Korean dramas, or K-dramas, have gained immense popularity around the world in recent years, thanks to their unique storytelling, captivating characters, and high production value. From romantic comedies to thrillers, historical dramas to fantasy, there’s a K-drama for every taste. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to decide which ones to watch.
We’ve compiled a list of the best Korean shows available to stream right now, each with its own unique charm and appeal. Grab some snacks, settle in, and get ready to be entertained by some of the best that Korean television has to offer!
Prison Playbook (2017-2018)
Writer: Jung Bo-hoon
Cast: Park Hae-soo, Jung Kyung-ho
Following the lives of various inmates and staff members in a South Korean prison, Prison Playbook is centered around the character of Kim Je-hyuk, played by Park Hae-soo, who also stars in Squid Game and Money Heist: Korea. Kim-Je-hyuk is a famous baseball player who ends up in prison after a series of unfortunate events. While in prison, he meets a variety of colorful characters and forms meaningful relationships with them. The series explores themes of friendship, loyalty, forgiveness, and redemption, as well as the harsh realities of life inside a prison. The drama received critical acclaim for its excellent storytelling, strong performances, and realistic portrayal of prison life.
Reply 1988 (2015-2016)
Writer: Lee Woo-jung
Cast: Lee Hye-ri, Ryu Jun-yeol, Go Kyung-pyo, Park Bo-gum, Lee Dong-hwi
Set in the late 1980s in a neighborhood of Seoul called Ssangmun-dong, Reply 1988 follows the lives of five families who live in the same neighborhood and their interactions with each other. The story is narrated by Deok-sun (Lee Hye-ri), one of the main characters, as she reminisces about her childhood and teenage years. The characters face various challenges and dilemmas as they navigate their way through life in a rapidly changing society. The drama gained prominence for its realistic portrayal of Korean family life and its heartwarming depiction of the bonds between the characters.
The Uncanny Counter (2020-2021)
Writers: Yeo Ji-na, Yoo Seon-dong, Kim Sae-bom
Cast: Jo Byung-gyu, Yoo Jun-sang, Kim Se-jeong, Yeom Hye-ran
The Uncanny Counter is about a group of people who call themselves “counters” and have supernatural abilities. They use their abilities to track down evil spirits who have escaped the afterlife and taken over human bodies. The plot revolves around four main characters who are high school students by day and counters by night as they battle powerful demons and uncover a sinister conspiracy. The drama delves into themes such as justice, vengeance, and the power of friendship. The action-packed fight scenes, engaging storyline, and well-developed characters have made the show a fan favorite, and it’s easily one of the best international fantasy series on Netflix.
Hospital Playlist (2021)
Writer: Lee Woo-jung
Cast: Jo Jung-suk, Yoo Yeon-seok, Jung Kyung-ho, Kim Dae-myung, Jeon Mi-do
Hospital Playlist is a medical drama series that follows the lives of five doctors who have been friends since medical school and now work in the same hospital. The drama is set in the fictional Yulje Medical Center and depicts the doctors’, nurses’, and patients’ daily routines, challenges, and personal lives. Each episode features a new case or patient, but the main focus is on the characters’ relationships and interactions. The show delves into themes such as friendship, loyalty, love, and medical ethics. The series has been praised for its realistic portrayal of the medical profession as well as its heartwarming depiction of the characters’ bonds.
Writer: Soo Hugh
Cast: Youn Yuh-jung, Soji Arai, Jin Ha, Han Jun-woo, Jung Eun-chae, Lee Min-ho
Pachinko is a television drama series adapted from the popular historical fiction novel of the same name by Korean-American author Min Jin Lee. The story spans four generations of a Korean family, beginning in 1910 when Korea was under Japanese rule, and following their lives through various historical events, including World War II and the Korean War. The story is centered around Sunja (Youn Yuh-jung), a young woman who falls in love with a wealthy businessman, but discovers he is already married. She eventually marries a kind but poor pastor and moves with him to Japan. The novel delves into themes of family, identity, love, and survival in a foreign land. It also looks at the complicated relationship between Koreans and Japanese in the early twentieth century.
What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim? (2018)
Writer: Jung Eun-young
Cast: Park Seo-joon, Park Min-young
What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim?, one of the best Korean workplace romances, follows Lee Young-joon (Park Seo-joon), the narcissistic vice chairman of a large corporation, and his secretary Kim Mi-so (Park Min-young), who has been his devoted assistant for nine years. When Kim Mi-so decides to quit her job, Lee Young-joon realizes how much he relies on her and begins to question his feelings for her. The drama explores the dynamics of their boss-secretary relationship and the romantic tension that develops between them. The series also features the lives of the supporting characters who work in the company and their own romantic entanglements.
