You need to venture beyond the mainstream and explore the realm of underrated Korean dramas that may not have garnered widespread attention. While these shows may not have achieved widespread popularity, they boast exceptional storylines and outstanding performances from their casts. So, if you’re ready to prove your mettle as the ultimate K-drama aficionado, here are 15 Underrated Korean Dramas that deserve your attention.
Table of Contents
1. My Liberation Notes (2022)
The story takes place in a quaint village named Sanpo, and it revolves around the practical difficulties and hardships faced by three siblings: Yeom Chang Hee, Yeom Mi Jung, and Yeom Ki Jung.
Residing far from the frantic pace of urban life, the Yeom brothers and sister frequently experience a sensation akin to being frogs inside a well. They hold the belief that life encompasses more than the ordinary and monotonous routine of their diminutive village, a place that remains unknown to many.
However, their lives undergo a significant transformation with the unexpected arrival of Mr. Gu, an enigmatic outsider – a change that could potentially be either advantageous or detrimental.
- Kim Ji Won as Yeom Mi Jung
- Lee Min Ki as Yeom Chang Hee
- Son Seok Koo as Mr. Gu
- Lee El as Yeom Ki Jung
2. Move to Heaven (2021)
Based on the real-life experiences of an actual trauma cleaner, Move to Heaven is an emotionally powerful series that is bound to evoke strong feelings.
The protagonist, Geu Roo, is the son of a trauma cleaning service operator named Move to Heaven. This service involves cleaning the homes of deceased individuals. Geu Roo, who has autism, is supported by his father through this endeavor. Following his father’s passing, Following his father’s passing, Cho Sang Gu becomes the guardian of Geu Roo.
Together, they strive to uphold the legacy of Move to Heaven, putting forth their best efforts. Throughout their journey, they encounter various individuals who impart valuable life lessons to them.
- Lee Je Hoon as Cho Sang Gu
- Tang Jun Sang as Han Geu Roo
- Hong Seung Hee as Yoon Na Mu
3. Happiness (2021)
The transmission of an infectious disease is a concept we’re already familiar with. However, an unfamiliar illness that transforms individuals into zombies? That certainly catches our attention.
The storyline of “Happiness” tracks the journey of Jung Yi Hyun and Yoon Sae Bom, who bravely defy all challenges to delve into the origins of the outbreak and search for a resolution. Alongside the presence of zombies and heart-pounding surprises, the drama incorporates components of romance and comedy.
- Han Hyo Joo as Yoon Sae Bom
- Park Hyung Sik as Jung Yi Hyun
4. Mine (2021)
“Mine” stands out as an exemplary K-drama that showcases resilient female protagonists on a journey of rediscovering their true selves.
Seo Hee Soo, once a renowned actress, makes a challenging choice to relinquish her thriving career in exchange for marriage to a wealthy scion of a family conglomerate. At first glance, her life appears perfectly planned – encompassing prestige, prospects, and financial security. Yet, beneath the surface lies an uncertain woman, grappling with questions about her own identity.
Similarly bound to a chaebol family by marriage, Jeong Seo Hyun shares parallels with Hee Soo as they both contend with internal struggles, striving to fill the emotional void within their hearts while maintaining a façade of contentment in the public eye.
- Lee Bo Young as Seo Hee Soo
- Kim Seo Hyung as Jeong Seo Hyun
- Ok Ja Yeon as Kang Ja Kyung
5. Soundtrack #1 (2022)
“Soundtrack #1” is an absolute must-watch, if you are into friends to lovers themed korean dramas. Han Sun Woo and Lee Eun Soo both share an ardent love for the arts. Sun Woo excels in photography, while Eun Soo embarks on her journey as a budding lyricist. Their bond as best friends has spanned two decades, a connection they believe to be unbreakable.
However, when they choose to cohabit for a fortnight, those two decades of friendship blur, and their relationship undergoes a profound test. This trial will determine whether their connection evolves into something more profound than friendship or if it leads to their transformation into unfamiliar faces.
