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Every K-fan should watch these12 most popular Korean dramas of all time

Addictive and entertaining, Korean dramas are increasingly popular among millennials and Gen Z. With a strong narrative and brilliant portrayal of characters in limited episodes, these can be easily enjoyed from the comfort of your home.

And, when dramas like Crash Landing on You (2019) or Squid Game (2021) are loved worldwide, with romance and action enthusiasts often binge-watching the series more than once, you know the viewership is bound to rise.

Here, we have outlined some of the highest-rated Korean dramas that you can stream. They are ranked according to the South Korean viewership research agency Nielsen Korea’s May 2023 report of the highest ratings. While the K-dramas were aired on popular local channels like JTBC, tVN and TV Chosun, one can also find most of them on streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney+.

Check our complete list on K-dramas to watch! 

Most popular Korean dramas for you to binge-watch

The World of the Married (2020)

Rating: 28.371 percent

Directed by: Mo Wan-il

Cast: Park Hae-joon, Kim Hee-ae, Han So-hee, Seon-yeong

Episodes: 16

Synopsis: Ji Sun-woo (Kim), a renowned associate director in a hospital, is happily married to Lee Tae-oh (Park), who runs a small entertainment firm. Everything seems perfect till Sun-woo learns about her husband’s infidelity. What follows next is a series of lies, betrayals and revenge between the couple.

About the show: One of the most popular JTBC Korean dramas, The World Of the Married broke its own record by surpassing the 15th episode rating of 24.44 per cent with a solid 28.371 per cent finale rating.

Watch here.

Reborn Rich (2022)

Rating:  23.779 percent

Directed by: Jung Dae-yoon

Cast: Song Joong-ki, Shin Hyun-bin

Episodes: 16

Synopsis: Yoon Hyeon-woo (Song) is a loyal employee of the Soonyang Conglomerate, who is falsely accused of embezzlement and killed while on a business trip overseas. In a turn of events, Hyeon-Woo finds himself in the body of the business family’s youngest heir,  Jin Do-jun (also Song),  giving him the perfect opportunity for revenge. 

About the show: One of the most popular Song Joong-ki Korean dramas, Reborn Rich is based on the 2017 web novel Chaeboljib Maknaeadeul by San Kyeong.

Sky Castle (2018)

Rating: 23.779 per cent

Directed by: Jo Hyun-tak

Cast: Yum Jung-ah, Lee Tae-ran, Yoon Se-ah, Oh Na-ra, Kim Seo-hyung

Episodes: 20

Synopsis: Four rich women — Han Seo-jin (Yum), Lee Soo-im (Lee), No Seung-hye (Yoon), Jin Jin-hee (Oh) — and their families, are residents of Korea’s most famous neighbourhood, Sky Castle. They all lead luxurious lives and try their best to ensure their husbands are successful and their children get into top universities, even if it costs destroying others’ lives.

Watch here.

Crash Landing on You (2019)

Rating: 21.683 percent

Directed by: Lee Jung-Hyo

Cast: Hyun Bin, Son Ye-jin, Seo Ji-hye, Kim Jung-hyun

Episodes: 16

Synopsis: The story starts with heiress Yoon Se-Ri (Son) of South Korea crash landing in a quaint North Korean hamlet after a paragliding mishap. Her destiny changes as a charming army officer, Ri Jeong-hyeok (Hyun), rescues and falls in love with her. As they aspire to be with each other, several circumstances come in the way of their blooming love.

About the show: One of the most loved Korean dramas, Crash Landing on You had the real-life couple Hyun and Son share screen space together for the second time after the Korean movie The Negotiation (2018).

Watch here.

Reply 1988 (2015)

Rating: 18.803 per cent

Directed by: Shin Won-ho

Cast: Hyeri Lee, Go Kyung-pyo, Ryu Jun-yeol, Park Bo-gum

Episodes: 20

Synopsis: It’s 1980s Korea and Sung Deok-sun (Hyeri) is leading a simple life in the small Ssangmundong neighbourhood. However, she and her friends find it difficult to navigate their challenging teen years, which will influence their futures, eventually.

Watch here.

Goblin (2016)

Rating: 18.680 per cent

Directed by: Lee Eung-bok

Cast: Gong Yoo, Kim Go-eun, Wook Lee-dong

Episodes: 16

Synopsis: Modern-day goblin Kim Shin (Gong) was a decorated military general during the Goryeo Dynasty in his past life. He was framed as a traitor and killed by his jealous master, the young king while fighting in a battle. In his current life, he wishes to end his cursed immortality with the help of a human bride, Ji Eun-tak (Kim). Meanwhile, Shin’s roommate turns out to be a grim reaper (Wook), to whom the former’s nephew has leased their house.

About the show: One of the most popular romance Korean dramas, Goblin is also known as Guardian: The Lonely and Great God.

Watch here.

