4 Best Forbidden Romance K-Dramas for a Sizzling Summer 2022

Nothing is more tantalizing than a forbidden romance with passion, desire, and love. Some of K-drama’s best forbidden romances can involve age-gap romances, gender-swap stories, and a future king falling in love with a commoner. The genre of K-dramas makes for some of the most sizzling and best storylines for the summer heat.

Rowoon and Park Eun-bin looking at each other in one of the best K-dramas, 'The King's Affection.'
Rowoon and Park Eun-bin in ‘The King’s Affection’ | via KBS

‘Coffee Prince’ is one of the best K-dramas involving unforeseen love in a gender-swap romance

Based on the novel of the same name, Coffee Prince is an oldie but goodie that premiered in 2007. The K-drama starred famous actor Gong Yoo as Choi Han-kyul. The lead character comes from a well-off family who owns a thriving coffee company business. Han-kyul is handsome and intelligent but has never had a job and remains hung up on his first love.

Actor Yoon Eun-hye plays Go Eun-chan, a 24-year-old tomboy often mistaken for a boy. When she meets Han-kyul, he mistakes her for a man and hires him as his gay lover to avoid blind dates. His mother gives Han-kyul an ultimatum and has him work for one of her coffee shops. To attract female customers, he hires handsome employees and Eun-chan.

As they work together, Han-kyul develops feelings for Eun-chan and questions his sexuality. He has no idea Eun-chan is a woman. Coffee Prince is considered a forbidden romance due to the subject matter of mistaken gender and attraction. Fans agree it is one of the best K-dramas for a compelling romance.

Coffee Prince is available to stream on Viki.

‘Secret Love Affair’ has a married woman fall in love with a younger man

K-drama fans can agree Secret Love Affair is one of the best forbidden romance stories. The 2014 K-drama tells a tale between sexual attraction and social expectations about age and love. Secret Love Affair is also a must-watch age-gap romance.

Kim Hee-ae stars as Oh Hye-won, a 40-year-old planning director. She is the epitome of sophistication, poise, ambition, and elegance. For the first time in her life, she experiences unrelenting attraction and love when she meets a 20-year-old genius pianist. Lee Sun-jae, played by Yoo Ah-in, comes from an impoverished background and is unaware of his talent. The two characters begin a scandalous and forbidden affair.

Secret Love Affair is available to stream on Viki.

‘The King’s Affection’ has a future king fall in love with his teacher

Netflix’s The King’s Affection was a must-watch when it premiered in 2021. It stars Extraordinary Attorney Woo star Park Eun-bin and K-pop idol-turned-actor Rowoon. The K-drama became one of the best of the year thanks to its complex story of romance, politics, and a forbidden attraction.

Set during the Joseon era, twins are born to the royal concubine. But the daughter’s birth is a bad omen, and she is ordered to be killed — but the concubine ensures her survival. Years later, the young child becomes a court maid in training at the palace and meets her twin brother.

In a case of mistaken identity, the crown prince is murdered. To keep the palace in order, the royal concubine has Dam-yi (Park) take on her twin brother’s identity as Lee Hwi. Dam-yi grows up as a boy and is in line to become king. But when she gets a new royal teacher, emotions flurry, and Jung Ji-woon (Rowoon) falls in love with Lee Hwi in a forbidden romance.

The King’s Affection is available to stream on Netflix.

‘The Moon Embracing the Sun’ is one of the best K-dramas about social class romance

A majority of modern K-dramas have forbidden love in the context of age-gap relationships. But some of the best K-dramas on the forbidden occur in historical K-dramas. The Moon Embracing the Sun is a 2012 drama between a royal king and a lowly shaman in the Joseon era.

Their love story is more complex than just forbidden romance, and politics run rampant. The queen Dowager sanctions her stepson’s assassination as part of a ploy to keep her son’s throne. Meanwhile, an unborn child of noble birth is given protection. Years later, she becomes the crown princess when she falls in love with the prince.

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While the king approves of their love, the Queen Dowager curses her, and she falls ill. The princess is diagnosed with an illness, cast out, and “dies.” Due to trauma, she loses her memories and grows up to be a shaman. On the other hand, the prince becomes king and marries, but he is still hung up on his first love.

Years later, the now shaman is summoned to the palace and stuns the king. Stricken by her resemblance to his first love, he investigates her and falls in love.

The Moon Embracing the Sun is available to stream on Viki.