In the last couple of years, the popularization of anime and manga has been taking the world by storm. Nowadays, reading and watching fictional animated stories is no longer frowned upon, and that generalization has been expanding to the world of Manhwa, the South Korean comics. These stories are known for including several elements and genres in the literary world, including sci-fi, psychological horror, and of course, romance.
Unlike what many may believe, manhwa ranges from all types of relationships and all kinds of stories, including psychological thrillers, Boys’ Love, and even fantasy and historical romantic relationships. This pluralism of genres, as well as the colorful strips with gorgeous art attached to their names, is what made this format so popular in the first place. On that note, for any romance aficionados out there, here is the perfect romance manhwa list to spend idling time away and falling in love.
20. December Rain (2017-2019)
Even if it is at the bottom of the list (because I just can’t place all of these in the first place), Lezhin‘s December Rain is the one romance that will make you rethink the meaning of happiness. This story is raw, tumultuous, and unexpected. This is the type of romance that will make you root for two underdogs, and you will undeniably leave the story feeling crushed. There is no better type of romance manhwa than one that breaks your heart in the process.
19. Ring My Bell (2019-2020)
There are contradicting opinions surrounding Tapas‘ Ring My Bell. Its almost cliché and generic story is often overlooked by GL fans, but ultimately, this romance manhwa provides a comforting story between Mai Sohn and Lee Chungyeon, perfectly encompassing the first-love bond and sweetness that comes with dating for the first time as a young adult, with an adorable hint of comedy to make it the perfect afternoon read.
18. Can’t See Can’t Hear But Love (2010-2011)
Can’t See Can’t Hear But Love is one of those stories that regardless of its longevity, will remain a classic among romance aficionados. The story is available on Toomics and revolves around the love story between a manhwa artist, who loses his sight and can no longer support himself and his disabled mother, and So Ri, a deaf girl who helps him overcome the numerous hurdles that come with being disabled in South Korea just as she unknowingly overcomes the same issues herself.
17. A Painter Behind the Curtain (2015-2016)
A Painter Behind the Curtain, albeit a romance, is not for the faint of heart. This gorgeous Tappytoon BL (Boys’ Love) story depicts a historical European setting where a painter is held captive by a gold-digging family and subjected to heavy abuse. Despite its heavy premise, this story beautifully delivers one of the most genuine love stories in the BL genre, complete with a fantastic conclusion capable of leaving every reader feeling true love.
16. Seasons of Blossom (2020-2021)
Seasons of Bloom was released in 2021 and quickly became a massive hit among romance fans on WEBTOON. Despite fitting all the criteria for a slice-of-life manhwa, it manages to avoid any generic or cliché storylines. All the characters are incredibly interesting and have been beautifully developed. The story’s gorgeous storytelling might even bring a tear to your eye, as it delves into several themes like mental health and bullying, making the narrative all the more realistic and relatable.
15. Our Beloved Summer (2021-2022)
Quite the perfect textbook slow-burn romance, Our Beloved Summer is the perfect introduction to the genre. In a story where opposites attract, this slice of life sees Yeonsu Guk, a top-of-the-class student who is diligently the perfect human specimen that any parent would be glad to have. On the other hand, Wung Choi is ranked dead last in the entire class, with his terrible grades and carefree attitude.
This manhwa serialized by WEBTOON received such immense popularity that it reached the screens all over South Korea with a live-action drama of the same name, receiving acclaimed reviews all over the country, bringing even more curious eyes to seek the original story by Han Kyoung-Chal and Lee Naeun.
14. The Love Doctor (2016-2018)
For all those seeking a unique premise with an incredible art style, The Love Doctor offers an insight into a completely quirky relationship that is likely rather unrelatable for most people. This story by Chamsae and Bansook follows the life of Jung Erae, a college student who is desperately trying to find a boyfriend, but is absolutely clueless when it comes to romantic relationships or men in general.
Seeking to find help in this area, she ends up contacting a love doctor, Cha Yoon, without expecting to start developing feelings for her female doctor. Albeit with a slight love triangle (or quadrangle), The Love Doctor completely appeals to every romance fan aiming to find a well-structured and gorgeous story to be introduced to the world of GL manhwa. This story is available on Lezhin US.
