Did you miss out on the latest Korean drama? Well not to worry, as the top Korean dramas in 2021 are here below. Check them out again on Netflix, Tving, and broadcasting stations.
2021 Top Korean Dramas
Table of Contents
Squid Game (오징어게임)
NETFLIX 2021. 09. 17
Cast: Lee Jung-jae (Seong Gi-hun), Park Hae-soo ( Cho Sang-woo), Wi Ha-joon (Hwang Jun-ho), Jung Ho-yeon (Kang Sae-byeok), O Yeong-su (Oh Il-nam), Heo Sung-tae (Jang Deok-su), Anupam Tripathi (Abdul Ali), Kim Joo-ryoung (Han Mi-nyeo)
The Netflix television series, Squid Game, released on Netflix in September, is a global hot topic every day. The squid game was a popular game among Korean children in the past. The reason it is named squid is because it resembles the shape of a squid on the floor. The contestants in the Netflix series goes through several life or death games to become the ultimate winner. Unfortunately, there can only be one winner.
This mysterious survival game with a prize of 45.6 billion Korean won makes you think about the power of money and one’s reason for living.
Red Light, Green Light (무궁화꽃이 피었습니다), Dalgona (달고나), Tug of war (줄다리기), Marbles (구슬치기), etc. are some of the classic childhood games we played in Korea. This Netflix series has drama, laughter, suspense, excitement, and twists surely making you glued to the screen.
TvN 2021. 02.20- 2021. 05.02 (20 episodes)
Cast: Song Joong-ki (Binsenzo), Jeon Yeo-bin (Hong Ja-young), Ok Taek-yeon (Jang Jun-woo), Yoo Jae-myung (Hong Yoo-chan), Kim Yeo-jin (Choi Myung-hee), Kwak Dong-yeon (Jang Han-seo)
Vincenzo Cassano (Song Joong-ki) is working for the Italian mafia. He is a Korean child adopted to Italy who then grows up to serve as a lawyer and the Mafia’s consiglieri. The story begins with Vincenzo punishing the betrayer for the death of his boss. Vincenzo then flees to Korea. But there was a real reason why he went there. Former Chinese billionaire, Wang Xiaolin, commissioned a place to store vast amounts of gold.
Vincenzo bought an old building in Korea and ordered the gold to be stored in a safe underneath the building. He killed all construction officials who designed the safe so no one knows about it. However, Wang Xiaolin’s sudden death led Vincenzo to go back to Korea to take the gold. This drama deals with good and evil based on the entanglements between the evil company Babel Group, its chief law firm, and its traders to pull out the gold from the basement of the building.
Vincenzo on Netflix
From the beginning, Song Joong-ki’s dazzling beauty makes the merciless killing of killers look cool rather than cruel. Song Joong-ki displays another attractive character not found in his previous dramas, “Sungkyunkwan Scandal” and “Descendants of the Sun.” As soon as the drama begins, Vincenzo’s great performance and the drama’s unique story grabs your attention.
Not only Song Joong-ki, but also Ok Taek-yeon, who plays Jang Joon-woo, chairman of Babel Group, who acted marvelously as a creepy psychopath. Not to mention, Kim Yeo-jin’s bad girl acting, which by far I have to say was her best acting throughout her career. Also, Kwak Dong-yeon, who plays Jang Han-seo, the most prominent actor in the drama, shines in his acting skills. As the episodes go on, the twists and turns of the story are also the beauty of the drama. Not only the main actors but also each supporting actor who filled the story with humor and liveliness. This was by far the best drama in the first half of this year.
Lastly, this Korean drama forced me to raise concern because of all the direct advertisements, due to the high cost of production. If it weren’t for that part, it would have been a perfect drama.
The Uncanny Rumor (경이로운 소문)
OCN 2020.11.28. ~ 2021.01.24.(16 episodes) NETFLIX & TVING
Cast: Cho Byung-kyu (So-mun), Yoo Jun-sang (Kim Mo-tak), Kim Se-jeong (Do Hana), Yeom Hye-ran (Chumae-ok), Ahn Seok-hwan (Choi Jang-mul), Moon Sook (Wigen), Lee Hong-nae (Ji Cheong-shin), Ok Ja-yeon (Baek Hyang-hee), Garden Chang (Shin Hyuk-woo), Choi Kwang-il (Shin Myung Hwei)
This drama was based on a popular webtoon in Korea. The story tells of evil spirits from the afterlife who came down to earth to have eternal life and the Counters who are trying to catch them. A demon-hunter or “Counters” are masquerading as noodle shop workers to defeat evil spirits. The Counters are pretending to work in the noodle shop. They are superheroes in disguise but not the ‘average’ superhero found in movies. The superheroes have no shield, no suit, and no laser. They wear far from cool costumes. All they have been given are sweatpants with red worn-out t-shirts. Maybe that’s why they feel more familiar and humane.
