2021 has been one of the best years for K-drama lovers as many of the shows released this year found a home on streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Rakuten Viki.
With access to over a hundred titles, fans have been spoilt for choice. However, with access to such a wide variety of titles, choosing what to watch next has become more challenging.
To make it easier, we have curated a list of shows that fans can binge on.
10 best K-drama series of 2021
A boy who is uninterested in relationships and a girl who doesn’t want to fall in love meet, hang out together, end up sleeping together before messing it all up. Their no-strings-attached relationship goes through a wringer after Na Bi’s (Han So Hee) jealousy surfaces.
She is unable to handle his free-spirited outlook about love and s*x, but he is also toxic in the way he expresses his thoughts and feelings. How the two of them grow out of this relationship and form a new one is the crux of the show. Song Kang and Han So Hee steal the show with their performances.
An interesting take on the zombie apocalypse, Happiness, is about two married cops getting locked up in a community filled with infected individuals who change into zombies that thirst for blood.
This is a must-watch for fans who love shows such as the Kingdom series and films such as Train to Busan, among others. The show highlights human behavior in times of crisis.
3) Our Beloved Summer
Two stunning actors come together for a romantic comedy. Choi Woo Shik and Kim Da Mi’s K-drama is a beautiful story about love and relationships in real life. There are arguments, terrible fights, and misunderstandings, but beyond all that is love.
The toxic traits in each character are explored, dissected, and portrayed in a light that is refreshing and honest. While there are still a few episodes left before the K-drama comes to an end, it is clear that this is one of the winners of 2021.
4) The Red Sleeve
A period K-drama, The Red Sleeve, depicts the love story between a court maid and the Crown Prince. Their fate is intertwined from when they were young, and the court maid grows up to become an official palace worker, while the Crown Prince becomes the King.
The obstacles that the two of them face before they choose to be together, and the court politics make this an intriguing watch. Additional points must be given to the agency that the female lead character has in the K-drama.
A mafia consigliere is sick of the vile means that a Korean conglomerate uses to line the pockets of higher-ups in the government and treat the public as if they did not matter. Despite having done his fair share of terrible things, including murder, Vincenzo Cassano (Song Joong Ki) is disturbed by how rich people in South Korea treat others.
During his recent visit to South Korea, he meets a lawyer who fights against this unfair and corrupt system, and is moved to use his mafia means to bring the corporate company’s CEO down. The K-drama has the best kind of humor, thrill and romance, with Jeon Yeo Been playing the role of the female lead.
6) Hospital Playlist season 2
In the follow-up season to Hospital Playlist, the show is truly a one-of-a-kind medical K-drama. It follows five doctors from different streams who are best friends. Their interactions with patients, their families, and each other is documented in a series of episodes, bringing the audience closer to the main characters.
Doctors do not put themselves in center stage. They let everyone in and watch as events unfold around them. Thursday was made better because of this show, and it really does drive away the loneliness that might have snuck in during the pandemic.
7) Hometown Cha Cha Cha
One of the best heartwarming shows set in the outskirts of Seoul, this show stars Kim Seon Ho and Shin Min Ah in the lead role. The show did receive negative attention towards the end of its run when Kim Seon Ho was wrongfully accused of mistreating his ex-girlfriend.
The claims have since been proven incorrect, and the show is back in the good graces of the audience. It captures the struggle of two individuals who want to move on from the loss that they have experienced in their lives. How the two of them navigate their grief while also pursuing a relationship is the central plot of the K-Drama.
8) My Name
While the world went gaga over Squid Game, this K-drama made a place for itself among the Korean drama aficionados. Zombies and gore are now a huge part of Korean pop culture, but what My Name has is raw talent.
Be it Han So Hee, who headlines the show, or the male lead Park Hee Soon, My Name has an unbridled load of talent that is waiting to be discovered by audiences. The action thriller depicts the journey of a young daughter seeking revenge after she loses her father.
This Netflix K-drama starring Yoo Ah In, Won Jin Ah, and Kim Hyun Joo received mixed reviews at the time of its release. It makes this top 10 best shows list because of the brilliance with which it portrays the rotting society through its central plot.
The K-drama is written and directed by Train to Busan director Yeon Sang Ho. There are loopholes in the series, but it is an experience that one must not miss as a fan of K-dramas.
10) Doom at Your Service
This tvN K-drama, starring Seo In Guk and Park Bo Young in the lead roles, is about a supernatural being — Myulmang (literal translation Doom) — falling in love with a human being. Myulmang is a being that exists in a space where time is inconsequential.
He is repeatedly tasked with blessing humans with some form of misfortune. Park Bo Young’s character learns that she has just a few months to live on Earth, and in desperation, she wishes that the world be doomed.
Myulmang wants his supernatural life to come to an end and that is why he chooses to make her wish come true. How romance plays spoilsport in their plan is the crux of the K-drama.
Note: The list is subjective and reflects the views of the writer.