K-Drama O'clock

Spring has sprung, here are some binge-worthy favs.


Ella Thompson

4/20/20226 min read

Korean television shows (typically called K-dramas, though it encapsulates so many genres) are typically 1 season ranging from 12 to 16 episodes that are 30 minutes to movie length. With so many dramas out there and the increase of Korean shows on Netflix, it’s hard to figure out where to start. No one is killing it quite like Korean media right now...so here are some personal favs:

Fight My Way

(2017, rom-com/slice of life)

Park Seo-joon, Kim Ji-won, Ahn Jae-hong, Song Ha-yoon, Choi Woo-shik

Newly available on Netflix.

This show had people hooked for its entire run - you may recognize Park Seo-joon from Parasite or Kim Ji-won from Descendents of the Sun. Four childhood friends have grown up and now live in the same cheap complex in Seoul. Joo-man (foodie that works for a home shopping network) and Seol-hee (Joo-man is everything for her, motherly) have been in a relationship forever. On the other hand, Dong-man (ex-taekwondo player with a clumsy personality) and Ae-ra (big personality department store worker who wants to be an announcer) have always been frenemies. This show follows them as they discover their own versions of success and love - the biting, stupidly comedic relationship between Dong-man and Ae-ra is unique and my favorite role either actor has ever played.

Strong Woman Do Bong Soon

(2017, fantasy/rom-com)

Park Bo-young, Park Hyung-sik, Jisoo

Available to watch on Viki or Netflix with a VPN.

My first drama and still one of my favorites. This silly show is about Do Bong-soon, whose bloodline passes super strength down through the women; however, if you use your powers to harm innocent people, you lose them. Utilizing dramatic superhero slo-mo walking and comic book action, this show is as funny as it is clever. Bong-soon has always been in love with childhood friend Guk-doo, a comedically intense policeman, but things switch up when she’s hired as a bodyguard for gaming CEO (with a sassy personality) Ahn Min-hyuk. The story never lulls in the sixteen episodes and Park Bo-young and Park Hyung-sik are still considered a god-tier K-drama couple. An easy and entertaining watch.

The Uncanny Counter

(2020-21, supernatural/mystery/thriller)

Jo Byeong-kyu, Kim Se-jeong, Yoo Jun-sang, Yeom Hye-ran

Available on Netflix.

Based on the popular webtoon Amazing Rumor (Jang Yi), this well-executed adaptation features disabled high school student So-Mun who lives with his grandparents and tries to deal with his friend’s high school bullies. Suddenly, he finds himself agreeing to join the Counters, a group of real-life Grim Reapers in red sweatsuits who fetch and return evil spirits. The first episode alone is action-packed, from physical fighting to rooftop jumping to ghost possession. This show was so popular that it’s been renewed for a second season (no news on which cast is returning as of yet, but they clicked so well together that people hope all of them will).

Squid Game

(2021, horror/thriller/survival)

Lee Jung-jae, Hoyeon Jung, Gong Yoo, Lee Yoo-mi, Wi Ha-joon, Park Hae-soo, O Yeong-su

Available on Netflix.

If you haven’t seen it, you should absolutely look into it. People in dire situations are conscripted to compete in a kill-or-be-killed competition for a gigantic sum of money. We know next to nothing about this competition and we definitely don’t know what will happen next, but this extraordinary cast featuring breakout star Hoyeon Jung and journeyed actor Lee Jung-jae in the role of his dreams (not to mention O Yeong-su finally making his big break) makes it one for the ages.

Welcome to Waikiki

(2018, drama/comedy)

Lee Yi-kyung, Kim Jung-hyun, Son Seung-won, Jung In-sun, Ko Won-hee, Lee Joo-woo

Newly available to Netflix.

This genuinely made me laugh out loud. I’m a sucker for an ensemble cast, but this was a unique experience for me. Dong-goo, Joon-ki, and Doo-shik run a failing Seoul guest house called “Waikiki” along with Dong-goo’s sister Seo-jin (played by Go Won-hee, SNL Korea alum). These three men really want to be making films together instead of struggling to make ends meet, but another bump in the road occurs when they discover someone’s left a baby at the guesthouse. Hilarious physical comedy runs rampant in this series, largely credited to actor Lee Yi-kyung who found this to be his breakout role.

Hotel Del Luna

(2019, dark fantasy/rom-com)

IU, Yeo Jin-goo

Available on Netflix.

This show is still immensely popular despite airing three years ago, with IU being one of the most famous singers in Korea. Jang Man-wol runs a ghost hotel invisible to the human-eye where ghosts with unfinished business can stay until they’re ready to pass on. Man-wol has been stuck running this hotel for more than a thousand years because of something that happened in her past and has developed an unbearable personality since then. She selects Gu Chan-sung as her newest butler, a role always filled by a living human as her connection to the real world (and real $$$). However, the ghosts working for Man-wol suspect that he may end up being her last butler. Several popular actors and singers make appearances in this show, which had such a niche and popular premise that it was followed by a ton of copycat dramas in the next couple of years.

So Not Worth It

(2021, sitcom/ensemble)

Park Se-wan, Shin Hyeon-seung, Minnie, Han Hyun-min, Carson Allen, Choi Young-jae, Joakim Sorensen, Terris Brown

Available on Netflix.

