Mental illness and disability are some of the taboo topics that K-dramas directors usually stay away from. It’s really hard to portray disabled characters on-screen, and it’s even harder to make it believable to the viewers.
However, some Korean dramas have been exceptions in this format. After watching Extraordinary Attorney Woo, fans would’ve wanted more K-dramas like this. With that notion, why not compile a list of K-dramas about autism, disability, and mental illness?
If you want to see more K-dramas like Extraordinary Attorney Woo, here’s a list of 22 K-dramas worth watching.
23 K-dramas about disability and mental illness
Can You Hear My Heart?
Can You Hear My Heart? revolves around family drama, wherein Bong Woo Ri works her way to provide for her broken family. Her family includes a mentally challenged stepfather and a deaf mother. After an incident, Woo Ri meets Cha Dong Joo, a young man from a wealthy family. For some strange reason, Bong Woo Ri and Cha Dong Jo seem to click, and they soon learn they are related. Now, our main leads must find a way to accept their unforeseen relationship.
It’s Okay To Not Be Okay
“It’s Okay To Not Be Okay” also revolves around a broken family. The plot includes the main characters Moon Gang Tae, a community health worker at a psychiatric ward, and Ko Moon Young, a well-known author of children’s books, who comes across as highly narcissistic, arrogant, and harsh. While in the middle of these two individuals lies Moon Gang Tae’s autistic brother, whom he sores to protect at any cost, even as far as leaving his love interest.
Extraordinary Attorney Woo
Extraordinary Attorney Woo is a 2022 drama that revolves around Woo Young Woo, a 27-year-old attorney identified as having autistic spectrum disorder. However, her high IQ and strong memory put her first place in the prestigious Seoul National University for both undergraduate and law school. Working as a lawyer, Woo must overcome her fear of strangers and the outside world to succeed in her new profession.
It’s Okay, That’s Love
This drama revolves around Jang Jae Yeol, a mystery book writer and host of a radio program. During a radio episode, another character and Jang Jae Yeo were merely getting irritated with each other. After an incident with Jae Yeol’s lover, our main character goes into hiding and rents his own apartment to live with another tenant name Hae Soo. The K-drama also has Park Soo Kwang, a young guy with Tourette’s Syndrome.
Brilliant Legacy is a story that unfolds itself as the episodes go by. The plot talks about the story of Eun-Seong Ko (Han Hyo-Joo), who, after losing her mother, learns that her father has married another woman named Seong-hee Baek (Kim Mi-Sook). The family slowly breaks up the bond, and Eun-Seong Ko feels devastated when her biological father dies, and she has nothing to live for. Fortunealyt, a wealthy guy named Woo-Han Seon (Lee Seung-Ki), enters her life, giving her a chance to live again.
Park Shi On is the main character of this drama. The protagonist is an autistic savant and lacks empathy and mental maturity. However, he successfully completed his degree in medical school and joined a hospital as a pediatrician. While learning about the ways of life and work, Park Shi On journeys through the ups and downs of life, and we, as viewers, witness his journey through his eyes.
My Shy Boss
What happens when an extremely anti-social individual heads a company? Well, you’ll get that answer in “My Shy Boss.” The show starts with a young, enthusiastic worker who joins the company and takes a gid at her shy boss, who hides from the public eye and sits in a separate room from his employees, hiding behind another person who acts as the president of the company. However, the new employee had something else in mind that she wanted to confirm and expose the shy boss about who he was in reality.
SKY Castle revolves around the medical community for doctors SKY Castle with their families. The characters include Han Seo Jin, Noh Seung Hye, Jin Jin Hee, and Lee Myung Joo. They are brought up in the palace to become the best students and hopefully get accepted into prominent universities. After Myung Joo departs from society, a low-income family comes into the SKY Castle, and the whole ecosystem of the palace gets thrown to dust. The show has a lot of stuff going, and it is somewhat similar to the 2020 thriller drama The Penthouse: War in Life.
Mad for Each Other
Mad for Each Other is a Netflix K-drama about depression and mental illness. The story revolves around two individuals who have experienced traumatic events that pushed them into a cave of mental illness. Detective No Hwi Oh develops anger issues over the death of his colleague, and Lee Min Kyung is still struggling after her failed marriage, forcing her to create a shell around her, which prohibits her from trusting anyone or anything around her. A show is a must and only has 13 episodes so that you can finish them in one sitting.
White Lie revolves around a young pregnant woman named Eun-young. After being left behind by her ex-husband, Eun-young must work at a hospital as a nurse to get her ends meets, and while nursing at the hospital, she meets a patient named Kang Hyung-woo (Kim Tae-Hyun). The two slowly open up to each other, and a new wave of emotions comes back to their lives, giving them the happiness they had always longed for.