- Park Hyung Sik as Han Sun Woo
- Han So Hee as Lee Eun Soo
6. Law School (2021)
Filled with a multitude of unexpected developments, “Law School” emerges as a underrated Korean Dramas among Korean legal dramas.
The shocking report of a murder within the premises of Hankuk University’s law school sweeps through like wildfire, leaving the students and faculty in turmoil. The victim is none other than a professor, whose demise at the hands of an unidentified assailant sends shockwaves throughout.
The complexity of the situation intensifies when newcomers Kang Sol A and Han Joon Hwi find themselves entangled in the very heart of this murder investigation.
- Kim Myung Min as Yang Jong Hoon
- Kim Bum as Han Joon Hwi
7. The Game: Towards Zero (2020)
Kim Tae Pyeong played by 2PM’s Taec Yeon, possesses a unique gift – the ability to foresee a person’s impending death by gazing into their eyes.
Amidst a spree of serial killings, Tae Pyeong steps forward to aid the police using his extraordinary skill. Yet, the situation takes an intriguing turn as he discovers a perplexing aspect – he is unable to perceive the death of Detective Seo Joon Yeong.
- Ok Taec Yeon as Kim Tae Pyeong
- Lee Yeon Hee as Seo Joon Yeong
- Lim Ju Hwan as Gu Do Kyung
8. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (2018)
Kim Moo Young suffers from amnesia and finds himself implicated in a murder investigation due to this. However, a change occurs when he crosses paths with Yoo Jin Kang, a woman who captivates his curiosity. Moo Young embarks on a pursuit of Jin Kang, but complications arise as her brother, a detective, strongly objects to their growing connection.
This series strikes an ideal equilibrium between romantic moments and heart-pounding sequences. So, if you’ve steered clear of overly saccharine love stories or excessively chilling thrillers, this drama offers the perfect blend for you.
- Seo In Guk as Kim Moo Young
- Jung So Min as Yoo Jin Kang
- Park Sung Woong as Yoo Jin Gook
9. Come and Hug Me (2018)
Chae Do Jin and Han Jae Yi’s initial meeting blossomed into love during their youth. Regrettably, this connection was abruptly severed by the actions of Do Jin’s father – a notorious serial killer responsible for the murder of Jae Yi’s parents.
Striving to break free from his father’s dark legacy and rectify the past, Do Jin aspires to complete his education at the police academy. In the meantime, Jae Yi emerges as a rising star in the acting world, but the trauma from the past incident leaves her grappling with a panic disorder.
As these lovers reunite, they embark on a journey to triumph over their tragic history and rekindle the profound affection they’ve always shared.
- Jang Ki Yong as Chae Do Jin
- Jin Ki Joo as Han Jae Yi
10. Prison Playbook (2017)
“Prison Playbook” delves into the lives of incarcerated individuals from various backgrounds. Kim Je Hyuk was once renowned as a promising baseball prodigy. However, his life takes a drastic turn when he lands behind bars for assaulting a man who attempted to harm his sister.
Initially eager to regain his freedom and move forward, Je Hyuk’s perspective shifts when he reconnects with his closest friend, Lee Joon Ho, now working as a prison guard. Moreover, as he encounters a diverse array of fellow inmates, each with their own intricate narratives, Je Hyuk comes to realize that the world is far more expansive than he had perceived. This realization opens his eyes to the vastness of human experiences waiting to be explored.
- Park Hae Soo as Kim Je Hyuk
- Jung Kyung Ho as Lee Joon Ho
11. Chicago Typewriter (2017)
“Chicago Typewriter” delves into the connections between three individuals across different timeframes.
In the current era, accomplished author Han Se Joo enlists the assistance of ghostwriter Yoo Jin Oh to overcome his writer’s block. Concurrently, he crosses paths with his devoted fan, Jeon Seol.
Unbeknownst to them, the relationships between Se Joo, Jin Oh, and Jeon Seol have roots stretching back to the 1930s, a time when Korea was under Japanese rule. Their contemporary reunion holds a significance beyond mere chance.
