Ask anyone in the NYLON team and they would say that I am probably the only one who watches Korean dramas in my free time. Knowing the sometimes bad rep that Korean dramas can get for being incredibly draggy, I think of these dramas as a kind of an acquired taste — it’s perfect for some and incredibly boring for others.
During my many phases in secondary school, I was once in an all-things-Western phase where anything and everything that had to do with Asian culture didn’t interest me one bit until this one night after dinner when I joined my mother to watch an hour of Coffee Prince. No doubt the storyline was kind of predictable but there was a certain kind of drama magic in the way the story and characters developed in that hour-long episode which eventually got me hooked.
As a proud K-drama fan, I’ve been consistently encouraging my circle of friends to give them a try and now that we’re stuck at home most of the time, they no longer have an excuse to say no to me. But instead of the more popular titles such as Itaewon Class, Crash Landing On You, and Hotel Del Luna, I prefer catching up on lesser-known titles that are just as good, if not better. So, if you’re running low on Netflix titles to watch after work from home, here are five K-drama titles you can consider adding to your watch list.
HE IS PSYCHOMETRIC
Number of episodes: 16
Starring: Park Jin Young, Shin Ye Eun, Kim Kwon, Kim Da Som
SYNOPSIS: The drama follows a young adult who is gifted with a special psychometry ability after a traumatic incident when he was a child. His ability allows him to see a minute of a person’s past through touch. Together with his adoptive older brother, he learns to hone his ability better in an effort to uncover his hidden memories of the past and finding out the truth behind the tragedy that left him an orphan.
WHY I RECOMMEND THIS: Even though the first few episodes of He Is Psychometric were a little difficult to get through (as with most new series), it’s worth persevering on for as the drama is able to create a lot of twists and turns especially when it comes to the relationship between the two brothers. I found myself doing a lot of guessing about the characters and wondering whether they were good or bad — which was a first for me. But, it is the unpredictability of the plot that had me hooked until the end. So, if you like an unexpected plot, well-developed characters and light-hearted moments mixed in with intense chase scenes, this is the drama for you.
You can stream He Is Psychometric here on Netflix.
Number of episodes: 16
Starring: Ok Taecyeon, Seo Ye-Ji, Cho Seong-Ha, Woo Do Hwan
SYNOPSIS: In order to rescue a former female classmate whose family has been sucked into the beliefs of a religious cult and its charismatic leader, four young men take it upon themselves to find a way out for her even when the odds are stacked against them.
WHY I RECOMMEND THIS: In all honesty, Save Me was one drama that took me a very long time to complete because of my irrational fear of cults and the raw emotions of the characters that could very well be a mirror of someone’s reality. With that said, the plot of this drama was unlike fluff K-dramas that we’re used to and tackled issues of power abuse, herd mentality and the misleading beliefs of religious cults. I also found the characters relatable unlike most K-dramas as they were average individuals who didn’t own big houses, big cars or big companies. The most refreshing part about the drama is that there are no happy endings but a concluding chapter in a person’s life.
You can stream Save Me here on Netflix.
WELCOME TO WAIKIKI
Number of episodes: 20
Starring: Kim Jung Hyun, Lee Yi Kyung, Son Seung Won
SYNOPSIS: To finance their own film project, three young men join forces to start a guesthouse venture only to find out that their business isn’t progressing as much as they had expected it to. Hilarity ensues when the trio attempt to support their finances with their skills by accepting a variety of jobs which include being an extra on a movie set to a child party photographer and a porn film scene writer.
WHY I RECOMMEND THIS: Out of all the dramas I’ve seen, Welcome to Waikiki remains one of my top favourites for their execution and delivery of relatable and hilarious dialogue in the entire series. It was easy for me to find the characters endearing as I could see pieces of myself and my friends in them — a group of adults trying to navigate adulthood and find financial security while holding onto an impossible dream. There was never a dull or cheesy moment in the series which also had a roster of surprisingly famous Korean actors guest star in each episode. For a difficult time like the one we’re living in now, it’s good to laugh and keep our spirits up with a drama like this.
You can stream Welcome to Waikiki here on Netflix.
THE FIERY PRIEST
Number of episodes: 20
Starring: Kim Nam Gil, Honey Lee, Kim Sung Kyun
SYNOPSIS: Following the mysterious death of an elderly Catholic priest, a hot-tempered priest who believes in seeking justice goes on a hunt to find the perpetrators involved; challenging political figures along the way with the help from a rookie detective and an ambitious prosecutor.
WHY I RECOMMEND THIS: Putting my bias for actor Kim Nam Gil aside, The Fiery Priest has everything you seek in an action-comedy. As someone who prefers less romantic plots from time to time, this drama fits in with funny dialogue and slick fighting sequences, especially when it came to the priest and his fight scenes. The characters in this drama were easy to like since it was basically a fight between the good guys and the bad guys. The female lead was my favourite character of the series as she challenged the stereotype of typical pretty female leads. Although she may come off a bit loud and shrewish, I’d like to think that she is the portrayal of the strong, independent woman of today who is not afraid of being comfortable in her own skin, and definitely not afraid to speak her mind.
You can stream The Fiery Priest here on Netflix.
Number of episodes: 16
Starring: Jang Hyuk, Lee Hana, Baek Sung Hyun, Kim Jae Wook
SYNOPSIS: A detective’s life gets turned upside down when his wife is brutally killed by a cold-blooded serial murderer. In an effort to track down the killer, he teams up with a gifted voice profiler from a call centre who has conversed with the murderer before and is seeking justice for her own father’s murder.
WHY I RECOMMEND THIS: While the concept of Voice does remind me of the Ryan Murphy drama 9-1-1, it differs with the many secondary plots joining back to the main antagonist of the drama that everyone is attempting to apprehend. Character development for the characters followed the pace of the storyline and showed how each individual grows from their encounters since they first met. Instead of always rushing headfirst into things, the male lead learns how to refrain from making rash decisions, while the often timid-looking female lead becomes bolder in confronting her fears. I found Voice exceptionally good for a Korean crime drama and if you’re a fan of shows like Criminal Minds or NCIS, you would definitely enjoy this.
You can stream Voice here on Netflix.