10 Must Watch Korean Dramas on Netflix

With the global phenomenon of K-pop, K-beauty, and K-dramas, Netflix announced at the beginning of this year that they would invest $700 million on Korean dramas and other Korean entertainment content.  With the huge worldwide success of Squid Game, we can see how extraordinary Korean dramas can be with a vast investment from Netflix.  Director Bong Joon Ho said at the 2019 Golden Globes, “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films” and Netflix is one of the best platforms where you can experience amazing foreign shows, especially Korean dramas.  

Here are 10 must see Korean dramas to watch on Netflix right now.


Squid Game (Korean Drama Netflix Original)

Squid Game is one of the most popular Korean dramas on Netflix right now.  It came out on September 17th, 2021 and it is now the #1 show in 94 countries on Netflix and became the most-watched Netflix show of all time. This horror fantasy K-drama will play with all of your emotions with twists and turns to where you won’t be able to stop until you watch all 9 episodes. 

456 financially desperate contestants will play 6 Korean children’s games on a remote island to win 45.6 billion won (about 38 million USD) with their life on the line if they don’t pass each game.  With the Squid Game syndrome, Dalgona (Korean honeycomb toffee) has become so popular all over the world where you can now buy a Dalgona making toolset on Amazon for about $20.  Also, the green training suit and the red jumpsuit with the black mesh mask will be one of the most popular Halloween costumes this year due to the show’s success. 

Please don’t watch any spoilers on this drama before you watch it.  There are so many shocking twists and turns that you will best enjoy it without knowing any part of the story.

Rotten Tomatoes Average Tomatometer: 94%

Rotten Tomatoes Average Audience Score: 85%

IMDb: 8.3/10

Google Review: 96%


Kingdom (Korean Drama Netflix Original)

Kingdom, a periodic political horror zombie drama, is a well-scripted thriller with great actors and breathtaking cinematography which will take you right to the Joseon dynasty (around 1601).  Since its debut on January 25th, 2019, this series has 2 seasons (6 episodes each season) and a recently released special episode. 

This show will grip you from the first scene with the king who has a mysterious disease. You will then find yourself empathizing with the crown prince throughout the whole series who will try to find out the cause of the king’s disease. He is also on a journey to find a cure for the mysterious plague spreading through the south of Korea where he will encounter several opponents. 

This show has great action scenes and the acrobatic movements of Korean zombies will impress and scare at the same time. Also, the Joseon royalty costumes and palaces on the show are quite stunning to look at.  This show will not disappoint you and you will be eagerly waiting for season 3.

Rotten Tomatoes Average Tomatometer: 96%

Rotten Tomatoes Average Audience Score: 90%

IMDb: 8.4/10

Google Review: 94%


D.P. (Korean Drama Netflix Original)

Based on a popular Korean webtoon, D.P. Dog’s Day, it debuted on August 27th, 2021 with 6 episodes.  D.P. stands for Deserter Pursuit and the show is about a newly enlisted private who is assigned to capture army deserters. 

This drama really rings a bell to almost every Korean male between the age of 18 and 28 since they are obligated to serve for at least 18 months in the Korean military.  This show is not for the light-hearted.  This deals with dark and heavy sides of the Korean military, including hazing and inequalities in the Korean military base and in Korean society.

This well-made drama will continue to resonate in your mind for a while after you finish watching it and may be disturbing since it portrays the dark side of how unfair and harsh Korean society can be.  However, this grim reality drama will still touch your heart with a glimpse of hope for a better future.

Rotten Tomatoes Average Tomatometer: NA

Rotten Tomatoes Average Audience Score: 100%

IMDb: 8.5/10

Google Review: 97%


Sweet home (Korean Drama Netflix Original)

Sweet Home is another live-action version of a popular Korean webtoon that debuted on December 28th, 2020 with 10 episodes.  This was the most-watched Korean drama on Netflix until Squid Game came out this September. 

It is the story about a troubled teenager and his neighbor’s struggles to not turn into monsters for unknown reasons. The show portrays a struggle of neighbors banding together to survive and fight off those monsters as well.  This horror dystopian drama will capture your fear of childhood monsters from the beginning with staggering CGI and remarkable action scenes. 

Rotten Tomatoes Average Tomatometer: 83%

Rotten Tomatoes Average Audience Score: 83%

IMDb: 7.4/10

Google Review: 96%


Mr. Sunshine (Korean Drama Netflix Original)

Mr. Sunshine (24 episodes) aired on Netflix and tvN Korean cable channel from July 7th to September 30th, 2018.  This drama has the most episodes on this list but is definitely worth watching.

The show is set in the period between the last days of the Joseon dynasty and the Japanese colonial era (1871- 1919) in Korea.  The romantic period drama is about nameless heroes who lived in a turbulent time, trying to save their country’s sovereignty while continuing to fight for independence after the Japanese overtook their country.  This will make you feel very patriotic if you are Korean or Korean American since the drama did a great job recreating how desolate the Korean people felt when they lost their own country and became second-rated people. 

