Best KDRAMAs to binge-watch as of 2021

When I did my Korean Drama ranking in 2020, I knew that there’s a lot on the pile that I missed. As I celebrate my blog anniversary today, I opted to give an updated list of top KDramas to binge-watch as of 2021.

For a year, I was able to increase my KDrama library to 75; I devoted my free time watching top-rated and underrated KDramas that most of my Hallyu-crazy friends recommended.

But what makes a good KDrama? I personally enjoy a series if it’s rich in life lessons, new learnings, and unpredictable twists. I live for dialogues that linger. Scenarios that keep my adrenaline up. I watch non-stop if the episode momentum never gets flat. The screen dynamics, the chemistry of the leads, and OST also merit extra points. The more niche the selling plot is, the more I patronize it. And the more epic the squad walk is, the more it clinches a spot on my top list!

Itaewon Class (2020)

Since we’re on ECQ Season 2, and Kdramas have proven to be therapeutic, here’s a list of my 30 best Kdramas that deserve hardcore binge sessions:

  1. Prison Playbook* (2017)
ICYMI: Park Hae-soo will reprise the role of Berlin in the Korean adaptation of Money Heist. He’s actually the reason why I watched the original drama. lol.

Genre: Dark Comedy, Inspiring

Episodes: 16 (70–95 Minutes/episode)

Where to Watch: Netflix

Special Feature: Is It Too Late to Hype Prison Playbook?

2. Full House (2004)

This held the number 1 spot on my 2020 list. Though this slid down to number 2, Full House will always be memorable for me. This series introduced me to KDRAMA.

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Episodes: 20 (60 Minutes/episode)

Where to Watch: Netflix, iQiyi

3. The King: Eternal Monarch (2020)

Genre: Fantasy, Romantic, Drama, Mystery

Episodes: 16 (60–90 Minutes/episode)

Where to Watch: Netflix

Special Feature: The Unconditional Plot of ‘The King: Eternal Monarch

4. Crash Landing On You (2020)

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Action, Political

Episodes: 16 (60–90 Minutes/episode)

Where to Watch: Netflix

Special Feature: How Stories Empower Product Cameos

5. Reply 1988 (2015)

After watching all Reply series (1997, 1994, 1988), Reply 1988 is the best series of this franchise.

Genre: Heartfelt, Romantic, Nostalgic

Episodes: 20 (80–120 Minutes/episode)

Where to Watch: Netflix, iQiyi, Viu

Special Feature: Imagining A Local Version of Reply 1988

6. Goblin (2015)

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Drama, Mystery, Suspense

Episodes: 16 (60–80 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix, iQiyi, iFlix

7. Start-Up* (2020)

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Inspiring, Tech Drama

Episodes: 16 (70–890 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix

8. Descendants of the Sun (2020)

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Action

Episodes: 16 (60 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix, iQiyi, Viu, Rakuten Viki

9. The Good Doctor (2013)

Genre: Inspiring, Heartfelt, Medical Drama

Episodes: 20(60 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix, Viu, Rakuten Viki

10. Itaewon Class (2020)

Best Park Seo Joon series for me.

Genre: Inspiring, Heartfelt, Emotional, Romantic, Melo Drama

Episodes: 16 (60–80 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix

11. Hwarang* (2016)

I watched this because of Park Seo Joon but I ended up fangirling over Kim Tae-hyung (BTS V). I could say that this series made me a fan of BTS.

Genre: Historical Drama, Action

Episodes: 20(60 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix, iQiyi, Viu, Rakuten Viki

12. Dr. Romantic* (2017)

Amazing story about leadership.

Genre: Medical Drama, Intense

Episodes: 21(60 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix

13. It’s Okay Not To Be Okay (2020)

Genre: Psychological, Heartfelt, Dark Comedy, Romance

Episodes: 16 (60 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix

Special Feature: The Healing Journey As Seen on Kim Soo-hyun’s ‘It’s Okay Not To Be Okay’

14. Sky Castle (2019)

Genre: Melodrama

Episodes: 20(60–90 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix, iQiyi, Viu, Rakuten Viki

15. Mr. Queen* (2020)

My go-to drama if I’m up for some comic relief. After watching this, I really hope Shin Hye Sun will bag a Best Actress Award.

Genre: Historical Drama, Fantasy, Romantic Comedy

Episodes: 20 (70–90 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Viu, Rakuten Viki

16. Chicago Typewriter (2017)

This series has turned me into a fan of Yoo Ah In. The series OST ‘Satelite Love’ became a part of my Spotify Top Songs last year.

Genre: Fantasy, Romantic Comedy

Episodes: 16 (60–90 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix, Viu

17. My Love from Another Star (2013)

Genre: Fantasy, Romantic Comedy

Episodes: 22(60 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix, iQiyi, Viu, Rakuten Viki

18. Search: WWW (2019)

Radiating a lot of girl boss energy! Also if you’re in the digital tech industry, this has to be on your must-watch list!

Genre: Women Empowerment, Tech Drama

Episodes: 16 (60–80 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix, iQiyi, Viu

19. 18 Again* (2020)

This is how you do remakes.

Genre: Heartfelt, Romantic, Melodrama

Episodes: 16 (60–70 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix

Special Feature: Lee Do Hyun’s 18 Again Outperforms Zac Efron’s 17 Again

20. While You Were Sleeping (2017)

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Suspense, Mystery, Semi-Fantasy

Episodes: 16 (60 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix, iQiyi, Viu, Rakuten Viki

21: Legends of the Blue Sea (2016)

Genre: Fantasy, Romantic Comedy

Episodes: 20 (60 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix, iQiyi, Viu

22. Signal (2016)

Genre: Suspense

Episodes: 16 (60–80 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix, iQiyi, Viu

23. Flower Of Evil (2020)

Kim Ji-Hun who played the antagonist in this series will reprise the role of Denver in the Korean Drama adaptation of Money Heist. Very fitting!

Genre: Suspense, Psychological

Episodes: 16 (60–80 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix, iQiyi, Viu

24. Vincenzo*** (2021)

Still waiting for this to wrap up. But I feel like this will advance on my Top 10–15!

Genre: Dark Comedy, Suspense, Revenge

Episodes: 20 (70–80 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix

25. Uncanny Counter*** (2020)

Genre: Fantasy, Action

Episodes: 16 (60–70 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix

26. Pinocchio (2014)

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Suspense, Media Drama

Episodes: 20 (60 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix, iQiyi, Viu, Rakuten Viki

27. Reply 1994 (2013)

Genre: Heartfelt, Romantic, Nostalgic

Episodes: 20(60–90 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix, iQiyi

28. Misaeng: Incomplete Life* (2014)

Genre: Inspirational, Heartfelt, Office Drama

Episodes: 20(65–90 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix, iQiyi, Viu

29. Sweet Home*** (2020)

Genre: Horror, Suspense

Episodes: 10 (45–60 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix

30. Angel’s Last Mission: Love* (2019)

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Fantasy

Episodes: 16 (60–60 Minutes/episodes)

Where to Watch: Netflix,Viu, Rakuten Viki

(Yup, Mr. Sunshine is still missing here. Lol. I hope I can find the energy to watch it. Perhaps on my next round. P.S. I watched Scarlet Heart Ryeo, too.).

Have some recos? Drop a comment! Need suggestions? Slide in my DM! Share this list ’cause we all need a dose of entertainment to survive this szn! LMK what you think!

Also — Happy Anniversary, Size 16! :) Happy Easter Sunday!

#

Hallyu Headspace, mostly BTS 💜