Look, if you like K-dramas, then you’ll definitely want to dive into some of the best romance manhwa out there. Why? Because more times than not, your favorite K-Drama was based on one of those trending romance manhwa. With how popular the medium of manga has gotten all over the world, it was only a matter of time before other Asian countries started diving into creating their own iterations. With how well written they tend to be, Korean manhwa was an easy sell to the masses.
So, it’s no surprise that romance manhwa just took the pop culture world by storm, especially when hosting apps such as Line WebToon and Tapas came into play. Now, not only were they more readily available, but easily accessible for anyone that had a smart phone. You could binge read a romance manhwa while commuting to school or work, engage with the creator and discuss the newest chapter in the comment section. And as a romance fiend, I was obsessed with how some the best romance manhwa were written.
Like, no joke, I kind of just binge read a huge chunk of WebToons and manhwa when I first discovered the app. And yeah, there is something to be said about the many tropes you can find in romance manhwa. Especially because it can lead to the genre feeling a little stagnant. But sometimes, those cliches are truly welcome, because of how comforting and fluffy they can be. Like the drama and angst might be a lot, but you know your heart will be swooning when you get to that first kiss.
And really, it’s how these romance manhwa portrays things like love at first sight, or loyalty, that makes you stay and read more of it. It’s magical, or beautiful, or even tragic. But it does pull you in like nothing else. And if you want to dip your toes into the genre, here are our top 30 best romance manhwa to sink your teeth into!
Who Made Me A Princess?
I mean, haven’t we all dreamt of reincarnating as the main protagonist of our favourite romance novel?
Except that’s exactly what happens in Who Made Me A Princess, where one South Korean woman wakes up to find herself in a new world. With her old identity gone, she in now Athanasia, the lost princess of the Obelian Empire. Which happens to be the plot of the romance novel she was reading called The Lovely Princess.
But now she has the information her character didn’t have before. And Athanasia is determined not to give into her doomed fate once more.
So, this one might not count as a straight up romance, but that just makes it much more enjoyable.
Roxana is the story of, well, Roxana Agrece. A noblewoman who would normally be portrayed as evil or conniving. But her intellect doesn’t make her the villainess, in fact she’s the heroine. But in order to survive the chaotic environment of her plot, she needs to be just as ruthless as the people around her.
One thing is for certain, this protagonist might be a little crazy, but love tends to be blind anyways!
Honestly, this is one of the wildest manhwa I’ve read, simply because of how chaotic everything got.
If you’re a supernatural fiend like me, then the rom-com Oh! Holy might just be up your alley. The story chronicles one James Oh, a high schooler with a ton of friends he can relate to. Except all of those friends are ghosts and really, he’s just lonely. But things change when Holy, the most popular girl at school, decides to befriend the odd James.
Beware the Villainess!
Okay, you know how we were talking about becoming the heroine in our favorite romance novels? Well, what if you became the villainess instead?
Chaos ensues, of course! This is what happens in Beware The Villainess!, where a no name college student gets transported into the body of Melissa Foddebrat, the villainess of one of her favorite tales. And boy, is she unlikable. But as the daughter of a Duke, Melissa has some agency. And she’s using it to change her sordid fate!
A Symbiotic Relationship Between A Rabbit And A Black Panther
Look, it’s about a bunny girl and her budding relationship with a shape shifting panther. What do you want us to say?
A Symbiotic Relationship Between A Rabbit And A Black Panther is a mouthful of a title, but it’s really worth the binge. Vivi is a wererabbit who was abandoned by her family because she never shifted into her normal human form. But lost in the woods, she is rescued by Ahin, the heir to the Black Panther clan. What goes on after is the start of an unlikely friendship, with the adorableness dialled up to the max!
Yes, this is that Love Alarm. AKA The popular Netflix K-drama. We told you that some of your favourite shows started out as webtoons or manhwa!
And this one was a doozy. Imagine living in a world where you can find out who’s crushing on you by being in their general vicinity. Well, Love Alarm is an app that makes that nightmare a reality. How does Kim Jo-Jo navigate her place in a society like that? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out.
