The reason why crime dramas captivate an audience is the fact that it fuels curiosity. Besides the question about a suspect’s identity or whether he/she gets caught, the process of getting to the bottom of it provides an element of suspense.
If crime-busting and adrenaline-fuelled storylines are right up your alley, 12 police procedural Korean Dramas are definitely worth checking out.
Flower of Evil
Detective Cha Ji-won (Moon Chae-won) and her team are investigating a series of unexplained murders. But as she goes deeper into the case, she starts to suspect that her doting husband, Baek Hee-song (Lee Joon-gi) is possibly involved in it—and he just might be the notorious serial killer who is still at large.
If you are into thrilling detective work and mind-bending twists with a heart-tugging romance, this series keeps you engaged. Faced with some mind-bending truths, find out if Detective Cha’s frantic chase for justice could incriminate or vindicate her husband.
When Hwang Shi-mok (Cho Seung-woo) had brain surgery as a child, it caused him to lose any sense of empathy. As an adult he turns out to be a cold prosecutor, but a rational one without a smidge of corruption to his name.
One day, he comes across a murder case, and together with police lieutenant Han Yeo-jin (Bae Doona), they work together to solve the homicide case and eradicate the long-standing corruption plaguing the prosecutor’s office.
As a police drama, Stranger (2017) is well-received by audiences, locally and abroad. It is one of the highest-rated Korean dramas in cable television history, and it even gained recognition by the New York Times’ list of Best TV Shows of 2017.
This is a police procedural drama about a detective whose spouse was killed by a serial killer. Moo Jin-hyuk (Jang Hyuk) who was a popular detective with an impressive record of solving major cases. However, his life spiralled out of control after his wife was murdered by a serial killer.
Meanwhile, Kang Kwon-joo (Lee Ha-na) is a policewoman gifted with perfect psycho-acoustic skills. She teams up with Jin-hyuk while she was also out to solve his father’s murder. Both detectives come together to solve crimes and to catch the serial killer who took their loved ones.
Unlike most Korean police procedural dramas which ends with one season, Voice continued with two more seasons in 2018 and 2019.
Kang Woo hyun is a respected anchor at a broadcasting station. He has a lovely family and he tried his luck in politics. His life seems to be going well, until one day, a family trip took an ugly turn.
Trying to make sense of things, Woo-hyun then ends up teaming up with Ko Dong-kook (Sung Dong-il), a veteran yet grumpy detective with a tragic family past of his own, and Yoon Seo-young (Lim Hwa-young), a young and persistent profiler. Together, the trio delve deeper into the incident and try to solve what really happened to Woo Hyun’s family, and to discover who was behind all of this. Along the way, they discover bizarre truths that will take you through an emotional journey of unpredictable twists and turns.
This bite-sized psychological thriller also boasted great actors, great production quality and a compelling story. It is perfect for anyone who is fond of figuring out mind-boggling mysteries that will send your curious minds for a spin.
Tunnel is a charming, comedic, yet compelling show that delivers solid writing as it details the pursuit of a serial killer with a 30-year track record.
Park Gwang Ho (Choi Jin-hyuk) is an excellent and enthusiastic detective in 1986. However, his life changes when he pursues a lead in a serial homicide case that leads him to a time portal which transports him to present day Seoul. He meets a new partner Kim Seon-jae (Yoon Hyun-min), an elite and eccentric detective who was a highly skilled investigator. As they pair up for some crime-solving action, the duo find help from psychology professor Shin Jae Yi (Lee Yoo-young).
As our main hero travels through time in pursuit of an unknown serial killer, the story takes you through interesting police procedurals. It offers a gripping and addictive narrative full of twists and a controversial storyline that was partly inspired by the famous Hwaseong serial murders.
This list wouldn’t be complete if we miss to mention one of the popular crime series in K-dramaland. Signal is well received by audiences due to its intriguing plot inspired by real-life cases in South Korea. The story was given justice by compelling performances by the cast.
