20 Best KDramas on Netflix That’ll Keep You Engaged For Months
Whether you agree or disagree, Netflix has captured the soul of the Korean film industry by offering an endless stream of Korean dramas, films, and documentaries. Not only are many of them Netflix exclusives, but the majority of them have never been seen before due to factors such as limited availability or exclusivity to Korean television. The wait appears to be over, as Netflix US now offers over 40 different Korean television dramas to binge-watch.
Korean television, like Korean films, has grown in popularity over time, with producers branching out into genres such as crime, horror, and comedy, in addition to the traditional comedies and adolescent romance dramas that remain the most popular. Everyone knows Netflix has a large selection of Korean dramas. However, not everyone knows which ones are worth their time. As a result, we are here to assist you. Here’s a list of Netflix’s best Korean dramas that are now available to watch:
Table Of Content
- 1 A Korean Odyssey (2017 – 2018)
- 2 Boys Over Flowers (2009)
- 3 Cheese in the Trap (2016)
- 4 Cinderella and The Four Knights (2016)
- 5 Crash Landing on You (2019 – 2020)
- 6 Hospital Playlist (2020 – present)
- 7 It’s Okay To Not Be Okay (2020)
- 8 Itaewon Class (2020)
- 9 Kingdom (2019 – present)
- 10 Mr. Sunshine (2018)
- 11 My Mister (2018)
- 12 One Spring Night (2019)
- 13 Oh My Ghost! (2015)
- 14 Prison Playbook (2017)
- 15 Reply 1988 (2015 – 2016)
- 16 Something in the Rain (2018)
- 17 The Inheritors (2013)
- 18 The King: Eternal Monarch (2020)
- 19 When The Camellia Blooms (2019)
- 20 Was It Love? (2020)
A Korean Odyssey (2017 – 2018)
After promising her safety whenever she calls, Seon-mi, a young girl who can see ghosts and demons, frees an eternal entity from his captivity. Only, he turns out to be a rogue, stealing Seon-memories mi’s of his name before fleeing. Years later, they cross paths again, and in a fateful turn of events, they fall in love. However, Son Oh-gong, who was once eternal, is on a mission to reclaim his immortality, and in order to do so, he must consume the flesh of a “Sam-jang,” who happens to be his girlfriend. So one of two things will happen: Oh-gong will eat her flesh to acquire immortality, or Seon-mi will kill him while he is mortal. ‘A Korean Odyssey’ is filled with mystery and grandeur, as well as a hauntingly compelling romance between the two stars.
Boys Over Flowers (2009)
‘Boys Over Flowers,’ one of the most well-known K-dramas of all time, is a rite of passage for all Korean drama newcomers and a great crowd-pleaser. He is quickly smitten when a rich, entitled brat meets a poor and gentle girl who refuses to kneel down to him like the other pupils at his prestigious school. But she adores his pal. Despite the fact that this drama is the king of clichéd characters and cliche situations (the rich guy even pays for a makeover), it remains undeniably captivating. This show is just simple tons of fun, with a perky tune that will burrow itself into your skull. It does become melodramatic and, to be honest, absurd near the conclusion, but that is easily overlooked.
Cheese in the Trap (2016)
Based on the popular South Korean webtoon of the same name, ‘Cheese in the Trap’ follows Hong Seol (Kim Go-eun), a hardworking college student as she juggles studies, friends, family, and a new personal connection. Hong Seol realizes that her apparently charming senior is actually a sociopath who manipulates everyone around him and destroys those who offend him. He isn’t a nasty person, though, because he only goes for low-lifes who deserve to be punished. When he takes a shine to Hong Seol and invites her out, things take an unexpected turn. Still undecided about whether he is a nice man or not, she accepts and begins an initially tense relationship with him that develops into true love. Simply watch it for the hero/anti-hero character — he is enthralling and a mystery that you will want to solve.
Cinderella and The Four Knights (2016)
Eun Ha Won (Park So-dam) is a clever and athletic high school student who is frequently bullied by her stepmother and stepsister in this modern-day Cinderella. She works part-time in order to save money for college. Ha Won encounters a wealthy elderly man one day who gives her a job as a live-in caretaker at a beautiful estate occupied by three handsome guys — billionaire cousins and pampered heirs to the Kang family fortune. This show is light and breezy, full of harmless fluff that could be enjoyed as a form of escapism. The characters are entertaining, hilarious, and ridiculous.
