The 60 Best K-Dramas You'll Be Completely Hooked On

Wait, how is it already 2 a.m.?

a still from one of the best korean dramas, Lovestruck In the City
(Image credit: Netflix)

If you're not watching Korean dramas, better known as K-dramas, then you're missing out in several ways. First, there's the big-picture, cultural impact to consider: K-dramas and K-movies have become a worldwide phenomenon, and if you're going to be a pop culture connoisseur/productive denizen of the entertainment-loving internet—and you're here, so you obviously are both of those things—then you need to be versed in all things K-drama. And then there's the more important reason to watch Korean dramas: They are addictive and amazing, and you'll thank yourself for adding them to your pop culture diet.

Known for their interesting storylines and intense (if sometimes predictable) plot twists, Korean dramas can go from super sappy to incredibly heartbreaking to "WTF, what was that?" in a heartbeat. That variety is exactly what keeps viewers coming back for more. Here, we've listed the 50 best-ever K-dramas to watch, grouped by the most popular genres—and if you're well versed in the more established K-dramas, consult our list of the best new Korean shows on Netflix in 2023. (And if you're looking specifically for the all-time best K-dramas on Netflix, best K-dramas on Viki, best Korean dramas on Prime Video, best K-dramas on Tubi, or best Korean dramas on Hulu? We've got you covered there too.)

Action/Thriller Korean Dramas

If your Korean entertainment knowledge doesn't expand beyond Squid Game and Train to Busan, here's where to start. These thrilling K-dramas are filled with action and intrigue, with some selections touching on societal issues in a similar vein to Parasite. (Also, so many zombies!) Your next stops: the best Korean action flicks, thrillers, and horror movies.

'Squid Game'

still from squid game kdrama

(Image credit: Noh Juhan/Netflix)

If you haven't yet checked out Squid Game, which is set to become Netflix's most-watched show ever, then here's one more recommendation: This edge-of-your-seat Korean thriller on Netflix is definitely worth a look. In the viral hit, a group of characters in serious debt sign up to play a series of children's games for a chance at 45.6 billion won (about $38 million). The catch? If the players loose at Tug of War or Red Light, Green Light, they die. (For fans eagerly awaiting season 2, here's everything we know so far.)

watch it on netflix

'Sweet Home'

song kang in sweet home

(Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)

If you enjoyed Korean movies like The Call and #Alive, you'll be able to stomach the gruesome monsters at the center of Sweet Home. The multi-season drama follows a depressed loner (Song Kang) who moves into a new apartment complex after the death of his family. After he begins to witness frightening things in the building from some of his odd neighbors, the building's survivors have to band together to survive a monster apocalypse. If you're a peek-over-the-blanket-type person when watching horror shows like I am, then I'd advise you to tune into this during the day time. (And once you dive in, make sure to catch up before season 3 arrives later in 2024.)

watch it on netflix


han hyo joo and park hyung sik in happiness kdrama

(Image credit: Studio Dragon)

This modern zombie drama is full of surprises at every turn, starting with being one of the only dramas to acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic. Officer Yoon Sae-bom (Han Hyo-joo) has been dreaming of having her own apartment when she gets the chance to move into a high-rise with her high-school friend, Detective Jung Yi-hyun (Park Hyung-sik). Soon after they move in, an infectious disease sweeps the country, with those infected getting a craving of human blood. The apartment building ends up quarantined, with Sae-bom and Yi-hyun trying to keep the peace amoung the eccentric tenants.

watch it on viki

'All of Us Are Dead'

still from all of us are dead kdrama

(Image credit: Yang Hae-sung/Netflix)

This heart-racing zombie thriller offers another unique spin on the genre, following a group of high school students as the zombie apocalypse comes to their school. The kids are left on their own as their classmates quickly return, and we see how they handle the survival challenge while also getting storylines of parents and politicians handling the virus outside the school. The most interesting part is how classic high school tropes (crushes, bullies, etc.) are twisted into thrilling plots.

