If you want to cheer up your mind with a therapy called entertainment then you should try these below shared 5 must-watch Korean dramas, and trust me you are not going to regret it.
Movies are like an expensive form of therapy for me.― Tim Burton
The above quote totally inspires my today’s article. People often say they get bored but believe me, I hardly get bored. When my favourite hobby is within my reach then how can I get bored! Isn’t it? 🙂 I am a huge fan of movies and dramas and love to explore quality entertainment. And during this time of social distancing due to COVID-19 lockdown, it is a blessing for me to some extent.
My Love for KDramas
For the last ten plus months, I am totally into Korean dramas. Thanks to the subtitles, that language doesn’t become any barrier. I personally think subtitles are actually “Pearly Gates” to the entertainment industry. Although, my Korean entertainment journey started in 2005 with a 2003 South Korean Romantic Melodrama, “The Classic“. Since then, I am a great fan of their work and watched a bunch of Korean movies. And, not long ago, I traversed some winsome and artistic K-dramas which I want to share with the readers of Women’s Podium.
If you want to experience quality entertainment check out some of my favourite must-watch Korean dramas. 🙂
1. Crash Landing on You (Sa-rang-eui bul-sa-chak – Original Title)
First Aired: 2019
- IMDb: 8.9/10
- MyDramaList: 9.1/10
Genre: Romantic Drama
Directed By: Lee Jeong-Hyo
Starring: Hyun Bin, Son Ye-jin, Kim Jung-Hyun, and Seo Ji-Hye
Although this is a new one, it is the first on my list and is going to remain my all-time favourite. Park Ji-Eun is the writer, and you might be thinking why I have taken the writer’s name first? I truly want to compare him with Nicholas Sparks. Sparks’ movies are very close to many of us and same I want to vouch for Park Ji-Eun. If you have watched or will watch, The Legend of the Blue Sea and My Love from the Star, you will understand what exactly I want to say, will discuss these two later, coming back to Crash Landing on you now. 🙂
This 16 episode South-Korean drama was aired on tvN in South Korea and on Netflix worldwide from December 14, 2019, to February 16, 2020. It is the highest-rated tvN drama and second-highest-rated Korean drama in cable television history and my gutfeel says, it must be among the must-watch Korean dramas to date.
The drama is about a South Korean heiress with a troubled family history, Yoon Se-ri (Son Ye-jin) who accidentally crash-lands in North Korea and meets Ri Jeong-hyuk (Hyun Bin). The story moves around the exhausting process of going back to her country; adjusting and adapting to the North Korean environment; and how two people from cross-borders fall in love while helping each other and can’t be together owing to their country’s differences.
In my opinion, this is the first drama that has given a glimpse of day to day life of the people in North Korea. I felt like they are still living in ancient times. But again, it was so cosy to watch those remote scenes, as they reminded me of my childhood and youth days in Arunachal Pradesh. In the present time, no one in our country can imagine their life without a mobile phone and internet, whereas North Koreans, especially in remote areas are happily living their life without mobile phones, internet, computer games, and whatnot!
However, after watching this series, it felt like the life of common people is very much restricted in North Korea. In contrast, rich people have their own luxury wherever they are, they live in their comfort zone. But one thing is certain that the common people are innocent and have no hatred towards each other. So, if you want to watch a romantic drama with adventure, some fight sequences, emotions, tears, family drama, you are going to love this one. What are you waiting for? Go onto Netflix.
2. My Love From the Star (Byeol-e-seo on geu-dae – Original Title)
First Aired: 2014
Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Drama, and Science fiction
Directed By: Jang Tae-Yoo,
Starring: Jun Ji-Hyun, Kim Soo-Hyun, Park Hae-Jin, Yoo In-na
Also known as You Who Came from the Stars is my second favourite written by Park Ji-Eun. I personally find the genre as romantic comedy and still love to watch some of the funny moments on Youtube; they are literally laughing out loud videos.
My Love from the Star, is a romantic fantasy television series, that aired on SBS from December 18, 2013, to February 27, 2014. The series mostly received positive reviews during its release in South Korea and received several awards across Asia. Actress Jun Ji-Hyun won the Daesang (Grand Prize), the highest award for Korean television, at the Baeksang Arts Awards and the SBS Drama Awards.
The story is about an alien who landed on Earth in the Joseon Dynasty 400 years ago. Later falls in love with a famous Hallyu actress of our era, who suddenly becomes his next-door neighbour.
The chemistry between Jun Ji-Hyun and Kim Soo-Hyun is simply breathtaking. Ji-Hyun’s fun punches in the drama are something that I die for and want to watch those moments over and again. Although, I find Soo-Hyun’s character more intriguing, might be because he is an alien. He has played the character charismatically; I bet you will fall in love with him. If you have Netflix start streaming it now!