Crash Landing on You (2019 – 2020)
Yoon Se-ri (Son Ye-jin), a South Korean fashion heiress, crashes into North Korea after a bizarre paragliding mishap sends her off track. Captain Ri Jeong-hyeok (Hyun Bin), a member of a powerful North Korean political family, discovers Se-ri and hides her from the authorities. The two star-crossed lovers fall hard for each other as he supplies her with a safe haven and devises a plot to smuggle her back to South Korea. However, their paths do not appear to be linked because Jeong-hyeok is already engaged to another woman (whom he agreed to marry purely out of a deep sense of duty). The banter between the leads in ‘Crash Landing on You’ will almost certainly leave you in splits. The writing moves quickly and brilliantly combines romance and comedy with action and politics. Completely, completely, wonderfully bingeable.
Hospital Playlist (2020 – present)
Even in the K-drama universe, medical dramas are nothing new. But a medical drama in which the protagonists are all top surgeons in their areas and form a rocking band together is novel. PD Shin Won-‘Hospital ho’s Playlist’ (following ‘Prison Playbook’ and ‘Reply Series’) has created another masterpiece that captures the everyday lives of doctors and hospital workers on a very basic, human level and delves into the depths behind seemingly simple and mundane things. ‘Hospital Playlist’ tells the story of five medical school pals who are still in touch at the age of 40. They both work at the same hospital (but in different departments) and perform in the same band on weekends. The five of them share a relaxed, easygoing vibe that comes from years of friendship. They’re sweet and hilarious, completely charming, and extremely skilled at both surgery and music (well, apart from the fact that their lead vocalist sucks). Another Netflix Original with a Season 2 scheduled for 2021 (can’t wait!).
It’s Okay To Not Be Okay (2020)
Moon Gang-tae (famous actor Kim Soo-hyun) works at the OK Psychiatric Hospital and is a powerful, gentle, and caring healthcare worker. At home, he looks for his older brother, who has autism and has a deep fear of butterflies. With an antisocial personality disorder, Ko Moon-young (Seo Ye-ji) is a successful children’s book author. Both Gang-tae and Moon-young had difficult upbringings and are emotionally scarred. Until they meet, they don’t have many intimate personal relationships. While Gang-tae makes it plain that he has no time for love, Moon-young is obsessed with him and goes to some ridiculous lengths to get his attention. Even when their painfully interwoven past is uncovered, they begin to help and heal each other emotionally. The emotional trip includes not only the main characters, but also Gang-brother, tae’s whose fear of butterflies stems from seeing their mother’s horrible murder as a child. The show ‘It’s Okay To Not Be Okay’ has received accolades for its candor and empathy in dealing with mental health difficulties, bringing much-needed attention to issues that society would prefer ignore. This show is more than just a lighthearted love story; it is thought-provoking and deeply moving.
Itaewon Class (2020)
‘Itaewon Class,’ which is based on a webtoon of the same name, is ranked among the top 10 highest-rated dramas in Korean cable television history. And it’s entirely justified. The story follows Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo-joon), an ex-convict who was expelled from high school for punching a bully and later served three years in prison for attacking the same bully after the boy’s careless driving killed Park Sae-ro-father. yi’s 7 years after his release from prison, Park Sae-ro-yi starts a bar-restaurant in Itaewon. Sae-ro-yi, along with his seemingly sociopathic restaurant manager and his hardworking staff, strives to make his business a huge success and eventually open a chain of restaurants. But, in order to advance in the food industry, he must compete with a massive food conglomerate. This drama about defying cultural standards and realizing one’s aspirations is both inspiring and moving. It has a nice soundtrack and is both touching and sincere.
Kingdom (2019 – present)
‘Kingdom,’ Netflix’s first original Korean series, is one of the few K-dramas to maintain a longer storyline through seasons. Korean dramas are usually finished in 16-20 episodes. ‘Kingdom,’ however, despite having two seasons (with a third in the works), does not feel “draggy” since there is so much story to tell. The program is set in the Joseon era and revolves around Crown Prince Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon), who is forbidden by the Queen from meeting his father, King of Joseon. His stepmother just informs him that the King is unwell and unable to visit others. The Prince decides to look into the King’s ailment and determine what is causing it. It turns out that there is a plague that sends the dead back to life as cannibalistic creatures who are constantly hungry (so, zombies). The Prince now needs to fight and kill zombies in addition to defending his lawful claim to the throne. And we all know that Korean zombies are swift and scary (thanks to films like ‘Train To Busan’). This one is at the top of our list because of the sheer excitement it gives. Hollywood, take note: this is how you do zombies.
