I feel like I’m still suffering from the slump that prevents me from enjoying a series. Or maybe I just really grew tired of watching Korean dramas. In any case, I won’t stop watching. There must be some ways to overcome the issue, one of which is watching a really amazing show that can blow my mind. Then I remember Dramabeans. Javabeans and Girfriday graded or rated about 300 dramas, with A+ being the highest a show could get. I thought I could use the ratings in deciding which show to pick up.
This is a listicle about all the dramas on the list which got a grade of A+. I thought compiling them would be useful not just for me, but also for those who are trying to find really good shows to watch and asking for recommendations elsewhere. Folks, Dramabeans has 11 highest-rated Korean dramas (again, those which got the highest grade). And here they are, arranged alphabetically (spoiler: Goblin and Descendants of the Sun are not on the list):
1. Answer Me 1997 (2012)
My second favorite among the Reply series, Reply 1997 or Answer Me 1997 is a nostalgic show that made me laugh very hard while watching it. It is such a refreshing show that is well-researched and full of humor and affection. It premiered to little hype given the scant acting experience of its cast but ended up a buzzworthy drama that took cable ratings by storm, having aired a finale that recorded a nationwide audience share of 7.55 percent. It received an immense amount of attention and critical praise, making it a high-quality production. The series consists of 16 episodes and centers around the daily life of a female high school student—who idolizes boyband H.O.T— and her circle of friends.
2. Circle (2017)
I also already watched this one, and it did blow my mind. Having an innovative sci-fi plot and a clever storytelling. the series offers you an unforgetabble experience. So I’m quite saddened by the fact that it performed poorly in viewership ratings. But never mind the ratings. Here I am seconding Dramabeans that this show is super cool and distinct. I like that it has two timelines that are connected to each other (two timelines bring about two cliffhangers, so imagine the excitement). The story goes like this: An alien arrived on earth, bringing with her a technology that can lock people’s memories and convert them to videos. In the year 2017, a college student—who is the key to the technological system—ends up losing his twin brother while investigating a murder case. 20 years later, he’s the one who becomes missing and his twin brother—the one responsible for the destruction of the technology—goes to any lengths to find him.
3. Coffee Prince (2007)
This one is very popular across Asia at the time when it was airing. I tried to watch its first episode recently but nah, didn’t like it. Maybe it’s kind of an already ‘outdated’ drama now that 11 years have passed since its broadcast. Or perhaps because the romcom part is just not my cup of tea (I mean, the way it was executed). Rating-wise the series is a success, reaching a peak rating of 29.9 percent. A LOT of people watched it, so you can try to check it out just to find out WHY. I’m not watching it, at least this year. The drama tells the love story of an ordinary woman who dresses like a man and a food empire mogul who doesn’t initially know that she is a woman.
4. Flowers For My Life (2007)
It’s my first time hearing about this one. Wow, I checked online reviews about the series and all of them are positive. I like that the drama gives insights on life and death. The series tells a love story of a man facing death and a woman “numb” to death. The woman’s father is a funeral director, so she’s been exposed to death and becomes used to it to the point that she thinks it’s just a part of life. In contrast, the man fears death. He’s a positive young man who is chased by loan sharks. The topic of death intrigues me so much, so I’ll put this on my to-watch list.
5. Joseon X-Files (2010)
Now I want to watch this. Dramabeans described it as fantastic, with “genius melding of historical record and sci-fi mystery.” The second sci-fi drama on this list, Joseon X-Files seems intriguing with all the sci-fi stuff. I wonder what the science fiction elements are all about because the setting is not close to the modern world. Keeping my fingers crossed that this one would never disappoint me. The drama’s plot centers on the mysterious incidents written in the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty that cannot be explained through science.
6. Misaeng (2014)
Another highest-rated Korean drama by Dramabeans is Misaeng. I love this. I tried to watch the drama’s first episode because it recorded high ratings, and then I was amazed by my observation that this kind of drama doesn’t usually obtain high viewership ratings. I like the story and the directing. Misaeng is a slice-of-life drama that focuses on Jang Geu-rae, a former baduk player who gets hired as an intern at a large trading company through a connection and later on manages to get a two-year contract that lets him continue working in the company as an employee. The series depicts what it is like to live in a corporate world for a regular worker who has nothing on his resume but a high school equivalency exam.
7. Mixed-up Investigative Agency (2007)
Also my first time to hear about this one, about a group of people led by a taekwondo instructor who started a treasure hunting project. Gold treasures in the agency are the target. I know the details sound weird but Dramabeans says it’s a comedy romp, treasure hunt, and mystery rolled into one and it’s an A+ drama. I better watch it then.
8. Return of Iljimae (2009)
The only drama which got A+ from both Javabeans and Girfriday, Return of Iljimae seems like the epic series that I am looking for. The series follows the story of a masked Robin Hood-esque hero who fights injustice and tyranny for the sake of the commoners. I watched a similar series (titled Iljimae, on SBS) but didn’t finish it. This time around I have to follow again Iljimae’s story until the very end. Hoping it would be a fun and satisfying ride.
9. Shut-up: Flower Boy Band (2012)
This highest-rated Korean drama by Dramabeans is a coming-of-age story about a high school rock band dealing with friendship, rivalry, romance and their passion for music. Not my cup of tea, but I might try it if I get the chance.
10. The Chaser (2012)
The Chaser is an award-winning drama (Best Drama, Baeksang Arts Awards) about a grieving father who seeks revenge against corrupt officials. A gripping political thriller, it has no big stars in its cast but somehow managed to achieve a strong performance in TV ratings, recording a peak nationwide audience share of 22.6 percent. No big stars ha, so it became popular thanks to the well-structured storyline, solid direction, and acting performance. I will definitely check this out.
11. The Princess’ Man (2011)
“Epic and stirring,” according to Javabeans. Count me in for the binge-watch! I always like epic dramas no matter how long they are. This one consists of 24 episodes, but I expect that it won’t bore me with a dull plot. The drama centers around a princess whose father is determined to be the next King. She falls in love with the son of her father’s mortal enemy, so their romance gets caught in the crossfire of her father’s quest for the throne.