10 Best K-dramas Like Lovely Runner

10 Best K-dramas Like Lovely Runner

Summary Lovely Runner may be over, but K-dramas like A Time Called You offer a fresh take on time travel and romance.

Similar to Lovely Runner, Marry My Husband balances dark themes with light comedy for an engaging watch.

Twinkling Watermelon, like Lovely Runner, delves into youth, music, and relationships in a captivating way.

Lovely Runner may have come to an end, but there are many K-dramas that are just as good. During Lovely Runner’s release, it became Queen of Tears’ perfect replacement as its sincere tale defied a seemingly shallow concept and hooked fans with its nostalgic atmosphere and the chemistry of leading actors Kim Hye-yoon and Byeon Woo-seok. Though Lovely Runner almost didn't happen, its delayed production thankfully paid off with resounding success.

Time travel, romance, and comedy may have been heavily explored in the K-drama world, yet that does not make Lovely Runner feel stale. In fact, Lovely Runner leans into these genres just enough while also feeling like a fresh take. The result is a heartwarming tale that is full of reminiscence and music that is not hard to fall in love with. Now with Lovely Runner's finale finally having aired, here are a few of the best K-dramas that, in one way or another, capture something great about Lovely Runner.

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Lovely Runner (2024) Lovely Runner is a TV series that follows the story of a young athlete who rises to fame in the world of track and field. As the protagonist navigates the highs and lows of competitive sports, the series explores themes of perseverance, sacrifice, and personal growth. Cast Byeon Woo-seok , Kim Hye-yoon , Song Geon-hee , Lee Seung-hyub Release Date April 8, 2024 Seasons 1 Streaming Service(s) Viki

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10 True Beauty (2020)

Available on Viki and Apple TV


True Beauty is a romantic comedy that deals with the impact of bullying on the leading character, Lim Ju-kyung (Moon Ga-young). Ju-kyung’s appearance made her a target for bullies who thought she was ugly, so when she moves to a new school, Ju-kyung learns the power of self-maintenance and make-up and sees her fortunes change for the better. However, she remains fearful that if people discover her natural charms she would get bullied again.

Lovely Runner has several connections to True Beauty, but the most significant is that they are written by the same writer, Lee Si-eun. As a result, True Beauty has a very similar charm to Lovely Runner. The leading characters are both bright and deeply lovable and their fears for the worst are completely understandable due to their past (or future in Im Sol’s case). The K-dramas are effortlessly funny and easily binge-able, making True Beauty a natural next watch after Lovely Runner has ended.

Kim Hye-yoon also makes a cameo appearance in True Beauty as her Extraordinary You character, Eun Dan-oh, in episode 4.

True Beauty Cast Moon Ga-young , Cha Eun-woo , Jang Hye-jin , Park Ho-san Release Date December 9, 2020 Seasons 1

9 While You Were Sleeping (2017)

Available on Kocowa


While Lovely Runner focuses on changing the past to benefit the future, While You Were Sleeping does the opposite. Nam Hong-joo (Bae Suzy) can see the deaths of others in her dreams and actively works to prevent them, although she does not know when they will happen. What unfolds next is a story that meshes together romance, mystery, thriller, and comedy elements to create a K-drama that is incredibly profound.

While You Were Sleeping is a very well-cast K-drama, with Bae Suzy and Lee Jong-suk showcasing their full acting talents as the two leads amid a well-written concept and beautiful cinematography. Written by the same writer as the K-drama Pinocchio, While You Were Sleeping is full of plot twists that keeps the audience guessing. Though the youthful nostalgia that popularized Lovely Runner isn’t a key theme in this K-drama, While You Were Sleeping is a perfect pick for those wanting to delve into an opposite concept.

While You Were Sleeping (2017) Cast Bae Suzy , Lee Jong-suk , Jung Hae-in , Lee Sang-Yeob , Ko Sung-hee , Sin Jae-ha , Kim Won-hae , Hwang Young-hee Release Date September 27, 2017 Seasons 1

8 Extraordinary You (2019)

Available on Viki


Before she starred as Im Sol in Lovely Runner, Kim Hye-yoon’s first leading role was as Eun Dan-oh in Extraordinary You. Extraordinary You is a K-drama based on the webtoon July Found By Chance and sees Eun Dan-oh quickly discovers that she is not the main character in the story but rather a supporting character in a comic book about someone else. This leads her to take action into her own hands and change her story for the better, though there are consequences to her actions.

Though time travel does not play a part in Extraordinary You, it still delves into the fantasy romance K-drama genre as Eun Dan-oh’s story soon navigates between multiple comic book universes. However, the biggest similarity between the two K-dramas is that they are both stories about the leading characters trying to change their fate by any means possible. Extraordinary You is the perfect Lovely Runner follow-up and is a must-watch for Kim Hye-yoon fans.

