10 Compelling K-Dramas You Can Binge on Netflix

10 Compelling K-Dramas You Can Binge on Netflix
One of the grim reapers in Netflix's Tomorrow. (Image: Netflix)

There’s no doubt that Netflix’s megahit Squid Game changed the way people around the world viewed South Korean shows — it may have even introduced you to the term “K-Drama.” While Netflix has confirmed that its dystopian drama will return for season two, it’s going to take a while before fans will see the Red Light, Green Light doll again.

If you’re left wanting more, don’t be disappointed: There are plenty more addictive and compelling K-Dramas out there just waiting to be seen! Over the last two years, I’ve fallen down a K-Drama rabbit hole, and I’ve found myself so delighted that I never came out. In fact, I’m still there, so to speak, exploring and discovering cool shows with unique premises I haven’t seen in many other places.

I’m excited to share a few of my entertainment discoveries with all of you in the genres of sci-fi, tech, and fantasy to start you on your K-Drama journey. Before we start, it’s important I give you a heads up: Don’t judge a K-Drama by its title, no matter what your instincts tell you. You might miss out on some very good shows! (Been there, done that, sad experience.)

Memories of the Alhambra

A sword fight between two characters in the AR game in Memories of the Alhambra. (Image: CJ E&M/Netflix)A sword fight between two characters in the AR game in Memories of the Alhambra. (Image: CJ E&M/Netflix)

If you love venturing outside to catch Pokémon with your phone or are fond of VR gaming, this is a show worth checking out. Memories of the Alhambra follows Yoo Jin Woo, the head of an investment company, who travels to Granada, Spain to meet with Jung Se-joo, the developer of a revolutionary augmented reality game. Yoo is fascinated by the game, which features stunning graphics and life-like battles. He decides to buy the title from Jung, but soon finds out that the developer has vanished.

In another twist, Yoo learns that the AR game can have real-world consequences when a player killed during a battle sequence dies in real-life. He embarks on an adventure to find Jung and fix the bug in the game knowing that if he doesn’t, he might end up dead himself.

Tomorrow

The grim reapers in the show Tomorrow. (Image: MBC/Netflix)The grim reapers in the show Tomorrow. (Image: MBC/Netflix)

For me, hallmarks of a good fantasy series are 1. believability and 2. having good special effects. They often go hand-in-hand, and that’s exactly what you’ll find in the K-Drama Tomorrow. The show takes you on a journey with Choi Jun-woong, a young South Korean who just can’t seem to find a job. Choi gets in an accident and meets two Grim Reapers, Koo Ryeon and Lim Ryung Gu, who work on a team with a unique mission in the afterlife: suicide prevention.

After the accident, Choi joins Koo and Lim on the team, which tracks down people at risk of suicide using an app and investigates how they got to that point in order to help them. The series is still ongoing, with new episodes released every week. The subject matter is a bit dark, and the show can be a bit heavy, so I pace myself with this one and make sure to throw in some funny shows to cleanse my mind.

Warning: This series mentions suicide and depicts attempts of suicide. It’s very important to exercise caution when watching it. If you are struggling or having thoughts of suicide, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or in an emergency, 000

Sisyphus: The Myth

Sisyphus: The Myth is a complex time travel K-drama.  (Image: JTBC/Netflix)Sisyphus: The Myth is a complex time travel K-drama. (Image: JTBC/Netflix)

Fans of German time travel series Dark are bound to be drawn into Sisyphus: The Myth, an engrossing K-Drama that evokes just as many, “Wait, wait, what just happened?” moments as Dark.

Sisyphus: The Myth tells the story of Han Tae-sul, a brilliant engineer and CEO of the company Quantum & Time who will unknowingly create a time travel machine that will set off a nuclear war. Kang Seo-hae grows up in a desolate South Korea after the nuclear war and decides to go back in time to find Han and try to save the future. She soon finds out that it won’t be easy. There are many more factors at play, including a mysterious group called the “Control Bureau,” Han’s supposedly dead brother, and the true mastermind behind the war.

My Holo Love

The hologram Holo tries to shield the object of his affections from the rain. (Image: Netflix)The hologram Holo tries to shield the object of his affections from the rain. (Image: Netflix)

Remember what I said about not judging a K-Drama by its title? This show is the reason why. When I first saw My Holo Love pop up in my Netflix recommendations, I brushed it off, thinking the title was corny. (OK, we can all admit it’s a little corny. Trust me, though, the show is very good).

The series introduces us to Han So-yeon, a young woman who suffers from face blindness and tends to stay away from other people. One day, she finds a pair of glasses that allow her to see a handsome man when she puts them on. The man isn’t real; his name is Holo and he’s an AI virtual assistant. Han grows to rely on Holo and eventually falls for him. She’s thrust into an unexpected love triangle when she meets Go Nan-do, Holo’s real-life developer who looks just like the AI. My Holo Love is an interesting take on future technological innovations will mean for love and companionship, as well as just downright fun.

