The 8 Best Korean Dramas on Netflix Right Now

Korean Dramas

When TIME compiled its list of the 10 best Korean Dramas available on Netflix by 2020, The Squid Game had yet to be released. The show has since become the most-watched non-English program of all time. Netflix’s continued billion-dollar investment in South Korea has transformed the broader landscape of Korean streaming offerings.

Netflix has a plethora of South Korean shows, which are testaments to the creativity and talent of South Korean writers, directors, and actors. The platform is now a repository for world-class Korean entertainment. From sci-fi thrillers to gritty noir action to heart-wrenching slice-of-life anthologies.

TIME has compiled a list of eight Korean dramas, ranging from the most popular series in recent years to those that have just ended. This list excludes shows that are currently unavailable on Netflix USA.

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Hometown Cha cha cha (2021)

Hometown Cha-cha-cha is a 16-episode romantic comedy adaptation of a 2004 film. It pairs a pragmatic dentist (played by Shin Min-a) with s handsome jack-of-all-trades handyman (played by Start-Up’s Kim Seon-ho). This 16-episode adaptation of a 2004 movie pairs a pragmatic dental assistant (played by Shin Min-a), with a handsome handyman who can do it all (played by Kim Seon-ho from Start-Up) in a picturesque seaside village. The series’ cliched plot, which attracts opposites, should not be disregarded. Many people have praised its comforting qualities as “healing,” especially when it premiered in the midst of the pandemic. Netflix ranked it among the top 10 non-English dramas at the time of its release.

The Glory (2022-2023)

Bullying is a common plot in K-dramas. But in The Glory, the social issue is at the center of the story. Its reverberations through the years are the main focus. The eight-episode series revolves around Moon Dongeun, played by Song Hye-kyo from Descendants Of the Sun. She orchestrates her hyper-focused actions to get revenge on her abusers of 20 years ago. The Glory is not for those who are easily offended. The writer has even used disturbing details from real-life abuse incidents. Yet, the series made it to the Netflix Top 10 of 89 countries this year and was one of the most popular non-English shows.

Squid Game (21-2023)

This list wouldn’t be complete without the 2021 survival drama which broke records everywhere. The indigents of a congregation are invited to compete with each other for 45 billion Korean won ($38 million) by playing deadly versions of South Korean childhood games. Squid Game is not just about the brutal violence. It also has a powerful theme: economic desperation and despair as entertainment for the wealthy. It has over 1,65 billion hours watched on the platform. In addition, it has received accolades from both Hollywood and locally, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor O Yeongsu, and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor for a Drama Series Lee Jungjae. The second season will be released in 2024.

Queen (2020)

The genre-bending approach is one area where Korean drama excels. Mr. This is evident in Queen. The 20-episode drama is not only a comedy but also a body-swap fantasia and period drama. The story follows a chef from the modern day who has been transported to the Joseon period and is now in the body of a king. Mr. Queen is an uplifting romp through Korean History, featuring excellent performances by its actors. Shin Hye Sun in particular delivers a stellar performance. It was initially criticized by audiences for making fun of history. However, it became the most popular Korean drama in the country.

The Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022)

The neurodivergent portrayal of Park Eun Bin in this episodic legal drama has received praise. Park portrays Woo Young -woo who has a savant syndrome. She works for a law firm and is diagnosed as having savant disorder. The show often relies on unrealistic portrayals of individuals with autism spectrum disorders and glosses ableism in the workplace. The Extraordinary Attorney, Woo is different from other shows because it portrays inclusive environments for people with disabilities.

SKY Castle 2018

SKY Castle is a satire on the harsh parenting practices in Asia, and the environment surrounding private education. Four wealthy families in a prestigious area of Seoul compete to get their teenagers into the top universities. Due to popular demand, the show, originally consisting of only 16 episodes, was extended by an additional four episodes. The show was a huge hit in China because it was similar to the gaokao, a grueling college entrance exam that is a burden for many students and their families.

Our Blues (2022)

This melancholic anthology drama stars a group of South Korea’s top actors. It is about the people who live in the popular tourist destination Jeju Island. Hollywood actor Lee Byunghun (Mr. Sunshine and Squid Game), Lee Jung-eun, (Parasite), and many more. The highly viewed show weaves stories that were initially dissimilar within the community into a holistic view of grief, pain, and growth.

D.P. (2021-2023)

D.P. became a hit drama in South Korea, prompting defense officials to defend their country’s compulsory military conscription. The story centers on conscripts Ahn Junho (Jung Hae In) and Han Ho Yeol (Koo Kyo Hwan), both assigned to the Deserter Pursuit Unit. The Deserter Pursuit Unit (D.P.) actively tracks and captures deserters within the Korean military. The show received acclaim for its portrayal of abuse and mistreatment. Netflix released the second season of this show on July 28, 2016.

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