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'My Name'

han so hee in my name kdrama

(Image credit: Min Jeehee/Netflix)

In this intense thriller, a young woman named Ji-woo (Han So-hee) sets out to avenge the death of her father, who was involved in the criminal underworld. She takes up a new identity as a member of the police force working with her father's old partner, Choi Mu-jin (Park Hee-soon). 

watch it on netflix


jung hae in in dp kdrama

(Image credit: Netflix)

This brutally realistic drama stars Jung Hae-in as An Jun-ho, following the young man as he enlists in the South Korean army as part of his mandatory military service. After his basic service, during which he struggles with the ritualistic hazing and "survival of the fittest" culture of bullying, he lands a spot in the Deserter Pursuit unit, where he's sent to catch soldiers who've gone AWOL. The stories of the deserters are intense, with the drama shining a light on mistreatment in the armed forces.

watch it on netflix

'Weak Hero Class 1'

still from weak hero class one kdrama

(Image credit: Wavve)

This brutal webcomic-based drama tackles school violence through a realistic lens, taking place at a boy's high school where the richest students are the most powerful. Bullied student Yeon Si-eun (former Wanna One member Park Ji-hoon) sees his tormentors as an obstacle towards reaching academic success and getting a scholarship to Seoul National University. Though he doesn't see much need for friends, he eventually finds allies in fellow class outcast Oh Beom-seok (Hong Kyung), and the school's best fighter An Soo-ho (Twenty Five Twenty One's Choi Hyun-wook). Fair warning, the eight-episode drama has major twists and a devastating ending that left fans clamoring for news on season 2.

watch it on viki


lee sang yi and woo do hwan in bloodhounds

(Image credit: Soyun Jeon, Seowoo Jung/Netflix)

This action-packed crime drama takes place in fall 2020, as families and small businesses struggle to recover in the wake of pandemic lockdowns. Gun-woo (Woo Do-hwan), a talented emerging boxer, works part-time at various jobs to help support his mom's coffee shop. One day the shop is targeted by Smile Capital, a company run by loan sharks who convince Gun-woo's mom to sign a predatory loan. Gun-woo and his new friend, fellow boxer Woo-jin (Lee Sang-yi), team up with a benevolent lender to bring down Smile Capital's boss, Myeong-gil (Park Sung-woong).

watch it on netflix


the cast of moving hulu disney+

(Image credit: Disney+)

This innovative, decades-spanning drama is the best superhero series that Disney has released in years. (Sorry, MCU.) It follows a group of super-powered parents with ordinary jobs (played by Zo In-sung, Han Hyo-joo, Ryu Seung-ryong and Kim Sung-kyun), who have passed their abilities down to their high-school aged children (Go Youn-jung, Lee Jeong-ha and Kim Do-hoon). The intricate plot jumps between the parents' backstories, including their involvement with the shady government operatives who may have had a hand in creating them, and the present-day storyline where Frank (Ryu Seung-bum), a vicious Korean-born American spy operative, begins hunting down both generations of heroes.

watch it on hulu

Romance Korean Dramas

These romantic K-dramas are for the fans of intense, sweeping romances that can span from heart-fluttering to heart-wrenching in one episode. (Think Bridgerton, but even more swoon-worthy.) If you want to spend 16-20 hours invested in a serious slow burn, look here.

