Top 40 Best Korean Dramas Of All Time

September 28, 2022
Nathan Sartain 3
Lists, RSC Originals

This article discusses the Top 40 Best and Highest Rated Korean Dramas of All Time and does not contain any major plot points or spoilers.

Over the last half a decade or so, Korean Dramas (or K-Drama) have really picked up steam in terms of their global popularity. In part, this is thanks to Netflix’s consistent investment in the country’s content, whether through their own original projects or the licensing of existing offerings that then brings them to a much broader audience. However, with so much out there, to the uninitiated, it can be hard to find the perfect jumping-in point. Do you go with the most popular? What seems the most buzz-worthy online? A mix of the two?

Here, at Ready Steady Cut, we thought it’d be handy to present the Top 40 Best and Highest Rated Korean Dramas of all time according to their Nielsen rating on cable TV in Korea. This rating is illustrated by a percentage, which shows the share of audience that a show had at a given time. So, if something has a Nielsen rating of 4%, that means that 4% of the public with a television were watching the Korean Drama at the time.

So, if you’re looking for a comprehensive list of shows that were amongst the most popular with the domestic Korean audience, or if you’re just in need of something new to watch, look no further than here with our Best and Highest Rated Korean Dramas of all Time. Also if you love K-Drama Horrors, you should check out our piece on the Best Horror K-Dramas You Must Watch.

Top 40 Best and Highest Rated Korean Dramas of All Time

40. Alchemy of Souls (2022)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 9.295%

Final Episode Date: 28 August 2022

Premise: A powerful sorceress in a blind woman’s body encounters a man from a prestigious family who wants her help to change his destiny. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Lee Jae-wook, Jung So-min, Shin Seung-ho, Yoo Joon-sang, Hwang Min-hyun, Yoo In-soo, Jo Jae-yoon.

Our review of Alchemy of Souls.

39. Uncle (2021)

Network: TV Chosun

Nielsen Rating: 9.329%

Final Episode Date: 30 January 2022

Premise: Joon-hyuk was a musician whose life has hit rock bottom after he had been scammed by people he trusted. He had ended his relationship with his older sister Joon-hee because of it. One day, suddenly, he receives a call from Joon-hee asking him to take care of her son, Min-joon. (Source: AsianWiki)

Starring: Oh Jung-se, Jeon Hye-jin, Lee Kyung-hoon, Park Sun-young, Lee Sang-woo, Lee Shi-won

38. Stranger 2 (202)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 9.408%

Final Episode Date: 4 October 2020

Premise: In the midst of a power clash between prosecutors and police, Si-mok and Yeo-jin uncover murky secrets as they pursue a labyrinth of intertwined cases. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Cho Seung-woo, Bae Doo-na, Jeon Hye-jin, Choi Moo-sung, Lee Joon-hyuk, Yoon Se-ah

Read our Stranger season 2, episode 1 recap

37. Love (ft. Marriage and Divorce) (2021)

Network: TV Chosun

Nielsen Rating: 9.656%

Final Episode Date: 14 March 2021

Premise: Everything comes unravelling for three successful women who work on a radio show as twists, turns and troubles plague their seemingly happy marriages. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Sung Hoon, Lee Ga-ryeong, Lee Tae-gon, Park Joo-mi, Jeon Soo-kyung, Jeon Noh-min, Lee Min-young

Read our Love (ft. Marriage and Divorce) season 1, episode 1 recap

36. Strong Girl Bong-soon (2017)

Network: JTBC

Nielsen Rating: 9.668%

Final Episode Date: 15th April 2017

Premise: Born with supernatural strength, Bong-soon fights evil and procures justice while getting tangled in a love triangle with her CEO boss and cop crush. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Park Bo-young, Park Hyung-sik, Kim Ji-soo

35. The Light In Your Eyes (2019)

Network: JTBC

Nielsen Rating: 9.731%

Final Episode Date: 19 March 2019

Premise: Kim Hye-ja is a young, optimistic woman who dreams of becoming a TV news anchor. Her plans are disrupted when she suddenly turns into a 70-year-old. Meanwhile, Lee Joon-ha, wants to become a reporter. He has worked hard to achieve his dream but now lives in a disappointing reality. (Source: VIKI)

Starring: Han Ji-min, Kim Hye-ja, Nam Joo-hyuk

34. Bossam: Steal the Fate (2021)

Network: MBN

Nielsen Rating: 9.759%

Final Episode Date: 4 July 2021

Premise: Ba-woo is a degenerate man. He gambles, steals, fights and will do bossam (customary remarriage procedure where a widow is kidnapped) for money. He hides his real identity. While performing a bossam, he mistakenly kidnaps Princess Soo-kyung. She is the daughter of Prince Gwanghae and the daughter-in-law of his enemy Lee Yi-cheom. For a secret political agreement, she married the older brother of a man she loved, but, on the day of her wedding, her husband died. She then became a widow. (Source: AsianWiki)

Starring: Jung Il-woo, Kwon Yu-ri, Shin Hyun-soo

33. Another Miss Oh (2016)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 9.991%

Final Episode Date: 28 June 2016

Premise: A sound director who suddenly starts getting visions of someone else’s future gets mired in the lives of two women, who happen to share the same name. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Eric Mun, Seo Hyun-jin, Jeon Hye-bin

32. Memories of the Alhambra (2018)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 10.025%

Final Episode Date: 20 January 2019

Premise: While looking for the cryptic creator of an innovative augmented-reality game, an investment firm executive meets a woman who runs a hostel in Spain. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Hyun Bin, Park Shin-hye

Read our Memories of the Alhambra episode 1 recap.

