I got hip to Korean soap operas or Kdramas last year through my boyfriend's mom. The first one that I ever saw was Boys Over Flowers starring the very handsome and popular Lee Min Ho. I've been hooked ever since. What I like most about Kdramas is its wholesomeness. It's easy to make a TV show "popular" with low brow humor rife with foul language, fighting, and gratuitous sex. These ratchet elements can easily overshadow bad writing and acting, and push the show to instant popularity. My understanding is that Korea is more on the conservative side and rules regarding what's showed on TV reflect that. If there's swearing in a Kdrama, it's one bad word every other episode. I've only seen two dramas that suggested sex and social situations are not usually based on petty conflict like in American reality TV shows. Most Kdramas that I've seen are buoyed by interesting story lines and characters. There's just no need for ratchetness to keep the audience interested.
So where can I watch these Kdramas with English subtitles? Well, there's Viki, Drama Fever, and Hulu. They are free with commercials but you can purchase a subscription for commercial-free viewing. If I've piqued your interest about Kdramas and you want to investigate further, I recommend Boys Over Flowers and City Hunter to start, both star Lee Min Ho. The former is a modern day Cinderella story where a spunky working class girl gets the opportunity to attend an elite private high school. She has to navigate being the poor scholarship student in a sea of arrogant privilege, bullying, and an established and rigid social hierarchy. Of course, there's the backdrop of teenage love triangles that adds another element of intrigue. City Hunter is an action packed drama about an orphan raised in the illicit drug producing region of the Golden Triangle by his biological father's army mate. As a young man, he returns to Korea in order to exact revenge on the people responsible for his biological father's death. In my opinion, this was Lee Min Ho's peak level of hotness. Both Boys Over Flowers and City Hunter are highly entertaining and binge worthy.