'Crash Landing on You'

son ye jin and hyun bin in crash landing on you kdrama

(Image credit: tvN)

A South Korean heiress, Yoon Se-ri, gets caught in a storm while paragliding and finds herself blown off course into North Korea. Se-ri then runs into Ri Jeong-hyeok, Captain of the North Korean Special Forces and a member of the North Korean elite family. Captain Ri eventually hatches a plan to get Se-ri back to South Korea with the help of his squad, but not before they all tackle the obstacles that come their way—and then some. This drama mixes romance with comedy and ultimately tells the tale of two star-crossed lovers. It's currently the highest rated tvN drama and the second-highest Korean drama in cable television history. (Also, stars Son Ye-jin and Hyun Bin have since gotten married and welcomed a baby!)

watch it on netflix

'Business Proposal'

kim se jeong and ahn hyo seop in business proposal kdrama

(Image credit: SBS)

This 2022 rom-com drama has become the year's biggest hit so far thanks to its hilarious romances (and a super-popular kissing clip). Shin Ha-ri (I.O.I. and The Uncanny Counter's Kim Se-jeong) is a food researcher at a company that just welcomed a new president, Kang Tae-moo (Ahn Hyo-seop). When her wealthy BFF (played by Seol In-ah) asks her to go on a blind date for her and ruin it, the date turns out to be Tae-moo. The morning after the disastrous date, Ha-ri receives a call—Tae-moo wants to marry her!?! Their hilarious courtship, as well as the second lead romance, will definitely steal your heart.

watch it on netflix

'Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha'

kim seon ho and shin min a in hometown cha cha cha kdrama

(Image credit: tvN)

This country-boy meets city-girl romance starts when Seoul dentist Yoon Hye-jin (Shin Min-ah) loses her shoe during a visit to the seaside village of Gonjin. It's found by Hong Doo-shik (Kim Seon-ho), a jack-of-all-trades who does odd jobs around town. Hye-jin ends up moving to Gonjin, where Doo-shik helps her adapt to the new environment, and the couple slowly (and sweetly) grows feelings for each other.

watch it on netflix

'Coffee Prince'

promotional image from coffee prince kdrama

(Image credit: MBC)

This classic k-drama follows Choi Han-gyul (Goblin's Gong Yoo), the irresponsible heir to a conglomerate with a popular chain of coffee shops. One day he meets Ko Eun-chan (Yoon Eun-hye), a tomboy who's often mistaken for a man and has been the breadwinner of her family since she was 16. Not knowing Eun-chan is a girl, Han-gyul hires her to be his gay lover to get out of the blind dates his grandmother sets up. Han-gyul also takes over a derelict coffee shop, renamed Coffee Prince, to prove to his grandmother and ex-girlfriend that he is capable. As he's only hiring good-looking male employees, Eun-chan decides to keep up her gender charade to get a job at his cafe.

watch it on viki

'Boys Over Flowers'

lee min ho and gu hye son in boys over flowers kdrama

(Image credit: KBS2)

Boys Over Flowers is an old-school teen drama, focused on a group of popular/privileged/not-so-nice boys at the prestigious Shinhwa High School. The group, known as F4, bully others to get their way—until a working class girl named Geum Jan-di arrives at the school on scholarship and stands up to the boys.

watch it on netflix

'True Beauty'

hwang in youp mun ka young and cha eun woo in true beauty kdrama

(Image credit: tvN)

If you want to follow a high-school love triangle, then this hilarious coming-of-age drama is for you. High schooler Im Ju-yeong (Moon Ga-young) has an inferiority complex after being bullied for years by students and family members for her looks. After learning makeup artistry from YouTube, she is considered a "goddess" and becomes more popular at school. Soon she falls into a triangle between mysterious Lee Su-ho (Cha Eun-woo), who recognizes her through her makeup, and his former best friend Han Seo-jun (Hwang In-youp).

watch it on viki

'Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo'

nam joo hyuk and lee sung kyung in weightlifting fairy kim bok joo kdrama

(Image credit: MBC)

This drama has one of the most likable protagonists and the cutest friends-to-lovers story. Kim Bok-joo (Lee Sung-kyung), a collegiate weightlifter training for the Olympics, meets Jung Joon-hyung (Nam Joo-hyuk) a swimmer at the same school recovering from a psychological problem. The two athletes start out as reluctant friends, but watching them fall in love makes for some hilarious, heart-warming moments.

