Jin Goo

Romance in the Workplace: 5 Favorite K-dramas Featuring Office Couples


Team-building in the workplace can make for more effective outcomes.

Sometimes time spent working closely with colleagues can lead to more long-term romantic relationships.

Earlier this year, Harvard Business Review provided the guide "How to Approach an Office Romance (and How Not To)" where they highlighted six principles to remember:


  • Know the many risks of getting involved with someone at work
  • Familiarize yourself with your company’s policies – and the rationale behind them
  • Talk through what you’ll do if the relationship doesn’t work out


  • Pursue a coworker if you’re not serious about a relationship
  • Date someone who you have a reporting relationship with
  • Try to hide the relationship from your manager or colleagues – it will only erode trust

Here are five favorite South Korean dramas highlighting challenges employees face when their collegial relationships evolve into something more intimate.

HerPrivateLife_KimJaewook_ParkMinyoung_Photo1. Her Private Life

First episode date: April 10, 2019
Number of episodes: 16

Description: Romantic comedy. Dedicated art gallery curator Sung Deok-mi (Park Min-young) leads a secret life as the ultimate fan-girl of Korean pop idol Cha Shi-an (Jung Jae-won). When former artist-turned-gallery-director Ryan Gold (Kim Jae-wook) takes leadership of the Cheum Museum of Art, Doek-mi must deal with the tensions between the new and old directors while protecting her fan-girl life. Based on the 2007 novel Noona Fan Dot Com by Kim SungYeon.

Why I Love This Series: As Ryan Gold learns more about Sung Doek-mi, he supports her passionate pursuit of her favorite boy band idol. She, in turn, helps him regain his lost past and his artistic talent. The series takes you into the art world through a unique behind-the-scenes story, and the romantic chemistry between Ryan and Doek-mi is palpable.

TouchYourHeart2. Touch Your Heart

First episode date: February 6, 2019
Number of episodes: 16

Description: Romantic comedy. After a scandal impacts the career of top star Oh Yoon-seo (Yoo In-na), she lands a comeback role as a secretary in a drama. In order to get into character to prove she is suitable for the part, Yoon-seo works as a legal secretary for six months. Her workaholic lawyer boss Kwon Jung-rok (Lee Dong-wook) is notorious for being a perfectionist, but Yoon-seo's bubbly personality soon breaks down his impersonal walls and romance blooms.

Why I Love This Series: First brought together in the kdrama Goblin: The Lonely and Great God, we finally get a chance to see a real romance between these two actors. Though the journey may not be comfortable when these opposites attract, Yoon-seo and Jung-rok learn more about themselves as they deal with the challenges presented by her fame and his ethics.

RomanceIsABonusBook3. Romance is a Bonus Book

First episode date: January 26, 2019
Number of episodes: 16

Description: Romantic comedy. Kang Dan-i (Lee Na-young) is a divorced single mother who is unemployed and struggling in life. Though she was once recognized as an expert copywriter, she cannot land a job. Desperate for work, she lies about her credentials and eventually lands a job as a temporary worker at a publishing company. She meets the company's youngest editor-in-chief Cha Eun-ho (Lee Jong-suk), who also happens to be a childhood friend.

Why I Love This Series: Romance between older women and younger men is commonplace in kdramas. In this case, the playful romance between Dan-i and Eun-ho is reminiscent of the romance in the Sutton Foster series Younger. Eun-ho's unwavering support for Dani-i's skills and talents strengthen their relationship and make significant contributions to success at the workplace.

WhatsWrongWithSecretaryKim_064. What's Wrong with Secretary Kim

First episode date: June 6, 2018
Number of episodes: 16

Description: Romantic comedy. For the past nine years, President and Vice Chairman of Yumyeong Group Lee Young-joon (Park Seo-joon) has groomed Kim Mi-so (Park Min-young) to be the perfect secretary to deal with his narcissistic personality. When she suddenly announces that she is quitting, he seeks to understand her point of view while trying to keep her by his side. Based on the manga What's Wrong with Secretary Kim by Jeong Gyeong Yun and Kim Myeongmi.

