Fall Into the K-Drama Rabbit Hole

Korean Dramas, casually referred to as “K-dramas,” have become widely popular with the “Hallyu” wave-like many other Korean media forms. As writer Timothy Donohoo claims in this article, K-dramas have become quite popular in the West due to their catchy soundtracks and high production values. Although that is true, I believe it is the meaningful, complex plots paired with realistic acting that make K-dramas so popular. Emphasis on the plot.

Honestly, I don’t even watch Western shows (or just shows in general) as they don’t interest me and I have a short attention span, but K-Dramas are different. If you ask me, I’d say they’re on another level (nothing can compete, sorry not sorry).

Regardless, you’ve probably heard of K-dramas, or at least know someone who watches them avidly, like me. If you’re interested but don’t know where to start, I’ll recommend to you some of the first K-dramas I watched that got me hooked! 

Although not all K-dramas are on Netflix, there are some really good ones to get you started and there are many streaming platforms available that make other K-dramas easily accessible (although waiting for English subtitles can be a struggle).

  1. 1. Black

    A grim reaper, when forced to track down his fugitive partner, discovers a series of related cold case murders from 20 years ago. But by investigating these murders, he risks breaking the rules of heaven, and his duty to help guide people to their afterlife. Another thing to avoid would be falling in love with a mortal… but that shouldn't be a problem, right? The story not only follows the grim reaper but also a detective and a woman who can foresee death. Their lives get intertwined in matters of life and death with the mystery of what happened 20 years ago.

    I became hooked on K-dramas after watching this one and since then, I have found myself to have a particular taste for murder-mystery and thriller K-dramas. The numerous plot twists paired with great acting kept me on the edge of my seat till I had binged the entire drama. This synopsis doesn't do the K-drama justice AT ALL, but I can’t risk spoiling anything more so I’ll just say give it a chance. You won’t regret it!

  2. 2. Abyss

    Abyss centers around two characters, Go Se Yeon and Cha Min, both of who die tragically but are given a miraculous second chance at life by the soul-reviving marbles of a magical abyss. Go Se Yeon is an ambitious, talented and beautiful prosecutor who worked for the Seoul District Public Office before she died in an accident. In comparison, Cha Min is the intelligent, kind and humble heir to Korea’s top cosmetic companies. The two characters hold opposite views of themselves; while Se Yeon considers herself unrivingly beautiful, Min considers himself unattractive and is very insecure about his looks even though he is intelligent, wealthy and a good person. Here’s the catch — when the two are revived by the marbles, their appearance is totally different! Their appearance is now based on how “good” their soul was in their previous life, and Cha Min has an appearance as beautiful as his soul, while Se Yeon has an appearance she considers “plain” compared to how she looked before. The two decide to work together at a law firm as a lawyer and an administrator while they investigate the magical incident that has taken place. 

    Abyss is one of my all-time favourite dramas! It has elements of fantasy, comedy, mystery and romance — what more could one want? The characters had such great development and the plot was engaging in a way not many dramas are. Go Se Yeon and Cha Min’s character dynamics are so fun and despite having watched this drama a long time ago, these two remain as some of my absolute favourite main characters. Just do yourself a favour and watch Abyss, please!

  3. 3. Itaewon Class

    This drama centers around Park Saeyori, whose life completely gets flipped upside down after he gets expelled from school for punching a bully and his father dies in an accident right after. To honour his father, he continues on his dream of opening a pub in Itaewon, which he names “DanBam.” Whether he will be successful or not depends on him and his close-knit team, made up of his manager and staff. 

    The synopsis doesn't do justice to the drama for this one either, but again, I don’t wanna give too much away. All I’ll say is this isn't just a boring drama about business, it’s way more complex. With themes of corruption, mystery, family, love and much more, it’s hands down one of the best dramas I’ve ever watched. Something interesting I’ve noticed regarding this drama is that people either love it and it quickly becomes one of their favourites (like for me) or it's not their style and they end up losing interest. This drama also has one of my all-time favourite actors, Park Seo-Joon, who plays Park Saeyori. Also, one of its soundtracks is created by V of BTS, a member of one of my favourite K-pop groups, and a close friend of Seo-Joon. Other than that, I feel like this drama has some of the most loveable characters and their close-knit relationship with each other made me want to be part of their squad. The villains are also perfectly horrible and I love to hate them. If I were you I'd definitely give this one a chance!

  4. 4. Tunnel

    If you’re in the mood for some time travel, then this drama is perfect for you. The story centers around Park Gwang-ho, a skilled detective in 1986. However, Gwang-ho finds himself in a bizarre situation as he pursues a lead in a serial homicide case. He passes through a time portal and is transported into present-day Seoul in the year 2017! He meets the eccentric Kim Sun Jae, who is an excellent detective despite being a bit rude, and they reluctantly become partners. Together with psychology professor Shin Jae-Yi, they set out to catch a killer on the loose. 

    This drama was as engaging as it was full of plot twists! This drama will definitely mess with your mind — you’ll think you have it figured out and then something will go wrong… or right? Either way, this one kept me on the edge of my seat till the end and I binged it so fast I wish I had savoured it more. The dynamics of the three main characters were also very interesting and it was so fun to see Gwang-ho adapt to the crazy technology and ways of the present. If you’re a fan of murder-mystery mixed with time travel and a hint of humour, then you should definitely give this one a try!