South Korean dramas are growing increasingly popular, with people everywhere learning to love tropes such as amnesia, childhood best friends, and attractive young CEOs. Fortunately, Netflix has noticed this interest, and now offers a sizeable collection of some of the best K-dramas for you to peruse, featuring everything from romance, to action, to horror and political drama combined
Netflix’s selection of Korean dramas is a great way to test the waters if you’re new to subtitles, or if you aren’t quite ready to sign up for an Asian drama streaming service such as Viki or KOKOWA. For anyone just starting to explore K-dramas, Netflix offers an impressive look at just what South Korean television can do.
Here are some of the best Korean dramas on Netflix that you can stream right now, listed in alphabetical order.
1. All of Us Are Dead
Credit: Yang Hae-sung / Netflix
Brace yourself for this one, because it’s definitely going to hurt. All of Us Are Dead follows an ensemble cast of young students who are trapped in their high school when it’s overrun by zombies. Left to fend for themselves, they have to work together and use whatever resources they can find in order to survive.
Seeing a bunch of terrified children fighting for their lives is harrowing enough, but zombies aren’t the only evils the teenagers are forced to face in All of Us Are Dead. It’s still high school, after all. Not everybody is inclined to help others out, with the violence starting before any zombies even show up. Throw them into the mix, and it’s safe to say not everyone will make it out.
Where to Watch: All of Us Are Dead is now streaming on Netflix.
2. Crash Landing On You
Credit: Lim Hyo Seon
Crash Landing On You follows South Korean heiress Yoon Se-ri, who mistakenly crosses the border into North Korea and crash lands in a paragliding accident. She’s then discovered by Ri Jeong-hyeok, an officer in the North Korean army. However, rather than turn her in, Jeong-hyeok decides to secretly help her return home — and falls in love during the process.
The concept for this hugely popular star-crossed romance admittedly sounds bizarre, particularly as the relationship between North and South Korea is a fairly serious subject. However, several defectors have praised the touching drama for its accuracy and attention to detail in depicting everyday North Korean life, and the series even had a defector on its writing team.*
There’s also great chemistry between the two leads, who actually fell in love and got married two years after Crash Landing on You ended.
Where to Watch: Crash Landing On You is now streaming on Netflix.
3. Designated Survivor: 60 Days
Credit: Designated Survivor: 60 Days / Netflix
Designated Survivor started with an intriguing premise: An explosion kills the U.S. President and most of Congress, leaving a relatively low ranking politician to step up as the new commander-in-chief. In South Korean adaptation Designated Survivor: 60 Days, that role falls to reluctant new Minister of Environment Park Mu-jin, a quiet scientist who is more comfortable teaching chemistry than arguing policy.
60 Days feels much tenser and more desperate than the U.S. original, with the meek, inexperienced President Park even less suited to his new role than Kiefer Sutherland’s President Kirkman was. South Korea’s new president also has to deal with the immediate threat of North Korea and the powerful U.S. pushing its own agenda, making the entire situation feel extraordinarily fraught. Fortunately 60 Days is complete with a set run of 16 episodes, so viewers can expect a solid conclusion and don’t have to struggle through a flagging third season.*
Where to Watch: Designated Survivor: 60 Days is now streaming on Netflix.
4. It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
Credit: It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
It’s Okay to Not Be Okay is a touching romance focusing on children’s book author Ko Moon-young, psychiatric hospital worker Moon Gang-tae, and Gang-tae’s brother Moon Sang-tae. Sang-tae has autism, and the brothers frequently move due to his trauma surrounding their mother’s death. Eventually they cross paths with Moon-young, who has antisocial personality disorder and develops a romantic fixation on Gang-tae.
Though the whole situation initially sounds unhealthy, the three soon start to learn from each other and help each other heal. It’s Okay to Not Be Okay takes a sensitive, realistic look at mental health, focusing on people with disabilities as humans worthy of love rather than projects to be fixed.
Where to Watch: It’s Okay to Not Be Okay is now streaming on Netflix.
Credit: Juhan Noh / Netflix
Leading a country is hard enough, but doing so during an epidemic is even more so — especially when the disease transforms your subjects into violent, raging cannibals. Set several centuries ago during the Joseon dynasty, Kingdom follows Crown Prince Lee Chang as he faces not only the zombie threat, but a political coup threatening to depose him from the throne.
Netflix’s first original Korean series, Kingdom offers an uncommon yet gripping mix of historical drama, political intrigue, and zombie horror. It’s also visually stunning to boot, a feast for the eyes as well as the infected. Unlike other Korean dramas, Kingdom has snagged a second season, with many fans hoping for more.*
Where to Watch: Kingdom is now streaming on Netflix.