Why I Love This Series: The perfect secretary teaches the perfect narcissist how to be a human being. Along the way, romance blooms. With a manga as the source, this series incorporates all the fun graphics and sound effects you would expect from a webtoon. A backstory about a shared childhood drama, a secondary workplace romance, and unique colleagues who offer advice and comment round out this entertainer.

SheWasPretty5. She Was Pretty

First episode date: September 16, 2015
Number of episodes: 16

Description: Romantic comedy. After a complete reversal of fortune and looks, childhood friends Ji Sung-Joon (Park Seo-joon) and Kim Hye-Jin (Hwang Jung-eum) reunite for the first time in 15 years as employees at a fashion magazine.

Why I Love This Series: As a boss, Sung-joon is a tyrant. As a childhood friend, he is unable to immediately recognize Hye-jin, who is desperately trying to hold on to her position despite her perceived shortcomings. The romantic tension builds as a love triangle emerges among the misfit intern Hye-Jin, editor-in-chief Sung-Joon, and senior feature editor Kim Shin-hyuk (Choi Si-won). The power of first love ultimately wins, making the viewer wonder whatever happened to our teenage crush.


The following playlist features trailers for each of these series.


You can view kdramas via the streaming services Viki.com, Netflix.com, and Amazon Prime.

If you liked this post, please share, leave a comment, and check out our other posts.


The Power of the Press: 5 Favorite South Korean Dramas Showcasing the Influence of the Media

In recent years, the press has come under increasing attack. In response, media outlets have adopted slogans like "Democracy dies in darkness" (Washington Post), "Facts First" (CNN), and "Pursuing the Truth Together" (WAMU 88.5).

Social media has become an echo chamber for false information, so it is even more critical for people to get their news from reliable news sources.

The following five South Korean series highlight the influence of the media on individuals and society from the viewpoint of those who are responsible for reporting the news.

PowerOfThePress_Argon1. Argon

First episode date: September 4, 2017
Number of episodes: 8

Description: Workplace drama. Kim Baek-jin (Kim Joo-hyuk) is the anchor for the late-night investigative news show Argon. When the Midtown mall collapses killing 71 and injuring many others, he and his producer Shin Cheol (Park Won-sang) fight against the network higher-ups who feed their team suspicious information about the incident. Their battle to deliver credible news in the face of corporate pressure inspires the passionate team of Argon reporters - especially new reporter Lee Yeon-hwa (Chun Woo-hee) - to put their reputations on the line to deliver facts in a world that too easily embraces fake news.

Why I Love This Series: This slow-paced series focuses less on uncovering facts around a complex news story and more on the lives and relationships of the reporters. From the junior reporters to the more seasoned professionals to the politically-minded back-stabbers, the motivations driving each individual is made clear. Despite verifying the facts before broadcasting a story, their reporting comes under intense scrutiny and their reports are repeatedly disputed. Bonds are formed and broken as the news team strives to deliver the truth in an increasingly challenging work environment.

Quotable Quotes:

"Reporters should reveal the truth only through facts."

"A reporter needs to care about people and question conventional wisdom. A reporter also needs to have an insatiable curiousity and always think about the whys and hows. Lastly, when you have a doubt, you must not let it go."

"Changing the frame is powerful. Once you change how someting is framed, nobody thinks about what was the matter in the beginning."

PowerOfThePress_Distorted_02_NamgoongNim_022. Distorted (a.k.a. "Falsify")

First episode date: July 24, 2017
Number of episodes: 32 (half-hour episodes)

Description: Legal, political drama. Journalist Han Moo-young (Namkoong Min) of the online Aeguk Newspaper is secretly uncovering clues related to the murder of his brother and reporter Han Cheol-Ho (Oh Jung-se). Seasoned journalist Lee Seok-min (Yoo Jun-sang) has become cynical after being downgraded at the prestigious Daehan Daily. Prosecutor Kwon So-ra (Uhm Ji-won) seeks to regain her position after her demotion as a result of fighting against powerful players. The three combine their efforts to cover the truth behind a series of events orchestrated by a powerful publisher.

Why I Love This Series: Themes of responsibility, truth, and trust permeate this series. Injustice is portrayed through those with power who wield it without regard for the individual lives they may destroy. With nothing to lose, Han Moo-young convinces those he encounters to do the right thing – or the wrong thing for the right reason. When our trio works together to separate fact from fiction, they leverage their respective media channels to shine a spotlight on the evildoers who had remained hidden.

