Leadership Network Asia Favs - TV Series

Find out what the best TV series with an Asia angle are according to Foundation staff and Leadership Network members.

Each month we delve into the combined wealth of knowledge of the Leadership Network and Foundation staff to publish a list of favourites in/of/about Asia - it might be books, movies, islands, restaurants.... For this, the inaugural month of Favs, we're kicking things off with favourite TV series with an Asia angle.

For next month's Asia Favs, we're asking you to tell us about your favourite market in Asia - where it is, what it sells and why you love it. Email your pick to [email protected]

Kim's Convenience

Arina Aizal - Dunedin-based Leadership Network member

My favourite series with an Asian focus is Kim's Convenience on Netflix! It is a Canadian sitcom about a migrant family from Korea, who run a convenience store. I love how the story shows the different ways generations adapt to their new home, and how some of their cultural values shift or remain the same  over time. Definitely a recommendation!

Eternal Love

Lizzie Chan - Leadership Network member based in Hong Kong

I absolutely love Eternal Love (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms) 三生三世 十里桃花. It's a Chinese romance fantasy drama with gods and demons and an epic love story that spans three different "lives" lived by the protagonists. It's available on YouTube with English subtitles.

Street Food Asia

Ned Wotherspoon - Foundation website manager

While the food is central to each episode, the show is really about the lives of those making it. You learn about how the street-stall owners developed their specialty dishes and meet their families and the communities in which they live. Some of the recipes have been handed down and perfected by generations of the same family and you find out about how each generation built up the business and the difficulties they had to overcome along the way. If you like food and learning about the lives or ‘ordinary’ people, then you’ll love this show. Very binge-able.

Sigeuneol (Signal) 

Rebecca Palmer - Foundation director communications

Signal (Netflix) Sigeuneol  is an addictive detective series from 2016. The first episode opens with a kidnapping and murder of a schoolgirl and runs at a fantastic pace as police investigators try to beat the statute of limitations on the case, with the timer clicking down to the very last second.

But even better than your standard police procedural, Signal also involves a walkie-talkie connecting the years 1989 and 2015. This device enables present-day police profiler Park Hae Young to communicate with fellow cop Lee Jae-Han, who disappeared 15 years earlier. Working together with fellow detective Cha Soo-yeon (who is pining for her lost colleague) they’re able to solve old cases and even stop a murder or two.  Signal is inspired by real-life crimes in Korea, including the Hwaseong serial murders of the early 1990s.

Crash Landing on You

Adele Mason - Foundation deputy executive director

Following a comment about Crash Landing on You by journalist Anna Fifield  (author of “The Great Successor: the divinely perfect destiny of brilliant comrade Kim Jong Un”) on putting a human face on North Korea through the show's portrayal of characters in a rom-com series, I signed up for Netflix to watch it. It is a love story about a wealthy South Korean woman who crash lands her glider in North Korea and a North Korean officer who hides her.  Writers include a defector from the North, and I learnt that K-drama episodes average out at  over 90 minutes each!  Would recommend.

Ossan's Love and Reply 1988

Jordan King - Foundation senior research adviser

I really enjoyed Ossan’s Love, which is Hong Kong’s first primetime LGBT TV show….It’s a little corny but that reflects how new/unique LGBT themes are in mainstream public discourse. The show also prompted a bit of a furore among HKs conservative leadership. 

I also love love loved Reply 1988 – Set in Seoul in 1988 as the newly democratised country prepares to host the Summer Olympics. Really funny South Korean family dynamics/humour and great writing…