- 2022 – Business Proposal
- 2021 – Squid Game
- 2020 – Crash Landing on You
- 2019 Hotel del Luna
- 2018 – What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim
- 2017 – Strong Girl Bong Soon
- 2016 – Goblin (Guardian)
- 2015 – Kill Me, Heal Me
- 2014 – Healer
- 2013 – The Heirs
- 2012 – Rooftop Prince
- 2011 – City Hunter
- 2010 – Secret Garden
- 2009 – Boys Over Flowers
- 2008 – My Sweet Seoul
- 2007 – Coffee Prince
- 2006 – Goong
- 2005 – My Lovely Sam Soon
- 2004 – Full House
- 2003 – Attic Cat
- 2002 – Winter Sonata
- 2001 – Beautiful Days
Korean dramas are in hot demand globally, thanks to Netflix. You might call this the golden age for KDramas. However, it is fun to look back at the history of Korean dramas to see how creators have become more innovative and daring. With so many great Korean dramas, we have decided to find the best of the best Korean dramas per year. This should cause endless debates and discussions, but we have done an excellent job of picking the best Korean drama for that particular year. To qualify for the year, the Korean drama must have aired most of its run during that specific year.
Here are the best Korean dramas from 2000 to the present. We will announce the best Korean drama of 2023 at the end of the year.
2022 – Business Proposal
The pick came down to Business Proposal or All of Us Are Dead. However, we have to go with Business Proposal, which brought back what a great Korean drama should be. It is a story about a single woman named Shin Ha Ri who works for a company. She also has a rich friend named Jin Young Seo, who asks her to go on a blind date in her place. When she goes on the blind date pretending to be Jin Young, she sees that her blind date is Kang Tae Mu, the CEO of the company she works for. We will not spoil the drama by saying too much, but it is one of the best romantic comedies you will see this year.
Aired: February 12, 2022
2021 – Squid Game
This is a no-brainer. Squid Game was the best Korean drama for 2021, and it was not even close. It was a global sensation due to its brutal violence and its take on capitalism. For those living under a rock, Squid Game is a survival drama about a group of people (456) in debt who are taken to an island to play children’s games to win a large amount of cash (45.6 billion won/$37 million). However, if they lose a game, they will die.
Squid Game is the most successful Netflix series of all time. It got over 1.6 billion viewing hours in the first month of its launch in September. Expect Squid Game season 2 to be even bigger.
Aired: September 17, 2021
2020 – Crash Landing on You
Crash Landing on You, a 2020 Korean drama, took the world by storm with its heartwarming love story set against the backdrop of the inter-Korean divide. The series follows Yoon Se-ri, a South Korean heiress, who crash-lands in North Korea during a paragliding accident and finds herself entangled with Ri Jeong-hyeok, an elite North Korean officer. As they navigate the challenges of their forbidden romance, the drama weaves a tale of sacrifice, loyalty, and the power of love.
Crash Landing on You captivated global audiences with its stellar performances by Hyun Bin and Son Ye-jin, its rich character development, and its thought-provoking exploration of societal and political differences. The drama’s seamless blend of romance, comedy, and drama made it an international sensation, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of viewers worldwide. In addition, the series also has two of the most famous KDrama couples.
Aired: December 14, 2019 – Feb 16, 2020
2019 Hotel del Luna
Hotel del Luna is a hotel that serves guests that are not alive. It is run by a greedy CEO who has been running it for the past thousand years. She is cursed and has to spend eternity running the hotel. The only way she can escape this curse is to find someone who has committed a worse sin than she has. In walks a hotel manager. He is a perfectionist and is great for the Hotel and the greedy CEO.
Aired: July 13, 2019 – September 1, 2019
2018 – What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim
The series is about an arrogant vice president running his family’s company. He gives little respect to the people near him. He has a secretary who has stood by him for nine years. However, she suddenly wants to quit her job without any explanation. The vice president starts to see something more in her and does everything he can to get her to reconsider.
Aired: June 6, 2018 – July 26, 2018
2017 – Strong Girl Bong Soon
The series is about a petite woman who has supernatural strength. She becomes the bodyguard for a childish CEO of a gaming company. The CEO falls in love with the super-strong woman; however, the woman has eyes for her childhood friend. She must navigate this love triangle while at the same time hiding her supernatural ability.