- Yoo Ah In as Han Se Joo
- Lim Soo Jung as Jeon Seol
- Go Kyung Pyo as Yoo Jin Oh
- Kwak Si Yang as Baek Tae Min
12. Uncontrollably Fond (2016)
Shin Joon Young and Noh Eul were once classmates, their paths diverging over the years. Later on, Noh Eul finds herself in the role of a producer, while Joon-young enjoys life as a celebrity.
Fate brings them back together when Noh Eul is handed the task of creating a personal documentary about Joon-young. Their reunion starts off on a rocky note, with Joon Young hesitating to engage in the filming. However, he eventually relents, motivated by his desire to spend time with Noh Eul and win her affections.
All seems to proceed as planned until Joon Young’s life takes a tragic turn due to a terminal illness. This compels him to reevaluate whether having Noh Eul by his side is the right choice.
Also Read: 10 K-Dramas That Will Make You Cry Out Loud
- Kim Woo Bin as Shin Joon Young
- Bae Suzy as Noh Eul
13. My Mister (2018)
The workplace drama “My Mister” weaves an unexpected bond between a middle-aged supervisor and his younger coworker, both grappling with the overwhelming burdens of their respective bleak lives.
The middle-aged supervisor, Dong-hun (played by Lee Sun-kyun), is thrust into turmoil when he uncovers his wife’s affair with a senior executive from their company. Meanwhile, his colleague Ji-an (portrayed by Lee Ji-eun or IU) finds herself ensnared in severe debt, enduring brutal assaults from loan sharks. Their paths cross when a significant sum of gift certificates, amounting to 50 million won, mysteriously vanishes, setting their fateful encounter into motion.
- Lee Sun Kyun as Park Dong Hoon
- IU as Lee Ji Ahn
14. Navillera (2021)
“Navillera,” a title meaning “like a butterfly” in essence, chronicles the journey of Shim Deok-chul (Hong Seung-hee), a 70-year-old retired mailman. This golden stage of his life becomes a period of personal growth as he embarks on a newfound passion for ballet, inspired by his childhood encounter with Swan Lake.
Resolute in the face of familial objections and societal norms, Shim enrolls in a local dance school. He becomes a student under the guidance of Lee-Chae-Rok (Song Kang), a skilled yet struggling dancer. This heartwarming series underscores the importance of pursuing one’s dreams, reminding viewers that life is too brief for regrets and self-censure.
- Park In Hwan as Shim Deok Chul
- Song Kang as Lee Chae Rok
15. Work Later, Drink Now (2022)
The show encapsulates the essence that genuine camaraderie can be celebrated with a toast rather than just words. If you’re intrigued by South Korea’s culture of alcohol binge-drinking and yearn for a feel-good drama celebrating female friendships, this is your go-to series.
While much of its duration is light-hearted, “Work Later, Drink Now” doesn’t shy away from addressing profound subjects like teenage suicides and the adverse impacts of chain drinking.
- Lee Sun Bin as Ahn So Hee
- Han Sun Hwa as Han Ji Yeon
- Jung Eun Ji as Kang Ji Gu
- Choi Si Won as Kang Buk Gu
Underrated Korean Dramas To Watch on Netflix
Because This Is My First Life
Move to Heaven
Welcome to Waikiki
My Liberation Notes
So, there you have it – a compilation of the top 15 underrated Korean dramas well worth indulging in for a binge-watch session. Thanks to the ever-expanding reach of globalization and the dynamic landscape of the Internet, South Korean dramas are garnering increasing recognition far beyond the realm of Tinseltown.
K-dramas have secured a solid foothold across the globe due to their exceptional blend of ingenuity and the remarkable capacity to forge emotional bonds with viewers. Amidst this burgeoning popularity, it’s noteworthy that several hidden gems merit the same level of recognition as the phenomenon that is Squid Game, if not more, given their enthralling narratives.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most Underrated Korean Drama?