The Uncanny Rumor on Netflix
The story begins when they accept the proposal to catch evil spirits and in return, they can live their lives again. It is a drama full of things to see with humorous, touching, and refreshing content that those born again as evil hunters can save people and catch evil spirits. The cast is excellent with Cho Byung-kyu, who became famous for “Sky Castle,” the beautiful Kim Se-jung of the idol group “I.O.I,” Yeom Hye-ran, a trusted actor, and also many great surprising actors. Moreover, the evil spirits performances were eye-catching throughout the show especially in Jichungsin and Ok ja-yeon station. Also, it was fun to see the various special effects and computer graphics.
Lastly, it was a bit disappointing that the last episode of the drama ends without sincerity. Perhaps because the writer was replaced at the end of the drama.
Sisyphus: The Myth (시지프스)
JTBC 2021.02.17. ~ 2021.04.08. (16 episodes) NETFLIX & TVING
Cast: Cho Seung-woo (Han Tae-sul), Park Shin-hye (Gang Seo-hae), Kim Byung-chul (Sigma), Sung Dong-il (Park SaJang), Tae In-ho (Eddy Kim), Chae Jong-hye (Sun)
This SF action-packed drama is making a way for other SF dramas to make a stance in the Korean market. The story is a fantasy mystery drama about a genius engineer who is trying to find those who are hiding their true identity and a woman warrior who is trying to save him. “The Myth” is a myth and is after King Corinth in Greek mythology. The wise and cunning, Sisyphus is said to have been punished by constantly pushing heavy rocks from the underworld to the top of the mountain. This was in return for deceiving the gods Zeus and Hades. Like this myth, this story is of eternal punishment for deceiving God and defying time and space.
Sisyphus: The Myth on Netflix
The OST of the world-famous soprano Jo Su-mi went viral even before the show was aired. Not to mention, the high expectations made by casting Cho Seung-woo and Park Shin-hye. The drama started with excitement, but towards the end, it was a bit boring. The storyline was fine, but I think the way of development and production was a little insufficient to meet my expectations. I felt less immersed when I saw holes in the drama’s CG setting and problems with the Time Paradox.
However, the actors’ performances and stories alone made this a pretty good drama. It would have been excellent if it had a more detailed setting and a solid storyline.
JTBC 2021.02.19. ~ 2021.04.10 (16 episodes) NETFLIX & TVING
Cast: Shin Ha-kyun (Lee Dong-sik), Yeo Jin-gu (Han Joo-won), Choi Dae-hoon (Park Jung-je), Choi Sung-eun (Yoo Jae-yi), Cheon Ho-jin (Nam Sang-bae)
The story roughly is about a detective who has been working at the police station injuring his body and mind after his sister’s disappearance. A murder begins again in front of him, and the village that has been quiet for the past 20 years begins to shake. The villagers who lost their family members try to catch monsters in human costumes but then become monsters themselves.
Monster on Netflix
I personally think Monster is a really well-written and organized drama. Each episode was keeping me on the edge of my seat. It was a drama with an amazing cast. Each actor filling their role perfectly. The story consistently shows from the victim’s point of view. Shin Ha-kyun’s performance is amazing in every episode. Including his bloodshot eyes and his smile. His facial expressions show different emotions every time. He is fully one with his character; you can truly feel his sadness. The most surprising thing was that everyone doubted who the culprit was. All the actors who appear are suspects of being the culprits. The acting skills of the cast in this top thriller K-drama wins the grand prize and also the top-notch production team.
tvN 2021.03.03. ~ 2021.05.19 ( 20 episodes) TVING
Cast: Lee Seung-ki (Jeong Ba-reum), Lee Hee-joon (Go Mu-Chi), Park Joo-hyun (Oh Bong-yi), Kyung Soo-jin (Choi Hong-ju), Ahn Jae-wook (Han Seo-joon), Kim Jung-nan (Sung Ji-eun), Kwon Hwa-woon (Sung Yo-han), Cho Jae-yoon (Daniel Lee), Kim Young-ok (Bong-yi Grandma), Ahn Nae-Sang (Team Leader Park Doo-seok)
This Korean drama is an exciting full-fledged chase that shows the teamwork between a flawless and handsome local police officer, Jung Ba-reum, and Go Mu-chi, a lawless detective who lost his parents to a murderer as a child. Turning their fates upside down after a confrontation with the most vicious Predator, the top 1 percent of psychopaths. Starting with the first episode the drama shows rapid development and continues on throughout each episode. The drama believes that psychopaths are not created but are 99% hereditary. Psychopaths are said to have no feelings such as guilt or regret because there is no “mirror neuron” in the brain at birth. Thus, the government mandates genetic testing of future serial killers in advance. If identified as having psychopath genes, the state proposes a bill to forcibly abort the baby without parental consent.
