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Although the title of this post is “kdrama that will make you cry”, this list actually includes other forms of Asian drama such as films from Japan and Taiwan. All of them are sad and guaranteed to bring on the water works. If you’re in the mood for a good Tearjerker tonight, check out our Top 10 Kdrama that Will Make You Cry.
10.) Fated to Love You – Taiwanese Version
This is the original televised version of the series, based on the comic book of the same name. The plot follows closely to the comic, beginning with a case of mistaken identity which finds the two main characters (Chen Xin Yi and Ji Cun Xi) sleeping together resulting in an unplanned pregnancy. The male lead is being pressured by his family to produce an heir for his company, and so the two strike a bargain in which Xin Yi will live there for 9 months (the duration of her pregnancy) and then sign over rights to the child to Cun Xi and leave the picture completely.
But a lot can happen in 9 months. The two begin to develop feelings for eachother and their unborn baby while living together. The family members on both sides also grow attached to their potential new inlaws. Things however become complicated when Cun Xi’s fiancee, Anna, returns from overseas and discovers the situation.
Although this is generally a comedy series, there are some tragic things which happen along the way. and even some mundane daily things which struck me enough to move me to tears. Check out the spoilers below for some of the highlights.
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Perhaps the saddest thing, is that late in this series, Xin Yi loses her baby in an accident. It’s made even sadder due to a misunderstanding / lie brought about by Anna. In desperation to win back her love, Anna tells Xin Yi that Cun Xi wants her to have a late term abortion, although he never really wanted this. Distraught by the news, Xin Yi runs out into traffic where she is hit by a car and loses the baby. This event triggers the next series of events and changes everyone’s lives. Xin Yi finds her independence and becomes strong, while Cun Xi, finally realizes he is in love with her and spends the next several years of his life trying to find her again to apologize and beg her to come back to him. Due to the misunderstanding from before, Xin Yi genuinely hates him and it takes a long time before she discovers that this was not what he wanted to happen.
Although this is the big “sad” event in the series, several other touching and moving things happen such as: The main characters share the same birthday. The girl says that she has never had anyone wish her happy birthday before. When Cun Xi discovers this, he plans a beautiful date for them to celebrate together, however, in the middle of driving to their destination, he receives a phone call from his fiancee, Anna, saying that for one day only she is flying back to spend his birthday with him. He apologizes and leaves Xin Yi in order to go spend time with Anna. Cun Xi leaves her with the chauffeur and an itinerary of their proposed date. Unable to enjoy the date alone, Xin Yi decides to follow Cun Xi and spy on him during his date. When Anna stands him up and doesn’t show up, Xin Yi dresses in costume to present a gift she bought for Cun Xi, signing Anna’s name to make him think that Anna kept her promise and did not forget his birthday. This scene probably made me cry more than any of the others. It was just so touching, and I felt so bad for Xin Yi.
There’s also another scene in which Xin Yi is living with Cun Xi’s grandmother in the baby’s nursery as her due date draws nearer. Cun Xi is a jerk at this time, and living in an apartment with his fiancee, Anna. He very rarely stops by to see how Xin Yi or the baby or his family are doing. Xin Yi is busy preparing the nursery all alone. Prior to this, the two of them had gone shopping together, and Cun Xi had picked out a rocking horse for the baby. The store clerk offered him the floor model, but Cun Xi said he wanted to build it with his own hands. It is very hard to assemble, and it seems that Cun Xi has forgotten all about this. Xin Yi spends night after night, forgoing sleep trying to put together the rocking horse. She has fallen into depression at the thought of having to leave her baby, and she begins a notebook for the baby, in which she writes to the baby, pretending to be Anna, so that the baby will have a baby book to look back on. She writes very touching things, includes his measurements at his checkups, and writes about his father and also about Anna, but never writes about herself. Finally, exhausted and depressed, she falls asleep on the floor one night in the baby’s room. Cun Xi comes back to the house one night, and sneaks into the nursery. He helps her to put together the rocking horse, and tucks Xin Yi into bed, comforting her, before sneaking back outside, returning to Anna, unnoticed.