Aired: February 24, 2017 – April 15, 2017
2016 – Goblin (Guardian)
This Korean drama is about an unbeatable general in Goryeo‘s military who died a tragic death. He becomes immortal and gets tired of living while the people around him die. He has searched for his bride for over 900 years. A bride can pull out the sword, which will end his life. He encounters a high school student who can see the dead and claims she is the bride he has been looking for. Things get complicated as they fall in love.
Aired: December 2, 2016 – January 21, 2017
2015 – Kill Me, Heal Me
Kill Me, Heal Me, a 2015 Korean drama, left a profound impact on viewers with its powerful storytelling and exceptional performances. The series revolves around Cha Do-hyun, a wealthy heir with multiple personalities, and his journey to uncover the painful truths of his past. He has a traumatic childhood experience and suppers from memory loss and multiple personalities. As he seeks healing and love, he forms a deep connection with his psychiatrist, Oh Ri-jin.
Kill Me, Heal Me masterfully blended drama, romance, and psychological exploration, tackling complex themes of trauma, identity, and resilience. The drama’s standout performances by Ji Sung, Hwang Jung-eum, and the ensemble cast brought depth and authenticity to the characters. Kill Me, Heal Me is revered for its poignant portrayal of mental health and the complexities of the human psyche, making it a memorable and impactful series.
Aired: January 7, 2015 – March 12, 2015
2014 – Healer
Healer, a 2014 Korean drama, enthralled audiences with its thrilling plot and captivating characters. This series is about a night courier known as “The Healer.” Thanks to a genius hacker, he can get his clients whatever they want. He gets a job with a writer and reporter that leads him to uncover a mystery about his past, which puts them all in danger. It revolves around Seo Jung-hoo, a skilled night courier known as “Healer,” who uncovers a dark conspiracy while investigating his own mysterious past. As he delves deeper into the truth, he forms an unexpected bond with a passionate reporter named Chae Young-shin.
Healer struck a chord with viewers through its perfect blend of action, romance, and suspense. The drama’s intricate storyline, superb performances by Ji Chang-wook and Park Min-young, and its exploration of themes such as justice and redemption garnered widespread acclaim. Healer remains a cherished drama, celebrated for its compelling narrative and unforgettable characters.
Aired: December 8, 2014 – February 10, 2015
2013 – The Heirs
The Heirs, a 2013 Korean drama, became a sensation with its captivating storyline and star-studded cast. The series revolves around the lives of wealthy high school students attending an elite academy, delving into their intricate relationships, family dynamics, and social hierarchies. A student is exiled to the U.S. to study abroad. He is the heir to a major corporation called Empire Group. His older half-brother plans to take over the family business while he is gone. While the student is in America, he meets a woman who came from Korea to look for her older sister. He falls in love with her without knowing she is the daughter of his family’s housekeeper.
The Heirs enchanted viewers with its blend of romance, friendship, and coming-of-age themes. With a stellar ensemble cast led by Lee Min-ho and Park Shin-hye, the drama captured hearts with its compelling characters and heartfelt performances. The Heirs received acclaim for its polished production, intricate plot twists, and exploration of love and identity. It remains a beloved drama, known for its addictive storyline and the irresistible allure of its characters.
Aired: October 9, 2013 – December 12, 2013
2012 – Rooftop Prince
Rooftop Prince, a 2012 Korean drama, enchanted audiences with its unique fusion of time travel, romance, and comedy. The series follows Crown Prince Lee Gak, who mysteriously travels from the Joseon era to modern-day Seoul with his loyal entourage. As they adjust to the unfamiliar world, Lee Gak encounters a woman who bears an uncanny resemblance to his late wife. Rooftop Prince captured viewers’ hearts with its endearing characters, hilarious fish-out-of-water scenarios, and poignant love story that transcends time. The drama’s delightful blend of historical and contemporary elements, coupled with strong performances by Park Yoochun and Han Ji-min, made it a beloved and memorable series, leaving a lasting impression on fans worldwide.