This drama also has an amazing cast that portrayed the period well while showcasing beautiful cinematography. When you begin watching the drama, the 24 episodes will feel like you watched 10 episodes and you will want to see more. 

The love story between the heroine and the male character is so light-hearted, charming, heart-touching, and despairing at the same time that you can’t help but feel so invested in them while rooting for their love to have a happy ending.

Rotten Tomatoes Average Tomatometer: NA

Rotten Tomatoes Average Audience Score: 93%

IMDb: 8.8/10

Google Review: 94%


Misaeng: Incomplete Life

Misaeng is also based on a popular Korean webtoon about a group of employees in their twenties facing the cruel and competitive office life that either makes or breaks them. 

The main protagonist starts his first job at a trading company as an intern after his dream of becoming a professional Go player failed. He then has to compete with other interns to win a spot as a full-time employee in this competitive corporate Korean company. 

Misaeng (20 episodes), aired on tvN, a Korean cable channel in 2014, and also portrays quite well how cutthroat Korean corporate life can be.  However, this drama really warms your heart as the drama progresses where those interns learn to find comradeship amongst one another. This bond continues to grow, even while the merciless reality of the workplace continues to push each employee to fiercely compete with one another. 

Also, it is important to note the relationship between the protagonist and his boss is very touching as the boss is a rare leader who is willing to teach the main character not to be ruthless but to follow your heart at the workplace.  

Rotten Tomatoes Average Tomatometer: NA

Rotten Tomatoes Average Audience Score: NA

IMDb: 8.6/10

Google Review: 90%


Signal

Signal (16 episodes), aired on tvN, a Korean cable channel in 2016 is a criminal fantasy drama based around unsolved murder cold cases that actually occurred in Korea from 1986 to 1991. 

The young profiler in 2015 discovers an old walkie-talkie radio at his police station and starts to communicate through the radio with a cop from 1989 to help solve old cold cases together.  The great character development and the gripping storyline are what keep Signal to be intriguing throughout the whole show.  This is a must see show if you are into criminal suspense since it is one of the best out there in this category.

Rotten Tomatoes Average Tomatometer: NA

Rotten Tomatoes Average Audience Score: NA

IMDb: 8.6/10

Google Review: 83%


Stranger

Stranger (2 seasons, 32 episodes total), aired in 2017 and 2020, is another great political criminal suspense drama that you will love.  This well-made thriller is about a prosecutor who is incapable of empathizing with others and is assigned to work with an opposite but sympathetic and virtuous female detective. They are both paired together to try and solve a murder case that is more than just a murder. 

The drama dives into the dark side of politics and highlights the fight against inequality, injustice, and corruption.  This drama will capture your imagination from the beginning until the end and will make you wonder who the real villain is and will make you question whether you would be able to act virtuously if you were the protagonist. 

Rotten Tomatoes Average Tomatometer: NA

Rotten Tomatoes Average Audience Score: NA

IMDb: 8.6/10

Google Review: 93%


Designated Survivor: 60 days

Designated Survivor: 60 days (16 episodes), debuted in 2019 on tvN is a remake based on the popular American TV show, Designated Survivor.  The drama follows the same plot as the American show with South Korean cultural and political twists. 

The minister of the environment becomes an acting president after the Korean Capitol got bombed and the president and most of his cabinet members got killed. You can’t help but root for the main protagonist to keep himself pure and good under the unbearable pressure and political corruption and crisis he faces.  This is the show that will make you fall in love with the main character and hope that his government would be just and great under his virtuous leadership.

Rotten Tomatoes Average Tomatometer: NA

Rotten Tomatoes Average Audience Score: 96%

IMDb: 8.1/10

Google Review: 91%


Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha

Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha‘s final episode (16 episodes) was aired on October 17th, 2021.  It is the love story between a practical big city girl who is a dentist and a seaside village handyman.  When the dentist opens up her practice at the seaside town, she finds it difficult to adjust. Then she meets a local handyman from the town and he starts helping and guiding her with the ways of small-town living in a seaside village. 

This romantic comedy is a perfect feel-good drama when you feel down.  Every encounter between the two characters will make you laugh and smile.  Also, the heroine’s stylish wardrobes are another appeal for Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha.

Rotten Tomatoes Average Tomatometer: NA

Rotten Tomatoes Average Audience Score: NA

IMDb: 9/10

Google Review: 97%


Hanyoo Park is a content creator for Best of Korea. She was born in Seoul, Korea, and currently lives and works in Manhattan. She is mom to a 4th grader and a proud maximalist who loves everything about life.

Newsletter Sign Up

Leave a Reply