Classic K-dramas from the 2000s

Long before streaming platforms, there was a time when we would eagerly wait for the latest episode of a Korean drama. Before binge-watching shows such as Crash Landing on You or Itaewon Class, we were either anticipating the next round of competition in Jewel in the Palace or crying over Endless Love in front of our TVs

To give you major throwback vibes or to help you get started if you’re new to K-dramas, we’ve listed down below 10 classic K-dramas from the 2000s that have launched and solidified Hallyu in the Philippines.

1. Endless Love: Autumn in my Heart – launched the Korean wave in the Philippines with a tear-jerking story

Classic K-dramas - Endless Love: Autumn in my Heart
Image credit: Ggilbo/KBS

Often considered as one of the first dramas that launched the Hallyu wave in the Philippines, the tear-jerking drama Endless Love: Autumn in my Heart explores the close relationship between Johnny (Song Seung-hun) and Jenny (Song Hye-kyo), who both believe they are siblings until a blood test revealed that Jenny is from a different family and had actually been mixed up at a hospital with Johnny’s real sister, Shirley (Han Chae-young). 

Classic K-dramas - Endless Love: Autumn in my Heart
Image credit: KBS

The two try to reunite after Johnny’s family goes back to Korea from the United States, but Shirley and Andrew (Won Bin), a guy who likes Jenny, go out of their way to separate them. 

The drama was a big hit when it first aired on GMA in 2003. It was so impactful on local viewers that it was re-aired in 2004 and 2006, and in 2010, GMA also created a Pinoy adaptation starring Marian Rivera as Jenny and Dingdong Dantes as Johnny. 

2. Endless Love: Winter Sonata – childhood lost love set in winter

Classic K-dramas - Endless Love: Winter Sonata
Image credit: Alchetron/KBS 

Exploring the story of a childhood lost love with a gorgeous winter backdrop, Endless Love: Winter Sonata was a big hit across Asia including the Philippines. It follows two high school students, Janice (Choi Ji-woo) and Jun (Bae Yong-jun), who had been in love with each other until Jun was involved in an accident and disappeared from Janice’s life. The two meet again after many years surrounded by people who will do what it takes to pull them apart.

Classic K-dramas - Endless Love: Winter Sonata
Image credit: Sangkyun Kim/KBS 

The drama was aired in the Philippines from 2003 to 2004 with theme songs such as “Di Ko Na Kaya” and “Kung Kailan Wala Ka Na” sung by Faith Cuneta and Jolina Magdangal, respectively.

3. Stairway to Heaven – features separated childhood sweethearts

Classic K-dramas - Stairway to Heaven
Image credit: DramaWiki/SBS

While Stairway to Heaven features drama tropes that may be considered cliched by now, the drama is best remembered for its graceful telling of a classic love story. 

It follows how two childhood sweethearts Jodi (Choi Ji-woo) and Cholo (Kwon Sang-woo) try to reconnect to each other as adults. This comes after Jodi suffers amnesia that will make her forget Cholo who has to leave Korea to study abroad. Aside from the difficult circumstance they find themselves in, the people surrounding their lives are against their relationship. 

Classic K-dramas - Stairway to Heaven
Image credit: Kdramalove/SBS

The drama was immensely popular when it aired on GMA’s primetime block in 2005, and its highest rating of 41.5% has made it one of the highest-rated K-dramas shown on Philippine TV. GMA also produced a Pinoy adaptation, starring Rhian Ramos and Dingdong Dantes, in 2009.

4. Lovers in Paris – love triangle set in Paris

Classic K-dramas - Lovers in Paris
Image credit: Kdramalove/SBS

Lovers in Paris introduced us to a Korean love story set in the heart of Europe. Featuring a love triangle, it follows Vivian (Kim Jung-eun), a movie director’s daughter studying filmmaking in Paris, who falls in love with Carlo (Park Shin-yang), whom she works for as a housekeeper to earn a living while she studies. Conflict rises when Vivian meets Martin (Lee Dong-gun), who is Carlo’s nephew. 

Classic K-dramas - Lovers in Paris
Image credit: Hancinema/SBS

Ran by ABS-CBN from 2004 to 2005, the drama received high viewership with a peak rating of 45.7%. It was also successful in the Philippines that a local adaptation, starring KC Concepcion (Vivian), Piolo Pascual (Carlo), and Zanjoe Marudo (Martin) was made in 2009. 

5. Jewel in the Palace – based on a real Korean historical figure

Classic K-dramas - Jewel in the Palace
Image credit: Spcnet/MBC

The epic, inspiring story of Dae Jang-geum, also known as Jewel in the Palace, was the first period K-drama aired in the Philippines from 2005 to 2006. Based on a true story, the drama showcases how orphaned Jang Geum (Lee Young-ae) persevered through the male-dominated Joseon Dynasty to become a royal cook and later on the king’s first female physician.

Classic K-dramas - Jewel in the Palace
Image credit: IMDb/MBC

With a peak rating of 40.3%, it received high viewership during its initial run. The drama’s theme song “Alipin”, performed by OPM band Shamrock, also became a household song known for its melancholic tunes.

6. Full House – features aspiring scriptwriter who pretends to be married to an actor

Classic K-dramas - Full House
Image credit:

The Korean drama with the highest rating in the Philippines, Full House indeed put K-dramas into Filipinos’ popular culture. 

