Tired of scrolling to the bottom of Netflix and closing it?
Here are 12 Korean streaming services you might not have heard of!
You can use them to find new Korean dramas, variety shows and movies.
They’re also great for learning the language!
Let’s check them out!
Growing up in Korea with K-dramas always on, the stories seemed formulaic to me. Most featured a love triangle, and followed a Cinderella story where a poor yet pretty girl meets jaebeol. Plus lots of goguma (frustrating) scenes where the mother-in-law is super mean.
Lots of fun the first hundred times or so, but gets old.
Now there’s more variety than ever. I started watching new dramas a few years ago when they’re either recommended by my friends, brother or are highly acclaimed.
Whether you’re a K-drama fan or not, a quality show is a quality show.
- Squid Game (오징어게임)
- Crash Landing on You (사랑의 불시착)
- Hotel del Luna (호텔 델루나)
- Guardian: The Lonely and Great God (도깨비)
- Kingdom (킹덤)
**Congrats to the newly engaged couple, Hyun Bin and Son Ye-jin!! 🥰🥰**
To fully enjoy K-drama moments in a busy modern society (바쁘다 바빠 현대사회), you need OTT (Over The Top: platform or service that allows you stream shows directly from the internet), instead of clearing your evening to watch scheduled TV.
If you thought the streaming wars in the US were heating up, wait til you read about what’s happening in Korea!
Taking the lead of Netflix, HBO Max/Go/Now, Disney+ and many others, Korean streaming services are popping up like mushrooms and running their own Squid Game.
Without further ado, let’s check out 12 Korean streaming services for your K-drama fix!
1. WAVVE (웨이브)
WAVVE was launched in September 2019 through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between SK Telecom and the three major national television networks (KBS, MBC and SBS). Like the Avengers of Korean broadcasting conglomerates to fight Thanos (Netflix).
It’s a new integrated OTT service that merged POOQ and oksusu, to keep global OTT companies like YouTube and Netflix in check.
This platform may not be available in your country without VPN.
WHY CHOOSE WAVVE?
You can watch famous Korean entertainment shows like Running Man (런닝맨), Hangout with Yoo (놀면 뭐하니?) and I Live Alone (나 혼자 산다). WAVVE even offers HBO series like Succession and Luck.
|Price||7,900 won||10,900 won||13,900 won|
|Device||Mobile + PC||Mobile + PC + TV||Mobile + PC + TV|
|Image Quality||HD(720p)||FHD(1080p)||UHD included (-2160p)|
2. TVING (티빙)
TVING was launched through a joint venture of CJ ENM and JTBC.
This OTT platform was created to counter WAVVE in early 2020, then was joined by Naver afterwards to maximize the synergy of CJ ENM, which has strength in content planning and production, and Naver, which has numerous webtoon and web novel IPs. Another team up, but mostly of villains. Kind of like Suicide Squad.
Just like WAVVE, it may not be available outside Korea without VPN.
WHY CHOOSE TVING?
TVING has tons of fun K-dramas based on webtoons like Work Later, Drink Now (술꾼도시여자들) and Yumi’s Cells (유미의 세포들) as well as super addictive Mnet shows like Show Me the Money (쇼미더머니) and Street Woman Fighter (스트릿 우먼 파이터).
|Price||7,900 won||10,900 won||13,900 won|
3. WATCHA (왓챠)
WATCHA has a wide selection of classic films, indie movies and TV series that are relatively non-mainstream, compared to Netflix with its blockbuster movies and TV shows. The best part is you can leave user ratings and get recommendations that you’ll actually like (*cough* do better Netflix).
If you want to binge-watch old K-dramas aired in the 2000s as well as entertainment shows and movies, WATCHA is for you. You can view Japanese anime and Hongkong movies too!
WATCHA offers a 2-week free trial.
WHY CHOOSE WATCHA?
WATCHA is great for viewing classics like Harry Potter, Dexter, Coffee Prince (커피프린스 1호점), The Moon Embracing the Sun (해를 품은 달), Infinite Challenge (무한도전), Inuyasha (이누야샤) and Case Closed (명탐정 코난).
|Price||7,900 won||12,900 won|
|Device||Mobile + Tablet + PC + Smart TV + Android TV + Chromecast + PS5||Mobile + Tablet + PC + Smart TV + Android TV + Chromecast + PS5|
|Image Quality||2K (1080p)||4K (2160p)|
4. U+Mobile TV (U+모바일tv)
Launched in June 2014, U+Mobile TV is sort of a VOD service provided by LG U+ (one of the major Korean mobile network operators). Kind of like if Verizon made a streaming platform, if Verizon also made TVs, computers, refrigerators and a whole bunch of other stuff.
Its name used to be “Uflix (유플릭스)”, a combination of U+ and Netflix, but was changed due to consumer cringe and strongly-worded letters from Netflix. Don’t worry Netflix, we can’t quit you.
You can watch videos on your PC, smartphones, or U+tv, which is the IPTV of LG.
Since this service supports N-Screen (N스크린, a Konglish word for connected experience across several screens/devices), you can continue viewing the same video on another device. It’s also convenient for Koreans since many own LG TVs, use LG(U+) internet and have an LG(U+) mobile data plan. That’s almost too much LG for one household.
WHY CHOOSE U+Mobile TV?
U+Mobile TV offers movies and drama series as well as independent films submitted to film festivals around the world. U+Mobile TV has numerous movies that are “free for everyone” without a paid monthly subscription too!
|Price||5,500 won||1,650 won||9,900 won|
|What you can watch||70 real-time channels + over 200,000 movies, overseas dramas, animations, TV replays||Same as Standard plan, but only for 24 hours!||Over 40,000 movies and overseas dramas|
5. Seezn (시즌)
Seezn is an OTT service launched by KT (another major Korean mobile network operator) in November, 2019. It’s upgraded from the previous OTT service of KT, Olleh TV Mobile(올레tv 모바일). Koreans have been watching TV on their phones since early 2000s, so this isn’t such a leap for them.
