2021 was an amazing year for fans of Korean dramas. We cried. We laughed. We found ourselves glued to our seats. There were definitely a lot of amazing releases this year – and before you get mad at us for not watching every single KDrama released in 2021, we feel the need to say that this list is solely based on the ones that we were able to watch.
If you have any recommendations of great KDramas we might have missed this year, do leave them in the comment section so we can watch them over the rest of the holidays! 😀
20 Must-See Korean Dramas of 2021
20. My Roommate is a Gumiho
What is a year of KDrama without at last one gumiho KDrama? :p Jang Ki-yong plays the role of a good-looking and smart professor… who also happens to be a 999-year-old gumiho. To turn human, he collects human energy inside a bead. And that’s pretty much all you need to know about this KDrama before watching it. Gumiho KDramas are a bit of a guilty pleasure for us; so if you feel the same way, make sure to watch this.
If you love the supernatural, Hellbound is the KDrama for you. In it, people hear predictions about their death, supernatural beings show up to condemn people to Hell, and it has to be said that a lot went into the production of this series – and we simply love seeing people’s creativity and imagination come to life.
18. Reflection of You
There’s a lot to love about Reflection of You, although it might not be not your typical KDrama. In the series, two women end up getting embroiled in an ill-fated relationship; but more than the story, it is simply such a beautiful KDrama to watch. The cast is amazing. There is a lot of mystery and twists. And most importantly, there is a spotlight on art since art plays a big part in the story.
Some people may not have loved Nevertheless, but we were all for this unconventional KDrama romance. This was one of the rare times so many taboo topics were put in the forefront in a KDrama – and we lived for it! Casual sex, no-label relationships, students in the arts, a spotlight on tattoos? More, please!
People raved about Jirisan all throughout – from the cast to the soundtrack to the story, people enjoyed watching Ju Ji-hoon and Gianna Jun in this KDrama. In Jirisan, Gianna plays a national park ranger, who has to take risks and rescue victims out at the frontline. Ji-hoon plays a rookie ranger who ends up unveiling secrets hidden in the mountain. More than the cast and the thrilling story, though, what we loved is how we were able to see more about the lives of rangers and mountaineers through this KDrama.
(ALSO READ: People are Raving About Gianna Jun in “Jirisan”)
15. The Silent Sea
This is the first KDrama set on the moon and that alone was enough to make us want to watch it. Set in the year 2075 when the depletion of natural resources has devastated the Earth, The Silent Sea tells the story of an elite team sent on a special mission to an abandoned research base on the moon. If you’re into space, this is a great watch.
14. The King’s Affection
When people ask what The King’s Affection is about, we typically say, “It’s the KDrama version of Mulan“, but it actually isn’t. Although there are some similarities, The King’s Affection is a bit more complicated than that. For those who love sageuk KDramas, you’ll love all of the drama in this series. It tells the story of how an abandoned female twin ends up disguising herself as her crown prince brother who passed away. The tale originates from a comic book series that was inspired by imaginations about a woman rising to the throne and having to disappear from history.
13. Beyond Evil
It really is no wonder why Shin Ha-kyun won the award for Best Actor at the 2021 Baeksang Awards for his performance here. Beyond Evil is a story of two detectives who break the law while trying to catch a serial killer. We don’t want to give too much away, but it is worth watching just for Ha-kyun’s acting alone.
Although not technically about zombies, zombie fans will love Happiness. Set in a world post-COVID-19, people in the series start to get infected and experience zombie-like symptoms from taking a pill or getting scratched or bitten by another infected person. It’s a great show to get your zombie fix from – filled with action and the usual annoying people na pasaway that you’ll typically find in other zombie movies.
D.P. has already been confirmed for another season, and we aren’t really surprised. In fact, it was selected for The New York Times Best International Shows of 2021. D.P. centers on Deserter Pursuit Unit members An Joon-ho (Jung Hae-in) and Han Ho-yeul (Koo Kyo-hwan) as they come across different stories while tracking down fellow soldiers who have deserted their posts.
10. My Name
It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, and definitely not the first choice for people who live for romantic KDramas, but we absolutely loved the action and grit of My Name. We also lived for the bad-ass version of Han So-hee in this series – a great choice for action noir lovers.
9. The Devil Judge
The Devil Judge is set in a dystopian version of South Korea. Here, the court is turned into something like a reality show where citizens can take part, judge people, and punish them mercilessly. Well. Worth. The. Watch.
8. Youth of May
Youth of May is a romantic KDramas set in the 80s during the time of the Gwangju Uprising. Lee Do-hyun plays a medical student at the top of his class, while Go Min-si plays a nurse. The great performances of the lead actors aside, the characters are actually likable and we found ourselves invested in the story right from the beginning. It’s definitely worth investing your time in.
Vincenzo has something for everyone: action, comedy, drama, and even a bit of romance. The plot is equal parts gripping and sometimes unexpected; and as a bonus, fans of Song Joong-ki will love seeing the star back on the screen all dolled up in suits and speaking in Italian every now and then.
6. Yumi’s Cells
Yumi’s Cells is a feel-good KDrama that fans of Lizzie McGuire are sure to love. Like a mix of Lizzie McGuire and Inside Out, Yumi’s Cells introduces us to cartoon versions of, well, the cells that live inside of Yumi’s body and how they react to certain real-life situations. There’s emotion, reason, hunger, and lust, to name a few; and it is just so relatable, you’ll end up giggling (but also possibly throwing things at the screen) along the way.
5. Move to Heaven
A lot of people assume that KDramas are always about romance, but Move to Heaven proves just how great they can actually be outside of the romance spectrum. Tang Joon-sang plays his role as a young man with Asperger syndrome so perfectly, but we also love how we were shown the experiences of trauma cleaners whose work involves clearing out the homes of dead people and taking care of their possessions after they pass away. Each episode came with tear-jerking realizations and lessons we won’t soon forget.
One of the more underrated KDramas on this list, Navillera stars Song Kang as a ballerina, and Park In-hwan, an old man who wants to learn ballet. They build a heart-warming and unexpected friendship along the way that will truly tug at your heartstrings.
3. Our Beloved Summer
A more recent release, Our Beloved Summer caught the hearts of many. In it, former high school sweethearts meet again when an old documentary goes viral; and well… just get ready for lots of kilig moments.
2. Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha
Let’s face it: before the whole Kim Seon-ho hullabaloo, everyone was obsessed with Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha. After all, it brought us all of the kilig we desperately needed during this pandemic. However, kilig aside, it also touched on deeper issues in terms of friendships, family, romantic relationships, and personal issues.
1. Squid Game
Squid Game needs no introduction and is on the top spot because of how much it blew up all over the world. Plus, let’s not forget the fact that we literally binge-watched it in one go. Who didn’t?
Have you watched any other KDramas this 2021 that should be on the list? Share them with us!
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