If you find satisfaction in crime busting dramas, k-dramaland has all the right stories to get you hooked. While there’s A LOT of good shows in the past few years and in recent months, we narrowed it to 15 of the best ones out there for your viewing pleasure!
Here’s a quick look at some of the well-received K-dramas you need to add to your list.
1. City Hunter (2011)
Lee Yoon Sung (Lee Min Ho) is a talented MIT-graduate who works on the international communications team in the Blue House. He becomes a “City Hunter” and he plans to seek revenge on five politicians who caused his father’s death while on a covert mission along with his surrogate father, Lee Jin Pyo (Kim Sang Joong). While working at the Blue House, Lee meets bodyguard Kim Na Na (Park Min Young), who wants in on his revenge plans having discovered that they have the same goal in mind. However, problems started brewing when Lee defies his surrogate father on several occasions while they scramble to identify and punish the officials involved in this conspiracy, also known as the “Council of Five”.
2. I Hear Your Voice (2013)
In this thriller courtroom drama, it centers around the story of Jang Hye Sung (Lee Bo Young), who is a bold, sassy, and materialistic public defender. She becomes a lawyer after escaping poverty and painful memories from her childhood. She crossed paths with Park Soo Ha (Lee Jong Suk), a 19-year-old boy who can read other people’s minds just by looking through their eyes. He gained this supernatural ability when he witnessed the murder of his father a decade ago. The tragedy was initially tagged as a car accident until a young Hye Sung gave her testimony in court despite the suspect’s threats. When the killer paid his dues in jail, he vowed to seek revenge on the person who brought him there. When Soo Ha learns about this, he vows to protect Hye Sung. The two came together to solve their cases which made them realize that while sometimes justice is blind, it can still hear your voice.
3. Bad Guys (2014)
Detective Oh Gun Tak (Kim Sang Joong) is not one to follow protocols, but he is willing to use any means necessary to catch criminals. Having relied on excessive force to gain results, this practice resulted in his suspension. Still with a hunger to pin down criminals, he ironically rounded up a team of bad guys to hunt down those who are still at large. Since the investigating team needs someone like Gu Tak to solve a hard case they have been struggling with, police inspector Yoo Mi Young (Kang Ye Won) signs off on the arrangement. Gu Tak releases three convicts from jail to form his team. This consists of a hired hit man, a mob boss, and a Mensa genius.
4. Gap Dong (2014)
This story is loosely based on the infamous Hwaseong serial murders that took place between 1986 and 1991 (which was also the basis for time-travel K-drama Tunnel). However, in this series, the story is set in 1996 with early flashbacks which showed a girl getting brutally murdered by an unknown assailant while she was walking alone at night. This incident was a first of many murders where the police are left without any strong clue that leads to the suspect. As the city is gripped with fear, Police inspector Yang Cheol Gon (Sung Dong Il) is convinced that the killer is Ha Il Sik, a mentally challenged man who ended up committing suicide to prove his innocence. Seventeen years later Cheol Gun, who is now a decorated officer, requested to be assigned back to the case before he ends his career, but he finds himself assigned under Ha Moo Yeon (Yoon Sang Hyun), the son of Il Sik who vowed to avenge his wrongly accused father.
5. I Remember You/ Hello Monster (2015)
This series tells the story of a genius criminal justice professor and a profiler named Lee Hyeon (Seo In Guk) who lost his father and younger brother due to serial killings. Hyeon sets out to find the serial killer, Lee Joon Young (D.O. EXO) for a payback. But in order to do that, he works as an advisor in a Police Special Task Force where he met his childhood “stalker”, Cha Ji An (Jang Na Ra). Since Ji an also has an axe to grind against Joon Young, Ji An agreed to help Lee Hyeon. In this journey to seek revenge, Lee Heyon found out that his younger brother is alive and has turned into something he is afraid of.
6. Signal (2016)
In this crime thriller series, the past and present collide through a mysterious walkie-talkie. By a weird twist of fate, Lee Jae Han (Cho Jin Woong), who is a detective in the year 1989 was able to get in touch with cold case profiler, Park Hae Young (Lee Je Hoon) in 2015. This unusual connection led to a crime-solving spree through the power of hindsight and foresight. However, the supernatural advantage also came with limitations because the walkie-talkie only lights up sporadically at 11:23 p.m., but only for a minute. As the pace tightens, the overlapping scenes from the past and present are woven seamlessly creating a narrative that keeps you on edge. What triggers more interest in this series is that a lot of the cases in this series are based on real crimes like the Hwaseong serial murders and the Seongsu Bridge collapse.
7. Pied Piper (2016)
This series follows a police negotiation task force who specializes in intense, worst-case scenarios that require high trained negotiation skills. They handle the most volatile and high-risk situations such as suicide, terrorist attacks, hostage situations, and war. Joo Sung Chan (Shin Ha Kyun), who is a genius lead negotiator, and Yeo Myung Ha (Jo Yoon Hee) an inspector, come together to neutralize these tense situations before they turn into full-blown catastrophes. However, Yoon Hee Sung (Yoo Jun Sang), who is the real Pied Piper, was a thorn on their side. She is an aggressive broadcast journalist who was always on the prowl to snag coverage-worthy events.
