17 Bingeworthy K-dramas on Netflix Recommended by a Korean
This post covers the best K-dramas on Netflix and other platforms.
I’ve had some free time to watch K-dramas during the pandemic and want to share my favorite ones.
They’re categorized by realistic and fantasy/sci-fi.
Let’s check them out!
Hot K-Dramas Right Now (As of Nov. 2020)
A new K-drama (Nov. 2020) on Netflix about the “start and up” (expression used on the show for “growth”) of young Koreans dreaming of becoming the Korean Steve Jobs.
In a world where everyone is chasing money, the main characters are motivated by love, kindness and thoughtfulness, on top of money. Also, there’s the sweetest and nicest Grandma character who brings humanity to the show.
It’s nice to watch a show with unique source material, bright atmosphere, and an underdog story of overcoming challenges to be successful.
Tale of the Nine Tailed (구미호뎐)
A fantasy action romance between a Gumiho (Nine Tailed Fox Demon) who settles in the city and the producer who chases him. First of all, it’s very exciting to see Lee Dong-wook and Kim Bum as Gumiho. The two characters have great love-hate bromance chemistry.
On top of the fantasy elements, the drama has a bit of horror that might startle you.
It’s interesting to see supernatural beings in traditional Korean folk tales, including Gumiho, King Yeomla, Sanshin, and Imoogi, reinterpreted in a modern way. The story is richer since it not only focuses on romance, but also includes traditional Korean folktales.
Available on TVING.
Birthcare Center (산후조리원)
A “childbirth noir”, featuring the youngest executive in a company and the oldest mother in the OB/GYN, Hyun-jin. She goes through a disaster-level childbirth and a distress-level postpartum care center experience.
Postpartum care centers (산후조리원) offer specialized facilities and professional services to help moms after giving birth. Almost every mom in Korea goes to one of these centers to recover, learn and socialize.
There are different levels of postpartum care centers and most moms want to go to nicer ones so they can network with a better class of people.
It’s a unique place where grown-up women who have nothing in common, such as age, job or school, can instantly become close friends, just because they gave birth in a similar time period.
All my friends who recently became moms and experienced postpartum care centers, recommended this drama for its realism.
Available on TVING.
Homemade Love Story (오! 삼광빌라!)
A new drama that centers on individuals with unique stories living in a place called Samgwang Villa, and how they get to know each other.
The residents can be considered a family since they love and rely on each other, even though they’re not related.
The story is about people with warm hearts, and makes you think about your neighbors and family.
Available on WAVVE.
No Matter What (누가 뭐래도)
A family drama where children who have gone through their parents’ divorce and remarriage overcome the prejudice and challenges happening around a flower shop.
Available on WAVVE.
The Penthouse: War in Life (펜트하우스)
A ‘queen’ on the 100th floor penthouse vs. A ‘prima donna’ with a desire to take everything vs. A ‘woman’ running towards entering high-class society.
Things are going to get messy.
This drama is about the real estate and education war in the most expensive area with the best education.
Available on WAVVE.
Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol (도도솔솔라라솔)
A romantic comedy on Netflix between an energetic pianist and a mystery man.
This is a clean drama with almost no MSG added.
It’s perfect for forgetting about everything going on around the world and simply enjoying the show. The story is comforting since the main characters in incredibly depressing situations still have energy to live happily.
HOSPITAL PLAYLIST (슬기로운 의사생활) + PRISON PLAYBOOK (슬기로운 감빵생활)
A TV series about 5 friends and how their lives intertwine since undergraduate medical school.
For the first time in 20 years, these 5 doctors work together, and restarted a band to relieve stress and have fun during their crazy busy schedule.
It also shows different stories of patients who spend ordinary, yet special moments in a hospital, which is a miniature version of life from cradle to grave.
I love this TV series because it’s all about empathy and good characters.
Unlike most Korean TV shows, it’s pretty calm and puts a smile on my face.
No, they don’t slap each other with Kimchi. (Although, there’s a little naughtiness involving filthy water and a rag thrown at someone’s face.)
It’s the second show in the “Wise Life (슬기로운 생활)” series, following Prison Playbook (슬기로운 감빵생활). (FYI, 슬기로운 생활 has been a textbook since the 80s.)
If you watch them both, you’ll find a lot of the same actors.
CRASH LANDING ON YOU (사랑의 불시착)
A romantic TV show that depicts the top-secret love story of a Jaebeol heiress.
She accidentally lands in North Korea after a paragliding mishap and meets a hot army officer.
Just like the quote, “sometimes the wrong train takes you to the right destination”.
As a Korean, I’ve never thought that much about North Korea.
