If you’re looking to expand your Netflix queue, consider a foray into K-dramas. After all, Korean content has been dominating the entertainment industry recently — not to mention the
beauty space — from K-pop septet BTS topping the charts to films like and Minari Parasite bagging Academy Awards. Whether you’re already a fan or new to the genre, Netflix offers a wide range of K-drama titles to suit whatever you’re in the mood for — be it action, horror, comedy, or romance, the cornerstone of K-drama.
Enter: this list of 17 of the best K-dramas to stream on Netflix right now. From an anti-hero mafia lawyer doing good by being bad (
) to a Netflix Original zombie period drama set in the 1600s ( Vincenzo ), there’s a lot to choose from. This list also includes titles featuring some of the most-followed actors and idols in South Korea today, including Lee Min-ho in the classic Kingdom , Park Seo-joon in Boys Over Flowers , and Bae Suzy from K-pop’s Miss A in Itaewon Class . Of course, the list is sprinkled with romance options, including high-school set stories for a mega-dose of escapism and first-love butterflies. Start-Up
There’s much to love about K-dramas: the innovative meet-cutes, the subtlety and slow build of romance, and the endless fashion and
K-beauty inspiration. Plus, with titles set against the backdrop of Seoul’s vibrant sights, viewers can do some vicarious traveling. Here are 17 Korean dramas streaming on Netflix. To paraphrase Parasite director Bong Joon-ho at the 2020 Golden Globes, don’t let subtitles get in the way.
Vincenzo Cassano, played by heartthrob Song Joong-Ki, commit arson as the impeccably dressed titular lawyer and Italian mafia consigliere is oddly satisfying. Even more so when his bad-boy ways ultimately end up helping the oppressed. That’s not his intention, of course, but the antihero, who teams up with quirky but headstrong Hong Cha-young (Jeon Yeo-been), finds a worthy opponent in Babel Group, a conglomerate with a long list of criminal wrongdoings. The action-packed dark comedy, released in 2021, is perfect for fans who don’t mind a bit of gore. It also stars Ok Taecyeon, the main rapper of K-pop group 2PM.
When a law professor is found dead in school, the daunting task of exonerating the main suspect — a disliked professor —
and solving the murder case falls on first-year law students. Released early this year, is a high-intensity drama that tackles concepts of justice, class, and equality and stars Kim Myung-min, Kim Bum, Ryu Hye-young, and Law School Parasite alum Lee Jung-eun.
Oh My Ghost
For a comedic take on the paranormal, enter
(2015). When ghost Shin Soon-ae (Kim Seul-gi) can’t move on to the afterlife, she makes up for her virginal past by possessing women to seduce men, all in the name of finding eternal repose. The lustful ghost finds the perfect host in timid Na Bong-sun (Park Bo-young), who secretly harbors a crush on her boss. When Bong-sun’s libido skyrockets after the possession and she grows closer to him, they discover that Soon-ae’s death isn’t what it seems. Oh My Ghost
When Park Sae-ro-yi (played by Korean phenom Park Seo-joon) is released from prison after beating up Jang Geun Won, whom he blames for his father’s death, he opens a bar in Seoul’s Itaewon district, a dining and nightlife hub, to serve as the headquarters for plotting his revenge against the Jang family. He attracts a crew of lovable misfits in a lighthearted dramedy with a focus on friendships more than romance. Not your typical revenge series,
(2020) will make you want to add Itaewon to your travel plans, stat. Also, Park Seo-joon is Itaewon Class set to appear in the upcoming Captain Marvel film, The Marvels, in 2022, so don’t sleep on him.
For the classic rom-com formula, look no further than
(2020), which features a Silicon Valley-inspired love triangle with Start-Up K-pop idol Bae Suzy right smack in the middle. Seo Dal-mi (Bae Suzy) wants to become the Korean Steve Jobs, despite her humble and unrelated beginnings, and lands a spot at a competitive startup incubator. Equally exciting is her blossoming pen-pal romance and a case of mistaken first-love identity. A female dominating the tech space? Love to see it. Bae Suzy being wooed by actors Nam Joo-hyuk and Kim Seon-ho? Just a bonus.
Relive the ’80s in
(2015), the third installment in the Reply series. It’s a coming-of-age story starring Park Bo-gum, Go Kyung-pyo, Ryu Jun-yeol, Lee Dong-hwi, and Lee Hye-ri in her first lead-role performance after making a career with Reply 1988 K-pop’s Girl’s Day. Hye-ri navigating familial problems, first loves, and small-town life in frosty blue eyeshadow and mom jeans is peak ’80s nostalgia.
Record of Youth
In another Park Bo-gum hit, he joins
Parasite’s Park So-dam for Record of Youth (2020); they play a model and makeup artist who try to find success in the cutthroat fashion industry. When the two meet at a fashion show, they become fast friends. Not quite the romance series, it’s a look at what happens when millennials pursue creative passions starkly different from those of their parents.
