Okay-dramas are subsequent in line to journey the Korean wave—or hallyu—the phenomenon the place South Korean tradition takes the world by storm.
After the success of flicks corresponding to Parasite and Minari and record-breaking Okay-pop artists corresponding to BTS, Okay-drama reveals on Netflix—corresponding to Kingdom and It’s Okay To Not Be Okay—are profitable followers throughout the globe.
Korean reveals are watched in additional than 30 languages on the streamer, together with English, German, French, Swedish, Hindi, Portuguese and Bahasa Indonesia, the firm says.
Okay-dramas have been certainly one of the driving forces of South Korea’s leisure business for many years. Their high quality has improved tremendously from the collection I grew up watching in the Nineties and early 2000s, with massive budgets and extra assorted characters and storylines than ever earlier than.
Hallyu is coming full circle with the reputation of Netflix Okay-dramas, as the time period “Korean wave” was coined in the late Nineties after a drama known as What Is Love? turned a success in China. In 2003, one other Okay-drama—Winter Sonata—was massively in style in Japan. This unfold the Korean wave throughout the remainder of Asia earlier than the rise of Okay-pop turned it into a worldwide phenomenon.
Korean content material performs nicely throughout the world, together with in the U.S. and Canada, the U.Okay., France, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Australia, in accordance to Netflix.
The streamer introduced this yr that it might be investing almost $500 million in Korea “to add more variety and diversity to our growing slate.”
Minyoung Kim, Netflix’s VP of content material for Korea, Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand, mentioned in February: “Audiences around the world are falling in love with Korean stories, artists and culture.
“Great Korean tales are nothing new. In truth, storytelling is deeply rooted in Korean tradition,” she added.
“This yr, we have now Korean dramas like The Silent Sea, Squid Game and Kingdom: Ashin of the North” as well as “our first Korean sitcom, So Not Worth It.”
Here we unpack five of the most compelling Korean shows on Netflix to kick-start your obsession with K-drama.
‘It’s Okay To Not Be Okay’
The critically acclaimed romantic drama It’s Okay To Not Be Okay was hailed as one of the “finest worldwide tv reveals of 2020” by The New York Times.
The series follows a budding relationship between antisocial children’s author Ko Moon-young (played by Seo Yea-ji) and Moon Gang-tae (Kim Soo-hyun), a caretaker at a psychiatric ward who has spent his entire life looking after his autistic older brother.
Moon-young aggressively pursues Gang-tae, resulting in heated clashes that ultimately bring the couple closer together.
The filterless and fearless heroine might remind some viewers of Villanelle, the psychopathic assassin from Killing Eve—and a direct translation of the show’s Korean name is “You’re a psycho but it surely’s OK.” Moon-young doesn’t have the same killer instinct, however, and her strong personality is balanced by the glimpses of vulnerability drawn out by Gang-tae, who is unwaveringly patient yet stubborn.
Several scenes have a dark fairytale feel, similar to the children’s stories written by Moon-young, with snowy fields, forest backdrops and the heroine’s fairytale princess outfits and long flowing hair.
Other sequences swap between fantasy and actuality, corresponding to a trippy scene the place a VIP psychiatric affected person walks viewers by way of how he sees the world.
The present marked the extremely anticipated return of Kim, certainly one of South Korea’s highest paid actors, to the small display screen following his compulsory navy service.
Another present that made the Times checklist of finest worldwide reveals final yr, Kingdom is a couple of nation stricken by an unknown illness that spreads like wildfire amongst its folks and later mutates right into a extra virulent kind. Sound acquainted?
Kingdom was Netflix’s first unique Korean collection when it premiered in January 2019. The second season started on March 13 final yr, simply days after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Political corruption and conspiracy meet over-the-top blood and gore on this riveting sageuk (interval drama) with a zombie twist. Viewers with weak stomachs will not take pleasure in its scenes of decapitations and zombies noisily chowing down.
Crown Prince Lee Chang stumbles on the mysterious sickness whereas investigating the rumored dying of his father, the king, who—mini spoiler alert—died however turned a zombie after being vaccinated with a “resurrection plant.” The widowed, pregnant queen and authorities officers trying to oust Lee cover the reality about the king (and the zombie plague) from the folks in a bid to safe the vacant throne for the queen’s unborn youngster.