3. The Legend of the Blue Sea (Pooreun Badaui Junsul – Original Title)
First Aired: 2016
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Comedy
Directed By: Jin Hyuk
Starring: Jun Ji-Hyun, Lee Min-Ho
Again, superb work from Park Ji-Eun, The Legend of the Blue Sea is a romantic comedy featuring two renowned stars of the Korean Film/Television Industry, Jun Ji-Hyun, and Lee Min-Ho. This drama should be a must-watch if you are a hardcore fan of Kdramas.
The legend of the blue sea is 20 + 1 special episodes South Korean television series, aired on SBS from November 16, 2016, until January 25, 2017. Inspired by the classic Joseon legend from Korea’s first collection of unofficial historical tales, this drama expresses the love story of a con artist and a mermaid who travels across the ocean to find him.
The series revolves around the love story of Heo Joon-Jae (Lee Min-ho), an ingenious conman, and a mermaid named Shim Cheong (Jun Ji-Hyun). The story runs both in present and flashback. Rebirth, fate, and unrequited love, their romance is put together with the parallel story of their Joseon era incarnations. A beautiful selfless love story between Town head Kim Dam-Ryeong (Lee Min-Ho) and the mermaid Se-Hwa (Jun Ji-Hyun) from the Joseon era and Heo Joon-Jae and Shim Cheong from this era. How can a mermaid from the Joseon era survive in modern-day Seoul?
The story has innocence, love, jealousy, comic timings, the existence of past life, reincarnation, karma and how true love find each other. Jun Ji-Hyun’s acting is marvellous; you are going to love her as a ‘mermaid’; one of the best parts of this drama is the Jun Ji Hyun funny scenes and comic timing. If you like fairytales and the fantasy realm of KDramaWorld, give it try. I am 100 per cent sure you are going to adore it. It is available on Netflix if you want to give it a try.
4. Healer (Hilleo – Original Title)
First Aired: 2014
- IMDb: 8.5/10
- Viki: 9.8/10
- MyDramaList: 9.1/10
Genre: Action Thriller, Romance
Directed By: Lee Jung-sub and Kim Jin-woo
Starring: Ji Chang-Wook, Park Min-Young, Yoo Ji-Tae
In the list of must-watch Korean dramas, the fourth that joins the list is Healer. Written by Song Ji-Na, Healer falls in the genre: thriller and suspense along with a beautiful love story. You can watch it on Netflix.
Healer is 20 episodes South Korean television series and it was aired on KBS2 from December 8, 2014, to February 10, 2015. Although Healer received modest ratings in its home country, in fact, it grew a huge fanbase overseas and made Ji Chang-Wook renowned outside Korea.
The drama moves around a decade-old murder accompanying a group of five friends who ran an illegal broadcasting station during the Fifth Republic in South Korea. The present story moves around a heinous crime and some hidden truths in the past. The current scenario in the story mainly revolves around three different people:
- An illegal “night courier” with the codename “Healer” (Ji Chang-Wook) who has tremendous fighting skills.
- A reporter Chae Young-shin/Oh Ji-an (Park Min-young) from a second-rate tabloid news website,
- And a famous journalist at a major broadcast station Kim Moon-ho (Yoo Ji-Tae).
In a quest to uncover the truth from that 1992 incident, how these three characters dealt with media, criminals and corrupt system. Simultaneously, struggling between truth and fate how two young minds came together. Healer and Chae Young-shin’s love story is something to watch.
The story moves in and out, both in the past and present. You will have to be on alert mode while watching it as the transition between present and past is quite quick but smooth. The first one or two episodes need more attention for non-Koreans to connect the dots. If you want to watch a story that has some excellent fighting sequences, suspense, drama, love story, this drama is worth watching.
5. Remember: War of the Son (Rimembeo: Adeul-ui Jeonjaeng – Original Title)
First Aired: 2015
- IMDb: 7.9/10
- Viki: 9.5/10
- MyDramaList: 8.4/10
Genre: Courtroom Drama, Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Mystery
Directed By: Lee Chang-min
Starring: Yoo Seung-ho, Park Sung-Woong, Park Min-Young, Namkoong Min, Jung Hye-sung
Another K-drama that will always stay on my list is Remember: War of the Son, This drama’s plot is unlike the rest of the four, but if you want to experience the exceptional acting of Namkoong Min, you must watch it. The genre of this drama primarily is crime dealing with the corrupted legal system. This too is available on Netflix.
