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5 Korean dramas to watch after ‘Squid Game’

korean dramas

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

Following the international success of the critically acclaimed series “Squid Game,” many Netflix users are eager to dive into the world of Korean dramas, but some don’t know where to start.

Fortunately, Netflix’s vast selection includes a multitude of different genres, making Korean dramas accessible to all viewers of different tastes. Here are five notable Korean dramas to get started.

Sweet Home 

Based on the popular webcomic of the same name, “Sweet Home” is set within a run-down apartment complex in an apocalyptic universe. Rather than turning into zombies, those who are infected are transformed into distinctive and horrendous monsters.

“Sweet Home” focuses on Cha Hyun Soo, a suicidal and newly orphaned high school graduate. After being infected, Hyun Soo finds that he is able to resist total monsterization and is able to use his newly found supernatural abilities to the benefit of mankind, but first, he must convince the tenants that he is still human.

Perhaps the most CGI-intensive Korean drama to date, this series is highly recommended for those who are seeking a unique horror drama that still encapsulates the emotional depth that Korean dramas are known for. 

Crash Landing on You

Among the abundance of romance-oriented Korean dramas, “Crash Landing on You” stands out as the third highest-rated drama in South Korean cable television history.

Yoon Se-Ri, the illegitimate daughter of an affluent business tycoon, is chosen over her siblings to inherit her father’s business due to her success as the CEO of her own company. Due to a paragliding accident, Se-Ri crash lands over the Korean Demilitarized Zone and is found by a North Korean soldier, Ri Jeong-Hyeok, who she then blackmails into keeping her hidden.

Jeong-Hyeok and his subordinates must pass Se-Ri off as Jeong-Hyeok’s new fiancé until they can safely smuggle her to the other side, while Se-Ri’s siblings eagerly vie for her position back in South Korea. 

“Crash Landing on You” is a refreshing take on the star-crossed lovers trope, and boasts extremely well-written characters whose depth and development keep up with the exceptional plot. 

Mr. Sunshine 

The sixth highest-rated drama in Korean cable television history, “Mr. Sunshine” is sure to impress even the most scrutinous viewer with its critically acclaimed cinematography and poignant storytelling.

Eugene Choi, a high-ranking U.S. Marine corps officer, returns to Joseon (present-day Korea) on a mission after escaping a brutal life as a child slave. During his time there, he falls in love with Go Ae-Shin, the granddaughter of an exalted aristocrat, who disregards her noble status by crusading as a gunslinger for the Righteous Army (Joseon’s resistance).

“Mr. Sunshine” is a fictional take on history that will both excite and break the hearts of its viewers, and is highly recommended for those who enjoy watching shows that explore deeper real-world problems or fall under the historical fiction genre.

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay 

Named one of the best international shows of 2020 by the New York Times, “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay” is an extremely character-based story that focuses on mental health.

Moon Gang-Tae is a psychiatric nurse whose entire life has revolved around caring for his older autistic brother, Sang-Tae. After their mother was murdered, Gang-Tae has taken it upon himself to live only for Sang-Tae and has perfected maintaining a happy image for the sake of his brother when in actuality, he harbors deep resentment towards his deceased mother for his depression and solitude.

The brothers’ paths cross with Ko Moon-Young, Sang-Tae’s favorite author who writes children’s books known for gruesome content. Ko Moon-Young struggles with an antisocial personality disorder but finds herself wanting to show Gang-Tae how to live selfishly.

The trio navigates what it means to care for another person while caring for yourself, and soon discovers that their paths have been unfavorably intertwined since childhood. Nominated for an International Emmy Award, “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay” features stellar acting and remarkable characters whose journeys will leave you emotionally wrecked. 

My Name

An 8-episode series, “My Name” is the ideal Korean drama for those who are seeking a binge-watch that’s filled with action and excitement.

“My Name” focuses on Yoon Ji-Woo, a high school student whose father is brutally killed on her birthday. Prior to his death, Ji-Woo’s father served as the right-hand man to the notorious drug ring leader, Choi Mu-Jin, of Dongcheonpa.

Overwhelmed with a desire for revenge, Ji-Woo enlists the help of Mu-Jin and trains to become a killer under his tutelage. Years later, Ji-Woo has risen to the top of the ranks and is sent by Mu-Jin to infiltrate the police force under a false identity in order to find and execute the cop responsible for her father’s death.

As Ji-Woo begins to form a genuine relationship with a detective, she is faced with the reality that she’s already lost her youth to her pursuit of revenge and that she could lose more than just her name if she fulfills it, but anyone who defects from Dongcheonpa becomes the next target.

Although “My Name” is a considerably short series, the story is well-developed, features a strong female lead and captivating fighting sequences.

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