The Southeast Asian (SEA) Games have recently concluded. Many Filipino athletes have once again brought honor to the Philippines as they bagged numerous awards against their fellow Southeast Asian competitors.
While this year’s SEA games are at their end, the competitive spirit among fans is surely well alive until now. From discussing the success of Filipino athletes up until the future of Philippine sports, Pinoys are still well hooked on sports talk.
Similarly, Korean dramas have long been a center for sports representation. Many of these stories have tightened every fan’s grip on their sofas for many reasons—and one of them is bringing the thrill and entertainment of sports to fictional worlds.
For Pinoys looking for the perfect way to cap off this year’s SEA games, K-dramas are certainly there to satisfy the thirst for excitement and competition. They will definitely ignite your sports spirit, and these series might just help you with that:
1. Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo (2016)
Well-known to Pinoy fans, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo was starred by one of South Korea’s biggest stars—Nam Joo Hyuk and Lee Sung Kyung, who later made news for their relationship announcement in 2017.
The K-drama is set in a fictional university for athletes. It follows the stories of Kim Bok Joo (Lee Sung Kyung), a member of the school’s weightlifting team, and Jung Joon Hyung (Nam Joo Hyuk), a member of the same school’s swimming team.
Together, the K-drama narrates the story of how they work hard and struggle to achieve their dreams of becoming professional athletes and being part of South Korea’s national team. This K-drama received positive attention and reviews, especially among Pinoys.
2. To the Beautiful You (2012)
Remember the iconic Taiwanese series “Hana Kimi” that Pinoys loved back in 2008? Well, this is the Korean version of the story.
Goo Jae Hee (Sulli), has been in love with Kang Tae Joon (Choi Min Ho) ever since she saw him compete in a high jump competition. When Tae Joon suffered a serious injury, Jae Hee was determined to see him jump again, so she decided to enter the same school as Tae Joon. However, Jae Hee faces one great struggle—Tae Joon actually studies in an all-boys school.
The series stars two K-pop stars, including the late Sulli, a member of K-pop group f(x) together with Choi Min Ho, a member of K-pop group Shinee. To the Beautiful You is one of Sulli’s last TV series before she passed away in 2019.
3. Twenty Five Twenty One (2022)
A commercial hit, Twenty Five Twenty One is the latest addition to the sports-themed collection in the world of K-drama. Fictionally set in 1998 during the Asian Financial Crisis, Na Hee Do (Kim Tae Ri) and Baek Yi Jin (Nam Joo Hyuk) struggle to pursue their dreams.
Due to the crisis, Na Hee Do was cut off from her high school’s fencing team, while Baek Yi Jin went from riches to rags—forcing him to stop college and work in several part-time jobs. They eventually meet, comfort, and support each other towards achieving their dreams despite the struggle.
The series partners up actor Nam Joo Hyuk and award-winning actress Kim Tae Ri in a critically acclaimed coming-of-age series.
4. Racket Boys (2021)
Another coming-of-age K-drama, this series follows the journey to success of a middle school badminton team. Yoon Hyeon Jong (Kim Sang Kyung) used to be an excellent badminton player, but now as an adult, he is struggling with poverty. Thus, he moved to the countryside and took up a badminton coaching job.
However, he faces a big challenge just after moving—the school’s badminton team is actually in danger of being disbanded. From then on, Hyeon Jong and the team reached new heights to be able to keep playing badminton and reach their dreams little by little.
Praised for the drama’s sports-induced tension and lively tone, watching Racket Boys is almost like watching an actual badminton game. It will leave audiences cheering wholeheartedly for the players as they come to work for their goals.
5. Hot Stove League (2019)
Last on the list, but definitely not the least — Hot Stove League is a critically acclaimed sports drama in South Korea. It won several awards, which then rewarded its cast and crew with a four-day vacation to Saipan in 2020.
The drama follows the story of a struggling professional baseball team who has been placing last during the past seasons—that was the case until they met a new manager, Baek Seung Soo (Namkoong Min). Despite his unpleasant personality, Seung Soo is determined to create a championship-level baseball team.
This wraps up the list of sports-themed K-dramas. There are many more out there to explore, and this list can be a good starting point for your next K-drama to watch.
Whether you’re here to relive the SEA Games heat or to just explore a new K-drama genre, these K-dramas will surely bring you joy, excitement, and hope.