The Best to Binge

Top Ten K-Dramas to Watch


Photo by Aahana Mulchandani

K-Dramas are by far some of the best sources of entertainment, starting from the huge variety of genres to the amazing OSTs and cinematography. It is also an entertaining way to dive into Korean culture and daily life, as well as history depending on what genre you choose. The shows in general are highly addictive once you find a good series.

Aahana Mulchandani, Reporter

From the amazing cinematography, the heartthrobs, the funny moments and the wide variety of plots, Korean dramas have always been at the top of my personal list of things to watch. There are such a huge variety of shows, series and movies, which makes it difficult to pick. As an avid watcher and follower of many Korean actors, these are a few of my all time favorite K-Drama movies, series, comedies and thrillers.

1 – Vincenzo

If you’re interested in a K-Drama that has a healthy balance of comedy, drama and sheer thrill, then this is the one for you. This drama is very similar to “The Godfather,” but it takes a different turn. The male lead, named Vincenzo Cassano, travels to his motherland, South Korea, to reclaim a vault filled with gold from a currently-occupied plaza filled with strange tenants and a group of hotshot lawyers. The ending honestly shocked me a lot, and the meanings of the characters’ actions at first got me a little confused until the ending where it became an eye-opening plot twist. The main meaning of this K-Drama can be interpreted in various ways, but the main message that I personally got was that sometimes in order to fight evil, you need to be evil.

My favorite actor came out in this series, Song Joong-Ki. He’s actually the main reason why I started the series, and comes out as the male lead: Vincenzo Cassano. Song Joong-Ki has won awards for his amazing acting skills, and it really shows that he had to learn how to somewhat speak Italian in order to play Vincenzo and it really helps to draw the viewer in when watching. 

The female lead, I actually never heard of her until this point. Jeon Yeo-Been is such a great and talented actor In general, her portrayal of the female lead, Hong Cha-Young, is just absolutely amazing to watch. Her character development under the influence of Vincenzo as well as losing important people and opportunities is just breathtaking. She is a completely different person by the end of the series, and you can tell that as the plot moves forward she becomes indifferent to the horror that she witnesses. 

There are a couple of plot holes, but I only realized that until after I watched it twice and deeply analyzed the series. But, it’s pretty much unnoticeable unless you have a keen eye and a high attention to detail. You can watch this series on Netflix.

2 – Fight For My Way

If comedy, romance and watching childhood best friends struggling to find their way in life interests you, this is the perfect series. This story follows four friends who have big dreams, but fall short. This is such a heartwarming story, as it features the story that is not often told. Usually, K-Dramas feature people who are super smart, super wealthy, super amazing and famous rather than tell the story of those who got the short end of the stick in life. This whole series is just the definition of chaos and comedy. However, it contains heart throbbing quotes and it actually made me cry several times while watching. 

This series also contains some of my favorite actors such as Park Seo-Joon who plays the male lead. He did such an amazing job with portraying his character, Ko Dong Man, who aspires to be an amazing martial artist. He became one of my personal favorite actors and to this day I still love watching him in this series. The female lead is played by Kim Ji-Won who plays Choi Ae Ra. Ae-Ra wants to become a news anchor, but due to her lack of education she ends up being a kiosk at a hotel. Even during past K-Dramas, she has always been a favorite of mine. She never disappoints, and even during this series she comes out as a strong independent woman who never backs down from a challenge or opportunity.

The only downside of watching this K-Drama is that some jokes won’t really make sense in English. I can understand Korean, so all the jokes make sense to me. However, it might be difficult to understand if you cannot speak Korean. Still, the actors do an amazing job when it comes to comedy, so I think it would still be funny for someone who doesn’t speak Korean fluently. You can find this series on Viki.

3 – Dokkaebi (Guardian: The Lonely and Great God)

Whoever likes the actor who plays the salesman in squid game, he stars in this heart-throb of a series as the main character. When I say that I cried during this, I’m not joking. The whole series was such a sad story involving immortal beings such as the Grim Reaper, angels, and goblins such as Kim-Shin, who is played by Gong Yoo. In Korean Mythology, Dokkaebi, or goblins, are immortal creatures who have superhuman abilities and often play tricks on humans. This series combines historical aspects of Korea with modernized beliefs. In the K-Drama, Kim Shin was a warrior during the Goryeo Dynasty who was betrayed by his king and slain, being turned into a goblin. In order to end his life of misery, he needs someone to pull an invisible sword from his stomach, the reason for his death. 

