Whether You Love Zombies or Rom-Coms, These 30 K-Dramas Have You Covered
K-dramas have truly become a worldwide phenomenon because nowadays, you can find them on just about every streaming service. Netflix is home to some of the most viral ones, like “Squid Game” and “Hellbound,” both of which are fast-paced series that have their characters facing deadly scenarios. But there’s so much to this genre than just these two powerhouse K-dramas.
While there are many more action-packed K-dramas out there just like them, others are coming-of-age stories like “A Love So Beautiful “and “True Beauty”, which revolve around teens experiencing their first love, and their first heartbreak. Rom-coms are also another huge category of K-dramas, with shows like “Her Private Life” and “Strong Woman Do Bong-soon” becoming massive hits due to their brilliant writing and comedic timing.
Since there are so many K-dramas available, it can be overwhelming to decide where to start. To take the guesswork out of deciding on which K-drama to start with, we’ve compiled a list of the best and newest series to help you begin your next binge session. From fantasy and crime to action and romance, there’s sure to be a K-drama on this list that sounds appealing, no matter what kind of genre you’re into. So, without further ado, here are the 30 best K-dramas of all time that you can watch right now.
Based on the webtoon of the same name, “Hellbound,” which is directed by Yeon Sang-ho, (“Train to Busan”) is a dark fantasy series about supernatural beings kill people and condemn them to Hell. The show, which is only six episodes long, takes viewers on a thrilling ride as they meet characters like Jung Jin-soo (Yoo Ah-In), who’s the leader of a cult called The New Truth that rises to prominence amid the chaos, and a detective named Jin Kyung-hoon (Yang Ik-joon), who’s trying to find out what’s causing the attacks. Filled with mystery, action, and gore, “Hellbound” is a must-watch series for those looking for something scary and fast-paced.
If you’re looking for a show with a badass female lead, you won’t be disappointed with “My Name.” This eight-episode series is about a woman named Yoon Ji-woo (Han So-hee) who is seeking revenge on the cop who killed her father. In an effort to find answers, Ji-woo joins an organized crime ring, which is led by her father’s friend Choi Mu-jin (Park Hee-soon), and becomes their mole for the police force. Each episode will keep you on the edge of your seat as Ji-woo gets closer and closer to the truth behind her father’s murder. Besides its intriguing storyline and action-packed scenes, viewers will fall in love with the show’s leading star, whose role in “My Name” is nothing like Han has ever done before.
"Crash Landing On You"
A paragliding accident causes a wealthy South Korean woman Yoon Se-ri (Son Ye-jin) to make an emergency landing in North Korea, where she encounters Captain Ri Jeong-hyeok (Hyun Bin), a North Korean army officer who tries to hide her from the authorities. After spending time together, Se-ri and Jeong-hyeok fall in love, and viewers are glued to their screens as they watch the couple’s relationship grow over the course of the series. Due to the show’s beautiful cinematography and the actors’ natural chemistry, “Crash Landing On You” is considered one of Netflix’s most popular K-dramas. In fact, it was such a huge hit following its December 2019 premiere that it became the second-highest-rated cable drama in South Korea.
In “Nevertheless,” Park Jae-eon (Song Kang) and Yoo Na-bi (Han So-hee) are art students who aren’t looking to get into serious relationships. Jae-eon is a flirty guy who plays hard to get and has a hard time expressing his feelings to others, while Na-bi vows to never love someone again after her previous boyfriend, Yoo Hyeon-woo (Choi Sung-jae), broke her heart. After meeting at a bar, Jae-eon and Na-bi begin a casual relationship with no labels, but they gradually catch real feelings for each other. Things only get more complicated when Na-bi discovers that Jae-eon has been hanging out with his ex, Yoon Seol-ah (Lee Yul-eum). Na-bi’s childhood friend, Yang Do-hyeok (Chae Jong-hyeop), who’s always been in love with her, also comes into the picture, further complicating things.
