32 Seriously Addictive K-Dramas To Watch In 2021

squid game hometown cha cha cha korean drama k-drama 2021 netflix
(Credit: Netflixkr / Instagram, Netflixsg / Instagram)

2021 has seen loads of great K-dramas, both ongoing and completed, that have played a huge role in keeping the Korean drama addicts company at home. Here is our list of recommendations for the best Korean dramas of 2021, meaning more good-looking oppas and unnis to feast your eyes on, regardless of whether you’re a fan of hair-standing thrillers or someone who melts for melodramas! So get ready in front of your TV (or phone) and brace yourself for non-stop roller coaster rides with these exciting plotlines!

Best Korean Dramas in 2021

1. Squid Game

Six games, 456 participants, one winner and a grand prize of 45.6 billion Korean won (~52.1 million Singapore dollars). Would you put your life at stake to win in the deadly Squid Game? Seung Gi-hun, our debt-ridden protagonist, takes part in the biggest gamble of his life yet in this winner-takes-all thriller.  

Directed by Hwang Dong-hyuk, Squid Game is a thrilling survival series with a star-studded cast including veteran actors Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Jung Ho-yeon and Wi Ha Joon. Ferried off to a mysterious island, an indebted group of participants are invited into a deadly tournament made out of six children’s games. The games are familiar renditions of “Red Light, Green Light” and Tug-O-War, but these quickly take a dark turn when failure to win results in elimination — the kind where you get laid to rest in a ribbon-wrapped coffin. 

To avoid major spoilers, this Squid Game review shall not reveal too much about the plot. But if you’re done with the series and need your burning questions answered for the drama’s finale, search for ‘Squid Game ending explained’ in Google and voila (you’re welcome!). Still craving for more cameo of the creepy Squid Game doll? While Squid Game season two has yet to be confirmed, we’re keeping our hopes up considering the good response for season one. After all, Squid Game is the first Korean drama series to top the global charts on Netflix!

Psst, planning to watch the Squid Game with your squad? Dress the part with these Squid Game costumes and Squid Game makeup looks for an immersive experience. We’ve even included supermodel Jung Ho-yeon’s acting debut makeup look in Squid Game so you can look like Black Pink’s Jennie’s BFF for a day!

Cast: Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Jung Ho-yeon, Wi Ha-joon
Genre: Suspense, Drama, Thriller, Mystery
Episodes: 9
Available on: Netflix

2. Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha

Still suffering from second lead syndrome after watching Start Up? We have a piece of good news for you. Kim Seon-ho (Han Ji-pyeong in Start Up) plays the main character, Hong Doo-shik, in Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha. And this time, he’s captured the heart of our lead female character, Yoon Hye-jin (Shin Min-ah)! Although unemployed, Doo-shik is a jack of all trades and greatly adored by the residents in Gongjin, a small coastal town. The arrival of big-city Dentist, Hye-jin, shakes up his life (in a good way) as he helps her adapt to small town life. 

Aside from the good looking cast, Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha is a breath of fresh air during this stuffy stay home period with its beautiful seaside scenery and soft colour palette — almost like a romantic getaway! In addition, the heartwarming supporting characters liven up the town with their ups and downs. You’d find yourself feeling for them in no time!

Cast: Shin Min-ah, Kim Seon-ho, Lee Sang-yi
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Life
Episodes: 16
Available on: Netflix

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singapore shopee 11.11 big sale
singapore shopee 11.11 big sale
singapore shopee 11.11 big sale

3. Nevertheless,

Dubbed ‘The Son of Neflix’, Song Kang is back to charm our screens again in Nevertheless,. Alongside his co-star, Han So-hee from The World Of The Married, Nevertheless, tells the story of a blossoming romance that’s plagued by the ongoing debate of exclusivity. 

Park Jae-eon (Song Kang) is someone you’d swipe up (Super Like) for if you’d come across his profile on Tinder. He has the looks, charisma, talent and most importantly, he’s good at the game of love. But Mr Perfect is a walking red flag — he finds commitment a burden, rarely reveals his true feelings and enjoys the chase but nothing beyond.