If you’re looking for a story to cry to, this one will start the waterworks. I cried more watching this than I do when cutting an onion, and the amazing OSTs didn’t help either. OST’s are original soundtracks that come with a movie, game, TV Show and more. The producer of this series actually re-used these OST’s for a different K-Drama he produced which is also going to be on this list. The ambiance and the deep meaning of the words added to the heavy story that is “Goblin.”

I’ve never heard of Gong Yoo until I watched this series two years ago. To be honest, at first I wasn’t quite impressed with him. That was up until I watched the story progress and the character development that he showed. Gong Yoo made me believe he was actually Kim Shin, same with all the other actors and their roles. It was just the perfection of how well he did. This series can be found on a variety of websites, but the one I’d watch it on is called Viki.

4 – Descendants of the Sun

This is the story about two “different” people who meet on one fateful day, and ever since then their lives become intertwined with each other. Yoo Shi-Jin, is the captain of a special forces 5-person squad, the Alpha Team, in the South Korean Military while Kang Mo-Yeon, a surgeon, joins hands to help protect people. However, they have different views on it. A surgeon’s way of saving people is literally being a doctor. However, Yoo Shi-Jin has to kill others to protect people. Doctors have to take an oath to operate and save anyone who needs it, and this shows to be a huge conflict later on in the series, as the person that Yoo Shi Jin needs to kill gets involved in the lovestory between the male and female lead. 

As I already talked about Song Joong Ki, let’s talk about the female lead Song Hye Kyo. Song Hye Kyo is an amazing actress. She was cast  in ‘‘Autumn in my Heart’, a previous favorite series of mine,, and has been consistently starring in many series. She was actually previously married to Song Joong Ki until their divorce in 2019. Along with Song Joong Ki, she had to learn how to speak a foreign language, as both of them ended up on an island where the majority of the native people spoke Greek. 

The entire series was just a fun one to watch, especially the funny and strange scenarios the characters encountered. I think that it is a fun one to watch with family as well 10/10 would binge again This series can be found on Viki, Hulu, and Tubi.

5 – Crash Landing On You

“Crash Landing On You” has such an interesting plot. The story involves the story of a North Korean military captain, Lee Jeonghyun, who finds and takes care of a South-Korean woman, Yoon Se Ri, who accidentally finds herself in North Korea while paragliding. The whole series is so wholesome, and it also highlights the political differences and ways of living between North and South Korea. An example shown in the series is that some of the TV Shows and movies that the North Korean soldiers watch are years later than when they first came out, showing the delay of the media. 

It’s such an interesting series, and there’s not much more to say about it. Watch this series and watch the plot thicken as both sides explore each others’ cultures and differences through a series of accidents and missions. The male lead, played by Hyun Bin, is no doubt one of the best actors I have ever seen. Even out of all the dramas I have seen, I think that he plays the most variety of roles from series to series. I’m always shocked at how well he draws the reader in and how he is able to be so different in each series since he plays many roles. Also, it is revealed that both Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin, who plays Yoon Se Ri, are actually dating, and that made me fall in love with the drama even more. This K-Drama can be found on Netflix.

6 – Rookie Historian: Goo Hae Ryung

Whoever loves history and watching the politics and conflicts involved in ancient Korean kingdoms, this one is definitely for you. Throughout Korean history, there have always been “historians” who write about what happens during important political meetings and to also keep a record of events that occur. The information needs to be unbiased and stay completely neutral, and a majority of historians are men as it was a patriarchal system. But what happens when a group of female historians enter the dangers of the palace and see for themselves the work a historian goes through as well as gender inequality and sexism? Chaos. The female lead Goo Hae Ryung, played by Shin Se Kyung, witnesses the corrupt system of political affairs within the palace, and tries to bring the evil planning between the nobles. However, being an avid book reader, Goo Hae Ryung meets an indisguise prince, Yi Rim who is played by Cha Eun-Woo, who is trying to make his debut as a writer. Eventually, after Yi Rim figures out Hae-Ryung is trying to become a historian, he tries to make her job harder for her despite having a visible crush on her. It’s so entertaining to watch him grapple with his hatred and liking towards her, and the ending is just so funny to me.