Seeking the reality behind his father’s sickness, Lee units out to discover the physician who final handled the king. He comes throughout Seo-bi (Bae Doo-na), the physician’s assistant, who can be attempting to uncover what’s inflicting the lots to turn out to be zombies by night time.
The collection is about in an fascinating level in the nation’s historical past: the Joseon dynasty. The Joseon period planted the seeds for contemporary Korean society, from provincial governments and social lessons to the institution of Hanyang—modern-day Seoul.
In the first season, Lee and his allies try to combat the zombies and comprise the outbreak. The second season reveals them studying extra about the sickness and ends on a cliffhanger. A particular standalone episode (Kingdom: Ashin of the North) exploring the backstory of a mysterious character who appeared at the finish of Season 2 is due to air this yr.
A third season is reportedly on the playing cards however an official announcement has but to be made.
The gripping crime drama Vincenzo, which premiered on Netflix in late February, can be sprinkled with moments of light-hearted aid, not least from its most important character Vincenzo Cassano, performed by family title Song Joong-ki.
In an interview with Korean media, Song described the collection as like gulping “a refreshing glass of Sprite” for its burst of sturdy characters.
Vincenzo is the adopted son of Don Fabio, the head of an Italian mafia clan, and ultimately turns into a lawyer/consigliere for the household. He visits his delivery land of South Korea in a bid to get better tons of gold hidden beneath a constructing that has been illegally seized by one other firm. The collection follows his try to reclaim this web site as the gangster kinds an unlikely alliance with a neighborhood household regulation agency.
From the first episode, viewers see a number of sides of Vincenzo that break the typical picture of a ruthless consigliere, performed out in his comedian exchanges with the constructing’s troublesome tenants.
Between some shocking plot twists and glimpses of a troubled previous, viewers will need to stick round to see whether or not Vincenzo is an effective man turned dangerous or a nasty man turning good.
‘The Uncanny Counter’
This engrossing sci-fi motion drama, which premiered on Netflix in November 2020, follows 4 seemingly unusual individuals who in actual fact have extraordinary powers—and secretly work as “counters,” monitoring down and combating demons who prey on people.
Three of the counters work at a noodle store, whereas the group’s youngest and latest member, So Mun, is a highschool scholar.
Each counter works with a associate spirit from Yung, a purgatory-like house between the residing world and the afterlife. All the counters are bodily stronger than different people and every has a novel reward, corresponding to the energy to heal or to learn and erase reminiscences.
So Mun’s “boy-next-door-turned-superhero” persona shall be acquainted to followers of Spider-Man. Like Peter Parker, So Mun misplaced each his mother and father as a baby and was raised by prolonged household (his grandparents).
The collection is filled with satisfying, high-adrenaline combat scenes as the counters battle more and more stronger demons, in addition to heartfelt moments between the 4 who turn out to be like a household.
As their tales unfold, the counters additionally discover themselves taking over college violence, police corruption and troublesome questions on their pasts.
‘Record of Youth’
This hip, trendy and candy romantic drama follows a bunch of twentysomethings attempting to make it in the style and performing industries. A make-up artist assigned to work at a style present abruptly meets her long-time celeb crush there and the pair kind an sudden friendship.
The celeb crush is Sa Hye-jun, performed by Park Bo-gum, one other of the nation’s finest identified actors.
Hye-jun is a mannequin/actor from a working-class household who discovered breakout success seven years earlier. But now he juggles a number of part-time jobs whereas hustling for his subsequent massive break.
Won Hae-hyo, certainly one of Hye-jun’s finest buddies since childhood, can be a mannequin/actor. Coming from a rich household, Hae-hyo has had higher luck in the business—partly thanks to his mom doing no matter she will to enhance his success.
The two males meet make-up artist Ahn Jeong-ha at a style present. Jeong-ha is performed by Park So-dam, now finest referred to as the daughter “Jessica” in Parasite.
Dotted with heartwarming exchanges, fateful encounters and cute/witty banter, Record of Youth is in some ways a quintessential romantic Okay-drama.
But the collection is greater than only a love story, referring to themes of sophistication, household values and relationships in Korean society. Several scenes provide a glimpse into fashionable life for youth folks in South Korea, from the characters’ trendy garments and fancy expertise to the realities of celeb tradition.