The Korean Craze may be on its highest level yet for the past 3 years, nut it doesn’t mean that they’ve been there for just a short amount of time. Even before that, Koreans have always been a part of our lives and some people may not even know it. You may have watched some of these Korean dramas before but you can’t seem to remember that they are popular K-drama.
If you’re new to the Korean trend, it’s never too late to watch and follow these Korean dramas.
Luckily for you guys, we made a list of the Top 25 Korean dramas of all time. Let’s begin!
Click here if you want to read about the top rated Korean dramas of 2020.
(Warning: Reading this list may lead you to spend hours, if not days and weeks, glued to your screen — watching one drama after another. Your productivity and social life and dieting may suffer. You have been warned!)
1. JEWEL IN THE PALACE/ Dae Jang – Geum
If you’re into historical dramas with a touch of true story behind them, Jewel in the Palace fits your style. This drama tells the story of a girl named Dae Jang-Geum who lived during the Chosun dynasty of Korea. It happened about 500 years ago when Korea was still boasting about a strongly systematic hierarchical and male dominated social structure.
Due to Jang-Geum’s hard work and perseverance, she later on became the first woman in Korea to ever be the supreme royal physician of her time.
The leading role of Dae Jang-gum was portrayed by Lee Young-ae. Jewel in the Palace had 54 episodes and each of them was an hour long. This drama was released on September 15, 2003 and was completed on March 23, 2004.
2. STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN
Stairway to Heaven is a Korean drama that revolves on the story of two childhood friends Cha Song-joo and Han Jung-suh. They grew up together and their friendship blossomed into romance. Many obstacles happen to come their way but in the end, their love conquered all of them.
These two childhood lovers are portrayed by Baek Sung-hyun and Park Shin-ye while their adult versions are perfectly portrayed by Kwon Sang-woo and Choi Ji-woo.
This drama was released on December 23, 2003 and it ended on February 5, 2004. It had a total of 20 episodes. This drama is also featured in the new Korean drama “Crash Landing on You,” where a North Korean soldier is a huge fan of Korean dramas and became a fan of actress Choi Ji-woo after watching “Stairway to Heaven.
Do you want a combination of historical data and fiction? Then Jumong is what you’ve been looking for. This TV series is about the life of Jumong, the founder of the Kingdom of Goguryeo. Not much of his life was known so most of the scenes in this series are made up or a touch of fiction.
The series mostly revolves about his life up and how he managed to escape the assassination of his two older half-brothers.
It’s a great K-drama to watch if you’re interested with Korean history and culture. The drama was released on May 15, 2006 and was finished on March 6, 2007. This drama had a total of 81 episodes which by far is the most number of episodes for a Korean drama.
4. COFFEE PRINCE
Coffee Prince was released on July 2, 2007. This drama focused on the love life and dreams of four young people who met and built their friendship together at a cafe. The story revolves on the story of the young people where Han Kyul is an intelligent young man who can’t find contentment or satisfaction on being tied down to a single career in his entire life.
The next character is Choi Hang-sun who is Han Kyul’s beloved cousin that is a very talented music producer that has a complicated relationship with Yoo-joo. Next is Han Yoo-joo, a talented professional artist who is Han Kyul’s first love and Hang-sun’s ex-girlfriend.
Meanwhile, Go Eun Chan is a hardworking tomboy that acts as the breadwinner of their family by taking multiple part time jobs to earn money. She’s often mistaken as a boy due to her style and clothes.
Things went upside down when she was hired by Han Kyul to be his gay lover in order to avoid the arranged dates by his family. The character of Han Kyul was portrayed by Gong Yoo, Hang-sun is portrayed by Lee Sun-kyun, Yoo-joo is portrayed by Chae Jung-an and the role of Go Eun-chan was portrayed by Yoon Eun-hye. The drama finished on August 28, 2007 and has a total of 17 episodes.
5. BOYS OVER FLOWERS
The F4 gang stunned a lot of viewers as Boys over Flower was released on January 5, 2009. ‘’Boys over Flowers” is known to be the Korean version of Meteor Garden, a Taiwanese drama.
The drama series was situated in a famous high school that featured the legendary poor girl, Geum Jan-Di (played by Ku Hye-seon) who accidentally bumped into the group of four astonishingly good looking and wealthy boys known as F4.