Mouse on Tving
Moreover, Lee Seung-gi played the role of Jeong Ba-reum, a kindhearted new police officer and almost the opposite Lee Hee-joon who was the rational and emotional character in the story. Kwon Hwa-woon, who played the villain Sung Yo-han, played the role surprisingly well. I thought about why the title was “Mouse” (I won’t mention it because it will spoil the story), but I think the actors’ enthusiastic performances made the drama attractive and kept me hooked on it until the end.
Penthouse: The War in Life (펜트하우스)
SBS 2020.10.26. ~ 2021.01.05 (21 episodes) WAVE
Cast: Lee Ji-ah (Sim Soo-ryeon), Kim So-yeon (Cheon Seo-jin), Eugene (Oh Yoon-hee), Um Ki-joon (Ju Dan-tae), Shin Eun-kyung (Kang Marie), Bong Tae-gyu (Lee Kyu-jin), Ha Yoon-chul (Go Sang-soo), Kim Hyun-soo (Baerona), Jin Ji-hee (Yu Jenny), Kim Young-dae (Ju Seok-hoon), Cho Soo-min (Min Seol-ah), Han Ji-hyun (Ju Seok-kyung), Choi Ye-bin (Ha Eun-byul), Lee Tae-bin (Lee Min-hyuk)
Who lives in this Penthouse? Desired and loved by many wealthy people for its excellent privacy protection. How did they make their money? How far will they go for their selfish desires? The story starts with a Primadonna, who is obsessed with the desire to do anything to make everything her own. And another woman who is racing toward entering high society, who wants to climb to an endless higher place… The drama is about the corruption of education, the real estate war, and school violence of those who live in the Penthouse.
Penthouse: The War of Life on WAVE
The work of writer Kim Soon-ok, who was in charge of “Temptation of Wife,” the highest peak of the previous drama, has once again done it. Penthouse isn’t like any Korean drama you have seen. Every moment is a series of twists and shocks. Even though it’s a soap opera, it’s classy. While I was watching the drama, I thought, ‘That’s too much, and ‘No way.’
Strangely, however, it is addictive. Based on the solid acting skills of the main characters Um Ki-joon, Kim So-yeon, Lee Ji-ah, and Yoo-jin, both supporting actors and young actors showed perfect acting skills. It was beyond expectations. It’s one of those dramas you watch while cursing. The quick development and crazy situations will captivate your heart as you have the same thrill. Lastly, “Penthouse 2” is in high expectations as season one ends with a shock.
Penthouse 2: The War of Life (펜트 하우스)
SBS 2021.02.19. ~ 2021.04.02 (13 episodes) WAVE
Cast: Lee Ji-ah (Shim Soo-ryeon), Kim So-yeon (Cheon Seo-jin), Eugene (Oh Yoon-hee), Um Ki-joon (Ju Dan-tae), Shin Eun-kyung (Gang-mari), Bong Tae-gyu (Lee Kyu-jin), Ha Yoon-chul (Yoon Jong-hoon), Park Eun-seok (Koo Ho-dong), Yoon Joo-hee (Ko Sang-ah), Kim Hyun-soo (Baerona), Jin Ji-hee (Yu Jenny), Kim Young-dae (Ju Seok-hoon), Cho Soo-min (Min Seol-ah), Han Ji-hyun (Ju Seok-kyung), Choi Ye-bin (Ha Eun-byeol), Lee Tae-bin (Lee Min-hyuk)
Before the heat of “Penthouse 1” cooled down, “Penthouse 2” began immediately and of course, I immediately watched it. As expected the drama shows the revenge of the women who become monsters to protect their children. Overall “Penthouse 2” is more unpredictable than season 1, surprisingly. The drama shows twists and turns throughout and keeps your jaw opened. Kim So-yeon, who played the role of Chun Seo-jin, has become her role in a creepy way. The drama shows All attention going to Chun Seo-jin (Kim So-yeon) and the unstable emotions of the dangerously shaken character, makes you pity yet fall straight for the character, “Cheon Seo-jin.”
Penthouse 2: The War in Life on WAVE
Of course, all the other actors were great, but the best scene in season 2 is when Joo Dan-tae (Eom Ki-joon) sings the theme song of the cartoon. (I won’t say what the theme song is because it can spoil the story). I didn’t know the theme song can sound so creepy. It is a drama that shows both the best female and male villains of all time, and season 2 also ended with a more powerful shocking ending. Moreover, season 3 will air in June this year, and I am looking forward to what story will unfold.