13. Ohh La La! (2020-2021)
Romcoms have nearly transcended every single barrier of fiction. With a casual yet hilarious dynamic, Ohh La La! portrays an easy-going and stable relationship filled with memorable moments only best friends turned lovers could have. Sufficiently capable of leaving anyone feeling as if they’re chronically single.
Unlike many of the entries on this list, this story by PocketComics is made up of pure fun and goofiness, with an obvious lack of dramatic events that are so often attached to the romance genre. It quickly grew within this genre’s fans for being a short yet lively story, that is easily re-readable as a comforting series.
12. Sign (2017-2020)
Created by Ket in 2017, Sign is the type of story capable of giving anyone cavities and a bloody nose in the process. Sign introduces the story of a near-bankrupt café and its deaf owner Go Yo, who hires a new employee, Soo Hwa, in hopes of improving the business. While with a difficult task at hand, especially because their coffee is terrible, Soo Hwa suddenly finds himself in love with his job, and most of all, with his manager’s deep voice that keeps crossing his mind.
Defying and tearing down the BL literary genre that prioritizes beauty, and perfection, this manhwa broke down all the barriers defying a pre-established norm that represents the exigent beauty standards in South Korea. Moreover, it is a beautiful and sensual story with incredible disability representation. It is available on Lezhin.
11. Trapped (2019- Present)
A compelling and supernatural story, Trapped by Haemuri is undeniably one of the greatest romance manhwas to have joined the genre in the last few years. Introducing the story of a foul-mouthed former convict Chae-a who suddenly finds herself blackmailed by Yunsu, a vampire, Trapped quickly became a success for introducing such a powerful premise alongside the typical enemies-to-lovers trope that is so beloved among romance aficionados.
This game of cat and mouse garnered an arsenal of trusty readers who tune in for this incredibly long story, which is — at the time of writing — counting 163 chapters. Despite its large assortment of followers, Trapped still suffers from one specific trait: it is incredibly slow-paced, so beware. Trapped is available on WEBTOON.
10. Heesu In Class 2 (2018-2020)
Completed at 79 chapters, Heesu in Class 2 is a very wholesome romance about two students who happen to be best friends – and polar opposites at that. Heesu, the main character, is a simple and plain character whose personality and looks aren’t exactly striking, whereas Chanyoung is the exact opposite – athletic, smart, popular, and most of all, handsome. This story follows the intricacies of school life and crushing on a best friend and the consequences of it all.
Published by Lezhin, this webtoon became rather popular from the get-go, not only due to its unique and adorable art style but also because of its accessibility and for being an easy-read comedic comic.
9. Winter Before Spring (2021-Present)
This webtoon follows the story of Hana, a kind-hearted girl who isn’t the most sociable student in class, and the new student, Yura. This new student has an intimidating aura, and no one dares to defy or go against her, while Hana is the exact opposite – a people-pleaser who does not stand up for herself.
This entire plot instantly builds up for a very endearing and engaging comic, especially for those who tend to enjoy their daily dose of school life plots and the oftentimes overlooked struggles of teenage girls. Winter Before Spring, published by WEBTOON, contains the pure trope brought in by slice-of-life manhwa, thus making it the perfect spring webtoon to binge-read.
8. What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim (2016-2018)
Filled with twists and just the right amount of suspense, What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim? definitely deserves a spot on every Manhwa list. Popularized by the Korean drama of the same name, What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim? became a huge success in South Korea and worldwide.
With a strong and reliable female lead, this Korean comic starts off with a very cliché enemy but soon enough it starts to develop into more complex and dark storytelling, creating a really compelling plot, with even more interesting characters who also happen to have great chemistry. For anyone looking to read this Manhwa, it is complete at 98 chapters on Tappytoon.
7. Something About Us (2020-2021)
From childhood friends to best friends, to crushes, to lovers- this is the banalest and adorable friends-to-lovers manhwa that one can encounter. Completed at 100 chapters on Tapas, Something About Us is the perfect binge-reading manhwa that will leave anyone wishing for more.
