While it’s usually clear which K-dramas are worth watching, there are times where some get swept under the rug because they compete with other popular shows for airtimes. But that doesn’t mean they’re not as comparable to their counterparts.
We put together a list of 15 underrated K-dramas that you should be watching. That way, you can get your fix of Korean dramas.
Written by Kim Eun Sook, the same writer who brought you Goblin, Descendants of the Sun, and The King, Mr Sunshine is a historical drama. Set in the early 1900s, this drama focuses on activists fighting for Korea’s independence. The plot might move slightly slow in the beginning but you won’t really notice it because of all the world-building, and the cinematography is captivating.
It tells the story of Eugene Choi, played by Lee Byung Hun, who escaped to the US after he was born into slavery in Joseon. He returns to Joseon as a Marine Corps officer and falls in love with Go Ae Shin, played by Kim Tae Ri, an aristocrat’s granddaughter who is a part of the Righteous Army. For romance (and bromance) set in a historical time period, this is one to add to your list.
Mr Sunshine is available for streaming on Netflix.
For a K-drama that ends as strong as it starts, Go Back Couple fits that premise. Though the show is only 12 episodes long, every episode is very well-paced and filled with characters that have a fully-fleshed out story and background.
Go Back Couple is the story about Choi Ban Do, played by Son Ho Jun, and Ma Jin Joo, played by Jang Na Ra, who has been married for years. Their marriage has hit a low point where they now resent each other and regret getting married to each other at such a young age. Then, they travel through time, back to 20-year-old university students where they met for the first time.
Go Back Couple is available for streaming on Viu.
Set in 1997, Miss Korea is about how Hyung Joon, played by Lee Sun Kyun, and other employees try to make Ji-Yong, played by Lee Yeon Hee, into Miss Korea to save their cosmetics company.
Viewers share about their love for the chemistry between the leads as well as the unexpected secondary love story, and if you’re interested in following a light-hearted and riveting story about romance and family, then this is one for you.
Miss Korea is available for streaming on Viu.
If you loved Goblin, we think you’ll love Chicago Typewriter as well. This series tells an epic story between three resistance fighters who lived through the 1930s Japanese occupation of Korea. Reincarnated into the present as a best-selling writer, a ghostwriter, and a fan, this story goes deep into friendship, love, and even betrayal as the three find the truth about their past. There’s no doubt that you will be hooked within the first episode.
The cast is led by Yoo Ah In who plays Han Se Joo, Im Soo Jung who plays Jeon Seol and Go Kyung Pyo who plays Yoo Jin Oh.
Chicago Typewriter is available for streaming on Netflix.
While You Were Sleeping bridges between legal and fantasy genres, and it tells the story of three people who have the ability to see the future through their dreams. As a field reporter, Bae Suzy plays Nam Hong Joo, Lee Jong Suk plays Jung Jae Chan, a prosecutor, and Jung Hae In plays Han Woo Tak, a police officer. The three of them often cross paths and the episodes depict crimes or disastrous events that they have to solve and intervene in.
This fast-paced show is all heart and drama and we love all the unexpected twists and turns that take place. If you haven’t already watched this, you should definitely add it to your list.
While You Were Sleeping is available for streaming on Netflix.
For eye candy, romance, and bromance, Hwarang is the type of show you should add to your list. Hwarang is a show starring Park Seo Joon, Go A Ra and Park Hyung Sik. The story tells the tale of an elite group of young men called the Hwarang who discover more about friendship and love during the Silla Kingdom. Although many have criticised the romantic pairing of the leads, the bromance and friendship are enough to keep us watching.
Hwarang is available for streaming on Netflix.
Made by the same producers behind the Reply series, Prison Playbook is a drama that revolves around the lives of convicts, their families, and the duty officers. Kim Je Hyu, played by Park Hae Soo, is a baseball pitcher who is convicted of assault after saving his sister from a sexual attack. There’s a slow start but it really picks up after the third episode. This series is less about romance and more about bromance and friendship. For comedy and heartfelt emotions, this is one to add to your list.
Prison Playbook is available for streaming on Netflix.
Adapted from a webtoon, Cheese in the Trap stars Park Hae Jin, Kim Go Eun, Seo Kang Joon and Lee Sung Kyung. The story is focused on the dynamics and relationships of a group of university students and is a ‘slice of life’ type of show. It tells the story of Seol, played by Kim Go Eun, who meets Jung, Park Hae Jin, and how their relationship changes as his manipulative and sociopathic tendencies come to light.
Keep in mind that the Second Lead Syndrome is quite strong in this show but we love the character development and watching Kim Go Eun on the screen again.
Cheese In The Trap is available for streaming on Netflix.
Noh Ji Wook, played by Ji Chang Wook, is a prosecutor who works together with Eun Bong Hee, played by Nam Ji Hyun, a prosectuor trainee on a case involving a psychoapthic murderer. As they work on the case they realise how connected their past is. The leads have great chemistry and this rom-com is sure to grip at your heart.
Suspicious Partner is available for streaming on Netflix.
This complex drama tells the story of hospital corruption, politics, and is layered upon romance. The two leads have amazing chemistry and emotion, but their romance doesn’t take the focus of the show. Inspired by Frankenstein, this tells the story of a renowned (but unsympathetic) neurosurgeon and his role involving the mysterious deaths in the hospital. Led by Jang Hyuk playing Lee Young Oh and Park So Dam playing Gye Jin Sung, this story is a favourite among many Korean audiences.
With only 10 episodes, Missing Noir M is about two men who work together in a special missing persons task force. Gil Soo Hyun, played by Kim Kang Woo, is a genius who graduated from Harvard University at the young age of ten. His partner, Oh Dae Young, is played by Par Hee Soon, and he has a strong sense of justice. The two have contrasting personalities but they work together to solve cases. This thriller and mystery drama is one to add on the list if you also love the bromance trope.
Moon Lovers is a heartwrenching story that’s based on the Chinese novel Bu Bu Jing Xin. Some of you might have already watched this, but if not, this definitely belongs at the top of your list. Moon Lovers is about how Go Ha Jin, played by IU, is transported back in time to the Goryeo Dynasty. Without giving any spoilers away, it tells the story of how she meets and becomes close to the Wang family during the reign of King Taejo. As her story develops, she also finds herself getting closer to the fourth prince played by Lee Joon Gi and being caught up in palace politics.
Recreated from a Japanese novel, Come Back Mister is about a man who is worked to death who comes back to the living world in another body for a limited amount of time. Rain plays Kim Young Soo and Oh Yeon Seo plays Han Hong Nan, two people who return to earth after arriving in the afterlife, both with their own determined missions. This show is full of emotion and funny, and the cherry on top of it all is that there’s a satisfying ending too.
Come Back Mister is available for streaming on Viu.
This thriller-esque drama received lots of love from fans in Korea when it aired, but not many international viewers caught news of it.
The World Of The Married tells a story about marriage and betrayal, revenge, and grief in that shared context. Incredibly fast-paced and dramatic, every episode is filled with its own plot twists that you definitely won’t see coming. Ji Sun Woo, played by Kim Hee Ae, is a well-respected family doctor and she thought she was happily married to Lee Tae Oh, played by Park Hae Joon until she discovers that he has been having an affair. And her friends have been covering up his tracks behind her back.
The World of the Married is available for streaming on Netflix.
Cha Do Hyun played by Ji Sung is a business heir who developed dissociative identity disorder after experiencing several life-threatening events. With the help of Oh Ri Jin, played by Hwang Jung Eum, he tries to regain control over his life. You might not be hooked until episode three or four, but this has been on the favourites list of many Korean viewers since it aired on the television.