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List of Elements We See In Nearly Every K Drama

In episode 6.5 of our podcast, we mentioned that we've compiled a list of the elements that we find to be in every K Drama. Not every element is in every episode, but most of these elements find their way into every show.

We find that once you identify these elements, you start seeing them in all of your favorite show. But somehow, the filmmakers manage to make each show fresh and interesting, even though, for example, every show has an umbrella scene, a back hug, scenes of people eating, a fireworks scene.

How about you? What do you think of our list? Do you agree with the list? What did we miss? What elements do you think don't belong on this list? Leave us a comment!

  1. Beautiful actors, especially 5 characters

  2. Second leads or second couples

  3. Crying

  4. Back hug

  5. Clothing

  6. Food

  7. Alcohol

  8. Wrist grab

  9. Holding hands

  10. First kiss, with a 360 view or multi-angle view

  11. Trip and catch

  12. Triangles

  13. Flowers

  14. Umbrella scene

  15. OST!

  16. Deep lean

  17. Some connection from their past

  18. Grandfather or older person keeping the couple apart

  19. Head rest

  20. Beach scene

  21. Fireworks scene

  22. Talking to someone while they’re sleeping

  23. Saving your loved one from an oncoming biker or motorcycle or car or delivery guy

  24. First snow

  25. Putting on a shoe or fixing a shoe

  26. Touching or fixing a loved one’s hair

  27. PIggyback ride

  28. Quirky best friend

  29. Showing off some amazing abs

  30. Protecting someone you love at personal cost to yourself

  31. Confession

  32. Finding your love across a crowded street, bridge or plaza

  33. Product placement

  34. Seeing your loved one or future love in a beautiful outfit and you are dumbstruck


  1. Thanks for posting this. Were you aware that there are K Drama Bingo Cards with these elements? There's a link below to an Etsy shop. I would also like to propose a few more elements!

    1. Tending to another's minor wounds. I see this all the time. One character applying ointment or disinfectant to another character - usually their love interest.

    2. Flashbacks to characters' youth played by the same actors. Usually, the main actors will have flashbacks to school years and the actor who is often in their thirties or even
    forties will play themselves as a high school or college student! They simply put on a school uniform, pull their bangs over their forehead (very important!), and often wear glasses. Sometimes they use a camera trick that makes everything a bit elongated so people look thinner and they will also use a sepia type filter. There are tons of examples. Most recently the lead actresses in Mary My Husband did this and they are both 37! I guess all that Korean skin care really pays off! Hospital Playlist did this quite often as well.

    3. Death. Can't believe this isn't already on the list! There is so much death in K Drama's - even the comedies. It's rare that there is a K Drama where all the lead actors have both of their parents still alive! Often it's usually just one parent, or better yet an orphan! I think one reason is because the relationship with parents is so important to Korean society, so it's a way of not having to deal with what the parents would do in these crazy K drama situations. Also, there is almost always at least one funeral in a K drama as well as plenty of memorial services.

    Just my two cents. Love the podcast. Keep em coming!

    1. Wow, thanks so much, you are so right!
      Especially about death and funerals. I never knew so much about Korean funerals until I started watching Kdramas. I know that the photo of the deceased is really important. We had that for funerals of my relatives in LA.
      I'm wondering if the deaths and funerals of parents brings up a situation where they can reflect on how significant their parent was for them. There's often visitng of the gravesite/columbarium (where they have the urns displayed in compartments) and the character has a whole conversation with the deceased loved one.

      Definitely putting ointment on a minor wound (or major one with Yoon Chae-Ok and Jang Tae-Sang) is something we see alot.

      Thanks for your input and support, we really appreciate it!

  2. Malcolm, thank you for this amazing insight! We have the "connection from the past" on our list, but your two other elements are spot on! Tending to a minor wound, putting on some type of ointment and then blowing on it is a common element. And death! Either a death or a death anniversary ceremony. We will be updating our list soon! Please keep the comments coming! And thank you for listening!


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