Again, what would I do if I didn’t put a vampire romance on this list? And this one was good enough for a live action adaptation, so you know it’s an instant must read.
Orange Marmalade revolves around Mari Baek, a high school student who hides her vampiric nature from the peers around her. Thinking she will never be accepted for her strange nature thanks to the discrimination, she feels doomed when she starts falling for a human boy who treats her with kindness.
The Maid And The Vampire
Refer to the entry above. Look, what can I say? Vampires make for great love interests!
This is yet another Otome Isekai, where one woman dies in a car accident, only to find herself waking up in a new world. In Soltera, Areum is presumed to be a vampire thanks to her hair, and she is quickly sold as a slave to the Duke Travis family. Why? Because the head of the family, Millard Travis, is the only other vampire in the world. How will Areum fare under the young master’s watchful gaze? That’s for you to find out!
Doctor Elise: The Royal Lady With The Lamp
Doctor Elise: the Royal Lady With The Lamp is adapted from an extremely popular novel series also known as The Queen With The Scalpel. And as the name suggests, our heroine is no bumbling damsel!
Jinhyun Song was a brilliant surgeon in modern day Korea, but that wasn’t what her previous life was like. Back then, she was a cruel woman known as Elise de Clarence and she is repenting now the best she can. Except none of that matters, because she dies in a plane crash, only to land right back where she started in her old life. Could things be different this time around?
Whale Star: The Gyeongseong Mermaid
Have you ever read a manhwa that felt less like a story, and more like a melancholy sonnet forgotten? That’s what Whale Star: The Gyeongsong Mermaid invokes.
A rather Joseon take on the old school Little Mermaid trope, Whale Star: the Geyongsong Mermaid is the love story between Su-a Heo, a maiden that spends her time by the sea, and Uihyeon Kang, a freedom fighter. During Japanese Colonial rule, Uihyeon gets injured and rescued by Su-a, who loses her voice in the process. So she follows him on t land, into a world foreign to her.
Listen, we all known Broken Heart Syndrome is a real thing, but what if we took that concept to the extreme? Like, you don’t need to be heart broken, just devoid of love.
In Love Deficiency, you literally can not survive if you don’t find a romantic partner, and soon. Because apparently, you just straight up start turning invisible and eventually cease to exist. Is that bleak or what? Well, that means love is a commodity and you have to secure it fast!
Can I just say that, in a sea of high school Shojou romances, it’s so nice to see a story from a mature perspective? Like, adults can have magical romances too.
And that’s exactly what Positively Yours sets out to do, with our protagonist, Hae-Won, letting loose one time and going out on a wild night. Why? Because she found out that her BFF and her crush are dating each other. Only to find herself pregnant after a one-night stand with a handsome stranger. Of course, she thought that would be the end of that, except the stranger, Doo-Jin, wants to take responsibility and marry her outright! What’s a girl to do here?
Author Of My Own Destiny
I love it when women in romantic manhwa can take agency for their actions and be the hero of their own story, while the men behind them are just there to support them.
Author Of My Own Destiny pulls from other popular manhwa with villainess redemption, but ends up being more engaging thanks to a genuine focus on Fiona Green, our protagonist, and her growth throughout the story. When she is reborn as the villainess destined to die at the hands of the virtuous couple, she sets out to change her destiny. Except one half of that virtuous couple, Seigren, is now a possible love interest!
Her Tale Of Shim Cheong
Again, this is another one of those historical manhwa that feel almost like a dream with how beautiful they are written. And it also happens to be a queer romantic manhwa, to boot!
Her Tale Of Shim Cheong is about two women from vastly different lives, who end up encountering each other following a tragedy. Shim Cheong is a beggar who supports her blind father, when she ends up rescuing a drowning bride from the river. The bride was the fiancé of Chancellor Jang, but only because she was sold to him to provide for her own family. Together, the two become each other’s confidantes, and much more.
A queer romantic manhwa with a disabled love interest? Talk about diversity. And it isn’t done poorly either!