watch it on viki

'What's Wrong With Secretary Kim'

park seo joon and park min young in whats wrong with secretary kim kdrama

(Image credit: tvN)

This beloved rom-com stars Park Min-young as Kim Mi-so, the skilled secretary to chaebol businessman Lee Young-joon (Park Seo-joon). The job is demanding and Young-joon is narcissistic and self-absorbed, and after nine years at her job, Mi-so has finally decided to quit and start living her life for herself. However, Young-joon refuses to let her go, and eventually he realizes that his feelings for Mi-so go beyond professional admiration. On Mi-so's side, she begins to see her slowly-softening boss in a new life, leading to a genuinely sweet love story (and some top-tier kissing scenes).

watch it on hulu

'Our Beloved Summer'

kim da mi and choi woo shik in our beloved summer

(Image credit: Studio N/SBS)

Ten years have passed since high schoolers Choi Ung (Parasite's Choi Woo-sik) and Kook Yeon-su (Kim Da-mi) starred in a documentary together. Though they started out hating each other, the pair later began dating and stayed together for five years. Now, five years after the rough breakup, the two adults find each other back in their lives at the same time the documentary goes viral, with fans clamoring for an update. Will Ung and Da-mi fall in love again while filming the sequel? Check out this enemies-to-lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers(?) drama to find out.

watch it on netflix

'Semantic Error'

park jae chan and park seo ham in semantic error kdrama

(Image credit: Rakuten Viki)

BL (a.k.a. "Boys Love") dramas have grown in popularity over the years, and this acclaimed, college-based web series is a great intro to the genre. Strict computer science major Choo Sang-woo (Park Jae-chan) is placed into a group project with Jang Jae-young's (Park Seo-ham), the popular campus star. When Sang-woo removes Jae-young's name from the project because he didn't contribute, it ruins the design student's plans to study abroad. As Jae-young plots his revenge to torment the analytical brainiac, their feud blossoms into something more, as Sang-woo learns to follow his heart over his head.

watch it on viki

'Crash Course in Romance'

a woman in a blue shirt laughs while sitting next to a man in a blazer

(Image credit: Netflix)

This multi-generational romance has a little bit of everything, from a slow-burn love between mature protagonists, a sweet high school friends-to-lovers story, and a murder-mystery subplot (for some reason). Former national handball player Nam Haeng-seon (Kill Boksoon's Jeon Do-yeon) is now a devoted mother to her adopted niece Hae-yi (Roh Yoon-seo). When Yoon-seo shows promise at her studies, Haeng-seon becomes determined to enroll her in the elite hagwon (a.k.a. a private tutoring program) led by legendary math teacher Choi Chi-yeol (played by Jung Kyung-ho). In addition to Haeng-seon and Chi-yeol's eventual love story, the show also offers another thoughtful look at the excessive competition within South Korea’s education system.

watch it on netflix


bae suzy and yang se jong in doona kdrama

(Image credit: Kim Seung-wan/Netflix)

This heart-fluttering college romance is based on the WEBTOON webcomic The Girl Downstairs. Doo-na (Bae Suzy) was a member of the popular K-pop girl group Dream Sweet before she went into hiding due to mysterious circumstances. Won-jun (Yang Se-jong) is an ordinary college student who moves into a group home to discover his downstairs neighbor is a former idol. The two housemates from entirely different worlds slowly become curious about each other and let their respective guards down as the school year goes on.

watch it on netflix

Fantasy Korean Dramas

These sci-fi/fantasy shows range from modern to historical, and the magical elements can either be hidden among day-to-day life or blown out to encompass tons of lore Game of Thrones-style (though minus the gore, most of the time). K-dramas also love a good fated romance, so expect some mystical love connections.