Aired: March 21, 2012 – May 24, 2012
2011 – City Hunter
City Hunter, a 2011 Korean drama, left a lasting impact with its gripping storyline and intense action. Based on a popular manga, the series follows the journey of Lee Yoon-sung, a skilled vigilante seeking justice for his father’s wrongful death. As Yoon-sung assumes the identity of a prosecutor, he uncovers a web of corruption and pursues his mission to bring the culprits to justice. City Hunter captivated viewers with its thrilling plot, dynamic fight sequences, and Lee Min-ho’s charismatic performance in the lead role. The drama received acclaim for its suspenseful narrative, intricate plot twists, and exploration of themes such as revenge and redemption. City Hunter continues to be regarded as a standout drama for its adrenaline-pumping action and a compelling tale of a hero seeking vengeance.
Aired: May 25, 2011 – July 28, 2011
2010 – Secret Garden
Secret Garden, a 2010 Korean drama, captivated audiences with its unique blend of romance, fantasy, and comedy. The series follows the lives of a wealthy CEO, Kim Joo-won, and a talented stuntwoman, Gil Ra-im, who find themselves entangled in a mysterious body-swapping phenomenon. As they navigate their reversed lives, their initial animosity turns into an unexpected romance.
Secret Garden became a sensation, thanks to its imaginative storyline, witty humor, and the sizzling chemistry between its leads, Hyun Bin and Ha Ji-won. The drama’s iconic scenes, including the magical door and the hauntingly beautiful OST, further enchanted viewers. Secret Garden received critical acclaim for its inventive plot, strong performances, and exploration of social class divisions. It remains a beloved drama, cherished for its memorable characters, heartwarming love story, and its ability to transport viewers into a world where dreams and realities intertwine.
Aired: November 13, 2010 – January 16, 2011
2009 – Boys Over Flowers
Boys Over Flowers, a 2009 Korean drama, achieved widespread popularity and became a cultural phenomenon. The series, based on the Japanese manga of the same name, follows the story of a strong-willed girl named Geum Jan-di, who enters the prestigious Shinhwa High School dominated by a group of wealthy and influential boys known as F4. As Jan-di navigates the challenges of school, love, and social hierarchies, she captures the attention of the F4 leader, Gu Jun-pyo, leading to a whirlwind of romance and conflicts.
Boys Over Flowers captured viewers’ hearts with its compelling storyline, vibrant visuals, and charismatic cast, including Lee Min-ho and Ku Hye-sun. It became a cultural phenomenon, influencing fashion trends and garnering a dedicated fanbase both domestically and internationally. Boys Over Flowers remains an iconic drama, known for its captivating characters, memorable soundtrack, and timeless themes of love, friendship, and personal growth.
Aired: January 5, 2009 – March 31, 2009
2008 – My Sweet Seoul
The Korean drama series My Sweet Seoul captured the attention of viewers with its intriguing storyline and compelling characters. The series revolves around Ji Soo-ah, a talented professional translator who leads a seemingly perfect life but secretly struggles with loneliness and a longing for love. As she navigates through the complexities of relationships and societal expectations, Ji Soo-ah’s journey unfolds with authenticity and emotional depth. My Sweet Seoul delves into themes of self-discovery, personal growth, and the pursuit of happiness. The drama received praise for its realistic portrayal of modern urban life and the complexities of human emotions. With its exceptional performances, led by actress Choi Kang-hee, and its thought-provoking narrative, My Sweet Seoul remains a standout drama, touching the hearts of audiences and offering a poignant reflection on the human experience.
Aired: June 6, 2008 – August 1, 2008
2007 – Coffee Prince
Coffee Prince, a 2007 Korean drama, left an indelible mark on the hearts of viewers. The series tells the story of Go Eun-chan, a tomboyish girl who pretends to be a man to secure a job at a café owned by Choi Han-gyul. To attract female customers, Han-gyul hires good-looking male employees. However, Go Eun-chan must hide her identity to keep her job. As Eun-chan and Han-gyul grow closer, complicated feelings arise, leading to a captivating exploration of love, identity, and societal expectations.
Coffee Prince garnered widespread acclaim for its progressive portrayal of gender roles and its sensitive handling of LGBTQ+ themes. The drama’s exceptional cast, including Yoon Eun-hye and Gong Yoo, delivered powerful performances, while the chemistry between the leads captured audiences’ hearts. With its heartwarming moments, thought-provoking narrative, and memorable OST, Coffee Prince remains a beloved and influential drama, recognized for its boldness, authenticity, and enduring impact on Korean television.
