With the huge number of Korean dramas released every year, it can be overwhelming to choose what to watch. Some people choose dramas that are either popular online or have won awards because they’re a guaranteed good watch. Some look for listicles like this one to help them out. In this article, we round up eight award-winning Korean dramas that you can binge-watch on Netflix.
All eight dramas below are available on Netflix US.
1. Another Miss Oh (2016)
A romantic comedy with a tinge of drama, Another Miss Oh revolves around two women—Seo Hyun-jin (The Beauty Inside) and Jeon Hye-bin (Leverage)—who share the same name and get caught up in a case of mistaken identities. Eric Mun (Eccentric! Chef Moon) gets dumped by Jeon Hye-bin, but accidentally ruins the wedding of Seo Hyun-jin, the other Oh Hae-young, for revenge. Eric and Seo Hyun-jin then keep crossing paths and fall in love, but the complicated web of mistaken identities threatens to ruin their romance. Another Miss Oh became one of the highest-rated cable dramas in 2016 and was so popular that it got extended for two more episodes and two specials. The star of the show was Seo Hyun-jin, who bagged the Best Actress award at 2017’s Baeksang Arts Awards.
2. Memories of the Alhambra (2018-2019)
After taking an interest in a groundbreaking AR game, Hyun Bin (Crash Landing on You), who plays the CEO of an optical devices company gets involved in mysterious and dangerous events that become a threat to his life. The game creator, played by EXO’s Park Chan-yeol, suddenly goes missing while his sister, played by Park Shin-hye teams up with Hyun Bin to search for her missing brother. Memories of the Alhambra boasts of a unique storyline, brilliant special effects, and unexpected plot twists. It also features stunning locales from Spain, where a majority of the scenes were filmed. Memories Of The Alhambra won a Baeksang Arts Award for Best Technical Achievement in Television in 2019.
3. Misaeng (2014)
Despite its somewhat niche focus on stories of office workers, Misaeng became the surprise hit of 2015. It stars Im Si-Wan (Strangers from Hell) as a quiet but determined worker who, after failing to achieve his dream of becoming a baduk player, leaves his isolated existence to work at a trading company with only a high school equivalency exam and an acquaintance’s recommendation on his resume. He meets a harsh but kind-hearted mentor in Lee Sung-min (Money Game). The drama explores the harsh realities of modern workplaces – competitiveness, discrimination, and harassment by superiors, which the youth can relate to. Misaeng became a cult hit and won three major awards at 2015’s Baeksang Arts Award—Best Director for Kim Won-seok, Best Actor for Lee Sung-min, and Best New Actor for Im Si-wan.
4. Mr. Sunshine (2018)
Starring veteran actor Lee Byung-hun, Mr. Sunshine tells the story of a Korean boy born into slavery who escapes to the United States. He returns to his homeland as a US Marine officer and falls in love with an aristocrat woman, played by Kim Tae-ri, while also thwarting attempts by foreign forces to colonize Korea. This was Kim’s drama debut and the first modern-historical drama by Goblin writer Kim Eun-sook. The show impressed audiences with its detailed storyline, stunning cinematography, and nuanced acting. It won Lee Byung-hun a Best Actor award at the prestigious Baeksang Arts Award in 2019.
5. Reply 1988 (2015-2016)
Reply 1988 is the third installment of tvN’s Reply series, following Reply 1997 and Reply 1994. The story revolves around five childhood friends played by Lee Hye-ri (Miss Lee), Ryu Jun-yeol (Lucky Romance), Go Kyung-Pyo (Cross), Lee Dong-hwi (Pegasus Market), and Park Bo-gum (Encounter), chronicling their adventures with school, family, friendships, first loves, and growing up in the year 1988. The show received critical as well as audience acclaim, with its final episode recording an 18.8% nationwide rating, making it one of the highest-rated dramas in Korean cable television history. Reply 1988 won 2016’s Baeksang Arts Award for Best Director, and Best New Actor for Ryu Jun-yeol.
6. Secret Affair (2014)
New age romantic dramas can be a bit of a bore for some people, but when it’s an outrageous affair drama featuring two passionate characters with sizzling chemistry, even the ahjummas and the ahjussis have their eyes glued to the TV screen. Secret Affair centers on a 40-year-old career woman, played by Kim Hee-ae (The World of the Married) who falls in love with a 20-year-old genius pianist from an impoverished background, played by Yoo Ah-in (Chicago Typewriter). The two begin a secret, passionate affair that threatens to unravel their lives. Secret Affair bagged two awards at 2014’s Baeksang Arts Awards—Best Screenplay and Best Director.
7. Signal (2016)
A detective goes missing in the year 1986. In 2015, a mysterious walkie talkie allows a criminal profiler to communicate with the missing detective. The two cops—played by Cho Jin-Woong (Entourage) and Lee Je-Hoon (Where Stars Land)—team up to solve serial murder cases that happened in the past and remain unsolved in the present. They join forces with Kim Hye-soo (Hyena), another cop who is looking for the missing detective from 1986. Signal‘s intriguing plot involving real-life cases and mind-boggling plot twists that kept fans waiting for the next episode made it the ninth highest-rated drama in the history of cable TV in Korea. The investigative fantasy series went on to win 2016’s Baeksang Arts Award for Best Drama, Best Actress for Kim Hye-soo, and Best Screenplay for writer Kim Eun-hee.
8. Stranger (2017)
Our last entry Stranger is a crime thriller focusing on the character of Cho Seung-Woo (Life), a righteous prosecutor who loses his sense of emotion after brain surgery during his childhood. He teams up with a passionate female detective, played by Bae Doo-na (Kingdom Season 2), to unravel the truth behind a murder case and corruption among fellow prosecutors. The series was a hit both locally and internationally, becoming one of the highest-rated cable dramas in Korea as well as the only Korean show to be listed in The New York Times’ Best TV Shows of 2017. It bagged three awards at 2018’s Baeksang Arts Awards—Grand Prize (TV), Best Actor for Cho Seung-woo, and Best Screenplay for writer Lee Soo-yeon.
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