Mr. Sunshine (2018)

Rating: 18.129 per cent

Directed by: Lee Eung-bok

Cast: Lee Byung-hun, Kim Tae-ri, Yoo Yeon-seok, Byun Yo-han

Episodes: 24

Synopsis: A young Eugene Choi, known as Mr. Sunshine (Lee), escapes to the US during the tragic 1871 Shinmiyangyo (US expedition to Korea). He soon becomes a US Marine Corps officer and falls in love with an aristocrat’s daughter, Go Ae Shin (Kim). A series of events follow after Choi learns about a plot by foreign forces to colonise Korea and create history.

Watch here.

Doctor Cha (2023)

Rating: 18.129 per cent

Directed by: Kim Dae-jin

Cast: Uhm Jung-hwa, Myung Se-bin, Kim Byung-chul

Episodes: 16

Synopsis: Cha Jung-sook (Uhm), who has been a homemaker for 20 years, decides to return to medical school. Meanwhile, her husband Seo In-ho (Kim) works as a chief surgeon at the university hospital where Jung-sook has applied as a first-year resident. To let her navigate this new journey on her own, In-ho decides to keep his identity hidden from Jung-sook.

Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2023)

Rating: 17.534 per cent

Directed by: Yu In-sik

Cast: Kang Tae-oh, Park Eun-bin, Kang Ki-young, Baek Ji-won

Episodes: 16

Synopsis: Lee Jun-ho (Kang) is a lawyer in charge of various tasks related to litigation and crime scenes. Woo Young-woo (Park) is South Korea’s first attorney with Autism Spectrum Disorder. While most of Young-woo’s colleagues mock her for her special ability, Jun-ho warms up to her and cherishes her talent. Soon, the duo get entangled in a blooming romance.

About the show: This Kang Tae-oh series was one of the most popular Korean dramas on Netflix since Squid Game. So much so that the producers have promised that the show will return with a second season soon.

Mr. Queen (2020)

Rating: 17.371 per cent

Directed by: Yoon Sung-shik

Cast: Choi Jin-hyuk, Shin Hye-sun, Seol In-ah

Episodes: 20

Synopsis: Jang Bong-Hwan (Choi), a modern-day chef works at the President’s Blue House. One day, he is transported to the Joseon period, where his spirit gets trapped in the body of Queen Kim So Yong (Shin). Jang is desperate to get back home but finds himself caught in the middle of politics involving the royals.

About the show: One of the most loved Choi Jin-hyuk Korean dramas, Mr. Queen is a remake of Go Princess Go (2015).

Watch here.

Crash Course in Romance (2023)

Rating: 17.038 per cent

Directed by: Yoo Jae-won

Cast: Jeon Do-yeon, Jung Kyung-ho, Lee Bong-ryun

Episodes: 16

Synopsis: Retired national athlete Nam Haeng-sun (Jeon) runs a side dish shop. In order to help her daughter, she decides to navigate into the private education field. There she comes across popular private instructor Choi Chi-yeol (Jung), also known as the 1 Billion Won Man. Soon, the duo discover their mutual passion for teaching and end up falling for each other.

Love (ft. Marriage and Divorce) 2 (2021)

Rating: 16.582 per cent

Directed by: Yoo Jeong-joon and Lee Seung-hoon.

Cast: Sung Hoon, Lee Min-young, Lee Ga-ryeong, Jeon Soo-Kyeong, Park Joo-mi

Episodes: 16

Synopsis: The happy marriages of three successful women — Boo Hye-ryung (Lee), Sa Pi-young (Park) and Lee Si-eun (Jeon) — who work on a radio show, are disrupted by lies and infidelity. What follows is their tryst to revive their relationship with their partners.

Watch here.

(Hero and Featured image: Courtesy Netflix)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

– What is the No.1 Korean drama of all time?

Some of the most popular Korean dramas of all time are Crash Landing on You, The Glory, Squid Game, Extraordinary Attorney Woo, Legend of the Blue Sea, It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, Heirs, Boys Over Flowers and Goblin.

– Who is the most popular Korean drama actor?

Some of the most popular K-drama actors are Kim Hye Soo, Son Ye-jin, Kim Soo-hyun, Lee Min-ho, Bae Suzy, Song Hye-kyo, Kim Hae-sook, Jun Ji-hyun, Park Shin-hye, Uhm Jung-hwa, Lim Ji-yeon, Yeo Jin-goo and Lee Je-hoon.

Every K-fan should watch these12 most popular Korean dramas of all time

A PhD research scholar, Sushmita is a full-time writer and a part time poet. Notepads are Sushmita's one true love -- the unbothered victims drowned in the ink of her pen. An avid fan of K-pop and K-dramas, she mostly writes about Korean culture and entertainment. When not writing, Sushmita is dancing, reading, collecting books, learning about fashion, art, motion pictures, and appreciating BTS.

 

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