Extraordinary You (2019) Eun Dan-oh, a high school student, makes the shocking discovery that she is a character in a comic book, with her life and destiny controlled by the unseen author. Determined to break free from her scripted existence, she teams up with Number 13, a mysterious classmate who shares her awareness of their situation. Together, they embark on a quest to rewrite their fates, challenging the boundaries of their fictional world and confronting the emotional complexities of seeking autonomy in a predetermined reality. Cast Kim Hye-yoon , Rowoon , Lee Jae-wook , Lee Na-eun , Jung Gun-joo , Kim Young-dae , Lee Tae-ri Release Date October 2, 2019 Seasons 1

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7 Our Beloved Summer (2021)

Available on Netflix


One thing Lovely Runner does best is invoke a sense of nostalgia while mirroring that with the future. Our Beloved Summer is another great K-drama that excels at this. Our Beloved Summer revisits Kook Yeon-soo (Kim Da-mi) and Choi Ung (Choi Woo-shik) after the documentary they filmed together in high school gained popularity. However, they cannot stand one another. What follows is a great enemies-to-lovers K-drama that uses the past to help the main characters reconnect in the future.

The flashbacks to their school days and their cat-and-mouse relationship is effortlessly entertaining.

Our Beloved Summer’s non-chronological timeline is used to its full potential as hints of Yeon-soo and Ung's past and future are peppered together to answer questions as they appear throughout the K-drama. The flashbacks to their school days and their cat-and-mouse relationship is effortlessly entertaining, while the breakdown of their relationship makes their present actions make sense in hindsight. This coming-of-age K-drama has a great soundtrack, cast, and concept and is a great next watch for those looking for a more emotional follow-up to Lovely Runner.

6 18 Again (2017)

Available on Prime Video


18 Again is inspired by the 2009 Hollywood movie 17 Again, starring Zac Efron and Matthew Perry, and keeps the upbeat tone and message of the original. 37-year-old Hong Dae-young (Yoon Sang-hyun) turns into an 18-year-old after regretting his life choices but keeps his 37-year-old mentality. He changes his name to Ko Woo-young (Lee Do-hyun) and sees life from a new perspective as he enrolls at the same high school as his children.

What makes 18 Again stand out is how it builds on the original movie to make it more than just a remake. Characters from the original are given more depth and even redemption as the longer screentime allows 18 Again to delve further into the themes 17 Again began to explore. Like Lovely Runner, 18 Again shows a deep appreciation for the smaller things in life by giving the leading characters a second chance to change their fate and value in their past to change their future.

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5 Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo (2016)

Available on Disney+, Viki and Kocowa


Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo is an endearing sports K-drama that depicts the hopes of several university students aiming to lift their sporting careers to new heights while navigating the highs and lows of young adult life. The titular character Kim Bok-joo (Lee Sung-kyung) is a weightlifting prodigy with Olympic hopes, but her newfound feelings of love get in the way of the career she as been working hard to create. Lee Sung-kyung’s performance as Bok-joo is magnetic as she makes Bok-joo’s quirks loveable in one of her most iconic performances to date.

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo may play into cliché, but it does not make it any less profound. Just like Ryu Sun-jae’s sporting career in Lovely Runner, Bok-joo reaches a point of no return which breaks the usually upbeat Bok-joo’s spirit in a way that she, nor those around her, have experienced before. Yet, her genuine relationships with her best friends Lee Seon-ok (Lee Joo-young) and Jung Nan-hee (Cho Hye-jung) and childhood classmate Jung Joon-hyung (Nam Joo-hyuk) make Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo one of the best K-dramas of all time.

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo (2016) Inspired by the life of an Olympic weightlifting champion, this series follows the coming-of-age story of Kim Bok-joo, a young athlete discovering her path in weightlifting and love. As she pursues her dreams, she struggles with the everyday trials of sports training and young love. Cast Lee Sung-kyung , Nam Joo-hyuk , Lee Jae-yoon , Kyung Soo-jin Release Date November 16, 2016 Seasons 1

4 Marry My Husband (2024)

Available on Prime Video


K-dramas in 2024 have already made a strong impression with shows such as Parasyte: The Grey and Queen of Tears quickly cementing their names as some of the best K-dramas of the year so far. Another highlight on the 2024 K-drama calendar is Marry My Husband. The story focuses on Kang Ji-won (Park Min-young) as she travels back in time after being killed by her husband following his affair with her best friend. Marry My Husband gripped audiences through its unique twist on the popular revenge K-drama concept and incredible performances by its leading cast.

Each twist and turn in Ji-won’s revenge plot drives Marry My Husband in a completely new direction.

Marry My Husband takes a much darker tone than Lovely Runner but it still has moments of light-hearted comedy and romance that balance out the story. Each twist and turn in Ji-won’s revenge plot drives Marry My Husband in a completely new direction, making it perfect for binge-watching in one sitting. Though Marry My Husband’s story may delve into absurdity from time to time, the outstanding performance from the now disgraced actress Song Ha-yoon alongside the rest of the cast allows Marry My Husband to shine in an over-saturated genre.