Nevertheless (wink), Yoo Na Bi (So-hee) finds it hard to ignore him, despite knowing that he’s bad for her heart. Playing this to his advantage, Jae-eon convinces So-hee into a friends-with-benefits relationship, but gradually finds himself falling deeper for what’s supposed to be a casual affair. The superb chemistry and strong attraction between the leads make this one of the best Korean dramas in 2021 that will seduce your heart. 

Cast: Song Kang, Han So-hee, Chae Jong-hye
Genre: Romance, Youth, Drama
Episodes: 10
Available on: Netflix

4. Lovers of the Red Sky 

Get ready to have your hearts melted by the sweet smile of Kim Yoo Jung, also known as “Korea’s Little Sister” in this new K-drama recommendation — Red Sky! This best Korean drama 2021 is based on a novel by Jung Eun Gwol, the same author for high-rating dramas like Sungkyunkwan Scandal and The Moon Embracing The Sun. You bet this drama will be just as good! 

This period drama tells the story of Hong Cheon Ki (Kim Yoo Jung), a genius painter well-known for her beauty. By a fateful coincidence, Cheon Ki meets Ha Ram (Ahn Hyo Seop), a blind astrologer and falls in love with him. Due to his handicap, Ha Ram is cold and distant from people. However, with Cheon Ki’s undying persistence and love, Ha Ram finds himself opening his heart once again. 

Cast: Kim Yoo Jung, Ahn Hyo Seop, Gong Myung, Kwak Shi Yang
Genre: Historical, romance
Episodes: 16
Available on: Viu

5. The Penthouse 3

Following the booming success of the first two installments of the Penthouse series, the popular SBS drama is back with another exciting season! Picking up where the drama left off, all of the Hera Club members end up in prison, in which a hierarchy persists just like in Hera Palace. Fans can especially look forward to following the newlywed couple, Dan Tae (Uhm Ki-joon) and Seo Jin (Kim So-yeon), as they struggle to adjust to their new lives and attempt to abuse their wealth and power, even in prison.
For those who have yet to watch the first two seasons, you can find all three seasons of The Penthouse on Viu – perfect for binging!

Cast: Lee Ji-ah, Kim So-yeon, Eugene, Uhm Ki-joon, Yoon Jong-hoon, Park Eun-seok
Genre: Suspense, Drama, Crime, Revenge, Thriller, Mystery
Episodes: 12
Available on: Viu

6. Voice 4

Another of Korea’s current favourite dramas is the Voice series, which follows the lives of emergency call centre employees as they battle crimes using the sounds they hear. This latest season follows the story of a serial killer with an enhanced hearing ability, identical to that of policewoman Kang Kwon Joo (Lee Ha-na). Pitted against her match, she cooperates with Detective Derek Cho (Song Seung-heon) of the LAPD to track down the killer. Fans of the drama are in for another exciting season!

Psst – all four seasons of the drama are also available on Viu, so K-drama fans can sit back and slowly enjoy the whole series!

Cast: Lee Ha-na, Jang Hyuk, Lee Jin-wook, Song Seung-heon
Genre: Action, Thriller, Mystery, Psychological, Crime
Episodes: 14
Available on: Viu

7. The Devil Judge

If you love legal dramas that lean towards the dark and thrilling side, The Devil Judge is a definite must-watch! The show is set in a dystopian South Korea, where chaos reigns and people openly express hatred for their leaders. The story follows Head Trial Judge Kang (Ji Sung), whose courtroom proceedings are aired as a live reality show on television, showcasing his merciless punishment of the dishonest.

Part of what makes this series so good is the fact that it is written by Moon Yoo-seok, a former judge himself. Also, GOT7 fans can look forward to seeing member Jinyoung as Kim Ga-on, one of the main characters of the series!

Cast: Ji Sung, Kim Min-jung, Park Jin-young, Park Gyu-young
Genre: Mystery, Law, Crime, Drama, Detective
Episodes: 16
Available on: Viu

8. Taxi Driver

K-drama fans will probably already have heard of this series, which is such a hit in Korea that its finale achieved the fourth-highest rating in SBS history, for its timeslot. The drama is so popular, in fact, that it is already in talks for a second season despite only having ended on 29 May.

