The very first Korean drama I ever watched was A Man Called God, and I was absolutely hooked. It’s been binge-fest after binge-fest since the credits rolled on AMCG, and I’m always so grateful for the community Asian cinema has given me – both at home and abroad.
In this (very) personal post, I’ll be listing 25 of my favorite Kdramas. These are the Kdramas I’ve talked, screamed, and cried about; these are the dramas I’ll always recommend to anyone that’s wanting to start from – if they’re on the hunt for their first Kdrama.
It’s not an exaggeration if I say that the Kdramas on this list shaped me, challenged me, and left an everlasting imprint on my heart, and I just know that you’ll enjoy watching if you’re able to give them a chance (they’re that good).
Here are 25 of my favorite Kdramas of all time that will make you smile, laugh, and cry:
In this enchanting story, Kim Shin (played by the irresistible Gong Yoo), is an immortal general who yearns for mortality.
After centuries of searching, he encounters Ji Eun Tak, a spirited high school student who claims to be his destined bride. As their love blossoms, they face unexpected challenges.
Kim Go Eun and Gong Yoo have amazing chemistry, but that’s just one thing I love about this Kdrama.
The storyline, the talented leads, that heartbreaking OST – there’s just so much to love. Honestly, Gong Yoo has one of those faces you’ll always think about and smile.
2. Moon Embracing The Sun
I only watched Moon Embracing The Sun this year, and I can tell you for a fact that it isn’t overrated. It quickly made it to my list of faves, and that’s not a small feat.
I’m a very picky watcher but I gobbled this up in a couple of hours and I was an absolute sobbing mess by the end. Featuring one of the most emotional theme songs I’ve listened to in years, this is a must-watch if you love romantic saeguks.
Here’s the plot summary: Thirteen-year-old Heo Yeon Woo captures the heart of Crown Prince Lee Hwon, but, a treacherous plot unfolds, leading to Yeon Woo’s supposed demise and the loss of her memories.
Years later, she resurfaces as the shaman Wol, catching the attention of the young king and she’s brought in as a human talisman to absorb him of his bad nightmares. As they navigate political turmoil and unravel secrets, their love faces formidable challenges.
Before watching It’s Okay To Not Be Okay, I hadn’t watched Kim Soo Hyun in anything, and needless to say, I was blown away by his role in that beloved drama. If you like an expressive lead who quite literally wears his heart on his sleeve, then I can’t recommend this more.
3. Strong Woman Do Bong Soon
This is another gem of a drama. Do Bong Soon is a petite and kind-hearted woman, who has extraordinary strength, and when she crosses paths with Ahn Min Hyuk, a CEO who witnessed her abilities, he hires her as a bodyguard.
There’s a nice not-so-unrequited love thrown into the mix, and when a series of kidnappings rattles her town, she must decide whether to use her strength to fight evil or keep it hidden.
Caught in a love triangle and tasked with protecting Min Hyuk, Bong Soon’s life is turned upside down, and I’m sure you’ll find the romance in this drama quite charming.
4. Hotel Del Luna
Hotel del Luna is an ancient Seoul establishment spearheaded by Jang Man Wol, its CEO who is trapped within its walls, driven by resentment and seeking redemption through love.
When Goo Chan Sung reluctantly becomes the manager, he brings order to the hotel’s finances, unlocking the path to Jang’s freedom.
Man Wol is everything I love in a Kdrama female lead – feisty, rich, and not afraid to pull punches – and her relationship with Chan Sung felt like a beautiful song. I loved this Kdrama so much and I strongly recommend it if you’re looking for a new fantasy Kdrama to watch.
Also see: Top 15 Fantasy Kdramas Worth Binge-Watching This Weekend
5. Mr. Queen
Jang Bong Hwan, a talented chef, unexpectedly finds himself inhabiting the body of Queen Kim So Yong in ancient Korea. While her husband, King Cheol Jong, appears powerless, Queen Sun Won and her ambitious brother, Kim Jwa Geun, vie for control. As Kim So Yong delves deeper, she uncovers surprising secrets about her husband’s true nature.
