This year has been the year of ᴍᴀᴋᴇᴏᴠᴇʀꜱ, ꜱᴇʀɪᴀʟ ᴋɪʟʟᴇʀꜱ, ᴘꜱʏᴄʜᴏᴘᴀᴛʜꜱ, ᴠɪɢɪʟᴀɴᴛᴇꜱ, ʜᴇᴀʟɪɴɢ, ᴀɴᴅ ꜰʀɪᴇɴᴅꜱʜɪᴘ. The wide spectrum of storylines and genres have given K-drama watchers all around the world something to always get excited about. Being halfway through the year, here is a look at some of the best K-dramas that you shouldn’t miss, and it’s definitely not too late to check out!
Note: This list is in no particular order and only includes completed dramas that aired mostly in 2021.
1. “Taxi Driver”
SBS’s drama “Taxi Driver” involves a taxi driver by the name of Kim Do Gi (Lee Je Hoon) who is secretly a ᴠɪɢɪʟᴀɴᴛᴇ ᴄʀɪᴍᴇ ꜰɪɢʜᴛᴇʀ. His main goal, as well as the goal of the taxi driving company he works for, is getting revenge on behalf of the oppressed and those who have been wronged. He has a support team who helps him plan and strategize the best possible way to make sure that the ʀᴇᴠᴇɴɢᴇ scheme is grand and that the ʙᴀᴅ ɢᴜʏꜱ pay in the most ᴘᴀɪɴꜰᴜʟ way possible. The cases of the ᴠɪᴄᴛɪᴍꜱ in the series are all based on real-life cases in South Korea that were very public!
This series has all the elements of a ᴄʀɪᴍᴇ-fighting healing drama. While you feel the unfairness of the ᴠɪᴄᴛɪᴍꜱ in the cases, it’s refreshing and satisfying when Kim Do Gi and his team come to the rescue and make the bad guys pay. The most exciting part is seeing the ᴠɪᴄᴛɪᴍꜱ finally get the peace and justice they need to move on with their lives. K-drama series like “Taxi Driver” don’t come often, so it’s a definite must-watch.
2. “Move To Heaven”
Lee Je Hoon stars as Jo Sang Gu, an underground fighter who is also an orphan. He commits a ᴄʀɪᴍᴇ and gets out of ᴊᴀɪʟ to realize that his older brother has passed away, leaving him as the sole guardian of his ᴀᴜᴛɪꜱᴛɪᴄ teenage son. His brother and his brother’s son worked as “ᴛʀᴀᴜᴍᴀ cleaners,” cleaning up the belongings of people who have passed away. Sang Gu is opposed to working alongside and becoming the guardian of his nephew Han Geu Ru (Tang Joon Sang), but he agrees anyway.
This is definitely Lee Je Hoon’s year. Lee Je Hoon is known to be very picky with his K-dramas, so it’s always worth a watch when he’s in one. It was especially exciting to see that he was starring in not only one, but two K-dramas this year. Right before “Taxi Driver” was about to finish airing, season one of “Move To Heaven” was released; the two are completely different genres and storylines, but “Move To Heaven” is a story that everyone needs to watch. It involves love, loss, family, and the power of forgiving others and yourself. It takes viewers on an emotional journey and is satisfying until the very end!
Bonus: You also get a very impressive lineup of cameo appearances from various actors!
3. “Beyond ᴇᴠɪʟ”
Han Joo Won (Yeo Jin Goo) is a police officer who gets transferred to a small town from the big city of Seoul. He is trying to uncover the case of a series of ᴍᴜʀᴅᴇʀꜱ that happened 20 years prior. His main suspect is his partner and fellow police officer Lee Dong Sik (Shin Ha Kyun).
