The Best Korean Shows on Netflix to Watch Right Now

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With Hollywood on strike, it’s pretty clear that we are about to enter into a drought of decent television and film for the next couple years. Which is why we have turned our eyes East in order to satiate our thirst for compelling stories on the silver screen.

Long before Squid Game became a pop-culture phenomenon as Netflix’s most-watched show or film ever and Parasite swept up nearly every important award in cinema, including the Academy Award for Best Picture in 2020, Koreans had already been producing world-class excellent content for decades. Hallyu, or ‘Korean Wave’ began in the mid-90s and saw an explosive popularity by the 2000s. The early beginnings may not have as much clout as the current trending shows now offer, but they certainly paved the way for the eventual global popularity that Korean entertainment is enjoying today.

If there’s one thing that Koreans do best, it’s captivating an audience. With a slow-burn pacing, distinctively fun visuals, and highly addictive charm, we’ve been swept off our feet along with the rest of the world. Whether you’re a longtime fan, looking to pass the hot summer days indoors, or ready to try something new, you can never go wrong with a Korean-series marathon. From action and sci-fi to horror and rom-coms, here are our top picks for the best Korean content on Netflix right now.

1

Alchemy of Souls

Set in the fictional country of Daeho, Alchemy of Souls revolves around young mages who must confront their twisted destinies caused by the forbidden magic that enables them to switch bodies. The story follows Nak-su, an elite warrior trapped in the feeble form of Mu-deok, as she becomes entangled with Jang Uk, from a noble family, leading to a complex relationship and a blossoming love while navigating the world of soul-switching magic.

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2

Business Proposal

Shin Ha-ri reluctantly agrees to go on a blind date to help her friend but ends up meeting her CEO, Kang Tae-moo, at the company where she works in Business Proposal. When her true identity is revealed, Tae-moo bullies her into posing as his fiancée to escape endless blind dates, leading to the unexpected closeness between them. Meanwhile, Ha-ri’s friend, Jin Young-seo, starts a romance with Tae-moo’s secretary, Cha Sung-hoon, after a series of comical misunderstandings.

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3

D.P.

In South Korea, all young men must undergo mandatory military service, a significant rite of passage. Beyond tearful send-offs for our friends and the occasional glimpse of our favorite celebrities’ entry into military service through televised coverage, the day-to-day realities and experiences of this mandatory duty remain largely hidden from the public eye. The series DP aims to shed light on this aspect, presenting an honest portrayal of the duty. Since its debut, the show has gained popularity and climbed the charts. With the recent launch of its second season, now is the best time to rediscover the gritty and challenging narrative it presents.

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4

Extraordinary Attorney Woo

Extraordinary Attorney Woo follows the life of Woo Young-woo, an autistic lawyer with exceptional intelligence and memory. Despite facing prejudice and challenges due to her differences, she joins a prestigious law firm and proves her capabilities by resolving complex cases in unique ways, all while navigating personal relationships and her fascination with marine mammals.

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5

The Glory

The Glory transports us inside the tale of a young woman who endured relentless bullying, leading her to make the difficult decision of leaving school. Over time, she emerges as a dedicated primary school teacher, carefully plotting a unique path toward justice. Unexpectedly, she finds an opportunity to confront her past when she decides to take in the son of the person who tormented her the most, seeking a profound form of retribution.

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6

Full House

Nurse the emotional void left in your soul by The Glory by tuning in to this iconic 2004 rom-com, Full House. As the oldest Korean content you will find on Netflix, this show is peak Aughts — from the flip phones, low-rise skirts, and the bubblegum-pop soundtrack. Predictable, repetitive, and yet crazy-fun, the show stars fresh-faced Rain and Song Hye-kyo (yes, the same lead star in The Glory) as a cute, bickering duo who reluctantly move in together following a fake marriage, and of course, end up falling in love. No eye roll emoji necessary; it will steal your heart and leave you highly entertained. Obvious plot holes and ridiculous premise aside, this lighthearted show will take you on a trip to memory lane, make you laugh, reminisce, and laugh some more.

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7

The King's Affection

The King’s Affection is set during the Joseon dynasty, where twins are deemed ominous. The Crown Princess gives birth to twins, and in order to protect the daughter, she is sent away from the palace. Years later, the twin daughter, Dam-yi, returns as a maid and switches places with her brother, Crown Prince Lee Hwi. As their lives intertwine, Dam-yi, disguised as Lee Hwi, navigates a complex court life, where her first love, Jung Ji-woon, unknowingly becomes her tutor and court scribe, leading to a web of complicated emotions for all involved.

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8

Narco-Saints

“What’s a Korean man doing in Suriname?”, asks a voiceover on the opening shot. Although the answer was pretty obvious, it is still worth streaming all six episodes and watching all the excitement unfold. Echoing various drug lord sagas that came before it, Narco-Saints offer something new to the genre with dynamic chemistry from the cast and well-balanced action sequences.

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9

Reply 1988

Of all the emotions Korean dramas can evoke, one of the most powerful is nostalgia. As the third and final installment of the much-loved Reply series, Reply 1988 is the most complex and masterfully directed of all. Following a group of humble families living in the now-iconic low-income neighborhood of Ssangmun-dong Alley, the 20-episode drama boasts of an ambitiously stellar cast and an expertly constructed backdrop lovingly strewn with historically accurate details. Whip-smart, refreshing, and set to the soundtrack of our youth, it delivers just the right amount of melancholy coupled with a strong narrative substance.

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10

Squid Game

Chances are, you have already finished watching Squid Game. But with a sequel coming out soon, it might be a good time to rewatch. There is not a dull moment in this nine-episode masterpiece that mixes dark humor with suspense to tell a story about high-stakes thrills and gripping moral dilemmas. Squid Game leaves you speechless with its beautiful visuals and a one-of-a-kind plot filled with raw emotions and unexpected twists. It is one of those stories that will make you question your own convictions and morality long after the final credits roll.

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11

Tomorrow

In the drama Tomorrow, Choi Jun-woong is a struggling job seeker unable to find employment. A fateful encounter with grim reapers Koo Ryeon and Lim Ryung Gu, who are tasked with preventing suicide, leads him to join the crisis management team of death angels as their youngest contract worker.

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