31. Military Prosecutor Doberman (2022)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 10.081%

Final Episode Date: 26 April 2022

Premise: An army prosecutor with ambitions of power and wealth finds his plans disturbed by an unyielding newbie with an agenda of her own. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Ahn Bo-hyun, Jo Bo-ah, Oh Yeon-soo, Kim Young-min, Kim Woo-seok

30. Encounter (2018)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 10.329%

Final Episode Date: 24 January 2019

Premise: Following a chance encounter overseas, a woman with much to lose and a man with little to his name meet again as employer and employee. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Song Hye-ko, Park Bo-gum

29. Show Window: The Queen’s House (2021)

Network: Channel A

Nielsen Rating: 10.335%

Final Episode Date: 18 January 2022

Premise: A story about a woman who supports the adultery of another woman, without knowing that the affair is with her husband. (Source: NAVER)

Starring: Song Yoon-ah, Lee Sung-jae, Jeon So-min, Hwang Chan-sung

28. Love (ft. Marriage and Divorce) season 3 (2022)

Network: TV Chosun

Nielsen Rating: 10.395%

Final Episode Date: 1 May 2022

Premise: Unpredictable twists and turns continue to put a strain on the tumultuous relationships of these couples seeking happily ever after. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Park Joo-mi, Kang Shin-hyo, Lee Ga-ryeong, Jeon Soo-kyung, Ji Young-san

27. Mine (2021)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 10.512%

Final Episode Date: 27 June 2021

Premise: Encaged in a gold-clad life of secrets and lies, two women in a conglomerate family seek to topple all that stands in their way of finding true joy. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Lee Bo-young, Kim Seo-hyung, Ok Ja-yeon

Read our Mine season 1, episode 1 recap

26. Jirisan (2021)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 10.663%

Final Episode Date: 12 December 2021

Premise: Set against the backdrop of towering views of Mount Jiri, it depicts the story of rangers and other employees of the Jirisan National Park who climb through the mysterious and unexplored regions of the mountain. (Source: IMDb)

Starring: Jun Ji-hyun, Joo Ji-hoon

25. My Kids Give Me a Headache (2012)

Network: JTBC

Nielsen Rating: 10.715%

Final Episode Date: 17 March 2013

Premise: A heart-warming love story of a large family in the beautiful countryside. (Source: JTBC)

Starring: Uhm Ji-won, Yoo Dong-geun, Kim Hae-sook

24. The Crowned Clown (2019)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 10.851%

Final Episode Date: 4 March 2019

Premise: Standing in for an unhinged Joseon king, a look-alike clown plays the part but increasingly becomes devoted to protecting the throne and the people. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Yeo Jin-goo, Lee Se-young, Kim Sang-kyung

23. The Uncanny Counter (2020)

Network: OCN

Nielsen Rating: 10.999%

Final Episode Date: 24 January 2021

Premise: Noodle shop employees by day and demon hunters by night, the Counters use special abilities to chase down malevolent spirits that prey on humans. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Jo Byung-kyu, Yoo Joon-sang, Kim Se-jeong, Yeom Hye-ran, Ahn Suk-hwan

Read our recap of The Uncanny Counter season 1, episode 1

22. Prison Playbook (2017)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 11.195%

Final Episode Date: 18 January 2018

Premise: With his major league baseball debut right around the corner, a star pitcher lands in prison and must learn to navigate his new world. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Park Hae-soo, Jung Kyung-ho, Jung Hae-in, Jung Soo-jung

21. Reply 1994 (2013)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 11.509%

Final Episode Date: 28 December 2013

Premise: All hailing from various parts of Korea, a group of college students go from being complete strangers to a big happy family at a Seoul boarding house. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Go Ah-ra, Jung Woo, Yoo Yeon-seok

20. Twenty-Five Twenty-One (2022)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 11.513%

Final Episode Date: 3 April 2022

Premise: In a time when dreams seem out of reach, a teen fencer pursues big ambitions and meets a hardworking young man who seeks to rebuild his life. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Kim Tae-ri, Nam Joo-hyuk, Bona, Choi Hyun-wook, Lee Jo-myung

Read our recap of Twenty-Five Twenty-One episode 1.

