COVID-19 has caused many to lockdown in their homes which has led to the rise of Korean dramas on Netflix. KDrama Netflix Originals have become a worldwide phenomenon. However, Southeast Asia viewership in KDramas, in particular, quadrupled in 2020 compared to 2019. They are not only additive but offer very interesting storylines and unpredictable plot twists. Add this to the fact that Netflix is now available in 35 languages and continues to add more including subtitling and dubbing. No wonder it is very easy to binge-watch a whole season during your lockdown! Below are the best Kdrama Netflix Originals to watch, from charming romantic comedies to horror Korean period pieces, there is something for everyone. Expect to see more KDrama Netflix Originals in 2021.
Crash Landing on You
The top spot on this list of the best KDrama Netflix Originals has to go to Crash Landing on You. It has been one of the most popular Korean dramas in 2020. It is about an heiress to a major conglomerate in South Korea who accidentally enters North Korea via paragliding. In North Korea, she meets a North Korean army officer who does everything he can to hide and protect her. They soon fall for each other despite coming from different social classes. It has everything you would want in a Korean Drama. Crash Landing on You has humor, romance, and a whole lot of drama. It gives you a glimpse of the rural villages of North Korea, the beautiful blue lakes of Switzerland, and the busy lights of South Korea.
You can’t talk about KDrama Netflix originals without talking about Itaewon Class. Netflix has been turning popular Korean webtoons into Korean dramas with great success. Itaewon Class is about a boy who ends up punching the son of a large restaurant business CEO. He ends up getting expelled from school and his father gets fired from his job working at that same restaurant. Later his father dies from a motorcycle accident caused by the son of the CEO. The boy ends up going to jail for attacking the son of the CEO. Upon his release from jail the son plans to destroy the restaurant company by opening a restaurant of his own. This drama is not just a typical love story. To be honest, it is mostly a story about revenge and finding a family where you would least expect it. You really cheer for the characters as they battle greed, corruption, discrimination, and inequality in social classes.
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
Those that love romantic Korean dramas will love this Netflix original about a man who works at a psychiatric ward and a famous woman children’s book writer who has an antisocial personality disorder. The man does not make a lot of money while the woman is very rich. However, she is also very selfish, arrogant, and rude. As the story unfolds, the woman starts to develop strong feelings for the man and does everything she can to get his attention. It is refreshing to see a Korean drama tackle the issues of mental health and trauma. In addition, as the episodes go on you get a deeper layer of every character, especially with the female lead.
Those interested in a good drama should watch Prison Playbook. It is a great escape for those looking for a different kind of Korean drama. The drama is able a man who is the best relief pitcher in Korea. He is so good that he ends up playing in the MLB. One night he ends up striking a man with a rock after seeing him attack his sister. He ends up getting a year in prison for using excessive force. Therefore, he now must adapt to prison life. This Korean drama is mostly about friendship and how each character supports each other during prison life. There are fights that will make you laugh and cry. Each character has their own story with their own lessons.
Start-Up was a huge hit in South Korea and is a major reason why there has been a rise in entrepreneurship in Korea. The story is about a woman who wants to start her own startup. She drops out of her university and starts to do some part-time work. Her dream is to one day become the Korean version of Steve Jobs. In addition, there is a man who is the founder of a tech company. He is a mathematical wizard whose company is failing. Soon the two meet and start a startup and later start to develop feelings for each other. Why this Korean drama works so well is that it was able to smoothly incorporate personal stories of the characters into what is happening with the startup company. Those that love underdog stories, sweet romances and company rivalry will love Start-Up.
Kingdom was a huge hit and some thanks have to go to the success of the Korean zombie film Train to Busan. The Korean drama is about a King who has fallen ill. No one is allowed to see him, even his own son. There are rumors that the King is dead. The son (prince) feels that something is not right and sneaks into the King’s palace but gets kicked out. To find out what happened to his father, the prince ends up finding out that the dead are coming back to life in order to kill. This Korean drama only has 6 episodes, therefore the plot moves quickly. The zombies in this series are very frightening as they are aggressive during the night and dormant during the day. However, don’t think of Kingdom as just a zombie movie. It is more interested in picking apart systems of power and the cost of being too stubborn.
Another Korean webtoon that was turned into one of the more popular Kdrama Netflix Originals is Love Alarm. The series revolves around an app called Joalarm. The app rings when someone 10 meters around you, likes you. However, the app doesn’t reveal specific details on who likes you. The series focuses on a high school student who is pretty and smart. Her parents died and so she is living with her aunt. She is not rich, unlike a popular male student who is from a wealthy family. I think you can see where this story is going. Love Alarm has 8 episodes and revolves around an app that you can actually download and use if you are in Korea (with Android). Those that like tech, romance, and competition will love Love Alarm.
Mystic Pop-Up Bar
Here we go again. Another Korean webtoon turned into one of Netflix’s many KDrama Originals. The Korean webtoon is called Ssanggabpocha which means Ssanggab Cart Bar. The Cart Bar opens only at night on the rooftop of a building. The owner that runs the mysterious food card caters to both normal and dead people. The customers express the programs and the owner offers advice. They come to the Cart Bar in order to try and heal their internal wounds. Those interested in a silly and fun Korean drama will love Mystic Pop-Up Bar.
The King: Eternal Monarch
In 1994, The King of Corea is killed by his brother, and the King’s son is stabbed in the neck. The murderer is looking for a legendary flute that holds supernatural powers. He is able to escape with half of the broken flute. The son is saved by a mysterious savior who leaves behind a police badge. The son ends up being appointed the next ruler of the Kingdom of Corea. 25 years later, the son is still haunted by that night. He later crosses over the Kingdom of Corea and into a parallel world where he ends up meeting the owner of the police badge, a female detective. It is a mix of Science Fiction and Romance with a slow burn that pays off in the end. You will love the acting and the cinematography.
One of the more underrated Kdrama Netflix Originals has to be Hospital Playlist. It has 12 long episodes and depicts the stories of doctors, nurses, and patients at a hospital. The 5 doctors all entered the same medical university in 1999. They are now all friends and work together in the same hospital. However, the drama flashes back to 1999 and shows the 5 friends in a band together. Can they recapture their band days in the present day? You will have to watch to find out. This is highly recommended for those that like watching Korean dramas that focus more on friendship than romance. While there is romance the main focus is on the characters and their friendships overall throughout the years.
For those interested in Korean Office Dramas, check out our article here.