10 K-Dramas to Watch for Motivation in 2024

As we're just a few weeks into 2024, K-dramas are more than just a source of entertainment; they are a source of motivation for those who want to grow personally and make positive changes in their lives. More than just captivating storylines and stories of love, the world of Korean dramas can serve as an insight into people's lives, highlighting our common route of self-improvement and the determination it takes to welcome change. 

We explore a selection of K-dramas in this list, highlighting stories that encourage viewers to overcome obstacles, face their deepest worries, and embark on a path of self-discovery. These stories, revolving around how we conquer personal obstacles, pursue aspirations, or find comfort in unlikely places, serve as a reminder that our own lives are full of opportunities for development and change. Prepare yourself for a voyage through the world of K-dramas, and take a page from their stories.

Itaewon Class (2020)

What best drama can show you a story of chance and change if not "Itaewon Class"? The drama features the story of Park Sae Ro Yi (Park Seo Joon), formerly convicted after his attempted murder of Jang Geun Won (Ahn Bo Hyun) in order to take revenge for the death of his father. 


After his release from prison, he opens DanBam, a bar-restaurant in Itaewon, with the intention of turning it into a franchise and taking down Jangga Group, the food company owned by CEO Jang. He strives hard to make DanBam grow alongside Jo Yi Seo (Kim Da Mi), and staff who each have stories of their own and all aim for self-development. 

Despite the drama's several dark themes, the story of different characters will motivate you to continue working hard to achieve your goals and never be hindered by your past, but rather use it as your fuel and inspiration. 

Misaeng: Incomplete Life (2014)

From his childhood, the board game baduk has held unparalleled significance for Jang Geu Rae (Im Si Wan). However, when his aspirations of becoming a professional baduk player fall short, he is forced to step into reality armed only with a GED high school equivalency diploma on his credentials and secure an internship at One International, a prominent trading company.

At the company, he encounters his workaholic but amiable manager, Oh Sang Shik (Lee Sung Min); fellow intern Ahn Young Yi (Kang So Ra), who garnered the resentment of her colleagues due to her exceptional educational background and unparalleled competence; and Jang Baek Gi (Kang Ha Neul), a geeky co-worker whose anxious demeanor conceals a profound ambition. Guided by his passion for baduk, Geu Rae adapts to and navigates the intricacies of corporate culture.

Despite imperfections and unending obstacles, the drama motivates us to strive for success, teaching valuable lessons about perseverance and diligence.

Start-Up (2020)

Start-Up reveals the stories of various characters- Seo Dal Mi (Bae Suzy), a hardworking young woman with huge dreams despite lacking a prestigious background, Nam Do San (Nam Joo Hyuk), the founder of Samsan Tech who has been facing a downturn in his business over the past two years, Han Ji Pyeong (Kim Seon Ho), a team leader at SH Venture Capital renowned for his remarkable investment skills and sharp wit, and Seo In Jae (Kang Han Na), Dal Mi's elder sister, who while seems to have it all, strives to establish success independently and earn recognition for her own skills.


All of them, while facing different struggles and conflicts, continue to fight for their goals, make a mark at Sandbox, and be able to sustain a successful start-up. This provides energy for us to start the year right and manifest that we achieve each of our dreams. 

Dear My Friends (2016)

"Dear My Friends" is a heartfelt K-drama that revolves around Park Wan (Go Hyun Jung), a translator who is constantly pulled by her mother, Jang Nan Hee (Go Doo Shim), to hang out with her elder friends, Jo Hee Ja (Kim Hye Ja), Moon Jung Ah (Na Moon Hee), Oh Choong Nam (Youn Yuh Jung), and Lee Yeong Won (Park Won Sook). As the friend group navigates the challenges and joys of aging, the series delves into the complexities of their relationships, showcasing the bonds formed over decades. The characters face a myriad of issues, from health concerns to family dynamics, and the drama beautifully captures the essence of friendship that transcends time. With a mix of humor, drama, and poignant moments, "Dear My Friends" provides a touching portrayal of the human experience in its later stages.

The drama serves as a poignant example of the transformative power of friendship and resilience in the face of life's challenges. The characters in this drama embody the idea that, regardless of age, embracing change and self-improvement is a lifelong journey.

Because this is My First Life (2017)

"Because This Is My First Life" is a charming romantic comedy that follows the lives of Nam Se Hee (Lee Min Ki) and Yoon Ji Ho (Jung So Min). Se Hee, an introverted software designer, is focused on his career and maintaining a financially stable life. Ji Ho, a talented writer with financial struggles, ends up renting a room in Se Hee's house. The two decide to enter into a marriage of convenience to alleviate their individual challenges, leading to a unique journey of self-discovery and unexpected romance. The drama not only explores the dynamics of their unconventional relationship but also delves into the lives of their friends dealing with their own love and career dilemmas.

The drama stands out as a narrative that challenges societal norms and expectations. The characters, facing personal and professional struggles, embark on a path of self-improvement and change by redefining their priorities and relationships. The drama serves as a reminder that unconventional journeys and unexpected connections can lead to significant personal growth.

