When in doubt over what to watch next, pick a Korean drama. At least that’s the mantra I’m currently living by.
Netflix has upped its game in recent months to expand its catalogue of Korean shows. Action, drama, romance, fantasy, sageuks— there’s vast variety to pick from now.
Here’s a list of 7 great shows you can watch:
This classic show made Ji Chang Wook’s career and is proof that Park Min Young has been amazing for years. A night courier working outside the law gets tangled with a tabloid journalist trying to catch a break and a respected TV reporter with a family secret. Their connection? A pro-democracy radio station that was run illegally during the 80s.
Romance, intrigue, drama — this show has it all. Just ignore the hilariously unrealistic depiction of investigative journalism.
This legal drama is an exhilarating watch and has one of the most complex female characters I’ve seen in a K-drama. Jung Geum-ja (Kim Hye-soo) is building a career from scratch and wooing the wealthiest in Korea by offering to take on their dirtiest cases.
She’s up against the egoistic and intelligent Yoon Hee-jae (Joon Ji-hoon). The two crafty and ambitious lawyers butt heads at the country’s top law firm that caters to the elite. Can a win in court decide who’s right or wrong? What’s the difference between bending the rules and breaking the law?
The show draws out the questions as you watch Geum-ja climb a teetering ladder to the top.
3. Extraordinary You
High-school girl Eun Dan-oh (Kim Hye-yoon) gains self-awareness and realises she’s a character in a Korean webtoon. What’s worse? She’s not the protagonist, but an extra with a heart condition.
Dan-oh decides to enlist the help of another extra (Rowoon) to change her destiny and defy the plotline set in place by the writer, who she thinks lacks creativity and imagination.
Extraordinary You takes on and subverts a whole host of romance drama tropes. It’s hilarious, it’s meta and Kim Hye-yoon is an absolute delight. Have fun watching her comment on the developing storylines and curse out the writer.
A mysterious plague is spreading through the kingdom and the crown prince must find its source to save his people and end a conspiracy so he can take back his throne. Aiding him in this quest are his bodyguard, a medic and a fighter.
Kingdom is an apocalyptic historical drama set in Joseon dynasty-era Korea. The complex fantasy has enough plot twists and political intrigue to wipe out all memories of the disastrous end to Game of Thrones. Zombie drama fans are likely to find it far superior to the Walking Dead.
5. Search WWW
When Bae Ta-mi (Lim Soo-jung) is thrown under the bus by her mentor Song Ga-geong (Jeon Hye-jin), she leaves the company she helped build and decides to work for its closest competitor.
Search WWW is about the intense rivalry between two internet search portals and the women who run them.
Through the dynamic between the three female protagonists (including Lee Da-hee), the show debates freedom of speech and censorship along with ideas of loyalty, ambition and justice.
It also accurately depicts the relentless rollercoaster that is working for an internet company. You’ll just have to suspend your disbelief on the good intentions of the people who run them.
Bonus: A great soundtrack.
6. My Country
Do you want to watch two beautiful men — friends-turned-rivals — fight each other and their feelings while ripping your heart to shreds in the process? Of course you do!
Please delve into this period drama, set in a particularly significant period of medieval Korean history— the end of the Goryeo dynasty and the beginning of the Joseon dynasty.
Seo Hwi (Yang Se-jong) and Nam Seon-ho (Woo Do-hwan) find themselves on opposites sides of a fight that will eventually birth a new country. Fans are still recovering from the climax of this show.
7. Oh My Ghost
This is a problematic fave. (There’s always one.)
It’s hard not to be won over by the dynamic performances of the two lead actors. There are two big catches: the show’s depiction of mental health, which i absolutely do not endorse. I watched this one by skipping over several such scenes.
A bigger problem: several scenes where the tiny young woman pursues her male boss border on sexual harassment but are passed off as cute and funny.
Na Bong-sun (Park Bo-young) is a timid kitchen worker just trying to staying awake through her job at the restaurant of an acclaimed chef.
Shin Soon-ae (Kim Seul-gi) is an uninhibited, extroverted woman. She just happens to be a ghost dodging a shaman who wants to send her off into the afterlife. Soon-ae needs to resolve ‘a grudge’ before she can leave and for this she needs to posses Bong-sun’s body.
Confusion and hijinks ensue as people around Bong-sun try to keep with her wild swings in character. There’s a lot of heart to this funny series, but keep in mind the issues I pointed out earlier.
PS: You’ll spot a popular Parasite actor in this one.