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Getting The AstraZeneca Vaccine In Korea: My Experience

Welcome to the first installment of a new series of shorter articles I’m writing about life in Korea. This article is all about my experience getting the AstraZeneca Vaccine in Korea, describing the highs and (mostly lows) of the vaccine process and effects, and my motivation for getting vaccinated early.

If you’re in Korea and want to know how to get vaccinated now, then there’s some useful info about getting the vaccine ahead of schedule. I’ll also go through my own experience step by step, including the recovery process.

I’ve got to admit, the whole process was surprisingly fast and I’m lucky that I didn’t suffer too much (but I did suffer). There were a few silly mistakes that I made that really hurt the recovery process. Hopefully you can avoid those.

Please Note: I’m not a doctor and nothing in this article should be taken for medical advice. Be sure to check with your local doctor about any effects of getting the AstraZeneca vaccine or any other vaccines.

Apps are one of the ways of getting the AstraZeneca Vaccine in Korea

Ways Of Getting The AstraZeneca Vaccine In Korea

There are three main ways of getting vaccinated in Korea. These are:

1: Being notified by the government that it’s your turn to get vaccinated.

The Korean government has been notoriously slow in getting vaccines out to people (they’ve just started vaccinating people aged between 65 – 75) and if you’re under 40 (like me), then you’re looking at a very long wait for a vaccine.

2: Using the newly-released leftover-vaccine booking system through Naver and Kakao apps.

The leftover-vaccine booking system will allow you to get vaccinated at a local public health centre, assuming they have vaccines available. This launched in late-May and seems like a nice idea, but it has been plagued with complaints – namely that there aren’t any leftover vaccines showing anywhere.

3: Calling local clinics and asking if they have any leftover vaccines available.

The third option, which has been around for a few months already, is to call local private clinics and ask if they have unwanted vaccines. If they do, you may be able to get one if you can come to the clinic at short notice. I’ve known several other people who have had success with this system and it’s the way that I managed to get vaccinated early.

A word of warning if you’re thinking of trying any of these methods – you’ll need to speak Korean or have a friend who can

This article only details my experience with the AstraZeneca vaccine – one of the 2 main vaccines currently used in South Korea. The other is Pfizer, used in more than 50% of the vaccinations so far.

If you want to know more about getting the AstraZeneca vaccine in Korea, or other vaccines, here’s a couple of articles that you might find useful:

Getting A COVID-19 Vaccine In Korea
Vaccination Guide For Foreigners
Joel getting the AstraZeneca vaccine in Korea in 2021

My Experience Getting The AstraZeneca Vaccine

On May 27th, 2021, I was lucky enough to find out that I was getting the AstraZeneca vaccine from my local clinic here in Daejeon.

Although today marked the start of the leftover-vaccine programme through Kakao and Naver, it was through the short-notice leftover-vaccine scheme that I was able to get my vaccine.

And it certainly was short notice. I had 2 hours to get out of bed, get ready, and go and get vaccinated.

Here’s how it all happened from booking the appointment to getting to where I am now after the 3 day recovery period.

Booking The Appointment

With blurry eyes, I picked up my rudely buzzing phone and answered it at the unholy hour of 9am on my day off. I quickly perked up when I found out that I’d been blessed just enough to be able to secure one of the highly sought-after COVID vaccines.

OK, I’ve got to admit something here… Even after 6 years of living in Korea, my Korean isn’t that great and I didn’t call up to book the appointment myself.

I quickly perked up when I found out that I’d been able to secure one of the highly sought-after COVID vaccines.

My incredible girlfriend made the call (while I was still asleep) and asked about any leftover vaccines for that day. The local clinic did indeed have some available vaccines and I was able to get one if I could arrive by 11am.

I jumped into the shower, ate a quick breakfast (eating a big meal before getting the AstraZeneca vaccine is recommended), and made my way out to the clinic to make sure I wasn’t late.

Cute Pororo sticker after getting a COVID vaccine

Getting The AstraZeneca Vaccine At The Clinic

I arrived at the clinic just in time, and managed to use my limited Korean skills to confirm the appointment, provide my details, and confirm that I, probably, didn’t have any expected allergic reactions to the vaccine. Hopefully that’s what I did…

There were certainly some strange looks from the other patients in the clinic when I said I was there to get vaccinated. It appeared that I was 40 years too early!

a friendly nurse stuck the needle in, took it out, and gave me a cute Pororo plaster

The process of actually getting the AstraZeneca vaccine was really simple. I saw the doctor, they asked a few more questions and told me about the possible side-effects, as well as a few things I should do to stay healthy after getting vaccinated.

Then it was into another room with a friendly nurse who pointed to where I was going to get jabbed, stuck the needle in, took it out, and gave me a cute Pororo plaster (pictured above) to keep me safe.

I had to wait in the clinic for 20 minutes to make sure I didn’t suffer from shock.

I thanked the clinic staff and left. The whole process took under an hour and didn’t cost a penny (or won) as the vaccine scheme is covered by the Korean government.

Time to celebrate…

The BTS Meal from McDonalds in Korea

The First Day After Getting Vaccinated

Did I follow the sage advice of the doctor and go home and rest for the day? Ummm, sadly not.

What did I do then? I went the nearest McDonald’s to check out the newly-released BTS Meal instead of having a healthy meal for lunch. Obviously. Got to get some pictures to share with everyone.

I started to feel sore all over and really sleepy

I must admit that I hugely regret this decision for two reasons.

Firstly, it’s just a chicken nugget meal in a pinky-purple box with 3 letters added to it and a couple of sauces that didn’t really fit the taste of the nuggets. Not worth all the fuss if you ask me.

Secondly, and a lot more regrettable in this situation, the meal was really salty and I hadn’t drunk a lot of liquids that day.

I then went to a cafe to do some work and went home for to cook some more salty food and have a quiet evening in relaxing, resting, and feeling fine.

