K-Dramas on Infidelity, Cheating and Extramarital Affairs

We are slowly transitioning to summer, and the heat reaches K-Drama land with various dramas that tackle a usually taboo issue- cheating and infidelity. These dramas are indeed hot for different reasons- may it be due to warm audience reception, hot trending topics, steamy scenes, and blood-boiling storylines. While a lot claim that it is stressful to watch K-Dramas of the said genre, a lot of people find themselves hooked with its plot and attachment to the characters given life by superb actors and actresses.

Most of these K-Dramas are classified as makjang, with its literal meaning “to take things too far,” as these K-Dramas truly steer away from the usual and utilize plot devices that we can safely say wouldn’t usually happen in real life. And sometimes, these sensational deviations from the norm bring huge audience curiosity and higher ratings!

Here are some K-Dramas that tackle infidelity, cheating, and extramarital affairs as their main plot or a considerable part of their storylines.

1. Temptation of Wife

It is not a list on K-Dramas about cheating if we do not include the legendary drama, Temptation of Wife. It was aired back in 2008 on SBS, highly-anticipated, bagging high ratings with an average viewership of 30% despite being controversial due to the nature of the plot and almost ridiculous scenes such as Eun Jae’s disguise with a mere mole. The show also won numerous accolades, including the coveted Grand Award (Daesang) during the SBS Drama Awards for Jang Seo Hee, who took on the role of the avenging wife.

The story revolves around Goo Eun Jae (Jang Seo Hee), a loyal and faithful wife to Jung Gyo Bin (Byun Woo Min) who forced her to stay in a loveless marriage and experienced hardships with mistreatments from her mother-in-law. She eventually discovers that her childhood best friend, Shin Ae Ri (Kim Seo Hyung), is cheating on her with her husband, eventually forcing her to divorce him and with Ae Ri attempting to drown then-pregnant Eun Jae and disguising it as suicide.

She then gets found incidentally by Min Gun Woo (Lee Jae Hwang), and from then, she rebuilds herself as she takes on a new identity with the name Min So Hee and takes revenge against Gyo Bin and Ae Ri.

2. Secret Love AffairSecret Love Affair, a drama revolving not only around the concept of extramarital affairs but also the so-called “noona romance,” aired on JTBC in 2014. The drama was well-received, even receiving nominations from the prestigious Baeksang Arts Awards for Best Drama category and winning Best Director and Best Screenplay from the same award-giving body.

The award-winning main leads, Yoo Ah In and Kim Hee Ae, were both recognized for their performance, Yoo Ah In gained a nomination as Best Actor during the 2014 Baeksang Arts Awards, and Kim Hee Ae won the Best Actress during the 9th Seoul International Drama Awards.

The plot revolves around Oh Hye Won (Kim Hee Ae), a woman in her 40s who lives a successful and elegant life as the Directress for Planning for the Seohan Arts Foundation. She coincidentally meets Lee Sun Jae (Yoo Ah In), an impoverished yet musically gifted pianist in his 20s, who she eventually supports as a scholar under her husband’s teaching. Hye Won and Sun Jae share a passionate love for each other and eventually begin a forbidden affair behind closed doors.

3. VIP

VIP is a drama set on the premise of extramarital affairs, which functions as a catalyst that will eventually lead to many complex situations and showcases the repercussions of infidelity. The show was broadcasted on SBS in 2019, bagging many awards during the SBS Drama Awards of the same year, such as the Best Supporting Actress Award for Lee Chung Ah, Best Character Award (Actress) for Pyo Ye Jin, Excellence Award in Miniseries (Actor) for Lee Sang Yoon, and Producer Award for Jang Na Ra.

The drama revolves around the story of the Sung Un Department Store’s team, which works for the VIP clients who constitute the top 1% of their customers and bring in massive profits. Na Jeong Seon (Jang Na Ra) is the Deputy Head of the team alongside her husband and Team Leader Park Seong Joon (Lee Sang Yoon), working with Lee Hyeon Ah (Lee Chung Ah), Song Mi Na (Kwak Sun Young), On Yoo Ri (Pyo Ye Jin), and Ma Sang Woo (Shin Jae Ha).

Her fine and normal life crashes down as she receives a text message about her husband’s infidelity from an anonymous source, hinting to be an affair with someone within the VIP Management Team. She uncovers the affair and even more secrets that surround her colleagues in the team.