In August 2021, it was separated as an independent corporation and reorganized as the largest shareholder of Genie Music. Fascinating.
As you might have noticed, Korean companies are overachievers.
WHY CHOOSE Seezn?
You can watch popular entertainment shows like I Live Alone (나 혼자 산다), Movie Room (방구석 1열), Hangout with Yoo (놀면 뭐하니?), King of Mask Singer (복면가왕) and 2 Days & 1 Night (1박 2일). Seezn also has some original content like Crime Puzzle (크라임 퍼즐).
|Seezn Plain||Seezn Mix|
|Price||5,500 won||9,900 won|
|What you can watch||200 real-time channels + movies and TV shows||200 real-time channels + movies and TV shows|
+ Content Pack 11,000 Coco and VOD 11,000 Coco (their credit or “coin” you can use to buy VOD like pay-per-view)
6. Coupang Play (쿠팡플레이)
It’s a free streaming service provided to Coupang’s Wow members. It’s practically free since most Koreans have a Wow Membership to get online shopping benefits like free rocket delivery, free returns, special offers, and now free streaming service! They’ll tell you it’s totally worth it if you ask.
WHY CHOOSE Coupang Play?
You can watch SNL Korea as well as live sports broadcast, including Premier League⚽, La Liga⚽ and even National Football League🏈. It’s a sweet deal because you can enjoy both shopping and watching TV shows!
|Price||Free with Wow Membership or 4,990 won|
|Device||Mobile + Tablet + TV|
|Image Quality||1080P(FHD), 720P,(HD) 480P(SD)|
|Simultaneous Viewing||2 (4 profiles)|
7. KakaoTV (카카오TV)
Launched in June 2015, it was initially a website to replay other TV shows that worked like NaverTV. But, the video content business of KakaoM has expanded since 2019.
Kakao has a bank too for some reason.
With the need for a platform to distribute their original dramas, entertainment shows and movies, KakaoTV was just launched in September 2020.
Imagine if WhatsApp wasn’t owned by Meta, and they started making movies and TV shows, and launched a streaming video service to show them on. That’s kind of what happened.
WHY CHOOSE KakaoTV?
Kakao is smart. They create really fun content that people want to see just like FACE ID with Lee Hyori. And it’s free as long as you visit KakaoTV frequently!
You can watch K-dramas, No, Thank You (며느라기) based on a webtoon (as Kakao/Daum has its own webtoon platform) and Lovestruck in the city (도시남녀의 사랑법), as well as entertainment shows like Udangtangtang Antenna (더듬이TV: 우당탕탕 안테나), Would you like a cup of coffee? (커피 한잔 할까요?) and March of the Ants (개미는 오늘도 뚠뚠). These are better than they sound, trust me.
|Upon the first release of each episode||Free|
|After one week of the release||500 won per episode|
8. Viki (비키)
A streaming service with international roots, so you won’t need a VPN to use it. Viki has been making a marketing push as of late, but most of the good licenses have already been bought up by Netflix.
They have a few shows you can’t find elsewhere, depending on where you live. The platform hosts mainly Chinese Dramas, so if you’re looking for a different experience you can check it out.
You can also watch the latest K-dramas, Ghost Doctor (고스트 닥터), The Red Sleeve (옷소매 붉은 끝동) and Now, We Are Breaking Up (지금, 헤어지는 중입니다) on Viki!
(My friend highly recommended “The Red Sleeve”, and it’s on my list to watch next.)
9. Disney+ (디즈니+ or 디즈니플러스)
Disney is a bit late to the K-drama party, but they have deep pockets and aren’t afraid to use them.
They’ve already started production on 5 dramas with big names like Black Pink’s Jisoo and Daniel Kang. Disney+ has plans to go even further with 50 Asia Pacific productions by 2023.
Fun Facts: Mistranslations
- Vision’s name was mistranslated as “전망 (which means vision or prospect)” in Korean, instead of “비전”, in WandaVision.
- In Frozen, Olaf says, “You’re welcome to join us in the castle”, and it was mistranslated to “가랑이를 함께 해요 (Let’s share crotch together)”, which led to many Korean children asking difficult questions to their parents.
- G.O.A.T(Greatest Of All Time) was literally translated as “염소 (goat, the animal)” in The Simpsons.
- Buzz says “Extrañas y Desconozco” in Korean pronunciation, “엑스뜨라냐스 이 데스꼬노즈꼬” in Toy Story 3, which confused both Spanish and Korean speakers alike.
Here’s hoping Disney gives a few more hoots with their Korean content.
10. Hulu (훌루)
Hulu has some classic titles that are a must for K-drama fans like “Winter Sonata”. It might be worth getting a membership just to binge them.
11. AsianCrush (아시안 크러쉬)
Similar to Viki, but with more Korean content and Asian horror. AsianCrush seems to making more of a push for originals than Viki. But users tend to complain about slow buffering times. Worth a look if you’re out of ideas and don’t want to use a VPN.
12. Netflix (넷플릭스)
Of course, we have to include Netflix, which is going all in on Korean content.
They’re doing a mostly great job adapting Webtoons and light novels. They’ll continue putting out stuff to watch, so check back with them once in a while.
|Price||9,500 won||13,500 won||17,000 won|
|Image Quality||480p||1080p||4K + HDR|
exclusive info on Korea
Did we miss anything?
Let us know your thoughts or questions about Korean streaming platforms in the comments!
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