I didn’t feel any symptoms during the day and it wasn’t until early evening that I started to feel sore all over and really sleepy – side-effects that are quite common when getting the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Unfortunately, the problems didn’t stop there…

Healthy chicken porridge from Bon Juk in Korea

I started feeling really thirsty and that’s when I realised I’d had a lot more salty food than normal and not a lot to drink besides coke and coffee. Uh oh.

I won’t go into details, but suffering from dehydration is not fun. Coupled with the aches from the vaccine and the tiredness, but not being able to sleep… it all lead to a rather horrible, restless night of extreme discomfort.

Was this because of the vaccine?

Partly, but it was also mostly my fault for not choosing healthier meals.

I made sure to remedy this over the next couple of days by sticking to yummy chicken rice-porridge (pictured above), fresh vegetables, and some plain crackers.

And lots of liquids!

Headaches are a side-effect of getting the AstraZeneca vaccine

Side-Effects Of The AstraZeneca Vaccine That I Experienced

During the three day recovery-period, I experienced a few other side-effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine. I never felt as bad as I did on that first night, but I also never really felt at full health either.

The most noticeable problem was the muscle ache that seemed to exist all over my body, especially in my arms and legs. They felt really heavy and sluggish like I’d been exercising all day and they needed to rest.

I felt thirsty all the time

Headaches were frequent, mostly at night. I took some Tylenol to calm them, but didn’t want to take too much as I’ve read this can slow the work of the vaccine in building anti-bodies.

I felt thirsty all the time. Even after switching to less-salty meals.

And tired. So tired. I spent most of the three days sitting or lying down and felt lethargic non-stop. I did manage to get out and socialise on the third day, but felt a headache coming on in the evening and had another bad night’s ‘rest’ after that.

Not terrible, and certainly not nearly as bad as the people suffering from the actual virus. I’ll be a lot more prepared now for the second dose… which is meant to be worse!

Why I Wanted To Get Vaccinated Now

Whilst I certainly enjoy living in Korea, I definitely do miss travelling to different countries, exploring more of the world, and after 2 and a half years of not returning to England, I really want to see my family again.

I don’t expect to be travelling freely again any time soon, but if there’s any chance to get home for Christmas or the winter break without having to spend weeks in quarantine or at risk, then I’ll need to get vaccinated before my scheduled time.

My scheduled time in Korea hasn’t actually been determined and, with the rate the vaccinations are going, probably would have been until autumn or winter, which isn’t enough time to get both doses of a vaccine that has 3 months between the two shots.

After 2 and a half years of not returning to England, I really want to see my family again.

So, I wanted to jump ahead and take the opportunity to get vaccinated if I could. I don’t feel like I’m taking a vaccine from someone else as it was a leftover one that someone, I assume, didn’t want.

I hope that the whole world can be vaccinated before too long and certainly those who are more in need should get them first wherever they are.

However, I like Korea’s system of giving leftover or unwanted vaccines to those who are available at short notice.

If they really aren’t going to be used by someone else, then speeding up the vaccine process for the whole country, whatever your age, seems like the best thing to do.

A glass of water

Tips For Staying Well After Getting The AstraZeneca Vaccine

Again, I’m not a medical practitioner, so please don’t take these as medical advice. These are some of the things I was advised to do by the clinic, as well as remedies I found useful during my initial recovery period.

1: Drink lots of water

I suffered from really bad dehydration for the first day, and continued to be really thirsty during the recovery period. I’d recommend lots of water and Powerade or similar sports drinks.

2: Don’t shower for 24 hours

I was told not to shower after getting the AstraZeneca vaccination. Probably best to shower before you go to get it.

3: Avoid alcohol

Alcohol can inhibit the recovery process. Your body will take longer to recover and adapt to the vaccination. Cut out alcohol for a few days.

4: Avoid salty and fried foods

As with the first point, dehydration was a real problem for me the first night. Stay healthy and don’t give your body extra problems to deal with.

5: Don’t exercise

I was recommended not to exercise after getting vaccinated. I don’t think that means don’t go out, just don’t push yourself too hard.

Generally, it’s best to treat the 3 day recovery period as if you’re sick and trying to get better. Do what you’d normally do when recovering from the flu and you should suffer less.

More About Life In Korea

If you want to know more about life in Korea, then why not check out these other articles

Life In Korea Articles

For more of my personal story about my 6 years living in Korea as an expat, check out this dedicated article:

My Expat Life In Korea
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Share Your Thoughts

If you enjoyed reading this article, or if you have any thoughts about it that you want to share, please feel free to leave a message in the comments below. I’d love to hear your feedback about this article and the subject.

Related Articles

Travel tips to help you explore, travel, enjoy, and see all the joy and wonders of South Korea


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Punggyeong – Fish-Shaped Wind Chimes: 풍경

A Fish-Shaped Wind Chime at Manbulsa Temple in Yeongcheon, Gyeongsangbuk-do

This post contains affiliate links. I receive a percentage of sales, if you purchase the item after clicking on an advertising link at no expense to you. This will help keep the website running. Thanks, as always, for your support!


One of the most beautiful decorative items that you’ll find adorning a Korean Buddhist temple or hermitage are the melodious wind chimes that hang from the eaves of a shrine hall. And while these Fish-Shaped Wind Chimes, or “Punggyeong – 풍경” in Korean, are absolutely beautiful, but like everything else at a Korean Buddhist temple, they have a symbolic meaning. So what do they look like? Why are they shaped like a fish? And why do you find them adorning Korean Buddhist temple shrine halls?

Fish-Shaped Wind Chime Design

When you first approach a temple, especially on a windy day, you’ll be able to hear a slight ringing in the air. This is the Fish-Shaped Wind Chime that is so prominently displayed up in the eaves of temple structures, especially shrine halls.

