Free-to-air channels dominate this list of the 10 most talked about Korean dramas in November, with five out of six representatives rounding out the top 5. KBS2 and JTBC boast the most number of series that made it to the list, with three each. And for the first time this year, drama powerhouse tvN managed to have only one show that made the cut.
Note: a buzzworthy or most talked about Korean drama is one that is frequently mentioned or discussed on Korean blogs, forums, social media, and other online platforms. Buzz scores are different from TV ratings. This composite ranking is based on research done by Good Data Corporation, which publishes the most buzzworthy dramas and actors every week.
10. Beautiful Love, Wonderful Life (KBS2) — 1.92%
Beautiful Love, Wonderful Life premiered only in the second half of last month and despite how low-key the show is, it has made it to this list. A soothing healing series about youngsters looking for love, it stars Seol In-ah and Kim Jae-young, whose another drama Secret Boutique ended recently. This is a fun family drama, so I’m not expecting big things from it, but so far the reviews have been positive. The characters are interesting and the plot is fascinating in all the right ways. Jo Yoon-hee, Yoon Park, and Oh Min-suk add flavor to the supporting cast of the show. Not a bad motley of actors for a 100-episode weekend drama. (Peak position: no. 6 in the fourth week)
9. My Country: The New Age (JTBC) — 2.47%
Set in the beginnings of the Joseon era, My Country: The New Age pits childhood friends played by Yang Se-jong and Woo Do-hwan against each other as they develop opposing ideas about how one is supposed to serve their country. AOA’s Seolhyun stars as the self-reliant woman in a world where women couldn’t make their own choices, while Jang Hyuk tackles the role of historical figure Lee Bang-won for the second time. At its heart, My Country is a story about friendship. And when the finale rolled around, all of us were sobbing our hearts out at the tragic fates that awaited this pair of friends. For me, the high points of this drama were how brilliantly Woo Do-hwan and Yang Se-jong managed to portray the complex friendship between their characters. (Peak position: no. 6 in the third week)
8. Chief of Staff 2 (JTBC) — 3.15%
Lee Jung-jae, Shin Min-ah, and Lee Elijah returned to our screens in November for a riveting second season of Chief Of Staff, which is a tense political drama that revolves around Lee Jung-jae’s character’s journey from working as a lawmaker’s chief of staff to becoming a powerful congressman himself. Expect tense showdowns, clever plot twists, and so many untrustworthy characters—what else but this is the hallmark of a political drama? Shin Min-ah and Lee Jung-jae keep up their amazing performances from season 1 while supporting cast Lee Elijah, Kim Dong-jun, Kim Kap-soo, and Jung Woong-in lend them fantastic company. This was never meant to be a drama that would be popular among the masses because of how dark it is—but I’m impressed its creators didn’t tone down the series one bit and the series is doing well both in terms of buzz scores and TV ratings. (Peak position: no. 4 in the second week)
7. Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency (JTBC) — 3.65%
Despite ending in the first week of November, Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency takes a spot on this list thanks to a finale that achieved an impressive buzz score of 14.6 percent. The series revolves around a matchmaking agency lead by Kim Min-jae, which has been tasked with the marriage of Seo Ji-hoon, a local blacksmith, and Gong Seung-yeon, an ordinary woman. On the day of the wedding, however, Seo Ji-hoon learns that he’s actually the crown prince and disappears from her life. He then enlists Kim Min-jae to help turn Gong Seung-yeon into a noblewoman so he can marry her. The show has the distinction of being one of the few fusion sageuks to grace our screens this year, and that’s what had viewers flocking to it initially. But after the second half, the plot seemed to lose steam and the chemistry between Kim and Gong fizzled. The one unanimous opinion that united viewers was that Seo Ji-hoon’s character was adorable. (Peak position: no. 3 in the first week)
6. Catch The Ghost (tvN) — 3.88%
Catch The Ghost, starring Moon Geun-young and Kim Sun-ho, is equal parts comedy and thriller. Okay, more comedy than thriller. Moon Geun-young and Kim Sun-ho play subway patrol officers who are racing against time to catch a serial killer. Despite what sounds like a lackluster plot, the drama has appeared like a gust of fresh air. With genuinely funny gag comedy and two of the most adorable leads possible, Catch The Ghost is on a mission to be as entertaining as possible. It manages to keep the mystery of the killer alive, despite the romance developing between our leads and Moon’s character’s search for her missing sister. It’s true what they say—heartfelt performances and a good script trump big budgets and popular cast. (Peak position: no. 5 in the second and fourth week)
