With COVID-19 taking over our lives, we are consuming entertainment at a rate that has never been seen before. Korean entertainment in particular has seen a huge rise in popularity, with Netflix investing $700 million into curating Korean content for their streaming platform. To prepare for the upcoming wave of Korean movies and shows that will be coming to Netflix, we’ve created a list of ten bingeworthy K-dramas to get you started.
1. Crash Landing On You
Released in 2019, Crash Landing On You tells the unlikely love story of a South Korean heiress named Yoon Se-ri who makes an emergency landing in North Korea after a paragliding accident; and a North Korean special officer named Ri Jeong-hyeok who decides to hide and protect her. Since its release, the two main leads, actress Son Yejin and actor Hyun Bin, have recently announced their relationship - making their relationship onscreen even more addicting to watch.
2. Romance Is A Bonus Book
This 2019 romance drama focuses on the story of Kang Dan-i (played by Lee Na-Young), a divorcee and former copywriter looking for a job to support her daughter; and her childhood friend Cha Eun-ho (played by Lee Jong-suk), a gifted writer and the youngest editor-in-chief at his publishing company. Romance Is A Bonus Book also gained massive popularity as it was Lee Na-Young’s return to the small screen in nine years.
3. Sweet Home
This apocalyptic horror drama centers around a suicidal high school boy Cha Hyun-su (played by Song Kang). Along with a group of fellow apartment residents, he tries to survive a "monsterization" apocalypse where people turn into monsters that reflect their innermost desires. In the midst of the carnage, they must maintain their humanity. The series is based off the popular Naver webtoon 'Sweet Home', which recorded over 1 billion views.
4. Itaewon Class
In the Seoul neighborhood of Itaewon, an ex-convict Park Sae-ro-yi (played by Park Seo-joon) and his friends attempt to overcome their various struggles to make their ambitious dreams for their street bar a reality. This drama received high praise from the public for the diverse nature of the drama, which featured a black character and a transgender character as parts of the main cast. Like Sweet Home, Itaewon Class was also based off of a Naver webtoon.
5. Because This Is My First Life
Because This Is My First Life tells the story of two housemates - a computer designer named Nam Se-hee (played by Lee Min-ki) and an assistant screenwriter named Yoon Ji-ho (played by Jung So-min) - who decide to get married for financial convenience and to avoid social criticism. However, the two discover that nothing is simple when it comes to demanding in-laws or facing their growing bond. The series marks Lee Min-ki's first small screen lead role since 2007.
In this first Netflix Original Korean drama, strange rumors about the ill King grip the Joseon-era kingdom and Crown Prince Lee Chang (played by Ju Ji-hoon) becomes the citizens’ only hope against a mysterious plague of the undead overtaking the land. The ongoing series’ 2019 release was met with praise and renewed for a second season that premiered in 2020. There is also a special episode of Kingdom and a backstory about the mysterious character Lee Chang’s group encountered on their quest.
7. Mr. Sunshine
Mr. Sunshine centers on a young boy Eugene Choi/Choi Yoo Jin (played by Lee Byung-hun), who is born into slavery but after a traumatic event escapes to the United States during the 1871 U.S. expedition to Korea. After returning to Joseon as a United States Marine Corps officer, he meets and falls in love with an aristocrat's daughter Go Ae-shin (played by Byun Tae-ri). The series received critical acclaim for its cinematography and storytelling.
8. Reply 1988
Reply 1988 revolves around five friends and their families living in the same neighborhood of Ssangmun-dong located in Dobong District of Northern Seoul. The series takes a nostalgic look at Seoul in the late 1980s and is the fourth highest-rated drama in Korean cable television history.
9. Hospital Playlist
From the mind of the same director as Reply 1988, this critically acclaimed series focuses on a group of five doctors in their forties who have been friends since they first entered medical school. By the end of the first season, the series became the ninth highest-rated Korean drama in cable television history. The series has also been renewed for a second season, which is set to air in May 2021.
Vagabond focuses on a stuntman Cha Dal Gun (played by Lee Seung-gi), who in the face of his nephew’s death during a mysterious plane crash, sets off to discover the truth about the plane crash. While on his journey, he meets Go Hae Ri (played by Bae Suzy), a National Intelligence Service agent and the eldest daughter of a marine. The two characters’ lives become intertwined as they discover a tangled web of corruption within the nation's most trusted secret service agency.
What’s your favorite Korean drama? Let us know in the comments below.