming together to learn how to perform and navigate life, personally and professionally. The drama is helmed by Suzy and Kim Soo Hyun, but IU totally stole the show for me — she’s completely adorable.  

You can currently find I Hear Your Voice, Dream High, and Pinocchio on Netflix and While You Were Sleeping on Viki, Kocowa, and Hulu. 

Which Park Hye Ryun drama will catch your fancy, drama fans? Drop down in the comments and let us know!

Until the next time Suzy flips her hair, I remain —

Karie the Maknae

Dramas with a Side of Kimchi

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