4. Two Wives

Part of SBS’ so-called Wife Trilogy, Two Wives was released a year after Temptation of Wife due to the series’ success, airing Mondays to Fridays in 2009. With a crazy plot and yet another makjang that uses an almost unbelievable premise, the second installment of the trilogy is called by audiences “provocative and racy.”

The plot revolves around Yoon Young Hee (Kim Ji Young), who believed her family was perfect until she discovers that her husband, Kang Chul Soo (Kim Ho Jin), is having an affair with single mother Han Ji Sook (Son Tae Young). After Young Hee’s several attempts to save her family, she comes to her senses and signs the divorce papers with Chul Soo.

After the split, they lived through their own lives separately. However, Chul Soo gets into a car accident and wakes up with selective amnesia, no memory of Ji Sook. Chul Soo thinks he is still married to Young Hee, forcing Ji Sook and Young Hee to only play along while he recovers.

5. A World of Married Couple

The 2020 hit drama that took everyone by storm, A World of Married Couple (also known as The World of the Married), is a JTBC drama based on the British drama series, Doctor Foster, revolving around the themes of infidelity, betrayal, revenge, grief, forgiveness, and healing. Although the series received several criticisms due to its portrayal of sex, violence, and other sensitive themes, the drama gained audience support with an average rating of 18.829% and a final episode nationwide rating of 28.371%. The drama overtook another legendary drama, Sky Castle, and became the highest-rated drama in Korean cable television history.

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The drama gained critical acclaim as it steered away from the usual revenge storyline and depicted the complex psychology of each character. The series was also applauded for its portrayal of life after divorce and tackled a bunch of issues aside from adultery, such as dating violence and the widening social inequality and gender discrimination and inequality in Korean society.

The main leads gained acclaim for their portrayal of the roles, with Kim Hee Ae winning the Best Actress during the 2020 Baeksang Arts Awards and 2nd Asia Contents Awards, Park Hae Joon winning Best Actor in a Mini-Series during the 7th APAN Star Awards, Han So Hee winning Rookie of the Year for Television/Film during the 5th Asia Artist Awards, and their director, Mo Wan Il, winning Best Director during the 2020 Baeksang Arts Awards.

The plot revolves around Ji Sun Woo (Kim Hee-ae), a well-known and acclaimed family medicine doctor and associate director at Family Love Hospital and a devout wife to an aspiring director Lee Tae Oh (Park Hae Joon), with whom she has a son with. Sun Woo thinks her life and family are more than what she hopes for until she finds out that her husband is having an affair with another woman named Yeo Da Kyung (Han So Hee), an affair known to the people closest to her.

6. I Have A Lover

Another infidelity-themed drama hailing from SBS, I Have A Lover, is a weekend drama that aired from 2015 to 2016, spanning 50 episodes. The drama won various awards, particularly for the amazing performances of the cast, Kim Hyun Joo winning the Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Serial Drama during the 4th APAN Star Awards and the 23rd SBS Drama Awards, Park Han Byul winning the Special Acting Award, Actress in a Serial Drama during the 23rd SBS Drama Award, while Ji Jin Hee & Kim Hyun Joo won the Best Couple Award from the same award-giving body.

The story revolves around the dysfunctional relationship of a married couple, Do Hae Gang (Kim Hyun Joo), and her husband, Choi Jin Eon (Ji Jin Hee) have a dysfunctional relationship. After losing their child and Jin Eon starts an affair with a much younger girl, Seol Ri (Park Han Byul). After the couple’s divorce, Hae Gang gets into a mysterious car accident and loses her memory. Baek Seok (Lee Kyu Han), mistakes Hae Gang for Yong Gi, her unknown twin sister, and saves Hae Gang and makes her live as Yong Gi. Hae Gang becomes Baek Seok’s fiancé and lives with his family.

7. My Wife’s Having an Affair This Week

My Wife’s Having an Affair This Week, also known as Listen to Love, is a Korean drama based on the 2007 Japanese TV series of the same title, airing on JTBC in 2016. The drama is top-billed by Lee Sun Kyun and Song Ji Hyo, alongside other cast members Kim Hee Won, Ye Ji Won, Lee Sang Yeob, BoA, and child actor Kim Kang Hoon. The show also had special appearances from various celebrities such as Eun Ji Won, Kang Ho Dong, Jung Yu Mi, Lee Hwi Jae, and Ki Tae Young.

