Song Kang as Cha Hyun-su, Song Hye-Kyo as Moon Dong-eun, and Ryu Hye-young as Kang Sol-a

The Best K-Dramas to Watch on Netflix

There are many K-dramas available for binge-watching on Netflix, but nobody has all the time in the world to watch them all. K-dramas often consist of many episodes that last for an hour or more, and the plots can range from fluffy and light-hearted to shockingly angsty and unforgivingly gruesome. While they’re known mostly for romance, K-dramas also excel in other genres and Netflix offers a diverse bunch in their selection.

Recommended Videos

10. Hotel del Luna

KPop sensation Lee Ji-Eun, better known as IU, made waves with her hit drama Hotel del Luna. This wasn’t IU’s first hit KDrama, and she’s notably great at executing a good range of characters.

Where can a Harvard MBA take somebody? Managing a hotel for dead souls that haven’t passed through, apparently. At least, that’s what happened to Goo Chan-sung, who was promised by his father to serve Jang Man-wol after graduating college as the manager of Hotel del Luna. The hotel was established after Man-wol was cursed for committing a grave sin a long time ago. It’s a romantic comedy full of magic, mystery, and fate.

9. Law School

There are shows about lawyers, but rarely about lawyers in the making. Law School is a drama that tackles law school life, with a dash of murder. Anybody watching this drama will feel the stress of the students cramming and studying permeate through the screen.

A murder mystery in a law school shouldn’t be so tough to crack, right? The school has some of the most analytical minds in the country that would one day face tougher cases. But Professor Seo of Hankuk University Law School is found dead, and the clues point towards a controversial, yet well-respected Professor Yang. More mysteries unravel after the other, and a bunch of law school students of different standings band together. They track these mysteries while surviving law school, which is arguably superhuman stuff.

8. Alchemy of Souls

Alchemy of Souls is the epitome of having a great superpower, but getting a nerf for equivalent exchange. Mu-deok, despite her weak physique, is actually a master of magic and was once an elite warrior. She merely “soul-shifted” into her current form, and Jang Uk, a son of a noble family discovered this secret. Mu-deok agrees to be his teacher in magic in exchange for his silence. If magic exists, then surely terrible fates would be easier to avoid. But in the fictional country of Daeho filled with mage clans with less than good intentions, it’s not that simple.

7. W

W keeps many people’s hopes up that maybe one day, their beloved fictional characters will come to life and jump out of their screens. It also proves that people can have real feelings for a blot of ink and that having them erased in any way will hurt beyond words.

Kang Chul is the perfect guy. He comes from a great family, he’s an achiever, he’s smart, and he’s conventionally attractive. His perfect life comes crumbling down when his family is murdered and he’s accused of the crime. What he doesn’t know is that he’s all just a part of a plot in a hit webtoon named W. Yeon-joo, daughter of the author of W, goes into her father’s studio and falls into the world of W.

6. Sky Castle

How many people are willing to use others as mere footing to achieve social success? Are dreams of children merely collateral in the quest to maintain pride among other elite families? The world of Sky Castle follows the story of parents who are determined to groom “perfect” children in a competitive society by securing their spot in one of the SKY universities. All of it is worth it, even if kids are crushed by the academic pressure placed on them and lives are lost in the process.

5. Mask Girl

It’s hard to be a girl with appalling beauty standards. Kim Mo-mi had always dreamed of being in the spotlight ever since she was a young child. She is talented at dancing and loves to perform for crowds as they cheer on. She would soon find out that talent isn’t everything, and that the only people who successfully make it into the entertainment industry are conventionally attractive people. Mo-mi grew up and was relegated to a nine-to-five job, but at night, she becomes “mask girl”, a beloved, mysterious dancer on the internet.

This drama is about women, and how they’re affected by the way men treat them. Anybody interested in watching this should be warned that there are themes of abuse and sexual violence.

4. Sweet Home

Resident Evil fans should watch Sweet Home to see where their favorite video game drew inspiration from. Sweet Home was a horror game that eventually became a webtoon before it even became a well-received and famed horror K-drama series. The series itself isn’t short of Uroboros-like monsters that deliver the perfect scare.

Nothing is worse than finding out that the apartment (and everywhere else) is now full of said monsters after having suffered a recent tragedy. Cha Hyun-su is recovering from the death of his family in a car crash when monsters invade the world. He, along with his neighbors in the apartment, battle it out against these creatures to survive.

3. Taxi Driver

If the justice system fails, hailing a cab might be the solution. Taxi Driver isn’t a misleading title, and it does follow the story of a taxi driver. Except this time, the taxi driver in question is an assassin determined to deliver vigilante justice. Kim Do-ki’s mother was murdered when he was a child, and he couldn’t bring the person who committed the crime to justice. After graduating from military school, he decides to render his service to Rainbow Taxi Company, a company that is offering a “revenge call.” This service allows clients who have been wronged to set things straight.

As fictional as this all seems, there are cases featured in the drama that are based on real-life events. Anybody intending to watch this thrilling drama should be warned that there are themes of heavy bullying, sexual abuse, and workplace bullying.

2. Reply 1988

Reply 1988 is shot in a way that might convince any 80s-90s kid that it all really happened in 1988, given its aesthetics. This slice-of-life, coming-of-age series has been a staple of many K-drama fans. It started in the year 1988, with a bunch of five friends who’ve all grown up in Ssangmun-dong, Seoul. They have different dreams and varied personalities, with their lives ahead of them. There is a lot of teenage angst, exploration, and nostalgia to be watched here that is relatable to anybody who has been subject to the throws of puberty.

1. The Glory

The chilling execution of this K-drama will make it hard for anybody to blink. Song Hye-Kyo proved in this comeback that she’s a great actress by taking the role of an aggrieved, yet strong protagonist. The Glory had a strong cast, and the subject matter is not light by any means. It’s a drama that references some real-life bullying cases in South Korea. It’s worth noting that anybody who wants to watch this drama should be warned that there are themes of severe bullying, suicide, and sexual assault.

The Glory follows a bright girl named Moon Dong-eun, who comes from a poor, single-parent household. Life was great, but everything fell apart when she was targeted by bullies. Park Yeon-jin, the it-girl of the school, tortured Dong-eun for her own sick amusement along with her pack of bullies. Dong-eun’s mother was paid off to abandon her, and she had to persevere despite all odds. This is not a story about achieving dreams and reaching triumph. Rather, this is a tale of Dong-eun’s path to vengeance, and her retribution against all that hurt and failed her.

(featured image: Netflix)

The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Vanessa Esguerra
Vanessa Esguerra
Vanessa Esguerra (She/They) has been a Contributing Writer for The Mary Sue since 2023. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy, she (happily) rejected law school in 2021 and has been a full-time content writer since. Vanessa is currently taking her Master's degree in Japanese Studies in hopes of deepening her understanding of the country's media culture in relation to pop culture, women, and queer people like herself. She speaks three languages but still manages to get lost in the subways of Tokyo with her clunky Japanese. Fueled by iced coffee brewed from local cafés in Metro Manila, she also regularly covers anime and video games while queuing for her next match in League of Legends.