Best Korean Dramas on Netflix: The seismic success of Squid Game in recent times has propelled Korean dramas into the global spotlight, garnering a dedicated following among Western audiences. Streaming giants like Netflix have been quick to capitalize on this trend, expanding their K-Drama offerings. But for those just setting sail on the expansive sea of K-Dramas, the question remains: where to begin in this diverse and captivating genre? Enter these eight K-Dramas, carefully curated as ideal entry points for a variety of reasons. While their episodes might rival the duration of full-length feature films, rest assured, these series are not just enjoyable but completely engrossing, ensuring you'll be hooked from the get-go.
If you have a penchant for small-town romances, 'Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha' is a must-watch. The story follows dentist Hye-jin Yoon (Min-a Shin), who embarks on a soul-searching road trip to Gongjin, a picturesque seaside town, after losing her job in the big city. Her journey brings her to a quaint community, complete with quirky neighbors and the resident handyman, Du-sik (Chief) Hong (Seon-ho Kim). Despite their contrasting personalities, Hye-jin and Du-sik aim to coexist peacefully, with hidden depths in their relationship. This series masterfully utilizes its ensemble cast to craft an intricate narrative around Hye-jin's arrival in Gongjin, changing lives in profound and subtle ways.
For enthusiasts of whimsical supernatural fantasies, 'Hotel del Luna' is a must-see. The series introduces Chang-sun Gu (Jin-goo Yeon), who, following a near-fatal accident in his childhood, grapples with a life where his father traded his soul to the enigmatic Guest House of the Moon. Upon reaching adulthood, Chang-sun is coerced into managing the Hotel del Luna by its enigmatic owner, Man-wol Jang (Ji-eun Lee), a being that defies the boundaries of life and death. As Chang-sun navigates the responsibilities of running the hotel to keep its resident spirits at peace, he begins to perceive these apparitions as souls in need of guidance. 'Hotel del Luna' captivates with its vibrant visuals, creative direction, and an immersive storyline spanning centuries, serving up a supernatural series that sates your cravings, all with a generous dose of heart and romance.
For those who delight in light-hearted legal dramas, 'Extraordinary Attorney Woo' is an ideal choice. The show follows Young-woo Woo (Eun-bin Park), a law student on the autism spectrum, as she rises above adversity to excel in her studies. With her unique problem-solving skills and photographic memory, she takes on a variety of cases, earning recognition from her peers. 'Extraordinary Attorney Woo' doesn't focus on autism-related stereotypes but presents Young-woo as a character with distinctive qualities. Her endearing and quirky personality makes this series an enjoyable watch.
'Bring It On, Ghost' presents Bong-pal Park (Taec-yeon Ok), who possesses a unique skill: the ability to see ghosts. His journey takes a dramatic turn when he encounters high school student Hyun-ji Kim (So-hyun Kim), a wandering spirit. As they team up to unravel the mystery of her untimely demise, they discover not all spirits are malevolent. A lighter take on supernatural crime-fighting compared to 'Hotel del Luna,' this series is a thrilling and fun adventure, especially appealing to younger viewers. The endearing dynamics between the two lead characters adds an extra layer of charm.
Set against the backdrop of Korea's Joseon Dynasty, 'The King's Affection' defies its somewhat misleading title. In an era where male and female twins are considered a bad omen, Dam-yi (Eun-bin Park) faces execution when her mother, the queen, gives birth to twins. To save her life, Dam-yi is sent away and later returns disguised as a palace maid. Her life grows more complex when her twin brother, Lee Hwi (Myung-bin Choi), the crown prince, is assassinated. Dam-yi must assume his identity while concealing her true self. Amid her royal duties and the covert task of guarding her true identity, she grapples with her growing feelings for her first love, Ji-woon Jung (Rowoon). The series draws parallels to the tale of Mulan, with hidden gender-swapped identities and high-stakes drama. What sets 'The King's Affection' apart is its seamless blend of heartfelt romance and gripping action sequences, creating an immersive viewing experience.
Despite its seemingly cheerful title, 'Happiness' unfolds in a not-so-happy near future. A failed drug experiment unleashes a global pandemic known as the Lytta Virus, turning humans into zombie-like creatures with a craving for human blood and flesh. Sae-bom Yoom (Hyo-joo Han), her "husband" Yi-hyun Jung (Hyung-sik Park), and their fellow apartment residents must band together to survive the zombie outbreak. While a pandemic storyline might strike close to home, 'Happiness' benefits from its 2021 release during the peak of quarantine, delivering maximum chills. Although the plot may seem familiar, it remains a compelling watch, courtesy of its robust characters.
Years after escaping to the United States in 1871, former slave turned marine Eugene Choi (Byung-hun Lee) returns to Korea on a diplomatic mission. His return is marked by encounters with colonizers, samurai, and nobility, as well as a profound love story with Ae-shin Go (Tae-ri Kim), a member of the Righteous Army fiercely dedicated to Korea's fight for freedom. 'Mr. Sunshine' weaves history into its narrative, creating high-stakes drama and intense emotional tension. If you crave romantic melodrama with a historical foundation, this show is a perfect choice.
South Korean heiress Se-ri Yoon (Ye-jin Son) embarks on a paragliding adventure, only to find herself stranded in North Korea. There, she crosses paths with special officer Captain Jeong-hyeok Ri (Hyun Bin), who shelters and protects her despite the animosity between their countries. 'Crash Landing on You' is a thrilling journey, especially for fans of the Romeo-and-Juliet dynamic with a lighter touch. While the premise holds moments of high drama, the show balances them with humor and romance, making it an excellent introduction to Korean romantic comedies for Western audiences.