Korean dramas are not only addictive but also increasingly popular among millennials and Gen Z. With a strong narrative and brilliant portrayal of characters in limited episodes, these series can be easily enjoyed from the comfort of your homes.
And, when dramas like Crash Landing on You or Squid Game are loved worldwide, with romance and action enthusiasts often binge-watching the series more than once, you know the viewership is bound to rise.
This post: The most popular Korean dramas of all time
We have outlined some Korean series with the highest ratings that you can stream right now. They are ranked based on Nielsen Korea’s May 2022 report on the highest ratings. While they were aired on popular channels like JTBC, tvN and TV Chosun, you can easily find some of them on streaming platforms like Netflix, too.
Here are some of the most popular Korean dramas for you to binge-watch
The World of the Married (2020)
Rating: 28.371 percent
This Korean drama chronicles the life of Ji Sun Woo (Kim Hee-ae), a renowned associate director in a hospital. She is married to Lee Tae Oh (Park Hae-joon), who runs a small entertainment firm. They live happily with their teenage son Joon Young (Jeon Jin-seo) in Gosan.
Everything looks perfect till Sun Woo learns about her husband’s infidelity. What follows next is a series of lies, betrayals and revenge between the couple.
The World of the Married also stars Han So-hee as Yeo Da Kyung, Seon-yeong Park as Go Ye Rim, Kim Young-min as Son Je Hyuk and Gook-hee Chae as Sul Myung Sook, who, too, have given brilliant performances as the leads.
Directed by Mo Wan-il, the drama series surpassed its own TV rating record of 24.44 percent with its finale episode, which aired in May 2020, according to Preview.
Sky Castle (2018-2019)
Rating: 23.779 percent
One of the most popular Korean dramas, Sky Castle is a satirical series revolving around wealthy mothers living in a grand residential area called Sky Castle in Seoul, South Korea. They try their best to ensure their husbands are successful and their children get into top universities, like Seoul National University, even if it costs destroying others’ lives.
However, a dreadful incident in the Castle brings Han Seo Jin (Jung-ah Yum), Lee Soo Im (Tae-ran Lee), Noh Seung Hye (Yoon Se-ah), Jin Jin Hee (Na-ra Oh) and tutor Kim Joo Young (Kim Seo-yung) together.
Directed by Hyun Tak Jo, Sky Castle includes supporting actors Jun-ho Jeong, Choi Wonyoung, Byeong-cheol Kim and Jo Jae-yoon portraying the roles of Kang Joon Sang, Hwang Chi Yeong, Cha Min Hyuk and Woo Yang Woo, respectively.
Crash Landing on You (2019-2020)
Rating: 21.683 percent
Directed by Kim Hui-won and Jung Hyo Lee, Crash Landing on You is about a South Korean heiress, Yoon Se-ri (Son Ye-jin), who unknowingly lands in North Korea following a paragliding accident. Her destiny changes, as a charming army officer Ri Jeong-hyeok (Hyun Bin) rescues and falls in love with her.
While Ri and his North Korean companions help Yoon Se-ri get back home to South Korea, the couple tries to find ways to be together.
Other impressive performances include Seo Ji-hye as Seo Dan, Kim Jung-hyun as Goo Seung-joon, Yang Kyung-won as Pyo Chi-soo, Yoo Su-bin as Kim Joo-meok and Lee Sin-young as Park Kwang-beom.
The lead couple is seen together for the second time after the Korean movie Rampant (2018).
Reply 1988 (2015-2016)
Rating: 18.803 percent
Based in a small neighbourhood called Ssangmundong in Seoul, the story centres around five families and their five teenage children. This Korean drama takes you back to the late 1980s era.
While life may look simple without technology back then, Sung Deok Sun (Hyeri Lee) and her friends find it difficult to navigate through their challenging teen years, which will influence their futures, eventually.
Directed by Won-ho Shin, the drama series also includes Go Kyung-Pyo, Ryu Jun-Yeol, Park Bo-gum, Dong-hwi Lee and Hye-young Ryu who have brilliantly essayed the characters of Sung Sun Woo, Kim Jung Hwan, Choi Taek, Ryu Dong Ryong and Sung Bo Ra, respectively.
Rating: 18.680 percent
This fantasy-romance drama follows a modern-day goblin Kim Shin (Gong Yoo), who was a decorated military general during the Goryeo Dynasty in his past life. He is framed as a traitor and killed by his jealous master, the young King, while fighting in a battle.
He wishes to end his cursed immortal life with the help of a human bride, Ji Eun Tak (Kim Go-eun). Meanwhile, Kim Shin’s roommate turns out to be a grim reaper (Lee-Dong Wook), to whom Kim’s nephew had leased their house.
Also known as Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, the superhit K-drama is directed by Eung-bok Lee.
Mr. Sunshine (2018)
Rating: 18.129 percent
Another Eung-bok Lee directorial, this brilliant drama revolves around a young boy named Eugene Choi, known as Mr. Sunshine (Lee Byung-hun), who escapes to the US during 1871 Shinmiyangyo (US expedition to Korea), following a tragic event in Joseon.
After returning as a US Marine Corps officer, he falls in love with an aristocrat’s daughter, Go Ae Shin (Kim Tae-ri). A series of events follow after Choi learns about a plot by foreign forces to colonise Korea and create history.
The cast also includes Yoo Yeon-Seok and Yo-Han Byun, essaying the roles of Goo Dong Mae and Kim Hui Seong, respectively. The series has been co-directed by Young-woo Jang and Jihyeon Jeong.
Mr. Queen (2020-2021)
Rating: 17.371 percent
Jang Bong-Hwan (Choi Jin-hyuk), a modern-day chef works at the President’s Blue House. One day, he is transported to the Joseon period, where his spirit gets trapped in the body of Queen Kim So Yong (Hye-Sun Shin).
Jang is desperate to get back home but finds himself caught in the middle of politics involving the royals. He meets King Cheoljong (Kim Jung-hyun), who is gentle but secretive, and Queen Sunwon (Bae Jong-ok), who rules the kingdom.
The romantic comedy series is directed by Sung-Shik Yoon and stars Seol In-ah as Jo Hwa Jin.
After School 2017, Seol In-ah and Kim Jung-hyun have come together again in this comedy series, Mr. Queen, which is also said to be the remake of Go Princess Go (2015).
Love (ft. Marriage and Divorce) 2 (2021)
Rating: 16.582 percent
Directed by Yoo Jeong-Joon and Lee Seung-Hoon, the second season of Love (ft. Marriage & Divorce) became one of the best Korean dramas of all time, after it was aired in 2021.
The so-called happy marriages of three successful women working on a radio show are disturbed by lies and infidelity. What follows is how they try to revive their relationship with their partners.
The star cast includes Sung Hoon as Pan Sa Hyeon, Lee Min-Young as Song Won, Lee Ga-Ryeong as Boo Hye Ryung, Tae-gon Lee as Shin Yoo Shin, No-Min Jeon as Park Hae Ryun and Soo-kyeong Jeon as Lee Shi Eun.
Other popular Korean dramas
If you have already watched these Korean dramas, then here are other equally good ones you can try. These include The Heirs (2013) starring Kim Tan and Woo-bin Kim and Boys Over Flowers (2009) starring Lee Min-Ho.
(Main and Featured Image Credit: Netflix)