For the past few years, we’ve been lucky enough to receive a steady stream of high-quality Korean programming, much of which has captured the minds of western audiences. Popular shows like Squid Game and Crash Landing on You have served as introductions to Korean media for many, while in Extraordinary Attorney Woo and Little Women we’re continuing to receive some of Korea’s highest-performing shows. But what’s next?
With such a range of options, it can all feel a little overwhelming. If Squid Game was your jam, where do you get your next sci-fi fix? If you loved Crash Landing on You, how do you find more Korean romance? RadioTimes.com is here to help with this list of the best Korean TV and films you can stream right now.
Expect corruption, adorable couples, gross boyfriends, and a whole lot of love.
After the murder of a former prosecutor with high-ranking political ties, fellow prosecutor Hwang Si-mok (Cho Seung-woo) is assigned to discover the identity of the killer. Unable to feel empathy due to childhood brain surgery, he teams up with the effervescent Lieutenant Han Yeo-jin (Bae Doona) as an intricate web of lies and corruption unravels before them.
Stranger is the perfect introduction to Korean thrillers. One of Netflix’s first Korean originals, it contains all the tropes seasoned campaigners have come to expect, with a solid mystery at its core. But if you come for the intrigue, stay for Lieutenant Han and Prosecutor Hwang.
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In the face of Si-mok’s lack of empathy, Han makes it her mission to make him smile and their friendship is one of the most adorable things you’ll see on TV. The chemistry between Bae and Cho is electric, and it’s great to see a show cast its leads as best friends rather than romantic partners.
Seriously, I love everything about them. They’re even my phone lock screen.
You can stream Stranger now on Netflix.
After a Japanese stranger (Jun Kunimura) arrives in a wet, rural village, a strange sickness starts to overtake the townsfolk. Turning them into cannibalistic, rage-filled monsters. Jaded and burned-out police officer, Jong-goo (Kwak Do-won) is pulled into the mystery when his daughter becomes sick. But is the Japanese visitor to blame or is it the strange woman (Chun Woo-hee) that hangs around Jong-goo’s home that’s the real culprit?
A good horror film isn’t always a good film, but the Wailing is both. It’s a slow burn, but never feels as long as it is thanks to excellent pacing and engrossing performances. Even six years after its release, its themes and lingering horror feel appropriate for pandemic stricken, post-Brexit world.
You can stream The Wailing now on Prime Video.
All of Us Are Dead
In a school in which raging hormones are everywhere, it’s the raging zombies spreading from the science lab that soon become the real problem. While most of us couldn’t wait for school to end, in All of Us Are Dead a group of teenagers must barricade themselves in their classrooms while a zombie horde takes over the city of Hyosan.
One of a raft of Korean originals Netflix release in 2022, All of Us Are Dead turns the zombie genre on its head. Both fun and horrifying, it’s like a strange mix between Sex Education and The Walking Dead. Zombies… but with horny teenagers (well, as horny as teenagers can be in Korean dramas).
Includes a few interesting twists on established zombie canon that make the confirmed second season even more exciting. Just don’t get attached to any of the adults.
You can stream All of Us Are Dead Now on Netflix.
Twenty Five Twenty One
When the IMF financial crisis forces her school to slash funding to its fencing program, Na Hee-do (Kim Tae-ri) sets out to join the team of her idol – and Olympic gold medallist, Ko Yu-rim (Kim Ji-yeon) by any means necessary. When the adage “never meet your heroes” proves true, however, she must navigate a bitter rivalry with the Olympic champion, as well as her burgeoning relationship with an older man.
What follows is arguably one of the best sports shows on TV. While the series relies on typical romance tropes for its romantic plot – including a pretty unlikable male protagonist – it’s carried by Kim Tae-ri’s joyous performance as Na Hee-do and her relationship with Ko Yu-rim.
Interestingly, the final episodes proved unpopular in Korea. For all its reliance on K-drama tropes, it bucks lots of trends which makes for a far more interesting romance than most K-dramas. Plus, the fencing scenes are filmed to perfection.
This is a big show for anyone who wants some 90s nostalgia or to fill the gap that Friday Night Lights has left. You can stream Twenty Five Twenty One on Netflix now.
Disney’s foray into Korean originals has been pretty ill-fated so far, but given how science fiction has been driving the “Korean Wave” of late, the choice to lead with a sci-fi show was a smart one.
When a solar flare threatens to make the planet uninhabitable, the world attempts to deploy a planetary shield – known as the grid – to protect the atmosphere. The data, originating in Korea, was delivered by a mysterious time-travelling woman (Lee Si-young), who returns to make sure the barrier is erected in time.
When she returns once more, she leaves a string of murders in her wake. Grid team member (Seo Kang-joon) and detective Jung Sae-byeok (Kim Ah-jung) team up in a race against time to find the woman and understand what her return means for the grid.