Writer: Moon Ji-won
Cast: Park Eun-bin, Kang Tae-oh, Kang Ki-young
Extraordinary Attorney Woo is a Korean drama series that centers around Woo Young-woo, a brilliant rookie attorney who has Asperger’s syndrome. Despite being different from her neurotypical peers, Woo’s intelligence, remarkable memory, and keen attention to detail help her excel as a lawyer. She is hired by a major law firm in Seoul, where her colleagues struggle to understand her unconventional manner of communication, which they perceive as odd, blunt, and socially awkward. As Woo navigates the challenges of her profession and personal life, the series explores themes of inclusivity, acceptance, and the triumph of talent over prejudice.
Writer: Yoo Young-ah
Cast: Song Hye-kyo, Park Bo-gum
Encounter is a popular Korean drama series that tells the story of Cha Soo-hyun (Song Hye-kyo), a successful businesswoman who meets Kim Jin-hyuk (Park Bo-gum), a young man who is working at a hotel in Cuba. Despite their different backgrounds, they fall in love and begin a journey to navigate the challenges of their relationship and the societal pressures that come with it. The show is praised for its beautiful cinematography, strong performances by the lead actors, and its exploration of themes such as love, family, and social status.
Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha (2021)
Writer: Shin Ha-eun
Cast: Shin Min-a, Kim Seon-ho, Lee Sang-yi
Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha tells the story of Yoon Hye-jin (Shin Min-a), a dentist who moves from Seoul to the seaside village of Gongjin to start a new life. There, she meets Hong Doo-shik (Kim Seon-ho), a jack-of-all-trades who helps her adjust to life in the small town. As they work together to help the villagers with their problems, they begin to develop feelings for each other. With strong performances by their lead actors and a charming storyline, don’t miss out on this heartwarming show that’s great for first-time viewers of Korean shows.
Itaewon Class (2020)
Writer: Gwang Jin
Cast: Park Seo-joon, Kim Da-mi
Itaewon Class follows Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo-joon), a young man who is expelled from school and later framed for a crime he did not commit. Determined to seek revenge on the powerful people who wronged him, he starts his own bar-restaurant in the trendy Itaewon neighborhood of Seoul, with the help of his loyal friends and employees. As he navigates the cutthroat world of business and battles against his enemies, he also finds love and learns the true meaning of success. The show is praised for its compelling storyline, strong performances by the lead actors, and its exploration of themes such as social justice, friendship, and personal growth.
Descendants of the Sun (2016)
Writers: Kim Eun-sook, Kim Won-seok
Cast: Song Joong-ki, Song Hye-kyo, Jin Goo, Kim Ji-won
Descendants of the Sun is a love story unlike any other, taking place between Yoo Si-jin (Song Joong-ki), a captain in the special forces, and Kang Mo-yeon (Song Hye-kyo, who features prominently on this list), a doctor who works for an international medical NGO. The two meet when Si-jin is sent on a peacekeeping mission to the fictional war-torn country of Urk, where Mo-yeon is stationed. As they face dangerous situations together and save lives, they develop a deep bond that transcends their different backgrounds. The show is celebrated for its thrilling action sequences, strong performances by the lead actors, and its exploration of themes such as love, duty, and sacrifice, widely regarded as one of the best South Korean romance series of the 21st century.
Business Proposal (2022)
Writer: Han Seol-hee, Hong Bo-hee
Cast: Ahn Hyo-seop, Kim Se-jeong, Kim Min-kyu, Seol In-ah
In Business Proposal, Shin Ha-ri (Kim Se-jeong) finds herself on an unexpected blind date when she agrees to replace her friend, Jin Young-seo (Seol In-ah), who backed out at the last minute. The plan was for Ha-ri to pretend to be Young-seo and purposely get rejected by her date. However, things take an unexpected turn when Ha-ri’s date turns out to be none other than Kang Tae-moo (Ahn Hyo-seop), the CEO of the company where she works. Tae-moo, who is under pressure from his grandfather, Kang Da-goo (Lee Deok-hwa), to settle down and get married, decides to marry his blind date partner to avoid any more awkward matchmaking events. Little does he know, Ha-ri is not the real Young-seo and is actually his employee, something she desperately tries to keep a secret.
Writer: Park Jae-bum
Cast: Song Joong-ki, Jeon Yeo-been, Ok Taec-yeon, Kim Yeo-jin, Kwak Dong-yeon
A thrilling series among the pool of romance-filled Korean dramas, Vincenzo follows Vincenzo Cassano (Song Joong-ki), a Korean-Italian lawyer and Mafia consigliere who returns to South Korea after being betrayed by his own organization. He teams up with Hong Cha-young (Jeon Yeo-been), a passionate lawyer, to take down a powerful conglomerate using his own unique set of skills and connections. As they work together to fight corruption and seek justice, they face numerous obstacles and enemies, including rival gangs and corrupt politicians. The show is praised for its thrilling storyline, dark humor, and strong performances by the lead actors, Song Joong-ki and Jeon Yeo-been.