“Navillera” is about a retired old man named Shim Deok-chool (Park In-hwan) who always wanted to be a dancer, but gave it up in order to work a quiet job as a mailman to support his family. After turning 70 years old, Deok-chool decides to attend a dance academy to finally fulfill his life-long dream to be a ballet dancer. There, he meets Lee Chae-rok (Song Kang), a 23-year-old prodigy who takes on the role of Deok-chool’s teacher, while the old man agrees to be Chae-rok’s manager. Through the series’ 12 episodes, viewers learn the importance of following your dreams and living life without regrets, making it one of the most inspirational K-dramas Netflix has to offer.
If you enjoy actor Park Seo-joon’s works, you’ll likely enjoy “Itaewon Class.” The 16-episode series follows Park Sae-ro-yi, a man who went to prison after attacking Jang Geun-won (Ahn Bo-hyun), the son of CEO Jang Dae-Hee (Yoo Jae-myung) and the one responsible for Sae-ro-yi’s father’s motorcycle accident. Following his release from prison, Sae-ro-yi opens up a bar in Itaewon, Seoul, in hopes of becoming a successful businessman and avenging his father’s death. Along the way, he makes friends like social media star Jo Yi-seo (Kim Da-mi ), fellow ex-convict Choi Seung-kwon (Ryu Kyung-soo), transgender chef Ma Hyeon-yi (Lee Joo-young), and a Guinean-Korean part-time worker named Kim To-ni (Chris Lyon).
"The Silent Sea"
If you’re a fan of stories that take place in the dystopian future, “The Silent Sea” should definitely be on your radar. Set during a time when the planet is suffering from a shortage of food and water, the series focuses on a group of space explorers that are sent on an important mission to the moon in order to try and save Earth. Besides its stunning visuals, “The Silent Sea” is praised for its talented, star-studded cast of Bae Doona, Gong Yoo, Lee Joon, Kim Sun-young, Lee Moo-saeng, Lee Sung-wook, Heo Sung-tae, and more.
"Hi Bye, Mama!"
“Hi Bye, Mama!” will take you on an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish. In the first episode, we learn Cha Yu-ri (Kim Tae-hee) dies in a tragic accident while pregnant with her daughter, who is luckily able to be saved. Yu-ri chooses to remain on Earth as a ghost in order to watch over her family, and over the course of five years, she witnesses her daughter grow up and her husband, Cho Gang-hwa (Lee Kyu-hyung), marry a woman named Oh Min-jung (Go Bo-gyeol). One day, she takes part in a reincarnation project that grants her the ability to become human again for 49 days. However, stakes are added when she’s learns that she can come back to life permanently, if she can convince her husband and daughter to accept her back in the family over Min-jung.
"All of Us Are Dead"
Based on the 2009 webtoon “Now at Our School” by Joo Dong-geun, “All of Us Are Dead” is a Netflix thriller that centers around a zombie apocalypse. The series follows a group of students that are trapped inside their high school with their classmates who are infected by a zombie virus, forcing them to brutally fight for their survival. The series is a wild ride filled with action, suspense, and gore. Fans of horror, (and more particularly, zombies) are sure to devour this k-drama without any hesitation – just be ready to witness some pretty gore-y scenes.
Park Joo-hyung moves to Italy at eight years old after being adopted by Don Fabio, who is the head of the Italian Cassano Family. His adopted family changes his name to Vincenzo Cassano, and he grows up to become a lawyer and a consigliere to the Mafia. When Fabio dies, his biological son, Paolo (Salvatore Alfano), tries to kill Vincenzo, causing him to flee to his homeland of South Korea. While there, Vincenzo tries to recover gold that he hid in the basement of Geumga Plaza. The problem is that a subsidiary of an evil conglomerate known as the Babel Group has illegally taken over the building, making it hard for Vincenzo to get the gold unnoticed.