Taxi Driver follows Kim Do-Ki (Lee Je-Hoon), a driver for the Rainbow Taxi Company – which offers special “revenge-call” services to take revenge on behalf of their clients. Meanwhile, prosecutor Ha Na (Esom) investigates the Rainbow Taxi Company and slowly enters a moral dilemma upon seeing them solve cases that the law cannot. A truly exciting drama for suspense lovers!

Cast: Lee Je-hoon, Esom, Kim Eui-sung
Genre: Crime, Suspense, Drama
Episodes: 16
Available on: Viu

9. Mr. Queen

If you can’t decide between historical dramas and rom-coms, Mr. Queen offers the best of both worlds with the story of a modern-age man being trapped in the body of Queen Cheorin (Shin Hye-sun) in the Joseon era. It’s definitely a one-of-a-kind drama filled with both drama and laughter.

Cast: Shin Hye-sun, Kim Jung-hyun, Bae Jong-ok, Kim Tae-woo, Seol In-ah, Na In-woo
Genre: Historical, Romantic Comedy, Fantasy
Episodes: 20
Available on: Viu

10. Hospital Playlist Season 2 

hospital playlist 2 best korean drama 2021
(Credit: MyDramaList.Com / Facebook)

The first season of this medical drama was so popular that the broadcaster of this show, tvN, decided to release a second season! Similar to the first season, Hospital Playlist 2 takes place in Yulje Medical Centre and follows the life of five doctors who have been best pals since they started medical school in 1999. In this new season, fans can look forward to the blossoming romance between Lee Ik-joon (Jo Jung-suk) and Chae Song-hwa (Jeon Mi-do). A light-hearted drama that differs from the typical medical shows, it is no wonder this series deserves a spot on our list of best Korean dramas to watch in 2021! 

Cast: Jo Jung-suk, Yoo Yeon-seok, Jung Kyung-ho, Kim Dae-myung, Jeon Mi-do
Genre: Friendship, comedy, medical drama
Episodes: 12
Available on: Netflix

11. Law School

Enjoyed every second of How To Get Away With Murder? Then, you’ll find Law School one of the best Korean dramas for 2021! Former elite prosecutor, Yang Joong Hoon (Kim Myung Min), has arrived at a prestigious law school. He’s now a law professor, but that hasn’t changed his devilish demeanor. However, underneath his nasty temper, Yang Joong Hoon genuinely wants to groom his students to excel in the law field. 

Amongst his students, two of them stand out the most — Kang Sol (Ryoo Hye Young) and Han Joon Hwi (Kim Bum), albeit for different reasons. Kang Sol came from a poor family and is struggling to keep up with the elite students in class. Meanwhile, Han Joon Hwi is the top student in his cohort who’s popular among his peers. While he may look perfect on the outside, Joon Hwi harbours a secret that no one must find out. But all hell breaks loose when an unprecedented murder happens in school and our three protagonists are expected to solve the case in the name of justice. 

Cast: Kim Myun Min, Kim Bum, Ryu Hye Young, Lee Jung Eun, Lee Soo Kyung
Genre: Crime, drama
Episodes: 16
Available on: Netflix

12. Youth of May

If you loved watching the chemistry between Lee Do-Hyun and Go Min-si in Sweet Home, this is one drama you definitely shouldn’t be missing out on! Set in 1980 during the Gwangju Uprising, the story follows the lives of people entangled in a complicated relationship. Go Min-si plays a nurse in this period drama, who does not have enough money to buy a plane ticket to further her studies in Germany. In return for money, she helps out her best friend, Lee Soo-Ryeon (Keum Sae-rok), by replacing her at a blind date. Of course, like all typical dramas, that’s where she meets her love interest – Hwang Hee-tae (Lee Do-hyun), who is a medical student.

We don’t want to spoil anything for you, but a word of caution though. Do prepare a box of tissue because this is a melodrama after all!

Cast: Lee Do-Hyun, Go Min-si, Lee Sang-yo, Keum Sae-rok
Genre: Melodrama, Period Drama
Episodes: 12
Available on: Viu

13. True Beauty

What is a Korean drama without a remarkable transformation? True Beauty is the newest K-drama that we’re fangirling over! With a star-studded cast that consists of Cha Eun-woo, Moon Ga-young and Hwang In-yeop, this show tackles the journey of high school students facing bullying, self-discovery and love. This drama leaves us feeling nostalgic by taking us back to the awkward high school days where we were lost and unsure of what the future holds. Additionally, it gives us all the feels too — crushing on cute guys left and right, and wonderful friends who will stick through thick and thin (or not). Filled with humour and life lessons, True Beauty is the best Korean drama to watch whenever you’re feeling down and need a quick pick-me-up! 