Heart to Heart
This drama is about the character Cha Hong-Do (Choi Gang-Hee), as she struggles with Social anxiety and extreme blushing in situations outside her comfort zone. Though she is very curious and loves reading books and surfing the internet, her simple life ends when her grandmother passes away. After the incident, Cha Hong-Do takes the role of a maid to make a living, and then she meets with Ko Yi-Seok, a famous psychiatrist in South Korea.
Hyde Jekyll, Me
Hyde Jekyll, Me revolves around the concept of split personality disorder. The story’s main character, Gu Seo-jin, has two distinct personalities; where Jekyll is a good person and warm to other people, and the other one Hyde is cold and anti-social. Despite his dual personality, Gu Seo-jin falls in love with Jang Ha-Na and tries his best to hold this relationship against all odds.
Where stars land!
Where stars land! revolves around the lives of workers at the Incheon International Airport. The story’s main character Lee Soo-Yeon (Lee Je-Hoon), starts working at the Incheon International Airport. Still, his reclusive attitude towards others keeps his distance from meeting new people and socializing. However, his streak of ignoring others ends when he meets with Yeo-Reum (Chae Soo-Bin) as she acts like a perfectionist, despite failing at simple tasks in the office.
The Girl Who Sees Smells
The Girl Who Sees Smells is a 2015 K-drama about a girl who loses his ability to taste and smell. After losing her little sister, officer Choi Moo Gak tries to track down the killer and comes across a woman named Oh Cho Rim, who develops a sixth sense, allowing her to see smells and odors. After meeting with the detective, Oh Cho Rim teams up with him to track the serial killer and get her revenge.
9 Seconds – Eternal Time
9 Seconds – Eternal Time revolves around the budding relationship of Yoo So Ra and Kang Yoo Chan, who develops feeling for each other using a magical camera that freezes time. However, every time they stop the passage of time, they’ll incur new challenges in their relationship, which become more complicated and complex as the challenges become harder. Amidst all the madness, the camera becomes the only thing that keeps them together.
Kill Me Heal Me
Kill Me Heal Me is one of the best K-dramas of 2015, featuring the concept of Dissociative identity disorder (DID), wherein the main character, Cha Do Hyun (Ji Sung), develops the disorder and his whole life comes cruising down. Though he is a third-generation business heir, Cha Do Hyun’s (Ji Sung) life comes crashing down, and amidst all the madness, he meets Oh Ri Jin, who tries to save him but falls in love with one of his personalities.
Soul Mechanic, or “Fix You,” is one of the best K-dramas released in 2020. It is a story about a quirky doctor and a rising celebrity with severe emotional scars. Though the doctor has great compassion for his patients, whom he treats as his family, and provides home-like comfort, he meets his match when the musical actress Han Woo Joo arrives at the hospital with her anger management issues.
Flower Boy Next Door
One of the more popular K-dramas on this list, Flower Boy Next Door, follows a love triangle between three main characters. The story follows Go Dok Mi, a lonely woman, Enrique Geum, another neighbor, and Oh Jin Rok, who is the crush of Go Dok Mi. These three creates chaos in each other’ life trying to get the person they like. The drama focuses more on the rom-com part of the show and delivers exceptional good storylines and plots throughout the series.
Secret Garden is one of the more popular K-dramas of the last two decades. The show was released in 2010 and still holds a special place in Kdrama lovers. The story revolves around Kim Joo Won, an arrogant and eccentric CEO who tries his best to appear perfect in every situation. However, his perfection drops dead when he mistakes the stunt woman Gil Ra I’m for an actual actress. These encounters slowly develop into affection, and a new world of opportunities opens for them. And, did I forget that the main leads exchange bodies?
Move to Heaven
Move to Heaven is a popular K-dramas and mostly likely similar to Extraordinary Attorney Woo. The main lead Young Get-Ru (Tang Joon-Sang), has Asperger syndrome, but he is motivated by his work at “Move To Heaven,” his father’s company. After his father’s death, Young Get-Ru gets swooped under the rug by his uncle Sang-Gu (Lee Je-Hoon). Young Get-Ru must fight against all odds and become the true owner of his father’s fortune while also opening operating “Move To Heaven.”
Clean With Passion For Now
This drama tells the story of Jang Sun-Gyeol, a cleaning business owner who has mysophobia (fear of germs). While doing one of his daily routine work, Jang Sun-Gyeol meets with Gil O-Sol, who doesn’t mind getting dirty and is positive about life, people, and journey. While spending time with Gil O-Sol, Jang Sun-Gyeol slowly overcomes his mysophobia and falls head-over-heals with the woman that changed his life for the better.
A Man’s Story
As for the last K-drama about disability and mental illness, we have “A Man’s Story.” This K-drama revolves around the character Kim Shin (Park Yong Ha), who loses everything in his life after his fiancée (Park Si Yeon) up with him.
Additionally, his father’s business fails, and his brother commits suicide, forcing him to end up in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Kim Shin then decides to take on the challenge and devise the perfect plan to get revenge on his wrongdoers.