First, the bell is smaller is size. It has a typical bell shape as is the clapper/striker, as well. What differentiates the Fish-Shaped Wind Chime is that the sail, which dangles down from the bottom of the bell’s opening, is shaped like a fish. This fish-shaped sail dangles down from a mid-sized string/cord and allows the clapper/striker to hit off the interior of the bell. This is what allows the temple to sound so beautiful, especially on windy days. Also, this style of bell is traditionally made of bronze.

A uniquely designed Fish-Shaped Wind Chime at Gakwonsa Temple in Cheonan, Chungcheongnam-do
A Fish-Shaped Wind Chime at Anyangam Hermitage in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.

Fish-Shaped Wind Chime Meaning

There are three meanings behind the design of the Fish-Shaped Wind Chime. The first is that the wind chime allows the wind to pass through the chime. This is likened to the condition of complete freedom from obstruction. This is centred on one of the core beliefs in Buddhism: the shedding of the superficial for the Truth. The second is found in the meaning behind the eyes of the fish. Like in real life, a fish never closes its eyes whether it’s asleep or awake. Similarly, the Fish-Shaped Wind Chime rings both night and day without ceasing and never getting tired. This is important symbolically because it’s a reminder to both monks and nuns to remain diligent on their path inside the Dharma and on their journey towards enlightenment. And the third, and final, meaning behind the Fish-Shaped Wind Chime is that the bell’s sound is meant to dispel evil spirits. As a bit of a side note, this is why you’ll see both houses and apartments in Korea having a Fish-Shaped Wind Chime near their entryways.


Much like all artwork that adorns Korean Buddhist temple halls, the Fish-Shaped Wind Chime has so much more symbolic meaning than simply looking and sounding great. So the next time you hear a ringing in your ear at a temple, you’ll know that this sound is a reminder to the faithful to remain vigilant on their journey towards Buddhahood. And if there’s an evil spirit around, it might just dispel a spirit or two.

A Fish-Shaped Wind Chime at Beomeosa Temple in Geumjeong-gu, Busan.
The Fish-Shaped Wind Chime at Seoamjeongsa Temple in Hamyang, Gyeongsangnam-do.

9 ways to say “to hold” in Korean | Korean FAQ

This is something I'd never even thought about before, but there are a lot of different words that mean "to hold" in Korean.

In order to translate "to hold" in every situations, it's necessary to learn at least nine different verbs. There might even be more I couldn't think of. Here are the most common ways how to say "to hold" in Korean.

The post 9 ways to say “to hold” in Korean | Korean FAQ appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

 Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean





Grading your Korean – Super fast Korean skills | Billy Go

Since starting this series I've received dozens of videos of subscribers speaking in Korean. It's been a lot of fun watching them, and it's always a challenge to pick which ones I can feature in a video.

In today's video I grade one of my subscribers, Fatimah. I'll show you what she does well, and how she can improve her Korean even more.

Also if you'd like to be featured in a future episode of this series, check out the link in the video description with information for how you can send in your video to be graded.

The post Grading your Korean – Super fast Korean skills | Billy Go appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.

Haegwangsa Temple – 해광사 (Gijang-gun, Busan)

The Yongwang-dang Hall at Haegwangsa Temple in Gijang-gun, Busan.

This posts contains affiliate links. I receive a percentage of sales, if you purchase the item after clicking on an advertising link at no expense to you. This will help keep the website running. Thanks, as always, for your support! 

Temple History and Myth

Haegwangsa Temple is a seaside temple located in Gijang-gun, Busan. The temple was first built about one hundred years ago by the monk Kim Mokam-sunim. As for the myth surrounding the creation of the temple, originally Kim Mokam-sunim was a farmer. In fact, the land used for the creation of Haegwangsa Temple used to be his farmland.

One day after finishing up his work, Kim took a shower. It was during this shower that he found a wooden statue of the Buddha, which had drifted up towards him from the sea. As soon as he held and hugged the statue, Kim felt a strange power take hold. Rather strangely, the wooden statue spoke to Kim, saying “I was buried at the temple, deep in the mountain hundreds of years ago, but because of an avalanche, I was swept out into the sea and floated around without a permanent home. Finally, I appeared here, today, as a connection between the past and the present. So place me next to the spring over there.”

When the temple was finally created, it was called Haebulam Hermitage, which means “Ocean Buddha Hermitage” in English. After the temple was created, the wooden statue of the Buddha was placed inside the main hall at the hermitage. However, during Japanese Colonial Rule (1910-1945), the hermitage was looted by the Japanese. In fact, the historic wooden Buddha was stolen by the Japanese at this time. After Korea’s liberation, a monk at the hermitage brought the wooden Buddha statue back to Haebulam Hermitage. But because of preservation issues with the statue, it was badly damaged during its possession by the Japanese. So in an attempt to help preserve the foundational wooden Buddha, it was buried beneath the main hall in 1974, which is where it’s been buried ever since. It was also around this time that the hermitage changed its name from Haebulam Hermitage to its current name of Haegwangsa Temple.

Temple Layout

You first approach Haegwangsa Temple up a bit of a backroad. With the East Sea to your left, you’ll notice Haegwangsa Temple to your right through a pair of buildings that slightly obscure the entry to the temple. It’s through this opening that you’ll enter into the main temple courtyard at Haegwangsa Temple. Straight ahead of you is the Daeung-jeon Hall. Wrapped around the exterior walls to the main hall are an eclectic assortment of murals which include the Shimu-do (Ox-Herding Murals), the Palsang-do (The Eight Scenes from the Buddha’s Life Murals), a mural dedicated to Wonhyo-daesa (617-686 A.D.) and Uisang-daesa (625-702 A.D.), the Bodhidharma, and several other Buddhist inspired murals. Stepping inside the Daeung-jeon Hall, you’ll find row-upon-row of tiny jade statues of Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). As for the main altar triad, it’s centred, once again, by Seokgamoni-bul. This statue is joined on either side by Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power).