9. Someone Like You
This is another Taiwanese drama about a blind man who falls in love with his caretaker who has a striking resemblance to the man’s fiancee who was killed in a car wreck (which also cost the man his eyesight). There’s several different love triangles, and lots of drama. There’s also quite a bit of comedy too.
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The leading female is actually the identical twin of the man’s dead fiancee. They were adopted and seperated at birth by different families and never knew they had a sister. The sister was a doctor and big on organ donation, so when she died, she donated her organs, including her heart to a young girl who becomes a rival and alternate love interest for the main character. The rival has memories of the main male character from having his fiancee’s heart inside of her. When the leading lady learns that her sister’s heart is inside this other girl, she tries to step aside to let her pursue her love with the main character, however, the main character does not have those kinds of feelings for her. They both help the leading lady understand that she is not helping anything by breaking up with the main character. There’s also another love interest for the leading lady, her ex boyfriend, who uses her to further his career, and even goes as far as to have an affair with his boss, which results in her becoming pregnant. Near the end of the series, this young man attempts to murder the main character by cutting the brakes in his car, however, instead it’s the leading lady who drives his car that day. When he finds out the wrong person is in the car, he chases after the vehicle, and ultimately sacrifices his life to save hers. Before he dies, he leaves a recording behind for her, as well as for his boss and unborn child. He said he still loved the leading lady, but that also he felt he had began to fall in love (too late perhaps) with his boss/unborn baby.
8. Absolute Boyfriend
This is based on the manga by Yuu Watase (and happens to be my favorite manga of all time). I prefer the Taiwanese version, but the Japanese version is also good. They’re also working on a Korean version now too. The story follows a young female who is very awkward around men and considers herself to not be very popular. She lives next door to a childhood friend who’s always teasing her, but also always helping to take care of her and watch out for her when her parents are away. — The Taiwanese version does a better job depicting this. In the Japanese version, instead of child hood friends, it’s her boss at work. The drama comes in, when the main female mistakeningly orders an adult-sex-toy robot, and that robot becomes self aware, and the two of them fall in love. She must hide his identity as a robot from everyone. And it deals with a lot of ethical issues, such as can a robot ever really replace the need for human companionship? A robot cannot give you kids, or a family. A robot can never grow old with you. A robot who’s sole purpose is only to love you, then serves no other purpose once you die, what becomes of the robot then?
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In every single version of this drama and manga, the robot eventually breaks down beyond repair. In the Japanese version, they bring him back years later (this never happens in the manga), but the girl has already entered a relationship with her boss/coworker, When the robot finds out about their relationship, he takes himself back to the factory and asks to be destroyed because there’s no longer a purpose for him. In the manga, she marries the childhood friend, but the final page of the manga says that she never forgot her first love and has her looking very sadly off into the distance. In the Taiwanese drama, she is going to marry the robot, but she overhears him telling the childhood friend that he only has a few more hours to live. She asks him if he could practice the wedding ceremony with her because she’s nervous (or so she claims). Prior to this, when they were dress shopping, the robot’s systems were failing and he was unable to see her in her wedding dress. Now doing a full dress rehearsal, they’re able to be “married” in their hearts, however, as they’re about to exchange vows, the robot tells her no, that he can’t stay with her or make her happy, and tells her to go to the other man. Near the end, as they’re coming to retrieve the now broken robot, they notice that he has shut himself down with 3 seconds left on his clock, hinting at the fact that maybe he could be repaired, a tear runs down the robots face, and that’s how it ends. Regardless of how it ends, it is very sad in all versions. You get the feeling throughout the entire series that it just can’t have a happy ending, and you begin to feel bad for her childhood friend who even confesses his love to her in the end.
7. La Dolce Vita
This is a story about an older married woman with children, who ends up falling in love with a much younger man, and leaving her husband and children to be with him. The young man is also involved in some spoilery stuff below.
