K-dramas always seem like they are from another world. The characters in the drama land mostly get their happily ever after which makes us swoon over them and watch these dramas again and again.
But not all characters in the k drama land have a fairytale-like ending. Despite the long struggles and emotional rollercoasters, our main leads might not end up together. Such dramas make us cry, but at the same time, they stay in our minds for a longer time than dramas with happy endings. The perfect proof of that is the unending screams for the second season of a few of these dramas.
So, grab your tissues as here are twenty-k dramas that did not have a happy ending for the lead characters in case you need a change of genre.
1. Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016)
Let us start with the most classic one among sad k dramas, Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo. Starring IU and Lee Joon Gi as the leads, this drama has a dream-like cast, including Baekhyun of EXO, Nam Joo Hyuk, Ji Soo and many more. As you will see the plight of each of these handsome princes in the story, you cannot help but weep miserably.
The lead characters end up getting separated due to misunderstandings and power play in the palace. As Hae Soo dies without her 4th prince beside her, we desperately pray for them to meet in the modern world. But our hopes are left shattered as the writers end the story with Ha Jin, modern world Hae Soo, cries in front of the Goryeo paintings. The ending is surely different in the Chinese version, with the leads meeting again in the modern world. But the unsatisfactory ending of the Korean version is what still makes us cry for a second season.
2. Uncontrollably Fond (2016)
Again, this is a classic one. If someone asks you which is the saddest kdrama you have watched, you will undoubtedly shout this name. Starring Kim Woo Bin and Bae Suzy, this drama is an emotional rollercoaster. From first love to heartbreak and irritating third wheels to a terminal illness, this drama has it all.
Shin Joon Young is already diagnosed with terminal cancer when he meets his old classmate and lover again. In spite of his condition, he falls in love only to push her away again and again. But eventually, he comes to terms with the short life of their relationship and decides to spend whatever is left out of his time with her. In the end, when he dies, resting his head over her shoulders, you feel a pricking pain in your heart that burns your eyes and stays on for a long time.
3. Cheese In The Trap (2016)
Now, most of you will agree with me if I say that this doesn’t really have a sad ending. It is more like a necessary ending because the lead character is a total red flag. Starring Kim Go Eun and Park Hae Jin, Cheese In The Trap is a drama that shows the complicated relationship between Hong Seol and Yoo Jung where the former is a poor hard-working college student while the latter is her senior with a dark and manipulative personality.
They enter into a relationship out of mutual attraction but end up breaking up as Yoo Jung realises the negatives in him and decides to change while staying away from Hong Seol. The drama also stars Lee Sung Kyung and Seo Kang Joon in the main roles. Even though the popular opinion is that they should remain broken up, many people still wish for them to get back together as they had amazing chemistry. Most importantly, we see Hong Seol still sending emails and waiting for him at the end of the drama which makes us secretly root for them.
4. A Korean Odyssey (2017)
The ill-fated love story between the Monkey King and a young woman born with the fate of a monk, A Korean Odyssey is a modern story about some traditional characters appearing in the Chinese Classic, Journey To The West. It stars Lee Seung Gi, Oh Yeon So and Cha Seung Won in lead roles. Initially, our leads, Son O Gong and Jin Seon Mi are bound to each other despite their dislike for each other due to a promise he made to her during her childhood. But later, we see them fall in love, constantly refusing to accept it before they finally get together.
But their happiness doesn’t last long. They end up getting separated as she has a greater purpose to serve by sacrificing her life. We see a Son O Gong writhing in pain without even knowing why he is after her death as he loses his memories in the process of trying to save her. Though he later regains his memories and promises her that he will come back to find her, the painful destiny of our couple leaves us in tears.
5. Black (2017)
Starring Go Ara and Son Seung Heon, Black tells the story of a grim reaper in the body of a cop and a woman who can see the impending deaths of people. Though it is a supernatural thriller, it has a very touching romantic part to it. They fall in love as they save the people around them but are unable to escape their destined separation.