To the front left of the Daeung-jeon Hall is a ten metre tall white statue dedicated to Mireuk-bul (The Future Buddha). And to the left of this statue and the Daeung-jeon Hall is the Samseong-gak Hall. On the right exterior wall to this shaman shrine hall is a beautiful blue lotus flower mural. And when you step inside the Samseong-gak Hall, you’ll find a set of three murals housed inside. This set of three includes a mural dedicated to Chilseong (The Seven Stars) and Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). But it’s the mural to the left dedicated to Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) that stands out with its eyes wide apart with a forlorn and desperate look upon his face.

To the right of the Daeung-jeon Hall, on the other hand, and past the Dabo-tap pagoda replica from Bulguksa Temple, is the temple’s Myeongbu-jeon Hall. The exterior walls to this hall are painted with various hellish and redemptive images. As for the interior, and resting on the main altar, is a green haired statue of Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). Jijang-bosal is joined on either side, five on each side, of the Ten Kings of the Underworld, or Siwang in Korean.

Making your way back out towards the temple parking lot, and then hanging a right, you’ll need to make your way out to the East Sea to see the last temple shrine hall at Haegwangsa Temple. An easy one hundred metre stroll back to the crashing waves, you’ll notice a shrine hall perched among the jagged, black rocks. This is the main highlight to Haegwangsa Temple, and it’s the temple’s Yongwang-dang Hall. This shaman shrine hall is dedicated to Yongwang (The Dragon King). Carefully following the somewhat slippery pathway, you’ll climb a set of stairs and enter into the diminutive shrine hall. An orange robed statue of the Dragon King awaits you inside. Backing the orange robed Dragon King is a window with a beautiful view of the East Sea of which he rules over.

How To Get There

To get to Haegwangsa Temple, you can simply walk the kilometre distance from the neighbouring Haedong Yonggungsa Temple. Turn right, and then walk straight down the main road. As you walk, you’ll eventually notice a large brown rock with the Korean words for “Haegwangsa Temple – 해광사” written on it to your right. Or you could simply take a taxi from Haedong Yonggungsa Temple to Haegwangsa Temple. The taxi ride shouldn’t cost you any more than 3,000 won.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10

While smaller in size and less popular than the neighbouring Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, Haegwangsa Temple still packs a punch with its unique charm. The paintings in and around the temple shrine halls are beautiful; but without a doubt, it’s the seaside Yongwang-dang Hall that sits among the waves of the East Sea that’s the main highlight to this seaside temple. This lesser known temple is a must see in Busan.

The Daeung-jeon Hall at Haegwangsa Temple.
The Wonhyo-daesa and Uisang-daesa mural that adorns one of the exterior walls of the Daeung-jeon Hall.
The Daeung-jeon Hall’s exterior walls are also adorned with the Shimu-do (Ox-Herding Murals).
The main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall.
A look towards the ten metre tall statue of Mireuk-bul and the Samseong-gak Hall.
A look at Dokseong (The Lonely Saint) inside the Samseong-gak Hall.
A look towards the Myeongbu-jeon Hall and a miniature replica of Dabo-tap pagoda.
The main altar inside the Myeongbu-jeon Hall.
The morning sun creeping through the trees.
A little early morning fishing near Haegwangsa Temple.
The amazing Yongwang-dang Hall at Haegwangsa Temple.
The orange robed image of the Dragon King from inside the Yongwang-dang Hall.
One last look at the Yongwang-dang Hall.

SMILE surgery - your optimal choice for Laser Vision Correction in summer!



ReLEx SMILE - is a minimally invasive laser vision correction surgery that can correct myopia and astigmatism up to -9 diopters.

What is so special about SMILE?

First of all, there is no need of a flap formation, femto laser only proceeds with a micro-incision of 1.7 mm after lenticular disc is formed. Therefore, cornea receives minimum damage and becomes stronger to external factors after recovery, as well as recovery process itself is very fast.

Basically, the patient can get back to work and everyday life activities already on the next day, and get back to sports and extreme activities within 1 week.

Did you know that BGN Eye Hospital does 3 types of ReLEx SMILE surgery?


Let`s learn more about all three types.

BGN SMILE is a basic ReLEx SMILE surgery that includes lenticular disc formation with femto laser and it`s minimum invasive extraction through 1.7 mm incision.

TRIPLE SMILE - is a ReLEx SMILE procedure with corneal strengthening.

Cornea strengthening or cross-linking strengthens the collagen fibers in the cornea and makes it sturdier by 150%. TRIPLE SMILE is highly recommended for patients with thin cornea or irregular corneal shape as it prevents cornea cells changes and secondary vision decrease.

Worried about dry eye syndrome after surgery? Then Quatro SMILE is your best choice!

Quatro SMILE - is a complex solution for myopia and astigmatism correction that includes BGN SMILE surgery, cross-linking cornea strengthening and unique customized dry eye treatment program.

BGN Eye Hospital Dry Eye treatment program includes PRP plasma eye drops, healon eye drops and warm compress treatment.

Wish to get rid of your glasses but not sure if you are a candidate for Laser Vision Correction, or what type of surgery would be the best for you?

Book a LASIK consultation with BGN! BGN Eye Hospital provides a FREE LASIK examination and consultation for all patients!

After a comprehensive examination we will recommend customized laser vision correction solution for each patient.

To book a LASIK consultation with BGN contact them at their
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Kdrama – The Complete Guide to Korean Dramas

K-drama, which is short for Korean drama, has also become a global phenomenon of sorts. Thanks to the spread of different forms of Korean popular culture, most importantly, K-pop.


The history of Korean drama

The roots of television in South Korea go back to the mid-1950s, with the first Korean television series broadcasting in 1962. It was broadcasted on KBS, Korean Broadcasting System, which has continued to exist as Korea’s big national channel.

