The 10 Best Enemies
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The 10 Best Enemies

Aug 14, 2023

No genre puts these will-they-won’t-they highs and lows on clearer displays, with the fruits of romance being much sweeter than the thorns of hatred.

Hollywood has played around with the enemies-to-lovers trope a hundred times, knowing just the right amount of sparks a relationship between two leads needed to get the audience rooting for them. After all, nothing stirs the soul like a riveting on-screen romance that starts with a fiery dislike and turns into subtle moments of affection. When it comes to the K-drama sphere, there are few shows that nail the dynamic.

In these shows, the characters are found sparring in their professional careers or seen holding onto a grudge from the past. Either way, the magnetic pull of these sworn adversaries is undeniable. We watch the reflections of our own complexities in these multi-layered characters as they slowly waltz from disdain to understanding. That said, no genre puts these will-they-won’t-they highs and lows on clearer displays, with the fruits of romance being much sweeter than the thorns of hatred.

Based on the adorable webtoon Noona Fan Dot Com, this 2019 drama features every little sequence that makes enemies-to-lovers interesting. Her Private Life follows Sung Deok Mi, who deeply enjoys her role as an art gallery curator. Never once missing the mark in her professional life, she harbors a secret. Sung Deok Mi is a die-hard fan of White Ocean's Cha Shi-an, a K-pop star.

On one hand, she dedicates herself to work and spends time with her coworkers, and on the other, she handles a Shi An fansite, where she allows herself to moon over the nation’s heartthrob. But when Ryan Gold, the new boss, enters her orbit, their electric clashes lead to them forming negative impressions of one another. Things only get worse when he finds out about Sung Deok Mi’s secret obsession. The drama makes you cling to those vulnerable moments between the two, peeling back new layers with each episode.

About four centuries ago, during the Joseon Dynasty period, an alien named Do Min Joon landed on Earth. Ever since his arrival, he has been skeptical of humans and has tried to stay as far away from them as possible, keeping his interactions to a minimum. Moreover, a chance encounter with a popular but childish actress, Chun Song-yi, only cements his opinion on humankind.

Related: The 10 Best Supernatural Korean Dramas, Ranked

From the very start, the energy between the two is explosive, with Do Min Joon coming off as a snob and Chun Song-Yi as a vain artist. My Love From the Star gives our beloved alien a chance at love, but his relationship comes with an expiry date because he only has three months before he returns to his home planet. With tender imagery and poignant moments, the fantasy series reflects upon the idea of soulmates.

What happens when the person who hates you with a passion is your only hope at being proven not guilty of murder? Suspicious Partner is set around a highly talented and straightforward prosecutor, Noh Ji-wook, and his amateur intern, Eun Bong-hee. They are both very passionate about law and take their profession seriously. But while one is experienced and never misses a chance to show off, the other gets herself in trouble because of her naivety.

After Bong-hee is arrested for murder, Ji-wook steps up to fight for her, only to get shamed and demoted. From compulsively watchable courtroom battles to forensic studies and intricate investigations, their chemistry blooms all along. The character transformations are subtle but undeniable, revealing that there was a lingering affection between them all along.

No Hwi Oh works as a detective at Gangnam Police Station. The cases he handles in the violent crimes division have hardened his exterior but also given him anger issues, making him aggressive about trivial things and leading him to seek help from a psychiatrist. This psychiatrist in question is also seeing another patient, Lee Min Kyung, who may look like an unassuming woman on the outside, but she harbors a deep-set trauma from an “incident” that has made her annoying, toxic, and delusional.

The two patients can’t help but meddle in each other’s businesses because it turns out that they are also neighbors. Mad for Each Other follows their sessions as they evolve from unhealthy spats to light-hearted banter, letting us savor each moment of their lovable personalities.

Past Lives actor Teo Yoo stars opposite Kim Ok-bin, who earlier appeared in The Villainess as a strong female lead in this exciting and hilarious Korean drama. Love to Hate You follows Yeo Mi Ran, a devoted budding lawyer with a badass side to her where she’s completely intolerant of man and despises their tactics of wooing women and eventually leaving them.

As for Nam Kang Ho, he’s an A-list who had his fair share of heartbreaks to know that he must steer clear of women. When Kang Ho’s company hires their first female lawyer and assigns her to handle all of his cases, he has no choice but to run into and deal with Mi Ran. From butting heads with each other to fake dating in front of the media to finally warming up and falling in love, the drama is a binge-worthy entry to the list.

