The world of Korean drama has seen an unprecedented upsurge in the recent past. With Squid Game season 1 (2021) holding the title of the most-watched show of all time on Netflix, K-dramas and television shows have created a wave of entertainment that is hard to miss. This year also started on a rather high note with some outstanding titles making their way to Netflix, Disney+Hotstar and television channels. Hence, it is time for a quick refresher to watch some of the highest-rated Korean dramas of 2023 so far.
With the success of Korean content globally, even the country’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, in 2022, announced “a four-year plan to spend a total of 4.8 trillion won ($3.66 billion) in financially supporting the production of streaming content,” according to The Korea Herald.
From giving audiences some of the best global icons and fine actors tapping into uncharted realms and subjects, these drama series are quite intriguing indeed.
Check our complete list on K-dramas to watch!
The highest-rated Korean dramas of 2023 based on their IMDb rating
Oasis (Rakuten Viki)
Release date: 6 March
Directed by: Han Hee
Cast: Jang Dong-yoon, Seol In-a, Choo Yeong-woo, Do Sang-woo, Seunghee
IMDb rating: 8.7
Synopsis: One of the best Korean dramas of 2023, Oasis is set in the 1980s and 1990s when the country was going through political turmoil. Against this backdrop, the show follows childhood friends-cum-rivals Lee Du-hak (Jang) and Choi Cheol-woong (Choo). The former hails from a poor family and is taught not to outshine the latter, who is quite wealthy. Although initially, Cheol-woong doesn’t mind his friend performing better than him, soon an intense competition sets in. Lee falls for a new transfer student named Oh Jung-shin (Seol) but things become worse when Cheol-woong also develops feelings for the same girl.
Watch Oasis here
Call It Love (Disney+Hotstar)
Release date: 22 February
Directed by: Lee Kwang-young
Cast: Harrison Xu, Kim Young-kwang and Lee Sung-kyoung
IMDb rating: 8.2
Synopsis: Another much-loved K-drama of 2023, Call It Love revolves around the helpless Sim Woo-joo (Lee) as she is kicked out of her own house by her father’s mistress after his demise. Swearing to take revenge, Sim approaches Han Dong-jin (Kim) who happens to be her father’s former mistress’ son. Han has always been a workaholic and quite lonely in life. When the two meet, life takes an unexpected turn.
Watch Call It Love here
Pandora: Beneath The Paradise (Disney+Hotstar)
Release date: 11 March
Directed by: Choi Hyeong-Hun
Cast: Lee Ji-ah, Lee Sang-yoon, Jang Hee-jin, Park Ki-woong, Bong Tae-gyu
IMDb rating: 8.1
Synopsis: Hong Tae-ra (Lee) leads a happy and contented life with her loving husband Pyo Jae-hyun (Lee Sang-yoon) and their young daughter. While everything seems quite pleasant for them, Tae-ra has no memory of her past until one day, she recollects those disturbing incidents. Now, she must become Korea’s first lady to protect her family and avenge those responsible for the miseries in her past.
Watch Pandora: Beneath The Paradise here
The Glory, Part 2 (Netflix)
Release date: 10 March
Directed by: Ahn Gil Ho
Cast: Song Hye-kyo, Lim Ji-yeon, Lee Do-hyun
IMDb rating: 8.1
Synopsis: Moon Dong-eun (Song) gets even darker as she carefully charts out her life after graduating high school to get back at her bullies. Back in the day, Park Yeon-jin (Lim) and her friends tortured Moon mentally and physically, but they don’t seem to have any guilt. Now, Moon has returned to take revenge and she is absolutely ruthless. While Yeon-jin is her primary target, other bullies are also on her radar. Nobody knows who shall be the next.