One Kdrama that was often considered underrated by viewers and didn’t receive as much attention as it deserved is “Misaeng: Incomplete Life.” “Misaeng” is based on a webtoon and revolves around the struggles and challenges faced by office workers in a corporate setting. It offers a realistic and relatable portrayal of the working world, highlighting the complexities of office politics, personal growth, and relationships.
The drama received critical acclaim for its honest depiction of the corporate environment and the characters’ internal conflicts. It’s worth noting that opinions on what’s underrated can vary, and new Kdramas may have emerged since then that also deserve recognition.
What underrated kdrama should i watch?
“My Mister” (My Ahjussi): This drama is a poignant and beautifully crafted story about the unlikely friendship between a middle-aged man and a young woman. It delves into their struggles, emotions, and personal growth. The mature themes and character-driven narrative make it a standout choice.
Which kdrama should I watch?
Certainly, here are a few Kdramas from various genres that you might enjoy watching:
- Romantic Comedy: “What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?” – This drama follows the hilarious and romantic relationship between a narcissistic CEO and his efficient secretary.
- Historical Drama: “Moon Embracing the Sun” – Set in the Joseon era, this drama combines romance and mysticism as it tells the story of a forbidden love between a king and a shaman.
- Fantasy: “Goblin” (Guardian: The Lonely and Great God) – This fantasy drama involves a goblin who seeks redemption and his unlikely roommate, a grim reaper, as they navigate the complexities of life and death.
- Thriller/Mystery: “Signal” – This series follows detectives from different time periods who communicate through a mysterious radio frequency to solve cold cases and change the course of events.
- Slice of Life: “Age of Youth” (Hello, My Twenties!) – The drama revolves around the lives of five female college students as they navigate friendships, romance, and personal growth.
- Medical Drama: “Hospital Playlist” – Created by the team behind “Reply” series, this drama follows the lives of doctors and their friendships over the years while working at the same hospital.
- Action/Adventure: “Vagabond” – This action-packed series involves a stuntman who becomes embroiled in a national conspiracy after a plane crash.
- Supernatural: “While You Were Sleeping” – With elements of fantasy, this drama focuses on characters who have prophetic dreams that foretell future events.
- Family Drama: “Father is Strange” – A heartwarming series about a family thrown into chaos when a young woman claims to be the daughter of the father from a previous relationship.
- Science Fiction: “Circle” – Split between two timelines, this drama explores themes of alien encounters, advanced technology, and the blurred lines between reality and virtual reality.
What is the happiest kdrama?
One of the happiest and feel-good Kdramas is “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo.” This romantic comedy follows the life of a young weightlifter, Kim Bok Joo, as she navigates her passion for sports, friendships, and love. The drama is known for its lighthearted and heartwarming moments, and it focuses on personal growth, pursuing dreams, and finding happiness in the small things.
The interactions between the main characters and their supportive relationships with friends and family contribute to the overall positive and joyful atmosphere of the show. If you’re looking for a Kdrama that will leave you with a smile and a warm heart, “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo” is a great choice.
What is the darkest kdrama?
One of the darkest and intense Kdramas is “Strangers from Hell” (also known as “Hell is Other People”). This psychological thriller is based on a popular webtoon and delves into the eerie and disturbing experiences of a young man who moves into a rundown apartment building. As he interacts with his eccentric and often unsettling neighbors, he becomes entangled in a series of mysterious and horrifying events.
“Strangers from Hell” explores themes of paranoia, isolation, and the darkness that can reside within human nature. The drama’s atmospheric tension and psychological twists contribute to its reputation as one of the darker and more unsettling Kdramas. If you’re interested in psychological thrillers with a dark undertone, this might be a series to consider.
Which Kdrama is most popular in India?
“Descendants of the Sun” is particularly well-received. This romantic drama follows the love story between a soldier and a doctor against the backdrop of their respective duties. The chemistry between the lead actors, the action sequences, and the emotional depth of the storyline contributed to its popularity in India and around the world.