'Goblin (Guardian: The Lonely and Great God)'

kim go eun and gong yoo in guardian the great and lonely god goblin kdrama

(Image credit: Studio Dragon/tvN)

This series, written by Kim Eun-sook, is the fourth highest-rated Korean drama of all time. The fantasy romance is about a modern day goblin, Gong Yoo, who needs a human bride (Kim Go Eun) to end his cursed immortal life. His life then becomes intertwined with a grim reaper, Lee Dong-wook, who is unable to remember his past. The story evolves as all these strangers' lives intertwine.

watch it on viki

'Hotel de Luna'

iu in hotel del luna kdrama

(Image credit: Studio Dragon/tvN)

The Hotel Del Luna is a refuge for the dead, a middle ground that helps souls pass into the afterlife. All souls pass on after dealing with their unfinished business in life, except Man-wol (IU), the owner who has been cursed to run the hotel for over a millennium, as penance for her sins. The hotel also needs a human manager to help it run; the next fated human is Koo Chan-sung (Yeo Jin-goo), a Harvard grad who discovers that he can see ghosts. As they work together, Chan-sung begins to unravel the secrets of Man-wol's past.

watch it on netflix

'The Uncanny Counter'

yeom hye ran cho byeong kyu yoo joon sang and kim se jeong in the uncanny counter kdrama

(Image credit: Netflix/OCN)

This show loosely reminds me of Ghostbusters, but with an eclectic group of characters who each possesses special abilities. The five-person group, called "Counter," work at a noodle restaurant by day and at night, hunt down evil spirits who have escaped from the after life to go after humans. (Their red tracksuits in the show are iconic and honestly would make for great group Halloween costume in 2022—just putting the idea out there.) This K-drama has been very well received by the audience and will have you binging all the episodes in one weekend.

watch it on netflix

'Tale of the Nine Tailed'

lee dong wook and jo bo ah in tale of the nine tailed kdrama

(Image credit: tvN)

You might want to keep the lights turned on for Lee Dong-wook's new show because it's a little scary (think scenes with ghosts and a water well à la The Ring). Aside from some minor scenes that make you shudder, however, the story largely revolves around his character Lee-yeon, a mythical fox known as gumiho, and a documentary filmmaker Nam Ji-a (played by Jo Bo-ah) who were once lovers in the past. (The foxes adopt human appearances, but have special powers.) Circumstances in the present bring the two on a treacherous journey that involves solving Ji-a's parents mysterious deaths and the two rediscovering their love for each other.

watch it on netflix

'Legend of the Blue Sea'

jun ji hyun and lee min ho in legend of the blue sea kdrama

(Image credit: SBS)

This fantasy romance show explores the relationship between a con artist and a mermaid who meet and fall in love. The mermaid, Shim Cheong, (played by the talented and beautiful Jun Ji-hyun) follows her lover Heo Joon-jae (Lee Min-ho) to land unbeknownst to him that she is a mer person. Juxtaposed against present day, the storyline also focuses on the two's Joseon-era incarnations, town head Kim Dam-ryeong and the mermaid Se-hwa. That pair met a tragic fate, so what does this mean for their current counterparts? Will Shim Cheong and Joon-jae meet the same bad fate?

watch it on hulu

'My Love from the Star'

jun ji hyun and kim soo hyun in my love from the star kdrama

(Image credit: SBS)

In this rom-com, Do Min-joon (Kim Soo-hyun) is a handsome alien who landed on Earth 400 years ago during Korea's Joseon era. He's been waiting for a chance to return to his home planet for centuries. When he has three months left on Earth, he gets a new neighbor, Hallyu star Cheon Song-yi (Jun Ji-hyun), who resembles a young woman from his past. Their romance will have you watching the skies hoping for an alien invasion (as long as they look like Min-joon).

watch it on viki

'Alchemy of Souls'

jung so min and lee jae wook in alchemy of souls kdrama

(Image credit: tvN)