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He killed his best friend, and is living in his apartment, and spending and using all of his money, while supposedly helping detectives try to find his “missing” friend — In the end, he realizes he is about to be caught and also consumed with guilt and grief about his crime, he jumps off the roof of his apartment building to his death. Most of the sadness and drama comes from the woman struggling with her love for her children vs her desire for a man who loves her.
6. Cinderella Man
This was the first Kdrama I ever seen. It’s basically the prince and the pauper. 2 brothers were separated at birth. One of them searches for his birth mother, he’s also a successful business heir and so he trains his brother (who he meets by chance and does not recognize/realize as his brother.) to be his stand-in with the company so he can spend more time searching for his mother. The other brother grew up in a orphanage and lives a poor/meager, but happy life. There’s romance too, the poor brother meets an aspiring young fashion design student, and falls in love with her. The wealthy brother is very sick. And then spoilers happen.
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The wealthy brother has a rare heart disease, and can’t find a matching blood type donor. I spent 90% of this drama assuming his brother would be a donor and that their lives would be saved. WRONG. Wealthy brother dies. He leaves a note to his brother (who he has finally realized is his twin). The note asks him to please go on living as the wealthy brother, so that his family and his company will not be hurt, and that they must never tell anyone of his death. The poor brother agrees, and in so doing, he gives up his past life, including the love of his life. In the end, the chairwoman (their grandmother) tells the surviving brother that “Don’t you think I wouldn’t recognize my own grandson?” and tells him she knew all along. In the end the lovers are reunited and he uses his new wealth and power to help her break into the fashion industry.
5. I Hear Your Voice
This is a supernatural/crime drama. A young boy has the ability to read people’s minds and he teams up with a public defense attorney to help those who are wrongfully accused. The two of them also share a sad past, and blossom a new romance. Their past comes back to haunt them as the main villain who appears time and time and time again. He does very very very horrible things to the young girl and her family. It starts out not very sad but as the villain begins making his moves, and the story builds, it becomes increasingly more dramatic and depressing.
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The accident that killed the boy’s father, and caused the start of his “powers” was caused by this “villain” the villain not wanting any witnesses, after crashing into their car, beats the boy’s father to death with a baseball bat, while the boy watches his father being murdered. The boy must testify in court, but no one believes him, except for the girl, who had witnessed the accident and had a picture on her cellphone. With her picture, they are able to convict the killer. However, he becomes a model prisoner, and gets time off for good behaivor. He makes friends easily everywhere he goes once he is released, including becoming very close to the girl’s mother who has no idea of his past. In the end he abducts and murders the girl’s mother to get revenge on her for putting him into prison, he calls the girl on the phone and makes her listen to her mother being brutally murdered and tortured. He yells at the victim telling her to tell the daughter it was her fault, but instead all she does is repeatedly tell her daughter how much she loves her, and that she must not become angry, and must not hate the man murdering her. In the very end, the man goes after the main character, kidnapping her, and setting a trap to capture the boy, who comes to the girl’s rescue. It does have a happy ending though, and was one of the first Kdrama I ever saw that had a happy ending. In the end, the two lovers are together, and he becomes I think a police officer, while she continues to be a public defense attorney.
4. Angel Eyes
A young girl and young boy are both impacted by a tunnel collapse which takes the lives of their parents. One is a firefighter who pulls the young girl out just in time, but dies himself trying to go back to save her mother. The girl is saved, but becomes blind from the injuries. Years pass, and the two meet by chance. The young boy delivers soup that his mother makes, and on his route every night he sees a young woman who he “assumes” is gazing at the stars, reciting names of constellations. She works at a planetarium and he goes there one day on a school field trip. The projector gets stuck during the presentation, but because she’s blind, she can’t see this and continues her speech as if nothing’s wrong. The audience begins laughing/teasing her, and then other boys in his class begin to play pranks on her, realizing she’s blind. The young boy runs up to the stage to save her from falling for their pranks, and then every day he begins visiting her. She turns him away time and time again, but he is very persistent despite her being very rude to him. The two fall in love, a pure young happy love, she meets his family, and his mother becomes like a second mother to her. Then spoilers happen.