Cast: Moon Ga-young, Cha Eun-woo, Hwang In-yeop, Park Yoo-na
Genre: Romantic comedy
Episodes: 16
Available on: Viu

14. Vincenzo

If the thought of Song Joong Ki in a suit (and speaking Italian) gets your heart racing, Vincenzo will be your best Korean drama in 2021. Our ever-so-charming Descendants Of The Sun male lead is back again, this time as Vincenzo Cassano — a dashing lawyer who works for the Italian mafia as a consigliere. After igniting (literally) a mafia war in Italy, Vincenzo flees to South Korea hoping to retire. 

He meets Lawyer Hong Cha Young (Jeon Yeo Bin), a quirky yet ruthless attorney who will do anything to win a case. Her interesting personality attracts Vincenzo, but our male lead needs to keep his eye on the gold for his retirement — a huge fortune hidden by a dead client under Geumga-dong Plaza where Cha Young’s father’s law firm resides. Will he be able to recover the gold stashed below stealthily or will Cha Young and the other residents at Geumga-dong Plaza get to it before him? Tune in to Vincenzo to find out!

Cast: Song Joong Ki, Jeon Yeo Bin, Ok TaecYeon, Kim Yeo Jin, Jo Han Chul, Kwak Dong Yeon
Genre: Comedy, legal dama, romance
Episodes: 20
Available on: Netflix

15. Start-Up 

Fans of Suzy Bae and Nam Joo-hyuk will want to tune into this romantic comedy drama revolving around a group of young individuals who are passionate to set up their own businesses. Seo Dal Mi (Suzy Bae) is a young woman who dreams of becoming a CEO and was separated from her sister, Won In-Jae, when she was young. When Dal Mi’s parents decided to divorce, her sister chose to live with her mum over her dad and this caused Dal Mi to hold a grudge against her sister. 

To tide Dal Mi over this tough period, Han Ji-pyeong (Kim Seon-ho) wrote letters using Nam Do San’s (Nam Joo-hyuk) name to give her comfort and encouragement. Fast forward to the present, Dal Mi, Do San and In Jae are chosen to compete in a contest held at Sandbox (South Korea’s fictional Silicon Valley). Without knowing that Do San is not the real person behind the letters, Dal Mi becomes attracted to Do San and joins forces with him in the competition. Is Dal Mi only in love with Do San because of the letters she received in his name during her childhood, or will she fall in love with the real writer behind the comforting letters? Watch to find out! 

Aside from portraying typical K-drama tropes like love triangles and sibling rivalries, Start-Up also educates you about startups, proving its worthiness to be ranked as one of the best Korean dramas to watch in 2021. 

Cast: Bae Suzy, Nam Joo-hyuk, Kim Seon-ho, Kang Han-na
Genre: Romance, Drama
Episodes: 16
Available on: Netflix

16. Mouse

We’ve missed Lee Seung-Gi’s boyish charms on the small screen and are glad to say that he’s finally back again! Taking on the role of Jung Ba-Reum in Mouse, Lee Seung-Gi puts his acting skills to the test in this highly anticipated mystery drama. A psychopathic serial killer is on the loose and rookie police Ba-Reum (Lee Seung-Gi) has the ill luck to come face to face with the killer. This dangerous moment becomes the turning point in his life as he strives to unearth the truth behind psychopathic behaviours. 

Cast: Lee Seung-Gi, Lee Hee-Jun, Park Ju-Hyun, Kyung Soo-Jin
Genre: Suspense, Crime, Mystery
Episodes: 20
Available on: Viu

17. Sell Your Haunted House

From You’re Beautiful to Heartstrings, Jung Yong-Hwa is a favourite in the K-pop and K-drama scene. This is why we are so excited to have him back on screen with Sell Your Haunted House — especially when it’s with our all-time favourite actress, Jang Na-Ra!

