For those who haven’t delved into the world of Korean television, allow me to introduce you to the world of K-drama (Korean drama). Whether it’s a Korean zombie series like Kingdom or an angsty, teenage love story, South Korea is known for churning out some of the best shows on TV, so buckle your seatbelts and head over to the Netflix’s international section ASAP. There’s action, horror, romance, thrillers, and some of the best looking actors you’ve ever seen! May these 10 best Korean shows on Netflix help fill the void you didn’t know you had.
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10. Strong Girl Bong-Soon
Although many Americans might not have heard of it, Strong Girl Bong-soon has been a commercial hit in Asia and one of the highest rated Korean dramas in cable television history. So, what are we missing out on? To sum it up, the series is about a young woman with superhuman strength with dreams and aspirations that don’t exactly jive with her lifestyle. The show has a little bit of everything: romance, comedy, intrigue, and explosive fight scenes that will keep you on the edge of your seat. An American adaptation of it, called Strong Girl, is said to be coming to The CW in 2019.
9. Oh My Ghost
Oh My Ghost is a Korean TV series that was released in 2015, but can be easily confused with the other three Netflix foreign tv shows of the same name (we’re not even kidding). To avoid confusion, make sure you select the one starring Park Bo-Young. The series is about a shy young woman, Na Bong-Sun, who occasionally sees ghosts thanks to her shaman grandmother. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), Na Bong-Sun eventually gets possessed by a lustful virgin ghost who seduces her long-time crush while using her body as a vessel. Yes, it’s quirky and weird, but it’s also entertaining AF.
Black is a fantasy-thriller about a grim reaper who tracks down his fugitive partner and uncovers the truth about a series of cold case murders along the way. This show is like the love child of True Detective and Supernatural that we didn’t know we always wanted! Blending crimes and paranormal activity is what gives this show the edge, but there’s also a bit of romance (of course). After the Grim Reaper falls in love with a mortal woman, he is forced to rewrite the rules of the afterlife, come what may. Come on, you’ve got to see it now!
7. Boys Over Flowers
Boys Over Flowers was a massively popular South Korean TV series that aired for 25 episodes back in 2009, and you can probably see why just based on the eye candy pictured above. The series follows an average, working-class girl and her relationship with a bunch of rich and arrogant private school boys. As we saw in Sierra Burgess is a Loser, people love it when the popular, good-looking guy falls for a strong-minded “plain Jane,” so this storyline was bound to be a hit in any country.
Unlike some of the other shows on this list that barely made it out of Asia, Stranger was a domestic and international success after being featured on the New York Times list of Best TV Shows of 2017. To summarize, the series follows an emotionless prosecutor and a vivacious detective who work together to uncover the horrifying corruption surrounding a serial murder case. The plot is tight, the performances are stellar, and the show will leave you guessing right up until the end. There are a lot of unsolved murder/crime shows out there, but this is one of the best we’ve seen.
5. Cain And Abel
As I’m sure you can tell by the name, this series was inspired by the biblical story of Cain’s jealousy towards his brother, Abel. Similarly, Cain and Abel is a series about two very different sons and the burning jealousy that threatens to destroy both of their lives. If you’re a drama queen then this is definitely the show for you, because the storyline just won’t quit. Betrayal, disownment, sickness, memory loss, affairs, death plots, detainments…the twists and turns in this show will make the drama in Downton Abbey look like child’s play.
4. Hello My Twenties
Hello My Twenties, a show that follows the ups-and-downs of five young women, is basically South Korea’s version of Derry Girls (except with more characters and less booze). This show is like an anthem for college-aged women having to navigate school, romance, relationships, money, and a serious lack of sleep. Don’t worry, there is a girl for everyone to relate to in this show: the timid one, the hard worker who hasn’t slept in weeks, the “boy crazy” one with questionable taste, the heavy drinker, and the beautiful, popular girl that everyone loves to hate.
3. Beating Again
I’m going to warn you now, The description for this show is a doozy. Described as a “2015 South Korean corporate take-over, corporate espionage, murder plus romantic dramedy television series with a touch of fantasy,” I wasn’t sure what to expect until I read the plot summary. The show follows a man named Min Ho, a scoundrel/sociopath corporate investor with a personal vendetta against his uncle, whose cold heart is miraculously changed (both literally and figuratively) following an unexpected heart attack. Without giving too much away, this show will leave you believing that even the worst people can change for the better.
2. Something In The Rain
Something in the Rain, a series that explores the evolution of romantic relationships, was a commercial hit and became one of the highest rated Korean dramas in cable television history. So, why the success? Maybe it’s because the romantic relationship in the show is just so darn relatable, unlike American romance which is often overblown and far-fetched. Almost everyone can relate to a regular love story involving a store supervisor in her mid-thirties and a video game designer (who just happens to be her best friend’s younger brother). It’s quiet, sweet, and totally believable.
1. Mr. Sunshine
As the only period-drama on this list, Mr. Sunshine follows the lives of activists fighting for Korea’s independence in the early 1900s. Lee Byung-Hun is born into slavery, escapes to the United States, and then returns to Korea years later as a United States Marine Corps officer. Upon his return, Lee Byung-Hun finds love and uncovers a foreign plot to colonize Korea. The series received major critical acclaim for its cinematography, historical accuracy, and storytelling, and won the Drama of the Year award at the 6th APAN Star Awards. If you enjoy historical drama, you can’t get any better than this.