Crash Landing on You (2019)
Writer: Park Ji-eun
Cast: Hyun Bin, Son Ye-jin, Seo Ji-hye, Kim Jung-hyun
Crash Landing on You is a Korean drama series that follows the story of Yoon Se-ri (Son Ye-jin), a successful businesswoman from South Korea who, while paragliding, is swept up in a storm and crash-lands in North Korea. There, she meets North Korean army officer Ri Jeong-hyeok (Hyun Bin), who helps her hide and escape from the authorities. As Se-ri and Jeong-hyeok work together to get her back to South Korea, they begin to develop feelings for each other, despite the vast differences in their backgrounds and the danger they face. The show explores themes of love, family, and patriotism, as well as the political tensions between North and South Korea, and it’s one of the most addictive K-dramas out there.
The Legend of the Blue Sea (2016)
Writer: Park Ji-eun
Cast: Jun Ji-hyun, Lee Min-ho
The Legend of the Blue Sea is a Korean drama series that tells the story of Heo Joon-jae (Lee Min-ho), a skilled con artist who meets Shim Cheong (Jun Ji-hyun), a mermaid who has been living on land for hundreds of years. The show explores their unlikely relationship, as well as the challenges they face as Joon-jae tries to protect Cheong from those who would harm her. The story is told in two timelines, one set in the present day and the other set in the Joseon era, where a tragic love story between a nobleman and a mermaid unfolds.
Boys Over Flowers (2009)
Writer: Yoon Ji-ryun
Cast: Koo Hye-sun, Lee Min-ho, Kim Hyun-joong, Kim Bum, Kim Joon, Kim So-eun
Boys Over Flowers is a K-drama classic that follows Geum Jan-di (Koo Hye-sun), a spunky and headstrong high school student who receives a scholarship to attend the prestigious Shinhwa High School, a school for the wealthy and elite. There, she encounters the school’s notorious F4, a group of four handsome and wealthy students who rule the school with their money and power. Despite their initial antagonism towards her, Jan-di develops feelings for one of the F4 members, the brooding and aloof Gu Jun-pyo (Lee Min-ho). The show follows their tumultuous relationship, as well as the friendships and rivalries that develop between the other characters. It’s easily one of the best Korean Romance dramas on Netflix.
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (2020)
Writer: Jo Yong
Cast: Kim Soo-hyun, Seo Yea-ji, Oh Jung-se, Park Gyu-young
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay is a critically acclaimed Korean drama series that explores the lives of Moon Gang-tae (Kim Soo-hyun), a caretaker at a psychiatric ward, and Ko Moon-young (Seo Yea-ji), a children’s book author with antisocial personality disorder. The show delves into mental health issues and their impact on relationships, family, and society. As the two protagonists begin to develop a deeper connection, they confront their own traumas and inner demons, ultimately learning to heal together.
Hotel del Luna (2019)
Writer: Hong Jung-eun, Hong Mi-ran
Cast: Lee Ji-eun, Yeo Jin-goo, Pyo Ji-hoon, Kang Mi-na
Hotel del Luna is a popular Korean drama series that tells the story of Jang Man-wol (Lee Ji-eun), the beautiful but ill-tempered owner of the Hotel del Luna, a luxurious hotel that caters exclusively to ghosts. Forced to run the hotel as punishment for a past sin, Man-wol meets Koo Chan-sung (Yeo Jin-goo), a pragmatic and ambitious hotel manager who becomes her only human employee. Together, they work to solve the hotel guests’ unfinished business and help them move on to the afterlife. As the two grow closer, they face challenges from Man-wol’s past and secrets that threaten to destroy everything they have built. Hotel del Luna is praised for its unique premise, stunning cinematography, and strong performances by the lead actors. A remake of Hotel del Luna has also been in the works since 2020 though there’s been no word on when it might come out.
Writer: Park Hye-ryun
Cast: Bae Suzy, Nam Joo-hyuk, Kim Seon-ho, Kang Han-na
Start-Up is a popular Korean drama series that tells the story of Seo Dal-mi (Bae Suzy), a young woman who dreams of becoming the next Steve Jobs and starts her own tech company with the help of two other young entrepreneurs, Nam Do-san (Nam Joo-hyuk) and Han Ji-pyeong (Kim Seon-ho). Together, they navigate the challenges of the start-up world, including securing funding, building a product, and competing against established companies within the cutthroat start-up world. The show also explores themes of family, friendship, and love as the characters face personal struggles and relationships.
The Glory (2022-Present)
Writer: Kim Eun-sook
Cast: Song Hye-kyo, Lee Do-hyun, Lim Ji-yeon, Yeom Hye-ran, Park Sung-hoon, Jung Sung-il
The Glory centers on Moon Dong-eun (Song Hye-kyo), a former victim of school violence who decides to make getting revenge her life’s mission. She ends up in the lives of her former assailants and spends decades painstakingly plotting and looking for any chance to ruin their lives just as they did to her when she was a teenager. The show has a good number of shocking plot turns that take the narrative from almost horror to melodrama to murder mystery.