In episode 12 of “Start-Up PH,” Bea Alonzo’s Dani and Jeric Gonzales’s Dave enjoy kwek kwek by the river as Alden Richards’s Tristan watches from the back of his character’s convertible. From the framing down to the costumes, it’s visually comparable to the scene it’s adapted from in the hit 2020 K-Drama “Start-Up.”
Though it borrows as much from its source material, the teleserye does make an effort to localize its content. In the show, Dani calls her grandmother “Lola” instead of “Halmeoni,” and instead of a corndog stand, Lola sells banana cue. Granted that the ocean view from the Roxas Boulevard boardwalk looks a lot better than it does on a normal day, the settings look prettier than real life, which is a defining specialty of K-drama.
Prior to “Start-Up,” GMA and ABS-CBN had already been adapting Korean dramas since 2008 (see: Regine Velasquez’s “Ako si Kim Samsoon” and the Kim Chiu-Gerald Anderson love team-starrer “My Girl”). Aired in primetime TV spots or during afternoon siesta time, these offerings were seen by many as a bridge that would cater to the growing demand for Asian dramas in the Philippines, and maybe even help Filipinos develop media tastes that would move past the melodramatic tropes that many were growing tired of.
14 years later, much has changed in the production industry, and quality has since leveled up. Previous adaptations were criticized for straight up copying their source material instead of bringing in local flavor. Now, they’ve taken cues to showcase elements of Filipino culture, including places and food while also adapting the K-drama style color grading and cinematography.
From “Descendants of the Sun,” to “Start-Up,” here are some Filipino K-drama adaptations that you can stream now.
“Descendants of the Sun Philippines”
After doing “My Love From the Star” opposite Gil Cuerva in 2017, Jennylyn Mercado starred in another adaptation in 2020 with GMA’s production of “Descendants of the Sun Philippines.” Acting as Dr. Maxine Dela Cruz (a.k.a. Song Hye Kyo’s Kang Moyeon in the original), she wooed Dingdong Dantes’s elite forces character Big Boss (played by Song Joongki in the original) in a love story set across the Philippines and Urdan. Available on Netflix, the series was noticeably more polished than previous adaptations from the production house. Location shoots, K-drama-worthy color grading, and cinematic approach to shots make up for the poorly-made finale (which seemed to have been filmed purely over a green screen). And this paid off, too — it won the “Most Popular Foreign Drama of the Year” award at the 15th Seoul International Drama Awards, an honor it shared with the series adaptation of “Snowpiercer." Another amusing tidbit for fans of the Korean version is that actor Rocco Nacino bears an uncanny resemblance to Jin Goo, the actor who played his character Wolf in the Korean version.
Stream it here.
“The Broken Marriage Vow”
Given Jodi Sta. Maria’s performance as the vengeful Dr. Jill Illustre and the familiar kabit arc in “The Broken Marriage Vow,” viewers might be surprised to discover that the show is actually an adaptation. On paper, it’s based on the British series “Doctor Foster,” which the hit 2021 K-drama “The World of the Married” is also based on, which makes sense in how both adaptations integrate Asian family values to the script. The series follows Dr. Jill’s investigation of her husband David’s (Zanjoe Marudo) affair, eventually going insane and embarking on a revenge campaign in the process. The show is one example of an adaptation that takes its source material and turns it into its own recognizable work, memes notwithstanding.
Stream it here.
“Flower of Evil”
Lovi Poe and Piolo Pascual star as Jacob and Iris Castillo in the adaptation of this acclaimed Korean suspense thriller. As the first partnership between Asian drama streaming service Viu and ABS-CBN, “Flower of Evil,” adapts the same plot backbone as the Korean drama of the same title — Poe plays the detective Iris, while Pascual plays her husband Jacob, a man who isn’t really who he says he is. Drama ensues when Iris begins investigating a series of murders that seem to lead back to Jacob. The star-studded cast also includes Edu Manzano, Paulo Avelino, Agot Isidro, and Joem Bascon. It ran on the Kapamilya Channel from June to October of this year and is still streaming on Viu.
Stream it here.
The latest K-drama adaptation to hit Philippine screens is “Start-Up PH” starring Bea Alonzo as Dani (Seo Dalmi in the original), Alden Richards as Tristan (Han Jipyeong or “Good Boy” in the original), and Jeric Gonzales as Dave (Nam Dosan in the original). A 2020 breakout hit, the original Korean series featured Bae Suzy, Nam Joo Hyuk, and Kim Seonho in an ambiguous love triangle set amid the backdrop of a start-up incubator. Fans of the K-drama tuned in week after week because of this ambiguity, with many aggressively brandishing their virtual “Team Dosan” and “Team Good Boy” banners “Twilight”-style up until the very last episode. It seems that things are looking up for Team Good Boy this time around — fans are speculating that the local adaptation’s script is hinting at “Good Boy” end game for Dani.
Stream it here.