Quotable Quotes:

"You are never too late if you have the courage to ask the right question."

"Helping the weak isn't justice for a journalist but common sense."

"The first duty of journalism is to seek the truth."

Pinnochio3. Pinocchio

First episode date: November 12, 2014
Number of episodes: 20

Description: Coming of age drama. When the media misreports on the death of a firefighter and his crew, the fireman's family is shattered and separated. Thirteen years later when the truth of the incident is unearthed, the fireman's oldest son Ki Jae-myeong (Yoon Kyun-sang) seeks revenge. Meanwhile, the fireman's youngest son Ki Ha-myeong (Lee Jong-suk) – who was adopted under the name Choi Dal-po – aims to resolve matters by becoming a reporter. As he and his "niece" Choi In-ha (Park Shin-hye) pursue careers as television reporters, Choi Dal-po's past comes back to haunt him – most notably in the form of Ih-ha's estranged mother Song Cha-ok (Jin Kyung), a top television newscaster.

Why I Love This Series: This story is full of all the romance, comedy, thrills and melodrama that you expect from k-dramas. As the relationship between Dal-po and In-ha evolves, they face both mundane and challenging assignments, each of which they meet head-on. Of particular note is the relationship between Ki Jae-myeong and Choi Dal-po as they navigate a world that has both destroyed and redeemed them. Excellent performances by supporting cast members in a narrative that focuses on the impact of news coverage on individual lives make this a compelling and memorable series.

Quotable Quotes:

"The truth can change the world."

"People think that reporters only relay the truth. Reporters should know that people believe them unconditionally. So you should have known that your words are scarier than those of other people. The fact that you didn't know is your mistake."

PowerOfThePress_Healer_014. Healer

First episode date: December 8, 2014
Number of episodes: 20

Description: Crime action thriller. An old murder incident involving a group who ran an illegal broadcasting station brings together four different people - an enthusiastic reporter Chae Young-shin (Park Min-young) from a second-rate tabloid website, a famous broadcast journalist Kim Moon-ho (Yoo Ji-tae), a mysterious computer hacker (Kim Mi-kyung), and a night courier known as "Healer" (Ji Chang-wook) who possesses combat and covert operation skills.

Why I Love This Series: This series powerfully depicts the impact of true vs. fake news in an entertaining story featuring action, comedy, and romance. The different approaches of the lead characters are striking: Healer is driven by instinct while journalist Kim Moon-ho takes a more carefully planned approach and Chae Young-shin chases stories down through dogged determination. As the two join hands to hold accountable the powerful forces working behind-the-scenes, they combat increasing threats by leveraging the power of the free press.

Quotable Quotes:

"Media exists to diagnose the pain of this society and cure it."

PowerOfThePress_Spotlight_025. Spotlight

First episode date: May 14, 2008
Number of episodes: 16

Description: Workplace drama. Revolving around the lives of four news reporters, Seo Wu-jin (Son Ye-jin) joins the bustling city desk of a major broadcast network, along with the other new reporters, Lee Sun-chool (Jin Goo) and Yang Myung-eun (Jo Yoon-hee). Veteran journalist Oh Tae-seok (Ji Jin-hee) serves as their mentor. When Tae-seok sees potential in Wu-jin, he takes a particular interest in her career development.

Why I Love This Series: While this has an old-school feel to it, don't let that fool you. What it lacks in current technological advances it more than makes up with an engaging storyline. This slice-of-life drama offers an interesting perspective on the inner workings of a television news team and the stories they choose to cover. In her enthusiasm to get the story, Seo Wu-jin finds herself in tense situations which she manages to turn around to her advantage. As the reporters track down and report on the next big story, they face important issues including ethics in reporting, freedom of the press, and trust in the fourth estate.

Quotable Quote:

"Our responsiblity as reporters is to reveal the truth."

The following playlist features trailers and snippets from each of these series.


You can view kdramas via the streaming services Viki.com, Netflix.com, and Amazon Prime.

If you liked this post, please share, leave a comment, and check out our other posts.