2020 may have gone by like a bad dream, but one of the good things to look back on despite the bleak situation, is we have an impressive roster of Korean dramas that kept us company. If you haven’t gone through all the memorable series, you can get your fill with this Round Up Post of the must watch k dramas on Netflix for 2020!
1. The Uncanny Counter
The Uncanny Counter is an adaptation of a popular webtoon that made waves in South Korea towards the end of 2020. Instead of treading the usual dramedy feel that you would find in most K-dramas, this demon hunter saga leans more along the lines of a sci-fi adventure where seemingly ordinary humans get incredible powers that they struggle to harness.
The story starts when a teenage boy joins a secret group of ‘counters’ who disguise themselves as employees of a noodle restaurant, but are actually out to fight evil spirits who came to earth in pursuit of eternal life. As they fight off their supernatural enemies, this ragtag group of demon fighters gives audiences a heady mix of action, comedy, horror, thriller, and drama. Basically, it’s a fantasy-fuelled Korean take on superheroes which marked a bolder and brighter step for K-dramas.
2. Run On
If you don’t mind a dialogue-heavy rom-com reminiscent of the Hollywood hit, Before Sunrise, then Run-On should be right up your alley! It fleshes out the story about a fated encounter between an athlete and a translator. Despite its slow-burning direction of people working on their aspirations despite the struggles, what makes it engaging is it steers away from cutesy romances and gives us real and eloquent conversations.
The story revolves around a track star who veers off course from his predestined path to follow his own pace and heart for a change after a woman steps into his life.
Start-Up is set in South Korea’s fictional Silicon Valley called Sandbox. It tells the uphill climb that people in startup companies have to contend with. It also reveals the struggle of the youth trying to make it in a very competitive world — an aspect of life that many can relate to. It’s a story of passion and perseverance and unconventional love triangle at the center of it all.
This story tells the journey of four young individuals. First, is Seo Dal-mi, a young woman who dreams of becoming Korea’s Steve Jobs. Nam Do-san is an awkward math genius who founded Samsan Tech but seems to be stuck in a rut when it comes to winning investments for their hardwork. Meanwhile, Ha Ji-pyung is an orphan who worked his way up the ladder to finally lead SH Venture Capital. Finally, there is Won In-jae Dal-mi’s estranged sister who strives to make it on her own without having to rely on her stepfather’s money and influence. Besides all these main characters being definite eye candies, this series offers a solid story that touches on topics like family ties, career, love and more.
4. Private Lives
Many have come to love Go Kyung-pyo’s character in Reply 1988, but he suits up for this post-military comeback as he plays the smart and scheming conman, Lee Jung-hwan.
Private Lives gives an inside look on the lives of con artists who are out to reveal the private lives of public figures in society. Things take an interesting turn when a mysterious manager of a large company joins the mix. The plot is filled with intrigue as you try to figure out the mysteries behind certain persons of interest. On top of that, it’s entertaining to watch how the lead characters pull off each case using different disguises. However, beyond pretensions, this drama is an intimate story about real relationships, real emotions, and real lives and the potential consequences when secrets that one desperately keeps hidden eventually goes public.
5. Record of Youth
Just like Sart-Up, this series also tackles the challenges that a group of young people face as they find their place in this world. But, it’s not just any run-off-the-mill story about youth and hardwork. It reels you in with a welcoming storyline that encompasses a variety of themes that comes together nicely.
The story revolves around Sa Hye-jun (Park Bo-Gum), a popular model who dreams of becoming an actor. However, things don’t always go his way as much as it did for his fellow model and childhood friend, Won Hae-hyo (Byeon Woo-seok). This stirs up a lot of conflicting feelings for him. One day, Hye-Jun crosses paths with makeup artist An Jeong-ha (Park So-dam), who was actually a secret fan of his, but as they grew closer, both realised that there’s something more to this new friendship.
6. Graceful Friends
Graceful Friends hooks you on in with a plot that involves death, murder, and secrets. Some would say that it is a mix between The World of the Married and Sky Caste, but it did not get that much hype compared to other 2020 k-dramas. However, this series actually comes with an ensemble cast of veteran actors. Furthermore, it should be worth watching because the story doesn’t waste your time as it heads straight to the point – it starts off with the scandals that drive the mystery surrounding the show.
The story is about four close male friends who are all in their 40s. Despite being tight as brothers, they all hide secrets. As audience get to take a look at each one of them, we also witness the complex relationships among friends and how much is it truly valued when one of them commits murder.
This horror anthology series is definitely something new and perfect for those without so much time to spare, but are looking for something interesting and scary. It features bite-size episodes on different Korean urban legends with around 5-10 minutes in runtime.
8. Stranger (Season 2)
Cho Seung-woo and Bae Doona reprise their role as Stranger premiered their second season which is set two years later. This crime thriller involves political tussles, power showdowns, and hints of horror.