Ji Ah (Jang Na-Ra) is the feisty owner of Daebak Realty and possesses exorcism abilities. Meanwhile, In Beom (Jung Yong-Hwa) is a conman who earns through exorcism fraud. This unlikely duo comes together to make a windfall when transacting properties. However, they don’t just sell any house — they specialise in selling haunted houses! Expect to be kept on the edge of your seat as the characters navigate through spooky encounters in this best Korean drama of 2021!

Cast: Jang Na-Ra, Jung Yong-Hwa
Genre: Thriller, Comedy, Supernatural
Episodes: 16
Available on: Viu

18. Love Alarm Season 2

If you’ve been feeling unsatisfied with the abrupt ending of the first season, you’ll be glad to know that Love Alarm season 2 is here to fill in those plot gaps! Love Alarm is a romantic comedy series based on the webtoon of the same name by author Chon Kye-Young. The first season of this drama attracted viewers with its unique concept of confessing through an app. If there’s an admirer within a 10-metre radius of you, you’ll be alerted via a notification on the app. Stay tuned to watch the development of the love triangle between Hwang Sun-oh (Song Kang), Kim Jo Jo (Kim So-hyun) and Lee Hye-young (Jung Ga-ram) who are now adults in this upcoming season! 

Cast: Kim So-Hyun, Jung Ga-Ram, Song Kang
Genre: Romance, Teen Drama
Episodes: 8
Available on: Netflix

19. Mystic Pop-up Bar

One of the reasons why K-Dramas continue to soar in popularity over the years is because of their ability to incorporate fantasy into their dramas, which allows us to get lost in the world of the characters and enjoy some respite from reality. Sometimes, some shows also embody moral topics that keep us thinking deeper of life and its intricacies.

Mystic Pop-Up Bar is a great example, and this drama tells the story of a mysterious pojangmacha (Tented Food Stall) run by an ill-tempered woman named Wol-Joo (Hwang Jung-Eum) who’s actually a 500-year-old ghost banished to the living realm, an innocent part-time employee named Han Kang-Bae (Yook Sung-Jae) and a former afterlife detective known as Chief Gwi (Choi Won-young) who visit customers in their dreams to help resolve their problems.

All 12 episodes of this series bring wit, warmth and insights into the topic of life and death. This is definitely one of the best Korean dramas of all time with its refreshing and fun storyline!

Cast: Hwang Jung-Eum, Yook Sung-Jae, Choi Won-Young
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Mystery, Comedy, Supernatural
Episodes: 12
Available on: Netflix

20. It’s Okay To Not Be Okay 

Are you ready for a self-healing romance drama? It’s Okay To Not Be Okay revolves around Moon Gang Tae (Kim Soo Hyun), a selfless caregiver at a psychiatric ward who has to also take care of his autistic brother and Ko Mun Yeong (Seo Ye Ji), a children’s book author with an antisocial personality disorder and has never felt and known love. Gang Tae and Mun Yeong begin to develop romantic feelings for each other and in the process, they help to heal each other’s emotional and psychological wounds. This leads them to realise that sometimes, it’s truly okay not to be okay. This show is unlike other typical Korean romance dramas, and we especially liked that it touches on topics in society such as mental health and personality disorders that are considered taboo to talk about.

Bonus points go to Ko Mun Yeong and her absolutely gorgeous fashion style in the show that is literally every girl’s dream and Oh Jung-se for being able to portray his character of the autistic brother so well. We won’t lie, several packets of tissues were used while watching his down-to-earth personality on screen. We’d vote this as one of the best Korean dramas to watch in 2021 as this storyline is hard to beat! 

Cast: Kim Soo Hyun, Seo Ye Ji, Oh Jung-se, Park Gyu-young
Genre: Romance, Drama
Episodes: 16
Available on: Netflix

21. Doom At Your Service

Life can be unfair especially for the protagonist of this series, Tak Dong Kyung (Park Bo Young). An ordinary hardworking girl who’s trying her best to keep her life together after her parents’ passing, Dong Kyung thinks she’s finally achieved stability in life as a web novel editor. However, just as she heaves a sigh of relief, Dong Kyung is diagnosed with brain cancer. Out of rage, she curses for everything to disappear in her life and this summons Myeol Mang (Seo In Guk). Myeol Mang is a mysterious messenger between humans and gods and possesses the powers to make things disappear. He agrees to grant Dong Kyung’s wishes but there’s a catch — she must sign a hundred-day contract with him and risk her life. Will Dong Kyung sign a pact with the messenger in this K-drama recommendation?

