12 Of The Best Korean Mystery Thriller Dramas Of All Time

12 of the Best Korean Mystery-Thriller Dramas of All Time

A story wrapped in mystery is a beautiful recipe that satisfies our curiosity for the “whodunnits” and the “why-did-they-do-that.” If you love this genre, there’s a lot to go by in K-Drama Land that offers crazy twists and mind-bending plots. 

But, to make it easier for you, we’ve narrowed it down to 12 stories that have been well received in its run – and remain to be crowd-pleasers to this day!

Phantom (2012)


Kim Woo Hyun (So Ji Sub) is a celebrated detective heading the cyber investigations unit. When a rising actress was found dead, the team linked her apparent suicide to a hacker they were trailing – Hades. 

Woo Hyun successfully tracks Hades but was surprised to see his old friend, Park Ki Young. He insists that he didn’t kill the actress and rushes off to escape the confrontation. Ki Young looks for concrete evidence on what happened to the actress; only to find out a video showing Woo Hyun at the crime scene. 

When he confronts Woo Hyun about what he saw, a big explosion happened causing the latter’s death. Luckily, Ki Young survives with severe burns, and people mistake him for Woo Hyun. He assumed his identity in a quest to reveal and avenge the demise of his friend with the help of Yoo Kang Mi (Lee Yeon Hee). 

Phantom is a battle where heroes and villains outsmart each other with their digital prowess. It involves system hacking, secret bugging, corruption and conspiracies.

Healer (2014)

Healer 1

While trying to reveal the truth behind tragic deaths in the past, reporter Kim Mun Ho (Yoo Ji Tae) enlists the help of the best night courier in town – Seo Jung Hu (Ji Chang Wook), who is better known as “Healer.” Mun Hu wants him to verify the identity of Chae Young Shin (Park Min Young), who was presumed dead, along with her parents. He proceeds to pay him to protect her from people who wanted her dead in the past. It doesn’t take long before Mun Ho, Young Shin, and Healer discover the truth behind the case. 

As Young Shin and Healer became close to each other, they both realized that their tragic paths hold a common thread. 

Hello Monster (2015)

Hello Monster

In this story, a serial killer is out to murder women with similar attributes. The police are hot on his trails, but can’t seem to find any breakthrough. Lee Hyun (Seo In Guk) is a genius criminal profiler who received an anonymous email that brought him to the crime scene all the way from the US. It seems that the serial killer is sending Hyun a direct message with clues he leaves behind. 

Cha Ji An (Jang Na Ra) is a police inspector with a childhood crush on Hyun, and together they worked to solve the case, which only brought them to uncover the mystery behind a childhood tragedy that connected them both. 

For fans of mystery dramas, this is an explicitly woven Sherlock-Holmes-vs-Moriarty story where genius toys with life and death at the expense of ordinary people. It also leaves audiences asking whether monsters are born or made. 

Signal (2016)


This story follows a young cold-case profiler in 2015 and a detective in 1989. Park Hae Young (Lee Je Hoon) acquires a mysterious walkie-talkie that allows him to communicate with Detective Lee Jae Han (Cho Jin Woong) from the late ’80s to the early 2000s. They worked together in an attempt to solve several cold cases that hit closer to home than they expected. They aim to change the future and bring those responsible for their crimes to justice.

What should pique the interest of mystery-thriller fans is the fact that the series is actually based on real cases that occurred between 1986 and 1991, where ten women were raped and murdered in the same geographical area of ​​South Korea.

Voice (2017)


Moon Jin Hyuk (Jang Hyuk) is a temperamental detective who is guilt-driven after his wife was murdered while he was at work. Kang Kwon Joo (Lee Ha Na) is a woman with extraordinary hearing who studies voice profiling. 

The two come together in a mutual pursuit of the killer behind the brutal murders of their loved ones. Unfortunately, the suspect escaped into anonymity. While on his trail, they encounter an organization that hides the identity of the serial killer. 

This drama is so popular and well-received that its producers came out with a second and third season. It offers compelling and fast-paced storytelling that comes with a lot of gore and some slight jump scares. It’s something you can enjoy, even if you’re not a K-drama fan!

Innocent Defendant (2017)

Innocent Defendant

This drama is a crime thriller that tells the story of a prosecutor, Park Jung Woo (Ji Sung), of the Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office. He was chasing after a criminal named Cha Min Ho (Uhm Ki Joon). When Jung Woo’s wife and son got murdered, he just woke up one day in prison on death row, without any memory of how he ended up there. Apparently, he is accused of his own family’s death. When he goes out of prison, he tries to unravel the mystery of what happened. 

This story has an excellent mystery in place where we find Jun Woo in a very compelling journey as he tries to figure out what went wrong, and ultimately prove his innocence.

