We’re already in the second month of the year with several amazing ongoing series. Going by how good the first month has been, I have a feeling that 2020 is going to be a good year for K-dramas. The top spot on this list of the most talked-about Korean dramas in January goes to a tvN series, which is followed by two SBS dramas. With most of these shows now streaming on Viki or Netflix, we hope that you can find your next watch from this list!
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. Contact us to learn more about our methodology.
10. Chocolate (JTBC) — 1.77%
Chocolate is a sweet melodrama starring Yoon Kye-sang and Ha Ji-won. For me, any drama with this pairing would have been a must-watch. But Chocolate isn’t just big on star power, but it also boasts of a heartwarming script by the writer of Uncontrollably Fond that hits you in all the right places. Yoon Kye-sang unleashes his brooding best as a tortured but good-hearted surgeon while Ha Ji-won plays a bright chef who knows how to heal herself using food. With expert direction from the PD of Strong Woman Do Bong-soon, Chocolate crafts a story of two people, hurt by life, making their way to each other. (Peak position: no. 7 in the first three weeks)
9. Selection: The War Between Women (TV Chosun) — 1.80%
Starring Jin Se-yeon and Kim Min-kyu, Selection: The War Between Women is the only historical drama on this list. In the series, Kim Min-kyu plays a king who keeps having dreams about a woman. The woman turns out to be Jin Se-yeon’s character, who is hell-bent on marrying the king and becoming the next Queen of Joseon. However, she’s only interested in the position because she wants to find out the killer of her twin sister. This sageuk has been praised for the electric chemistry between the leads as well as some truly exciting moments thanks to the plot twists. It currently holds the title as the highest-rated drama of cable channel TV Chosun. (Peak position: no. 6 in the fourth week)
8. Itaewon Class (JTBC) — 2.38%
Despite premiering on the last day of January, Itaewon Class made it to the list thanks to its impressive buzz score of 11.92%—which is not a surprising feat for any series headlined by Park Seo-joon. The actor has taken on a slice-of-life drama based on a hit webtoon that revolves around how the youth shed convention to forge a life of their own even in the face of adversities. He plays a young man who, after spending two years in jail and working hard for seven years, opens a pub in a popular tourist district in Seoul. First-time TV actress Kim Da-mi portrays the female lead role, a 20-year-old woman with sociopathic tendencies who gets hired as the manager of his restaurant. (Peak position: no. 3 in the fifth week)
7. Beautiful Love, Wonderful Life (KBS2) — 2.39%
Beautiful Love, Wonderful Life’s inclusion on this list of the most talked-about Korean dramas in January means that it is pretty popular in Korea, although I haven’t heard many discussions about it among the international fans. So I’m here to convince you to watch this gem featuring a whole bunch of brilliant but little-known actors like Jo Yoon-hee and Oh Min-suk, who play a couple trapped in a loveless marriage; Seol In-ah and Kim Jae-young, who pretend to not care about love but hide soft hearts underneath; and Yoon Park, who plays the stressed eldest son of a big family. The drama follows people who are trying to overcome emotional scars to find love again, so expect lots of heartbreak. But the heartwarming and hopeful moments that come after make it worth the watch. (Peak position: no. 8 in the third week)
6. Diary Of A Prosecutor (JTBC) — 2.48%
Featuring the exciting pairing of Jung Ryeo-won and Lee Sun-kyun, Diary Of A Prosecutor tells the everyday stories of overworked prosecutors working in local districts. Lee plays a laidback and ambitionless prosecutor, while Jung used to be an elite prosecutor in Seoul who took her job very seriously until she was demoted to Lee’s office. The series moves from case to case, which has kept the viewers riveted, while the brilliant supporting cast has elevated a tight script. The dynamics and friendships between all the prosecutors in the show have been compared to that in the 2017 workplace comedy Good Manager—which can only mean good things! (Peak position: no. 5 in the second and third week)
5. Woman Of 9.9 Billion (KBS2) — 2.58%
If after Parasite, you needed any more reason to love Cho Yeo-jeong, then look no further than Woman Of 9.9 Billion. The style and aplomb with which she portrays the role of a battered woman who is forced to become a boss to protect her money is a joy to watch. The drama was created to mimic the style of a noir film, with lots of twisted and unexpected additions to the story. Along with Cho, Kim Kang-woo’s performance as a former detective trying to find out the truth behind his brother’s death has earned praise from viewers. The chemistry between the leads is also very satisfying, giving you one more reason to watch this show. (Peak position: no. 4 in the first week)
4. Black Dog (tvN) — 5.42%
Black Dog is one of the most unusual dramas to hit the screen in recent years for two reasons. First, it stars two women—Ra Mi-ran and Seo Hyun-jin—as leads. But they’re not playing a mother and daughter in the show. Instead, they teach together at a private high school and have a mentor-mentee relationship. Second, while Black Dog is set in a school, instead of focusing on teenagers, it revolves around the politics and dynamics that exist between teachers. This intimate look into the lives and motivations of teachers is such a welcome change in a Korean drama. Watch this for the amazing performances, the hilarious moments, and ultimately for the precious life lessons you can’t simply find elsewhere. (Peak position: no. 3 in the first week)
3. Dr. Romantic 2 (SBS) — 10.76%
Dr. Romantic is back! After a highly successful first season, Han Suk-kyu is reprising his iconic role in the second installment of the medical series. And we are happy to report that he is just as eccentric and funny as ever. Joining him this time are Lee Sung-kyung and Ahn Hyo-seop as two budding surgeons struggling with their choice of profession. Thankfully, they learn to navigate their personal and professional issues with Han’s character as their mentor. While Lee and Ahn inject a dose of freshness in the story, lots of supporting characters from season 1 make an appearance too, so you get the best of both worlds plus a lot more new content! (Peak position: no. 2 in the fourth week)
2. Stove League (SBS) — 22.77%
Stove League being a Namgoong Min drama makes us less surprised at it dominating the popularity game. He stars as the newly-appointed manager of a professional baseball team who is at the bottom of the league rankings. With the help of the team’s supportive operations manager, played by Park Eun-bin, he takes on the challenge to prepare the team well for the next season and improve their standing. The sports-themed drama offers a wonderful, hilarious, and heartwarming story of growth, believing in yourself, and standing up for people. With Oh Jung-se and Jo Byung-kyu in the major cast, you can go in expecting to have a good time. (Peak position: no. 1 in the first two weeks)
1. Crash Landing On You (tvN) — 28.44%
Just like in the previous month, Son Ye-jin and Hyun Bin’s Crash Landing On You was the most talked-about Korean drama in January. The romantic series started with funny, light moments as a South Korean heiress and North Korean soldier cross paths with each other following a paragliding accident, but throughout its run, it became an intense story that mixes romance with action and suspense. Hyun Bin and Son Ye-jin delivered a laudable performance with a chemistry that can melt hearts, while the rest of the cast left no stone unturned to bring in the laughs. Crash Landing On You is now the highest-rated tvN drama, surpassing the record of Goblin and becoming the second cable drama in Korean television history to exceed 20% in TV ratings. (Peak position: no. 1 the last three weeks)
ONGOING KOREAN DRAMAS: Backstreet Rookie | It’s Okay to Not Be Okay | King Maker: The Change of Destiny | Memorials | My Unfamiliar Family | Once Again
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