Mr. Sunshine (2018)
Eugene Choi, a former slave in Joseon who emigrated to the United States in 1871, rejoins the US Marine Corps in Hanseong (the historical name for Seoul). He falls in love with an aristocrat’s daughter, but she is already betrothed to a nobleman she does not love in a match planned by her father. A fierce Samurai assassin, who is also in love with her, is also vying for her attention. Eugene finds the Japanese plans to attack and colonize Korea among all the amorous entanglements. He is quickly drawn into the Joseon Dynasty’s war for sovereignty, spearheading a rebellion against the Japanese Empire. This show is noted for its outstanding cinematography as well as a well-written and well-acted storyline (written by Kim Eun-sook who is known for penning epic fantasy dramas). The fight scenes are truly magnificent and fit for the big screen. Because the drama is set in the Joseon Dynasty, the clothing and language are extremely important and have been done admirably. Mr. Sunshine is an absolute must-see for everyone who like historical or period films and dramas.
My Mister (2018)
‘My Mister’ is a love story, but it is not the kind you might expect. A lovely connection forms between a stern 40-year-old guy and a burdened, emotionally closed-off 20-year-old lady. They act as a soothing salve for one other’s shattered spirits, and through warm friendship, they begin to recover together. You find yourself pulling for them because their relationship is nice and chaste. This is a unique drama among its contemporaries that is well worth watching.
One Spring Night (2019)
After an unexpected meeting at the drugstore one night, prim librarian Lee Jeong-In and pharmacist and single dad Yu Ji-ho feel a mutual connection that quickly blossoms into full-fledged love. Ji-ho, who is gorgeous, charming, intellectual, and kind, is totally over heals for Jeong-In, but she comes with baggage (and a four-year-old boyfriend whom she no longer loves). ‘One Spring Night’ is a realistic and sober portrayal of what a true adult relationship in modern-day Korea looks like, rather than an euphoric young romance. Adultery and other darkly realistic subjects are portrayed in an artistically nuanced manner, with the characters depicted as flawed, at times greedy individuals. There will be no nonsense here (the kind that is so prevalent in Korean dramas).
Oh My Ghost! (2015)
Because of a shaman (mediator) ancestor, Na Bong-sun (Park Bo-young) is a shy girl with low self-esteem who also sees spirits of the dead. She works as an assistant cook at a trendy restaurant and is constantly chastised by her extremely attractive employer for sleeping the entire day away. The spirits keep bothering her at night, which is why she is always fatigued. Bong-sun is possessed by the ghost of a dead virgin girl, who agrees to leave her alone and move on after she finishes the unfinished business of losing her V-card. What none of the girls, dead or alive, expects is for them to fall in love with the same man – Bong-charming sun’s employer, who is pleasantly surprised by Bong-bashful sun’s demeanor. The show is mostly cute and entertaining, but it also goes into some serious territory when it comes to death and loss. Overall, an enjoyable film with some outstanding performances.
Prison Playbook (2017)
With the dark comedy ‘Prison Playbook,’ PD Shin Won-ho (of ‘Reply’ fame) performs his unique spell once more. Kim Je-hyuk is a notable baseball player who is going to make his professional debut in the American major leagues. His life takes a dramatic turn before he can sign with the Boston Red Sox, and he ends up in prison for assaulting a man who was attempting to sexually abuse his sister. The simple-minded Je-hyuk meets and befriends various inmates doing time for a variety of crimes during his one-year prison sentence, but the convicts are more than just criminals. The drama delves deeper into the lives of the inmates and guards who work there, as well as the unique friendships they create. There are so many brilliantly written characters that you just want to root for them and look at them like they’re real people who matter rather than society’s rotten apples to be discarded. I became engrossed in the stories of each and every character, including the frightening long-timer, the drug addict, the boisterous jail guard, and the low-life goon who nearly killed Je-hyuk his first week in. But PD Shin is notorious for making you care about the characters to the point where you don’t want the drama to stop.
Reply 1988 (2015 – 2016)
Precious. Warm. Endearing. Extremely moving. Beautifully painful. Even still, such terms are insufficient to adequately explain ‘Reply 1988.’ Without a question, the best K-drama (or drama in any language) I’ve ever seen. It lacks a plot that is singularly concentrated. ‘Reply 1988,’ set in the late 1980s, follows five childhood friends and their families as they grow up in the same middle-class neighborhood of Ssangmun-dong in Seoul. The show’s main focus is on the five best friends, whose bromance will make you cry and laugh at the same time and think it’s perfectly normal. The raw slice-of-life approach of this drama is nostalgic and hits near to home, especially when it deals with relatable subjects like class divides, financial challenges, family dynamics, friendships, coming-of-age issues, and heartfelt issues. When ‘Reply 1988’ focuses on everyday life, it becomes all too real, such as a single mother’s agony when she finds that the cuts on her son’s face are not the result of school violence, as she had assumed, but the result of his poor shaving attempts. PD Shin Won-ho manages to give each and every character enough complexity so they’re all real people, not just 2D supporting characters, regardless of how much screen time they get. The scenes are so entertaining and humorous and charming and serious and tragic that you feel a wide range of emotions while viewing them. The easiest way to explain ‘Reply 1988’ is to compare it like a loving hug. This show has my heart, and I can confidently state that viewing it will improve your life.
