Korean dramas are TV- series in Korean language called Hangul (한국). Dramas such as Dae Jang Geum (2003), Boys Over Flowers (2009), City Hunter (2010) among many others have caused more international viewers to love the Korean Pop Culture. These international movie successes contributed to the wide-fire spread of K-drama through English and other language subtitles, opening doors to international streaming services like Netflix. Korean dramas have successfully captured the heart of many non-Koreans all over the world with their pop-culture, fashion, delicacies and history.
If you have watched K-dramas like W-Two World, 100 days My Prince, 13 but 17, Heirs, you can relate to how Korean drama can make you laugh hard and cry at the same time. Their unique storylines and their actor’s ability to perfectly convey all kinds of emotions are one of the reasons why people like me love them.
Let’s have a quick look at the top 15 highest- rated K-dramas on cable TV.
The World of the Married
Topping the table at 24.332%, aired on JTBC network is The World of the Married. The series is based on BBC One’s TV series, Doctor Foster. The drama is about a woman who suspected her husband of having an affair (spoiler alert! She was right) Following her intuition unravelled her life as she was caught in a web of revenge with her husband.
The second highest-rated k-drama with 23.779% aired on JTBC from November 23, 2018 to February 1, 2019. The drama took a closer look at materialistic upper-class families in Korea and what length they would go to maintain their social status. The drama revolves around the lives of housewives living in a luxurious residential area called Sky Castle in Seoul.
Crash Landing on You
This is a critical acclaimed drama loved by all K-drama fans around the world. The originality, acting and issues the drama addressed made it the third highest-rated K-drama with 21.683%. It aired on tvN in South Korea and on Netflix worldwide from December 14, 2019 to February 16, 2020. It is the highest rated tvN drama. The drama is about two star crossed lovers, Yoon Se-ri, a South Korean Chaebol heiress, and Ri Jeong-hyeok, a North Korean elite and a Captain in the North Korean Special Force. While Yoon Se-ri was paragliding in Seoul, South Korea, a tornado blew her off course. She woke up to find herself in a forest in the DMZ in North Korea (an area forbidden to South Koreans) where she met Ri Jeong-hyeok. Production of the movie was meticulous, owing to South Korea’s relationship with North Korea. This is a movie every K-dram lover should watch.
Don’t be scared by the title, the drama is not that old. It aired from November 6, 2015 to January 16, 2016. Reply 1988 is the third instalment of tvN’s Reply series and it was set in the year 1988. The drama revolves around five friends and their families living in a neighbourhood, Ssangmun-dong, Dobong District in Seoul.
Guardian: The Lonely and Great God
I am going to be biased here because this is one of my favourite K-drama. The drama aired on tvN cable network from December 2, 2016 to January 21, 2017, and bagged the fifth highest-rated K-drama at 18.680%. The fantasy drama revolves around a goblin, a grim reaper and a girl who can see ghosts…Deebak! Kim Shin (Gong Yoo) a decorated military general from the Goryeo Dynasty is framed as a traitor. He was murdered by the young King along with his family. After his death, he was cursed by the deity to be an immortal goblin as punishment for the blood he spilt during war. (I really don’t understand why a solider should be punished for killing people. Isn’t that what they do?) The only way he would find rest in the form of death was if the Goblin’s bride removes the sword stuck in his chest. Almost a thousand years later, he found Ji Eun-Tak who turned out to be the Goblin’s bride. The Goblin’s nephew leased the Goblin’s house to a Grim Reaper while Eun-Tak started working at a chicken restaurant owned by a charismatic lady. Their intertwined lives slowly unravelled to a much deeper level, showing that they were not just random people who happened to meet. 9 stars for this movie!
Number six on the list is a drama set in Hanseong (the former Seoul) in the early 1900s. It focused on activists fighting for Korea’s independence. The series aired on tvN from July 7, 2018 to September 30, 2018, and premiered internationally on Netflix. The drama was praised for its cinematography and storytelling. Critics praised the drama for its “deep storytelling” and its ability to raise viewers’ awareness of history, especially during the late Joseon period.
Based on the webtoon of the same name, Itaewon class aired on JTBC in South Korean from January 31 to March 21, 2020, and worldwide on Netflix. The drama is the third-highest viewership rating in JTBC and the seventh highest-rated drama in Korean cable television history. Itaewon Class revolved around an ex-convict whose life was turned upside down after he was expelled from school for hitting a bully and his father was killed in an accident. Following his father’s steps, he opens his bar-restaurant in Itaewon. With his manager and his staff, he strives towards success and reaching greater heights while battling against a food conglomerate.
100 Days My Prince
Aired on tvN from September 10, 2018 to October 30, 2018, this drama got the position of the eighth highest-rated Korean drama in cable television in history. A historical romantic-drama about a Joseon prince who lost his memory during an attack on his life. Before he lost his memory, the prince decreed (out of spite) that everybody of marriage age should get married within a month. The prince was rescued by a lower-class man who had a strong-willed daughter, Hong-shim. Hong-shim was long over-due for marriage. To avoid punishment, the man told the Crown Prince that he was engaged to Hong-shim. Since he has lost his memory, the sceptical Crown Prince accepted to marry Hong-Shim. They got married without knowing their identity.
Ninth on the list premiered on tvN on January 22, 2016. The drama was inspired by real-life criminal incidents in Korea. A mysterious walkie talkie allowed a detective in the year 1986 to communicate with a cold case profiler from 2015. Together, the two not only solve crimes but prevent them from ever taking place.
A medical drama about five doctors who have been together since medical school. Aired on TvN from 12 March 2020 to May 28, 2020, Hospital Playlist is the tenth highest-rated K-dram on cable network. The drama centres on the lives of doctors, nurses and patients at a hospital.
I really wish I could keep going because there are a lot of beautiful dramas on this list, but I have to stop here. If you have not seen any of these dramas and you are a K-dram lover, I am recommending all of them. Until next time…