Sign is a super cute and fluffy romance between Soo-Hwa, a part timer at Café Goyo, and Yohan, the main chef and co-owner of the establishment. At first, Soo-Hwa joins because he had nothing else, only to find himself enamoured by Yohan’s beautiful voice. As he learns sign language to better communicate with him, some feelings also start to emerge.
Yes. Even Business Proposal, the breakout hit K-drama of last year, is based on a manhwa of the same name. What can we say, manhwa just make great fodder for some cute romance.
Business Proposal is a romantic manhwa that follows Shin Ha-Ri, a dutiful employee of Go-Foods, who does favours for her best friend, Jin Young-Seo, by going out on blind dates impersonating her. Why? So Young-Seo can avoid being trapped into a loveless marriage by her father. Except it backfires when her next blind date turns out to be Kang Tae-Moo, the CEO of Go Foods and her boss. It gets wors when Tae-Moo apparently likes her despite every wild antic she pulls!
The New Employee
Okay maybe I had a slight thing going on with all the office romances. I’m not going to defend myself, because romances between adults can be just as heart warming as high school romances.
The New Employee is a queer romantic manhwa that follows the dynamics between Kim Jongchan, the head of the advertising committee at a company and Woo Seunghyun, an intern who just started working under him. What is really appreciated in this manhwa is how neither lead is shown to be conflicted by their sexual identity, and genuinely respect each other’s boundaries. It’s a very healthy romance.
See You In My 19th Life
I know the whole reincarnation trope is done to death in romantic manhwa, but See You In My 19th Life genuinely does something different with it.
Our main character, Jieum Ban, is gifted with the extraordinary ability to recall everything from all her past lives. Yes, all of them. And so far, she’s lived at least 18 lifetimes. But this time, her 19th turns, she wants to do something different. Jieum wants to reconnect with the people she left behind in her 18th life, romances and all. Who knows, maybe love does persevere across lifetimes.
Love At First Sight
As much as a whirlwind romance captivates us, sometimes a slow burn is what we really need. And Love At First Sight might not sound like a manhwa that takes it’s time, but it certainly delivers.
Love At First Sight starts out as your typical romantic manhwa, where a girl meets a boy when they were children, and they become friends. As they grow up, however, feelings start to evolve. Nothing happens for a while, of course. But that affection simmers and burns until it becomes something so much more concrete.
Karina’s Last Days
I feel guilty about putting this one so close to the top 10, but that’s because the plot and story here is so beautiful, I just couldn’t resist!
With an ominous title, Karina’s Last Days chronicle the life of Karina Leopold, a neglected eldest daughter in a family of extraordinaries, but she plays the dutiful daughter part without complain. Her only joy in life is her painting, which she can breathe life into. But when she learns that she might be dying to an illness, she runs away across the country to her fiancé Milian Pastellio, a man she had not met before. She asks him to let her live her last days in peace away from her family, which he obliges. However, neither anticipated what that would mean for them.
What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?
If I didn’t have this one on the list, someone out there would’ve commented about how I committed a cardinal sin by excluding it. And look, I’ll agree.
What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim is a classic amongst romance manhwa lovers. Not only because of it’s uber popular live action series, but because the story is just so iconic. You rarely get to see a male perspective where he pursues the love interest instead of vice versa, so What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim ends up being both wholesome and refreshing!
My ID Is Gangnam Beauty
We all know beauty standards in manhwa are kind of, well, preposterous. So, when a manhwa actually tackles that, and doesn’t make it a holier-than-thou situation? It’s interesting to see.
My ID Is Gangnam Beauty not only takes the trope of the beautiful but pure heroine and turn it on it’s head, but also counters the general hypocrisy of a society obsessed with beauty and shaming culture. With a rather honest romance bubbling inside, this manhwa will have you rooting for the main couple. And hey, it does the whole ‘ugly protagonist’ thing way better than True Beauty.
Cherry Blossoms After Winter
I. Love. Fluffy. Romances. Like, what do you want me to say? And it really doesn’t get any cuter than Cherry Blossoms After Winter.
