I absolutely love K-Dramas, and I have seen my fair share of them. Part of the reason I love K-dramas is because they’re typically just one season long; they’re about 16-50 episodes long. I’m impatient and hate having to wait months for a new season of a show; I also usually forget what happened in the season prior. Plus, some shows just go on for too long and I would rather it end than the quality to degrade. With its popularity, dozens of K-dramas are turned out every year, and they’re not always good. Many are cheesy love plots with the same dynamic of a hard-working poor girl who gets entangled with a handsome rich guy. There’s also always a second lead who has been in love with the poor girl since whenever, and let’s not forget the mean pretty girl lusting after the rich guy. If you’re yearning for a K-drama with more depth or are looking for a new show to binge, keep reading!
Live is a cop-centered drama featuring Lee Kwang Soo, best known as a member of the Korean variety show Running Man. The plot follows the many police officers at Hongil Police Precinct Office. You follow the characters through the many cases and situations they encounter at work, as well as their personal lives off the clock. This series was phenomenal and unlike any K-drama I’ve seen. At times, it was funny and lighthearted yet gut-wrenching and tragic the next moment. You’ll cry with the characters and be enraged when they endure hardship. I couldn’t stop at just one episode and you won’t want to either. You can watch this on Netflix.
A Netflix original, Extracurricular centers around an intelligent, poor high school student involved in a dangerous and illicit business in order to pay for university. Things turn ugly and chaos ensues when his classmate attempts to get involved to make money. The main character is Kim Dong Hee, who you might recognize if you’ve seen the popular K-drama Itaewon Class. There isn’t a single dull moment in this drama. Your heart will feel for the main character as you witness his hardships of trying to make it out of the poverty and broken home he’s grown up in.
This drama features a star-studded cast, with Suzy Bae (former Miss A member) and Lee Seung-gi as the main characters. If you love action, then this drama is a must-watch. Lee Seung-gi’s character is a grieving uncle hellbent on seeking out the truth surrounding the plane crash that took his nephew from him. He teams up with a covert operative at the National Intelligence Service (played by Suzy Bae) to unravel the mystery. The production of the fighting scenes and filming was amazing; it was like I was watching a high-budget film. The ending of the drama will have you shocked and make you rethink all the events leading up to the truth. You might need an hour afterward to recover and dissect what you watched; I know I certainly did. You can view Vagabond on Netflix.
Stranger is a thriller crime drama centered around prosecutor Hwang Si-Mok, who had brain surgery as a child that causes him to lack emotion, and police lieutenant Han Yeo-Jin. Both of them work together to solve a murder while revealing the rampant corruption at the prosecutor’s office where Si-Mok works. This drama will keep you on your toes and your brain spinning. I constantly questioned every character, not knowing their true intentions. The complexity of the murder will have you thinking and prompt you to put your thinking cap on, which I really enjoyed. This drama was actually so popular that they recently released a second season! If you are a romance lover, this drama is not for you. But those looking for a unique K-drama and are tired of a cheesy romance, consider adding this to your watchlist. Both seasons can be viewed on Netflix.
- Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo
Don’t get me wrong, as tired as I am of generic love stories, when the romance is good, I am hooked! This is one of those K-dramas. Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-Joo follows Kim Bok-Joo, a collegiate weightlifter, and collegiate swimmer Jung Joon-Hyung. They bump into each other while at university and their relationship grows from there. I adored how naturally the romance between the two main characters develops. The chemistry between the two was amazing and wasn’t awkward and underdeveloped, a problem that plagues many other dramas. I also loved how effortless the skinship (physical affection) and kissing scenes were. I can’t stand how awkward and stiff kissing scenes usually are in K-dramas, but that’s not the case here. If you’re in the mood for a lighthearted love story, this is the one! You can view this for free at Viki.
Hopefully, you’ve found some new shows to binge-watch this upcoming winter break. Even if you’re not a K-drama lover, consider trying one of these out if you want to switch up the content you’re viewing. And for those K-drama lovers looking to change up the kinds of K-dramas you’re watching, I hope this list can steer you in the right direction. Happy binging!