Cast: Park Bo Young, Seo In Guk, Lee Soo Hyuk, Kang Tae Oh, Shin Do Hyun
Genre: Romance, Fantasy
Episodes: 16
Available on: Viu

22. River Where The Moon Rises

River Where The Moon Rises is based on a classic Korean folktale that tells the love story between Pyeonggang and On Dal. On Dal (originally acted by Ji Soo but replaced by Na In-Woo from episode 7 as Ji Soo is swept up in school bullying scandals) lives with his overly protective mother, who prohibits him from travelling beyond the woods where he lives. Out of curiosity, he wanders off to the market in the village and finds Princess Pyeonggang (Kim So Hyun). Later, Pyeonggang visits his home and states that she wishes to live with him. In return, she will teach him how to read, write, and fight. Pyeonggang dreams to be the first female Taewang of Goguryeo but is confused about the new feelings she is experiencing after meeting On Dal. Will she choose to chase her dreams or give them up to follow her heart in this best Korean drama for 2021? 

Cast: Kim So-hyun, Na In-Woo, Ji Soo, Lee Ji-hoon, Choi Yu-hwa
Genre: Historical, Romance
Episodes: 20
Available on: Viu

23. Navillera

Experiencing a low period in your life? You need a healing K-drama recommendation, such as Navillera. Not many of us have the courage to chase our dreams. However, retiree Shim Deok Chool (Park In Hwan) courageously decides to pursue his dream as a ballerina at the age of 70. He joins a ballet company and comes to know of Lee Chae Rok (Song Kang), a talented 23 years old ballerino.

Despite his amazing talent, Chae Rok struggles financially and emotionally and begins losing his passion for ballet. Will Deok Chool’s perseverance for dance inspire Chae Rok to overcome his challenges? Empathise with the struggles of the old and young through this heartwarming drama and find the courage within yourself to stay true to your heart. After all, like Deok Chool mentions, “We only live once.”

Cast: Park In Hwan, Song Kang, Choi Hae Nam, Shim Eun Ho, Ki Seung Joo
Genre: Family, Drama
Episodes: 12
Available on: Netflix

24. Kairos 

Ever wondered what it’ll be like to save your loved ones by traveling back in time? Kairos follows the story of Kim Seo-jin (Shin Sung-rok) and Han Ae-ri (Lee Se-young) and their quest to turn back time in order to protect their loved ones. Seo-jin leads a perfect life with a beautiful wife, a young daughter, and a successful career. But his seemingly perfect world is shattered when his daughter, Kim Da-bin, goes missing in a charity event and all evidence led to the possibility of murder. His wife, who was unable to bear the pain of losing their daughter, decides to take her life.

Meanwhile, in a parallel storyline, Ae-ri is a hard-working daughter who takes good care of her terminally ill mother. She bumps into a little girl who resembles Da-bin in a fateful encounter and does not think much about it. One day, her mother disappears from the hospital without a single trace. As Ae-ri falls into despair, she receives a call from Seo-jin who claims to be from the future. Seo-jin offers to help Ae-ri find her mother, but can the duo really change their past, present, and future? 

Cast: Shin Sung-rok, Lee Se-young, Ahn Bo-hyun, Nam Gyu-ri, Kang Seung-yoon
Genre: Fantasy, Thriller
Episodes: 16
Available on: Viu

25. Undercover

undercover best korean drama 2021 thriller crime
(Credit: MyDramaList.com / Facebook)

Ever wondered what it’s like to lead a life filled with secrets? Undercover revolves around the relationship between Han Jung-hyun (Ji Jin-hee), an agent of the National Security Planning Agency and Choi Yeon-soo (Kim Hyun-joo), a human rights lawyer. While carrying out a top-secret mission, Jung-hyun falls in love with Yeon-soo and marries her without revealing his real identity. However, his secret life gets exposed when his wife is appointed as the head of the Senior Civil Servant Corruption Investigations Unit. This new K-drama recommendation is expected to dig into the reality of power and also share the story of human multifacetedness hidden in it. When a drama is able to teach you moral values alongside keeping you sufficiently glued to the screen because of its interesting storyline, you know it’s worthy of being rated as one of the best Korean dramas in 2021. 