It is a South Korean thriller drama that was aired on SBS from December 9, 2015, to February 18, 2016. Yoo Seung-Ho won Excellence Award for Actor in a Genre Drama, at the 2016 SBS Drama Awards. He was also nominated for the Top Excellence Award, Actor, at the 9th Korea Drama Awards. Namkoong Min’s performance as an antagonist won him an Excellence Award for Actor in a Miniseries, at the 5th APAN Star Awards, as well as nominations for Grand Prize at the 2016 SBS Drama Awards and for Best Actor at the 52nd Baeksang Arts Awards.
The story is about a young lawyer who can remember every detail of every single day of his life; struggling with the legal system and trying to prove the innocence of his father, a convicted murderer on death row.
Seo Jin-woo (Yoo Seung-ho) has a special condition called hyperthymesia, in which an individual possesses a superior autobiographical memory, and due to which he can recall his personal experiences and events in perfect detail. On the other hand, his father developed Alzheimer’s disease, making him lose his memories. Jin-woo pledges to prove the innocence of his father, who was wrongfully convicted of murder. Four years later, Jin-woo becomes a lawyer to put the real criminal behind bars but bribery, corruption made his struggle harder; in other words, it was not an easy road to justice. Lee In-ah’s (Park Min-young) support in his stressful journey is admirable, she was a strong pillar in Seo Jin-woo’s life, again you will find a soft and beautiful love story in this drama.
I must say writer Yoon Hyun-ho has justified the plot. To be honest, I was shaken by Namkoong Min’s performance as the story’s antagonist, he is just incredible. If you are looking out for something outstanding this drama is one of the must-watch Korean dramas. His villainous role caught me so deeply that still after a year whenever I see him in any other series, I feel like what he will do now!
Recently I have finished watching the 2016 series “The Doctors” which has one episode on him, although his character was adorable in this drama. Still, I was on the verge of the negative side that now he is going to do something terrible. Hope after hearing my story, you can relate clearly that such terrific was his acting in Remember! Must see this drama if you want to see the insights of the social system and legal system of South Korea.
Must-Watch Korean Dramas – 2022 Update – Two New Addition
It’s been quite a long updating this article with my favorite must-watch Korean dramas. Despite having a different nationality and mother tongue, I wouldn’t blink a bit when talking about movies or dramas that Korean dramas are always my first pick. Being a hardcore kdrama fan, I have watched uncountable of them, but there are a few kdramas that I can watch twice or thrice, thus making a list of my favorites in this article.
6. Snowdrop (Seolganghwa – Original Title)
First Aired: 2021
- MyDramaList: 8.6/10
Genre: Romance, Melodrama
Directed By: Jo Hyun-tak
Starring: Jung Hae-in, Jisoo, Yoo In-na, Jang Seung-jo, Yoon Se-ah, Kim Hye-yoon, Jung Yoo-jin
Just two days ago, I finished this somewhat slightly controversial 2021 k-drama, Snowdrop. And must say, it was a binge three days watch, leaving all work at stake except some required ones. When I was new to k-drama, all I did was, finish them asap. But after a while, my idea of watching Korean dramas has changed, now I watch them with ease, enjoying every single dialogue and scene.
But honestly, with Snowdrop, I couldn’t get hold of myself; after watching the first two episodes on Disney Hotstar. As this show airs once a week, waiting for another episode next Wednesday is like someone is punishing and leaving me completely devastated. But then my son solved my agony with a website where watching all remaining 14 episodes in a go seemed like a boon—in a nutshell, loving this drama, Blackpink’s Jisso and Jung Hae-in.
Snowdrop, a 16 episode k-drama, originally named Seolganghwa, was first aired on JTBC from December 18, 2021, to January 30, 2022, every Saturday and Sunday at 22:30 (KST). The storyline moves around 1987, a pivotal year in South Korean political history, intriguing spy story, crossborder true love, some hilarious moments and whatnot.
Set in 1987, an enduring love story of a female university student Jisoo as Eun Yeong-ro and a North Korean spy Jung Hae-in as Lim Soo-ho. How did a blind group date meet and love, at first sight, make Yeong-ro trust Soo-ho, further helping him hide from the government agency in her dorm room. Interestingly, against such odd and political uproar, the lead pair’s love story develops, gripping their feelings stronger for each other. However, the story ended with some happy and sad moments. But for me, it was somewhat heartbreaking and heart-touching until the end.
