Our third installment of the most talked-about Korean dramas of the month is here! This time, we look at the dramas that aired in June, and see what made them click, or didn’t. These rankings are not a figment of our imagination, but derived from the weekly buzzworthy drama rankings of Good Data Corporation. If you’re unclear on what “most talked about” really means, here’s a brief explanation: a most talked about or “buzzworthy” Korean drama is one that is frequently mentioned or discussed by many people (mostly Koreans) on blogs, forums, social media, and other online platforms.
JTBC fares better this month compared to April and May, with its two dramas making the list, on par with OCN. And while KBS and tvN were neck and neck in May with three dramas each in the list, this month, tvN surpassed the terrestrial network to take the top spot as the channel with most (three) dramas being the most popular. MBC, meanwhile, has just one drama making the cut. But it’s still better than SBS which doesn’t even have a single show in the top 10.
10. The Wind Blows
When JTBC’s The Wind Blows was announced, most didn’t think it would generate considerable buzz because the story, while heartfelt, felt too niche and the cast wasn’t exactly popular. But as they say, good execution is half the battle won. The Wind Blows has managed to be on this list through sheer depth of performances of its cast, which comprises of Kam Woo-sung and Kim Ha-neul in the lead, supported by Kim Ga-eun and Kim Sung-cheol. The show is a family focused melodrama that tells the story of a man who discovers he has Alzheimer’s and divorces his wife. Years later, the couple’s paths cross and they are drawn to each other again. Sometimes, it’s the simplest stories that manage to make a space in the viewer’s heart, and this show proves it. (Peak position: no. 6 in the third week)
9. Chief Of Staff
This political drama is headlined by Lee Jung-jae as a former detective who enters the National Assembly in hopes of advancing his political career. Joining him are Shin Min-ah as a rookie lawmaker who is also hoping to make a mark as a politician, and Lee Elijah as Lee’s hardworking junior. Chief of Staff premiered to high buzz of 8.59% because of its well-known cast, but the buzz waned as the show progressed, not even making it to the top 10 in its third week. That’s the thing with political dramas—either they stick or they don’t, and it seems like Chief of Staff is heading in the latter direction. The show is a mere 10 episodes instead of the standard 16 and will conclude on July 13, so there’s still a chance that it will recover and give its viewers something to talk about. (Peak position: no. 3 in the second week)
tvN’s Abyss is probably the strangest show in this list. If not for its content, it definitely got talked about a lot for its weird mishmash of fantasy, mystery, and rom-com genres. Park Bo-young stars as a gorgeous prosecutor who is reborn into the body of an average-looking woman, while Ahn Hyo-seop is an “ugly” man who is reborn with model-esque looks thanks to a magical rounded object called ‘abyss.’ The two team up to investigate the real reason behind their deaths. Being a tvN production and courtesy of its star-studded cast, Abyss achieved a solid buzz score of 9.34% on its premiere, which dropped to a mere 3.96% by the time its finale rolled around. Despite bad writing and nonsensical plot twists, however, the show still made it to the top 10 in June. All’s well that ends well, right? (Peak position: no. 7 in the fourth week)
7. Save Me 2
Save Me 2 concluded on June 27 with its highest buzz score yet—7.0%. The second installment of OCN’s religious cult-based thriller series saw Uhm Tae-goo playing the protagonist, a troubled Judo athlete who becomes the only man standing between a mysterious cult run by Chun Ho-jin and his hometown. After the success of season one, Save Me 2 saw comparatively less buzz, which was to be expected since the concept is not new anymore. Nevertheless, a recycled premise doesn’t equate to boring, as evident from the drama making it to this list. With social commentary merging with the thrill and mystery factor, this show has the potential to become another multi-season show after Voice. (Peak position: no. 5 in the fourth week)
