”South Korean entertainment has become the mainstream consumable item for worldwide users in recent years.
Though Kpop was already a popular music genre, Kdrama came into the spotlight after Squid Games became the most-watched Netflix show with record 1.65b hours.
Today, we will be looking at the top 29 best South Korean dramas to watch before you die.
Be it the US, Uk, or India, everyone wants to ride on the Hallyu wave, and Korean dramas are a must if you’re about that life.
Likewise, there are more Korean dramas that you need to check out today.
But before we move forward, please note that this article is curated from internet resources and doesn’t represent the writer’s point of view or doesn’t try to rank shows.
All the k-dramas mentioned here are highly popular and can be subjective to each viewer’s likes/dislikes. So without any further ado, let’s jump straight right into our list of the best and top-rated Korean dramas to watch today.
Note: There might be some minor spoilers, so be prepared.
29 must-watch Korean dramas of all time
1. True Beauty
Inspired by the webtoon with the same name, “True Beauty” takes a dig inside the world of women and describes the current society from a girl who thinks she is ugly. She uses the power of make-up and transforms herself into a beautiful young woman. However, her past interferes with her current self, creating all sorts of new problems in her life.
2. Strong Girl Bong-Soon
‘Strong Girl Bong-Soon’ can be best described as a slapstick comedy show with superpower elements. In a nutshell, ‘Strong Girl Bong-Soon’ revolves around a powerful girl that possesses superhuman powers. The series is ridiculous in the storyline, but the actors did a fantastic job bringing the hidden message behind the narrative.
3. Crash Landing On You
‘Crash Landing On You’ follows the story of two people who met by accident and slowly fell in love. While the basic plot sounds boring, the actual story is exciting and will keep you at the edge of your emotional roller coaster seats. To break the ice here, the female character, played by Son Ye-Jin, is a South Korean citizen, while the male lead, played by Son Ye-Jin, is a North Korean soldier.
4. Reply 1994
“Reply 1994” is a sweet story of friends in a small neighborhood. It is a slice of life drama that depicts the life of 5 friends who are in their teenagehood, experiencing life as individuals in the 80s era of South Korea. The drama revolves around the daily life of the main leads as they grow through puberty and friendship. If you want to live in the 80s Korean era, you should add Reply 1994 to your watchlist.
5. The Uncanny Counter
Inspired by Webtoon “Amazing Rumor” by Jang Yi, “The Uncanny Counter” revolves around So Mun and his strange adventures with the paranormal. So Mun, a disabled kid with a limp, gets caught by the Counters, a team of paranormal experts fighting evil spirits and bringing peace to the world. Right from the production to each character, you’ll love the show as a whole.
6. Hotel del Luna
“Hotel Del Luna” is a beautiful show starring some of the best Korean actors and actresses. The show mainly revolves around a mythical hotel named Hotel del Luna. On the surface, Hotel del Luna is like an ordinary hotel with rooms, friendly staff, and guest houses. However, as the story unravels, we witness strange phenomena in the hotel that defies all logic and common sense.
7. 100 Days My Prince
“100 Days My Prince” revolves around Joseon period families, especially the crown prince Lee Yool. After suddenly disappearing from the palace, Lee Yoo returns to his kingdom after 100 days. Now, the question arises what happened to Lee Yoo in those 100 days? Meanwhile, Hong-Sim embarks on a journey with her private detective agency to uncover the truth about Lee Yoo’s disappearance.
8. Hospital Playlist
“Hospital Playlist” is a classic example of a series well executed. The characters, the storylines, and the compassion between the characters make this drama worth it. The plot revolves around five friends who aim to become doctors, all of whom accomplish their goals. However, getting a job as a doctor will not fix your relationship and life. The show delivers a powerful insight into the world of doctors and how their profession takes a toll on their personal life.
