October’s list of the 10 most talked about Korean dramas has everything from funny slice-of-life series to spunky action-packed ones. KBS2, tvN, and JTBC contribute two dramas each to the top 10, while MBC, SBS, and OCN are each represented by one show. Two Wednesday-Thursday dramas battled it out to occupy the top spot, and if you’ve been observing the buzz generated by ongoing shows recently, guessing the final winner is a no-brainer for you.
Definition: 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.
10. Pegasus Market (tvN) — 2.24%
Pegasus Market, starring Kim Byung-chul and Lee Dong-hwi, is one of those shows that don’t get a lot of hype because of a lack of “star factor”, so to speak, but that doesn’t mean it’s not good. Not by a long shot. Despite low ratings and buzz, the show is receiving really positive feedback for the cast’s comic timing and performances. Lee Dong-hwi plays the manager of Pegasus Market, a mart that is failing to attract customers. When Kim Byung-chul’s character is put in charge of the mart, Lee hopes that his luck will change, but Kim has ulterior motives of his own. I don’t usually make blanket statements like this, but if you’re not tuning in to this one, you’re missing a solid dose of laughter. All the cast members, from lead actors Kim and Lee, to supporting cast Park Ho-san, Kang Hong-suk, and Jung Min-sung have brought their best comedy game to the sets. It’s chock-full of ridiculous situations that lead to some heartwarming emotional moments. (Peak position: no. 9 in the first two weeks of October)
9. Graceful Family (MBN) — 2.37%
Graceful Family making it to the list of the most talked about Korean dramas in October comes as no surprise. It’s the most critically-acclaimed and highest-rated drama in the history of cable network MBN, a feat made possible by the brilliant performances of its leads Im Soo-hyang, Bae Jong-ok, and Lee Jang-woo. A family drama rooted in suspense, Graceful Family tells the story of an heiress caught in the web of her family’s secrets. A lot has been praised about it, from a well-written strong female lead to the highly unpredictable twists and turns of the show. If you enjoyed Defendant, you’re likely to enjoy this one too. After all, few tropes in K-drama are as dramatic as the multitude of skeletons that rich families hide in their closets. (Peak position: no. 6 in the third week)
8. Strangers From Hell (OCN) — 2.40%
Despite concluding in the first week of October, Im Si-wan and Lee Dong-wook’s eerie Strangers From Hell made it to this list (thanks to its runner-up finish during that week). And why wouldn’t it be, when it stars two of the trendiest actors in K-drama in a dark and depressing tale that takes place in the seedy underbelly of Seoul? There are serial killers, blood, gore, and just that unsettling feeling of doubt sprinkled throughout the series. Im Si-wan plays a writer in his 20s who moves to Seoul for a job and runs into a creepy dentist portrayed by Lee Dong-wook. Lee has been one of the major surprises of the drama, tackling his first negative role with aplomb. He leaves you feeling thoroughly creeped out. Adding to the creepy factor is Eden Studio, the dorm where Si-wan lives. Everything about this show is eerie in the best way possible and if you’re into that sort of thing, I highly recommend that you watch this now. (Peak position: no. 2 in the first week)
7. Melting Me Softly (tvN) — 3.48%
Ji Chang-wook’s comeback drama after two years of being away in the army was bound to be a hit, but it’s not exactly living up to its hype (TV ratings-wise). But at least people talk about it online. Melting Me Softly‘s low viewership might be due to the lack of chemistry between him and Won Jin-ah, or the premise of the show—a couple who are frozen for 20 years after an experiment goes awry. Nevertheless, not everything about the drama fell short of expectations. The supporting cast, including the stunning Yoon Se-ah, Kim Won-hae, and Gil Hae-yeon are making up for the gaps left by the lackluster writing. And while I’m not into the chemistry of the leads, Ji Chang-wook and Won Jin-ah are incredible actors on their own and manage to nail their individual scenes. (Peak position: no. 8 every week)
6. My Country: The New Age (JTBC) — 5.05%
As the only (real) sageuk on the list, My Country: The New Age has a lot to live up to. And it does, starting from the amazing performances of the leads Woo Doo-hwan, Seol Hyun, and Yang Se-jeong. My Country is an intriguing, intense tale of two former best friends who turn their swords on each other after they develop varying ideas about how they’re supposed to serve their country. Woo Doo-hwan and Yang Se-jong, who are two of my favorite younger actors, do full justice to their characters. I’ve cried so many times with them that I’ve lost count. And while usually, Seol Hyun’s acting leaves much to be desired, this time I feel she’s improved and it’s delighting me to watch her transformation on screen. (Peak Position: no. 6 in the first two weeks)
5. Vagabond (SBS) — 7.55%