However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that Korean households properly began buying television sets. Most of the Korean television series depicted historical times, and historical figures only reached a small audience. After the surge of TVs in Korean homes, more diverse South Korean dramas began getting made, from national heroes such as King Sejong to tales of regular present-day people, especially their struggles and sufferings.

Korean actors and actress standing

Photo credit:

When color TVs became available in the 1980s, the landscape of South Korean television changed, with modern dramas becoming more prominent. And in the 1990s, it started getting more popular to format Korean dramas into a single season of approximately 12 to 24 episodes. Today, it is also more widespread to produce web dramas.

Filming processes

Only the first four episodes of a South Korean drama will be shot before starting a broadcast. Otherwise, each drama is shot as close to the release date as possible to save on production expenses.

Scripts aren’t entirely finalized, and changes to them may be made based on viewer feedback during the course of a Korean drama. These changes may come at just a few hours’ notice before filming. There have even been instances where scenes of the episode are still being filmed as it is being shown on TV! So filming a drama in South Korea is most certainly an intense process.

actors looking at a video camera

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However, thanks to the increased popularity of South Korean dramas globally, producers have been selling rights to broadcast or release the dramas ahead of time, before anything has been shot. This, in turn, has allowed them to film with more time and well before airing than the “live shooting” method.

The largest broadcasting companies in South Korea also have their own shooting locations for historical dramas, with readily built, detailed sets. And interestingly, in comparison to many other countries, the scriptwriters in South Korean dramas are almost equally as famous as the stars and director of the show. There is usually one writer or a small group of writers writing each Korean drama.

Music in Korean dramas

Music plays an integral part in most South Korean dramas. Whole original soundtracks are crafted for each one of them. Most of these songs are performed by popular Kpop singers. If you would like to know some popular Kpop groups and artists, we have a list of the best Kpop groups for you to read!

A popular OST song could also increase the popularity of a South Korean drama. The popularity of a drama could also make an OST song a major hit. Each song should express the drama’s structure and mood, and a detailed process is taken to choose the right songs.

It’s also common to use the same artist for many different dramas due to their past successes. A notable example of such an artist is Baek Ji Young. She has recorded OST songs for approximately 20 different dramas.

Why are Korean dramas popular?

Korean dramas are undeniably popular nowadays. However, this wasn’t the case a few years back. Thanks to the growth of Korean pop culture worldwide, people outside of Asia have also gained interest in Korean dramas and movies.

Reply 1988

K-dramas have become easily popular once viewers knew about them for several reasons.

The Korean drama storyline

K-dramas have been known to have great plots with scenes that will keep you on the edge of your seat, wanting to know what will happen next. This is why Korean dramas are great for binge-watching. They avoid predictable storylines and constantly throw plot twists that will make the viewers’ jaws drop. If you’re very into it, you might finish the whole season in just a few days!


A Korean drama’s OST or original soundtrack goes hand in hand with the actual drama. People recognize a song and associate it with the drama they heard it from, and vice versa. These soundtracks vary depending on the scene, matching the emotions portrayed by the characters. Some Korean pop stars have also starred in K-dramas while they have also sung the OST.

The Korean Culture

K-dramas gives its viewers a glimpse of what it is like living in Korea. There are plenty of interesting things about Korea besides K-pop, such as their food, culture, fashion, and the places that you can visit. All these can be within reach through the K-dramas and Korean movies we could view online. Some dramas such as Crash Landing on You even show life in North Korea through their storyline.

K-dramas are relatable

Korean dramas give you the usual romance or action kind of scenes, but they also exhibit issues in Korean and global society that are relatable to many. These include topics on mental health, suicide, bullying, gender inequality, corruption, or racism. Genres on family and history are also common in K-dramas.


Photo credit:

Korean dramas can help you learn Korean

People are possibly introduced to Korean culture for various reasons, but they end up wanting to learn the Korean language most of the time. Watching Korean dramas can help you practice and learn Korean vocabulary and conversations.

People talk about it on social media

With the good quality story, Korean dramas have, it’s normal for people to talk about them. This is especially easily done through social media. You can see good drama recommendations from viewers, and some even provide their reviews which make others want to begin watching already.

Korean dramas are easy to find

It’s not difficult to start watching a Korean drama as it’s available for streaming on different sites globally. We’ll go through some apps and sites on our list below.

What are the most popular Kdramas?

For our list of best South Korean dramas, please refer to this article. Below is a list of some additional popular Korean dramas you might want to watch. Most dramas are shown over a 10-week period, which means we viewers are constantly getting new Korean dramas to be excited about!

The King

Photo credit:

My Only One

Title in Korean: (하나뿐인 내편 ㅣ hanappunin naepyeon)

This story is about Kim Doran, whose life becomes complicated when her biological father returns after 28 years. If you’re fond of dramas revolving in the family and drama genre, this is a must-watch. The lead actress for this drama, Uee, who plays the role of Kim Do Ran, was also part of the K-pop girl group After School.

Once Again

Title in Korean: (한 번 다녀왔습니다 ㅣ han beon danyeowatseumnida)

This drama is about the life of a family, consisting of a couple and their four adult children. The story will give you a rollercoaster ride of emotions. Once Again proves to be a drama worth watching as it won several awards during the 34th KBS Drama Awards.

When the Camellia Blooms

Title in Korean: (동백꽃 필 무렵 ㅣ dongbaekkkot pil muryeop)

At the center of this drama is a single mother running a cafe, played by actress Gong Hyo Jin, who not only tries to navigate two possible romances but has to evade becoming a serial killer’s next victim. Actors Kang Ha Neul and Kim Ji Suk played the roles of her love interests.


Title in Korean: (배가본드)

A stunt man, dreaming of becoming a famous action star, finds himself in Morocco trying to investigate what actually happened to his nephew, who supposedly died in a plane crash. This action-filled Korean drama with hints of romance is starred by actor Lee Seung Gi and actress Bae Suzy.