Compared to other police procedural dramas, Signal comes with a dose of fantasy. The plot revolves around a mysterious walkie-talkie which allowed the detective in the year 1986 to communicate with a cold case profiler from 2015. Together, in this unconventional collaboration, they team up to solve crimes.
Be one with those who found themselves captivated by this series with each episode designed with movie-like quality. The pacing and twists involved are mind-boggling, with each episode offering its own shock value and epic reveals.
Signal stars Lee Je-hoon, Kim Hye-soo and Cho Jin-woong.
This is a Korean remake of the American hit series, Criminal Minds. It stars Lee Joon-gi, Son Hyun-joo, Moon Chae-won, Lee Sun-bin, Go Yoon and Kim Yeong-cheol.
It follows a group of highly trained profilers in the fictional National Criminal Investigation (NCI). What is so interesting about this series is that they solve cases from the perspective of the criminals. Unlike the American drama where the team travels in a jet, this Korean remake has its team travel around in a bus.
This 20-episode drama features the crimes and storyline inspired from the first season of the American version.
This police procedural drama takes the police chase into the digital space. With cyber-crimes mounting up around the world, it is necessary to have a team specifically tackling them.
Phantom follows Detective Kim Woo-hyun (So Ji-sub) from the cyber investigations unit who finds himself in a cat-and-mouse game with aggressive but faceless criminals in the cyber world. He tirelessly hunts a hacker named Hades where he traces his location to an apartment building. But when he arrived on the scene, he witnessed an actress fall to her death from the high-rise which spurned a series of mysteries that revealed something bigger and more sinister.
Phantom offers something new because it gives you a sneak peek into the criminal aspect of the cyber world which is also teeming with mysteries, conspiracy and corruption.
This drama highlights one of the most crucial parts of police investigation—the negotiation. Pied piper shows us the technicality and the emotion that goes into the critical aspect of communicating with criminals.
The story focuses on a police negotiation task force who specialises in worse-case scenarios, from suicide, hostage situations, and terrorist attacks. There is much to be learned and entertained as the team attempts to neutralize highly volatile situations, not with brute force, but with words before these erupt into a full-blown catastrophe.
Shin Ha-kyun stars as lead negotiator Joo Sung-chan, while Jo Yoon-hee as Inspector Yeo Myung-ha. Meanwhile, Yoon Hee-sung (Yoo Jun-sang) is a TNN Night News anchor.
In most Korean procedural dramas, stories are often carried by a genius character. In The Missing, that would be Gil Soo-hyun (Kim Kang-woo), a child prodigy who got into Harvard at the age of 10.
After working for the FBI for a decade, he returned to South Korea where he is assigned to lead a special missing persons task force. With him is his partner, Oh Dae-young (Park Hee-son) who is an experienced detective. Unlike Soo-hyun who is analytical, Dae-young relied more on his gut feeling—and these contrasting approaches often had the pair clashing. These differences make their team-up more interesting to follow as you see how they take on each missing persons’ case and the overarching story about a serial killer who is still at large.
Special Affairs Team TEN
This drama revolves around a criminal investigation unit that tackles the most violent crimes in South Korea. As they chase the most notorious killers who are determined to execute the perfect crimes, the team is up against the daunting task of solving crimes that have less than 10% rate for arrests.
The story follows Yeo Ji-hoon (Joo Sang-wook), a former ace detective who now works as a police academy instructor. But after the brutal murder of his wife, he gives up teaching to go back to the field. With his skills and experience, he was made the lead investigator of the special task force TEN.
This drama puts the spotlight on a female detective who is haunted by the death of a loved one. Cha Soo-kyung (Go Hyun-jung) is the leader of Investigation Team 1 at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.
Years ago, a serial killer killed her fiance and got away with it. When a new murder case comes up resembling the old killer’s crime, Soo-kyung is appointed as the first female detective to head HIT or the Homicide Investigation Team.
Her work ethic often comes in conflict with the carefree, playboy district attorney Kim Jae-yoon (Ha Jung-woo). Despite personal issues and doubts, the duo makes a great crime-fighting team.