9. Itaewon Class
“Itaewon Class” is a classic show about never giving up. The motivation behind the lead characters and the will to stay committed to your ideals are some of the essences behind the success of this show. “Itaewon Class” revolves around a schoolboy who meets unfortunate events one after another. Instead of fighting back and taking revenge on his detractor, Park Sae Roy plans everything and takes control of the long history of resentment and hatred. Those who have been hurt before and want a motivational boost in life can watch this drama to get that extra punch of motivation.
“Goblin” is a gorgeous show that brings back the element of gods, destiny, and immortality. The story is so powerful that it creates a big void between liking the lead actors and praising the writers. Though we don’t want to give any spoilers in this article, “Goblin” is such a show that most k-drama enthusiasts have encountered it before. It is less of a show and more of a cultural phenomenon. To better understand what we are saying here, know that EXO’s Park Chanyeol recorded a song for the “Goblin” OST.
11. The World of the Married
The “The World of the Married” revolves around the life of a couple who are on the brink of breaking up. However, the constant betrayals, lying, and backstabbing take a sinister turn of events, leading the characters on the path of crime. In a nutshell, The World of the Married is about two people trying to outsmart each other while being married. Watch the trailer right now to get a better overview of this 2020 thriller South Korean drama.
12. Boys Over Flowers
“Boys Over Flowers” is again added to the list of the best South Korean drama you need to watch ASAP. Based on the Japanese manga with the same name, “Boys Over Flowers” raised the bar high with its high-quality products and unforgettable characters. In 2009, Korean dramas were seen as a Korea-only entertainment product, and global viewership was less than today. However, “Boys Over Flowers” broke the rule, and international viewers finally accepted Korean dramas as a significant form of entertainment.
“Vincenzo” is a modern take on the Italian mafia world, envisioned with the eyes of legendary director Kim Hee-won and screenwriter Park Jae-bum. The story revolves around Park Joo-Hyung (Song Joong-ki) and how his life was turned upside down when an Italian family adopted him. As the story progresses, we witness many new incidents in Park Joo-Hyung’s life and how his affiliation with the Italian mafia affects his once-innocent self. Under 20 episodes, “Vincenzo” takes away the breath of a K-drama lover with excellent storytelling and character development.
14. The Heirs
This show will make you realize how poor you are and how good your life is. “The Heirs” revolves around Kim Tan (Lee Min-ho) as he embarks on a journey to learn the art of wealth at a sophisticated school. At school, wealthy kids learn the way of the rich to take over their family business in the future. “The Heirs” is about rich kids learning to become affluent adults.
15. What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim
Based on the web novel by Jung Kyung-Yoon, “What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim” revolves around vice-chairman Lee Young-Joon (Park Seo-Joon) and secretary Kim Mi-so (Park Min-young). The two share a traumatic experience in the past and try to heal each other while fighting their inner demons. This show is a must for every beginner k-drama lover because it gives you insight into K-drama writing and pace.
The “Healer” is an action-based South Korean drama starring some of the biggest names in the Korean entertainment industry. The show revolves around three individuals who uncover the truth from a decades-old incident that shattered the ground of journalism and media reporting. Viewers coming from “Sherlock Holmes” will enjoy “Healer” because it has all the elements of crime, thriller, action, and drama.
17. Zombie Detective
“Zombie Detective” follows the story of Kim Moo-young/Kang Min-ho (Choi Jin-hyuk), who accidentally becomes a zombie and decides to uncover the truth behind his death. Gong Sun-Ji (Park Ju-Hyun) accompanies him on his comedic journey as a detective intern. This show is for horror-comedy fans or people who tend to laugh in serious situations. If you want some serious laughs, then “Zombie Detective” is for you.
18. Welcome to Waikiki
“Welcome to Waikiki” is a fresh take on slapstick comedy, with each character having a story of their own. From struggling actors to broke directors, “Welcome to Waikiki” is a must for people who have just started their K-drama journey. The show is impressive with its comedy timing and doesn’t hesitate to show the flawed side of its characters. What are you doing with your life if you haven’t watched this show?