Stranger 2 tackles an ethical dispute within the Prosecutor’s Office and the National Police Agency. The former is gunning for discretionary power over all investigative proceedings, while the latter seeks autonomous authority. In the middle of this conflict Hwang Si-mok (Cho Seung-woo) and Han Yeo-jin (Bae Doona) teamed up to independently conduct their own investigation over a concealed case.
9. Was it Love?
While some Korean dramas tend to have the same elements, ‘Was It Love’ changed the formula up a bit. It’s a story about a single mom who finds herself the center of attraction between four suitors. Amidst the entertaining storytelling, it also served as a reminder that love and dreams have nothing to do with age and past choices. Everything will fall into place in time.
Noh Ae-jong (Song Ji Hyo) is a single mom for over a decade and is also an aspiring movie producer. She had to constantly hustle hard by taking odd jobs to make ends meet while raising her daughter. Things didn’t pan out so well for her having to drop out of uni in her last year after getting pregnant. But this did not stop her from doing what she can with the cards she’s been dealt. Having given up on love now that she is way into her thirties, she did not expect that no less than four different guys would come into her life all at once! Will a new man derail her once more now that she’s starting to get her life back on track?
10. It’s Okay Not To Be Okay
One of the major hooks of this drama is the way it has a dream-like quality to it, and it heavily relies on emotions as it revolves around realistic portrayals of mental illness and neurodiversity. It resonates to a lot of audiences at a time when mental health issues are taking center stage as an inevitable part of the ongoing pandemic. A romance centred around mental illness and childhood trauma just might be a cathartic escape.
The drama tells the story of Moon Gang-tae (Kim Soo-hyun), a health worker at a psychiatric ward who devotes his time caring for his brother with special needs. He crossed paths with Ko Moon-young (Seo Ye-ji), a successful children’s book author who suffers from an antisocial personality disorder. Little did they know that they would slowly begin to heal each other’s emotional wounds. However, as they drew closer the truth about their pasts which haunted them for most of their lives began to surface.
For those who are intrigued by crime dramas, you’d find Extracurricular appealing as it has high school students as your unlikely criminals. One thing is for sure—this is not your typical high school drama.
The plot revolves around top student Oh Ji-soo (Kim Dong-hee) and his illegal business. Things were running smoothly for him, until a fellow student, Bae Gyu-ri (Park Ju-hyun) discovers his criminal activities and starts blackmailing him. It’s interesting to see how the journey of our antihero and his deeply flawed character can still gain sympathy. It has a profoundly moving storyline that highlights the importance of morals, while leaving you to wonder as to how far one would be willing to go in the name of survival. It has the capacity to engage viewers and end with a lasting impression.
12. Mystic Pop-Up Bar
This drama is incredibly fun and will make every Scorpio feel right at home with Weol-ju and the rest of the employees of the pop-up bar. This show heavily plays on emotions which become pretty much every characters driving motivation throughout the series.
Though Mystic Pop-Up Bar shared similarities with other dramas, such as “Hotel Del Luna”, it also offers its own brand of fun and magic that hooks you in.
The story revolves around an ill-tempered owner of a mysterious pojangmacha (outdoor drinking establishment) named Weul-ju (Hwang Jung-eum). She has been paying penance for 500 years and is trying to settle the grudges of 100,000 restless souls in order to be free of her earthly body. To fulfill such a tall order, she was given a faithful helper and sidekick who uses his skill as an afterlife detective to help her settle the grudges of the restless spirits. But things went for an interesting spin when they met Han Kan-bae (Yook Sung-jae), a part-time worker with the ability to hear a person’s thoughts if they touch him.
13. The King: Eternal Monarch
The King: Eternal Monarch is one of the much-awaited series in 2020 as it welcomes Lee Min-ho’s comeback after military service. It centers around a revenge plot which makes the entire parallel universe and time travelling aspects fun and interesting.
The story revolves around Lee Gon (Lee Min-ho), the emperor of the fictional kingdom of Corea which is set in a parallel universe where a monarchy system still rules over the nation. Unfortunately, he gets entangled in his uncle’s insatiable hunger for power when he witnessed his father’s murder. Fortunately, a mysterious figure saves him only to disappear later on. He is left with a mysterious badge, to which the answers lie beyond his own reality. He mounts his horse and crosses over to the Republic of Korea to find the truth, but unexpectedly finds love along the way.
This is another drama that is based on a popular webtoon. While the animated version is thrilling in itself, Choi Jin-hyuk’s stellar performance brings the lead character to life.
This action-packed comic by Rel.mae revolves around detective Kang Ki Beom as he strives for revenge in order to bring down a criminal organisation called Argos. While the webtoon is a thrilling ride in itself, Choi Jin Hyuk‘s performance and the stellar action brings it to life in the drama.