She ends up having a serious rivalry with Koo Jun-Pyo (Lee Min-ho), who is such a spoiled heir to a world-leading company and the leader of the group. Her attitude of not backing out despite all of the threats given to her made Jun-Pyo fall for her.
This drama has a total of 25 episodes that was finished on March 32, 2009.
6. DREAM HIGH
Let’s be honest, we all went through a time where we liked school themed shows like Glee and High School Musical. Another one is this K-drama: Dream High.
This drama released its first season on January 3, 2011 and the second season on January 30, 2012. This musical drama takes place at Kirin High School of Art where students dream to be superstars.
The first season featured Bae Suzy as Go Hye-mi, Kim Soo-hyun as Song Sam-dong, Jang Woo-young as Jason, Ok Taec-yeon as Jin Gook or Hyun Shi-hyuk, Ham Eun-jung as Yoon Baek-hee and IU as Kim Pil-sook as the main 6 students who have different backgrounds but have one goal.
Season 2 featured Kang So-ra as Shin Hae-sung, Park Ji-yeon as Ri-an or Lee Ji-kyung, JB as JB or Jang Woo-jae and Jinwoon as Jin Yoo-jin. It has a total of 32 episodes in which each season had `16 episodes.
7. CITY HUNTER
If you’re up for some action, take a look at City Hunter. This is an action drama released on May 25, 2011 featuring a young man named Lee Yoon-sung who has a secret identity, “City Hunter”.
His plan was to take revenge for his father’s death which was caused by politicians. This man’s cold heart that was once focused on getting revenge will later on develop feelings for Kim Na-na who is one of the people that he worked with. The characters Lee Yoon-sung and Kim Na-na were played by Lee Min-ho and Park Min-young respectively. It has a total of 20 episodes.
8. THE HEIRS
If you are opting for a more classy and regal drama series, you might want to go with “The Heirs.” The series showed the friendship, rivalry and romantic life of young, rich heirs which are led by Kim Tan and Cha Eun-Sang. These privileged high school students will soon take over their families’ business empires while they struggle, overcome difficulties and grow one step at a time.
Kim Tan is played by Lee Min-ho while Cha Eun-sang was played by Park Shin-ye. Released on October 9, 2013, this Korean drama has a total of 20 episodes.
9. MY LOVE FROM THE STAR
My Love from the Star is all about an alien named Do Min-joon that landed on Earth in the year 1609, during the Joseon Dynasty. He worked as a professor in the present time and met Cheon Song-yi, a famous Hallyu actress who suddenly became his next-door neighbour. He felt rally annoyed from the start yet he later on found himself being fond of Song-yi who resembled his first love almost 400 years ago in the Joseon era.
The character of the alien Do Min-joon was portrayed by Kim Soo-hyun while the role of the Hallyu actress Cheon Song-yi was portrayed by Jun Ji-hyun. This drama was released on December 18, 2013 and has a total of 21 episodes.
10. DESCENDANTS OF THE SUN
Ever heard of a very popular Korean drama that involved three soldiers and a doctor? That’s this drama series “Descendants of the Sun.” Released on February 24, 2016, Descendants of the Sun became a big hit for viewers as it featured Song Joong Ki who just made his comeback from his mandatory military service.
This drama was also written by the famous script writer Kim Eun-sook who also wrote the hit dramas ‘Secret Garden’, ‘The Heirs’ and a lot more which adds a lot to its interesting plot. This drama revolves on the story of a doctor named Kang Mo-yeon and a special forces captain named Yoo Si-jin or more popularly known as the Big Boss who’s willing to sacrifice their own lives while providing aid in a country dealing with a natural disaster and civil strife and eventually falls in love with each other.
These characters were portrayed by Song Hye Kyo and Song Joong Ki or also known as the Song Couple. Along with Jin Goo as Master Sergeant Seo Dae-young and Kim Ji-won (s First Lieutenant Yoon Myung-ju, these couples have made viewers jealous and in tears throughout its superb screenplay and well-executed story.
Famous actors who were Captain Yoo’s co-soldiers also captivated the hearts of ladies around the world with their mesmerizing looks. Apart from Seoul, Greece has been chosen as the main location for overseas shooting. The cast and the production team stayed for about a month in this charming European country. The drama has finished with a total of 16 episodes, the minimum required number of episodes for a drama series.
