To search for Kdramas by TV network, status (ongoing, upcoming, etc.), weekly broadcast schedule, and/or episode count, jump to THE DIP section.
Korean dramas, often abbreviated as K-dramas or Kdramas, are South Korean television series that are broadcast at least once a week for a certain total number of episodes. At present, most of these dramas — called miniseries — air twice a week on two consecutive days for 16 to 20 1-hour episodes or 32 to 40 35-minute episodes, although actual air time may range from 55 to 70 minutes for hour-long episodes and from 25 to 40 minutes for half-hour episodes. Meanwhile, there are others that are as short as 2 episodes and as long as over 100. Kdramas can be classified into the following categories according to their broadcast length.
- Mini-series. These type of Kdramas run for 12 to 20 hour-long episodes or 24 to 40 half-hour episodes between 9 and 12 pm Korean Standard Time (KST), with the weekday primetime dramas broadcasting from 10 to 11 pm. They are the most popular worldwide as the top stars in the industry are courted to headline dramas that air during the prime time period. As a result, chances are that your favorite Korean drama falls under this category. A few of the recent well-known mini-series include Secret Forest, Fight For My Way, Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, Goblin, Signal, and Descendants of the Sun. The following are the airing days for miniseries. These program slots have relatively been fixed for years.
- Monday-Tuesday Dramas
- Wednesday-Thursday Dramas
- Friday-Saturday Dramas
- Saturday-Sunday Dramas
- Serial Kdramas. Serial Kdramas are long-running series that are broadcasted for over 10 weeks or 2 months. They are mostly weekend free-to-air dramas and daily dramas that run for 50 hour-long episodes and over 100 35-minute long episodes, respectively. Although serial Kdramas air daily from Mondays to Fridays or during the weekend, there are others that are broadcasted on the time slots occupied by the mini-series.
- Short Kdramas. Dramas under this category are less than 12 1-hour episodes in length. In the past, most of them serve as fillers in between mini-series. At present, however, both free-to-air and cable networks seem to diversify their drama formats in response to changing markets [The Korea Times].
One thing that differentiates Korean dramas from TV series in other countries, the USA in particular, is their one-season format. Rarely do Kdramas get a second season no matter how successful they have been, and in some cases where the TV network gives a go signal for a sequel, the follow-up features a different cast and a story albeit the essence of the original remains. For example, School 2017, the seventh installment of KBS’s School franchise that started way back in 1999, has a completely different cast and story than its predecessors but it did not veer off the past seasons’ focus on portraying real issues facing the South Korean youth. On one hand, there are very rare instances when Kdramas do get a sequel with the same cast and the story continue on where it left off. The latest example would be JTBC’s Age of Youth 2, whose first season was aired from July 22 to August 27, 2016.
Three major free-to-air television networks air Kdramas on a regular basis as early as the 1960s. These are the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), and Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS). KBS, which is mainly divided into two terrestrial networks, KBS1 and KBS2, is the national broadcasting company owned and funded by the government of South Korea that can trace its beginnings back in the 1920s. KBS1 primarily broadcasts news and current affairs while KBS2 focuses on general entertainment. The latter channel is popularly known for its 2002 drama Winter Sonata, considered as the show that had started the spread of Korean Wave or hallyu across Asia and eventually, throughout the world [The Korea Herald]. In 2016, KBS2 made another phenomenal success with the achievement of Descendants of the Sun, the drama that took the world by storm and achieved almost 40 % in nationwide TV ratings.
Meanwhile, MBC and SBS are commercial broadcasters that started operations in 1961 and 1991, respectively. MBC is best known for its hit 2003 Kdrama Dae Jang Geum or Jewel in the Palace which achieved over 40 % in nationwide viewer ratings and became a worldwide success, propelling the popularity of Kdramas overseas. One of the recent internationally popular dramas of the network is Moon Embracing The Sun which aired in 2012. It enjoyed high viewership ratings higher than 40 % and won the prestigious Best Drama prize at the Baeksang Arts Awards.
