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12 Hit School K-Dramas for Back to School Month

Written by YumCha! Editorial Team Tell a Friend

September means… it's back to school time! Whether you're adjusting to a new school year or long past your school days, let's take some time off to enjoy some Korean dramas. These notable Korean school dramas will get you back into school mode, as well as guide you to explore a lot more than just studying.

Hailed as one of the best Korean web dramas of all time, PLAYLIST Studio's 2018 breakout hit A-TEEN centers around the ordinary high school life of three girls and three boys who wish to be extraordinary in their own ways. Led by a lineup of then-newcomers including Shin Ye Eun and Shin Seung Ho, A-TEEN portrays the sweet and sour moments one encounters at age 18 – from friendship barriers and budding romance to academic stress and peer pressure – in 24 episodes that are each 10-20 minutes long. Short as it may seem, this web drama delicately illustrates the sensitive feelings of highschoolers over the most realistic and trivial happenings, mainly from the relatable perspectives of female protagonists Do Ha Na and Kim Ha Na.

Dream High
2. Dream High
Six aspiring idols overcome obstacles and strive for their dreams at a performing arts high school in this KBS teen drama with the eye-popping cast of Kim Soo Hyun, Bae Suzy, Ok Taec Yeon and Jang Woo Young from 2PM, Ham Eun Jung from T-ara, and IU. Aired in 2011, Dream High captured lightning in a bottle with its young cast of future superstars and its timely blending of K-pop into K-Drama. Much more than an idol vehicle, Dream High reached wider audiences as a stirring coming-of-age drama about school life, friendship, first love, and the dreams and follies of youth – all backed by a very catchy soundtrack. Kim Soo Hyun, in particular, broke out with his performance as the earnest country boy of great musical talent who gets the classic underdog arc.

Extraordinary You
3. Extraordinary You
MBC's 2019 sleeper hit Extraordinary You successfully grabbed attention with its interesting comic book setting. Despite starring a lineup of fresh new faces, it was crowned Drama of the Year at the 2019 MBC Drama Awards. Based on the webtoon July Found By Chance, the fantasy melodrama follows 18-year-old Dan Oh (Kim Hye Yoon) and her journey to fight for her own way in the world of a comic book. In the comic Secret, she is merely a side character at school, fulfilling her subplots and role as a foil to the main leads. She encounters classmate and extra Ha Ru (Ro Woon), and they explore deeper into themselves and their surroundings together. Dan Oh strives to rebel against the writer's will, make her own decisions, and live as the protagonist of her own story while being trapped in a school setting.

Law School
4. Law School
There's perhaps no school drama setting more taxing than Law School, especially when just about everyone in the class gets put on trial. Kim Myung Min plays a very Kim Myung Min-like law school professor, who becomes the prime suspect in a murder that occurs on school grounds during a mock trial. He turns the real case into a test case for his students, including Kim Bum, Ryu Hye Young, Lee Soo Kyung and David Lee. These young law school students must navigate statutory laws, moral dilemmas, red herrings and crime-solving to get to the bottom of the twisty mystery, while also passing their exams.

Master of Study
5. Master of Study
Based on the manga Dragon Zakura that also inspired a hit Japanese TV drama, Master of Study is about something that many Korean students can relate to: studying for the university entrance exam like your life depends on it. To save a school from closure, a lawyer-turned-teacher (Kim Su Ro) vows to send a special class of underperforming students – including Yoo Seung Ho, Ko Ah Sung, Lee Hyun Woo and Ji Yeon – to the top university. His manner is brash and his methods unconventional, but his over-the-top lessons in intensive studying also give hope to a class of troubled students whom others had written off. You may pick up some unlikely studying tips from this series!

Queen of Classroom
6. The Queen's Classroom
A remake of the classic Japanese school drama that matches the original in quality, The Queen's Classroom plops audiences into an ordinary sixth grade classroom with a not so ordinary teacher. Ko Hyun Jung is magnetic as the scariest homeroom teacher ever. Contradicting traditional notions of kind and nurturing primary school educators, Teacher Ma initially seems like the antagonist to her students who fight back against her authority. Her poker-faced, no-nonsense approach delivers tough and important life lessons to her young charges, who are capable of being very cruel. Kim Hyang Gi, Kim Sae Ron and Seo Shin Ae are among the students who both band together and betray each other as they deal with the myriad problems that ripple through the class unbeknownst to most adults.