11. W: TWO WORLDS
‘’W: Two Worlds’’ is romance drama series released on July 20, 2016 and has a total of 16 episodes.The story started when Oh Yeon-Joo’s father, who’s an author of a very popular webtoon called W, went missing. In search for her father, she accidentally gets dragged into the webtoon world when she was pulled by a hand full of blood from a screen. There, she met the wealthy Kang Chul whom she fell in love with. The characters are played by Han Hyo-joo and Lee Jong-suk. Will the two worlds collide? It’s your turn to find out.
12. LOVE IN THE MOONLIGHT
The story revolves around the life of a brave and quick-witted young woman named Hong Ra-on, the character played by Kim Yoo-jung. She was forced to live as a eunuch in the royal palace as punishment for an unpaid debt.
While at the palace, she met the bright, troublesome, and humorous Crown Prince Lee Yeong who is played by Park Bo Gum. This drama was released on August 22, 2016 and it has a total of 18 episodes.
13. SCARLETT HEART: RYEO
If you want a traditional vibe on a Korean drama, Scarlett Heart is the right one for you. Scarlett Heart: Ryeo (also known as Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo ) was released on August 29, 2016 starring Lee Joon-Gi as Wang So / King Gwangjong and IU as Hae-Soo / Go Ha-Jin along with the other princes and casts.
Scarlet Heart Ryeo tells the story of a twenty-five-year-old lady named Go Ha-Jin (IU) who drowns in a river and is transported back in time to the Goryeo era (over a thousand years ago). She then ends up in a woman’s body named Hae Soo, which was the cousin of the wife of 8th prince Wang Wook.
Soon after, she became friends with the princes (the sons of King Taejo, the founder of Goryeo) who grew fond of her because of her unique qualities compared to other girls of that time. Despite the fact that she travelled back in time and knew that she must not get involved in palace matters, she finds herself in complicated situations related to the princes and some even fall in love with her.
It has a total of 20 episodes. Up to this day, fans are still heartbroken and are still waiting for a Season 2.
14. WEIGHTLIFTING FAIRY: KIM BOK JOO
If you want a drama wherein the lead is a strong woman, then you’ve found your drama. Weightlifting Fairy: Kim Bok joo was released on November 16, 2016 and has finished with a total of 16 episodes.
It revolves around the story of a young woman named Kim Bok-Joo who is chasing after her dream of weightlifting. While she was on a college campus, she meets her annoying childhood friend way back in elementary who used to tease her but is now a swimmer, Jung Joon-Hyung.
Book-Joo had a huge crush on a handsome doctor who’s coincidentally Joon Hyung’s brother which made her reconsider her passion for weightlifting.
The main cast for this drama are Lee Sung-kyung and Nam Joo-hyuk. Will she sacrifice her dream for love? Find out and watch this Korean drama on Netflix.
15. LEGEND OF THE BLUE SEA
By the time you reach this point in the article, you may be wondering how many times you have already seen the name Lee Min-ho. This next drama is also starred by him alongside Jun Ji-hyun.
This was also a significant drama because this was the last role he took before his mandatory military enlistment. This Korean drama was released on November 16, 2016 and has a total of 20 episodes.
We have heard of mermaids sacrificing their tails for feet. And yes, you’re right! This tells the story of a mermaid who ventured her way to the human world to find the human she loves.
The plot is filled with romance, drama and a lot of humorous content from Sim Chung’s innocence as she tries to adjust on land. It featured two story lines from the Joseon era and in the modern time. It presented an unfinished love from the past as they reunite in the modern world.
Goblin is a fantasy romance released on December 2, 2016. This drama showed a modern day goblin named Kim Shin who desperately seeks to end his miserable cursed immortal life by finding his anointed human bride Ji Eun-Tak who’s meant to end his misery by pulling the sword in his chest.
He isn’t the typical ugly goblins you see on the internet. He’s a man who can make it rain when he’s sad. Things became twisted when he met this grim reaper named Wang Yeo who seemingly can’t remember his past with the Goblin’s sister named Kim Sun in her reincarnation.
As he finally meets his bride, he realizes that he doesn’t want to die and live with her which could put Eun Tak’s life in danger, over and over again. The lead role is played by Gong Yoo and his bride is played by Kim Go-Eun. Kim Sun is played by Yoo In-na while the role of Grim Reaper was played by Lee Dong-wok. This Korean drama series has a total of 16 episodes.