The story revolves around Do Hyun Woo (Lee Sun Kyun), a ten-year veteran producer who suspects and believes that his wife Jung Soo Yeon (Song Ji Hyo) is having an extramarital affair. They have been married for eight years in what he believed was a strong relationship until he sees signs and hints that his wife is on the verge of cheating. This pushes him to talk with anonymous people on online social networking sites to figure out what to do and try to save his marriage.

8. Love (ft. Marriage and Divorce)

One of few K-Dramas with multiple installments, Love (ft. Marriage and Divorce) spans three seasons, aired by TV Chosun 2021-2022, which is distributed by the online streaming platform Netflix. Revolving around the complex story of three married couples in different age brackets, with all husbands having an extramarital affair, receiving hot support among audiences and viewers.

The show boasts ratings, with Season 1 being the thirty-third highest-rated drama in Korean cable television history and Season 2 the eighth highest-rated drama in Korean cable television history. The series also surpassed other TV Chosun dramas in terms of ratings, making it the current record holder of the channel in terms of the highest viewership ratings.

The characters include Pan Sa Hyeon, played by Sung Hoon during the first two seasons and by Kang Shin Hyo during the third season; Shin Yu Shin, played by Lee Tae Gon during the first two seasons and now by Gee Young San for the latest installment; Park Joo Mi as Sa Pi Young (Yu Shin’s wife); Lee Gar Yeong as Boo Hye Ryung (Sa Hyeon’s wife); Lee Min Young as Song Won (Sa Hyeon’s mistress); Jeon No Min as Park Hae Ryun; Jeon Soo Kyeong as Lee Si Eun (Hae Ryun’s wife); Song Ji In as A Mi (Yu Shin’s mistress); and Lim Hye Young as Nam Ga Bin (Hae Ryun’s mistress).

9. Show Window: The Queen’s House

Show Window: The Queen’s House is based on the premise of cheating- but with a lot different take than most dramas, focusing on how they play a psychological game while dancing around infidelity, friendship, family, revenge, and a drama that ends with the power of women to remove the shackles of their past to live for themselves and for the people who deserves their love. Aside from its main genre of melodrama, it also showcases mystery that further raises questions throughout the episodes.

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Its main premise emphasizes the story about a woman who supports the adultery of another woman without knowing that the affair is with her husband, which garnered interest among viewers and audiences. The Channel A drama was aired from 2021 to 2022, having an average nationwide viewership rating of 10.335% for its final episode, being the record holder of the highest rating for a Channel A series and joining in as one of the highest-rated Korean series on cable television history. The series also repeatedly placed first in live viewership during its timeslot, beating ratings of series from major public channels.

The show is led by an excellent cast, Song Yoon Ah as the devoted wife and the “queen” of the fashion house who has it all, Han Sun Joo, Jeon So Min as Yoon Mi Ra, an art teacher and a deceitful fox who is the mistress of Shin Myung Seob, Sun Joo’s husband, played by Lee Sung Jae. Things are further complicated as Sun Joo’s warm-hearted brother, Han Jung Won, played by Hwang Chan Sung, falls in love with Mi Ra.

10. My Husband’s Woman

Another infidelity-themed drama under Kim Hee Ae’s belt, My Husband’s Woman (also known as My Man’s Woman), is a 2007 SBS drama spanning 24 episodes revolving around the intimate and painful ordeal of women on both sides of the story behind an extramarital affair.

The drama received nominations for the prestigious Baeksang Arts Awards, such as Best Drama for Television and Best Screenplay for Television. The cast who performed exceptionally swept awards, with Kim Hee Ae winning Grand Prize (Daesang) from both the 1st Korea Drama Awards and 2007 SBS Drama Awards, Kim Sang Joong winning the Top Excellence Award as an Actor from both the 1st Korea Drama Awards and 2007 SBS Drama Awards, and Bae Jong Ok winning the Producer’s Award from the 2007 SBS Drama Awards.The story revolves around Kim Ji Soo (Bae Jong Ok), who puts in a huge trust with her husband, Hong Joon Pyo (Kim Sang Joong). Her widowed friend, Lee Hwa Young (Kim Hee Ae), lurks around their family and eventually develops an affair with Joon Pyo. Despite threats from Ji Soo’s sister, who caught them, they continued their affair and eventually got caught by Ji Soo herself. This results in psychological warfare and revenge, as Ji Soo ultimately decides to engage in an affair herself with her former friend, Seok Joon (Lee Jong Won).