Cast: Ji Jin-hee, Kim Hyun-joo, Yeon Woo-jin, Han Sun-hwa
Genre: Thriller, Crime, Drama
Episodes: 16
Available on: Netflix

26. Sisyphus: The Myth

More often than not, shows that meddle with the concept of time-travelling end up a flop and find themselves struggling to wrap things up. Thankfully, this is not the case for Sisyphus: The Myth, which is touted as one of the best Korean dramas of 2021. 

Han Tae-Sul (Cho Seung-Woo) is a genius engineer and the founder of the world-class company, Quantum And Time. However, since his brother’s mysterious death 10 years ago, Tae-Sul hasn’t been the same. As he tries to uncover the truth behind his brother’s death, Tae-Sul comes face to face with futuristic enemies. And it’s up to Gang Seo Hae (Park Shin-Hye), an elite warrior from the future, to save him. Get ready to watch Park Shin-Hye fight and hold the big guns in this action-packed K-drama recommendation!

Cast: Cho Seung-Woo, Park Shin-Hye, Sung Dong-Il
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Mystery, Romance
Episodes: 16
Available on: Netflix

27. Royal Secret Agent

Not so much of a romantic? Here’s one of the best Korean dramas 2021 that’s light on the romance side but still packs a punch. Set in the Joseon era, Royal Secret Agent revolves around Sung Yi-gyeom (Kim Myung-soo aka L) who currently works in the administrative and research department of the government office after placing first in the state examination. After being caught for gambling, he is assigned to a new position as a secret royal inspector to investigate the malpractices of corrupt officials. With the help of Hong Da-In (Kwon Na-Ra), a female inspector, and Park Chun-Sam (Lee Yi-Kyung), his talkative and affectionate servant, Yi-gyeom goes undercover in the provinces to bring justice and uncover corruption.

Will the passionate trio be able to solve the problems of local residents? What difficulties will they encounter while investigating the corrupt practices of public officers? Watch this new historical drama to uncover the mysteries and crimes of the people in Joseon! 

Casts: Kim Myung-soo, Kwon Na-ra, Lee Yi-kyung, Lee Tae-hwan
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Comedy, Romance, Drama
Episodes: 16

28. Bossam – Stealing Fate 

If you’re a SONE, show your support for Kwon Yu-ri who plays Princess Soo-kyung in Bossam – Stealing Fate! Set in the reign of King Gwanghae during the Joseon period, this Korean drama revolves around Ba-woo (Jung Il-woo), a matchmaker who helps widows find new husbands, and Soo-kyung who’s a princess. While working, Ba-woo unknowingly kidnaps Princess Soo-kyung, causing their first encounter to be fairly unpleasant. This is also where the working title of the drama comes in, as bossam translates to “wrap away” or kidnap. The drama will also touch on the oppression experienced by women and the poor. Watch how the love between the two main characters blossom despite their differences! 

Cast: Kwon Yu-ri, Jung Il-woo
Genre: Historical, Romance, Drama
Episodes: 16

Best Korean dramas to look forward to in 2021

29. Snowdrop

best korean drama 2021 snowdrop kdrama recommendation
(Credit: JTBC)

Attention all BLINKS! You wouldn’t want to miss this new Korean drama featuring Blackpink’s Kim Jisoo as the main lead! Snowdrop is set in 1987, in Seoul, and tells the love story of Im Soo Ho (Jung Hae-in) and Eun Young Cho (Kim Ji-soo). Young Cho falls in love with Soo Ho at first sight during a social gathering. They meet again when Soo Ho runs into Young Cho’s female-only dormitory, only he’s covered in blood. Despite being under strict surveillance, Young Cho decides to hide him and tends to his wounds. Based on the memoir of a man who escaped a political prison camp in North Korea, we wouldn’t be surprised to see this exciting and heartwarming show top the list of best Korean dramas in 2021! 