Ever wondered how lives were back then? Hwarang gave us a good glimpse of the past. This series was released on December 19, 2016. Hwarang showcased an all-star lineup which was so hard to resist! It is composed of three idols, established actors and actresses, and newcomers who are effortlessly mesmerizing.
It is known to be the story of six Hwarang warriors which are led by the very handsome Park Seo-joon. It also featured a complicated love triangle between Park Seo-joon (with his role as Seonu, Moo Myung or Dog Bird), Go A-ra (with his role as Kim Ah-ro) and Park Hyung-sik (with his role as Sammaekjong).
They are joined along with the other Hwarang warriors which are Choi Min-ho (as Suho), Do Ji-han (as Banryu), Kim Tae-hyung or V of BTS (as Hanseong) and Jo Yu-nu (as Yeoul). This elite group of men discovered their passions, love and even build friendships despite the turmoil of the Silla Kingdom (57 BC-AD 935). This drama is finished with a total of 20 episodes.
18. STRONG WOMAN: DO BONG SOON
Do you want to watch a Korean drama series with literal Girl Power? This drama is the right one for you. Starred by Park Bo-young and Park Hyung-sik, the drama became an instant hit with the addition of powers obtained by the female lead.
This drama revolves on the life of Bong-Soon, who was born different among the others with a strength like a superhuman. It was hereditary and was passed along the women in her family. Her only dream is to create a video game and make herself the main character.
Her life changed when she became the bodyguard of Min-Hyuk, the CEO of a video gaming company called Ainsoft who received anonymous threats from an unknown person. She then became a real-life hero when she helped in the crime reports connected to the cause of lost women in their neighbourhood. This drama was released on February 24, 2017 and has a total of 16 episodes.
19. FIGHT FOR MY WAY
Everybody likes a drama with beautiful friendships and big dreams. Fight for my Way is that kind of a drama. This drama tells us the story of underdogs with big dreams who are struggling to survive.
They have their own careers but they all seem to be underqualified for it. The story turned great when a long-time friendship turns into a romance between Ko Dong-man and Choi Ae-ra.
It’s known to be a very sincere drama. The Crazy Fantastic Four Ko Dong-man, Choi Ae-ra, Kim Joo-man, and Baek Seol-hee are portrayed very well by Park Seo–joon, Kim Ji-won, Ahn Jae-hong, and Song Ha-yoon respectively.
It made its premiere on May 22, 2017 and ended on July 1 of the same year. It has 16 episodes, a minimum for South Korean dramas. All of their episodes are 70 minutes long.
20. WHAT’S WRONG WITH SECRETARY KIM
Everybody loves their usual romantic comedy kind of series. “What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim” gives us that kind of usual feeling. This Korean drama tells us of the story of the highly ambitious Chairman Lee Young-joon of a major corporation in Korea and his very capable secretary Kim Mi-so. After 9 years of working for Young-joon, Mi-so handed him a resignation letter meaning that she’s leaving her position vacant.
A lot of misunderstanding arose from the two but the Chairman won’t let his secretary leave just like that. Young-joon did everything he could to make Mi-so stay by his side. The roles of Lee Young-joon and Kim Mi-so were perfectly portrayed by Park Seo-joon and Park Min-young respectively. The drama went on from June 6 to July 26 of the year 2018. It has a total of 16 episodes. Each episode was 62 to 76 minutes long.
21. TOUCH YOUR HEART
If you have already watched the K-drama Goblin, I’m pretty sure you loved the relationship of Grim Reaper and Sunny. Have you ever tried imagining the two of them in a role of a lawyer and an actress who are all loved up? One answer: “Touch Your Heart.”
It’s a Korean drama where Lee Dong-wook and Yoo In-na had a chance to work together again as a love team. It revolves on the story of Oh Jin-shim, a Korean actress who goes by her stage name Oh Yoon-Seo. She was involved in a scandal that dealt a big damage on her career which left her jobless for 2 years.
Vying for a lawyer role in an upcoming television series, she wanted to gain experience at a law firm. She agreed to be the secretary of a lawyer called Kwon Jung-rok, a very workaholic person who never seems to lose a case and cares deeply about the reputation of his law firm.
This Korean drama ran from February 26 to March 28, 2019. It has a total of 16 episodes with an hour length for each episode.