We helplessly cry when Black, the reaper, accepts the greatest punishment there is, only to let her leave a peaceful life after forgetting him. After spending an entire life, oblivious of his existence, she finally reunites with him in the afterlife.
6. The Universe’s Star (2017)
It is a miniseries under the ‘three colour drama fantasy’, a trilogy by MBC and Naver, representative of the colour white. It stars Suho from Exo and Ji Woo as leads and tells the story of a young girl who becomes a grim reaper after her death. She has no recollection of her previous life except for the moment of her death and her favourite idol, Woo Joo. When she finds out that he is going to die, she creates a ruckus with her senior and earns a chance to save him before the first snow. She is given time on earth until she fulfils all of her last wishes.
Though very short, this drama is a hell of a ride. You experience a myriad of emotions. Suho and Ji Woo have done a fabulous job as the leads. Their love story is bound to give you butterflies and the ending is going to leave a painful yet mesmerizing feeling in your heart.
7. The Hymn Of Death (2018)
Doesn’t this title sound a little off? It is the last song recorded by Yun Sim Deok, the first professional Korean Soprano. She sang this before committing suicide with her lover in 1926. Based on a true story, The Hymn Of Death portrays the life of playwright Kim Woo Jin and soprano Yun Sim Deok, played by Lee Jong Suk and Kim Hye Sun respectively. They fall in love despite him being a married man and end up dying together as living together becomes equal to giving up all their values.
The acting of both the leads is very commendable. We feel the pain felt by each character in the story and cry our sorrows out. Their tragic fate makes us pray for a happy ending for their souls at least in the afterlife.
8. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (2018)
This drama stars Seo In Gook and Jung So min. Kim Moo Young and Yoo Jin Kang fall in love with each other without realising their past connection. Their life becomes complicated as Kim Moo Young regains memories about his past which he had forgotten. Considered one of the most tragic endings in K dramas, this drama’s ending left many viewers perplexed.
The ill-fated relationship between the leads leaves you in pain as you see all their sufferings and scars from their respective pasts. After loving so passionately, they both end up dying at each other’s hands. This drama is considered one of the best works of Seo In Gook and is a perfect blend of thriller, romance and tragedy.
9. Mr Sunshine (2018)
Again, this is a cult classic in Korean dramas. Starring Kim Tae Ri and Lee Byung Hun, it is a historical drama set in the early 1900s. Both our leads are fighting for the independence of their country as well as for their love which is threatened by their caste differences and political turmoil.
Mr Sunshine was the third highest-rated drama in cable television history and is named among the best k dramas of all time. Eugene Choi, is a US military officer who returns to his homeland, Korea. He belongs to a lower-class family by birth. He falls in love with Go Ae Shin, the granddaughter of an upper-class family. Fighting for the country, Eugene sacrifices his life to save Lady Ae Shin and she lives on. Their sad destiny moves every viewer to tears.
10. Memories of The Alhambra (2018)
This is not a sad or tragic drama. It has an ambiguous ending which leaves the door open for a second season which has not been made. It stars Hyun Bin as Yoo Jin Woo and Park Shin Hye as Jung Hee Joo.
Yoo Jin Woo comes to Spain in search of a genius game developer who seems to be missing and meets his sister Jung Hee Joo, who runs a hostel in Spain. Together, they start searching for her brother and the game becomes synonymous with real life.
At the end of the drama, Yoo Jin Woo is trapped in the game, leaving an ambiguous ending for the viewers.
11. Hotel Del Luna (2019)
Known as one of the best K dramas, Hotel Del Luna stars IU and Yeo Jin Goo in the main roles. Jang Man Wol is the owner of a hotel that hosts only dead people and Koo Chan Seong is its manager. She is a supernatural being who has been punished with immortality. To cross to the afterlife, she has to let go of her past grudges and heal herself. This is the purpose of Koo Chan Seong, a human being chosen by the Gods to help her cross to the afterlife. They fall in love with each other despite being aware of the imminent separation.
