Hooked on Squid Game? Here are 10 of the best K-dramas to watch next

·6-min read

Reply 1988

Reply 1988 begins in the year South Korea hosted the Olympics and follows the lives of five friends in the neighbourhood of Ssangmun-dong in northern Seoul: carefree Deok-sun, fellow trouble-maker Dong-ryong, model student Sun-woo, grumpy Jung-hwan and Choi Taek, a reserved Baduk (Go) player.

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what makes Reply 1988 one of the best and most-loved K-dramas of all time. But from its 80s pop culture references to the ahjummas (auntie figures) whose stories will move you to tears, you will find yourself pleasantly invested in its charming, nostalgic story. Plus, it ends with a twist.
Available to stream on Rakuten Viki

Guardian: The Lonely and Great God

This fantasy romance is often described as one of the best K-dramas of all time – perhaps because of the memes it has birthed, or maybe because of its pin-up leads Gong Yoo (who plays Kim Shin) and Kim Go-eun (who plays Ji Eun-tak).

In it, we meet the lonely and great god, Kim Shin – also known as Goblin – who has been alive for 900 years, and needs to find a human bride to set his soul free. While it can be a little cheesy, where else on TV will you find immortal love, a likable grim reaper and a squad of ghosts all in one place?
Available to stream on Netflix

Hospital Playlist

From the director of Reply 1988, Shin Won-ho, Hospital Playlist follows five doctors in their 40s, who have been best friends since they entered medicine, as they deal with the personal struggles that come with their profession.

However, this slice-of-life series is more heartwarming than heartbreaking. The group are also in a band created to unwind after the pressures of hospital life, and the songs they performat the end of each episode are irresistibly fun.
Available to stream on Netflix

Welcome to Waikiki

What happens when three friends – an aspiring film director, an aspiring actor (with all the right connections yet determined not to use them) and an uninspired freelance writer – open a guesthouse, and a single mother and her baby come to stay?

If you want some light relief from heavy K-dramas or a break from binge-worthy romances, this is for you. Despite the lighthearted feel of the show, it also covers heavier topics as the group figure out how to achieve their dreams and find love.
Available to stream on Rakuten Viki

Sky Castle

Released in 2018, Sky Castle is a story of power, prestige and privilege, which sparked widespread debate on the academic pressure faced by students in South Korea. The drama follows a group of elite families as they compete at any cost to get their children accepted into Korea’s top three prestigious SKY universities – Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University – with fatal consequences.

The second most-watched drama in Korean cable television history, this controversial series is a must-watch.
Available to stream on Netflix

Itaewon Class

After being wrongfully sent to prison for three years, Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo-joon) has a dream to realise: That dream? To open a restaurant and ensure it becomes the biggest food chain in Korea, which – along with his loyal friends – he slowly turns into reality.

Set in Itaewon, a neighbourhood known as Seoul’s most diverse area and often referred to as “foreigners district”, this is a story about how the rich abuse their power, and how it’s possible to rise above injustice. And it wouldn’t be a classic K-drama without a love triangle. In fact, it has everything you need – including none other than V of BTS on the official soundtrack.
Available to stream on Netflix

Signal

Signal isn’t a typical, predictable crime drama. Based on real-life events (with some embellishment), this thriller sees Lee Je-hoon play Park Hae yeong, a criminal profiler who uses a mysterious walkie talkie to communicate with a detective from 1989, Lee Jae-han (Cho Jin-woong).

Hae-yeong ends up becoming a mentor to detective Cha Soo-hyun (Kim Hye-soo), as they try to get to the bottom of Jae-han’s mysterious disappearance 15 years earlier.

With each instalment offering uncanny twists and turns, you’ll will find yourself clicking to the next episode before the credits start.
Available to stream on Netflix

Hello, My Twenties!

While the title might sound lighthearted, this is a thoughtful, introspective and moving depiction of sisterhood. We watch as a group of twentysomething university housemates mature over each episode, dealing with the turbulence of life, from familial and financial pressures to breakups.

Among them, Yoon Jin-myung, a university student who works several jobs to support herself; Song Ji-won, an outgoing journalism major, obsessed with men; Jung Ye-eun, who is religious and preppy; Kang Yi-na, who works as an escort and has a carefree life, and the newest addition to the group, the timid Yoo Eun-jae.

The characters come from various backgrounds, but their love and care for each other are never in doubt, emphasising the message that friendship rarely depends on similarities but, rather, thrives on differences.
Available to stream on Netflix

Weightlifting fairy Kim Bok Joo

It is not every day you find a protagonist who is as likable as Kim Bok-joo (Lee Sung-kyung). A weightlifter at a sports university, she is hilarious, kind and loyal, perfect for this feelgood drama that captures the excitement of a new relationship. Nam Joo-hyuk plays Jung Joon-hyung, a swimmer at Bok-joo’s university who proves a perfect love interest for her, despite battling his own trauma. The onscreen chemistry between the pair underpins this sweet coming-of-age tale.
Available to stream on Netflix

Because This Is My First Life

This drama doesn’t rely on the classic enemies-to-lovers trope – indifferent acquaintances to lovers would perhaps be more accurate.

When Nam Se-hee – arobotic computer designer who sticks religiously to his daily routine – meets Yoon Ji-ho, a screenwriter who abruptly moves out of her family home, it feels like two worlds are clashing – . However, as the series continues, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with where this unlikely relationship ends up.

A charming – and rare – feature of the series is that its supporting characters’ storylines are as fleshed-out as the main plot. Namely, that of Woo Su-ji, who works in a corporate office filled with misogynistic men, with the series examining the effects of sexual harassment in the workplace.

The overall effect is a romcom that feels more stable and secure than frantic and exciting, but will still have you feeling emotional nonetheless.
Available to stream on Netflix

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