The best thing about Shooting Stars is that above being a savory enemies rom-com, it also world as a workplace comedy. The story follows Gong Tae Sung, who is the nation’s beloved star. Constantly being in the spotlight and having an image to maintain has made him used to pretending to be kind-hearted and always having a warm smile plastered to his face.

But his true personality isn’t as pleasant. And that is something the employees of Starforce Entertainment, his management agency, are well aware of. The company’s PR team head is Oh Han Byeol. While she’s good at keeping Tae Sung’s true nature on the down low, she’s also constantly at odds with him. The constant bickering soon falls in the fate of hands and draws them closer, with the series ending on a hopeful note.

Choi Woo-shik and Kim Da-mi star in this saccharine sweet Korean drama that follows former high school sweethearts turning into complete strangers then being forced to work together and ultimately fall in love. As teenagers, Choi Woong and Kook Yeon Soo were a part of a documentary film that captured their days at school, with the former being a slacker obsessed with art and drawing and the latter a top student determined to achieve great things in life.

Over the course of filming, the two ended up dating and falling in love, but Yeon Soo broke Woong’s heart and they parted ways. Only to meet again years later, as adults, pulled back in front of the camera to gain from the popularity of the former documentary. Now successful in their respective fields, they weren’t as fragile. But the more time they spent together, the more their past traumas surfaced. Our Beloved Summer plays out at a wonderful and nostalgic pace and to watch the two leads figure their hearts out is the sweetest thing ever.

Featuring a long-suffering hero against an ignorant heroine and embroiling their love in a dark secret is the recipe for a successful and captivating drama. The Innocent Man does just that. Kang Ma Roo, a medical student, and Han Jae Hee, a reporter, used to be madly in love until Jae Hee betrayed Ma Roo, leaving him to take the blame for a murder she committed.

Related: 14 Best Revenge-Themed K-Dramas That Are So Satisfying

Infuriated and still harboring scars until years after, Ma Roo gets out of jail to find out that Ma Roo has already moved on and is engaged to a wealthy man. In his attempt to seek revenge, Ma Roo gets close to Seo Eun-ki, the daughter of the man she married. Watching these wounded souls gingerly heal old pains and learn to lean in the other’s embrace even through the storms is truly enchanting.

In Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, Hong Do Shik finds his quiet seaside village upended by the arrival of the attractive yet poised city girl Yoon Hye Jin. Apparently, Hye Jin’s job in Seoul had started to fill her with discontent, especially after a conflict with her boss. Frustrated out of her mind, she drives out to Gongjin, the town she visited with her parents growing up.

Upon learning that the town has no dentist practice, she decides to move there and start one of her own. Except, her feisty clashes with the smug jack-of-all-trades make her life more difficult than ever. But since all of that leads to a tender romance between the two, we’re not complaining. In fact, the image of Kim Seon-ho holding up a long string of work licenses and smiling at an awed Shin Min-a still burns fresh in the memory of every K-drama fan.

Star teacher boyfriend x side dish store owner girlfriend. That’s actually how Crash Course in Romance ends. But before the two protagonists reach that point, there’s stolen identities, embarrassments, crazy chases, and so much more. Set against the competitive world of entrance exams and parents vying for the best education for their children, the drama follows Choi Chi Yeol, a popular instructor who enjoys teaching math but in reality, is quite aloof and haunted by a past.

Nam Haeng Sun is a retired national athlete who only wants her daughter to enroll in Chi Yeol’s private classes, unaware of the fact that he was the one who stole her brother’s phone and made her chase him across several blocks. Their bittersweet rivalry and sharp insults take a novel form after they spend more time with each other. Overall precious and heartwarming, the show gets you in the feels.

An avid cinephile and self-proclaimed cat lady, Soniya adores watching films that move and transform and broaden her perspective. When she isn't busy working, you'll find her immersed in an arthouse film, catching up on stand up specials, discovering new music, gazing at the moon, and earning quality time to ponder it all.

Her Private LifeMy Love From the StarSuspicious PartnerMad for Each OtherLove to Hate YouShooting StarsOur Beloved SummerThe Innocent ManHometown Cha-Cha-ChaCrash Course in Romance