The King: Eternal Monarch

Title in Korean: (더 킹: 영원의 군주 ㅣ deo king: yeongwonui gunju)

Starring Lee Minho, in this drama, the king of the Kingdom of Corea finds himself in a parallel world, the Republic of Korea, while trying to know how he survived an otherwise fatal night in his childhood. Here, he’ll also come across a woman who plays a huge role in knowing the reason behind these occurrences.


Title in Korean: (시그널)

Communicating via walkie-talkies, a criminal profiler in the present-day, and a police offer in the past try to solve a cold case that is personal to the criminal profiler. As this drama is about solving crimes, some of the scenes were inspired by criminal incidents that actually happened in South Korea, including the Hwaseong serial murders.

Memories of Alhambra

Title in Korean: (알함브라 궁전의 추억 ㅣ alhambeura gungjeonui chueok)

A company CEO played by actor Hyun Bin and a hostel owner, played by actress Park Shin Hye find themselves wrapped in a puzzling series of events in Spain. What’s more interesting is that it revolves around an AR game, with the lines between real-world and augmented reality beginning to become unclear. This drama is best for those who are into sci-fi.

What is the highest-rated Korean drama?

The current highest-rated Korean drama is entitled The World of the Married (부부의 세계 | Bubuui Segye). This Korean series from JTBC is a romantic melodrama that was aired in 2020.

World of married

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This story is about a doctor (Kim Hee Ae) whose life began to fall apart after she knew of her husband’s (Park Hae Joon) affair with her friend. The 16-episode long drama remains to be the highest-rated cable drama episode of all time.

Korean Drama Genres

There’s a wide variety of Korean dramas that you can start watching. Here are the common drama genres that you can refer to along with K-dramas in this category.

Action Drama

Action genres bring the most excitement and thrill to Korean dramas. This genre is also often paired with the crime genre and keeps the viewers hooked during intense fighting scenes. Lead characters in this genre usually go against antagonists who are more powerful than them. Thus, making their victories even more satisfying.


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If you’re into this type of drama, we recommend the Korean dramas Vagabond, Healer, Beyond Evil, and the most recent one, Vincenzo.

Romance Drama

We mainly think of love and happy endings when a romance genre is mentioned. Korean dramas often incorporate other genres like comedy, melodrama, fantasy, or even action in romantic series. This gives the romance a twist and creates depth in the story.

Crash Landing On You

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The highest-rated Korean drama, The World of the Married, also falls under this genre. You can also check out these high-rating romantic dramas: While You Were Sleeping, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, Descendants of the Sun, and Crash Landing On You.

Historical Drama

This genre is also known as 사극 (sageuk), which refers to historical films and television series. Historical genres are special because they show the viewers a lot about Korean culture and history.


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Over time, historical genres evolved and incorporated modern drama styles, making them more appealing to younger audiences. Moon Embracing the Sun, Six Flying Dragons, Queen Seondoek, Mr.Sunshine, and Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo are just some of the popular dramas in this genre.

Fantasy Drama

Korean dramas with supernatural and fantasy elements bring anticipation to the audience because anything can happen in a fantasy world! The scenes that don’t happen in real life become a reality for the characters.


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Some popular fantasy Korean dramas feature supernatural beings like ghosts, goblins, mermaids, and aliens. A Korean Odyssey, Guardian – The Lonely And Great God, The Legend Of The Blue Sea, and My Love From The Star are some of the best fantasy Korean dramas we recommend.

Medical Drama

Medical Korean dramas are both entertaining and educational. Since medical terms are often mentioned, definitions are also included to help the audience understand the concept better. Some scenes make the viewers sigh relief as a patient’s heart starts to beat again in operating rooms.

Hospital Playlist

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Whether you’re in the medical field or not, this genre might be interesting for you. Hospital Playlist, Good Doctor, Doctors, and Hospital Ship are some of the dramas you can check out under this genre.

Family Drama

Dramas in the family genre never fail to make their audience get at least teary-eyed from all the emotions. After all, the concept of family is very relatable to many. These dramas tend to be light and happy, but sad scenes can easily make you bawl your eyes out. Watching them will give you different feelings.

My father is strange

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These dramas are usually made up of 50 to 55 episodes, with each episode 60 minutes long. Dramas of this genre are usually broadcasted on weekends. They’re usually about 2 families whose fates are intertwined dealing with common family issues. South Korean dramas on family that we recommend include Reply 1988, My Father Is Strange, Go Back Couple, What Happens to my Family, Marry Me Now, Golden Life, Father, I’ll Take Care of You, and You’re the Best.

Legal Drama

Similar to medical dramas, legal dramas are also educational but in the field of law. Characters portrayed by the lead roles are often lawyers or prosecutors trying to find justice amidst the corruption and unfair treatment in South Korean society.

If this piques your interest, you can start by watching legal K-dramas Innocent Defendant, Diary Of A Prosecutor, Law School, or Suits which is a Korean remake of the American series of the same title.

Coming of Age Drama

Coming-of-age is a genre that focuses on the protagonist’s growth from when they were young to adulthood. This highlights the emotions felt by the character throughout the journey towards adulthood from certain experiences like first love, heartbreak, maturity, and having a new sense of responsibility.

dream high

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Some dramas in this genre include The Heirs, Weightlifting Fairy Kim Joo, Boys Over Flowers, and Dream High.

Web Drama

Korean dramas typically last around 60 minutes per episode which may be a bit long for others to view in one sitting. Luckily, web dramas usually last between 5 to 30 minutes only but still provide a similar good quality with the longer ones.


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A video or an episode of this type is accessible on channels on platforms such as V-Live. Love Playlist, A-Teen, Queen of the Ring, and The Way I Hate You are some of the dramas in this genre that you can stream.


If you’re up for an intense level of drama, Korean melodrama will not disappoint you. This genre is characterized by a high level of emotions portrayed and plenty of heart-wrenching scenes.