"The King's Affection"
“The King’s Affection “is a historical romance drama set during the Joseon Dynasty when having twins is considered an ominous sign. Because of this, an order is sent out to kill the daughter of the crown princess after she gives birth to twins. The princess ends up sending her daughter, Dami (Park Eun-bin), away in order to save her, but when her son, Prince Lee-hwi, is killed, the Princess asks her to come back and take his place. Dami agrees and tries to distance herself from everybody to keep up the act, but the situation gets complicated when she reunites with her first love, Jung Ji-woon (Rowoon), and starts to fall for him all over again.
“Squid Game”, which is Netflix’s most-watched series ever, is about 456 people that enter a contest in hopes of winning a hefty cash prize in order to get out of debt. The catch is they must survive a series of deadly children’s games like red light, green light, and tug of war, and more in order to be declared the winner. The show keeps viewers on the edge of their seats as they wonder which of their favourite characters are able to make it through to the end. Following the show’s premiere in September 2021, “Squid Game” director Hwang Dong-hyuk announced in November the series would be coming back for a second season, so now is a good a time as any to catch up!
This series centres around an app called Love Alarm which allows users to send a notification to their crush’s phone in order to let them know someone nearby has romantic feelings for them. When the handsome and popular student Hwang Sun-oh (Song Kang) arrives at school, his phone is buzzing with notifications from different girls, but he only has eyes for Kim Jo-jo (Kim So-hyun), a pretty and hard-working student that’s indifferent to the app. Eventually, the two grow close and begin dating, and Sun-oh’s best friend, Lee Hye-yeong (Jung Ga-ram), who’s always had a crush on Jo-jo, watches the couple quietly from afar. Jo-jo and Sun-oh’s relationship seemed to be going smoothly, but then one day, Jo-jo suddenly calls it off, leaving Sun-oh confused about what he did wrong.
"Romance Is a Bonus Book"
“Romance is a Bonus Book” deals with the childhood-friends-to-lovers trope. Cha Eun-ho (Lee Jong-suk) and Kang Dan-i (Lee Na-young) met as kids and stayed in touch throughout their adult lives. They hit a bit of a rough patch when Dan-i marries a man that Eun-ho doesn’t approve of, but they remain friends. After Dan-i goes through a divorce and is struggling to find a job, she realises no one will hire her due to a large gap in her work experience. She decides to lie about her background, and eventually lands a job at the same book publishing company Eun-ho works at. Sparks fly when the two reunite and get to know each other again.
“Vagabond” is about a stuntman named Cha Dal-geon (Lee Seung-gi) who dreams of becoming a famous actor. He’s the official guardian of his orphaned nephew, Cha Hoon (Moon Woo-jin). They have a good relationship, but one day, before Cha Hoon takes off for a trip to Morocco, the two argue. Not wanting to leave things on a sour note, Cha Hoon sends his uncle a video encouraging Dal-geon to chase his dreams, just before his plane crashes.
Dal-geon goes to Morocco to attend the funeral of the victims, but sees someone in public that is supposed to be dead since he was one of the passengers on the plane. He confronts the man, and learns that the place crash may not have been an accident at all. Determined to find out the truth, Dal-geon teams up with an an agent named Go Hae-ri (Bae Suzy).
"The Uncanny Counter"
“The Uncanny Counter” is a fantasy thriller about the Counters, a group of hunters who use their special abilities to fight evil spirits that prey on humans. So Mun (Jo Byung-gyu) has superhuman speed and psychokinesis, Mo-tak (Yoo Jun-sang) has super strength, Ha-na (Kim Se-jeong) is a mind-reader that can also sense evil spirits from far away, and Mae-ok (Yeom Hye-ran) has healing abilities. While the Counters hunt demons at night, during the day, they disguise themselves as ordinary humans who work at a noodle restaurant. With such a unique and captivating storyline, “The Uncanny Counter” provides the perfect escape for viewers.
