Do you have an appetite for crime-busting? These 10 K-dramas offer a handful of mysteries that will have you nit-picking at the fine details along with the characters.
Hello Monster (2015)
This forensic drama explores the complexities of a twisted mind. With its intriguing plot, it leaves viewers with more questions than answers.
When genius criminal profiler Lee Hyun (Seo In-guk) received an anonymous email, this triggered memories he thought he’d forgotten. It bothered him enough to go back home to South Korea all the way from New York. It led him to a crime scene that Cha Ji-an (Jang Na-ra), who is an elite detective, and her colleagues were investigating. Right off the bat, Lee Hyun was able to point out the trademark attribute of the killer. It seemed that the elusive suspect seemed to be leaving clues behind for Hyun to follow. It made him wonder if these mysterious incidents are related to an escaped criminal from his childhood who was responsible for his father’s death and the disappearance of his younger brother.
Along with Cha Ji-an, Lee Hyun sought to unearth secrets and mysteries, unaware that they’re caught in a circle game orchestrated by someone else.
This story is a numbing series that focuses on the psyche of the criminals and the rationale behind their actions. The plot is unconventional because instead of the usual race of good versus evil, it highlights the thought process of a murderer and their tendencies. It is replete with crime cases and unusual criminals, and the forensic process is an interesting ride for viewers.
Partners for Justice (2018)
The drama centers around a cold, grouchy forensic doctor named Baek Beom (Jung Jae-young) and a warm-hearted rookie prosecutor named Eun-sol (Jeong Yu-mi). Amidst the complexities and mysteries in this forensic drama, it’s the personalities of these main characters that add depth to the story.
Baek Beom is a forensic pathologist who rakes in over 700 cases a year. As a perfectionist, he doesn’t leave any deaths unexplained. He immerses himself in finding the truth in the literal “body of evidence”. Oddly enough, the level of dedication he has for the dead brings him further away from really caring about the living as he is socially awkward, inconsiderate, and not one to hold back on spiteful remarks.
Meanwhile, Eun-sol’s personality and professional experience are the total opposites. But she also has a lot to bring to the table when it comes to investigations. She has a photographic memory which allows her to remember everything she sees and hears. This is why she earned her place in the front lines at Criminal Division 8, a division known for the tough criminal cases they handle.
Along with a team of prosecutors, detective, and forensic experts Baek Beom and Eun-sol come together to solve murder cases by analyzing information obtained through police investigations, autopsy reports, and deductions.
The drama strikes a balance of medicine, science, and investigation by displaying realistic action scenes as well as humanism that will touch your heart. This series is cleverly written and it comes with characters that are well-portrayed, which makes it highly recommended for crime drama thrill-seekers. It earned a positive response that it got picked up for a second season.
Quiz of God
This OCN drama focuses on forensics and medical science as elite doctors and forensic scientists investigating mysterious deaths related to rare diseases. The title refers to a local Korean saying that rare diseases are like quizzes God gives to humans so that no one becomes too arrogant.
Han Jin-woo (Ryu Deon-hwan) is Korea’s top medical examiner, leads a team of experts in conducting a medical crime investigation after strange events and mysterious deaths occur in a hospital. He first clashes with but is later aided by Kang Kyung Hee, an attractive female detective who possesses excellent skill in martial arts and a strong sense of justice.
The characterization and the plot are also great. It focuses on new science and researches are also very interesting as it shows how they can affect humanity.
Gap Dong (2014)
This 2014 TvN series is inspired by the Hwaseong serial murder case. For those who are unaware, these murders were like a nightmare for Koreans and happened from 1986 to 1991 in the Taean Neighborhood of Hwaseong, South Korea.
Ha Moo-Yeom (Yoon Sang-hyun) is a detective who works to capture the killer known as Gap Dong. Ha Mu Yeom’s father killed himself because he was suspected to be the serial murderer Gap Dong, which is why Moo-yeom is driven to catch the real killer.
After the statute of limitations expired for the case, the original detective assigned to the case, the original detective returns to continue his investigation. Meanwhile, Moo-yeom is also out to find the culprit to bring justice for his father because he refuses to believe that the real Gap Dong is dead. When new evidence about Gap Dong surfaces, he is determined to catch him once and for all.
Less Than Evil (2018)
Woo Tae-seok (Shin Ha-Kyun) is an experienced and well-established detective who boasts of a long professional career. But in spite of everything he remains a lonely veteran at his job who solely focuses on solving cases. He is not afraid to overstep the bounds of law if it means catching criminals which only leads him to teeter on a fine line between good and evil.