Set in the fictional country of Daeho, this period fantasy takes place in the world of mages, who live as nobles and warriors among other mortals. Elite warrior Nak-su has evaded authorities by using a forbidden spell called "alchemy of souls," which allows her to switch bodies. When she jumps into the weak body of Mu-deok (Jung So-min), she has to re-build enough strength to wield her powerful sword. So she takes a position as a servant for Jang-uk (Lee Jae-wook), a noble who needs a teacher to help him unbind his magic.

watch it on netflix

'Strong Woman Do Bong Soon'

park bo young in strong woman do bong soon kdrama

(Image credit: JTBC)

This genre-bending action rom-com stars Park Bo-young as Bong-soon, a petite woman with superhuman strength. All the women in her family inherit this gift, but they can only keep it if they use it for the greater good. After witnessing Bong-soon as she single-handedly fights off a group of gang members, handsome gaming CEO Ahn Min-hyuk (Park Hyung-sik) hires her to be his bodyguard, as he's being threatened by an unknown enemy. While Bong-soon and Min-hyuk slowly begin to care for one another, the heroine is also put in increasing danger as a serial killer pops up in her neighborhood. (A Netflix sequel series, Strong Girl Nam-soon, aired in 2023.)

watch it on viki

Melodrama Korean Dramas

While many see "melodrama" and think of women in beautiful gowns slapping each other (and yes, that does show up), we consider the genre as anything involving heightened emotions of the non-romantic variety. Think intense jealousy, blood feuds, lifelong revenge plots, deep misery, and life-or-death situations. If you're not lunging for the "Keep Watching" button, it's not enough.

'The Glory'

park sung hoon and song hye kyo in the glory kdrama

(Image credit: Graphyoda/Netflix)

When Moon Dong-eun (played as a teen by Jung Ji-so) was in high school, she was severly bullied and assaulted by a group of classmates, led by the unrepentant Park Yeon-jin (Im Ji-yeon). The bullies run the aspiring architect out of school and leaves her with deep emotional scars, so much that she dedicates her life to getting revenge. Decades later, and having become a teacher, Dong-eun (Song Hye-ko) begins her elaborate scheme when she becomes the homeroom teacher of Yeon-jin's young daughter.

watch it on netflix

'It's Okay, That's Love'

zo in sung and gong hyo jin in its okay thats love kdrama

(Image credit: SBS)

This complex drama follows the building relationship between Jang Jae-yeol (Zo In-sung), a famous mystery novelist who lives with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Ji Hae-soo (Gong Hyo-jin), an ambitious psychiatrist with negative feelings about relationships. Though they don't get along when they meet on a talk show panel, they eventually get thrown together as housemates, and as they get to know each other, the duo helps each other heal from deep emotional scars. 

watch it on viki

'The Penthouse: War in Life'

eugene and kim so yeon in penthouse kdrama

(Image credit: SBS)

If you thought shows like Big Little Lies and Revenge laid the melodrama on thick, just wait until you take a bite out of this rollercoaster of a series. Penthouse follows three wealthy families vying for power in the exclusive Hera Palace community–a luxurious 100-floor high-rise that juts out of the Seoul skyline. Like its forebears, the series centers on three women who hide behind their various secrets and traumas with piles of money and their boundless ambitions for their children. Their world begins to crumble after a mysterious girl falls to her death and the trio attempt to cover up the location of her death to protect the reputation of Hera Palace. It’s messy, and I am living for it.

watch it on viki

'SKY Castle' 

cast of sky castle kdrama

(Image credit: JTBC)

This series follows the journeys of four women and their families as they try to maintain the status quo among the upper crust of South Korean society. The drama revolves around one mother's obsession with getting her daughter into an elite university by any means necessary...sound familiar? This one is a nice mix of romance, soapy drama, and comedy, so if you enjoy human-interest stories, SKY Castle is definitely the K-drama for you.

watch it on netflix

'The Heirs'

cast of the heirs kdrama

(Image credit: SBS)