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The girl is on a waiting list for a transplant that will allow her to see again. There’s been many false starts before, but now it seems a donor has finally been found. Sadly, that donor, is the boy’s mother who has been murdered. The girl’s father is a doctor, and he covers up who her donor was, knowing that if she knew the truth it would be like her mother dying all over again. The boy is now an orphan and has no choice but to go overseas to live with an aunt, who also promises to help his sister who needs surgery. The boy comes to say goodbye, but the girl is still under anesthesia from the surgery. He leaves a note with his contact details, but the father hides the note. He tries writing to her many times as he grows up, never giving up on her or forgetting about her, but the father also hides those letters as well. The girl thinks he disappeared without ever saying goodbye and becomes resentful of him. The father thinks he had killed the mother, but he actually did not. He thought about it, and did attempt to smother her (because he so badly wanted to find a donor for his daughter and she was very ill and close to death already), but he stopped, and left the room. The person that killed the mother was actually a coworker in the hospital, because her husband was the one driving the car which hit the mother, and she did not want any witnesses. The father however assumes she died after he attempted to smother her, because it was just moments later that the woman snuck in and put drugs in her IV. Consumed with guilt, the girl’s father travels to the states to mentor and take care of the boy, acting like a father to him, he even calls him father – he has NO idea this is his girlfriend’s father – because he’d never met him before! Years pass and the boy becomes a doctor, and the girl has become a very fiesty and strong willed female firefighter. There’s an opening at the hospital, and the boy returns to Korea where the two meet again. Since she was blind, she doesn’t know what he looked like, and a lot of years have passed, so initially the two butt heads and do not get along, however, overtime, they learn the truth, and the girl discovers her father had hid all the letters. Her father is sick too, and has a heart attack, and eventually dies, but not before being able to tell them the truth. Prior to that he adamantly opposes of their relationship, and the young boy (now a man), is afraid to go against his “father”s wishes. In the end, however, the two are able to be together and live happily ever after. There’s just a lot of sad things that happen first.
3. 90 Days Time to Love
This series bombed/flopped in it’s homeland of South Korea, but it remains one of my all time favorite Kdramas. It’s about two young children who fall in love, only to later be told by their family that they are actually cousins, and therefore, forbidden from seeing eachother. They are reunited and torn apart again and again throughout their lives, until finally spoilers happen….
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The main male lead is given just 3 months to live with terminal cancer. He has a wife, and a daughter by this point in his life, and a very successful career as a school teacher. By chance, he once again runs into his first love (his cousin). He tells her, he only has 3 months left to live, and says to her, to just stay near him, to watch him, and that would be enough to make him happy. As the story progresses, the main female meets with him, almost daily, they do things like walk through the market, or sit in the park, or drive up to the mountains, etc. Her fiancee (or maybe it was a husband? I can’t remember), worries about her. He struggles desperately with his feelings, becoming at one point, abusive/alcoholic, forcing himself on her, etc. But, quickly, he changes, and becomes a very loveable character. He drives her to and from, because he worries about her being out alone at night, he basically gives her permission to be with the other man, and continues to love her and wait for her. When her cousin does die, he tells the other man to please take care of her, and make her happy, and he tells both of them, that he will be reborn as their son, so they can have a whole life time to love one another, instead of just 90 days. This was one of the saddest scenes, because her fiancee, desperately wanted to have a baby (but she wasn’t ready/maybe because she never got over her feelings for her cousin). Damn, it’s making me tear up just thinking about it. In his final days, he also leaves behind video recordings for his wife and daughter, telling them he did in fact love them, and trying to make amends with them as well.