Alice

In the future, humans are allowed to travel back in time to visit their loved ones. (Image: SBS/Netflix)In the future, humans are allowed to travel back in time to visit their loved ones. (Image: SBS/Netflix)

Some of you might ask, “Is she recommending another time travelling drama?” And yes, I am, because this one is so darn good. Alice features detective Park Jin-Gyeom, a person who can’t show emotions and discovers the existence of time travellers while working on a case. In 2050, people are allowed to travel back in time through an entity called Alice, which also oversees the trips to preserve the timeline, to see their loved ones.

Determined to find the person who killed his mother years ago, Park is shocked when he meets Yoon Tae-Yi, a person who looks exactly like his mum. In this K-Drama full of twists, Park and Yoon learn that nothing is as it appears.

Mystic Pop-up Bar

The character Weol-ju in Mystic Pop-up Bar. (Image: JTBC/Netflix)The character Weol-ju in Mystic Pop-up Bar. (Image: JTBC/Netflix)

Lastly, if you’re in for a creative K-Drama with funny characters, look no further than Mystic Pop-up Bar. Weol-ju is a woman who has been condemned to help 100,000 people settle their grudges. In the present day, she runs a food cart and travels into their dreams to help them solve their problems. But getting people to spill the beans isn’t as easy as it looks. To help her, Weol-ju enlists the help of a young part timer named Han Kang-bae who has a unique ability: he can make people confess all their troubles with a single touch.

The King: Eternal Monarch

A story of two Koreas in parallel worlds.  (Image: SBS/Netflix)A story of two Koreas in parallel worlds. (Image: SBS/Netflix)

I wasn’t quite sure if I would like The King: Eternal Monarch when I first started watching it, mainly because I really wasn’t sure where it wanted to go at first. However, like the other K-Dramas on this list, it won me over. In The King: Eternal Monarch, we encounter two different Koreas in parallel worlds. One is a republic, or the Korea we know nowadays, while the other is the Kingdom of Corea, which is governed by a monarch.

Lee Gon, the king of Corea, one day discovers a door into the alternate Republic of Korea. He also learns that his uncle, Lee Lim, who murdered Gon’s father, the previous king, is hiding out in the other world. While on his adventure, Gon meets Jeong Tae-eul, a police detective whose badge he found on the day his uncle murdered his father. The King: Eternal Monarch has the classic elements of fantasy, including a white horse, romance, a kingdom, and an evil uncle. Add that to its great and funny characters and you’re in for a good ride.

The Uncanny Counter

Counters are demon hunters who go after evil spirits that have escaped from the afterlife. (Image: OCN/Netflix)Counters are demon hunters who go after evil spirits that have escaped from the afterlife. (Image: OCN/Netflix)

In The Uncanny Counter, a noodle shop isn’t what it appears. It serves as the hideout for four demon hunters known as “counters,” who are tasked with tracking down evil spirits that escape from the afterlife and possess humans. In fact, counters are humans possessed by a demon-hunting spirit from the realm of Yung. Each counter has their own special ability, including superhuman strength, sensing evil spirits, entering memories, and healing.

After losing one of their human bodies in battle, the counters recruit disabled high school student So Mun to be the newest member of their team. So became disabled during a car crash years earlier, which also took the lives of his parents. While training with the counters, he becomes determined to find out who took their lives.

All of Us Are Dead

Students face off against their zombie classmates in Netflix's All of Us Are Dead. (Image: Netflix)Students face off against their zombie classmates in Netflix’s All of Us Are Dead. (Image: Netflix)

What kind of list would this be if it didn’t include a good zombie K-drama? That’s what you get with All of Us Are Dead, a show where a high school student gets bit by a virus-infected rat that turns her into a human-eating zombie. As with any zombie story, this girl isn’t the last zombie. More students get infected, eventually pitting a group of zombies against the only group of students left in the school, who do everything they can to fight their way out.

A note of caution: All of Us Are Dead is heavy on violence and gore, but it has compelling characters that make you want to see it through to the end.

Sweet Home

Netflix's All of Us Are Dead tells the story of neighbours fighting against monsters during an apocalypse. (Image: Netflix)Netflix’s All of Us Are Dead tells the story of neighbours fighting against monsters during an apocalypse. (Image: Netflix)

Haven’t had your fill of zombies and suspense yet? This last horror K-drama recommendation might help you quench your thirst. The scary beings here aren’t zombies, though: they’re creepy creatures.

Sweet Home opens with the story of Cha Hyun Soo, a young man who moves into a run-down apartment building with people you probably wouldn’t want as your neighbours. Cha is the only member left of his family, who died in a car accident, and wants to commit suicide. Suddenly, some of his neighbours start to turn into monsters, leaving Cha to band together with an unlikely group of remaining humans in the building to fight for survival.

Warning: This series mentions suicide and depicts attempts of suicide. It’s very important to exercise caution when watching it. If you are struggling or having thoughts of suicide, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or in an emergency, 000.