Crash Landing On You
Actors Hyun Bin and Son Ye-jin reunite after
The Negotiation (2018) to play star-crossed lovers in (2019), in which a freak paragliding accident plops a South Korean heiress (Son) straight into a North Korean army base. Is this the worst thing that could happen? Possibly. A meet-cute for falling in love? Apparently. Unfortunately, the more the North Korean army captain Ri Jeong-hyeok (Hyun) and Yoon Se-ri (Son) develop feelings for each other, the more their lives are in danger. The series was lauded for accurately depicting North Korean life thanks to Crash Landing on You one writer’s real-life experience as a North Korean defector.
Hi Bye, Mama!
Hi Bye, Mama! (2020), another ghost series, Cha Yu-ri (Kim Tae-hee) plays a ghost who, since her accident four years prior, has been living among mortals as a specter. When she’s given a chance to reincarnate on the condition that she gets her husband and daughter back in 49 days, she finds out that the task is much more daunting than she realized.
Starring actor Shin Se-kyung and K-pop idols Choi Soo-young (
Girls’ Generation), Im Si-wan ( ZE:A), and Kang Tae-oh ( 5urprise), (2020) is a classic romance drama with the meet-cute and rom-com tropes K-dramas are known for. It follows former track and field star Ki Seon-gyeom (Im), who literally bumps into subtitle translator Oh Mi-joo (Shin). A series of chance encounters propels them together and (surprise!) romance ensues. Run On
fans will enjoy this medical drama that follows five doctors who are co-workers, best friends, and even bandmates. Grey’s Anatomy (2020), also written by Reply series creator Lee Woo-jung, stars Jo Jung-suk, Yoo Yeon-seok, Jung Kyung-ho, Kim Dae-myung, and Jeon Mi-do. It’s a heartwarming series that’s less about romance and more about friendships and the lives of frontliners. Hospital Playlist
The first Netflix Original K-drama that propelled the streaming platform to create more Korean content,
(2019) is a period horror thriller set during Korea’s Joseon dynasty (the last dynasty before Japan occupied the country). After the king dies of a plague, the queen devises a plot to steal the throne from the king’s (illegitimate) son Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon). To keep the king alive (sort of) until she gives birth to a new heir, she gives him a plant that turns him into a zombie. When Lee Chang attempts to find out what happened to his father, he realizes that what the queen unleashed was a much bigger threat to humanity. The series received a Kingdom 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, proving that Koreans do zombie content best (remember ?). Train to Busan
Also known as
The Heirs, The Inheritors (2013) , set in both Los Angeles and South Korea, follows a group of privileged high school students who also happen to be heirs to the biggest Korean conglomerates. There’s glitz, there’s glamor, and there’s K-drama lead veteran Lee Min-ho. When he moves to L.A., the already engaged Kim Tan (Lee) meets Cha Eun-sang (Park Shin-hye), his housekeeper’s tenacious daughter. Despite having his future all planned out, he has to choose whether to keep his South Korean fortune or allow himself to fall in love with someone unexpected. The series, written by Kim Eun-sook, and its actors bagged several awards.
Because This Is My First Life
What can two people who are in tight financial situations do to get by? Get married, it seems. When IT nerd Nam Se-hee (Lee Min-ki) meets homeless writer Yoon Ji-ho (Jung So-min), they agree to a landlord-tenant relationship but later realize that saying “I do” comes with more financial benefits, that is, if they can keep up the ruse to their parents. Definitely a romance drama,
(2017) will leave you giddy and rooting for the two stars to fall in love. Because This Is My First Life
Romance Is a Bonus Book
and Younger will enjoy this series that stars Lee Jong-suk as the youngest editor-in-chief of a publishing house. When his childhood friend (Lee Na-young) resurfaces in his life, he gives her a job to help with her flailing financial and marital situation. She thrives. And falls in love. While Second Act (2019) dwells more on a woman reclaiming her life, the subtle romance gives all the feels. Romance Is a Bonus Book
It’s Okay To Not Be Okay
A tear-jerking take on mental illness,
(2020) follows brothers Moon Gang-tae (Kim Soo-hyun) and Moon Sang-tae (Oh Jung-se), who suffers from autism. Gang-tae works as a caretaker in a psychiatric ward, where he meets acclaimed children’s author Ko Moon-young (Seo Ye-ji), who also suffers from a mental illness: antisocial personality disorder. When they realize they share a past, Moon-young becomes obsessed with Gang-tae, but what ensues from neuroses is much more beautiful than they realize. Oh, and the fashion is spectacular. It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
Boys Over Flowers
The series that cemented Lee Min-ho’s status as a K-drama lead, the 2009 classic
is a high-school set romance following F4, a group of privileged boys at an elite school who, yes, named their pack. But bullying from their leader (Lee) has no effect on newcomer Geum Jan-di (Ku Hye-sun), and when she stands up to him, he (surprise, surprise) falls in love. Will he change his mean ways? Will she return his affection? Who named them F4? So many questions. A remake of the Taiwanese megahit Boys Over Flowers (2001), the series Meteor Garden became an instant hit in South Korea.