Scenes such as school violence and murder, which are somewhat provocative, raise eyebrows, but it is a drama that’s strong and addicting.
tvN 2021.03.22. ~ 2021.04.27 12 episodes
Cast: Park In-hwan (Sim Deok-chul), Song Kang (Lee Chae-rok), Na Moon-hee (Choi Hae-nam), Hong Seung-hee (Shim Eun-ho), Cho Sung-ha (Lee Moo-young), Kim Tae-hoon (Ki Seung-joo)
“Navillera” is a webtoon strongly recommended by BTS member V. I was excited to see it produced as a drama. The main character, Park In-hwan, talked about why he wanted to do ballet in the first episode. I was heartbroken by the lines he said. “I’ve never done what I wanted to do beause I’ve been making ends meet. I was looking after my wife and children…I didn’t even get to think about dreaming. It was natural to live like this, and I’m finally trying to do what I want to do. I know it well. I’m an old and powerless old man…”
The dictionary meaning of Navillera is from Cho Ji-hoon’s poem “Seungmu.” “Nabi” meaning butterfly and “llera” meaning like a. But I think it means “follow your dream and fly like a butterfly.”
This drama is for everyone who had dreams, who don’t have dreams, who don’t know what dreams are, and who is ready to make one.
Navillera on Netflix
Park In-hwan’s performance is spectacular. I did not know it was his first leading role. He is such a great actor. He was just such a familiar actor because he always played the role of a father or grandfather, but every episode in this drama is touching. Every expression, every look, every gesture, everything is a flawless and perfect performance.
Everyone was excited to see Songgang but everyone became a fan of Park In-hwan after watching this drama. I know exactly why. I think it’s a happy thing to live in this tough world with something you really want to do for the rest of your life. Because you have a goal… The will and goal to do something. It seems to be a drama that gives healing and courage. This drama has such warmth that gives me the strength to embrace myself a little more. It was a time to love myself. I felt comfortable and warm throughout the drama. It was so nice to see a drama that calmed me. I hope there will be a lot of warm dramas like this.
Taxi Driver (모범택시)
SBS 2021.04.09. ~ 2021.05.30 (16 episodes) WAVE
Cast: Lee Je-hoon (Kim Do-ki), Lee Som (Kang Ha-na), Kim Eui-sung (Jang Sung-chul), Pyo Ye-jin (An Go-eun), Cha Ji-yeon (Godmother)
Lee Je-hoon plays the role of a taxi driver, Kim Do-ki, who has the painful trauma of his mother being killed in the past. Kim Do-ki was a former Special Forces officer. He drives a taxi and gets revenge on behalf of victims who have been falsely accused. I was worried that it would be a very depressing and cruel Korean drama because he worked for a private revenge agency. But I watched it with interest as the criminals were being punished and the victims set free. Criminals are being punished for not being properly punished by the law.
Taxi Driver on Netflix
This Korean drama was also a webtoon, but it felt similar to “Signal” another popular Korean drama. The episodes show real events that happen in the past. In addition to things reminiscent of a true story, it seems to be a very well-made work in terms of the fact that all the subjects accompanied by violence are victims of crime. This makes the victims rethink the scenes of the crime.
Law school (로스쿨)
JTBC 2021.04.14. ~ 2021.06.09 (16 episodes)
Cast: Kim Myung-min (Yang Jong-hoon), Kim Bum (Han Joon-hwi), Ryu Hye-young (Kang Sol A), Lee Jung-eun (Kim Eun-sook), David (Seo Ji-ho), Ko Yoon-jung (Jeon Ye-seul), Hyun-woo (Yoo Seung-jae)
The drama starts off with a murder at a law school. Amid growing interest in law schools, few people know how to become good judges, prosecutors, and lawyers. This drama is about prospective lawyers at Korea’s most prestigious law school who realize what true law and justice are. A murder case of a professor at the law school and the best elite of Korea are gathered to solve the mystery. Who is the bold killer in a place like this? There is a fierce battle of facts and court battles to identify the real culprit, but more important than the culprit is, the process of leading the tragedy to the victory of justice.
Law School on Netflix
The drama shows law school students who are forced to suffer human anguish. They are shown what is ideal and real, what is strong and weak, one’s desires and what’s right, and power and honor. The students learn that they should be humble before the law. Kim Myung-min’s classy discussions with the law school students give the impression that smart people in this world have gathered together. In addition, actor Lee Jung-eun, who is famous for being in the movie “Parasite” is the perfect actor to Kim Myung-min’s counter-word remarks. The famous lines in the court give a thrilling sense of pleasure as legal dramas can be somewhat dry. The beauty of this drama is the powerful voice, strong eyes, and tense confrontation which lead to exciting developments.
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