It wasn’t decorated with a meticulous set, but its cheeky plot set it apart from other shows. Aired on GMA Network in 2005, it follows aspiring scriptwriter Jessie (Song Hye-kyo) and famous actor Justin (Rain) who have to share a house called “Full House” and pretend they are married. They set up to pretend as a couple for six months, but they eventually fall in love with each other for real. 

Classic K-dramas - Full House
Image credit: MkvDrama/KBS

Holding a peak rating of 52%, it was replayed several times after its initial airing. Even Janno Gibbs’s theme song for the show entitled “Fallin” became a massive hit. In 2009, GMA also produced an adaptation starring Heart Evangelista as Jessie and Richard Gutierrez as Justin.

7. My Name Is Kim Sam Soon – follows a pastry chef and a restaurant owner who pretend to be a couple

Classic K-dramas - My Name Is Kim Sam SoonImage credit: Fanpop/MBC

The romantic comedy drama that introduced us to the charms of Hyun Bin, My Name Is Kim Sam Soon is the story of Sam Soon (Kim Sun-a), a chubby pastry chef who loses her job and gets cheated on by her boyfriend, and Cyrus (Hyun Bin) a wealthy restaurant owner who is pressured by his mother to look for a girlfriend. 

Given their circumstances, Cyrus hires Sam Soon as his chef so she can also be his pretend-girlfriend. The two initially have an antagonistic relationship but will soon discover they are developing feelings for each other. 

Classic K-dramas - My Name Is Kim Sam Soon
Image credit: PinoyExchange/MBC

Aired on GMA in 2006, it was one of the most popular locally shown K-dramas of all time. Because of its popularity, GMA acquired the rights to do an adaptation entitled Ako Si Kim Sam Soon (2008), starring Regine Velasquez as Sam Soon and Mark Anthony Fernandez as Cyrus.

8. Jumong – showcases epic battles of an ancient dynasty

Classic K-dramas - Jumong
Image credit: Hey Chingu/MBC

After the success of Jewel in the Palace, our TV screens were treated with yet another period drama from Korea in 2007 through Jumong, an epic centering on the struggles of Jumong (Song Il-gook)  in founding the great Goguryeo Dynasty. 

While Jewel in the Palace is best remembered for its intense cooking competitions and medical drama, Jumong features epic battles of Jumong in conquering the old Korean empire of Gojoseon that had fallen to the Han Empire of China. So Seo-no (Han Hye-jin) accompanies Jumong in his dream of building a new dynasty and falls in love with him along the way. 

Classic K-dramas - JumongImage credit: 옛드 : 옛날 드라마/

The drama is also based on a real Korean historical figure, but its storyline was mostly fictionalized as there are little records on the life of Jumong. The band Shamrock sang the drama’s Philippine soundtrack, entitled “Hold On,” and while the show wasn’t as well received locally as other Korean dramas, it still was crucial in introducing Korean culture in general in the Philippines. 

9. Princess Hours – centers on a commoner marrying a prince

Classic K-dramas - Princess HoursImage credit: Viki/MBC

Inspired by Korea’s history of monarchy and the fairytale Cinderella, Princess Hours, also known as Goong, made waves in the Philippines when it was aired by ABS-CBN in 2006 – the same year it was introduced in South Korea. 

Set in a 21st-century Korea with a monarchy, it follows commoner Janelle (Yoon Eun-hye) who finds herself the Crown Princess after marrying the aloof Prince Gian (Ju Ji-hoon) to follow the wishes of their grandparents.

Classic K-dramas - Princess Hours
Image credit: 옛드 : 옛날 드라/MBC 

The drama was big in the Philippines, with Christian Bautista and Rachelle Ann Go singing the theme song entitled “Pag-ibig Nga Kaya.” Fans are also awaiting the upcoming remake that will be produced by Jaedam Media in collaboration with Group8, the production company behind Princess Hours in 2006.

10. Coffee Prince – revolves around a handsome food chaebol and an androgynous-looking girl

Classic K-dramas - Coffee Prince
Image credit: Viki/MBC

Female characters getting mistaken as men have been common in many Korean dramas, but if you’ll ask a local fan to name a popular drama following the trope, you’ll probably be given The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince, also known as Coffee Prince, as an example.

Classic K-dramas - Coffee Prince
Image credit: 옛드 : 옛날 드라마 [드라맛집]/MBC

Charming us with the chemistry of its leads, the show revolves around Arthur Choi (Gong Yoo), scion of a food chaebol who runs a coffee shop named Coffee Prince, and Andie Go (Yoon Eun-hye), a girl who’s often mistaken as a guy. To attract more customers, Arthur hires good-looking employees, including Andie, but under the impression that she is a man. 

The show aired on GMA in 2008, and due to its popularity, a local adaptation, starring Aljur Abrenica (Arthur) and Kris Bernal (Andie) was also produced in 2012.

Classic K-dramas aired in the Philippines

From the tear-jerking Endless Love: Autumn in My Heart to the rom-com Coffee Prince, the Korean dramas from the early 2000s are giving us all the nostalgia vibe because they are some of the best we’ve seen. 

And while we’re enjoying the innovative concepts of the recent dramas we’ve been seeing lately, our OG K-dramas will always have a special place in our hearts. 

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Cover image adapted from (clockwise from top left): Asian Wiki, Kdramalove/SBS, Fanpop/MBC, Viki/MBC


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