2. Autumn in My Heart
This story is sad on many levels. It’s about two babies who were switched at birth, and later switch back, but they’re already (approximately) 14 at the time and attached to their own families. This is where most of the drama comes in initially in the first half of the series… but it gets much more complex and depressing as it goes on. The main character is in love with her “brother” (not related by blood). He has a fiancee who loves him desperately. It’s complicated again by the appearance of an additional love interest for the leading lady, a man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Sometimes with misguided intentions, but always with love and care in his heart for her. The two mothers also struggle with their feelings for both of their “daughters”.
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The couple is separated for years when one of the families moves overseas. They had planned to move in order to prevent the girls from being switched, but events happened too quickly, and because the father had already made plans with his job, they had to move away. The mother became mentally ill from missing her other (non-biological) daughter so badly. She never accepted or embraced or cared for her biological daughter, blaming her often for the separation. The biological daughter is a hard character to like, though at times, I did feel sorry for her, and she eventually near the end does come around. After almost 15 years spent apart, the family returns to Korea, and the two (non-biological) siblings are reunited. There’s a lot of people against the reunion, such as the biological daughter, and the man’s fiancee. And when the parents find out the two of them are in love, the father adamantly opposes of their relationship as well. They run away together for a few weeks, but return to announce their engagement. The man’s fiancee tries to kill herself, and the man feels guilty so he agrees to break things off with his “sister” and stay with the fiancee. The “sister” discovers she has terminal cancer, and tries her best to hide it from her family, friends, and lovers. Meanwhile, her “brother” is planning to return to the united states, to help him forget about the girl and focus on his fiancee. Her illness gets progressively worse, the other man in her life takes care of her, but in the end, seeing her in pain, he goes to tell the brother about everything. Unable to accept reality, the brother literally runs away from the hospital. It’s not until literally their final days, that he comes to be with her. She gets to go home because there’s nothing left that doctors can do. The fiancee gives up on the “brother” and allows them to be together, and in the end, the main character dies on the beach, being carried by her brother. After watching this, I kinda felt like the series recommended above it (90 Days Time to Love) ripped this series off in many ways. This series was from 2000, while 90 Days is from 2006. They have many similarities plot wise, just kinda with the roles reversed, a sick male lead, and a married/engaged female, and only days left to be together.
1. 10 Promises to My Dog
Do you know the 10 promises you must make to be a responsible pet owner? The hardest promise of all is number 10. This movie is very sad for any pet lover, and it takes my number 1 spot for saddest Kdrama (it’s actually a Japanese film though). I think I hyperventilated for almost 3 hours after watching this film. In this story, a young girl finds a dog outside one day while she is playing. She asks her parents if she can keep him, but her father hates dogs and adamantly refuses. Shortly after the puppy is discovered, the girl’s mother becomes gravely ill. She passes very quickly, but not before talking to both her husband and daughter about the dog. The mother explains to the very young girl that there are 10 promises that she must make before she can be allowed to keep the dog. Things such as feed him, bathe him, groom him, play with him, love him, but ultimately, someday, when the dog is old, she must promise to be there and help him pass away without fear, sadness, or pain. The mother explains how short a dog’s life is, usually only about 7 years, and that although to the young girl, this may sound like a long time, it will pass very quickly. Unaware of the full responsibility of her promise, the girl agrees, and the movie revolves around her growing up with her friends, father, and her dog. All starts out cute and happy, but all does not remain calm. Several heart-breaking things happen which change relationships within the family, both between humans as well as the animals.