Aired: July 2, 2007 – August 28, 2007
2006 – Goong
My Lovely Sam Soon, a 2005 Korean drama, quickly became a sensation and a timeless classic. The series revolves around a talented pastry chef named Kim Sam Soon, who, after numerous setbacks in life and love, finds herself entangled in a complicated relationship with the younger, wealthy businessman Hyun Jin-heon. It centers on an ordinary high school student who must marry a Crown Prince who attends her school. However, she is against the proposal and agrees to marry him to help her family out of debt. She must now adapt to her royal life. The Crown Prince’s cousin ends up helping her and guiding her on how to adjust.
With its refreshing storyline, relatable characters, and witty dialogue, My Lovely Sam Soon captivated viewers and received critical acclaim. It broke conventions by addressing societal taboos and exploring complex emotions with authenticity and humor. The drama’s success can be attributed to its stellar performances, particularly by lead actress Kim Sun-a, and its memorable soundtrack. My Lovely Sam Soon continues to be adored by fans worldwide and remains an iconic drama in Korean television history.
Aired: January 11, 2006 – March 30, 2006
2005 – My Lovely Sam Soon
The series revolves around a female baker with a talent for making pastries and cakes. On Christmas Eve, she catches her boyfriend cheating and breaking up. She ends up meeting a man that needs a baker for his restaurant Bon Appetit. She is hired as the restaurant’s chief baker, and the two constantly fight.
Aired: June 1, 2005 – July 21, 2005
2004 – Full House
This series is about a female writer that lives in a house called “Full House.” Her friends end up tricking her into thinking she won a free vacation. While she is gone, they sell the house. On the plane, the writer meets a famous actor. When she returns home to find her house has been sold, she stays with the famous actor. While they don’t get along at first, they agree to get married for six months to make the woman he likes jealous. While married, the man and the writer fall for each other.
Aired: July 14, 2004 – September 2, 2004
2003 – Attic Cat
The series follows the story of a young man and woman who become reluctant roommates due to a housing mix-up. As they navigate their unconventional living situation, their lives become intertwined, leading to unexpected romance and heartwarming moments. Attic Cat is about a law student helping out a friend. The two end up living together in a room that is on top of a roof of an old building. Soon he starts to see her kindness and the two end up falling in love.
Attic Cat captured audiences’ hearts with its endearing characters, humorous plot, and heartfelt moments. The drama gained popularity for its relatable themes and strong performances by the cast. Even years after its release, Attic Cat continues to be cherished as a classic Korean drama, remembered for its delightful story and memorable characters.
Aired: June 2, 2003 – July 22, 2003
2002 – Winter Sonata
It gained immense popularity not only in Korea but also across Asia, becoming a cultural phenomenon. The series tells a heart-wrenching love story between two high school classmates who reunite years later. A student moves to a new high school to look for his biological father. He likes his childhood friend; however, she only sees him as a brother. As the series progresses, he expresses his feelings to her. However, circumstances and fate keep them apart. He disappears for ten years but returns only to find out his childhood friend is about to be married.
Winter Sonata is known for its beautiful cinematography, memorable soundtrack, and captivating performances by its lead actors. It is often credited with sparking the “Korean Wave” and boosting the international popularity of Korean dramas. Even after many years, Winter Sonata remains an iconic and beloved drama, leaving a lasting impact on Korean entertainment.
Aired: January 14, 2002 – March 19, 2002
2001 – Beautiful Days
This series is about a man that returns to Korea from the US after finishing his studies. He looks to run his father’s music business while his father deals with criminal charges. Two girls come to the company, and one wants to become a Kpop star. A complex drama unfolds between the man and one of the girls years later. However, their love is threatened by a terminal illness.
Aired: March 14, 2001 – May 31, 2001
2000 – Autumn Tale
Siblings grow up as siblings but are from different families, as there was a mix-up at the hospital. The truth after an accident reveals their blood types are not the same. The siblings are returned to their true families. One family leaves for the States, while the other is in Korea under harsh conditions. Years after, they are reunited in Korea.
Aired: September 18, 2000 – November 7, 2000
Check out our article on the best historical Korean dramas of all time.