Sometimes we don’t really understand what makes us crave more of something. Maybe it is what the story could have been or the fact that there was simply not enough of it. Heartbeat saw decent success, but in our opinion, it falls into the former category, and here are some recommendations if you agree with us and even if you don’t.
There is a reason this is our first recommendation, even though the story is nowhere near Heartbeat in any shape or form. While this has been a Song Joong Ki show all along, Ok Taecyeon, as the villain, hits you hard. This recommendation is for those who want to see what Ok Taecyeon has to offer. We have always felt that his roles don’t do him justice, but Vincenzo came close. Just a bit of speculation here, but maybe Ok Taecyeon’s earth sign (Capricorn) likes him to play it safe most of the time, but the few instances when he chooses to take the risk, are iconic. Vincenzo may be the plot of the show, but it was Jang Jun Woo who carried it all the way, and you should check out this drama, which is certainly more binge-able than Heartbeat.
2. Rooftop Prince
This is one of the older Korean dramas and is on this list for the tropes it plays with. There is the matter of first love through mistaken identity and the ensuing time travel that sets things right across two different eras. Since this drama was released in 2012, you might have to endure a few problematic elements but rest assured, the ending is worth it, though it might also break your heart. In fact, much like Heartbeat, it ends on an ambiguous note and leaves much room for debate. Keep in mind that this is 20 episodes long, but you will not mind sticking with it till the end.
3. Korean Odyssey
There is something about immortal, supernatural beings falling in love. In the words of Edward Cullen, it is as if something permanently altered their unchanging lives with their presence. The Korean Odyssey will have you asking a lot of questions, and you will not be able to determine who fell first in love. But the best part is not even the love story, but the constant bickering between the monkey king and the bull king. There is also a zombie on the scene, and this is probably the best story arc of the lot. However, what makes this story so unique is that unlike Heartbeat, it is not just romantic love that helps someone find their humanity. There is love, friendship, and empathy, all of which come together to help the person grow.
4. Legend of the Blue Sea
It is rare for Lee Minho not to have chemistry with his co-stars, and his pairing with Jun Ji Hyun was nothing short of a visual treat. This is how love stories dealing with reincarnations and huge time gaps should work. In Heartbeat, Woo Hyeol falls in love with Hae Sun. So what next? Was she the only person in the world who was not scared of him being a vampire, and was that enough of a criterion to get stabbed or sleep in a coffin for a century? You won’t have such questions in Legend of the Blue Sea, and watching Lee Minho play a man in love never gets old. He will be the forever crush of the people who were there since the beginning of the Hallyu wave, and Jun Ji Hyun will always be famous, no matter what she does or doesn’t do.
5. Tale of the Nine Tailed
Another case is where the first love died ages ago, and the immortal is pining for her return. This is a recurring theme in Korean dramas, and Tale of the Nine-Tailed is one of the better ones. To be honest, other than the balcony scene, Lee Yeon exhibits better chemistry with Kim Bum than the actress, but this is still a fun love story. The dialogue, the character construction, and just the general humor are far better. It also helps that there is an actual progression of the story with each episode, and you won’t be left feeling underwhelmed the way you might have been with Heartbeat. There is also a second season titled Tale of The Nine-Tailed 1938, and we would recommend this in case you are not in the mood for a love story but would prefer something simply supernatural.
6. Goblin: The Great and Lonely God
This drama doesn’t need an introduction and is one of the most iconic shows to have come out of K-drama land. We recommended this drama for one very specific reason, which is that, unlike us, you don’t mind the lack of chemistry between the leads or the slow pace. However, we can promise that Goblin has a much tighter storyline than Heartbeat, and it covers all of its bases. The acting is exceptional, and only if the female lead was not shown as being a teenager, the love story would have hit way better. But the second couple serves where the first falters, making this a worthy watch overall.
7. 49 Days
Another old Korean drama, it may seem far removed from the narrative of Heartbeat, but it is on this list because it is one of the few stories we have come across that talk about what it means to love and lose in life. While it is not quite high on emotion, it asks the right questions about the love people feel for others, with all of its complexities. The premise is that a girl in a coma must have three people not related to her cry out of their grief for her condition. And we’ll just stop here because mentioning anything beyond this point would be a major spoiler but let us tell you that this drama has Jung Il Woo. It is really sad that he is not as active as he used to be, but this drama is a treat, and one of the main reasons is him.
8. My Love From The Star
This drama is the reason Jun Ji Hyun will always be famous. Cheon Song Yi carried this on her shoulders, and the world wouldn’t be the same without her. Much like Heartbeat, it is about the absolutely terrible timing of love and how it can quite literally upend lives, but you would not have it any other way. The chemistry between Kim Soo Hyun and Jun Ji Hyun is a surprise, but it works, and it has all those past lives and childhood connections that are a staple of Korean dramas. This is a must-watch.