A pleasant surprise. This isn’t the typical K-drama, with sitcom multi-camera vibes and a mainly non-Korean cast speaking fluent Korean (and with great chemistry). It follows students in an international college dorm in Seoul: Se-wan (Korean, the RA), Jamie (American, passes out from constipation), Sam (Australian, big spender), Minnie (Thai, obsessed with K-drama men), Hyun-min (Korean, clumsy and hiding out in the dorm), Carson (American, followed her boyfriend to Korea), Hans (Swedish, a know-it-all), and Terris (Trinbogonian, always dating). This mix of international actors, models, and K-pop celebs turned into a fun and easy-watch story filled with blooming relationships, paparazzi, kimchi, celebrity cameos, and getting locked in the basement. Hoping for a second season!

Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo

(2016, coming-of-age/rom-com)

Lee Sung-kyung, Nam Joo-hyuk, Lee Jae-yoon

Not a trailer, but a funny scene. Available on Viki and Kocowa.

Set on a sports college campus, Bok-joo is training to become a professional weightlifter while Joon-hyung is training as a swimmer. Bok-joo is a strong, loud person with big dreams, but what she knows about herself is suddenly derailed when she falls for Jae-yi, an obesity doctor and Joon-hyung’s older brother. She pretends to have weight issues in order to attend his clinic even though she should really be gaining weight for competition. Joon-hyung, on the other hand, was her childhood friend who now suffers from massive pre-competition anxiety that leaves his career hanging by a thread. Joon-hyung discovers what Bok-joo is up to and makes fun of her, but in the end, he falls for her. This show has a big cast and a cult following - Lee Sung-kyung and Nam Joo-hyuk always deliver.

Because This Is My First Life

(2017, drama/ensemble)

Jung So-min, Lee Min-ki, Esom, Park Byung-eun, Kim Ga-eun, Kim Min-seok

Available on Netflix.

Available on Netflix.

That trailer is kind of nonsensical, so here’s the gist - Se-hee hates people and relationships but needs to rent out his second room to afford the place, so he ends up approving also-single (and a woman, to his surprise) Ji-ho, a screenwriter and stress cleaner, as his newest roommate. In addition to this leading pair are Ji-ho’s friends, Su-ji and Ga-eun, and Se-hee’s friend Sang-goo. Strong-willed Su-ji and needy Sang-goo end up crossing paths while Ga-eun and boyfriend Won-seok realize they might have different life goals. This drama carefully picks apart these relationships where all characters are entering a new stage in love and life. The calming energy of the lead couple makes this a comforting watch.

Our Beloved Summer

(2021, rom-com/coming-of-age)

Choi Woo-shik, Kim Da-mi, Kim Sung-cheol

Available on Netflix.

Very vibey. This drama goes back and forth between childhood and the present. Choi Ung and Kook Yeon-soo were cast in a documentary during their high school years where the first and last ranked students got paid to hang out during the school day. The documentary was very popular after it aired, but an excessively up-and-down, off-and-on relationship begins after the filming until Ung and Yeon-soo break up for the last time in college. Now, the two are forced together again by mutual friend Kim Ji-ung, who’s been charged with filming the sequel to the first documentary after the original goes viral again. Actors Choi Woo-shik (Train to Busan, Parasite) and Kim Da-mi (Itaewon Class) were a huge pull to watch this, and it ended up being a very sweet story about how holding your worries and trauma inside instead of opening up can continue to make things complicated for you.

All Of Us Are Dead

(2022, horror/coming-of-age/zombie)

Park Ji-hu, Yoon Chan-young, Cho Yi-hyun, Lomon, Yoo In-soo, Lee Yoo-mi, Kim Byung-chul, Lee Kyu-hyung, Jean Bae-soo

Available on Netflix.

Korean creators continue to bring new life to the zombie genre - if you’ve seen Train to Busan, this is the logical next step.


(2021, romance/black comedy/melodrama)

Jisoo, Jung Hae-in, Yoo In-na, Jang Seung-jo, Yoon Se-ah, Kim Hye-yoon, Jung Yoo-jin

Available on Disney+.

Starring Jisoo of Blackpink, reviews hint that heartbreak is inevitable in this romance set in 1987 (the year democracy was officially established in South Korea) between a grad student and the man drenched in blood that rolls through the window and into her dorm room.

Twenty-Five Twenty-One

(2022, romance/coming-of-age)

Kim Tae-ri, Nam Joo-hyuk, Bona, Choi Hyun-woo, Lee Joo-myung

This extremely popular drama is about a girl who makes the National Fencing Team and a rich boy who loses everything after the IMF - and the fencer’s daughter in the present tells us their history through her mother’s diary that she finds.

Sky Castle

(2018-19, satire/psychological/mystery)

Yum Jung-ah, Lee Tae-ran, Yoon Se-ah, Oh Na-ra, Kim Seo-hyung

Available on Netflix.

Highly awarded with an extremely experienced cast, this series examines the cutthroat upper-class wives bargaining their children into elite universities in a country where academic pressure can have dire consequences.