Winter Sonata

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A great example of Korean melodrama is the Endless Love series that features four different dramas entitled Autumn in My Heart, Winter Sonata, Summer Scent, and Spring Waltz, named after Korea’s four seasons.

Thriller Drama

As the name suggests, thriller dramas give loads of thrill to their audience. This is the kind of drama where every second count, and you need to have your eyes glued on the screen. Thriller dramas usually go together with horror or action genres where many things are going on. There will constantly be a feeling of suspense and anticipation as scenes are heading towards the climax.


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The Korean series Kingdom, Save Me, Defendant, and Extracurricular are ones you can start with. Before you do so, if it helps, it’s best to expect jump scares and ominous background music!

Where can I watch Korean dramas?

We’ve told you about the history of Korean dramas and some of the best ones to start binge-watching. But what are the best sites to start watching these dramas on? We’ll tell you about it in a while, including some of the series you can watch on these sites!

Netflix on smart phone

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In the past, it was a big challenge for many foreigners living outside Korea who have an interest in South Korean dramas to find an app or website for watching them. However, thanks to technology and the ever-increasing popularity of Korean dramas, they’re easily accessible now.


These days watching South Korean dramas could be done comfortably through Netflix! You can stream Korean series or a movie through their website or app, or you can also download the video for offline binge-watching. Some K-dramas are also listed as Netflix originals. We’ve listed some of them below.

As Korean dramas increase in popularity and demand, this app is investing more in South Korean series and movies this year. If you’re a subscriber, you’ll definitely have a longer list of Korean series and movies on your account.

Korean dramas on Netflix

  • Crash Landing on You
  • Hi Bye, Mama!
  • Hospital Playlist
  • It’s Okay Not to Be Okay
  • Kingdom
  • Love Alarm
  • Mystic Pop-up Bar
  • The King: Eternal Monarch
  • Vagabond
  • When the Camellia Blooms


Viki is a streaming site that has often been considered the very best to get your Korean drama fix. We’ve listed some Korean dramas you can stream on Viki, covering the different Korean drama genres.

Korean dramas on Viki

  • Descendants of the Sun
  • Guardian: The Great and Lonely God
  • Hotel del Luna
  • My Love From the Star
  • Strong Woman Do Bong Soon
  • Swing Kids
  • Train
  • Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo
  • Welcome to Waikiki
  • What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim


There’s a wide variety of movies and series that you could see, including some popular K-dramas by searching on Hulu.


Viu is one of the leading streaming sites when it comes to Korean dramas and movies. However, it is still only available in parts of Asia, the Middle East, and South Africa.

Are South Korean dramas shown in North Korea?

North Korea has minimal access to media compared to South Korea. This is mainly because government control is pretty much everywhere in the North, including their media. This means that South Korean dramas are not shown in North Korea. People do not have access to it as everything shown on North Korean televisions or by a media company is already filtered and controlled by their government.

North Korea Television Concept

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Also, an anti-reactionary law was imposed by the North Korean government late last year. With this law, anyone who uses, stores, or distributes foreign cultural content from South Korea and other countries, could be punished by paying fines, imprisonment, or the death penalty being the maximum punishment.

What is your favorite Korean drama to date? Which actors do you especially enjoy watching, and what kind of stories do you like? Are there any upcoming K-dramas that you plan on watching soon? Let us know any thoughts you have on Korean dramas below! For example, if you haven’t yet watched any K-dramas, let us know which drama will you try out first!

The post Kdrama – The Complete Guide to Korean Dramas appeared first on 90 Day Korean®.

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Gareungbinga and Gongmyeongjo – Kalavinka and Jivamjivaka: 가릉빈가 & 공명조

The Gongmyeongjo (Jivamjivaka) at Gwaneumsa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.


Two of the more obscure figures you’ll find at a Korean Buddhist temple or hermitage is Gareungbinga or “Kalavinka” in Sanskrit, and Gongmyeongjo or “Jivamjivaka” in Sanskrit. While these human-bird-like creatures were once far more prominent at temples, they are now much harder to find. So what do they look like? Where can you find them? And what do they symbolize?

Gareungbinga – Kalavinka

The first of these two mysterious human-bird-like creatures is the Gareungbinga – 가릉빈가 in Korean, or Kalavinka in Sanskrit. What physically distinguishes this mythological creature from its Gongmyeongjo counterpart are the amount of heads. Both have bird bodies, while the upper portion is human. But while the Gareungbinga has one head, the Gongmyeongjo has two heads. The exact origins of the Gareungbinga are unclear; but it’s believed by some that the Gareungbinga are based on the real birds of India.

According to myth, Gareungbinga live in the Buddhist Pure Land, or Jeongto in Korean. It can live here or among the snowy forests of the Himalayas. The Kalavinka is said to have started singing even before it left its shell to live in the Himalayas and the Pure Land. The Korean word Gareungbinga is a transliteration of the Sanskrit word Kalavinka for this creature. The Sanskirt name of Kalavinka means “a beautiful sound” in English. And it’s believed that the Kalavinka has the most beautiful, the purest, and the most delicate of voices found in Buddhist texts. For this reason, the voice of the Kalavinka is often described as having Buddha’s voice. In fact, there are a couple Buddhist sutras where the Buddha’s voice is described as being like a Kalavinka. Specifically, this can be found in the “Parable of the Phantom City,” which is from chapter seven of the Lotus Sutra. In this section of the sutra it says, “Sage lord, heavenly being among heavenly beings, voiced like the Kalavinka bird, you who pity and comfort living beings, we now pay you honour and reverence,” when specifically describing the voice of the Buddha, Seokgamoni-bul.

The Gareungbinga (Kalavinka) adorning the base of the East Stupa at Yeongoksa Temple in Gurye, Jeollanam-do. The stupa is National Treasure #53. (Picture Courtesy of the CHA).