19. Secret Garden
“Secret Garden” is a beautiful drama that revolves around two important characters who are the polar opposite of each other. Kim Joo Won (Hyun Bin) is an eccentric CEO who maintains perfection in everything he does, and Gil Ra Im (Ha Ji Won) is a lively woman who neglects perfection and finds beauty in the smallest of things. You’ll slowly and steadily love the character and chemistry they pull off in under 20 episodes.
20. It’s Okay to Not be Okay
‘It’s Okay to Not be Okay’ is a must for everyone that loves unconditional love. The story revolves around stoic Moon Gang Tae (Kim Soo Hyun), who works as a community health worker, and the badass children’s book author Ko Moon Yeong (Seo Ye Ji), who doesn’t abide by her author’s image and hates everything.
21. While You Were Sleeping
“While You Were Sleeping” takes the fantasy elements and mixes them with crime and thriller. The story revolves around three individuals who trigger an ability to see the future. In the midst of all this, you’ll also get a sweet romance story for all the romance seekers. “While You Were Sleeping” is a must for new and old k-drama veterans.
22. Kill Me, Heal Me
“Kill Me, Heal Me” is a 2015 drama that shook the world with its insane story and unforgettable characters. The male lead is a DID patient from a wealthy family who develops seven personalities and seeks help from a first-year psychiatrist doctor. Both the characters show depth in their roles, and the story progresses at a fantastic pace, keeping the viewers busy trying to figure out what’s going to happen next.
23. Start Up
If you have ever thought of starting your own company, you should check out “Start Up.” It’s a beautifully crafted show that realistically shows the ups & downs of starting your company. The story revolves around the young and ambitious Seo Dal-mi (Bae Suzy), who dreams of becoming the next Bill Gates of South Korea. The show is motivational and provides value with each passing episode.
24. Sweet Home
Based on the webtoon with the same name, “Sweet Home” takes a different route than your typical South Korean dramas. For starters, it’s a survival-horror series that will captivate you with each passing second. Be prepared for some gut-ripping scenes and supernatural concepts that will make you question your reality of the unnatural.
The “Kingdom” is a fresh breath of air in the zombie genre and takes place in the ancient Joseon period of Korea. Unlike modern zombie thrillers, “Kingdom” dictates the story of the zombies from a political point of view. The lead hero Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon), is a crown prince trapped in a political conspiracy that leads him to uncover more than he can chew. Each episode will force your instinct to find the truth and help Lee Chang quickly.
26. Because This Is My First Life
“Because This Is My First Life” is a romantic tale of two broke individuals. Nam Sae Hee (Lee Min-Ki) is a bachelor in his 30s who buys a house but fails at saving money for daily expenses. On the other hand, Yoon Ji Ho (Jung So Min) is a poor single woman in her 30s who cannot afford city apartments. To fix the issue, the two characters start living together as housemates.
If solving crime is your specialty, you’ll love “Signal.” “Signal” revolves around Park Hae Young (Lee Je-hoon), who solves a case that changes his whole life and career. Packed with all the elements of crime, thriller, suspense, action, and drama, this show will keep you on your toes because you’ll never know what will happen next.
28. The K2
“K2” is an action drama that revolves around a dedicated bodyguard (Ji Chang Wook). After getting betrayed by his own country, Kim Je-ha goes rogue on his missing to find the culprit who framed him for the murder. The show has excellent action, drama, thriller, and everything you’d expect from an action blockbuster. Viewers from John Wick and Vincenzo will love this show and its storytelling style.
29. Oh My Ghost
“Oh, My Ghost” is a horror-comedy drama starring Park Bo Young and Jo Jung Suk. The story revolves around Na Bong Sun (Park Bo-young), who gains the ability to see ghosts because of her mother’s past as a shaman. As we move into the next episodes, the comedy takes over, and you will find yourself laughing at all the inside jokes that characters pull on each other.
Pew, this ends our list of 29 best South Korean dramas you must watch before you die. Let us know in the comment section which one you like and what dramas should be added to this list. We will try to reply to as many comments as possible.
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