Best Korean Dramas in 2017

Hi there! I have another listicle (Best Korean Dramas in 2017) that ‘ranks’ Korean dramas. This time the ranking is based on the number of awards and nominations they received from renowned award-giving bodies* in Korea, particularly the prestigious Baeksang Arts Awards. I analyzed a total of 10 drama award ceremonies/announcements (including Dramabeans’ Editors’ Picks, Korea Cable TV Awards, and CARI Kdrama Awards) and came up with a composite list consisting of nine 2017 dramas which can be considered “above-average” series. These 9 shows impressed many industry experts for their top-notch (or almost top-notch) quality, but have they done the same to you? Read on and judge which drama is the best among the rest. [To put the list’s size in perspective for you: 2017 saw the production of over 70 prime-time dramas including the weekend ones. Take note that the dramas are listed alphabetically; the ‘ranking’ essentially refers to these 9 dramas being better than the 61+ series]

1. Because This Is My First Life (tvN)

Because This Is My First Life

For someone who isn’t fond of romantic comedies, I surprisingly enjoyed Because This Is My First Life. That’s a proof that this drama is quite something. I thought it would be nominated for Best drama at Baeksang Arts Awards, but nah, it didn’t happen. Dramabeans, however, gave it an honorable mention while the CARI Kdrama Awards named it the drama of the year. BTIMFL surely deserves to be on this list, so if you’re looking for a slice of life rom-com with an impressive screenplay and relatable characters, watch this series now. Synopsis: A house-poor guy and a homeless woman decide to marry each other for the sake of their personal needs. Their marriage is essentially fake but what will happen if they fall in love with each other? The series deals with the problems facing today’s generations and how the present-day youth view the realities of life concerning jobs, dating, and marriage.

2. Chief Kim (KBS2)

feaured image of the drama information page of Korean drama Chief Kim

Chief Kim has been recognized the Best Drama (tie with another KBS drama) at the Korea Producer Awards. The only comedy on this list, the series offers a hilarious and fun-filled experience to the viewers. It has received a positive reception from the audience, making me wanted to watch it as soon as possible. Starring in the drama is the ever-versatile actor Namgoong Min. Synopsis: An accountant who used to manage financial matters for gangs quits his previous job and begins to work as a middle manager in a company on the verge of bankruptcy. He then struggles to save the company and fight for its employees.

3. Defendant (SBS)

featured image of drama information page of Korean drama Defendant

The highest-rated drama last year based on TV viewership ratings, legal thriller Defendant easily made it to this list of the best Korean dramas in 2017. Man, I’ve been wanting to watch this show a long time ago but I can’t find the time to hit the play button. It’s the only SBS drama on the list, which implies it’s the best drama the network had produced in 2017. Ji Sung nailed his performance as the innocent, amnesiac defendant. Synopsis: A righteous prosecutor is accused of killing his wife and daughter. He is wrongfully charged with murder and faces a death sentence but finds it difficult to assert his innocence as he suffers from temporary amnesia that took four months of his memory.

4. Fight For My Way (KBS2)

Fight For My Way

Fight For My Way also received the Best Drama award (tied with Chief Kim) at the Korea Producers Awards. This beloved show teaches everyone to become persistent in realizing their dreams. Nominated as best drama at Baeksang Arts Awards, the series offers a refreshing story told in a way that captures every viewer’s heart. Synopsis: Two ordinary people are going through major setbacks in achieving their dream career paths. But giving up is not their option. The two are longtime friends who gradually fall in love as they accompany each other in their journey to achieving their goals in life.

5. My Golden Life (KBS2)

My Golden Life

My Golden Life is the highest-rated weekend drama last year, achieving a whopping peak and average viewership rating of 45.1 and 34.8 percent respectively. This much-loved family series has 52 hour-long episodes yet it managed to sustain a high viewership and woo the viewers until the finale. 52 episodes may sound too much but not really; because you’ll find it very addictive that its length wouldn’t matter to you anymore. Synopsis: A woman gets her chance to rise in status thanks to her family’s rich background. But she is not actually the daughter of the household. What will happen to her once the secret gets revealed?

6. Prison Playbook (tvN)

Prison Playbook

Prison Playbook comes from the maker of the Answer Me series. As one would have expected, the series contains a lot of elements found in the Answer Me franchise. And that’s a good thing, because who wouldn’t enjoy the hilarious jokes and scenarios in a drama? Prison Playbook explores a unique and refreshing concept that has never been addressed before in Kdramaland—life in prison. Synopsis: A star baseball player becomes a criminal overnight and has to live life in prison as a consequence. Will he be able to adjust to a new world so different and unfamiliar?

7. Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People (MBC)

featured image of the drama information page of Korean drama Rebel: thief Who Stole the People

The only historical drama on the list, Rebel: Thief Who Stole The People boasts of an interesting storyline and exemplary performance from its actors. It was nominated for the Best Drama prize at The Seoul Awards. The series marks the first lead role of its leads Yoon Kyun-sang and Chae Soo-bin. Synopsis: With no standing in society as a servant’s son, a young man becomes the leader of a band of smugglers who steals from the rich to give to the poor. Can he champion the rights of the common people on his path to becoming Joseon’s first revolutionary activist?

8. Secret Forest (tvN)

Secret Forest kdrama

This highly acclaimed thriller won the Grand Prize at Baeksang and named Best Drama by Dramabeans for the year 2017. Both the directing and writing department did a very good job that writer Kim Eun-sook of global hit series Descendants of the Sun and Goblin praised it publicly. And to think that it’s written by a rookie screenwriter is, for the lack of a better term, amazing. Rest assured that you will be entertained by this award-winning drama. Synopsis: A serial killing case breaks out. Is a prosecutor directly involved in the killing? An ’emotionless’ prosecutor teams up with a female detective to uncover the truth and expose the corruption in the Prosecutor’s Office.

9. Woman of Dignity (JTBC)

Woman of Dignity

Woman of Dignity is a “social drama” in which the confrontation of the two women symbolizes the power and class structure in society. A melodrama that deals with a serious and long-standing problem in society, the series unexpectedly became a hit as far as viewership ratings are concerned. Synopsis: An elegant woman who is living a life of luxury and peace as a wife to a quasi-chaebol man feels threatened by a poor woman who enters into her household with an ulterior motive to become part of her family and climb the social ladder.

So, which drama on the list do you think is the best of all? Comment below!

*List of award ceremonies/announcements used to produce the composite list above:

  • Baeksang Arts Awards
  • CARI Kdrama Awards
  • Dramabeans Editors’ Pick
  • KBS Drama Awards
  • Korea Drama Awards
  • Korea Cable TV Awards
  • Korea Producer Awards
  • MBC Drama Awards
  • SBS Drama Awards
  • The Seoul Awards


Me? Just an ordinary lad with an extraordinary (says this something called 'stereotype') habit of watching Korean dramas. It started with action-filled City Hunter and the rest, as they say, is history.