PICK: 5 Must-Watch K-Dramas Exploring ‘Contract Relationships’

korean romance drama

Edited by Seo Hayne
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

The KBS weekend drama The Real Has Come! captures the evolving landscape of love in the modern era. Yeon Du (Baek Jin Hee), an online instructor with a child, and Tae Kyung (Ahn Jae Hyun), an obstetrician who never wants to get married, decide to pretend as a couple for their respective goals. The drama traces their journey from a sham relationship to becoming a “real family.” Today, we delve into five such romance dramas that explore the concept of “fake dating/marriage.”

Love to Hate You (2023)

Love to Hate You follows the love story of Kang Ho (Yoo Teo), an actor dubbed the “king of romance genre,” and Mi Ran (Kim Ok Vin), a lawyer at an entertainment law firm. The two start off on the wrong foot, full of misunderstandings and distrust, but their relationship takes a turn as Miran starts teaching Kang Ho action moves. The two end up faking a relationship, and their dynamic chemistry only spices up as they go between romance and tough action. The series draws attention as it marks Kim Ok Vin’s debut in rom-com and Yoo Teo’s first leading role after a long period of obscurity.

Love in Contract (2022)

Love in Contract presents the unique tale of Sang Eun (Park Min Young), a single life helper who finds herself in a love triangle with her clients. Sang Eun offers a distinct service – she becomes the “fake” wife for those in dire need of a marriage. As she prepares to retire after 13 years, her heart wavers for Ji Ho (Go Kyung Pyo), a long-term client who cooks for her every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. However, her life gets entangled with top actor Hae Jin (Kim Jae Young), leading to a contract marriage with him on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The suspense of who becomes Sang Eun’s real partner keeps the audience on tenterhooks.

Because This Is My First Life (2017)

Because This Is My First Life explores the romance of two individuals who end up living under the same roof due to a minor happenstance. Se Hee (Lee Min Ki), a web designer, is constantly pestered by his family to get married, but he has no interest in marriage or dating. Into his life walks Ji Ho (Jung So Min), an assistant writer who mistakenly thinks Se Hee is a woman based on his name and decides to move into his house. At this point, Ji Ho is at a low point in her life, having lost her home and temporarily her work as well. The two, having met by chance, understand each other’s situations and decide to enter a contract marriage. They distribute household chores evenly and share their tastes, living like a real married couple. The drama paints a realistic picture of modern relationships and marriage, portraying a variety of men and women with their unique perspectives and values.

Lucky Romance (2016)

Based on a popular webtoon, Lucky Romance sketches the love story between a superstitious programmer Bo Nui (Hwang Jung Eum) and a game company CEO Su Ho (Ryu Jun Yeol), who only trusts what can be proven. Bo Nui, a believer in destiny, wishes to spend a night with a man born in the year of the Tiger. On the other hand, Su Ho immerses himself in work and games, viewing the world through numbers. When Bo Nui proposes a three-week fake dating, Su Ho mistakenly believes that she is terminally ill. While sharing the pain from their past, the two fall for each other, eventually channeling these experiences into a game they develop together. Lucky Romance focuses solely on their romance without the hindrance by “a villain”, allowing a comfortable viewing experience.

Marriage Contract (2016)

Marriage Contract unfolds the journey of Ji Hoon (Lee Seo Jin), who believes that money is the only important thing in life, and Hye Soo (Uee), who only has a few months to live, as they discover the meaning of love together. The show soberly presents the inevitable truth that everyone will face death someday, without resorting to typical melodrama. Hye Soo, gradually losing her senses like sight and hearing due to her illness, especially delivers a poignant moment when she realizes that she has lost her sense of taste, once a critical part of her life as a chef. Uee’s calm performance in this scene evokes a profound sadness. Lee Seo Jin also convincingly portrays his character’s transformation. This emotionally charged drama concludes with an ambiguous ending that leaves Hye Soo’s ultimate fate open to interpretation, a decision that has resonated with viewers.


Editor Seo Hayne: I like actors as they faithfully lead through their long running-time. I also like idols who accomplish everything on stage within 3 minutes.


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