This drama (also known as Inheritors) tells the story of a group of rich, privileged high school students who will one day take over their families businesses. The coming-of-age themes explored in the drama include identity, wealth, and relationships. One of the main characters is Kim Tan, a chaebol heir to Jeguk Group, who hasn't had the easiest relationship with his older half-brother Kim Won because he thinks Tan is trying to steal their father's company from him. To make Tan's life even more difficult, he ends up falling in love with his housekeeper's daughter, Cha Eun-sang, much to his father's disapproval and he has to compete with classmate Choi Young Do's sudden interest in Eun-sang too when she transfers into their elite school. Tan seeks to overcome all the obstacles to be with Eun-sang no matter what his family or friends at school say.

watch it on netflix

'Move to Heaven'

tan jun sang and lee je hoon in move to heaven kdrama

(Image credit: Netflix)

You'll need to gather some tissues before you watch this gorgeous story about life, death, and love. Geu-ru (Tang Joon-sang), a young man with Asperger syndrome, works with his father as a trauma cleaner, arranging the items left by the deceased and delivering them to their families. When his father dies in an accident, his uncle Sang-gu (Lee Je-Hoon) reappears and becomes his guardian. The ex-convict and martial arts fighter needs to learn to work with Geu-ru on the business, named Move to Heaven, for three months before he can receive the inheritance. The beloved show is best known for changing viewers' perspectives about grief and family.

watch it on netflix

'My Mister'

a man and a woman sit next to each other in front of glass doors

(Image credit: tvN/Netflix)

Another series known for eliciting tears, this melancholy, immersive drama tackles heavy subjects including depression and poverty, through its depiction of an unlikely and comforting friendship. (It's also a rare drama that has a platonic, rather than romantic, relationship between male and female leads.) Lee Ji-ahn (singer and actor IU) is a debt-ridden young woman who works several jobs while supporting her ill grandmother. While working as a temp at a construction company, she encounters Park Dong-hoon (Parasite's Lee Sun-kyun), an unhappy middle manager who supports his two unemployed younger brothers, and whose wife is having an affair with an executive at his company. The pair slowly recognize that they both have deep pain and strife within in their lives, and are able to help each other in very unexpected ways.

watch it on netflix

'Reborn Rich'

song joong ki in reborn rich kdrama

(Image credit: JTBC)

One of the most-watched dramas in South Korean cable TV history, this revenge drama stars Song Joong-ki as Yoon Hyun-woo, devoted secretary to the chaebol family behind the conglomerate Soonyang Group. When Hyun-woo is betrayed and murdered by one of founder Jin Yang-cheol's (Lee Sung-min) children during a succession battle, he wakes up in the body of the youngest member of the family, Jin Do-jun. With his new position, Hyun-woo forms a plot to take over the company and punish the unknown family member who killed him.

watch it on viki

Historical Korean Dramas

Korea's historical dramas, also known as sageuk, take place throughout the country's history, including the well-known Goryeo (10th-14th century) and Joseon (14th-late 19th century) periods. They can range from rom-com to political saga to even zombie thriller, with the customs of each time heavily affecting the story. Perfect watches when you want remember a simpler time (and yes, there are handsome princes and brave princesses).


still from kingdom kdrama

(Image credit: JUHAN NOH/Netflix)

Two subjects K-dramas do extremely well: historical epics and zombie horror. Put them together and you get the first Netflix original drama to become an international hit. As a mysterious plague moves through the country, a crown prince sets out to find the source. Luckily, this drama doesn't end at one season; a prequel film premiered in 2021, and there's been a long-rumored third season reportedly in the works.

watch it on netflix

'Mr. Queen'

shin hye sun in mr queen kdrama

(Image credit: tvN)