This drama has a bittersweet ending. While we are happy that Jang Man Wol finally resolves her grudges and crosses to the afterlife, Koo Chan Seong, who is left behind to live a lonely life, breaks our hearts. All the people who are in the hotel are later shown as being happy and living a new life but whether it is a dream or another life is left for us to decide.
12. Vagabond (2019)
An action drama starring Lee Seung Gi and Bae Suzy, Vagabond tells the story of Cha Dal Gun who lost his nephew in a plane crash. As some strange occurrences convince him that there’s more to the crash than he’s aware of, he decides to track down the people responsible for it and avenge his nephew. He is joined by Go Hae Ri, who is a covert operative for the NIS and together, they unveil a humongous conspiracy behind the plane crash.
Suzy and Lee Seung Gi have unbeatable chemistry. Their relationship which slowly progresses from bickering to romance, makes you root ardently for their happy ending. But our hopes are shattered as the makers give us a totally unexpected open ending, leaving it to our imaginations to make up a happy ending for them.
13. Record Of Youth (2020)
Park Bo Gum and Park So Dam star in this hit drama of 2020. It is about the life of an aspiring model and actor Sa Hye Jun and an aspiring makeup artist Ahn Jeong Ha who strive to make it big in the fashion industry. They go through a lot of struggles to uplift their careers and hold on to their love, but eventually, end up breaking up with each other.
As the couple, we root for, throughout the drama, it will break our hearts to see them apart. But a small ray of hope is visible when they meet again after becoming successful in their own careers. It is an open ending left completely to our interpretation.
14. Sisyphus:The Myth (2021)
It stars Park Shin Hye and Cho Seung Woo as Gang Seo Hae and Han Tae Sul. It is not a regular drama you can watch with popcorn and drinks. Being a sci-fi drama, it wrecks your brain till the last minute. The ending leaves you perplexed, not because of the leads but because of the antagonist.
Our leads have a fate that is not very easy to defeat. Still, they try their best until the very last moment but fail to break the cycle of death. But this time, they succeed in saving the world….by sacrificing their love. You’ll certainly love this series if you love sci-fi dramas with lots of action and a lovely romance.
15. Youth Of May (2021)
A doctor falls in love with a nurse whom he meets through an arranged marriage setting under the insistence of his father. Lee Do Hyun, who might as well accept the nickname ‘king of sad endings’, after so many dramas and Go Min Si star in this romantic melodrama set in the year 1980.
Only if our leads met at a different time, they might have been together. We know it is a sad ending but still, we hope for a miracle. When we see him standing at her grave, we can’t help but sob helplessly at their crooked fate. This is certainly one of the most poignant dramas released in 2021 and deserves a watch.
16. Snowdrop (2021)
As a drama that caused the most commotion in the year, expectations were high for Snowdrop. A young girl falls in love with a man at first sight and she treats him in her dorm only to realize later that he is a North Korean agent. Set in November and December of 1987, a pivotal year in the history of South Korea and stars Jisoo of Blackpink and Jung Hae In in lead roles.
As obvious as it seems, the drama has a very tragic ending that moves you to tears. Every episode of this drama keeps you hooked to it and makes you wonder what is going to happen next. I bet you’ll binge-watch it without being able to hold in your curiosity.
17. The Red Sleeve (2022)
Inspired by the true story of King Jeongjo and Seong Deok Im, who later becomes The Royal Noble Consort Uibin Seong, it stars Lee Jun Ho and Lee Se Young in lead roles. It is set in the Joseon Era, a time when most love stories fail to find their happy endings. But these two actually get married despite all the odds and give birth to a son.
But as fate has it, their son dies at a young age, followed by Deok Sim, leaving King Jeongjo alone to spend the rest of his life in solitude. When he dies, he gets a chance to go back and be alive but he chooses to stay in the after life with her, dying an early death. The wonderful chemistry between Lee Se Young and Jun Ho makes this drama a must-watch.
