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Toon to drama: Names of 10 Korean dramas that were adapted from webtoons

Riding the Hallyu wave, t2oS lists the drama names that have come up on screen

Radhika Banerjee Published 16.06.24, 10:53 AM
What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim, Sweet Home, Backstreet Rookie, All of Us are Dead

What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim, Sweet Home, Backstreet Rookie, All of Us are Dead

Originating in South Korea in the early 2000s, and now a global cultural phenomenon, webtoons are a digital comic format specifically created with the intention of reading on smartphones. Especially in recent years, there has been a remarkable surge in the readership of webtoons, owing in part to the international popularity of manhwas, the traditional Korean term for any kind of comic or print cartoons, which are now published more often in digital formats rather than the physical.

Unlike the Japanese manga, webtoons generally make use of an infinite canvas for each episode, optimising scrolling on a screen, and the illustrations are almost always in colour, with characters adhering to very particular physical features that at the same time distinguish the manhwa from other East Asian comics and also pose a tremendous attraction for the viewers.


Its easily digestible form makes it all the more appealing in today’s rising “snack culture”, a term popularised in South Korea, that refers to the current trend of consuming media over short periods of time on mobiles, specifically while taking breaks from work- or school-related activities.

The sheer popularity of webtoons globally is now common knowledge. But what is not as well known is the large number of K-dramas that are actually adaptations of webtoons. With their complex and fascinating plots and attractive characters, webtoons have turned out to be a goldmine for K-drama creators. Some of the biggest K-dramas, and our favourite comfort shows came from webtoon storylines. Let’s deep-dive into the world of webtoon-inspired K-dramas!

What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim

If we are to talk about K-dramas that are webtoon adaptations, we might as well start off with the biggest drama of 2018, What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim. Based on the 2015 webtoon of the same name, this romantic comedy K-drama has in its lead roles Park Seo-joon and Park Min-young, playing the roles of Lee Young-joon, the vice chairman of a major corporation, and his secretary Kim Mi-so respectively. The plot follows Lee Young-joon as his trusted secretary announces that she is about to resign from her position. Unwilling to let Kim Mi-so go, Young-joon comes up with a variety of ways to make her stay, going as far as to propose marriage to her. Along the way, they fall in love, only to realise that they had known each other long before they thought they first met.

Sweet Home

Originally a webtoon by Kim Kan-bi and Hwang Young-chan, this K-drama soared through ratings and ran for three seasons, besides being nominated for 18 awards, of which it won six. A thriller series, with a chilling plotline of monsters and the likely end of the world, Sweet Home depicts anything but a sweet home. Here, the tenants of a building find themselves trapped, with humans around them turning into all kinds of grotesque monsters. As they engage in a fight for survival, they are in terrified awareness of the knowledge that any of them could also turn into a ravenous monster at any moment.

Backstreet Rookie

This binge-worthy 2020 drama is based on a webtoon titled Convenience Store Saet-byul (She’s Too Much for Me), written by Hwalhwasan. The K-drama starts off with an amusing prologue where Dae-hyun (Ji Chang-wook) is approached by high-schooler Saet-byul (Kim Yoo-jung) who needs his help to buy cigarettes as she is a minor. Dae-hyun, however, rewards her with candy and a lecture for her efforts. Surprised by his caring act, Saet-byul gives him a kiss, and they go their separate ways, only to run into each other three years later when Saet-byul joins as a part-timer at Dae-hyun’s family-owned convenience store.

All of Us Are Dead

Based on Joo Dong-geun’s webtoon of the same name, this horror drama features a bunch of high-school students as they struggle for survival amidst a zombie outbreak. With teachers and students alike affected, the school turns into a hunting arena for the ravenous undead. Perhaps because it is adapted from a webtoon, All of Us are Dead focuses on a lot of the more realistic details of surviving a zombie apocalypse, such as the problem of urinating or defecating when there is no available bathroom, that other zombie movies and shows generally ignore. Having been renewed for a second season, the K-drama was nominated for nine awards, out of which it won two — the 8th APAN Star Awards, and the 58th Baeksang Arts Awards.

