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16 K-Dramas That Are Absolute Perfection To Add To Your Watch List ASAP

Prepare for late nights (maybe even sleepless ones) to stay up watching these. They're that good.

Note: K-drama fans are already familiar with super popular K-dramas like Guardian: The Lonely and Great GodCrash Landing on You, Descendants of the Sun, and Strong Woman Do Bong-soon. For that reason (and because they are mentioned on nearly every K-drama recommendation list), while you will find big K-dramas here, super popular titles may not be mentioned (or this list would be like every other). They are still iconic though and should be watched! Now let's get going!

1. Hey Ghost, Let's Fight (also known as Bring it on Ghost!), 2016 — The first K-drama I ever watched, this one is the complete package: It has thrills, romance, campy comedy, a heartfelt story, and everybody's fave "brooding straight man vs. bubbly, energetic girl" trope. What's not to love? Starring Ok Taec-yeon of 2PM opposite Kim So-hyun of Love Alarm, these two have such cute chemistry that it's even more fun to watch them bicker all the time!

2. Save Me (2017) — Sinister and suspenseful with a level of intensity that'll steal your breath, this underrated drama, also starring Ok Taec-yeon opposite Seo Yea-ji of It's Okay to Not Be Okay, gives you one of the strongest female leads ever, amazing acting, and an intense, unsettling (and realistic) story to boot, making you realize that oftentimes, true horror is not monsters but people themselves.

3. My ID Is Gangnam Beauty (2018) — Starring Cha Eun-woo of True Beauty, this drama has universally relevant themes, dishing out social commentary on South Korea's impossible and superficial beauty standards, the pressure society places on people to reach them, and the discrimination people face based on physical appearance. I love that it promotes that you shouldn't change yourself to be loved by someone. We stan Kyung-seok. 🥺

4. It's Okay to Not Be Okay (2020) — Do you like your dramas a little fanciful? Drenched in an atmosphere of fairytale whimsy and darkness but with a whole lot of heart? Try IOTNBO, one of the most popular K-dramas of 2020 (and in general) with a romance that shows that love goes beyond the conventions of "normal," a couple nothing short of endearing, and a refreshing and genuine take on mental health.

5. I'm Not a Robot (2017) — Another underappreciated drama, INAR is a breath of fresh air, all quirky, creative, and lighthearted, with a unique premise that makes you go, "Well, what could go wrong?" and an engrossing story that keeps you tuning in to the next ep. The acting is wonderful, the characters' warmth and mischief are fun to watch, and their emotional growth will just make you melt. Above all, it shows you how important it is to connect with others and that life shouldn't be lived alone.

6. Mother (2018) — Sinfully underrated and a hidden gem at the same time, this drama is powerful and chilling, with a touching look into motherhood at its heart and poignant truths about what it means to be human that just might bring you to tears (it sure brought me some). A remake of the award-winning 2010 Japanese drama of the same title, this Korean version won several awards of its own too!

7. Hell Is Other People (also known as Strangers from Hell), 2019 — This one's great for its eerie atmosphere and lonely aura of dread and despair, making it feel like you should watch it on a cold, rainy night with some tea and a blanket. The suspense will have you in for a ride.

8. Record of Youth (2020) — Engaging and relevant, ROY offers a contemporary look at the struggles of relationships, rejection, family expectations, and trying to establish your career in your 20s. The male lead, Hye-jun (Park Bo-gum), is relatable and feels like he could be your friend — you'll be endeared to him immediately. Life and love isn't always roses and rainbows like many K-dramas like to show, and this one tells you things don't always work out and you know what? Hye-jun teaches you that's okay and to carry on with dignity.

9. Signal (2016) — Tense, compelling, and surprisingly emotional, this drama incorporates fantasy and real-life crimes and cases in Korea into its story, including the infamous Hwaseong serial murders, a premise interesting in itself! It earned widespread acclaim from audiences and critics for its impressive acting and plot. It is the 11th highest-rated drama in Korean cable history so in terms of quality, I'd say you're in good hands. 😉

10. More Than Friends (2020) — Starring Ong Seong-wu, former member of boy group Wanna One and now a soloist, this sweet and funny slow-burn drama will tug the hearts of anyone who has had an unrequited crush. No exaggerated gestures of love or amnesia or dramatic accidents — it's simple, warm, and gentle, like your fave comfort food.

11. The Light in Your Eyes (2019) — innovative yet relatable with a message to live happily because you only get one life, TLIYE was critically acclaimed for sensitively depicting the hardships everyday people face. It has a surprising twist at the end and explores our mortality and the way we should appreciate life because of how fleeting it really is — and it'll leave you with an awareness of wanting to do just that.

12. Flower of Evil (2020) — Riveting, dark, and fun with bite-your-nails suspense, FOE is totally worth the watch. It's fast-paced and intriguing from the get-go, sucking you in with a great balance of action, family love, and romance, strong characters, and twists and turns you won't see coming. After all, everything always looks perfect from the outside.

13. The Reply series: Reply 1988, Reply 1994, and Reply 1997 — An anthology series spanning three standalone seasons, this drama is full of nostalgia for times long past, and full of heart too. 1988 is the fourth highest-rated drama in Korean cable TV history, and the series as a whole is acclaimed for being well-researched, from its incorporation of historic events to its soundtrack of remakes of popular Korean hits from the '90s.

14. Because This Is My First Life (2017) — This one explores different perspectives on love, marriage, and life through a cute and funny storyline that provides the perfect escape from your daily life. Not only does it show the difference between just dating and actual married life but also challenges traditions and unpacks what marriage between two people means. Audiences loved the life lessons sprinkled throughout!

15. My Country: The New Age (2019) — We had to have at least one historical drama here for the history buffs, right? MCTNA's selling point is its focus on the two lead characters' strong bromance and their journey and story of friendship, love, loyalty, and betrayal. It takes your emotions for quite a ride and will continue to surprise you right till the end. The cinematography is beautiful too!

16. Just Between Lovers (also known as Rain or Shine), 2017 — A gentle, lovely, and meaningful drama that's not too overbearing, this one's great when you're tired of flashy explosions and over-the-top displays of love. It explores shared grief, loss, hope, and finding the strength to move on despite painful pasts — with the help of love, of course. It celebrates the simple things in life, which is sometimes just what you need to do.

The discovery of these wonderful quality K-dramas is my gift to you and if that's not enough, have this from Lee Gon too.

Have you already seen some of these? If so, let me know what you think! If not, enjoy! And lmk what other K-dramas we need to stop sleeping on!