- 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.
2022 – Business Proposal
The pick came down to Business Proposal, or All of Us Are Dead. However, we have to go with Business Proposal as it 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 from its launch in September. Expect Squid Game season 2 to be even bigger.
Aired: September 17, 2021
2020 – Crash Landing on You
An heiress from South Korea meets a North Korean army officer when she paragliders into North Korea. He agrees to help her return home, and they soon fall in love. Can their love last even though they come from such different places? 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
A man has a traumatic childhood experience, so he suppers from memory loss and multiple personalities. He has a psychiatric resident to help him, but she falls in love with one of his personalities.
Aired: January 7, 2015 – March 12, 2015
2014 – Healer
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.
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 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 be 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 group leader falls for her.
Aired: January 5, 2009 – March 31, 2009
2008 – My Sweet Seoul
The drama is about a maid who forms a love triangle with a younger man and 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. To attract female customers, he hires good-looking male employees. The tomboy must hide her identity to keep her job. The grandson soon starts to feel some strange attraction toward 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. 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.
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 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 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 ends up staying 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 end up falling for each other.
Aired: July 14, 2004 – September 2, 2004
2003 – Attic Cat
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.
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 progresses, he expresses his feelings to her, but 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.
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 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, 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.