11. Misty

A mystery drama embroiled in the premise of affairs, Misty is an intense and twisted drama that would leave you questioning multiple times, with the main genre as melodrama, thriller, and mystery. The drama aired on JTBC in 2018, with accolades particularly swept by the main lead Kim Nam Joo who came back to the small screen after six years. She won Best Actress in three award-giving bodies: 2nd The Seoul Awards, 23rd Asian Television Awards, and the prestigious Baeksang Arts Awards.

The story revolves around Go Hye Ran (Kim Nam Joo), an ambitious anchorwoman who was tasked to interview Kevin Lee (Go Jun), her former lover who she has an extramarital affair with. They are both married, Hye Ran is married to Kang Tae Wook (Ji Jin Hee), who she married for power, while Kevin is married to Hye Ran’s friend, Seo Eun Joo (Jeon Hye Jin).

Their affair becomes deadly as Kevin is found dead, with Hye Ran as the prime suspect for the crime. But for an unknown and mysterious reason, her estranged husband Tae Wook helps her as he stands in to be her legal counsel, despite their broken marriage.

12. The Hymn of Death

A drama based on real-life events, The Hymn of Death is a short drama that aired by SBS and eventually distributed by the online streaming platform, Netflix. The drama was based on the events of a couple who were star-crossed lovers, and soulmates but engaged in an affair, dating in the late 1920s. As the drama is completely based on these events, viewers knew what end to expect, but it didn’t remove the interest among audiences.

The series depicts the tragic romance between Joseon’s first Korean soprano Yun Sim Deok (Shin Hye Sun), and the genius playwright, Kim Woo Jin (Lee Jong Suk). They fell in love with each other unconditionally, and that includes the fact that Woo Jin is married to someone who he has wed out of his father’s demands. The title is based on the song recorded by Sim Deok, titled “Praise of Death,” which becomes the first Korean pop song in 1926.

13. Love Affairs in the Afternoon

Based on the Japanese Series, Hirugao: Love Affairs in the Afternoon, Love Affairs in the Afternoon is a drama from Channel A that discussed infidelity in a different light, dealing with the controversial theme by hitting various stops and showcasing the humane sides of the characters besides the theme.

The drama can be summarized by its plot point, where Son Ji Eun (Park Ha Sun) is a housewife who works part-time at a mart. She is quiet and sincere, even as she feels trapped in her unhappy life and lonely marriage. Her usual life changes as she meets biology teacher Yoon Jung Woo (Lee Sang Yeob) who she will have an affair with. They both know that only ruin will await them, as both are married in a loveless marriage, yet they cannot seem to stay away from each other, committing adultery.

14. On the Way to the Airport

A drama of intertwined fates, On the Way to the Airport, is a 2016 KBS drama that tackles infidelity and other complications with a much more realistic approach, completely steering away from makjang dramas. A lot of audiences have mentioned how much they love the show despite its theme, with the incredibly relatable and flawed characters and the continuous question of whether love is fated or chosen, while it still reminds us that no matter how it may seem beautiful, love born out of infidelity will always be wrong.

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The main leads, Lee Sang Yoon and Kim Ha Neul, both received accolades for their exceptional performance, Ha Neul won the Top Excellence Award, Actress, Sang Yoon won the Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries, and together, the Best Couple Award, all from the 30th KBS Drama Awards.

The story revolves around Choi Soo Ah (Kim Ha Neul) and Seo Do Woo (Lee Sang Yoon), who met due to an unfortunate event that intertwined their lives together; Soo Ah learned to love the bright architecture instructor, Do Woo.

15. The Last Empress

A makjang drama set in an alternative reality of modern constitutional monarchy, you are sure to see the elements of betrayal, affairs, and revenge in the drama The Last Empress. Aired from 2018 to 2019, the drama’s fast-paced plot and unpredictable plot gained high viewership ratings, garnering nationwide ratings of 17.9%, making it the highest rating weekday mini-series for Korean terrestrial television in 2018.

