Global interest in Korean culture has been on the rise since the 1990s. This is especially true of pop culture, and has caused a major boom in the popularity of Korean dramas, otherwise known as K-dramas. A major draw toward K-dramas is due to the fashion, but other elements keep fans coming back for more.
Most K-dramas focus on a romantic theme and take a deep look at complex emotions. This doesn’t mean that all K-dramas are “sappy” love stories, or even that they are all serious. K-dramas cover a wide range of genres, from the typical romantic drama to action dramas, and even horror comedies. Fan interest in K-dramas has grown so much that Netflix has acquired a good amount of titles for viewers to enjoy.
Play Squid Game To Earn Some Cash
Squid Game is a title that most viewers are familiar with. The series is a survival drama about 456 people who are in severe debt participating in life-or-death games to earn a large cash prize. Each of the games resembles playground games, but there is nothing fun about them.
Squid Game was so popular that it became Netflix’s most-watched show, even beating Stranger Things: Season 4. The series plays on the theme of wealth inequality that is common in South Korea and many developed countries, like the US.
Learn To Dance With Navillera
Navillera is a beautiful K-drama revolving around ballet. However, the main characters are not young female ballerinas, but rather a young man who does ballet and a 70-something-year-old man interested in learning to dance.
Shim Deok-chul is a retired mailman who, despite his old age and Alzheimer’s diagnosis, has decided to follow his lifelong dream to dance ballet. The show tackles issues on gender norms, age, social status, and family expectations in a wonderful way. While fans hope for a second season, Navillera‘s first season feels like a complete story.
Get Swept Away One Spring Night
One Spring Night follows the typical romantic drama theme, but that does not mean it is a played-out story. The series follows single-dad Yoo Ji-ho as he develops feelings for librarian Lee Jeong-in despite Jeong-in being in a committed relationship.
Ji-ho’s status as a single parent is a major focus of One Spring Night, since being a single parent is still frowned upon in South Korean culture. The characters also struggle with the dynamics of love and what it truly means. Several domestic situations are touched on within the series including arranged marriage.
Thirty-Nine Isn’t An Age To Fear
As its title indicates, Thirty-Nine is a K-drama focused on a group of friends who are about to turn 40. The series focuses on three close friends as they navigate through life, relationships, and finding themselves while being at an age when they don’t care about other people’s opinions as much.
Thirty-Nine is a nice, fresh look at a coming-of-age story happening for adults rather than teens. The series also allows viewers to look into the dynamic of healthy friendships between women. Although the series definitely has light-hearted moments, it will also pull on the heartstrings of viewers to give a nice rounded viewing experience.
D. P. Seeks Out Those Who Run
The K-drama D.P., which stands for Deserter Pursuit, follows a group of military police whose mission is to locate those who have deserted the military. In South Korea, all able-bodied men who are 18 or older must serve the military for anywhere between 18 and 21 months.
Since these men did not choose to be there, some desert, and the military police are sent to track them down. The series deals with these issues and other issues involved in military service including bullying, hazing, and the tendency to dehumanize those deemed “lesser.”
Discover The Plot In Mr. Sunshine
Mr. Sunshine is set in Hanseong, what is now known as Seoul, in the early 1900s and focuses on the fight for Korean independence. While being a historical drama, Mr. Sunshine also has romantic elements as the main character struggles with his love for an aristocrat’s granddaughter while fighting for Korea’s sovereignty.
Mr. Sunshine does a great job of blending historical fiction with romantic drama and gives an excellent look into class differences. The series has received praise for its storytelling and strong female characters, but has received some criticism for how it has shown some historical events in a light that may be pro or anti-Japanese.
Sometimes It’s Okay To Not Be Okay
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay is a heartfelt story about Moon Gang-tae, who lives with his autistic brother Moon Sang-tae following the death of their mother. Gang-tae meets an antisocial children’s author named Ko Moon-young while at work and the trio work together to heal their mental/emotional distress.
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay has received mostly positive feedback due to the wonderful acting of the cast and the important focus on mental health in the show. The series is able to display how derailed someone’s life can become due to mental health while still being sensitive to the issue.
No One Can Escape If They Are Hellbound
Hellbound is a supernatural dark-fantasy drama set in the near future in South Korea. An otherworldly face, referred to as an angel, appears and predicts people’s deaths, at which time three supernatural monsters appear to deliver judgment and damn the person to Hell.
Hellbound was the first series to knock Squid Game out of its number-one spot for streams in a day and has enjoyed immense success. The series mixes the supernatural with the very real fear that many experience during times of change and disaster.
All Of Us Are Dead If There’s A Zombie Outbreak
All of Us Are Dead is an excellent choice for those wanting to watch a K-drama with a spooky theme. The series follows a group of high school students as they struggle to survive a zombie apocalypse centered around their school.
All of Us Are Dead is an engaging coming-of-age story mixed with horror that shows the importance of sacrifice and quick thinking to be able to survive the impossible. All elements of the story mix well to give viewers a bit of everything they crave, making it a must-watch.
Preserving The Kingdom Is Hard Work
Kingdom is an outstanding K-drama that takes place during the 16th century in the kingdom of Korea during the Joseon Dynasty. Amidst internal political turmoil and famine, the kingdom is faced with a quickly spreading plague that causes the dead to rise and attack.
What sets Kingdom apart is that it is a political drama wrapped inside an action-horror story. The use of an older time period helps to set Kingdom apart from other zombie stories and gives fans something fresh to enjoy in the genre.
NEXT: 10 Best K-Dramas Starring K-Pop Idols, Ranked