Cha Eun Woo became such a huge favorite of mine after the series, as his acting is absolutely on point. His portrayal of the chaotic, handsome, and book-nerd Yi Rim is just absolutely hilarious to watch. You can practically see just from his actions his confliction between his feelings for Hae-Ryung, who is played by one of my all-time favorite actresses Shin Se Kyung. Shin Se Kyung always comes out as someone super reserved, but her actions and sometimes her reactions is the factor that makes her absolutely hilarious. This is no different, but it’s so funny to watch her roast some of the other palace employees and completely outsmart everyone in the series. This series is on Netflix.

7 – Bride of Habaek

This story is what happens when an arrogant god comes to the human world searching for a stone but ends up meeting a psychiatrist who has no belief in gods or the immortal world. Of course, he’s going to try to convince her. Habaek is in search of a certain stone, but since he came to the human world to try and find it, he loses his powers as well as his credibility as a god. Eventually, he meets a struggling psychiatrist named Yoon Son Ah who has very few patients and does not really believe in gods or their powers. So when Habaek goes to her for assistance, of course she thinks he’s crazy. Eventually, their fates become intertwined as chaos unfolds, Habaek trying to find the stone and convince Son-Ah that he’s really a god. You can find this series on Viki.

8 – Dong Yi / Jewel of the Crown

This is the first ever K-Drama I have ever watched, and it set such a high standard when it came to other series I watched before. It tells the true – and slightly edited – story of a girl named Dong Yi who becomes the concubine of King Sok-Jong during the Yi Dynasty. The huge setbacks that she faces and the evil people plotting against her makes the story all-the more enjoyable and wholesome. I’d highly recommend this series, and it’s also one that you can enjoy with family and friends too There are also so many actors in the series that I can’t even describe how much I adore all of them and their acting skills. You can find this series on Viki.

9 – Hwang Jin Yi

This follows the story of the artists of Korea, the “lowly” gisaeng. This story hints at a few sexual references, but aside from that it’s a masterpiece. It shows the trials and troubles of a gisaeng, or as Koreans call them courtesans. They’re women who specialize in the arts such as dancing, singing, playing instruments, reciting poetry, and just being there to be “comfort” to whoever pays a high price. It shows the evil of the system, displaying the cruel world and the trauma that the gisaeng troops were raised in and taught to endure. The story mostly follows the tale of Hwang Jin-Yi, one of the most famous courtesans in history who gained huge amounts of fame and wealth for her beautiful face, her wits and her amazing art skills such as playing instruments, writing poetry, and her dance. It has such an epic ending, and I am all for it. The series shows rivalry, forbidden love, manipulation, sabotage and the death of many. 

The series is a little hard to keep track of, and it gets complicated as the plot progresses if you don’t pay attention to every detail. In general, there aren’t a lot of funny moments, but depending on your humor you can find things that are a little light-hearted throughout the story. But, there aren’t many “comedy” moments that are established and it’s just a very heavy drama. There are also some mature themes and references in this series, so if you’re not looking for a heavy-hearted series filled with confusion and evil themes, this is probably not the series for you.

The actress who is the male female lead is Ha Ji Won, and she’s one of my favorites. I know I say this about everyone, but she has been consistently starring in other series that I found enjoyable, and she can also do stunts on her own. I find her so fascinating and she plays a huge variety of roles super well. You can find the series here.

10 – 6 Flying Dragons

This is actually such an interesting and epic story about the rebellion of Korea’s military during the Goryeo period leading up to the Yi Dynasty. It’s such an epic drama showing the political, military, social, and familial struggles of each of the characters involved with the overthrow of the old corrupt Korea. There is a lot to keep track of, and honestly it’s so hard to put into words about the concrete story of the plot. However, it is based on the history of Korea, and many of the characters in the story, such as the kings and royal guards, were real people in the past.

In general, if you’re looking for something to binge, cry over, watch with family, laugh at or relate to, Korean dramas are one of the best sources of entertainment available. Even if you don’t completely understand the language, you can still watch and have a fun time learning about Korean cultures or just dive into something interesting.