If you talk enough about something, the people you know are bound to either 1) get curious enough to want to try or 2) think you are crazy and never want to become like you. If #1 is how you are feeling about k-dramas, I'm here to help. First up -
Where to watch?
Netflix and Hulu have some and that's a pretty easy way to watch when you are first starting out because chances are you're familiar with those sites. The selection is limited so eventually you will want to branch out. I watch mostly at Viki.com and Dramafever.com. Both are legitimate sites. I'm not a premier member at either so I do watch commercials but they are easy to navigate and I don't have to worry about getting a virus or violating my conscious. Viki is normally faster with getting new episodes subbed and up; I can often watch a Thursday evening show by Thursday evening US time so they are my prefered site for shows I'm watching "live" but for older shows that I am marathoning, either works and sometimes a show is only on one so check them both out.
I like to watch then read a recap. Dramabeans is my favorite recap site, they have a fairly large set of recaps so most of the shows I will link to have recaps available, we have fairly similar tastes when it comes to shows and they do a wonderful job at explaining some of the cultural things and meta jokes I might otherwise miss. K-dramas typically have 16 one hour-ish episodes. I'd suggest starting with an already completed show but if you are anything like me, it won't be long before your watching them streaming. There is a great k-drama fandom and its fun to tag along with that as you all wait for -the next episode.
Here are some dramas that I think would be good starters. They aren't necessarily my absolute favorites but ones that I think capture the essence or really good parts of why I love k-dramas (heartwarming family relationships, cute romances, clean humor, etc) while skipping much of the bad (mega-angst, poor endings, live shooting issues)
Anything Else I Need to Know?
Humor is a bit different so even in a squeaky clean romantic comedy, you might find some bathroom humor. Not crude humor, just stuff that you would only expect a 12 year old boy to laugh at. You'll get used to it.
The first episodes can be boring. K-dramas are typically played two episodes a week on back to back days so the first episode tends to be all about the set-up. Sometimes you can get away with just reading a recap and skipping the first episode completely but if you don't, really try to stick with a show through the first two episodes before you decide its not your thing. I've almost missed my favorite shows because I didn't keep going after the first but by the end of the second, I was totally obsessed.
And speaking of obsessions, don't say I didn't warn you.
You're Beautiful and Best Love
The Hong Sisters are still one of my favorite writing teams so almost anything of theirs would be good (key is ALMOST - please don't watch BIG) but You're Beautiful and Greatest Love are my two favorites.
You're Beautiful is about a young almost-nun who is suddenly left to impersonate her twin brother in a boy band. It sounds bizarre and you might have to put aside your common sense for a while but is so funny and sweet. And "I will promise you" that you'll be singing along with a couple songs by the end. But YB is probably one of the slowest first episodes so promise me you'll stick with it to the second episode or just read the recap of the first episode.
You're Beautiful is available on Netflix, Hulu, Viki and Dramafever
Greatest Love/Best Love is similar in style but with a slightly more grown-up story line and focuses on a has-been of the k-pop world and a current action star. There is a lot of "one has got all the goodness, the other the appearance of it" aspects which make it a tad deeper than YB but just as funny. It also has a heart stopping song. Darn it - now I want to go watch these two again!
Notes: Both of these have lots of meta! The recaps help make sense of it but even if you don't get half the jokes, I think you'll still find them quite amusing.
Greatest Love is available on Hulu, Viki and Dramafever
I hesitated to put this one the list because it isn't my normal type of K-drama and I'm not sure I would say it is typical of k-dramas - but its one of my all time favorites and is a great one to start with especially if you are having to convince a boyfriend/husband to watch with you but he is reluctant. Based on a manga, it has a batman/alias type feel. Our young hero (played by Lee Min-ho who I just adore) has been raised to revenge the death of his father and we follow his journey as he faces question of right and wrong and discovers that everything he knows might be a lie. And he meets a girl. And fights people with spoons. It's awesome. I really like this type of action but in the US, these types of movies are normally R rated for s*x and language so this was a perfect way for me to fill my action quote without those things. That said, the first episode is much darker in tone than the rest of the show tends to be. Unlike other dramas, it is really important to understand the backstory so I wouldn't suggest skipping it, but realize it won't all be that dark and depressing. There is cuteness coming, I promise!
City Hunter is available on Netflix, Hulu, Viki and Dramafever
This might be considered a surprising pick since I didn't rate it very high but it was my first and I loved it at the time. I also know more than one other person who first got hooked on k-dramas because they watched it. It's slightly older so the clothes are a bit dated and the story line is a bit ridiculous - how on earth do your friends sell your house and why aren't you suing them? Because that is what happens. A girl loses her home then she and the new owner manage to strike a deal to co-habitat. Of course, they despise each other at the beginning. And of course, they don't by the end :-) You know what's going to happen and gets a bit repetitive in the end. Okay, I realize I'm not really selling this one very well but its a lot better NOT on paper. It's just so sweet and fun.
Full House is available on Hulu and Dramafever
If you try one out, let me know what you think? And for you seasoned k-drama watchers, how did I do with my recommendations? What would you suggests as a first drama?