This double dose of transmigration and time travel was everything my heart needed, and I was super glad I watched it. The extra-comedic scenes absolutely had me in stiches, and it was so heartwarming watching Cheol Jong’s plan unfold while he discovered a new side to his wife.
6. Tale of The Nine-Tailed
This fantasy Korean drama also made it to my list of faves, and if you’ve watched it, then you probably know why. Lee Dong Wook is my all-time crush and watching his face-card in every scene made me so thirsty, it felt like I couldn’t breathe.
In this drama, Lee Yeon (played by Lee Dong Wook) is a nine-tailed fox who fights supernatural threats while searching for his lost love’s reincarnation, while Nam Ji Ah is a TV producer investigating urban myths who suspects her connection to Lee Yeon’s past.
You’ll love this if you enjoy Korean dramas with strong female protagonists and a fantasy plot that’s simply binge-worthy.
7. Flower Of Evil
Baek Hee Sung leads a seemingly perfect life as a loving husband and father. However, when his wife, Detective Cha Ji Won, investigates a series of murders, she begins to suspect that Hee Sung is hiding something. Get ready for a suspenseful journey as Ji Won unravels the truth behind her husband’s secrets.
This is another frankly amazing Kdrama that stunned me and by the time the credits rolled on the final episode, I was utterly in love, and I had so, so, so many questions. I’ll recommend this to anybody who loves thriller Kdramas that will have you on the edge of your seat.
8. What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim
Lee Young Joon, a self-absorbed vice president, and his dedicated secretary, Kim Mi So, have maintained a strictly professional relationship for nine years. But when Mi So decides to leave her job, amusing misunderstandings arise.
This Kdrama about unexpected romance is just the perfect thing if you love your workplace romances with a side of laughs and lots of swoons. Thoroughly enjoyed this and I can confirm for you that Park Seo Joon and Park Min Young had the most amazing chemistry.
9. Oh My Venus
Kim Yeong Ho, a personal trainer for Hollywood stars, returns to Korea after a scandal and meets Kang Joo Eun, a lawyer struggling with weight and heartbreak. As he helps her transform physically, they develop feelings for each other and heal emotional wounds.
I was a little wary about this Kdrama when I read the blurb on MDL a couple of years ago, but I gave it a chance this year (I’ve watched a lot in the past few months), and it’s really wonderful. The romance between Yeong Ho and Joo Eun developed slowly, but it was really the most wholesome thing ever.
10. Melting Me Softly
Ma Dong Chan, the hit-making producer, and Go Mi Ran, burdened by family debt, join the “24-Hour Frozen Human Project,” but instead of a day, they remain frozen for 20 years. Upon thawing, they then confront personal challenges before resuming their lives.
Melting Me Softly puts a nice little spin on the time-travel genre and I just know you’ll enjoy it if you like fish-out-of-water Kdramas where the leads are always kind of lost.
11. Uncontrollably Fond
This romantic Kdrama quite literally took the world by storm when it was first released and with good reason: This drama delivered everything from the superb cinematography to the stunning leads and that addictive storyline.
Separated by circumstances, Sin Joon Young and No Eul reunite years later, but they soon discover that they have changed drastically.
Joon Young is now a famous actor-singer, while No Eul has become materialistic and desperate for success, and this on its own poses problems for their fledgling relationship.
12. My Love From The Star
400 years ago, Do Min Joon, an extraordinary alien, arrived on Earth, and since then, he had lived an unending life. Gifted with remarkable abilities and an impeccable appearance, he has only three months left on this planet as his UFO was finally sighted.
Fate intervenes when he encounters Cheon Song Yi, his neighbor who is a scorned Hallyu star who’s being bullied for her colleague’s suicide.
The OST in this Kdrama was also very lovely and there are still a few tracks stuck in my head. You Who Came From The Star is one of those beautiful fantasy Kdramas that will definitely leave a mark.