Kang Ki-beom (Choi Jin-hyuk) is a top-notch detective who gets the ire of a criminal organization known as ‘Argos’ due to his many attempts to take them down. Since he seemed like a thorn on their side, they made him witness his wife’s death and gets framed for murder. This led him to join an organization known as ‘Rugal’, known for using biotechnology on humans. Ki-beom gets his own artificial eyes and begins his plans to take out ‘Argos’—for good.
15. Kingdom (Season 2)
Kingdom is the first original Korean series on Netflix that aired in 2019. To fully enjoy the second season that premiered in March of 2020, you need to find context in its first instalment. It builds up the story which resumed at full speed during its second season.
This political period horror thriller is a must watch because it fills you with several heart-stopping scenes and an intriguing storyline as the mysterious disease continues to plague the country by turning the people into rabid zombies. Crown Prince Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon), continues his journey to save his people while the political machinations of his stepmother, the queen consort (Kim Hye-jun), eventually comes to light. This 6-episode second season surely does not disappoint when it comes to the thrill, mystery, and suspense as it rounds out the story and teases you for more to come.
Hyena is a highly watchable legal drama which stars 2020’s favorite crown prince in Kingdom, Ju Ji Hoon. But what is equally captivating is that fact that they wrote a strong female lead who is more than just a love interest, but a feisty character whose sense of justice may be warped but it works.
The story follows this shrewd female lawyer (Kim Hye-soo) who runs her own small law firm, and an ace lawyer who works for legal bigwigs. Since they move within the same circles, since they only prefer to represent the filthy rich, it was only a matter of time before their paths crossed. With a fierce determination to win big cases and nab the big clients, one can’t help but anticipate the showdown between these two lawyers. If you enjoy heated courtroom dramas and witty banters, this show is definitely something worth watching.
17. Itaewon Class
Itaewon Class is also one of the viral hits that came out of Netflix in 2020 that is also well worth your time. Besides Park Seo-joon headlining this webtoon-based series, this drama came with a solid plot that intrigues and inspires. It’s a story of hardwork and second chances, which are basically the usual issues many can relate to.
It takes us into the world of Park Sae-ro-yi, an ex-convict whose life turned upside down after he gets expelled from school for punching a bully. Things further went downhill when he lost his father in the hands of the same troublemaker. This hurled him into a fit of rage which landed him behind bars. But this did not stop Sae-ro-yi from turning his life around. And he did just that. When he came out of prison, he fulfilled his father’s dreams and opened his own restaurant in the bustling Itaewon district. With no regard for how society may see him, he strives nonetheless. He gathered a group of social misfits and together they strived to make it big in the business. On their way to the top, Sae-ro-yi was met with a lot of setbacks as their company slowly turned into a formidable competition against the owner of the conglomerate who put his life in shambles.
18. Hospital Playlist
The creators behind the Reply series and Prison Playbook had something new to offer 2020, and it was one of the most well-received series on Netflix.
Hospital Playlist is a medical k-drama that follows five friends who had known each other since uni days. Now that they are all practicing physicians, each with their own specializations, we see a slice-of-life narrative behind the realities of their profession and personal struggles with music to match. When one of them decides to revive their band, they also use this as an escape from the mounds of stress they contend with on the regular. They strike a balance between the sad realities in the medical setting with a jovial sense of humour that permeates through the show.
19. Hi! Bye Mama
If you are a die-hard K-drama fan, you would be happy to see Kim Tae-hee’s return to the small screen after five years. After recently becoming a mom of two, she plays a new mom for this tear-jerker drama with acting skills still on point!
Hi! Bye Mama is a story of a woman who was killed in an accident five years ago while she was in her last trimester of pregnancy. Since her life ended a bit too early and ever so suddenly, she still continued to exist as a ghost who looked after her little girl as she grew up without a mom. One day, she was given the chance to reincarnate but only for 49 days. If she wishes to come back for good, she has to take place in her family’s life. However, that won’t be as simple because her husband has remarried and her little girl grew up thinking she was her real mom. Despite a plotline laden with fantastical elements, Hi Bye, Mama! offers a realistic portrayal of loss and grief through a heartrending depiction of a mother-daughter relationship.
20. The Good Detective
The Good Detective was one of the successful and underrated series to air this year as viewership rating doubled from start to end. It’s all about a battle between detectives who try to look for the truth and those who cover it up. It asks what it takes to be a good detective.
The story is about Kang Do-chang (Son hyun-joo), an excellent detective who is up for a promotion after almost two decades in service. His partner is Oh Ji-hyuk, an elite detective who comes back to work after a year of absence. He is a bit distant after battling a past trauma, but it’s undeniably great at his job. As it progresses, this drama keeps you on the edge of your seat because it is filled with crime, intrigue, and unexpected turns. It gives you a closer look at injustice, corruption, and manipulation from different sides, sometimes it even comes from their own ranks.
And it’s a wrap! It’s a huge list of Korean Dramas for 2020 and it’s about time to update our all time favourite list of Korean Drama available on Netflix with some of these. Which of these 20 do you think it’s a must watch to be included?