Like Buddhism, the image of the Kalavinka migrated eastward first from India, on towards China, and finally arriving on the Korean peninsula and then onto Japan. The image of a Kalavinka appears on ancient tomb murals from Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C. – 668 A.D.). The Kalavinka has also appeared as a roof tile design and on pagodas from Later Silla (668-935 A.D.). The image of the Kalavinka has also appeared on stupas from the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) and in the murals on temples from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

Specifically in Buddhist art, a Kalavinka can appear either singing or playing a musical instrument like the Bipa (a Korean mandolin). A Kalavinka is also a celestial being similar to an angel. Another name for a Kalavinka in Korean, other than Gareungbinga, is Geukrakjo. “Geukrak” is a reference to the Pure Land in Buddhism where Amita-bul (The Buddha of the Western Paradise) resides. This is the destination for people after the cycle of Samsara has come to an end. Instead of being reincarnated, people live in the Pure Land, or “Jeongto” in Korean, forever. The Pure Land is believed to be filled with beautiful jewels, flowers, and fruit. As such, the Pure Land is filled with a sweet scent. And included in this beauty is the beautiful singing of the Kalavinka that makes the Pure Land that much more beautiful with its voice.

A Gongmyeongjo (Jivajivaka) from Chuiunam Hermitage in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do. (Picture Courtesy of Naver).

Gongmyeongjo – Jivajivaka

Almost identical in appearance to the Gareungbinga, and often confused, what differentiates the Gongmyeongjo from a Gareungbinga are the number of heads to this human-bird-like mythical creature. Again, a Gongmyeongjo has two heads while a Gareungbinga has one. But while they appear nearly identical in appearance, they do have quite distinct backgrounds and distinct symbolic meanings.

The Korean word for this mythological creature is Gongmyeongjo – 공명조. In Sanskrit, this creature is known as Jivajivaka. The name is derived from a bird’s chirping sound. There doesn’t seem to be a specific history behind the Gongmyeongjo; instead, it’s guessed that this creature was transported along the Silk Road since a two-headed eagle and/or stork appeared in ancient Middle Eastern and Roman iconography like in paintings and statues. So historians have long thought that with the migration of people through commerce and trade, art and ideas, the Jivajivaka also migrated eastward.

A Gongmyeongjo (Jivamjivaka) from a temple in southern Jeju-do. (Photo Courtesy of David Mason).

A Jivajivaka flies with light feathers and a golden body with two heads. And despite the fact that the Jivajivaka has two heads with one body, they have two different spirits. And yet, they live and die at the same time.

Like a Kalavinka, the Jivajivaka is also described in Buddhist texts as having a beautiful voice. Interestingly, the Gongmyeongjo appears just as often as the Gareungbinga in Buddhist texts. Specifically there is a story that begins with a Garuda (enormous predatory birds) and a Wupagaruda (a bird with two heads sharing one body). One day when the Wupagaruda fell asleep, the Garuda ate some delicious food that it found all by itself. After the Wupagaruda found out about this, it was very upset. Later, the Wupagaruda saw a beautiful flower that was poisonous. So angry about the Garuda being so selfish, the Wupagaruda ate the poisonous flower killing the two-headed creature. At the end of the story, the Garuda found out the reason the Wupagaruda ate the poisonous flower and asked, “Why did you do all that?” the Wupagaruda answered in a poem:

  • “When you fell asleep,
  • I ate the delicate and sweet flower.
  • That flower came with the wind,
  • But you were very angry,
  • I don’t want to see a stupid person,
  • I don’t want to hear that I lived with a stupid person.
  • There’s no benefit to live with a stupid person,
  • That person just harms other people and himself.”

This poem makes plain the utter detestation that a Gongmyeongjo has for selfishness and stupidity both in others and in oneself. It’s from this sort of self-centeredness that a lot of harm can enter into world and injure others and oneself whether these actions are intentional or not. So a Gongmyeongjo reminds us to be more mindful when we act.

The headless Gareungbinga adorning the capstone of Korean Treasure #275, Stele for Buddhist Monk Gwangja at Taeansa Temple.


Here are a few of the great examples Gareungbinga that you can find in and around Korean temples and hermitages. Perhaps the most famous can be found on the East Stupa of Yeongoksa Temple in Gurye, Jeollanam-do. The stone relief can be found at the base of this national treasure. Another great example of this one headed creature, which is in fact missing on this statue, is the Stele for Buddhist Monk Gwangja at Taeansa Temple in Gokseong, Jeollnam-do. The capstone is adorned with a headless Gareungbinga, and the stele is Korean Treasure #275. And one final example of a Gareungbinga is a part of the main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall, which is Korean Treasure #562, at Hwanseongsa Temple in Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do.

As for the two-headed Gongmyeongjo, you can find an older mural dedicated to this mythological figure at Chwiunam Hermitage at Tongdosa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do. And another far more elaborate mural of the Gongmyeongjo can be found above the entry of the main hall at Gwaneumsa Temple in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do.


There aren’t too many examples of either a Gareungbinga and/or a Gongmyeongjo in and around Korean temple grounds. But a couple places you might keep your eye on are in and around older stupas and some of the murals around temple shrine halls like the Daeung-jeon Hall. While not common, they are definitely distinctive. And if you listen close enough, perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to hear their heavenly voices.

A part of the main altar inside the Daeung-jeon Hall at Hwanseongsa Temple in Gyeongsan, Gyeongsangbuk-do. (Picture Courtesy of Naver Blog).

Koreans don’t say “Umm” | Korean FAQ

A quick way to tell if someone is a native Korean speaker or not, is to pay attention to whether or not they use sounds such as "umm" or "uhh" often when speaking. This isn't to say that Koreans don't make these sounds (they do), but they often use different sounds than in English.

This video will share some alternate sounds that you can make when you're thinking to sound more like a native speaker.

The post Koreans don’t say “Umm” | Korean FAQ appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.


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