Reply 1997
7. Reply 1997
Director Shin Won Ho and writer Lee Woo Jung's iconic Reply series began with Reply 1997 in 2012, which brought both cable channel tvN and the young cast to soaring fame. It all starts at a class reunion in 2012 where 33-year-old Sung Shi Won and her friends look back on the good old days of high school. Time turns back to year 1997, when the squad (played by Jeong Eun Ji, Seo In Guk, Hoya, Shin So Yool, Eun Ji Won and Lee Si Eon) were 18-year-old students in Busan, fighting over stupid things every day. Besides delving into family, love and friendship problems like other teen dramas, their worlds (particularly the girls) are also filled with obsessions for their "oppas" – legendary idol groups SechsKies and H.O.T. You don't have to be familiar with these first-generation K-pop superstars to appreciate the down-to-earth portrayals of fan behavior, fandom culture and even fan wars that hit close to home.

School 2013
8. School 2013
In the late 90s and early 2000s, KBS aired four seasons of the star-making School series that focused on the lives and problems of high school students. Over a decade later, the franchise rebooted in 2012 with School 2013, which famously launched Lee Jong Suk and Kim Woo Bin to stardom. Jang Na Ra and Choi Daniel play teachers for a class of struggling teens, ranging from troubled bullies to stressed-out model students. Capturing classroom and adolescent dynamics with everyday urgency, School 2013 depicted the trials of high school kids in a pressure-cooker school system, while reeling in fans with Lee Jong Suk and Kim Woo Bin's frenemy conflicts.

Who Are You - School 2015
9. Who Are You - School 2015
Following the success of School 2013, KBS's School series continued strong with Who Are You - School 2015. Different from previous installments, School 2015 is an intriguing teen drama with a tinge of mystery that deliberately sheds light on school bullying. Kim So Hyun takes dual roles as identical twins Eun Bi and Eun Byul who were separated since they were young. Eun Bi, who lives in group home, chooses to take her own life after enduring long-term bullying at school. Waking up in the hospital, Eun Bi is mistaken for Eun Byul, who was adopted into a well-off family and went missing not long ago. Eun Bi struggles to live as her long-lost sister, but things go south when the bully transfers to the same class as her. Of course, it's not a K-Drama if there are no swooning moments, courtesy of the love triangle between Eun Bi, Eun Byul's childhood sweetheart Han Yi An (Nam Joo Hyuk), and the goofy and charming Gong Tae Kwang (Yook Sung Jae).

Second 20s
10. Second 20s
You can go back to school at any age! Choi Ji Woo plays a housewife who married young and hasn't really ventured outside of domestic life since becoming a mother. Because of this, her professor husband often dismisses her. At the age of 38, protagonist Ha No Ra decides to enroll in the same university that her son attends and her husband teaches at. While romance is also part of the journey while she offloads her cheating spouse and reunites with a grouchy first love (Lee Sang Yoon), No Ra's change begins with going back to school. Through attending classes, meeting new people and experiencing college life, she learns to live for herself and to recover her dreams and self-esteem.

True Beauty
11. True Beauty
High school is a time when we all feel self-conscious about how we look and what others think, but true beauty lies within! Based on the same-titled webtoon, the 2020 hit True Beauty follows Saebom High's "goddess," transfer student Lim Ju Kyung (Moon Ga Young). Behind her beautiful appearance, she has a painful past. Ju Kyung was bullied at school and cold-shouldered by her family because of her "ugly face," so she now puts on makeup to cover up her flaws. Suffering from inferiority complex, she never feels safe to show her real face until she meets school heartthrob Lee Su Ho (Cha Eun Woo), who recognizes her even without makeup. Just when the two start to click, Su Ho's rival Han Seo Jun (Hwang In Yeop) comes into the picture. What's worse, rumors circulate about Ju Kyung and Su Ho's dark pasts that make them outcasts at school again. In this chaotic situation, can they overcome the trials and stand up again?

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo
12. Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo
What's better than a drama covering school, sports, love and family all at once? Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo is the kind of lighthearted drama that easily takes your stress away! The romantic comedy depicts the heartwarming, coming-of-age story of two bickering lovers who are university student-athletes, with Lee Sung Kyung as happy-go-lucky weightlifter Kim Bok Joo and Nam Joo Hyuk as star swimmer Jung Joon Hyung. Growing up and learning to love together, the cute couple has a sweet chemistry that lightens up the tone of the whole drama. Besides fluttering hearts with romance, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo also stands out for breaking stereotypes and throwing light on the challenges that athletes and coaches in niche sports face in a school environment.

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Published September 23, 2022

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