One day, Woo Tae-seok crosses paths with a female psychopath (Lee Seol), but he is unable to arrest her due to a lack of evidence. The woman eventually helps Woo Tae-Seok solve other cases.
This drama is actually the Korean adaptation of the popular British series, Luther which starred Idris Elba. While the Korean series may have borrowed elements from the original series, the leading characters are quite different. The story unfolds quite differently than the original series.
Life on Mars (2018)
This drama is a Korean remake of the British series of the same name. It is perfect for audiences with a penchant for time-travelling themes that tosses the main character into a web of mysteries that is made even more thrilling especially with the time element.
Life on Mars follows Lt. Han Tae-joo (Jung Kyung-ho), a stoic detective who works for the National Forensic Service. He has risen up the ranks solely because he trusts data over people, making him effective at what he does. However, his straight-laced life takes a turn when an accident occurred while chasing a serial killer, he suffers a severe head injury. When he woke up, he found himself on the streets of a small town in 1988.
In this new time and space, he has the same name and is the newly assigned chief investigator of Insung Seobu station’s Violent Crimes Unit 3. He now works as a detective in a small city where he must solve a serial murder case. He is tasked to solve this case so that he can return to the present.
You’re All Surrounded (2014)
This drama follows four rookie detectives at a police station in Gangnam, Seoul. The 4 rookie detectives are Kim Ji-young (Lee Seung-gi), Eo Soo-sun (Go Ara), Park Tae Il (Ahn Jae-hyun) and Ji Gook (Park Jung-min). They are led by their team leader Legendary Detective Seo Pan-seok (Cha Seung-won).
Little does Pan-seok know that he is dealing with the son of a victim from his one and only mismanaged case. Kim Ji-young is actually out to seek revenge as he tries to seek the truth behind the murder of his mother 11 years back. He investigates Pan-seok on the down-low thinking that he is connected to the incident that led to his mom’s untimely demise.
Also known as Forest of Secrets, this drama is a clever cat and mouse game where the players are chaebols, prosecutors and the police.
The story revolves around the murder of a sleazy middleman, who hires prostitutes for powerful men. This leads to the abduction and attempted murder of an underage prostitute, who happens to be the link between all the bigwigs at the police station and the prosecutor’s office. Hwang Si-mok (Cho Seung-woo), who is an exemplary Prosecutor and Police Lieutenant Han Yeo-jin (Bae Doona) comes together to unravel the mystery behind the murder. They realize that their plans of exposing the hidden agendas actually lead to a large corruption scheme between the Prosecutor’s Office and a private conglomerate.
In the second season, the story is set two years later. An ethical dispute arose within the Prosecutors’ Office and the National Police Agency. The two agencies are struggling to gain discretionary power over all investigative proceedings. In the midst of the conflict between their two offices, Hwang Si-mok and Han Yeo-jin teamed up again to independently conduct their own investigation on a concealed case.
In 1986, detective Park Gwang-ho (Choi Jin-hyuk) is desperate to catch a serial killer. He chases the suspect through a tunnel, and when he comes out the other side he realizes that he’s been transported 30 years into the future and is in 2017.
The killer he’s been chasing continues his killing spree in the future, and detective Park Gwang-ho is in a mad rush to stop him. Gwan-ho assumes the identity of a young policeman and he has to work with new colleagues that include Kim Sun-jae (Yoon Hyun Min), an efficient partner detective, and Shin Jae-yi (Lee Yoo-young) an icy criminal psychology consultant.
With its dark tones and themes, Tunnel targets a specific audience. It comes with a lot of nail-biting moments. It’s the kind of drama that makes you think while you pretend to be an amateur detective.
Cha Dal-gun (Lee Seung-gi) is a stuntman in pursuit of becoming a famous action star, all while being a guardian to his nephew. He finds his world spinning out of control when a tragic plane crash kills his nephew. However, Dal-geon is convinced that someone sabotaged the flight.
Go Hae-ri (Bae Suzy) is a NIS agent working undercover at the Korean embassy. Together, they try to uncover the mystery of the incident but end up discovering a darker scandal than they had expected. What seemed to be an accident turned out to be a corrupted web of political corruption.
This drama is the second show that Lee Seung-gi and Bae Suzy starred together after the hit 2013 period-fantasy drama, ‘Gu Family Book’. While some viewers are not keen to find out that Vagabond had an open ending, it comes with sharp stunt scenes and shocking revelations that will surely entertain.