13. Shooting Stars
Gong Tae Sung, a beloved star, and Oh Han Byeol, the head of PR, are constantly at odds. And while Tae Sung presents a polished image, Han Byeol knows his true nature, as they dated in the past and know each other all too well.
Their mutual dislike seems unchangeable, but could spending time together bring unexpected feelings? In a world of fame and rivalry, love might just be the game-changer.
14. Mr. Sunshine
In Mr. Sunshine, a young boy from a servant’s family embarks on a journey to the United States during the 1871 Shinmiyangyo. Later, as a U.S. marine officer, he returns to Korea and falls in love with an aristocrat’s daughter.
But, he soon uncovers a dangerous plot by foreign forces to colonize his homeland. With love and patriotism in his heart, he must navigate treacherous waters to protect his country and the woman he loves.
15. Sweet Home
After the tragic accident that claimed his family, Cha Hyun Soo seeks solace in a new apartment. Little does he know, his peaceful existence will be shattered by a series of eerie events unfolding not only in his residence but across the entire country.
As the transformation into monstrous beings spreads like wildfire, Hyun Soo and his fellow residents must band together to fight for their lives in this battle for survival against the unknown. This is a solid Kdrama about something like the apocalypse that I found equal parts delightful and terrifying – You’ll love it!
As the Joseon King succumbs to a mysterious sickness, rumors of his demise spread like wildfire. In the wake of his death, the powerful Cho Clan accuses the Crown Prince of treason, plunging the kingdom into chaos. Determined to uncover the truth, the Crown Prince and his loyal guard, Moo Young, embark on a quest to find the last physician, Lee Seung Hui.
However, their journey takes an unexpected turn when they join forces with Assistant Physician Seo Bi and enigmatic stranger Young Shin in a disease-stricken village. Together, they face the horrors of the epidemic and unravel the mysteries surrounding them.
17. It’s Okay To Not Be Okay
Moon Gang Tae, a community health worker, meets Ko Moon Young, a bestselling writer with an antisocial personality disorder. Despite their contrasting personalities, they fall in love, discovering their true selves along the way.
It’s Okay To Not Be Okay is one Kdrama I re-watch at least three times a year and I find new things to love each time. It’s simply beautiful and if you haven’t watched it, you honestly won’t regret giving it a try – I can assure you of that.
18. Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha
Dentist Yoon Hye Jin seeks refuge in a seaside village after a conflict with her boss and when she finds out the village lacks a dentist, she decides to set up her practice there.
However, her reserved nature clashes with the locals. Enter Hong Do Shik, a free-spirited jack of all trades, who assists her in adapting to village life.
Initially, their connection is rocky, but they make the best of it and the result is a swoon-worthy romance that’s the stuff of the best romance novels. I loved this amazing Kdrama for many reasons, but the chief amongst them is how well-suited the leads were. That’s to say, their chemistry and banter were so romantic, and I didn’t want their story to end.
19. Extraordinary Attorney Woo
With a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, 27-year-old Woo Young Woo is an exceptionally brilliant lawyer who graduated with top honors from Seoul National University for both college and law school.
Her remarkable IQ of 164, extraordinary memory, and creative thinking set her apart. And as a lawyer, she encounters challenges in social situations, testing her abilities.
This Korean drama literally made the entire world spin when it was airing and with good reason. Woo Young Woo is one of those remarkable characters you’ll be thinking about long after watching the final episode. This drama made me faves list simply because it delivered on everything from the episodic conflicts to the character development, and, of course, the romance.
20. Alchemy of Souls
In the fictional land of Daeho, young mages face twisted destinies caused by a forbidden magic called “alchemy of souls.”
While on the run, elite assassin Naksu’s soul gets trapped in the weak body of Jang Uk’s servant, Mu Deok, and Jang Uk, the young master of a powerful mage family asks a now amnesiac Naksu to help him change his fate.
Their teacher-student relationship quickly evolves into something more romantic, and it was honestly so sweet watching Mu Deok and Jang Uk chase themselves around. This list will definitely not be complete without Alchemy of Souls, and if you’ve watched it, then you know my rationale for this statement.