22. HOTEL DEL LUNA
If you like K-dramas, dark fantasy, horror and thriller, Hotel del Luna is your type of drama. This drama revolves around the “Guest House of the Moon” hotel, a place where the supernatural exists.
This is a very special hotel that cannot be seen in its true form as humans can only enter in it with an invitation or during a lunar eclipse. All of the people inside, even the staffs, are ghosts or restless souls with unfinished business in their former lives. The hotel is where they stay and when they have settled all their grudges on Earth, they will pass on to afterlife on reincarnation. The only exception to the all ghost situation in the hotel is the manager.
This role is only filled by humans through succession as there are things that they need to do which has the need to interact with the real world. The owner of this hotel is Jang Man-wol and the hotel is currently known as “Hotel del Luna.”
Due to the manipulation of the deity Mago, Jang met Gu Chan-sung’s father. She made a deal with him that includes money. In exchange, Chan-sung must work for Man-wol after 20 years. When he realized his fortune, Chan-sung’s father went abroad and took the young man with him where he grew up to be a kind-hearted perfectionist.
After his death, he returns to South Korea to take on his role as an assistant manager at a multinational hotel corporation. Upon his return, he met Man-wol and he ends up fulfilling the agreement his father made with her.
He eventually became the hotel’s manager. These roles were portrayed by Lee Ji-eun as Man-wol (mostly known as I.U.) and Yeo Jin-goo as Chan-sung. This K-drama ran from July 13 to September 1, 2019. It’s the most viewed tvN drama of 2019. It had 16 episodes with 73-94 minutes each.
23. CRASH LANDING ON YOU
Ever wondered what could happen if someone from South Korea ever fall in love with someone in North Korea and vice versa? Crash Landing on You gave us the answers. It tells us the story of Yoon Se-ri, an heiress from South Korea, and Ri Jeong-hyeok, a North Korean elite and a Captain of the North Korean Special Police Force. While Yoon Se-ri was paragliding in Seoul, a tornado came suddenly and this blew her off course.
When she woke up, she found herself in a DMZ forest which is restricted for South Koreans. Ri Jeong-hyeok found her and unexpectedly caught her when she fell from the tree where her paraglider crashed. He provided shelter for her and made up a plan to help her secretly return to South Korea. They eventually fall in love despite the divide between their respective countries.
The role of Ri Jeong-hyeok and Yoon Se-ri were portrayed by Hyun Bin and Son Ye-jin respectively. Crash Landing on You ran from December 14, 2019 to February 16, 2020. This drama has 16 episodes with an average running time of 90 minutes. This drama became an instant hit and was loved and followed by many people around the world.
24. ITAEWON CLASS
Itaewon class is a Korean drama based on a web toon with the same name. It tells us the story of an ex-convict named Park Sae-ro-yi. His entire life changed when he was expelled from his school for punching his bully and when his father was killed in an accident. Just as his dad would do, he opens up his own bar-restaurant called DanBam or Honey Night in Itaewon.
Together with all his staffs and his manager Jo Yi-seo, he goes up against a well-established food company as he strives to achieve success. It was released on January 31, 2020 and was completed on March 21 of the same year. It had 16 episodes and 70 minutes for each episode.
25. THE KING: ETERNAL MONARCH
Even if you’ve not been a fan of Korean dramas ever since, I’m pretty sure you know Lee Min-ho. Fans all around the world have been disappointed when he was enlisted for his military service. His first drama ever since he came back from his military enlistment has been a big hit. It’s entitled The King: Eternal Monarch. His leading lady is someone we’ve also known before. Her name is Kim Go-eun who is known for her role Ji Eun-tak in Goblin.
The story of The King: Eternal Monarch revolves on the life of Lee Gon. He is a modern Emperor of the Kingdom of Corea, a place that exists in an alternate reality. He attempts to cross over to an alternate university where the Kindom of Korea exists. When he crossed over, he met detective Jung Tae-eul (Go-eun).
Lee Gon’s half uncle, Lee Lim, was the one who assassinated his father, the previous King. Lee Lim goes back and forth the two parallel worlds and is creating an army in the Kingdom of Korea to overthrow his nephew.
The drama ran from April 17 to June 12 of this year. This drama has 16 episodes; all of them are 70 minutes each. The King: Eternal Monarch was hailed as the most anticipated Korean drama of 2020.