- 2021 – Vincenzo
- 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 throughout the years. 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 discussion but we feel we have done a good job of picking the best Korean drama for that particular year. To qualify for the year, the Korean drama must have aired the majority of its run during that particular year.
You will not find the global hit Squid Game on this list due to the fact we at SEOULSPACE do not consider it technically a Korean drama.
Here are the best Korean dramas from 2000 to the present.
2021 – Vincenzo
There were high expectations for Vincenzo once the cast was announced and they have lived up to it and more. Song Joong-ki and Jeon Yeo-Bin are perfect for the roles they play. The drama moves from Italy to South Korea where the title character has to deal with the real estate mafia. Vincenzo is the main character and might go down as one of the most memorable characters in any Korean drama. While 2021 is not over, Vincenzo currently is our choice for the best Korean drama for 2021.
Aired: February 20, 2021 – May 2, 2021
2020 – Crash Landing on You
An heiress from South Korea ends up meeting a North Korean army officer when she paragliders into North Korea. He agrees to help her return home, however they soon fall in love with each other. Can their love last despite the fact that they come from such different places? The series also has two of the most famous KDrama couples of all time.
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 who is running his family’s company. He gives little respect to the people near him. He has a secretary who has stood by him for 9 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 ends up becoming the bodyguard for a childish CEO of a gaming company. The CEO ends up falling 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 that 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
A man has a traumatic childhood experience and so he suppers from memory loss and multiple personalities. He has a psychiatric resident to help him but she ends up falling in love with one of his personalities.
Aired: January 7, 2015 – March 12, 2015
2014 – Healer
This series is about a night courier who also is known as “The Healer”. He is able to get his clients whatever they want thanks to a genius hacker. He gets a job with a writer and reporter that leads him to uncover a mystery about his own past which puts them all in danger.
Aired: December 8, 2014 – February 10, 2015
2013 – The Heirs
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 ends up falling in love with her without knowing that she is actually the daughter of his family’s housekeeper.
Aired: October 9, 2013 – December 12, 2013
2012 – Rooftop Prince
A crown prince gets transported from the Chosun Dynasty to modern-day Seoul. He ends up meeting a woman who looks like his dead wife from the past. He aims to solve the mystery of her death by assuming the identity of a CEO’s grandson.
Aired: March 21, 2012 – May 24, 2012
2011 – City Hunter
This series is about a talented MIT graduate who works on the international communications team in the Blue House. He plans revenge on five politicians who caused his father’s death with his surrogate father and eventually becomes a “City Hunter”.
Aired: May 25, 2011 – July 28, 2011
2010 – Secret Garden
This drama is about an arrogant CEO and a poor stuntwoman. They accidentally meet and end up forming an attraction for each other. Things can strange as they end up swapping bodies.
Aired: November 13, 2010 – January 16, 2011
2009 – Boys Over Flowers
The Korean school drama series is about a poor girl that arrives at a prestigious private school. She is granted attendance for saving a boy from suicide. Once at the school, she encounters the school’s most popular group F4. She gets bullied by F4 but the leader of the group ends up falling for her.
Aired: January 5, 2009 – March 31, 2009
2008 – My Sweet Seoul
The drama about a maid who forms a love triangle with a younger man as an older businessman. She is embarrassed to introduce the younger man to her friends which causes a rift in their relationship. However, she starts to get drawn to the older man the more she is around him.
Aired: June 6, 2008 – August 1, 2008
2007 – Coffee Prince
The grandson of a food company chairwoman takes over a run-down coffee shop and names it “Coffee Prince”. He ends up hiring a tomboy who he thinks is a man. In order to attract female customers, he hires good-looking male employees. The tomboy must hide her identity in order to keep her job. The grandson soon starts to feel some strange attraction towards the tomboy.
Aired: July 2, 2007 – August 28, 2007
2006 – Goong
The series is about an ordinary high school student who must marry a Crown Prince who also attends her school. She is against the proposal, however, 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.
Aired: January 11, 2006 – March 30, 2006
2005 – My Lovely Sam Soon
The series revolves around a female baker who has a talent for making pastries and cakes. On Christmas Eve, she catches her boyfriend cheating on her and breaks 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 end up constantly fighting.
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 ends up staying with the famous actor. While at first, they don’t get along, they come to an agreement to get married for 6 months in order to make the woman he likes jealous. While married the man and the writer end up falling for each other.
Aired: July 14, 2004 – September 2, 2004
2003 – Attic Cat
Attic Cat is about a law student that ends up 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.
Aired: June 2, 2003 – July 22, 2003
2002 – Winter Sonata
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 moves along, he expresses his feelings to her but circumstances and fate keep them apart. He disappears for 10 years but returns only to find out his childhood friend is about to be married.
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 businesses while his father deals with criminal charges. Two girls end up coming 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 they are from different families as there was a mix-up at the hospital. The truth comes out 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 and the other is left 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.