18. Big Mouse (2022)
A lawyer known as ‘ Big Mouth ‘ among his associates due to his talkative personality, finds himself in a legal trap when he is mistaken for a famous criminal who goes by the same name. His wife, a nurse struggles to prove his innocence and get him out. Starring Lee Jong Suk and Im Yoon Ah, this is a legal suspense drama.
Also Read: 3 Reasons Why “Big Mouth” Is A Must Watch
Although we expect an absolutely happy ending, the writers shatter our hopes when Ko Mi Ho played by Im Yoon Ah dies due to Cancer, leaving Park Chang Ho alone. It is one of the most heartbreaking endings of 2022.
19. Twenty-Five – Twenty-One (2022)
Alright, now most of you must have heard about this drama as its ending caused an earthquake in the drama land. Despite having an astonishing storyline and a perfect execution, the drama disappointed its viewers with its unexpected ending where the leads end up living their lives separately in order to fulfil their dreams and careers.
Although it is a realistic ending, it is hard to accept the fact that the couple we have been rooting for so far, will never be together again.
It stars Nam Joo Hyuk and Kim Tae Ri in lead roles.
20. Alchemy Of Souls (2022)
The soul of Nak Su, an elite warrior is trapped inside the body of My Deok, a weak woman. She is the servant of Jang Uk, a nobleman with a mysterious birth. They both fall in love amidst the chaos caused by powerful mystic forces and a mysterious spell that switches the souls of people.
Starring Lee Jae Wook and Jung So Min in lead roles, Alchemy Of Souls has an open ending which directs to a second season which is slated to air on December 10, 2022. Towards the end, we see Mu Deok stabbing Jang Uk to death under the influence of her alter ego but he later comes back to life which opens the door to the next season. It will be interesting to watch how their story unfolds in the next instalment.
Despite having a sad ending, all these dramas have the best storyline and definitely deserve a watch. Hope you enjoy watching them.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which kdrama has the most sad ending?
Uncontrollably Fond has the most sad ending.
This romantic drama, starring Kim Woo-bin and Bae Suzy, tells the story of a couple whose lives are tragically intertwined by fate. The ending is considered by many to be one of the saddest in K-drama history.
What are the saddest K-dramas on Netflix?
There are many K-dramas on Netflix that can evoke a range of emotions, including sadness. Here are some K-dramas on Netflix that are known for their emotional impact and potentially sad storylines:
- Hi Bye, Mama!
- It’s Okay to Not Be Okay
- The Light in Your Eyes
- My Holo Love
- Something in the Rain
- Twenty Five Twenty One
What is the most viewed kdrama in Netflix?
“Squid Game” is one of the highest-rated K-dramas on Netflix. It has received critical acclaim for its unique storyline, suspenseful atmosphere, and excellent performances by the cast.
The series has also been a hit with audiences, becoming one of the most-watched shows on Netflix in several countries. In fact, according to Netflix, “Squid Game” is their most-watched show ever, with over 142 million member households having watched at least part of the series in its first four weeks of release.
Which K-dramas are banned in Korea?
Due to it’s sexual violance
(Due to it’s sexual side. Eve’s first 3 episodes was banned in korea.)
(It was decided to banned this drama totally but it’s first 2 episodes were banned because of it’s adult scenes.)
(Due a controversy Snowdrop was banned from korea. But lated on they allowed this drama to be boarcasted.)
5. SQUID GAME.
(Due to it’s sucidial violence and korean aconomy controvercy)
6. THE KING: ETERNAL MONARCH.
(Cause it showed a war between Japan and Korea.)
What is number 1 kdrama?
The World of the Married (2020)
The series deals with themes of love, betrayal, revenge, and the consequences of one’s actions. It received high ratings in South Korea and was well-received by audiences and critics alike, who praised the strong performances of the cast and the engaging storyline.