The fifth most talked about Korean drama in October is Vagabond, one of this year’s big-budget projects with stunning cinematography and impressive action scenes. It’s the big comeback vehicle of Lee Seung-gi and Suzy. While Lee plays a stuntman who ends up investigating a conspiracy, Suzy takes on the role of a National Intelligence Service agent who teams up with him to solve the mystery. In recent episodes, Lee Seung-gi and Suzy’s romance has blossomed and shot up several levels, making fans of the stars follow the show with increasing regularity. The chemistry between the actors is decent, but what adds a charm to their romance is a layer of danger—considering that they are embroiled in a huge conspiracy that has the power to change as well as endanger their lives. It’s no surprise though: romance and danger is a bestselling combination. (Peak Position: no. 5 in the first four weeks)
4. The Tale of Nokdu (KBS2) — 10.32%
So many of us have become fans of Jang Dong-yoon through this drama. I mean, after he came out looking like the prettiest woman alive? It was impossible not to. The Tale of Nokdu began on a fascinating note, with a young man skilled in martial arts entering a women-only village to find out the mystery of an attack on his family. Of course, to do that, he needs to disguise himself as a woman. Men disguising themselves in any drama leads to a lot of laughs, which happened in this drama too. But because of the underlying mystery, a lot of thrilling and emotional moments populated the landscape of this historical series. Kim So-hyun, who usually sticks to rom-coms, is impressive in her role as an outspoken young woman who is fated to be a gisaeng despite not wanting to. Leading ladies that subvert gender roles are always a treat to watch. The revelation of this show, however, has been Kang Tae-oh, whose turn as the sweet and unpredictable crown prince has been incredible. (Peak Position: no. 3 in the first and fourth weeks)
3. Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency (JTBC) — 11.25%
It’s not every day in K-dramaland that one comes across a historical drama that’s light on intense political rivalries and heavy on fluff and fun. It’s therefore not surprising to see that Kim Min-jae and Gong Seung-yeon’s Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency has gained a steady fan following among both international and domestic viewers. Kim Min-jae heads the crew whose members include Park Ji-hoon and Byeon Woo-seok. Gong Seung-yeon plays an ordinary woman who is supposed to marry local blacksmith Seo Ji-hoon, except he disappears on their wedding day and discovers that he’s the King of Joseon. Quite a shocker, right? The drama is full of surprising plot twists, as well as some angst quotient as the heroine develops two love interests. Gong Seung-yeon and Kim Min-jae’s chemistry is off the charts, and we’re hoping the show doesn’t pull any silly twists and lets them have a happy ending. (Peak Position: no. 3 in the second, third, and fifth weeks)
2. Extraordinary You (MBC) — 15.93%
Extraordinary You generated a lot of buzz thanks to its rising stars Kim Hye-yoon and SF9’s Rowoon and the popularity of the webtoon which it is based on. It revolves around Kim’s character, who one day discovers she’s not a real human but merely a character in a comic who has become sentient. She doesn’t control anything about her fate—from who she falls in love with to what she says and remembers—but after learning the truth about her existence, she decides to live her life the way she wanted. It’s been fascinating to see Kim Hye-yoon’s transformation during the course of this drama. Her performance is praised with every episode, solidifying her status as a rising actress who first gained widespread attention through her role in the hit satirical drama SKY Castle. (Peak Position: no. 1 in the third and fourth weeks)
1. When The Camellia Blooms (KBS2) — 16.83%
Rising from no. 7 last month all the way to the top of our ranking this October is the Gong Hyo-jin and Kang Ha-neul led When The Camellia Blooms, which tells the love story between a single mom with self-esteem issues and an adorable country bumpkin who is a police officer. The drama has consistently topped viewership and buzz rankings this month, thanks to the explosive chemistry between the endearing leading pair, the deepening mystery of the town’s serial killer as well as really good writing in the show overall. This month, one of the major characters in the series died, leading to a jump in ratings. There was also a major revelation related to Lee Jung-eun’s character. As we get closer to uncovering who is behind the attacks on Gong Hyo-jin’s life in the drama, I’m sure many more viewers will be watching and help the show maintain its top position during the rest of its broadcast in November. (Peak Position: no. 1 in the first, second, and fifth weeks)
ONGOING KOREAN DRAMAS: Born Again | Good Casting | Dinner Mate (NEW) | King Maker: The Change of Destiny | Kkondae Intern | Mystic Pop-up Bar | Oh My Baby | Once Again | Somehow Family | Soul Mechanic | Sweet Munchies (NEW) | Team Bulldog: Off-duty Investigation (NEW) | The King: Eternal Monarch (POPULAR) | When My Love Blooms
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