After a young Seo Hae Bom is left orphaned, he is taken in by his mother’s best friend and starts living in the same house as Jo Tae Seong. Tae Seong is a quiet but introspective boy who grows up loving timid Hae Bom from afar. However, things change when they end up in the same high school class. Because of this, they end up growing closer and closer. Of course, sparks fly.
Seasons Of Bloom
If you like variety in your romantic manhwa, but with the same earnest story as everyone else? Then Seasons Of Bloom might be right up your alley.
There is no central couple to Seasons Of Bloom, but the plot does take place in Seoyeon High School. Each story follows past events, some tragic, and some satisfyingly happy. But every story here invokes the season it occurred in, adding a sense of nostalgia you wouldn’t expect. This is an anthology you can not miss.
After School Lessons For Unripe Apples
Adolescence is such a weird time for anyone, especially with puberty affecting teenaged brains like it does. And After School Lessons For Unripe Apples captures that feeling so well.
Mi-Ae is our main narrator, stuck in that awkward stage of being a teenager that doesn’t really stand out. However, she prefers that, living her life binging comic books and obsessing over the Fire Boys, a boy band group. However, everything goes topsy turvy when an old face from her past joins school and becomes the class delinquent. What’s worse is the rumours that start around both of them, creating chaos in Mi-Ae’s quiet life.
Under The Oak Tree
Is this the most popular romantic fantasy manhwa in Korea right now? Look, either way, Under The Oak Tree has a huge following for a reason.
While it uses the same time travel tropes we’ve seen in fantasy romance before, Under The Oak Tree does it spectacularly well. Following the story of Lady Maximillian, who ends up dying at the beginning of the story in a loveless marriage, we see a rebirth happen. The stuttering main lead finds herself at a crossroads where she can start again as the wife of the aloof Sir Riftan, only changing things to help her have more agency in her life this time around.
Repeat after me: Enemies-To-Lovers is simply the superior romance trope, and it never fails to deliver. And, oh boy, is Semantic Error the pinnacle of that fact.
Chun Sang Woo is practically a robot, with everything in his life optimized to serve him the best. Of course, that also means he’s very unlikable, considering how he never shows any emotions. This gets him into trouble when he gives a group presentation alone, throwing everyone who was slacking under the bus. One of those people turn out to be Jan Jae Young, one of the most popular guys at their university. So, what happens when these two opposites clash? Well, they attract.
The Remarried Empress
I’ve talked ad nauseum about the Remarried Empress, and for good reason. It’s such a good role reversal romance manhwa, with beautiful art too.
On the surface, Navier Trovi and King Heinley were the perfect royal couple. That is, until he brings home a new consort named Rashta. To add insult to injury, she’s also pregnant. Now the Empress is being painted as elitist scum, where Rashta is the Queen Of the Commoners. How does one tackle being humiliated so? Well, getting a public divorce and marrying the new king of the Eastern Empire is an idea.
Something About Us
I love stories where the relationship grows gradually. It not only mimics what happens in real life, but shows how friendship and romance don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Something About Us is about the budding romance between Doh Gayoung and Han Woojin, two best friends that are practically joined by the hip. And because of their closeness, many people confuse them for being a couple, which they disagree with. However, the two begin to realise that being together might not be that big of a stretch here.
Like Wind On A Dry Branch
When I first discovered this romance manhwa, I remember being disgruntled by how ‘slow’ it seemed. Now, I consider it a masterpiece with some of the most poignant writing.
Like Wind On A Dry Branch is so well written, it feels like poetry. Reita Tristi, our protagonist, starts out as an outcast widow at the mercy of a cruel lord, thanks to a plague that has razed the lands. That is, until she is rescued by an infamous Prince to join his harem. Of course, nothing is quite what it seems, because the Harem is less ‘concubines’ and more ‘extraordinary women who are employed by the prince to aide those in need’. And the relationship that grows between Reita and the Prince? It’s nothing like you’ve ever seen.
Boy, this one was a long article. But I’m glad to share some of my favourite stories here for anyone willing to take a peek into the wonderful world of manhwa. Happy reading to you all!