The girl becomes more involved with boys and dating, and often neglects the dog as a teenager. She sometimes becomes annoyed by or exasperated by the dog because as any pet owner can tell you, dogs take a lot of time and work. She sometimes isn’t allowed to go to parties or overnight trips because she has to go home to care for the dog. This leads her to resent the dog. At another point, the father loses his job and has to move to an apartment without any pets. The girl places the animal in the care of one of her childhood friends, but they call to tell her that he has escaped and the father comes to realize that he can’t abandon the dog either. The father moves back to their family home and says he will look for another job and reassures the girl that they will stay there from now on with the dog, and that the dog is part of their family. The girl grows up and moves away to college. She cannot take the dog obviously, so she puts the dog in the care of her father. Her father never remarried and the house is empty, except for him and the dog. Although the father hated the dog in the beginning, during these years alone together, they become inseparable and the girl visits home less and less, especially after she finds a job working in a zoo and is required to be on call as a vet assistant. Near the end, the father begs the girl to return home, the dog is old and dying, but the girl says she cannot return home because of her work. The father loses his temper and reminds the girl about the promise between her mother, the dog, and herself. The girl decides to return home, where the dog dies in her arms. While the dog is dying, they read a book together, that the mother had made, with illustrations and a description about each promise. And she asks the dog each time, if she kept this promise as they read them together. (In my opinion she did not, and was a pretty shitty, but probably average representation of most dog owners). After the dog passes away, they are putting away the dog’s things, and find he has burried a lot of photographs of the girl and her mother, and tucked back in the very back of his dog house, they find a note that the mother wrote, that she was the one who had gone out and purchased the puppy because she knew she was dying before being admitted to the hospital. The note says that the dog would love her daughter in place of being able to be loved by the mother, and to think of the mother whenever she spent time with the dog. The dog had hid this note, so the family never knew about it until the dog’s passing.
I spent several days making this list, and then today it occurred to me I forgot one of my favorite dramas so I have to add it here.
Golden Rainbow: This drama is about an ex-convict who adopts 7 orphans, one of which is the biological daughter of his true love, who is presumed to be dead, after being kidnapped as a very small child. This is a very lengthy drama and in the beginning the children are only about 7 years old, in the end they’re in their 30s. It has a LOT of heartbreak. Spoilers happen below.
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One of their sons die when they sneak into an abandoned warehouse, and the father sets fire to the warehouse in a corrupt scheme. The father realizes he has killed his own child, the youngest, smallest, sweetest, and cutest of the entire house. Another young boy carries the urn, when the family later on is chased out of their home, when their father goes back to prison for taking a job as a smuggler trying to help pay off his love’s debts/save her life. She always uses him and fucks up their life. Anyways, the young boy who had the urn, realizes he left it sitting at the train station, he goes back to get it, and misses the train, getting separated from his family. The main female, is distraught. This child was very sickly and she had been a mother to him, raising him, carrying him on her back, and helping him, even sleeping with him at night, she worries he may not be able to sleep or survive without her. The other children forcefully restrain her from jumping off the train, and this leads to her resenting her older brother, blaming him for separating the family. The older brother wants his sister to go to school, so he gets involved in the same path of crime that his father went down. In the end the older brother turns himself in, realizing he cant continue down that path. There’s another girl who’s father abuses her that the family takes in, she is EXTREMELY fond of the girl’s biological mother (who they STILL don’t know is her real mother), and when the family turns against the mother in court (defending their father), the other girl takes up for the mother. The mother wants the biological one to come live with her, because she feels the connection in her heart, but the girl refuses. Later that same night, the other girl tries to kill herself, and when the mother rushes to see her in the hospital she tells her its because she doesn’t want her, so the mother takes her with her instead, and the girl lives a good/wealthy life. Years later she returns into the picture and is also a love rival for the main lead. Its a very sad drama.
What do you think of our list of the 10 saddest Kdrama? Have you seen any of the above series? Did they make you cry too? Or maybe you have seen even sadder Kdrama that you think should be on this list. Leave us a comment below!
Jenilee Dunson is a geek, otaku, and lover of all things kawaii. She runs a blog in her spare time at https://geekysweetie.com where she writes about video games, kdrama, anime, technology, toys, dolls, and kawaii fashion.
In 2006, Jenilee graduated with a BS in Emerging Technology and Design. In 2012 she obtained an MBA in Ecommerce. Jenilee currently works for a small manufacturing company designing websites, email marketing, digital advertising, and print advertising campaigns.