Besides the heart-craving love story, if you love spy stories thrillers, then don’t wait; just watch it. The entire star cast of Snowdrop is admirable and a pleasure to watch. And for Blackpink fans, I would say it is a candid moment watching Jisoo in her first role as a leading actress, and without a doubt, she truly nailed her role. The chemistry between Hae-in and Jisoo as Soo-hoo and Yeong-ro is not only commendable but also leaves you yearning for watching them together forever. The other main leads are also true-to-life in portraying their roles. Every single character has some exhilarating past that unfolds one by one as per the story demands. Each episode is one hour and thirty minutes; it might look quite long, but trust me, the storyline is so interesting that it keeps you on the edge of what next?
7. The Heirs ( The Inheritors)
First Aired: 2013
- MyDramaList: 7.6/10
Genre: Teen, Romance, School drama
Directed By: Kang Shin-hyo and Boo Sung-chul
Starring: Lee Min-ho, Park Shin-hye and Kim Woo-bin
‘The Heirs’ is among those dramas I watched during the initial binge-watch days. I am not sure how I missed adding this earlier, but recently when watching this a month ago, I questioned myself, how could I have missed this one to add to my favorite list of must-watch Korean dramas? Undoubtedly, the chemistry between Lee Min-ho and Park Shin-hye is worth watching, but personally, it was Kim Woo-bin, whom I admire the most among the lead start cast. And while searching Woo-bin’s other dramas, I landed watching ‘Uncontrollably Fond‘, must say, one of his finest works. Anyways, I am going off track; let’s move on to dig more about The Heirs.
The Heirs, known as The Inheritors, is quite a popular teen drama aired in 2013 on SBS from October 9 to December 12, 2013. A school drama, rolling around the life of privileged super-elite rich kids, family pressure, the love triangle and quite a lot to explore.
Kim Tan (Lee Min-ho) is the heir to the Empire Group, a family conglomerate business overshadowed by his half-brother Kim Won (Choi Jin-hyuk), who tries to take control of the family business and exiles Kim Tan to the US. Despite being betrothed to Rachel Ryu (Kim Ji-won), a hotel heiress, Tan slips in love with Cha Eun-sang (Park Shin-hye), the daughter of his family’s housekeeper. Besides the friendship and rivalry with Choi Young-do (Kim Woo-bin), aching for his brother’s care and fighting for his love for Cha Eun-sang with his father, how Kim Tan’s life moves around is something to watch.
If you are a fan of teen drama, school drama, poor-rich love stories, go for this. The plot and story are smooth and pleasant to watch. You might not find the plot exceptional, but it is fascinating enough to grab you with its every episode. I just love how the story progresses, makes its way and keeps us tied with eagerness with each episode. Besides the k-drama ‘Encounter‘, this is the only drama where you will fall for both lead actors. It’s an excellent show when you want to feel warm and relaxing; it makes you laugh, cry and love your stars. It would be not wrong to say that this is indeed among the must-watch Korean dramas you would love to see. Stream on Netflix if you are ready for a binge watch.
That’s the end of my article, if you want to discover something new, you must consider these above must-watch Korean dramas. Let us know your views via the comment section. Also, I will keep updating this article whenever I will fall in love with any other dramas besides the above-shared ones.
Also Read: If you are a K-drama fan, don’t miss these renowned historical k-dramas and action K-dramas other than the romantic ones.
The first four dramas without a doubt are some of the finest K-dramas! I haven’t seen the last one, definitely will see this as I have a huge crush on Yoo Seung-ho after watching I'm Not a Robot! You have summarized well, especially in the first and last drama, your insights are detailed and helpful. Keep filling us with more k-dramas and must watch I'm Not a Robot, you are going to love it.
Thanks, Tara for your review and time, Remember is a crime drama but very captivating, you must try even if it isn't your fav niche. I have started watching I'm not a robot and it's interesting. It's good to see Chae Soo-bin, she is as innocent as she was in Where Star Lands. 🙂
Nicely written admin, usually people dont write in detail, reading the synopsis, all the 5 dramas seems to be an excellent watch. I'm not a drama fan, although, I have watched a couple of Korean movies, seems lockdown is the time to watch some new thingy 🙂 keep telling us more!
Thanks, Jenna, if your first fav. genre is a romance, you are going to love the first 4 dramas, the last one is totally different yet too good.
Personally, I feel like no one can beat the emotions they show in k-dramas. 🙂
Awesome choices, out of 5 I haven't seen Crash Landing on You and Remember, will watch. The way you EXPLAIN the reasons, they really drag the curiosity out in me. Keep writing about Korean Dramas.
Very smoothly explained all the 5 dramas, just a suggestion keep updating this article with more add on, the way you described all the dramas, I am really intrigued now to watch Remember… I'm a biigggggg fan of Park Min-Young, how come I missed this one!