21. Miss Hammurabi
Newly appointed judge Park Cha Oh Reum joins the 44th Civil Affairs Department in Seoul, and with a strong sense of justice and deep empathy, she is determined to fight against injustice.
On the other hand, Im Ba Reun, a principled and composed senior judge, believes in equal treatment for all. He finds Park Cha Oh Reum’s sympathetic approach to cases excessive and disagrees with her.
Every episode of this legal Kdrama dealt with different stories, and guys, I was a sobbing mess at the end of every episode. Now, I’m not saying you’ll cry while watching this drama, but prepare to hear stories and narratives that will leave you with so many questions.
Also see: 23 Gripping Legal K-Dramas That Combine Justice and Intrigue
22. Bossam: Steal The Fate
Ba Woo, a reckless man with a hidden identity, gets involved in Bossam, a remarriage practice during the Joseon period, and in a twist of fate, he mistakenly kidnaps Princess Hwa In, daughter of King Gwanghae. Princess Hwa In, married for political reasons, became a widow on her wedding day, and ever since then, she had lived a solitary life in her in-laws’ house.
This is another Kdrama with a high rewatch value that I literally watch every month. Not the complete drama, though, just bits and pieces from my favorite episode.
The leads in this Kdrama have amazing chemistry with each other and whenever they were on screen together, it felt like I could swim in the pool of their mutual affection. This is definitely one of my favourite saeguks and I strongly feel everyone should watch it atleast once.
23. The Uncanny Counter
In the fictional city of Jungjin, So Mun, a high school student with a disability, becomes a member of the Counters—an elite group of demon-hunters.
Tasked with banishing evil spirits that escape from the afterlife, the Counters possess superhuman strength and supernatural abilities. They disguise themselves as workers in Eonni’s Noodles, a noodle restaurant serving as their hideout.
When a powerful evil spirit claims the life of a fellow Counter, So Mun unexpectedly becomes their new recruit. As he uncovers the truth behind a redevelopment project and battles bloodthirsty demons, he embarks on a thrilling journey of self-discovery and redemption.
The Uncanny Counter is another stellar Kdrama that made it to my faves list for its sheer awesomeness. I honestly cannot talk about my best Kdramas without The Uncanny Counter finding its way into the conversation and that’s purely because of its beautiful storyline. With season two in the works, I’m so amped for the rest of the story and I do not doubt that it’s going to be great.
In this Kdrama that activated my tear ducts more times than I can count, Soo Jin, a dedicated school teacher and bird researcher, discovers that one of her students is being subjected to abuse.
Fueled by compassion, she takes a bold and impulsive step—she kidnaps the girl, becoming a substitute mother figure in her life.
With a heart full of love and a fierce determination to protect, Soo Jin embarks on an extraordinary journey of nurturing and caring for the child. In this heartwarming tale, she strives to provide a safe haven, offering solace and support to a young soul in need, and reminding us of the power of unconditional love and selflessness.
25. Kill Me Heal Me
Cha Do Hyeon’s past trauma has left him grappling with memory loss and dissociation, leading to the emergence of seven distinct personalities.
Determined to reclaim his life, he seeks the assistance of Oh Ri Jin, a budding psychiatric resident. And as they work together, an unexpected twist occurs—Ri Jin finds herself falling in love with one of Do Hyeon’s personalities.
Kill Me Heal Me is a fascinating Kdrama about self-discovery and intertwined destinies, love, mystery, and the quest for understanding converge in a powerful narrative.
And, that’s a wrap!
It wasn’t easy to narrow down my favorite Kdramas of all time, but the ones on this list are the few that left an imprint on my heart.
There’s everything from heartwarming romances to gripping mysteries, and each drama has its own distinct flavor that has resonated with me on a deep level. I have watched every Kdrama on this list and I can tell you for a fact that they deserve a spot on your watchlist.
If you’re in the mood for some more recommendations, check out the related posts below for some dramas that will make your heart sing.