We dissect and rate these webtoon-based K-dramas below
In recent years, we’ve noticed Korean webtoons have gotten K-drama adaptations, with many of these titles becoming the hottest ones to premiere. Just look at the thrilling W: Two Worlds or the heart-stopping Nevertheless. Even Sweet Home, the horror thriller, had its humble beginnings as a webtoon. The warm reception of these titles crowned them into viral K-dramas.
However, not all adaptations are perfect or flawless. Of course, many creative decisions often veer away from the original storyline as writers tweak and adapt it for the screen. While some changes translate well and do the storyline justice, some just don’t and affect the rest of the narrative.
Scroll ahead as we rate four K-dramas on a scale of one to five, and if their (dis)loyalty to the webtoon made it for better or worse.
ITAEWON CLASS (2020): 3/5
Itaewon Class kicks off this list of K-dramas loyal to its webtoon—a bit to a fault. Park Saeroyi (Park Seo-Jun) and his staff inspire many as they work their way up the ranks and become one of the best restaurants along Itaewon. Along the way, though, they aim to beat a foe from his past.
Despite the glowing reception, some fans were disappointed with the translation of Cho Yi-seo’s (Kim Da-mi) personality from the comics to the K-drama. Yi-seo’s badass, confident and often sociopathic in the webtoon. However, Kim Da-mi’s version of the character was downright too rude and too petty to the point that some found her unbearable to watch. So as much as her character challenges us to empathize with all sorts of people, the drama wasn’t successful in doing so.
TRUE BEAUTY (2020): 3/5
Lim Ju-Kyung (Moon Ga-young) masters the art of makeup after experiencing discrimination because of her looks. Along the way, she rises to fame and catches the attention of Su-ho (Cha Eun-woo) and Seo-jun (Hwang In-youp).
The K-drama was not loyal to the webtoon, but its deviations improve the story. The TV adaptation leaves it at a Ju-kyeong/Su-ho endgame. It’s an effective way to close a well-loved series, tbh. Meanwhile, the webtoon continues to explore their love triangle years down the line. This means Ju-kyung’s happy ending is still on the drawing board (pun intended)—making the webtoon dragging. So for the best bite-sized version of the narrative, you’re better off watching the K-drama.
MY ROOMMATE IS A GUMIHO (2021): 4/5
Here comes another spin on the folklore of the nine-tailed fox: My Roommate is A Gumiho. Shin Woo-yeo (Jang Ki-yong) is a 999-year-old fox who needs to collect human energy into his fox bead to transform into a human. Unfortunately, Lee Dam (Hye-ri) accidentally swallows the bead. So the two try to live together as they figure out a plan to retrieve the bead.
The writers tweaked some minor details, but it didn’t ruin the entire storyline. While Woo-yeo was more formal, arrogant and playful in the comics, Jang Ki-yong’s version breathes a different life into the deity. His character’s a little more reserved, careful but casual. Another visible difference comes in the time the two have. The webtoon shows Woo-Yeo, who has 100 years left to become human. Meanwhile, the writers added a greater sense of urgency to the K-drama by making him 999 years old. This shorter timeline makes the K-drama worthwhile (an added plus to Hye-Ri’s comedic prowess).
BUSINESS PROPOSAL (2022) 4.5/5
One of the hottest webtoons-turned-K-dramas is Business Proposal due to its light premise and feel-good scenes. Ha-ri (Kim Se-jong) disguises herself as her best friend to ward off her potential suitor. But things turn upside down when she finds herself on a blind date with the company’s CEO, whom she works for. Think, The Proposal meets Hannah Montana.
One of the most significant differences between the webtoon and K-drama is the visible lack of a pink wig—one of the most iconic features of the story. But of course, realistically speaking, it might not be as convincing for a CEO’s bride to be, given how conservative these families are. Nevertheless, despite its abundance of tooth-rotting clichés and meet-cutes, Kim Se-jong and Ahn Hyo-seop’s chemistry will keep you hooked.
Did we miss other webtoons-turned-K-dramas? Sound off in the comments section!
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver