While anime fans tend to naturally take to manga due to the interconnectedness of the two media, it is a very different experience when reading manhwa. Being fundamentally different in the fact that manhwa is Korean, manhwa posits an alternative that can be just as expressive and as immersive as the anime and manga titles we enjoy. Being art in their own right, manhwa have the ability to bring out emotions in people and this time around, we’re looking at ten manhwa that will have you flooding your room with tears. Or at the very least, we can guarantee that you won’t be sunshine and roses when you’re done with these!
10. Can’t Lose You
- Authors: Wann
- Genres: Drama, Romance, Shoujo
- Volumes: 6
- Published: 2003 - ???
The two main characters are individuals who come from two completely different worlds but find themselves brought together by some very unlikely circumstances. Yooi is a girl who works day and night to earn money in order to one day pay off her father’s debt and reunite her family, while Lida comes from a privileged background and is in line to inherit a massive fortune and participate in a marriage she simply cannot wait for. When the girls meet, they realise that they look eerily alike and Lida makes Yooi an offer she can’t refuse: to be Lida’s double. However, soon after taking on the task, she is thrown head first into a world where assassins seek her head, but she also falls head over heels in love with Lida’s fiancée. Completely unaware of Yooi’s budding feelings for her future husband, Lida’s life continues as normal, but for how long?
A classic boy-meets-girl, but with an intense cocktail of curveballs, deceit and of course, the feels! The manhwa is quite dramatic and even the art captures this fact impeccably with great shots and panels accompanying the drama. Yooi’s personal situation is one of intense hardship and such things are really painful to think about and experience second-hand through media because it reflects some lived reality somewhere out there. However, Can’t Lose You keeps us in the realm of the outrageous with the host of precarious situations and romantic angst. Can’t miss out on this one!
9. 100% Perfect Girl
- Authors: Wann
- Genres: Drama, Romance, Shoujo, Psychological
- Volumes: 11
- Published: August 2006 – November 2009
Jay Jin is a teenager determined to prove her passion and determination to make art. J. Max is a foreigner living in Korea and doing business; however, there is more to J. Max than he lets on. There is nothing linking the two until they have a chance encounter in a hotel lobby. Will their attraction be strong enough to overcome the language barrier and the massive distance between them?
With the stunning art on display in this manhwa, the first impression is enough to draw you towards it. The contents make you stay, with the trials and tribulations of Jay Jin and J. Max being the catalysts for quite a lot of tears. That being said; however, 100% Perfect Girl is an intense read because it is packed with mucho drama! Our heroine, Jay, finds herself falling for an incredibly attractive guy, but she herself finds herself constantly desired! Oh, the confusion, the angst, the oh so romantic agony!
8. Sad Love Song
- Authors: Geo, Shin Ji-Sang
- Genres: Drama, Romance, Shoujo
- Volumes: 5
- Published: 2005
When he was still young, Joon Young was always teased because his mother owned a bar that served American people. When he meets a blind girl named Hae In, they become childhood sweethearts and Joon Young swears that he will always protect her. However, Hae In and their mother disappear without a trace one night, leaving Joon Young with nothing but his promise to Hae In. Hae In meets Gun Woo, who is the son of a rich CEO. With this meeting, a tragic love triangle forms between Gun Woo, Hae In and Joon Young.
Serving up a slightly undercover bit of social commentary, Sad Love Song takes the reader on an intense feels trip all triggered by our main characters’ pasts and the love triangle that develops around Hae In. This situation is particularly intense and over the span of a very low chapter count of 22, trust that you will get your dose of heavy feels, and you will get it very soon into picking up Sad Love Song.
- Authors: Park Tae Jun
- Genres: Action, Comedy, Drama, Supernatural
- Volumes: ???
- Published: November 2014 – Ongoing
Park Hyung Suk is an overweight and unattractive high schooler who has been badly bullied and abused on a daily basis. He lives alone with his mother and after being sent to attend school in another city to avoid his bullies, Hyung Suk’s life changes forever when he finds out that he has a second body. This second Park Hyung Suk is active when his original body sleeps, allowing Hyung Suk to attend school during the day as an attractive, sporty and innately talented student at a local art school and be in his old body at night. However, living two different lives can take a toll on one’s psyche.
Lookism is an incredible work of art for many reasons: the art, the characters and the best part – the themes. It touches upon a wide variety of themes relevant in contemporary human societies everywhere with a very likable protagonist and the struggles of each character are insane. The charm of it all is seeing just how human each and every single one of them is; despite various elements being severely exaggerated and completely divorced from reality, the manhwa does very well to make some of the more serious elements incredibly sobering. There are some incredibly beautiful relationships that come about in this work that really hit hard, particularly the protagonist Daniel Park and his mother.
- Authors: Hwang Young Chan (Art), Kim Carnby (Story)
- Genres: Mystery, Drama, Horror, Romance, Psychological
- Volumes: 5
- Published: July 2014 – May 2016
Seon Jin is a boy who can never find peace. He is relentlessly bullied at school because of his quiet and unassuming nature; however, the worst of his problems is at home, because there is nothing Seon Jin fears more than his own father. While on the surface, Jin’s father is a successful businessman and an all-round good guy, in reality he is a sadistic serial killer and Jin is his unfortunate and unwilling accomplice. This continues for years, but when Jin’s father sets his sights on the beautiful transfer student Yoon Kyun, Jin must make a choice: let her fall victim to the same fate as all the others, or be the bastard child who stands against his own parent.
Brought to you by the same duo who gave us the hectic horror Sweet Home, Bastard is just as intense as far as the thriller aspect goes. There is an unmistakable ominous aura that pours from the pages and the art is good too – all put together, the manhwa is hard to put down. Foreshadowing is the weapon of choice in this work; however, as the characteristic of this author duo is to slowly bring you into the chaos before letting it all rain down like blood in Jin’s dad’s apartment.
5. The Children’s Teacher Mr. Kwon
- Authors: Ho Woo
- Genres: Drama, School, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 6
- Published: April 2012 – November 2013
Ha Kwon, a former gangster, goes to a backwater town in order to fill in as a substitute teacher at a tiny school with only two teachers and five students. Having volunteered for the teacher post, Ha Kwon had no idea of what was in store, nor did he have any knowledge of those who came before him and couldn’t last. What lies in store for a gangster-turned-teacher in this remote village in the countryside?
We’ve said this about this manhwa before, but it needs to be said every single time: the overarching trope that rules supreme in The Children’s Teacher Mr. Kwon is the subversion of the gangster trope which involves the reformation of a former gangster. The gangster is then placed into a situation where they are expected to become a moral compass and even a compassionate saviour. Having seen this in the anime Great Teacher Onizuka, this manhwa takes you through various emotions as it explores the personal stories of the children in Ha Kwon’s class. As we get to know our characters, we also come to know Ha Kwon and the journey is definitely one that leaves its emotional mark.
4. Daddy Long Legs
- Authors: Do Chan
- Genres: Drama, Romance, Shoujo
- Volumes: 2
- Published: 2004 – 2005
The naïve high schooler Cha Young Mi is left to fend for herself after the tragic death of her parents. She is determined to complete her education come whatever that may. Young Mi is able to finish her studies with the help of an unknown benefactor, who had been paying her tuition fees and for other necessary expenses. With this help, Young Mi is offered her dream job as the program writer for a radio station and there she falls in love with her co-worker Kim Joon Hoo. When Young Mi receives a desperate message left behind by the former owner of her computer, she decides to help them out.
Daddy Long Legs’ greatest trait is none other than the romance that is a staple theme throughout the short work. Throughout, we’re shown a lot about Cha Young Mi and her kindness despite her extremely difficult circumstances, circumstances which are already enough to make one feel for her. With only twelve chapters, Daddy Long Legs is a really quick read; however, every page is worth the brevity.
- Authors: Riang Ryu
- Genres: Mystery, Drama, Romance, Shoujo, Supernatural
- Volumes: 3
- Published: 2002 – 2003
Karam is a high schooler who lives with her mother after the death of her father. She has a new teacher named Mr Lee, who also happens to be her mother’s new tenant. Lee seems incredibly interested in Karam but she has no idea why; however, Karam feels a strange connection to this man. However, Karam currently has a boy she likes, making this situation all the more complicated. Replay is a story of past and present lives and a story of love.
You can feel the angst as you turn the pages of Replay, and given the fact that it is a short read, it feels like a ball of tension throughout! The main character’s love triangle is apparent from the onset of the manhwa and it is so clear that her love interests, both Mr Lee and her classmate, Naru Song, have the hots for Karam! We are also graced with a fairly decent level of friction between Naru and the assistant English teacher. What attacks the heartstrings in this work is the relationships we see developing, as well as the characters in the work, especially the melancholy-looking Mr Lee.
2. About Death
- Authors: Hyeono (Art), Sini (Story)
- Genres: Slice of Life, Supernatural, Psychological
- Volumes: 2
- Published: September 2012 – February 2013
A series in which god has interactions with the individuals who are on the precipice between life and death. Where can the crossroads between life and death even be found?
Due to the fact that each chapter in this manhwa is a self-contained story, there isn’t much to say about what this is about apart from the overarching event: someone finds themselves having a conversation with the actual god. Each chapter is an emotional rollercoaster as we’re given brief yet pervasive glimpses into the character concerned; a character who is always just a human being, like everyone else.
- Authors: Ha Il Kwon
- Genres: Drama, Mystery, Psychological, Romance, School, Seinen
- Volumes: 3
- Published: July 2010 – December 2010
When Yoon Ah Ee’s mother died, her father and her little sister, Yui, were all she had left. Then her father racked up an enormous debt and ran away, leaving 16-year-old Yun Ai alone to shoulder the debt and take care of herself and her little sister. A rumour going around school about a crazy magician taking up residence at an abandoned amusement park. Rumour has it that this magician can make anyone disappear for good – Yoon Ah Ee finds out for herself as she finds herself experiencing a fated encounter with the mysterious magician.
Annarasumanara is a beautiful work to come into contact with firstly because the art is so absolutely brilliant; however, the rest of the beauty comes from the inherent melancholy that seeps through every single page. Sometimes it isn’t easy reading Annarasumanara as the characters are effaced with their own set of circumstances, particularly protagonist Ah Ee, who is particularly disadvantaged when both her parents leave. Also, without revealing too much, there is something very sombre about the magician our protagonist meets. Pick it up and experience the magic for yourselves.
There is something highly captivating about melancholy sometimes that is very difficult to understand or describe until you’re thrown into such states by external factors. Once you interact with some really sad media, you can in turn be moved into that disposition and the fact that manhwa can do that is absolutely amazing! What are some of your favourite eye-gushing manhwa? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think! Go on, let it all out.