In South Korea, it is mandatory for men between the ages of 18 and 28 to attend military service, and that is exactly what the main character in this comic does. Woojin goes to the military for 2 years, while Gahyoung attends university by herself. This interesting plot, paired with a real relationship progression and slow character development makes for a great and compelling romance manhwa.
6. Positively Yours (2020-2022)
From starting with a one-night stand to getting pregnant, the romance between the main characters of Tapas’ Positively Yours is nothing ordinary. With an incredibly pragmatic and strong female lead paired with a passive and submissive male love interest, this webtoon shows a very interesting dynamic between these two characters who are very much extreme opposites and are now bonded by a child.
They slowly but surely start getting to know one another and developing feelings, tugging at the heartstrings of any slow-burn lover. This interesting start of a relationship with the drama in between surely makes up for a particularly engaging plot for anyone who is looking to read a passionate love story between two strangers.
5. Her Tale of Shim Chong (2020-2021)
Based on a Folktale, Her Tale of Shim Chong is the perfect manhwa for those looking to read a beautifully drawn romance in a historical setting. Following the story of a young beggar, Shim Chong, and Madam, the bride-to-be of a wealthy emperor, this comic portrays two sides of the same coin. After an unfortunate accident leads the women to have a fateful encounter, the pair who seemingly have nothing in common quickly realize that their pivotal meeting was definitely not at all accidental.
Grabbing the reader’s attention, the narrative and dialogue in this story are beautifully written, entangling the mysticism and historical contexts very poetically. This romance manhwa from Pocketcomics is the ideal read for anyone who wants to see a couple aiming to achieve their objectives in a very conventional world.
4. Bring The Love (2021- Present)
Bring The Love is an ongoing historical manhwa that is the absolute embodiment of “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. Available on Lezhin, the art of this webtoon, although not particularly captivating at first sight, grows on the reader. Nevertheless, what truly shines in this manhwa is its unique plot and storytelling. Leah, the main character, is an incredibly impressive and strong character who is very smart, calculating, and a former knight at that – her determination does not falter for a second.
With an equally strong and impressive aura is Roxant, the male lead. This realistic and incredibly well-written webtoon is an exceptionally good story, especially considering it picks up a very common historical trope and completely shifts the narrative to fit the characters, who are so special in their own way.
3. Cherry Blossoms After Winter (2017-2022)
Recently even more popularized by the drama that just came out by the same name, Cherry Blossoms After Winter is an incredibly acclaimed romance throughout Korea. The story revolves around Haebom, an orphan teenage boy who is an outcast at school, and Taesung, a popular and wealthy teenager who happens to be Haebom’s roommate.
This friend-to-strangers-to-lovers trope is very nicely developed, especially when paired with gorgeous art to match, thus making this Tappytoon release a great future read, alongside its lovable drama adaptation!
2. Cheese In The Trap (2010-2017)
Completed at 4 seasons and over 200 chapters, Cheese In The Trap is a manhwa published by WEBTOON that will hook even the most unromantic of readers. With realistic characters and coming-of-age struggles that any college student faces, this webtoon has it all.
From dark and eerie pasts to money struggles and college work, this is the type of story that anyone will relate to at some point. Topped with a gorgeous color palette and cartoony art style, this manhwa is a great romance to kickstart your summer reading.
1. See You In My 19th Life (2020-Present)
As for the top romance manhwa on this list See You In My 19th Life has it all, from a beautiful romance to an assertive female lead to supernatural elements. This is a story, just as the title suggests, about a character who has lived through 19 different lifetimes through reincarnation. During her 18th life, Jieum Ban met Seoha, whom she built a close relationship with, and became close friends, but unfortunately had her life cut short after passing away from an accident.
Due to her ability to remember her past lives, Jieum Ban is seeking to reconnect with Seoha. Maintaining a great balance between drama, mystery, romance, and comedy, this manhwa has incredibly nice pacing, and although it is not yet completed on WEBTOON, it still allows the reader to look forward to the next chapter, creating a story that appeals to any audience due to its strong grasp on the different genres it navigates through.
What completes and builds a good manhwa is the combination of great art, paired with good storytelling and interesting characters. Due to the immense amount of accessible and free online content, one can easily find incredible manhwa to read and engulf in, especially when it comes to romance.