Weak Hero Class 1

This K-drama, starring Park Ji-hoon, Choi Hyun-wook and Hong Kyung, is based on the 2018 webtoon Weak Hero by Seopass and Kim Jin-seok. With a second season already scheduled for release, the story follows quiet high-school student Yeon Si-eun (Park Ji-hoon), who is at the top of his class but is constantly a target of a group of bullies. Though he uses his wits and surrounding objects to defend himself, when things come to a head, he seeks help from Ahn Su-ho (Choi Hyun-wook), an experienced boxer and the strongest fighter in the class. The duo are later joined by Oh Beom-seok (Hong Kyung), a new transfer student, and the plot revolves around the developing friendship of the three, amidst a school life filled with danger and violence.

True Beauty

An immediate and explosive success of a series, this K-drama is based on a webtoon by Yaongyi. A romantic comedy, the story depicts a love triangle between Lim Joo-Kyung (Moon Ga-young), a teenage girl bullied for her appearance who takes to makeup to completely transform herself before joining her new school, and former best friends Lee Su-ho (Cha Eun-woo) and Han Seo-jun (Hwang In-youp), both of who have feelings for the female lead. Exploring ideas of the toxic Korean beauty standards, as well as having the benefit of a riveting romance plot, this K-drama enthrals audiences till the very last episode.


Based on the webtoon The Kingdom of the Gods by Kim Eun-hee and Yang Kyung-il, this period horror drama is Netflix’s first original K-series. Starting off at the beginning of the 17th century, Kingdom takes place in the fictional medieval town of Joseon, where a deadly epidemic that turns humans into undead creatures has begun to spread. The plot follows crown prince Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon), as he attempts to examine the illness affecting the King, only to get caught up in the aforementioned epidemic, all the while trying to prevent his political opponents from making their move on the throne.


The 2021 K-drama starring Han So-hee and Song Kang is adapted from a popular webtoon of the same name, and tells the story of an uncertain romance between two people who are skeptical about love, yet are attracted to each other. Yoo Na-bi (Han So-hee) and Park Jae-eon (Song Kang) share what is, in simple terms, a toxic relationship, but one that nevertheless does see resolution at the end. What is one of the main attractions of this show, however, is the lesbian relationship between supporting characters Yoon Sol (Lee Ho-jung) and Seo Ji-wan (Yoon Seo-ah). Webtoons have long since gained fame for their queer-friendly storylines, in fact a vast number of webtoons depict queer relationships as the primary pairing. It is therefore unsurprising that Nevertheless has one of the best queer subplots in K-drama history, the Korean entertainment scene only recently having started to branch into queer-friendly content.

Semantic Error

The 2022 mini K-drama of eight episodes starring Park Seo-ham and Park Jae-chan, is based on a BL (Boy’s Love) webtoon of the same name by Jeo Soo-ri. The first queer series to achieve major success, to the point of almost becoming a cultural phenomenon in South Korea, it is the first of its kind to introduce the BL genre to the mainstream audience. The story follows stoic and rule-abiding computer science major Choo Sang-woo (Park Jae-chan) and his polar opposite, Jang Jae-young (Park Seo-ham), as they combine their skills as a programmer and an artist to create a game, in the course of which they eventually fall in love. A lighthearted romance, Semantic Error is a must-watch for both K-drama and webtoon enthusiasts.

Business Proposal

This 2022 romantic comedy K-drama, and agreeably the biggest and most awaited of the year, is an adaptation of the webtoon of the same name by HaeHwa and Narak. The hilarious yet charming plotline follows Shin Ha-ri (Kim Se-jeong), an employee at a food company, who agrees to go on a blind date to help out her friend, and discovers that her date is no other than her boss Kang Tae-moo (Ahn Hyo-seop). While Shin Ha-ri and Kang Tae-moo proceed to fall for each other, the case of the yet-to-be-resolved mistaken identity creates situations that have the viewers in fits of laughter throughout the course of the series.

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