The excellent portrayal of the main leads gained their awards, with Jang Na Ra winning the Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Wednesday-Thursday Drama from the 2018 SBS Drama Awards and Outstanding Korean Actress from the 2019 Seoul International Drama Awards, and both Shin Sung Rok and Choi Jin Hyuk receiving the Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Wednesday-Thursday Drama from the 2018 SBS Drama Awards.Set in the monarchy, Oh Sunny (Jang Na Ra) becomes an overnight Cinderella as she marries the Emperor Lee Hyuk (Shin Sung Rok) and becomes involved in the power struggle within the royal family, teaming up with Na Wang Sik and now Imperial Bodyguard Chun Woo Bin (Choi Jin Hyuk) to uncover the crimes within the Imperial family. She experiences more struggles as she discovers the Emperor having an illicit affair with the Imperial Head Secretary, Min Yoo Ra (Lee Elijah).

Here are some of the K-Dramas on infidelity that will surely offer you various themes and takes on a controversial topic. Which among them is your favorite, and what other dramas with the same concept would you suggest to other viewers?

Viết từ Greenpineresort

Cuộc sống là quá trình trao tặng và đón nhận không ngừng, mỗi người chúng ta là một mắc xích quan trọng trong vòng liên kết ấy. Vì vậy, đừng do dự khi mở rộng lòng mình với mọi người. Rất nhiều người, nhiều nơi trên thế giới đang chờ đợi ở bạn một sự hảo tâm, một vòng tay ấm áp… Đôi khi, chỉ một ánh mắt trìu mến, một nụ cười thân thiện, hay một câu nói chân tình cũng đủ làm viên mãn một trái tim! Hãy cho đi để thấy rằng đời sống thật phong phú.

Chúng ta đang sống trong một thế giới đầy bất trắc với những nỗi đau của nhân loại cùng sự hủy hoại nghiêm trọng của môi trường. Chính vì vậy, chúng ta cần quan tâm đến nhau nhiều hơn để góp phần giảm bớt những nỗi đau và bất trắc ấy trong cuộc sống. Thế nhưng, chúng ta sẽ thể hiện điều đó như thế nào để có thể làm vơi đi những bất hạnh của chính mình và của người khác?

Bí quyết đơn giản nhất chính là: “Mỗi người hãy biết chia sẻ, biết cho đi, biết trao tặng những gì tốt nhất mà mình có cho người khác”. Thật vậy, cuộc sống chính là quá trình trao tặng và đón nhận không ngừng. Có rất nhiều thứ chúng ta có thể trao tặng cho người khác, từ của cải vật chất cho đến một lời khuyên, kinh nghiệm, lời nói chân tình, hay thậm chí chỉ là một ánh mắt thiện cảm, một nụ cười đôn hậu… Những hành động chia sẻ đó thể hiện tấm lòng yêu thương của chúng ta dành cho mọi người. Và chắc chắn rằng chúng ta cũng sẽ đón nhận được không ít điều tuyệt vời bắt nguồn từ sự cho đi cao đẹp này.
Sự sẻ chia luôn mang lại nhiều điều kỳ diệu cho cuộc sống. Dù trong bất kỳ hoàn cảnh nào, chúng ta cũng đều có thể chia sẻ và quan tâm đến người khác. Hãy nhớ rằng, khi vui vẻ và hạnh phúc thì ít nhiều bạn cũng đã tạo ra được những tác động tích cực đến những người xung quanh. Ngạn ngữ có câu: “Với thế giới, bạn chỉ là một người bình thường, nhưng với riêng một người nào đó, bạn có thể là cả thế giới”. Và kỳ diệu thay, người đầu tiên nhận được sự cho đi của bạn – không ai khác – đó chính là bản thân bạn. Bản thân mỗi người chúng ta có thể ban tặng chính mình một điều gì đó và cũng có thể nhận lại một điều gì đó từ chính mình.
Khi chúng ta có sự chia sẻ và quan tâm lẫn nhau thì cả người trao lẫn người nhận đều có được những tặng phẩm quý giá nhất của cuộc đời. Sự chia sẻ này góp phần làm cho nhân cách mỗi cá nhân trở nên hoàn thiện hơn. Những hành động cao cả sẽ đọng mãi nơi ký ức tốt đẹp của bạn bè, gia đình và xã hội, còn niềm đau sẽ vơi đi và dần bị lãng quên theo lớp bụi thời gian.
Sự chia sẻ luôn mang lại niềm vui, hạnh phúc, sức khỏe, và thậm chí là cả sự sống cho con người. Chỉ cần thật tâm, bạn sẽ không bao giờ cảm thấy mất đi khi chia sẻ những gì mình có, bởi vì cho đi là còn mãi!

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