Stranger (2017)

Stranger 2

Cracking an unsolved murder mystery is no easy task, especially when you’re working with someone who lacked empathy and social skills. Hwang Si Mok (Cho Seung Woo) was an exemplary prosecutor but he was just emotionally and socially challenged. Police Lieutenant Han Yeo Jin (Bae Doona) experienced this up close as she assists him in solving the murder case. 

However, they realized that their efforts are continuously foiled. As they probe further, they uncovered a massive corruption scheme between the Prosecutor’s Office and a private conglomerate. 

The success of the first season paved the way for a second instalment with conflict now brewing between the prosecutor’s office and the National Police Agency. The struggle for discretionary power over investigative proceedings created a rift between the two parties, but that did not stop Hwang Si Mok and Han Yeo Jin from teaming up again to conduct their own investigation on a concealed case. 

Tunnel (2017)


This drama centers on violent crimes detective Park Gwang Ho (Choi Jin Hyuk) in the 80’s who’s out to catch a serial killer in a tunnel where the last murder took place. When he went inside the scene of the crime, he found himself transported to the year 2016, which was 30 years into the future. 

There, he meets Kim Seon Jae (Yoon Hyun Min), an eccentric elite detective who became his new partner. Along with a psychology professor, Shin Jae Yi (Lee Yoo Young), they desperately try to solve the case with hopes that Gwang Ho can travel back to the past. 

This drama offers an interesting overarching story with very engaging characters, which is a perfect treat for anybody with a penchant for crime dramas and time travel.

Memories of Alhambra (2018)

Memories Of Alhambra

When Yoon Jin Woo (Hyun Bin), a CEO of an investing company, receives a frantic call about a groundbreaking AR (augmented reality) game about medieval battles in Alhambra, he travels to Spain to meet with the man behind it. However, upon arriving there, the game creator went MIA. 

Jin Woo meets his sister, Jung Hee Joo (Park Shin Hye) instead, and was able to test the game himself. Impressed with what he saw, he was still left disappointed because he can’t buy the rights to the program. However, Jin Woo and Hee Joo realized there was more to this complication when they got entangled in mysterious incidents that blurred the fine lines between the real world and AR.

This mystery-thriller intersects with fantasy science-fiction that offers excellent entertainment with great visuals. 

Class Of Lies (2019)

Class Of Lies

The plot revolves around a snobby lawyer named Gi Moo Hyeok (Yoon Kyun Sang) who boasts of a high-winning rate. However, this is what he only cares about rather than unfolding the truth behind a case. He eventually hit rock bottom when he failed to solve the mysterious murder of a high school student, Jeong Soo Ah (Jung Daeun). 

So, to regain his good name as a lawyer, Moo Hyeok decides to solve the case. To do this, he pretended to be a teacher in the same school where the victim studied. There he meets privileged kids who would stop at nothing to get what they want. As he digs out the real score about the murder, he uncovers dark truths within school walls.

So, who exactly killed Jeong Soo Ah? and what dirty secrets lie there? Enjoy the numerous plot twists that keep viewers guessing the suspect’s identity until the end.

Kingdom (2019)


This heart-stopping series revolves around Crown Prince Lee Chang (Ju Ji Hoon) who learned that his father, the king, has succumbed to a mysterious illness. However, they later discovered that he was reanimated only to turn into a monster. This set into motion a horrendous plague that takes over the kingdom. Lee Chang, along with his loyal bodyguard (Kim Sang Ho), and physician Seo Bi (Bae Doona), run against time to find the cause and cure.

With its widespread success, Kingdom premiered its second season in 2020. This time around, Prince Lee Chang learns that all the trouble stemmed from a selfish political ambition to take over the crown. Seo Bi also finds the reason behind this virulent disease. However, they are still on the run as it becomes even more widespread, and aggressive zombies are closing in on them. 

Vagabond (2019)

Vagabond 2

Cha Dal Gun (Lee Seung Gi) is a martial artist and stuntman who raised his nephew Hoon. He was left devastated after losing him in a plane crash. This tragedy drove him to pin down the one responsible for it. However, his quest brings him in the middle of political intrigue and corporate rivalry which actually spurned an orchestrated plane crash—just so one can win a coveted contract. Being a bit of a hothead, Dal Gun tends to rush into things without thinking, but this also makes him the perfect guy to stir things up and expose the crime with the help of NIS agent Go Hae Ri (Bae Suzy).

This action-packed series proves that nothing can stop a man with a plan. The thrill kicks into high gear with crazy car chases, bullets flying, and ruthless men who are out for blood.

With this list of mystery thriller dramas that we have shared above, we hope you can enjoy the highs and thrills while watching them. 

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Vinnie is the founder of Dramakicks. He enjoys watching Korean dramas and movies. His favorite genres are medical, crime, action, romance and comedy. He likes to jog during his free time.
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