7 K-Dramas to Check Out if You're Looking for Relationship 'Green Flags'

We assure you, this is spoiler-free!
by Mary Joyce Bernal   |  Aug 7, 2021
Image: YOUTUBE/THE SWOON
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In K-dramas and even Western TV shows, it's not unlikely to catch smart, beautiful female leads getting marupok in the presence of handsome, brooding men filled with red flags. While it has happened to some of us IRL, too, it's also refreshing to see the opposite happen onscreen. 

When we say "green flag," we don’t always mean second leads who are better than the main (three words: Do Hyeok from Nevertheless). Green flags point to whatever is healthy for someone when stepping into a relationship, whether these are in the form of relationship dynamics, character development, or a full package of a love interest. 

Not sure where to find these green flags? We gotchu! And we assure you, this is spoiler-free.

1. Reply 1988 (2015)

Where you can watch it: Netflix or Viu

If there’s an unconventional female lead that we can’t help but love, it’s Deok Sun from Reply 1988, the third installment of award-winning director Shin Won Ho’s Reply anthology series. Set in a quaint neighborhood of Ssangmundong, this 20-episode drama focuses on the daily lives of its residents: five best friends and their families. The guessing game of who the female lead ends up with is a defining trait of the Reply anthology, but this show is so much more than the love stories it tells—it’s rich with lessons on family and friendship, too. Just be sure you don’t run out of tissues!

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The green flag: The endgame is built on openness. The couple’s love, though silent, is nourishing for each other.

2. Angel’s Last Mission: Love (2019)

Where you can watch it: Netflix or Viu

Are fantasy television and makulit heavenly beings your thing? Say no more. Shin Hye Sun plays the ballerina Yeon Seo in this romance drama about a cheerful angel, Dan (played by INFINITE’s L), who is given a mission as punishment. He is supposed to find the “rib” or true love of Yeon Seo, who was rendered blind by an accident. Her cold demeanor makes for an interesting dynamic with Dan’s bright and optimistic nature. The drama has its fair share of twists and turns, making it worth the watch.

The green flag: The plot twist makes it clear who the missing “rib” for Yeon Seo is.

3. Extraordinary You (2019) 

Where you can watch it: Netflix or Viu

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Ever felt like you were the protagonist of a story? Eun Dan Ho always has. Soon enough, though, her dream is crushed when she finds out that she’s actually an extra in a comic book! She’s no ordinary character, though (see what we did there?), because she soon takes it upon herself to assert her place in the world the author created.

The green flag: Dan Ho maintains the importance of taking charge of her destiny, and this applies to her relationships, too.

4. The Tale of Nokdu (2019)

Where you can watch it: Netflix or Viu

Dong Ju (played by Kim So Hyun) is a kisaeng trainee in this sageuk drama that provides a refreshing take on the popular crossdressing trope. Jang Dong Yoon plays Nokdu, a young man who disguises himself as a woman in order to find information about the assassin attack that caused the death of his family. The two of them meet and end up sharing a room (and eventually, secrets) with, and the rest is history.

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The green flag: In a predictable but fulfilling manner, the ending gives the rightful closure to the love story.

5. Run On (2020)

Where you can watch it: Netflix

Sometimes, all we really need is a friend pushing us to be better. That’s exactly what Oh Mi Joo (played by Shin Se Kyung) is. In this drama full of green flags, a former track star, Ki Seon Gyeom (played by Im Si Wan), crosses paths with subtitle translator Oh Mi Joo. Despite its lack of major conflict, it makes room for important conversations on relationships, career, and self-love. Plus, it’s the perfect wholesome show to bask in that won’t leave you feeling anxious or emotional every five minutes. 

The green flag: The female lead does not shy away from asserting the importance of communication. After all, it’s the foundation every relationship should have, right?

6. When the Camellia Blooms (2019) 

Where you can watch it: Netflix

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Gong Hyo Jin plays Dong Baek, a caring single mother, in this romantic comedy (with a dash of thriller) that raked in awards at the 56th Baeksang Arts Awards. Kang Ha Neul plays Yong Sik, a high-spirited cop who feels immediate attraction towards her at first sight.

The green flag: The romance aspect of the show breaks from the familiar tropes in K-Drama, and this contributes to the development of the main characters as a couple and as individuals.

7. My Mister (2018)

Where you can watch it: Netflix or Viu

Lee Ji An (played by IU) is far from the typical fresh-faced, charming main character in this critically-acclaimed drama. My Mister revolves around the lives of and the eventual bond that forms between Ji An and an older man, Dong Hoon (played by Lee Sun Kyun). Since we promised a spoiler-free list, just trust us when we say this is worth your time. Prepare your tissues for this one, too!

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The green flag: It’s not only the romantic relationships we look for green flags in, and this drama proves that true love is not limited to a single form.

READ MORE:

5 K-Drama Second Male Leads We All Love

What We Learned From 8 Inspiring K-Drama Female Leads

10 Iconic K-Drama Cameos in Recent Dramas That Will Leave You Shookt

8 ~Healing~ K-Dramas That Will Lift Your Spirits

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Mary Joyce Bernal
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