5. Vagabond (SBS) — 4.40%
Vagabond, headlined by Lee Seung-gi and Bae Suzy, retains its spot in the previous month as the fifth most talked about Korean drama. With two of the most sought-after actors as leads and a gamut of supporting actors including Shin Sung-rok, Moon Jeong-hee, and Park Ah-in, the series boasts of a revenge plot complete with stunning cinematography and exciting action scenes. Lee Seung-gi stars as a stuntman who gets caught in a political conspiracy after his nephew is killed in a plane crash, while Suzy plays a National Intelligence Service agent who helps him solve the case. For a drama as star-studded and expensive as this one, everyone had big expectations. But like other similar big-budgeted dramas this year, Vagabond ended on an unsatisfactory note after weeks of suspense, leaving the story unfinished and fans disappointed. As fans petition for another season, let’s hope that we see Lee Seung-gi in an action role again. (Peak position: no. 4 in the third week)
4. VIP (SBS) — 4.97%
Steadily climbing up the ratings chart and this list is VIP, led by Jang Na-ra and Lee Sang-yoon. The premise of the show is a bit unusual—it follows a team of people dealing with the VIP customers of a department store. Jang Na-ra and Lee Sang-yoon play a married couple working on the team whose lives are thrown into a vortex of secrets, betrayal, and revenge after an unexpected case comes their way. I wasn’t sure where VIP is headed, but it has surprised me. I suppose with dramas like this, one really has to wait for the actors’ performances to elevate the script. Between Jang Na-ra and Lee Sang-yoon, there seem to be no issues on that front. Buoyed by a solid supporting cast comprising of Lee Chung-ah, Kwak Sun-young, and Pyo Ye-jin, VIP focuses on the tense personality clashes of its leads and leaves viewers rooting for Jang Na-ra’s character, who is the center of the web of betrayal in the story. (Peak position: no. 3 in the fourth week)
3. Extraordinary You (MBC) — 13.07%
Extraordinary You was an unusual little fantasy romance based on a webtoon, and I’m happy to see it round out the top 3. Starring Kim Hye-yoon, who has managed to add another great series to her filmography after SKY Castle, the drama revolves around a high school student who realizes she’s trapped in a manhwa as a side character with no free will to choose her destiny. It’s not every day that a drama heralds the arrival of not one, not two, but three promising rookie actors on K-drama horizons. But this is exactly what Kim Hye-yoon, Rowoon, and Lee Jae-wook proved with Extraordinary You—that new talent beckons. The three have been praised for the depth they bring to their performances as teens lost in a mysterious world. Add to that the amazing cinematography, cute romance, and a bittersweet ending, and you get a drama that rises beyond its genre. (Peak position: no. 2 in the first three weeks)
2. The Tale Of Nokdu (KBS2) — 13.96%
The second most talked about Korean drama in November is the Jang Dong-yoon and Kim So-hyun led historical romantic comedy. Being described by many as the best sageuk of 2019, The Tale of Nokdu revolves around a young man, played by Jang Dong-yoon, who seeks to unravel the truth about his past after his family is attacked by assassins. On his quest, he has to pretend to be a woman and live in a village exclusive to widows. There, he meets Kim So-hyun’s character, who is reluctantly training to be a gisaeng. There’s nothing about this drama that hasn’t been praised—from Jang Dong-yoon’s acting to the chemistry between him and Kim So-hyun and the performances of the supporting cast, especially Kang Tae-oh, who plays the unpredictable rival of Jang’s character. The ending, while unusual for a sageuk, kept the viewers riveted and asking for more. (Peak position: no. 1 in the fourth week)
1. When The Camellia Blooms (KBS2) — 18.21%
Holding the title as the most talked about Korean drama in November is When The Camellia Blooms, which also topped the list in October. Featuring Gong Hyo-jin and Kang Ha-neul’s love story that is set in a small coastal town, the series has not only managed to dominate the buzzworthy ranking, but it also became the most-watched drama in the second half of 2019. It’s not surprising that a show with such a simple story has won so many hearts because Camellia had so many things going for it—from Gong Hyo-jin’s impeccable performance as a single mom to Kang Ha-neul’s adorable portrayal of a country bumpkin. From heartwarming moments to romance, comedy, and thrill, the show had a good balance of everything. Its final episode revealed the town’s serial killer and tackled the mystery behind whether our leads ended up together, recording 23.8% in TV ratings. If you’re still hesitating to watch the drama, our review should help you decide. (Peak position: no. 1 the first three weeks)
Go to the ranking for the month of October.