8. Tunnel (2017)
Park Kwang Ho (Choi Jin Hyuk) is a police detective who was assigned to the violent crime unit who was out to track a dangerous serial killer in 1986. But when his daughter was in peril, he was in a mad rush to catch the dangerous killer before it’s too late. He chases him through a tunnel but then finds himself transported to 2017, where the killer is still at large. Since times have dramatically changed after three decades, Kwang Ho was out of his element as he wades through the technological and societal development of the current year. But he finds help from police detective Kim Sun Jae (Yoon Hyun Min) and Shin Jae Yi (Lee Yoo Young), a criminal psychology professor. Together, they set out on a hunt to bring the elusive killer to justice.
9. Voice (2017)
While Moo Jin Hyuk (Jang Hyuk) is busy catching criminals, his wife becomes the target of a serial killer who also kills a father of a female police officer named Kang Kwon Joo (Lee Ha Na). Kwon Joo was working at the emergency 112 call center when a brutal murder took place and her father, who is a police sergeant, went to the crime scene. Unfortunately, her father was killed while Kwon Joo hears what happened over the phone. She leaves Korea for the US to study and comes back as a professional voice profiler. Together with Jin Hyuk, they solve cases together, while also on a hunt to find the serial killer who was responsible for the deaths of their loved ones.
Voice is currently finished it’s 2nd and 3rd Season and the 4th is not slated to be out yet.
10. Stranger (2017)
It follows Hwang Si Mok (Cho Seung Woo), who is an excellent and unbiased prosecutor who lacked empathy and social skills. Together with Police Lieutenant Han Yeo Jin (Bae Doona), they investigate a murder case which ultimately led them to a corruption scheme between the Prosecutor’s office and a private conglomerate. This story keeps you guessing until the end with its twists and turns. It becomes almost impossible to tell who’s telling the truth and who’s lying. It treads into morally ambiguous and grey areas which creates interesting layers to villains and protagonists, which also paints a sense of realism in these characters. It’s no wonder why the New York Times included this drama in their list of “Best TV Shows of 2017.”
11. Trap (2019)
Kang Woo Hyun (Lee Seo Jin) takes his family on a family vacation, but they hit a snag when they suddenly become targets to a hunting game. Soon after, his wife disappears, and later, Woo Hyun is found unconscious. He was brought to the hospital, and an investigation was launched. Soon after, the body of his dead son was also discovered. Woo Hyun becomes the prime suspect for the disappearance of his wife and his son’s death. Suspicions arise because while he plays the grieving father, they noticed that his actions seemed calculated and practised. So, detective Go Dong Kook (Sung Dong Il) and profiler Yoon Seo Young (Lim Hwa Young) decide to investigate him more intently. They suspect that the whole accident had been staged because Woo Hyun was out to seek revenge.
12. Flower of Evil (2020)
Baek Hee Seong (Lee Joon Gi) and Cha Ji Won (Moon Chae Won) are happily married for 14 years. As a professional detective, Ji Won’s instincts start to kick when she notices something off about her husband, and it was right for her to suspect. On the surface, Hee Seong may appear like the perfect partner, but he is hiding his identity and past from his wife. Suspicion starts to surface when Ji Won investigates a case related to a serial killer in the past. Growing evidence seems to suggest that the evasive suspect could be her seemingly perfect husband, much to her disbelief and denial. With so many red herrings pointing to Hee Seong as the possible suspect, this assumption just might be far removed from the truth.
13. Train (2020)
To trace the killer of the woman he loves, Seo Do Won (Yoon Shi Yoon) crosses a parallel universe where he meets his counterpart who is also a detective. In this alternate reality, he finds that his one true love is very much alive as Prosecutor Han Seo Kyung (Kyung Soo Jin). In the process of solving the serial murders, he stumbles upon the truth about the death of Seo Kyung’s father which was pinned on Do Won’s father. With climactic final episodes, the two have made painful realizations that the people they trust are involved in merciless murder cases. If you enjoy the multiverse dimension of The King: Eternal Monarch, this story should keep you interested.
14. The Good Detective (2020)
This drama gives you a peek at the struggle between detectives who try their best to reveal the truth and those who are insistent to cover it up. The story is set in Incheon, South Korea, where Kang Do Chang (Son Hyun Joo) works as a detective for the past 18 years. He investigates cases using his experience and personal connections, and forgoes scientific technique or reasoning power. Oh Ji Hyuk (Jang Seung Jo) is a total opposite as he solves cases by relying on evidence and insight into the criminal’s psyche. Despite their two contrasting approaches, they come together to solve a double-murder case which involved some people in power. Armed with power and connection, they easily get away with the murders, until a brave whistleblower pointed out the cover-up.
15. Tell Me What You Saw (2020)
Oh Hyun Jae (Jang Hyuk) is a genius profiler who lost his girlfriend in a bombing that was orchestrated by a serial killer. Devastated by his loss, he then lived as a recluse after the tragedy. However, five years later, a new murder takes place using the same method in the previous serial killings. The suspect in the previous bombing was already presumed dead, but Hyun Jae found out that the culprit was still alive. So, he goes on a mission to track him down to seek justice. Hwa Ha Young (Jin Seo Yeon) heads the team investigating the case. He teams up with Hyun Jae to pin down the killer, with the help of detective Cha Soo Young (Choi Soo Young), who has a photographic memory.
Now that we’ve rounded out the top 15, we hope that some of these choices have piqued your curiosity at least. If you are keen to look at other genres, you can check out some of the other lists as well!