Something in the Rain (2018)
‘Something in the Rain’ depicts a scandalous affair between a 30-year-old lady and her childhood best friend’s younger brother, who is 20 years her junior. When Jin-ah (Son Ye-jin) returns from the United States after three years, he and Joon-hee (Jung Hae-in) reconnect and progress from friends to lovers, despite their attempts to suppress their feelings. But, in this charming story, love knows no age, and they eventually come out with their relationship, much to the surprise and displeasure of many around them. A secondary plot in this show deals with delicate topics such as workplace sexual harassment. These types of shows can teach you a lot about South Korean culture and social norms. Pouring your own drink first before refilling your colleague or senior’s glass, for example, is considered impolite and a serious social faux pas in Korea.
The Inheritors (2013)
In Los Angeles, California, Kim Tan (Lee Min-Ho) and Cha Eun Sang (Park Shin Hye) meet by happenstance, and then again in Seoul, South Korea. Eun Sang’s mother works as a housekeeper at Kim Tan’s family home, and both Kim Tan and Eun Sang are students at the same opulent private school for the privileged (Eun Sang is a scholarship kid, of course). They fall in love, but the disparity in their socioeconomic classes keeps them apart. Despite being thrilling and dynamic, the show falls victim to some familiar tropes and cliches from previous K-dramas. The competition and power struggle between Lee Min Ho and Kim Woo Bin’s characters, who were childhood adversaries, is the show’s focus, not the romance.
The King: Eternal Monarch (2020)
This is a mind-bender that will keep you guessing with each episode. The story of ‘The King: Eternal Monarch,’ written by renowned fantasy writer Kim Eun-sook, may be a little too confusing to make sense of straight away, but it’s convoluted in the best possible manner (any Christopher Nolan fans here?). Lee Gon (played by a deceptively attractive Lee Min-ho), the Emperor of the modern-day Kingdom of Corea, discovers that there is an alternate dimension that can be accessed by utilizing a magical flute that opens a portal between the worlds. Inadvertently crossing into modern-day Republic of Korea, he falls in love with homicide detective Jung Tae-eul (Kim Go-eun). Things get complicated when they discover that each alternate reality has doppelgangers, and that the murderous villain, Lee Gon’s evil uncle, who wants the throne, is assembling an army of doppelgangers that he brought from the Republic of Korea to The Kingdom of Corea with the promise of a better life. While things may not make sense as they happen (which can be frustrating), trust me when I say that it all comes together in perfect clarity in the end, and it is well worth it. This drama is epic on several levels.
When The Camellia Blooms (2019)
This is a romantic comedy-thriller that will hold your attention from beginning to end. It’s a murder mystery with some clever whodunit turns, and you won’t be able to figure out who the killer is until the final scene. The plot follows Dong Baek (played by Gong Hyo-jin), a single mother who owns and successfully runs a bar called Camellia in a conservative neighborhood where a single woman running an alcoholic establishment is looked down upon. However, Dong Baek, who appears hesitant at first, is a powerful, honest, and tenacious lady who perseveres until she gets the support of the entire neighborhood. She also has feelings for Yong-sik (Kang Ha-neul), a good-hearted cop with an unwavering sense of justice and a smile that melts the hearts of ladies around. When it comes to unpleasant subjects like serial murders and slut-shaming, the show doesn’t hold back. While the serial murderer is a terrifying and malevolent presence throughout, the focus remains on the protagonist couple, who are so adorable together. Dong Baek’s journey from a timid rabbit to a fearsome dragon is inspiring. There will be a lot of romance and intrigue in this film.
Was It Love? (2020)
Noh Ae-Jung (Song Ji-Hyo) is a tough cookie who hasn’t dated in 14 years. That changes dramatically when she meets and is wooed by four men who have very different personalities. Oh Dae-oh is a seductive older man with dubious morals, Ryu Jin is handsome and wealthy but somewhat pitiful, Goo Pa-do is frightening yet seductive, and Oh Yeon-woo is a flirting younger man. Three of them have a history with Ae-Jung, whom she knew well before to her pregnancy. The “who’s the baby daddy” narrative is tired, but this program manages to keep it new by being so entertaining. The actors have all performed admirably, and even the supporting characters have been well-developed. A good watch for a one-time use.