But it shows the life of North Koreans (I doubt that it’s realistic, but it was still interesting to watch.)
Another fun part was North Korean language and their slang.
After watching, I realized once again that Hyun Bin is so handsome and Son Ye-jin is so beautiful.
SKY CASTLE (스카이캐슬)
Want to take a peek at how competitive and fierce student life is in Korea?
This show perfectly captures how passionate Korean parents are when it comes to their children’s education and success.
The story seems a bit exaggerated, but felt very realistic.
It made me glad I was born in the countryside.
It’s a lot more intense than the previous shows, so it’s a good idea to be in the right frame of mind.
Some of these K-dramas won’t be available in your country. Access the entire Netflix catalogue with VPN here!
REPLY series (응답하라 시리즈)
Reply 1997, 1994 and 1988
Looking for some sweet sweet nostalgia?
If you’re curious about Korean life in the 80s and 90s, this might be the perfect TV series for you.
While airing, Korean viewers were so focused on finding out who the main female character marries.
They even created a competition between “어남류 VS. 어남택 (eo-nam-ryu VS. eo-nam-taek)”.
They’re abbreviations for 어차피 남편은 류준열 (eo-cha-pi nam-pyeon-eun Ryu Jun-yeol, meaning “in any case, husband is Ryu Jun-yeol”), and 어쩌면 남편은 택이 (eo-jjeo-myeon nam-pyeon-eun Taek-ee, meaning “perhaps, her husband is Taek”).
And yes, we love abbreviations.
Even the show titles were abbreviated from 응답하라 1997, 응답하라 1994 and 응답하라 1988 to 응칠(R7), 응사(R4), 응팔(R8).
I usually enjoy watching dark and serious sci-fi tv shows on HBO.
But sometimes, I need to keep things light and escape from reality (like the crazy news from all around the world).
I’m not a huge fan of conventional Korean tv shows, so I make sure to watch ones that are unique.
And when I do, I watch fantasy or sci-fi K-dramas.
A historical Korean zombie show that features awesome hats.
It’s perfect viewing given the global situation.
I haven’t gotten into it much, because it’s a little too scary.
But people keep asking me what “bakkatyangban” means.
Hotel del Luna (호텔 델루나)
A special story unfolds when an elite hotelier becomes the manager of Hotel del Luna, and runs it with an aloof, beautiful, yet ill-tempered female boss.
Hotel del Luna is located in the middle of Seoul but invisible to people because it only serves ghosts. The supernatural guests resolve their deep sorrow at the hotel before moving on to the afterlife.
I was startled a little from ghosts in the beginning, but got used to it.
This TV show went viral thanks to Lee Ji-eun (IU)’s fashion.
Guardian: The Lonely and Great God (도깨비)
A mysterious romantic tale that’s totally worth watching.
- A dokkaebi (도깨비, goblin or legendary creature from Korean mythology possessing extraordinary powers such as creating gold) who wants to end his immortality needs a human bride to do so.
- A grim reaper (저승사자) who lost his memories and started living with the dokkaebi.
- And a girl who was destined to die, but appears in front of them, claiming that she’s the ‘dokkaebi’s bride’.
I love everything about this K-drama. The story is unique and solid. Gong Yoo and Lee Dong-wook are perfect for the roles and look super cool. One of my favorite scenes was when they do the runway walk while holding green onions.
My Love from the Star (별에서 온 그대)
A romantic comedy where an alien who came to Earth 400 years ago meets a top celebrity without manners. (it’s better than it sounds)
I’m not a big fan of romantic comedies, but this one was worth watching. After hearing about the show for so long, I finally watched it during lockdown in Da Nang, Vietnam.
Jun Ji-hyun perfectly carried the role as Cheon Song-yi, and Kim Soo-Hyun showed his acting skills. The couple looks so adorable too.
A romantic thriller where a surgical resident, Oh Yeon‑joo, accidentally gets pulled into the webtoon world of W, created by her father.
She gets involved in a murder mystery and meets the main character, “Kang Cheol”.
This is one of my favorite K-dramas because they beautifully executed the mind-blowing ideas and created the fantasy world of the webtoon. The casting was also perfect.
A fantasy K-drama where the two main characters who are just friends die for unforeseen reasons. They get resurrected in new bodies using the soul reviving orb, “abyss”. The catch is that they don’t recognize each other after they’re revived. Eventually, they team up and chase a murderer together.
The story is brilliant and the chemistry between the actors and actresses is amazing.
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Did we miss anything?
Thanks for reading!
K-dramas on Netflix are the perfect cure for boredom.
Let us know which one you like the most in the comments.
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