SBS, the youngest among the three major broadcasters, has had its own share of high-rated dramas that made a cultural impact around the world. One of these is the award-winning Lovers in Paris in 2004, a romance drama that helped catapult writer Kim Eun-sook into its status as one of the top screenwriters today. The network’s most recent global success is My Love From The Star which created a hallyu sensation in Korea, China, and the rest of Asia, influencing sales and trends in Korean fashion products such as clothes, accessories, and make-up [The Chosun Ilbo].
Majority of the Kdramas being produced today and broadcast on prime time slots come from KBS2, MBC, SBS. However, these networks are no longer the only source of mainstream series as cable channels started to broadcast their own Kdrama as early as 2006. There are three major cable channels known at present for their record-breaking and unique dramas that cater to different groups of viewers. These are the Total Variety Network (tvN), Orion Cinema Network (OCN), and JTBC. tvN, launched in 2006, is the leading among the three and is the one with the most number of Kdramas. The year 2010 has seen a jump in the quality and number of cable dramas, a development that signaled a shift in a market dominated by the three major broadcasting networks until the present [The Korea Herald]. Many of these dramas had their homes on tvN which during this time continued to experiment with various drama programming formats suitable for the audience. Although the network started airing dramas as early as 2006, it was not until 2012 when it made a remarkable success in TV ratings. It hit the headlines in this year when Reply 1997 achieved over 7 % in ratings and recorded the highest rating ever for a Korean cable drama at the time. The network had seen more quality series in the following years. 2016, which coincides with tvN’s 10th-year anniversary, marks a notable time in the network’s history as three of its dramas recorded achievements that have never been seen before in the Korean entertainment industry. Signal, a fantasy thriller, won Best Drama at Baeksang Arts Awards 2016, beating contenders from the major broadcasting networks and becoming the first ever cable drama to win the prestigious prize in the ceremony’s 52-year history. The network went on to receive the same award the following year for another 2016 drama, Dear My Friends. Lastly, the fantasy romance Goblin, which premiered in December 2016 and ended in January 2017, became the highest-rated Korean cable drama in terms of average nationwide ratings. The drama spawned its own fashion crazes and became a cultural phenomenon in South Korea [The Chosun Ilbo].
JTBC and OCN are relatively new players in the field when it comes to Kdramas. JTBC was launched in 2011 and began its venture into broadcasting Kdramas in 2012. The network hit the headlines in 2013 when its family drama Childless Comfort surpassed the ratings of tvN’s Reply 1997 by a large margin [The Korea Times]. The 40-episode serial drama consistently obtained over 10 % in viewer ratings and held the highest rating for any JTBC drama for four years. Woman of Dignity, one of the network’s recent dramas, broke this record when it reached over 12 % in viewership rating. It marks 2017 — along with Age of Youth 2, Man to Man, and Strong Woman Do Bong Soon — a successful year so far for JTBC.
OCN is essentially a movie channel owned by the same media conglomerate that established tvN. It broadcasted Kdramas as early as 2006 but it was not until recently when it stood out in producing dramas that became a hit among the viewers and pulled off ratings higher than 5 %. The record-breaking dramas, Voice and Tunnel aired earlier this year and somehow influenced the network’s decision to have a complete weekend drama lineup in 2017. Unlike tvN and JTBC, OCN had no fixed time slot for dramas but this has changed this year with the announcement of a complete lineup of Saturday-Sunday series from January to December. Most of these dramas are targeting a specific group of viewers who watch crime or mystery thrillers.
From Romance to Thrillers: Choices for Kdrama Fans
The following pie chart shows the genre distribution of Kdramas in 2017.
Drama Information Pages (DIP) are web pages on Kdramapal that contain essential information about a particular Korean drama such as the synopsis, teasers, director, writer, cast, ratings, and awards received. You can search for the DIPs of 2017 dramas in the table below.
The following table lists the dramas that premiered/will premiere on or after December 16, 2016 and those that aired/are airing/will air at night every Mondays & Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays, and Saturdays & Sundays on KBS, MBC, SBS, tvN, OCN and JTBC, excluding the daily and Saturday-Sunday dramas from free-to-air networks. To filter the dramas by TV network, status, airing days, and/or episode count, use the filtering drop-down boxes located above the table. You can also search for a specific word or term. To read more information about the drama, click the drama title. *Note: the use of KBS on this page refers to KBS2 only. Dramas from KBS1 are not included.
(table temporarily unavailable)