This one is a given. “Beyond ᴇᴠɪʟ” was not only one of the most talked about K-dramas this year, but it was also nominated for seven Baeksang Awards, winning three categories including Best Drama, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay. Although the theme of a ꜱᴇʀɪᴀʟ ᴋɪʟʟᴇʀ is common in K-dramaland, “Beyond ᴇᴠɪʟ” manages to keep viewers intrigued and fascinated by the story and small town setting. The mystery of the ꜱᴇʀɪᴀʟ ᴋɪʟʟᴇʀ and who in this small town is involved in the ᴍᴜʀᴅᴇʀꜱ makes it intriguing to watch, and not to mention, seeing the acting chops of Shin Ha Kyun, Yeo Jin Goo, and the supporting cast made it easily one of the best of the year.
4. “Youth Of May”
Lee Do Hyun plays Hwang Hee Tae, a charming and brilliant medical school student who falls in love with Kim Myung Hee (Go Min Si), a strong-willed and independent nurse. The backdrop of the drama takes place in May of 1980 in Gwangju, a period where students rebelled against theᴄᴏʀʀᴜᴘᴛ ɢᴏᴠᴇʀɴᴍᴇɴᴛ. Many lives were lost during the Gwangju Uprising.
If you love a classic tale about two lovers who are trying to be together at all costs, “Youth Of May” cannot be overlooked. It stirred a lot of buzz in Korea as a result of the realistic and emotional acting by the cast as well as the heart-fluttering script between the two lovers. The purity and desperation in their love story reminded viewers of old romance dramas that are not often shown these days.
Vincenzo Cassano (Song Joong Ki) is an Italian lawyer and ᴍᴀꜰɪᴀ ᴄᴏɴꜱɪɢʟɪᴇʀᴇ who was adopted and raised in Italy. He returns to Korea to tie up some loose ends pertaining to some gold that is being kept underground in Geumga Plaza. He meets Hong Cha Young (Jeon Yeo Bin) and her father Hong Yoo Chan (Yoo Jae Myung) and they are able to form a strong bond with Vincenzo. Vincenzo becomes intertwined in a ʀᴇᴠᴇɴɢᴇ scheme to get back at Babel Group.
This series took international storm. People couldn’t help but fall in love with “corn salad” Vincenzo and his Geumga Plaza crew. It had everything you could ask for – bromance, friendship, romance, laughs, and unexpected ᴠɪʟʟᴀɪɴꜱ galore! It constantly had viewers on the edge of their seats and seeing the potential romance between Vincenzo and Cha Young was to die for!
6. “True Beauty”
Lim Ju Gyeong (Moon Ga Young) is a high school student who has been bullied for not being the most attractive and popular girl in school. She decides to take it upon herself to learn how to do makeup by watching videos online. She gets the opportunity to transfer to another school and gets caught in the middle of a heart-wrenching love triangle between Lee Su Ho (Cha Eun Woo) and Han Seo Jun (Hwang In Yeop).
This drama gained a lot of popularity in Korea (as well as internationally) as it was based on the already popular and successful webtoon written by Yaongyi. People were so eager to see how the drama would come into fruition and were pleasantly surprised by the depiction; not to mention, the cast looks identical to the webtoon characters. The series touched on so many realistic situations that Koreans face, and it was able to provide the perfect balance of seriousness as well as laughs.
7. “Mr. Queen”
“Mr. Queen” stars Shin Hye Sun as Kim So Yong, a queen in the Joseon period. She wakes up confused one day, stating that she is actually a male chef named Jang Bong Hwan from modern times, who woke up in the body of a woman and is about to rule a nation alongside her husband, King Cheoljong (Kim Jung Hyun). Despite this sudden change, So Yong must find a way to adjust to her new situation and new life, but finds that there are a lot of obstacles to overcome.
An international and fan favorite, “Mr. Queen” won the hearts of many this year. With Shin Hye Sun’s portrayal as the arrogant and selfish Jang Bong Hwan (also played by Choi Jin Hyuk), it is light-hearted and hilarious to watch. Seeing Shin Hye Sun act like a man brings endless laughter, and you really never know what kind of situation So Yong will get into. The storyline is also very unique, which draws viewers in. It’s not every day you come across a K-drama about a man whose soul finds himself in the body of a Queen!
“The Penthouse 2,” “River Where the Moon Rises,” and “Navillera”