Written by Lee Soo-yeon, Grid combines the tight thriller plotting of their previous work, Stranger, with the high-concept science fiction that has become so important to Korean TV. Think Danny Boyle’s sunshine, but with murders.
You can stream Grid now on Disney Plus.
I'm a crier.
I cry at a lot of things. My cat’s tiny feet, the songs in Pitch Perfect, when cereal tastes good. Yet nothing – nothing – has made me weep as much as My Mister.
As forty-something engineer Park Dong-hoon (Lee Sun-kyun) battles the weariness of life, work, and marriage, he strikes up an unlikely friendship with twenty-something temp Lee Ji-an (Lee Ji-eun, that’s IU for the uninitiated). Though they struggle with different problems, they soon realise how they feel is remarkably similar.
Where other shows might have seen this blossom into an office romance, My Mister is a story about an isolated young woman finding a community she never thought possible. It’s a beautiful story and while it leans on typical tropes of corporate corruption and shenanigans, the real meat of the show is the coming together of a group of people around a vulnerable young woman that shows family can be found everywhere.
There’s a reason this is one of the highest rated shows on IMDb, and not just because it will have you shouting “BUY HER SOME SOCKS” at the TV.
You can stream My Mister now on Netflix.
Cocky, unlikable criminal profiler Park Hae-yeong (Lee Jehoon) is haunted by a cold case from his childhood. When he discovers a walkie-talkie in the back of a truck, he teams up with fellow detective Lee Jae-han (Cho Jin-woong) to finally solve it. The kicker, Detective Lee is in 1999.
Together with Lee’s former mentee, Cha Soo-hyeon (played by the ageless Kim Hye-su), Park hunts down clues in the present. But is there enough information to finally bring the case to a close? And can Park and Cha save Lee’s life in the past?
Signal is granted a thread of realism thanks to using many real crimes as inspiration. But this is the height of Korea’s merging of science fiction and detective drama, and perhaps one of the most seminal shows in recent history.
You can stream Signal now on Netflix.
With the king stricken by a sudden illness, Crown Prince Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon) sets out to investigate the cause of the ruler’s sudden decline. What he finds is a plague spreading across Joseon that turns people into bloodthirsty zombies that only come out at night. With the help of a rag-tag crew, including physician Seo-bo (Bae Doona), Lee tries to solve the mystery of what this plague is and where it comes from.
If you were disappointed with what Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead became – and how could you not be? – Kingdom is the balm for your hurts. Taking what is normally an exclusively modern-day concept and transplanting it into 16th century Korea, Kingdom is a far more rewarding and interesting entry into the zombie pantheon.
Though there is no confirmation of when a third season might appear, the first two seasons give you plenty to sink your teeth into. You can stream Kingdom on Netflix now.
As one of the most popular Korean films of all time, and a global award winner, Parasite almost needs no introduction.
Living in a semi-basement apartment and struggling to make ends meet, the Kim family forms a symbiotic relationship with the clueless Park family. The kims carefully assimilating themselves into all facets of the Parks’ lives and, in so doing, affecting a glamour of wealth in the family’s absence. Having supplanted every other worker in the house, however, the Kims are in for a rude awakening.
Bong Joon-ho’s dark comedy includes everything you’d expect from his previous films, in particular the commentary on Korea’s class-divide. While it’s fair to say Parasite is one of the best Korean films ever, it’s also one of the best films – full stop.
Though, two films, really. One half a dark comic comment on the chasm between rich and poor in Korea, and the other a horror. It’s a carefully choreographed film that has a global appeal. If you watch one Korean film in your life, it should be this one.
You can stream Parasite now on Prime Video.
Nothing sums up everything that is great and good in Korean TV like Reply 1988. K-pop star Lee Hye-ri (of Girl’s Day fame) plays Sung Deok-sun, one of five teenagers on the cusp of adulthood in the Seoul neighbourhood of Ssangmundong. Starting with the opening ceremony of the Seoul Olympics in 1988, in which Deok-sun has a starring role, Reply 1988 traces the lives of these five teenagers and their families as they transition to adulthood.
Reply 1988 can be classified a romance or slice-of-life, but it’s more than that. It’s a show about family and friends, an an idealised remembrance of a part of our lives so many of us found difficult.
It came to me in 2016, right around the time my friends all abandoned me after I became disabled. Filling a very fresh hole in my heart with its timeless and nostalgic depiction of the tumults of teenage friendships and relationships. Also, the 80s! If you thought Stranger Things was nostalgic, you haven’t seen anything yet.
There’s no specific viewer to recommend Reply 1988 to, everyone should watch it. It is, genuinely, a perfect television show and will have you weeping from start to finish.
Good luck not falling in love with Bo-ra.
You can stream Reply 1988 on Netflix now.