6. Mr. Sunshine
Credit: Jisun Park
Set in the early 1900s before Japan formally annexed Korea, Mr. Sunshine follows Eugene Choi, a former slave who returns to Korea on a mission as an officer in the U.S. army. However, he soon falls in love with a young noblewoman named Go Ae-shin, not knowing that she is secretly a member of the Righteous Army — an underground militia fighting against Japanese colonisation.
Mr. Sunshine is steeped in Korean history, and while it may not be entirely accurate all the time, it’s undeniably fascinating. It also references or portrays real historical people and events, including U.S. President Roosevelt and the assassination of Empress Myeongseong.
Where to Watch: Mr. Sunshine is now streaming on Netflix.
7. My Name
Credit: Min Jeehee / Netflix
Anyone who likes revenge thrillers or engaging action should enjoy My Name. The story follows Yoon Ji-woo (Han So-hee), a young woman seeking revenge after witnessing her father’s brutal murder. Suspecting the police are involved, she joins a drug ring run by his friend Choi Mu-jin (Park Hee-soon), who has her infiltrate the police force as a mole. There she adopts the name Oh Hye-jin, and is partnered with narcotics detective Jeon Pil-do (Ahn Bo-hyun).
This eight-episode series is packed full of action, with extended, well-choreographed fight scenes. The camera doesn’t cut away too much either, favouring tracking shots and long takes so you can really see the hits.
Where to Watch: My Name is now streaming on Netflix.
If you’re more into crime than romance, Signal offers an intriguing twist to your standard police procedural. Set both in 2015 and 1989, cold case workers Park Hae-young and Cha Soo-hyun use a mysterious walkie talkie to communicate across time with detective Lee Jae-han to solve crimes in both times — and even prevent some from happening. However, they soon discover that messing with time is never without consequence.
Signal garnered both audience and critical acclaim, particularly for its plot. The gritty series drew inspiration from actual crimes that took place in Korea, such as the Hwaseong serial murders and Miryang gang rape. Suffice to say it is not lighthearted popcorn fare, and much darker and more sombre in tone than many other K-dramas.*
Where to Watch: Signal is now streaming on Netflix.
If you’re interested in Silicon Valley, the fast-paced tech industry, and love triangles, then you may also be interested in Start-Up. Not to be confused with Adam Brody’s StartUp, this romantic drama follows Seo Dal-mi, an ambitious woman aiming to become the next big thing in tech.
When she mistakes awkward startup founder Nam Do-san for her childhood pen pal and first love, the failing business owner decides to go along with it in the hopes that he might become the person she thinks he is. He’s soon swept up in the snowballing lie — as is Han Ji-pyeong, a shrewd investor and secretly the true author of those letters.
Where to Watch: Start-Up is now streaming on Netflix.
10. Squid Game
Credit: Noh Juhan / Netflix
Netflix’s bloody survival show Squid Game is not only visually striking, agonisingly tense, and emotionally devastating, it also has a lot to say on the cruelty of wealth inequality. Chased by vicious debt-collectors and desperate for a way out, problem gambler and deadbeat dad Seong Gi-hun accepts a mysterious invitation for the chance to win a ridiculous amount of cash. Unfortunately, he soon discovers that while winning the schoolyard games will net him an enormous ₩45.6 billion ($39 million) prize, losing will cost him his life.
Squid Game became a massive global phenomenon upon release, inspiring an enormous spike in sales of white slip-on Vans in the lead up to Halloween. Though writer and director Hwang Dong-hyuk had no initial plans for more episodes, Netflix has confirmed that a second season is on the way.*
Where to Watch: Squid Game is now streaming on Netflix.
Credit: Vincenzo / Netflix
You wouldn’t typically expect to see the Italian mafia in a Korean drama, but Vincenzo makes it work. This darkly comedic show follows Vincenzo Cassano, a lawyer and the adopted son of an Italian mafia boss. Raised in Italy and now heavily involved with the mob, Vincenzo returns to South Korea as an adult to assert his legal ownership of Geumga Plaza — as well as retrieve the secret stash of gold hidden within its basement. Unfortunately the building has been taken over by a real estate group, forcing Vincenzo to literally fight for his claim.
Released in 2021, Vincenzo is one of the most viewed Korean dramas on cable television, and a great one to binge if you’re after some action.
Where to Watch: Vincenzo is now streaming on Netflix.
Netflix has a ton of other great South Korean dramas as well, such as sci-fi romance My Holo Love and the widely praised Itaewon Class. No matter what genre you’re interested in, there’s a catalogue full of interesting K-dramas that you can dive into and explore.
Asterisks (*) denote the writeup was included in a previous Mashable list.