Watch The Glory here
Delivery Man (Rakuten Viki)
Release date: 1 March
Directed by: Kang Sol and Park Dae-hee
Cast: Yoon Chan-young, Bang Min-ah, Kim Min-suk
IMDb rating: 8
Synopsis: Giving a comic and romantic spin to the fantasy genre, this Genie TV original K-drama of 2023, follows a young taxi driver, Seo Young-min (Yoon), who is gifted with the unique ability to see ghosts. As fate would have it, he ends up taking passengers who are ghosts and helps them fulfil their last wish. In one such instance, he picks up Kang Ji-hyun (Bang), a female ghost who has no memory of her mortal life. Mysteriously, she is unable to leave the cab and therefore ends up joining Seo in his mission of granting wishes and they both chase down a serial killer in the pursuit.
Watch Delivery Man here
Our Blooming Youth (TvN)
Release date: 6 February
Directed by: Lee Jong-jae
Cast: Park Hyung-sik, Jeon So-nee, Pyo Ye-jin, Yoon Jong-seok, Lee Tae-sun
IMDb rating: 8
Synopsis: This K-drama follows Min Jae-yi (Jeon), a young dignified lady belonging to a wealthy aristocratic family, who is accused of murdering her own family members. Amid this chaos, she comes across crown prince Lee Hwan (Park) who is suffering from a bizarre curse. As both agree to help each other, a budding romance develops, albeit the path ahead is full of hardships.
Release date: 7 January
Directed by: Lee Chang-min
Cast: Lee Bo-young, Jo Sung-ha, Son Na-eun, Han Jun-woo, Jeon Hye-jin
IMDb rating: 8
Synopsis: Go A-in (Lee) works hard to become the first female executive of her advertising agency. The intriguing office drama shows different aspects of office politics. One of the best K-dramas of 2023, it portrays her peers and her humble background as a pivotal setting that accentuates her journey to climb the corporate ladder.
Crash Course in Romance (Netflix)
Release date: 14 January
Directed by: Yoo Jae-Won
Cast: Jeon Do-yeon, Jung Kyung-ho
IMDb rating: 7.9
Synopsis: Nam Haeng-Sun (Jeon) is a former national-level athlete who is now a mother and runs a side-dish store. She exudes positive vibes and is extremely energetic. She enters the private education sector to help her daughter get good grades. In complete contrast to her is Choi Chi-yeol (Jung) who is considered the most popular instructor in the education field. However, despite his fame and reputation, he is at times arrogant with his students and peers. How the two navigate their lives and relationship makes Crash Course in Romance one of the highest-rated Korean dramas of 2023.
Watch Crash Course In Romance here
Love To Hate You (Netflix)
Release Date: 10 February
Directed by: Kim Jeong-kwon and Choi Soo-young
Cast: Kim Ok-vin, Yoo Teo, Kim Ji-hun, Go Won-hee
IMDb rating: 7.9
Synopsis: Yeo Mi-ran (Kim) is an accomplished and competitive attorney at the Gilmu Law Firm which primarily deals with issues within the country’s entertainment industry. She is very career-oriented with no interest in a romantic relationship. Just like her, Nam Gang-Ho (Yoo), the most popular and handsome actor, doesn’t believe in love too and has trust issues with women. When two such people grow close what happens to their beliefs?
Watch Love To Hate You here
Divorce Attorney Shin (Netflix)
Release date: 4 March
Directed by: Lee Jae-hoon
Cast: Cho Seung-woo, Han Hye-jin, Kim Sung-kyun, Jung Moon-sung
IMDb rating: 7.6
Synopsis: Divorce Attorney Shin is based on the webcomic called Shinsunghan, Yihon (2019) by Kang Tae-kyung. It follows the journey of Shin Sung-Han (Cho), a music professor at a German university. However, in South Korea, he is an expert divorce lawyer who deals with eccentric clients for whom he tries to get justice. Why he came to Korea, and what are his motives make this an interesting watch.
Watch Divorce Attorney Shin here
(Main and featured image: Courtesy Divorce Attorney Shin/ IMDb)