"Mystic Pop-Up Bar"
Based on the popular webtoon “Twin Tops Bar” by Bae Hye-soo, “Mystic Pop-Up Bar,” is a fantasy series that takes place at a mysterious bar that is open to customers that are both living and dead. A woman named Weol-ju (Hwang Jung-eum) runs the establishment with her part-time employee Han Kang-bae (Yook Sung-jae), who has the ability to make people confess what’s on their minds with a single touch. We soon realize that Weol-ju and Kang-bae operate the bar in order to help people heal from their troubles. “Mystic Pop-Up Bar” is unlike any series out there, so if you’re craving something new and unique, this show is perfect
"It's Okay to Not Be Okay"
“It’s Okay to Not Be Okay” is a critically-acclaimed series starring Kim Soo-hyun as a caretaker named Moon Gang-tae, and Seo Yea-ji as a famous author named Ko Moon-young. The two meet at a psychiatric hospital, and realize they have a shared history together. They grow close after they help each other heal from their past traumas. After its release, “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay” received multiple award show nominations, including Best TV Movie or Miniseries at the 49th International Emmy Awards. You definitely don’t want to miss this moving K-drama.
"Our Beloved Summer"
“Our Beloved Summer” is about high school sweethearts that reunite as adults years after graduation, despite promising never to meet again. Of course, fate pulls them together as they are forced to revisit their past through an old documentary they filmed as students. Choi Woo-shik, who you may recognize from hit movies like “Train to Busan” and “Parasite,” stars as the free-spirited illustrator Choi Ung, while Kim Da-mi portrays Kook Yeon-soo, a strong and independent PR expert. This heartwarming K-drama is surely one that romance fans are sure to fall deeply in love with.
"A Love So Beautiful"
“A Love So Beautiful” is a coming-of-age story about a bubbly girl named Shin Sol-i (So Joo-yeon) who is head over heels for her classmate and neighbor Cha Heon (Kim Yo-han), a quiet boy that appears cold and distant, but is actually just a bit awkward. Sol-i tries to confess her feelings to Heon, but it doesn’t work out. However, when a swimmer named Woo Dae-seong (Yeo Hoe-Hyun) transfers to their school and falls for Sol-i, things heat up in this love-triangle. What’s interesting about this show is that it actually takes place in the past, as an older Sol-i narrates the series.
"Record of Youth"
“Record of Youth” revolves around three young adults in the fashion industry. Sa Hye-jun (Park Bo-gum) is a model who comes from a working-class family. He wants to become an actor and has auditioned for various projects, but has yet to book a role. His best friend, Won Hae-hyo (Byeon Woo-seok) also dreams of becoming an actor. Although he comes from a wealthy background, he wants to find success without relying on his privilege. Meanwhile, Ahn Jeong-ha (Park So-dam) is a makeup artist that wants to open up her own beauty salon. The show follows the ups and downs this trio faces in their endeavors to become successful.
“D.P.” is named after the Deserter Pursuit team, which is a unit of the South Korean military that deals with tracking down soldiers who exit the military without official leave. After a quiet soldier by the name of Ahn Joon-ho (Jung Hae-in) catches the eye of Sergeant Park Beom-gu (Kim Sung-kyun), he’s transferred to the D.P. because of his incredible observational skills, which prove to be useful in catching deserters. Over the course of the series, Joon-ho begins to see why some soldiers feel so lost that they think they have no choice but to leave. With its intriguing storyline, it’s easy to fly through the show’s six episodes in a single day.
Lee Dong-sik (Shin Ha-kyun) was once a top detective in the police force, but after he fails to catch a serial killer, he is forced to give up his position and now has to do boring, everyday tasks at the station. However, everything changes when an elite detective named Han Joo-won (Yeo Jin-goo) becomes Don-sik’s boss. Despite being completely different, the two team up in order to solve a murder case they discover is connected to the serial killer that Don-sik investigated years ago. “Beyond Evil” has been generally well-received for its compelling storyline and characters, as well as its brilliant acting from Shin and Yeo.
“Hyena” is about lawyers who only work for the wealthy 1 percenters of society. The show follows Jung Geum-ja (Kim Hye-soo), a money-hungry lawyer that runs her own law firm and will do whatever it takes to win her case. She’s described as a “true hyena” because she always chases what she wants. Meanwhile, Yoon Hee-jae (Ju Ji-hoon) is a brilliant lawyer working for the Song & Kim law firm who acts as Geum-ja’s rival. “Hyena” deals with themes like corruption, greed, and ethics, and is praised for the chemistry between its two leading stars. The show has 16 episodes that you’ll easily run through in a single weekend, so it’s definitely worth putting on your watchlist.