Cast: Jung Hae-in, Kim Ji-soo, Jang Seung-jo, Yoon Se-ah, Kim Hye-yoon, Jung Yoo-jin, Yoo In-na
Genre: Romance, melodrama
Episodes: 16
Available on: Netflix
Release date: TBC

30. The Silent Sea 

the silent sea best korean drama 2021
(Credit: netflixkr / instagram)

If romance and comedy shows are too cheesy and over the top for you, you will be glad to know this new K-drama recommendation is anything but that. Boasting a star-studded cast that features Gong Yoo, Bae Doona and Lee Joon, this mystery thriller is one of the most highly anticipated best Korean dramas in 2021. Set in the future where desertification leaves the planet suffering with no food and water, The Silent Sea tells the story of a special team sent to retrieve a secret sample from an abandoned research facility on the moon. 

Gong Yoo plays Han Yoon-jae, the exploration team leader, who carries out a crucial mission with limited information. Bae Doona plays Doctor Song Ji-an, an astrobiologist, who is determined to discover the truth behind an accident at the Balhae Base research station on the moon. On the other hand, Lee Joon plays Captain Ryoo Tae-seok who is an elite member of the Ministry of National Defense but volunteered for this dangerous mission to escape the stifling environment at the Ministry. If you appreciate sci-fi series, futuristic shows and relish cliffhangers, then this is one of the best Korean dramas to watch in 2021!

Cast: Gong Yoo, Bae Doona, Lee Joon
Genre: Mystery, science fiction, thriller
Episodes: 8
Available on: Netflix
Release date: TBC

31. Money Heist (Korean Adaptation)

money heist korean adaptation best korean drama 2021
(Credit: MyDramaList.Com / Facebook)

If you’re getting impatient for the fifth season of Money Heist, here’s a K-drama recommendation that will help with the wait — Money Heist is getting a Korean adaptation! Yes, you read that right. Starring big names such as Yoo Ji-Tae (The Professor) and Jeon Jong-Seo (Tokyo) alongside renowned director Kim Hong-Sun (from Voice and The Guest), we have absolutely no doubt that the Korean version of Money Heist will be one of the best Korean dramas of 2021. 

Instead of the original setting in Spain, this adaptation will have the heist happening on the Korean Peninsula. Other than that, the drama is believed to follow the original storyline closely. With that said, we believe the all Korean cast and setting will definitely breathe a new life into the series — even for those who’ve seen the original!

Cast: Yoo Ji-Tae, Jeon Jong-Seo, Park Hae Soo, Lee Won Jong, Kim Ji Hoon, Jang Yoon Ju
Genre: Crime, action, thriller
Episodes: 12
Available on: Netflix
Release date: TBC

32. Moving 

moving best korean drama 2021 kdrama recommendation jo in sung
(Credit: MyDramaList)

Many K-drama recommendations based on webtoons have been a huge hit. Take Cheese In The Trap and What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim for example. And Moving is joining the long list of successful webtoon dramas this year! Starring superstars like Han Hyo Joo, Jo In Sung and Cha Tae Hyun, Moving tells the story about high schoolers and their parents — and the secrets that they hide for others. Directed by Mo Wan Il from the World Of The Married, we’re looking forward to similar unexpected twists and turns in this best Korean drama 2021!

Cast: Han Hyo Joo, Jo In Sung, Cha Tae Hyun
Genre: Mystery, school, drama
Episodes: 20
Available on: TBC
Release date: TBC

Get your K-drama fix with the best Korean dramas in 2021 

Bid goodbye to your drama drought by exploring some of the great K-dramas in this list! Can’t wait to start on these dramas? Viu Premium allows you to watch your videos ad-free. You also have access to unlimited downloads of your favourite shows for offline viewing. Premium members may also enjoy priority viewing and an all-access pass to all of Viu’s extensive content! You can get your Viu subscription plans on Shopee, with available plans ranging from 90 Days to 365 Days subscription plans.

Here’s something fun for all K-drama buffs — K-drama inspired recipes! Try your hands at these easy Korean recipes and recreate yummy snacks like the bungeoppang found in Vincenzo and tteokguk shown in Hotel Del Luna! Meanwhile, if you’re looking for something light and easy to watch, perhaps these Korean variety shows will lift your spirits and keep you entertained!

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This article was updated on 28 September 2021. Additional research done by Iris Tan.

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