Marry My Husband Cast Park Min-young , Na In-woo , Lee Yi-kyung , Song Ha-yoon Release Date January 1, 2024 Seasons 1

3 Twenty-Five Twenty-One (2022)

Available on Netflix


Twenty-Five Twenty-One is another coming-of-age K-drama that focuses on the dreams of sporting hopefuls, this time in the realm of fencing. Na Hee-do (Kim Tae-ri) is a fencing prodigy who idolizes fencing superstar Ko Yu-rim (Kim Ji-yeon) and eventually moves to the same high school as her idol due to her school’s fencing team disbanding. At the same time, Na Hee-do meets reporter Baek Yi-jin and they soon become very close. Twenty-Five Twenty-One delves deep into love and friendship during a pivotal time in the leading characters' lives in a story full of love, loss, and hope.

Though Twenty-Five Twenty-One’s ending is divisive, it is easily one of the best K-dramas of recent years. Kim Tae-ri’s limitless energy as Na Hee-do is always entertaining to watch and the growth of her character alongside Ko Yu-rim is as incredible to watch as it is devastating. Similarly, watching Hee-do and Yi-jin’s relationship build is beautiful yet full of intrigue as Twenty-Five Twenty-One’s non-chronical storyline poses many unanswered questions. Twenty-Five Twenty-One makes the present seem bittersweet in comparison to the past, yet its nostalgic view of Hee-do’s youth gives it the same appeal as the nostalgia-infused Lovely Runner.

Twenty-Five Twenty-One (2022) Twenty-Five Twenty-One is a South Korean television series directed by Jung Ji-hyun. Set amidst the aftermath of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the series follows the lives of a fencer and a reporter as they navigate love and ambition. Starring Kim Tae-ri and Nam Joo-hyuk, the show delves into themes of resilience and growth as the characters strive to achieve their dreams in a time of uncertainty. Cast Kim Tae-ri , Nam Joo-hyuk , Kim Ji-yeon , Choi Hyun-wook , Lee Joo-myung Release Date February 12, 2022 Seasons 1 Streaming Service(s) Netflix

Related Top 25 Badass Female Leads From K-Dramas While K-dramas are often enjoyed for their sometimes-saccharine romances and dramatic plots, there are more than a few iconic female leads, as well.

2 A Time Called You (2023)

Available on Netflix


A Time Called You is based on the Taiwanese drama Someday or One Day and shares a lot of thematic similarities with Lovely Runner. Like Lovely Runner, A Time Called You is a time travel K-drama with a grippingly unpredictable storyline that invokes a sweet sense of nostalgia. Here, Han Jun-hee (Jeon Yeo-been) travels back to 1998 as high school student Kwon Min-ju and soon comes across a classmate who looks strikingly like her dead boyfriend (Ahn Hyo-seop).

A Time Called You’s mix of fantasy, romance, and mystery makes for a compelling story that is bound to excite fans of Lovely Runner. Jeon Yeo-been and Ahn Hyo-seop have excellent chemistry and drive the romance K-dramas twists and turns forward with ease. Though A Time Called You’s bittersweet nature differs greatly from Lovely Runner overall optimistic approach, it’s a great alternative for those looking for something to satisfy their need for a time-travel love story.

A Time Called You Based on the Taiwanese TV series Someday or One Day, A Time Called You is a South Korean romantic fantasy drama that centers around a young woman named Koo Yeon-jun, grieving her boyfriend's passing. Koo Yeon-jun's life is thrown for a loop when she wakes up in the 1990s - in an eighteen-year-old girl's body named Min-ju. As she tries to solve the mystery and return home to her original body, her life is complicated further when she meets a young man who looks identical to her former lover. Cast Ahn Hyo-seop , Jeon Yeo-been , Kang Hoon , Park Hyuk-kwon , Jang Hye-jin , Lee Min-goo , Sung Ki-yoon Release Date September 8, 2023 Seasons 1 Streaming Service(s) Netflix

1 Twinkling Watermelon (2023)

Available on Viki


Twinkling Watermelon mixes time travel and music in a compelling story about youth and overcoming obstacles that is on par with the rom-com feeling that many Lovely Runner fans have come to love. High school student Ha Eun-gyeol (Ryeoun) is a talented musician and CODA who finds himself traveling back to 1995 and forming a band called Watermelon Sugar alongside the teenage version of his father. What transpires is a captivating tale of family, friendship, dreams, and music that dips between laughter and tears with ease.

The different relationship dynamics in Twinkling Watermelon alongside the various revelations that come to light make this time-travel K-drama absolutely exhilarating.

Much like Lovely Runner, it is hard not to get entirely engrossed in the world of Twinkling Watermelon. The characters feel well-rounded and have great chemistry with one another. Plus, the different relationship dynamics in Twinkling Watermelon alongside the various revelations that come to light make this time-travel K-drama absolutely exhilarating. Though the ending of the K-drama may not have lived up to the rest of the series, Twinkling Watermelon is still one of the best K-dramas to watch after Lovely Runner.

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