Be Melodramatic (2019)

"Be Melodramatic" is a slice-of-life drama that follows the lives of three friends in their thirties navigating the complexities of adulthood. The central characters include Im Jin Joo (Chun Woo Hee), a passionate and independent documentary producer; Lee Eun Jung (Jeon Yeo Been), an aspiring and free-spirited actress; and Hwang Han Joo (Han Ji Eun), a pragmatic and successful marketing professional. Together, they navigate the challenges of their careers, relationships, and personal growth while providing each other unwavering support in their pursuit of happiness and fulfillment.

The drama stands as a poignant representation of the multifaceted nature of adulting. The characters, each grappling with their own set of issues, showcase resilience, camaraderie, and the transformative power of facing life's challenges head-on. The drama beautifully illustrates that embracing change and pursuing self-improvement is a collective journey, and the camaraderie shared among friends serves as a catalyst for personal growth.

My ID is Gangnam Beauty (2018)

"My ID is Gangnam Beauty" revolves around the life of Kang Mi Rae (Lim Soo Hyang), a college student who undergoes plastic surgery to escape the judgment and bullying she faced due to her appearance. Post-surgery, her appearance changes, but the challenges persist as she grapples with societal expectations and the superficial nature of beauty. The story unfolds as she navigates the complexities of university life, addressing issues of self-esteem, identity, and the societal pressures. She crosses paths with Do Kyung Seok (Eun WCha oo), a seemingly perfect and popular student who becomes an essential part of her journey towards self-acceptance.

"My ID is Gangnam Beauty" provides a powerful exploration of self-worth and the societal standards that impact one's perception of beauty. Her transformation is a metaphor for growth and the quest for inner beauty, demonstrating that true self-improvement goes beyond physical appearance. 

Fight for my Way (2017)

"Fight for My Way" follows the lives of four friends – Ko Dong Man (Park Seo Joon), Choi Ae Ra (Kim Ji Won), Kim Joo Man (Ahn Jae Hong), and Baek Seol Hee (Song Ha Yoon) – as they navigate the challenges of adulthood. Dong Man, a former taekwondo athlete, works in a pest control company, while Ae Ra dreams of becoming an announcer. Joo Man and Seol Hee, a long-term couple, face relationship challenges as they strive for stability. The drama unfolds as the characters confront societal expectations, career struggles, and love complications, all while pursuing their dreams and maintaining their unbreakable friendship.

The drama is a relatable portrayal of the challenges faced by young adults in their pursuit of dreams and self-discovery. The characters' resilience, unwavering friendship, and determination to break societal norms resonate as a source of inspiration. The story also emphasizes the importance of fighting for one's aspirations and embracing change, portraying the characters as everyday heroes navigating the complexities of life.

Prison Playbook (2017-2018)

"Prison Playbook" offers a unique take on the prison experience, focusing on the lives of inmates within the confines of a correctional facility. The central character is Kim Je Hyuk (Park Hae Soo), a former baseball player who ends up in prison for an unexpected crime. Inside, he encounters a diverse group of inmates and different people each with their own stories, including Lee Joon Ho (Jung Kyung Ho), a former surgeon; Yoo Han Yang (Krystal Jung), a skilled financial criminal; and Kim Min Chul (Park Ho San), a tough but caring prison guard. The drama explores the intricacies of prison life, the complexities of human relationships, and the personal growth that can arise even in the most unexpected of circumstances.

The characters, despite their diverse backgrounds, find common ground within the prison walls and undergo significant personal growth. The drama serves as a powerful reminder that self-improvement can occur in the most challenging environments, emphasizing the importance of second chances and the potential for positive change. Through the camaraderie and support shared among the characters, the drama shows the capacity for transformation and the enduring pursuit of a better self, even in the face of adversity.

When the Camellia Blooms (2019)

"When the Camellia Blooms" revolves around the life of Dong Baek (Gong Hyo Jin), a single mother who runs a small bar in a rural town. Dong Baek, known for her resilience and kindness, becomes the target of judgment and gossip in the conservative community. The arrival of Hwang Yong-sik (Kang Ha Neul), a quirky and optimistic police officer, brings a new dynamic to Dong Baek's life. As their relationship develops, the drama explores themes of love, judgment, and the complexities of human connections. Dong Baek's past, marked by struggles and societal expectations, becomes a focal point as the narrative weaves through different timelines, revealing the layers of her character and the impact of her choices on those around her.

Dong Baek's journey, shaped by societal pressures and personal challenges, resonates with viewers facing their own struggles. The drama's exploration of the story reinforces the idea that personal growth often requires navigating societal expectations. Through the lens of Dong Baek's character, the drama encourages viewers to embrace their authentic selves, despite imperfections.

Within the ever-growing realm of K-dramas, these stories not only provide entertainment but also act as huge catalysts for inspiration, encouraging viewers to consider their own paths toward personal growth. Which of these dramas or other dramas, and even characters, has empowered or inspired you to take step into your own life and apply them beyond the screen?