KBS2’s fantasy rom-com Perfume landed on the sixth spot on our list, thanks to its fun and unpredictable cast. Go Won-hee stars in the show as a cranky middle-aged woman riddled with misfortune, who is given another shot at love and life when she turns into a gorgeous model with the help of a perfume (yes, a perfume). In the course of her adventures, she meets Shin Sung-rok, who plays a neurotic fashion designer with a million different phobias. It is perhaps the weirdness of the show’s premise that has so many people tuning in and talking about it. Perfume premiered to a promising buzz score of 7.04%, which is its peak score in June. With a few more weeks to go before its finale, the show still has hopes of turning its fortunes, just like its protagonist. (Peak position: no. 4 in the first week)
5. Angel’s Last Mission: Love
L (Kim Myung-soo) and Shin Hye-sun-led drama Angel’s Last Mission: Love rounded out the top 5. Throughout its run in June, the KBS2 show has oscillated between ranks 5 and 6. Its fans have consistently praised the writing, as well as Shin and L’s stunning performances as a ballerina and an angel, respectively, who are discovering their past connection and trying to overcome their very obvious but painful differences. With the show’s finale this week, it remains to be seen if the show can achieve even a higher peak buzz score, in addition to a happy ending for its star-crossed lovers. (Peak position: no. 5 in the third week)
4. Voice 3
Slipping from rank 3 to rank 4 this month, OCN’s Voice 3 still managed to make it to the top 5 despite stiff competition with the addition of 6 new dramas in June. It revolves around a criminal profiler played by Lee Ha-na, who is the leader of a police special task force that deals with life-and-death situations. She teams up with Lee Jin-wook, who plays a detective, in pursuing an international crime cartel involved with the Dark Web. Voice 3 achieved its peak buzz score of 9.41% on its final week, with the conclusion of its storyline in a fast-paced and thrill-inducing finale that had fans of the show wishing for yet another installment of the series. (Peak position: no. 3 in the fourth week)
3. Search: WWW
With not one, not two, but THREE female leads, Search: WWW was without a doubt the most interesting drama to premiere last month. It is, therefore, no surprise that it became the third most talked about Korean drama in June. The show stars Im Soo-jung as the stern head manager of Korea’s most successful web portal, who finds romance with a much younger gaming music company CEO played by Jang Ki-young. Lee Da-hee’s character is a huge hit with viewers because of her tendency to beat up the men who cheat on her or harass her. And while Jeon Hye-jin’s character isn’t very likable, she manages to be complex and mature. I’m loving this trend of exploring the lives of 30+ aged women in K-dramas, and seeing Search: WWW so popular gives me hope that the trend will stay. (Peak position: no. 3 in the first and third week)
2. One Spring Night
MBC’s slow-burn romance starring Han Ji-min and Jung Hae-in has been pulling crowds by the numbers, as is clear from the show’s buzz rankings which stand at number 2 throughout the month. Director Ahn Pan-seok’s second collaboration with Jung Hae-in is proving even more successful than last year’s Something In The Rain. In the show’s recent episodes, the relationship of Jung’s and Han’s characters have deepened further, and their adorable chemistry seems to be on everyone’s mind. The show boasts of some stunning secondary arcs, one of which explores physical violence within marriages, a topic not often handled in K-dramas. One Spring Night ended on July 11, with many fans hoping for the lead couple’s happily-ever-after, but as someone who has watched Ahn Pan-seok’s dramas before, I would advise caution. (Peak position: no. 2 every week)
1. Arthdal Chronicles
Arthdal Chronicles almost topped our buzz ranking in May, when it hadn’t even premiered yet, so it comes with no surprise that it was the most talked about Korean drama in June with a staggering peak buzz score of 28.31%. Some worried that the news of Song Joong-ki’s divorce from Song Hye-kyo might impact the show, and while the response has been hot and cold, no one has been able to stop talking about it—and how could we, when stars like Song Joong-ki, Kang Dong-gun, Kim Ji-won, and Kim Ok-bin appear in a single drama? Not to mention the show’s setting of a mythical civilization in ancient Korea, its expansive big-budget sets, and fast-paced plot twists. In my opinion, this is a well-deserved first place. Arthdal Chronicles consists of three 6-episode “parts,” the last of which will premiere in the first week of September. (Peak position: no. 1 every week)
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