This hilarious genre-bending drama is a must-watch for anyone interested in a time-traveling, body-swapping comedy with a hint of romance. In the present day, Jang Bong-hwan (Choi Jin-hyuk) is the virtuoso, womanizing head chef at the Blue House (the presidential residence, so literally South Korea's White House). After he gets in an accident and nearly drowns in his apartment swimming pool, he wakes up in the body of the queen of Joseon, Kim So-yong (the stellar Shin Hye-sun). As the time traveler gets used to 19th century palace politics, they also need to contend with their irritating husband King Cheoljong (Crash Landing on You's Kim Jung-hyun), who's hiding secrets of his own.

watch it on netflix


kim min ha in pachinko kdrama

(Image credit: Apple TV+)

If there isn't already a label for the international, prestige K-drama, we're creating it for Pachinko. Created by Soo Hugh based on a novel by Korean-American writer Min Jin Lee, this gorgeous drama tells the tale of four generations of a Korean family living in permanent residents in Japan, spanning from Japanese-occupied Korea in the 1910s to 1980s Tokyo. With a cast including Oscar winner Yuh-jung Youn, Hallyu star Lee Minho, and newcomer Kim Min-ha, the saga of love, family duty, and perseverance is a must-watch tearjerker.

watch it on apple tv+

'Mr. Sunshine'

lee byung hun and kim tae ri in mr sunshine kdrama

(Image credit: Jisun Park)

This historical saga is based on real historical events that affected Korea (then Joseon) in the early 1900s. Born in Joseon as the child of slaves, Marine Corps officer Eugene Choi (Squid Game's Lee Byung-hun) returns to his native country, years after smuggling his way to the U.S. There he meets Ae-shin (Twenty Five, Twenty One's Kim Tae-ri), a noblewoman who's part of efforts to secure the country's independence against the threat of colonization. The two fall in love, despite their class differences and Ae-shin's impending marriage, against the backdrop of a changing nation.

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'The Red Sleeve'

lee se young and lee jun ho in the red sleeve kdrama

(Image credit: MBC)

This historical romance, based on a fictional novel about real historical figures, is a slow-burn that both warms your heart and leaves you in tears. Crown Prince Yi San (2PM's Junho) falls in love with one of his court ladies, Sung Deok-im (Lee Se-young), and wants her to be his concubine. However, strong-willed Deok-im wants to live her life freely, and rejects his advances. Eventually, she realizes that his love for her is true, and that together, they can create a better future for their country.

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'Under the Queen's Umbrella'

still from under the queen's umbrella kdrama

(Image credit: tvN)

This period drama has drawn comparisons to SKY Castle, though these ambitious mothers and children aren't competing for a place at a top university. Instead, they're princes and concubines of the king of Joseon, who are striving to become heir in a system based on talent and merit. When the current Crown Prince and Queen Hwa-ryeong's (Kim Hye-Soo) eldest son falls gravely ill, the queen has to whip her four younger sons into shape, or their lives as well as their positions will be in danger.

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'Youth of May'

go min si and lee do hyun in youth of may kdrama

(Image credit: KBS2/Wavve)

This romance takes place amid the Gwangju uprising, as local citizens took up arms against the martial law government. Rather than focusing on the tumultuous time, it shows the love story between medical student Hwang Hee-Tae (Lee Do-hyun) and nurse Kim Myung-Hee (Go Min-si). As the couple goes through hardships that are both personal and related to the era's politics, they begin to depend on each other and find themselves in a twist of fate.

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Professional Korean Dramas

Including the subcategories medical and legal, these dramas show workplaces or schools within a certain professional industry, with many covering cases or projects of the week. As with Grey's Anatomy and The Good Wife, the characters' relationships are just as important as their jobs.

'Hospital Playlist'

cast of hospital playlist kdrama

(Image credit: tvN)

Grey's Anatomy and other medical drama fans will want to dive right into this drama that depicts the stories of people working at a hospital. The five doctors have been friends for 20 years (they all went to the same medical school) and now they're colleagues navigating through a career centered around life and death. This show is currently one of the highest-rated Korean dramas in cable television history with two seasons so far and a third already confirmed!

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'Doctor Cha'