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Soompi & Viki Staff Talk: What Are Your Favorite K-Dramas Featuring Contract Relationships?

We’re back with the next edition of the “Soompi & Viki Staff Talk” series! This time, some of our staff members discuss one of our favorite K-drama cliches: contract relationships.

Here are some of our team’s favorite dramas with this classic theme:

Yeon: “1% of Something

I think I’ve seen pretty much every K-drama with a contract relationship because it’s a theme that never gets old for me, but I still have a clear favorite that immediately comes to mind. “1% of Something” is a remake of the 2003 drama of the same name (done by the same writer again!), and it features the charming chemistry of Jun So Min as Kim Da Hyun and Han Seok Jin as Lee Jae In. Kim Da Hyun is a sweet school teacher whose life changes when she helps out an elderly man one day. The old man is touched by her action and wants to set her up with his grandson, who happens to be Lee Jae In, a wealthy jerk. The two strangers who are complete opposites of each other are forced to enter an engagement contract, and the rest is history. The two are less than fond of each other at first, but it’s adorable to see them gradually fall in love even before they realize it. If you love K-drama cliches as much as I do, this is a must-watch that includes all the cliches you could possibly imagine. (I’ve watched this drama five times…)

Watch “1% of Something”:

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Somin: “Her Private Life

“Her Private Life” felt very interesting to me at first sight because Sung Duk Mi (Park Min Young) lives two different lives—one being a competent curator at an art museum and another being an idol fansite photographer. Soon I realized that this is an essential part of the plot as it leads the story to the climax and becomes the reason why Sung Duk Mi and Ryan Gold (Kim Jae Wook) start a fake relationship together. Their first impressions of each other are unpleasant (Sung Duk Mi even gets fired by Ryan who is her boss), but a series of incidents keeps them working together, and later when Duk Mi gets in trouble, Ryan offers to be her fake boyfriend in order to protect her from threats. Although their fake relationship starts based off of a necessity, they naturally become attracted to each other and fall in love. I personally think that the actors’ beautiful looks and mature vibes are so compatible with each other, and they flawlessly portray the romantic scenes together. If you are looking for a light-hearted rom-com to enjoy, “Her Private Life” will not let you down!

Watch “Her Private Life”:

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Ginny: “Marriage, Not Dating”

Although contract relationships is a cliche topic in K-dramas, the relationship between Gong Gi Tae (Yeon Woo Jin) and Joo Jang Mi (Han Groo) in “Marriage, Not Dating” is beyond special. Gong Gi Tae is a doctor who has no interest in getting married, but his family pressures him to settle down. He brings Joo Jang Mi, who is working at the luxury boutique of a department store, to his family as he knows his parents would not approve of her. Jang Mi agrees to the fake relationship when she loses hope of finding perfect love after a painful break-up. To make it more believable to Gi Tae’s family and friends, they actually go on dates and grow feelings for each other in the process. You are missing out on a great rom-com if you have not watched “Marriage, Not Dating”! It’s a cute and hilarious drama that includes the cliches but also breaks away from them.

Watch “Marriage, Not Dating”:

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Winnie: “Because This Is My First Life

A single man and single woman living together in the same house with a fake contracted marriage sounds like a pretty typical K-drama, but “Because This Is My First Life” definitely has some different vibes. Due to personal and financial reasons, Nam Sae Hee (Lee Min Ki) and Yoon Ji Ho (Jung So Min) end up living together and decide to get married for their own benefits. The drama conveys messages and concerns of actual social and mental issues that young people are facing today. Different from the more lively vibes of most rom-coms on this subject, “Because This Is My First Life” features a more mellow relationship between the leads, and it is a delight to see how their relationship blossoms. It gives a message that love should be the foundational ingredient in marriage and should not be considered as a financial agreement. For those who want to enjoy a different kind of drama about a contract relationship, “Because This Is My First Life” is the perfect one to check out.

Watch “Because This Is My First Life”:

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JJin: “Doom at Your Service

Have you ever imagined making a deal with a supernatural being? If so, you would like “Doom at Your Service” as much as I did. It is a fantasy contract love story with a bit of the enemies-to-lovers cliche. Tak Dong Kyung (Park Bo Young) is a webcomic editor who used to live an ordinary life without any ambitions or goals until she unexpectedly discovered that she has only 100 days to live due to a terminal illness. She learns to live her life fully after entering into a contract with Myul Mang (Seo In Guk), a mysterious entity whose name means “doom” and makes everything he touches vanish. Unlike other typical contract love stories, theirs is a little more complicated. One of the conditions of the contract states that the person Dong Kyung loves the most will die if she doesn’t wish for doom upon the world. Dong Kyung makes the decision to love Myul Mang in order for him to die as he desires rather than her brother, whom she loves the most. Although the plot sounds sad and tragic, the romance between the two is really adorable and touching. It was also entertaining to see how they develop their feelings from hate to love. As a result of the contract, they both feel a strong desire to live and find genuine love, which helps them get through the obstacles they face. “Doom at Your Service” is the perfect drama to watch before winter comes!

Watch “Doom at Your Service”:

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Sala: “Love in Contract

I was excited for “Love in Contract” even before its premiere after reading the synopsis, and the drama has not disappointed—the show has been an all-round joy to watch! The romantic comedy is about a service that provides fake wives for single people. Rom-com queen Park Min Young stars as professional fake wife Choi Sang Eun, who finds herself caught between longtime client Jung Ji Ho (Go Kyung Pyo) and newcomer Kang Hae Jin (Kim Jae Young). Despite the drama being about “fake” relationships, Choi Sang Eun and Jung Ji Ho have one of the most respectful, deep, and genuine relationships! Choi Sang Eun and Jung Ji Ho have been “married” for five years, but the couple has a rather awkward relationship as all they do is dine (on Jung Ji Ho’s exquisite cooking) in silence every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday night. However, their relationship suddenly starts to develop quickly as Choi Sang Eun prepares to retire from the business and Kang Hae Jin enters the picture as a rival, spurring Jung Ji Ho’s feelings for Choi Sang Eun to develop rapidly. Jung Ji Ho’s endearingly(?) awkward expression of affection and Choi Sang Eun coming to terms with her feelings have been some of the greatest highlights of the show!

Watch “Love in Contract”:

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