"When the Camellia Blooms"
Six years after Oh Dong-baek (Gong Hyo-jin), a single mother, opens up a bar named Camellia, she meets a police officer named Hwang Yong-sik (Kang Ha-neul), who confesses his romantic feelings for her. Dong-baek doesn’t feel the same way, but Yong-sik is determined to change her mind. This doesn’t sit well with his mother, since Dong-baek is a single mother whose ex-boyfriend and father of her child, Kang Jong-ryul (Kim Ji-seok), is trying to get back together with her. Eventually, Dong-baek develops feelings for Yong-sik, but just as she’s getting comfortable with him, she becomes the target of a notorious serial killer.
In “Hospital Playlist,” viewers follow the lives of five friends who went to the same medical university and begin working at the same hospital. Lee Ik-jun (Jo Jung-suk), Ahn Jeong-won (Yoo Yeon-seok), Kim Jun-wan (Jung Kyung-ho), Yang Seok-hyeong (Kim Dae-myung), and Chae Song-hwa (Jeon Mi-do) make up the group of doctors, who each specialize in a different field of medicine. The series is praised for its chemistry between its leading actors, as well as its honest portrayal of some of the hardships doctors face while working in the hospital. “Grey’s Anatomy” fans, or lovers of hospital dramas definitely need to add this K-drama to their watchlist.
"Flower of Evil"
“Flower of Evil” is another K-drama with a strong female leading character. In the show, Cha Ji-won (Moon Chae-Won) is a detective who’s married to a man named Baek Hee-sung (Lee Joon-gi), who seems like the ideal, hard-working husband and father. On the surface, they all appear like a perfect, happy family, but when Ji-won begins investigating a series of murders that happened 15 years ago, she notices Hee-sung starts acting differently around her. Due to his suspicious behavior, Ji-won starts to wonder if Hee-sung has been keeping secrets from her all along. Due to its suspenseful storyline, “Flower of Evil” will instantly draw you in from the very first episode.
"Tale of the Nine Tailed"
Nam Ji-ah (Jo Bo-ah) is a TV producer that’s interested in the world of the supernatural. She seeks anything out of the ordinary to include on her show, which is all about myths and urban legends. One day, she meets a man named Lee Yeon (Lee Dong-wook), who she suspects is hiding a big secret. As it turns out, Lee Yeon was once a mountain spirit, but after sacrificing himself to resurrect the woman he loves, he becomes a nine-tailed fox that is able to transform into a human. Interestingly enough, he thinks Ji-ah could be the reincarnation of his former lover, Ah-eum.
At first, “Mr. Queen” begins in the present with Jang Bong-hwan (Choi Jin-hyuk), a chef who cooks for the most famous politicians at the Blue House – the official residence of the South Korean president. Somehow, he time travels to the past and ends up in the Joseon period. Strangely enough, he also winds up being trapped in the body of a young queen named Cheorin (Shin Hye-sun). The series follows Bong-hwan adjusting to his new reality, as well as the customs of the palace and specific time period. The show’s wacky premise is sure to entertain viewers as they watch Bong-hwan struggle to adapt.
"What's Wrong With Secretary Kim"
“What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim” is truly a side-splitting K-drama that you won’t forget. The story begins when a hard-working secretary named Kim Mi-so (Park Min-young) tells her arrogant boss, Lee Young-joon (Park Seo-joon), that she’s resigning from her position. Since Mi-so has been working for his company for nearly a decade, Young-joon is confused about why she would want to quit so suddenly. After Mi-so reveals it’s because she wants to settle down and get married, Young-joon says he’ll marry her as long as she stays by his side as his secretary. When she refuses his offer, Young-joon tries to come to terms with Mi-so moving from the company, but things get complicated when they develop real feelings for each other.