19. Hotel Del Luna (2019)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 12.001%

Final Episode Date: 1 September 2019

Premise: When he’s invited to manage a hotel for dead souls, an elite hotelier gets to know the establishment’s ancient owner and her strange world. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: IU, Yeo Jin-goo, Shin Jung-keun, Bae Hae-seon

18. The Lady in Dignity (2017)

Network: JTBC

Nielsen Rating: 12.065%

Final Episode Date: 19 August 2017

Premise: The wife of a corporate heir finds her luxurious life overturned by a mysterious woman who joins the household as a caregiver for her father-in-law. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Kim Hee-seon, Kim Sun-ah, Jung Sang-hoon, Lee Tae-im, Lee Ki-woo

17. Signal (2016)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 12.544%

Final Episode Date: 12 March 2016

Premise: Communicating via a walkie-talkie that transcends time, a profiler from 2015 and a detective from 1989 join forces to tackle crimes and injustice. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Lee Je-hoon, Kim Hye-soo, Jo Jin-woong

16. Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha (2021)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 12.665%

Final Episode Date: 17 October 2021

Premise: A big-city dentist opens up a practice in a close-knit seaside village, home to a charming jack-of-all-trades who is her polar opposite in every way. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Shin Min-ah, Kim Seon-ho, Lee Sang-yi

Read our recap of Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha episode 1

15. Hospital Playlist Season 2 (2021)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 14.080%

Final Episode Date: 16 September 2021

Premise: Inside the hospital, where every patient and every story matters, the five friends confront the ups and downs of life as doctors — and as human beings. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Jo Jung-suk, Yoo Yeon-seok, Jung Kyung-ho, Kim Dae-myung, Jeon Mi-do

Read our recap of Hospital Playlist season 2, episode 1.

14. Hospital Playlist (2020)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 14.142%

Final Episode Date: 28 May 2020

Premise: Every day is extraordinary for five doctors and their patients inside a hospital, where birth, death and everything in between coexist. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Jo Jung-suk, Yoo Yeon-seok, Jung Kyung-ho, Kim Dae-myung, Jeon Mi-do

13. 100 Days My Prince (2018)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 14.412%

Final Episode Date: 30 October 2018

Premise: Upon losing his memory, a crown prince encounters a commoner’s life and experiences unforgettable love as the husband to Joseon’s oldest bachelorette. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Doh Kyung-soo, Kim Seon-ho, Nam Ji-hyun

12. Our Blues (2022)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 14.597%

Final Episode Date: 12 June 2022

Premise: Romance is sweet and bitter — and life riddled with ups and downs — in multiple stories about people who live and work on bustling Jeju Island. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Lee Byung-hun, Shin Min-ah, Cha Seung-won, Lee Jung-eun, Uhm Jung-hwa, Han Ji-min, Kim Woo-bin, Kim Hye-ja, Go Doo-shim, Choi Young-joon, Park Ji-hwan, Bae Hyun-sung, Roh Yoon-seo

Read our recap of Our Blues episode 1.

11. Vincenzo (2021)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 14.636%

Final Episode Date: 2 May 2021

Premise: During a visit to his motherland, a Korean-Italian mafia lawyer gives an unrivaled conglomerate a taste of its own medicine with a side of justice. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Song Joong-ki, Jeon Yeo-been, Ok Taecyeon

Read our recap of Vincenzo episode 1

10. Itaewon Class (2020)

Network: JTBC

Nielsen Rating: 16.548%

Final Episode Date: 21 March 2020

Premise: In a colourful Seoul neighborhood, an ex-con and his friends fight a mighty foe to make their ambitious dreams for their street bar a reality. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Park Seo-joon, Ahn Bo-hyun, Kwon Na-ra, Kim Da-mi, Yoo Jae-myung

9. Love (ft. Marriage and Divorce) season 2

Network: TV Chosun

Nielsen Rating: 16.582%

Final Episode Date: 8 August 2021

Premise: Emotions boil over as the women learn of their husbands’ affairs and confront the distrust plaguing their once-happy marriages. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Sung Hoon, Lee Ga-ryeong, Lee Tae-gon, Park Joo-mi, Jeon Soo-kyung, Jeon Noh-min

8. Mr. Queen (2020)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 17.371%

Final Episode Date: 14 February 2021

Premise: When a modern day chef gets trapped in the body of a queen in the Joseon era, chaos ensues. (Source: IMDb)

Starring: Shin Hye-sun, Kim Jung-hyun

7. Extraordinary Attorney Woo (2022)

Network: ENA

Nielsen Rating: 17.534%

Final Episode Date: 18 August 2022

Premise: Brilliant attorney Woo Young-woo tackles challenges in the courtroom and beyond as a newbie at a top law firm and a woman on the autism spectrum. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Park Eun-bin, Kang Tae-oh, Kang Ki-young

Read our Extraordinary Attorney Woo episode 1 recap

6. Mr. Sunshine (2018)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 18.129%

Final Episode Date: 30 September 2018

Premise: A young boy who ends up in the U.S. after the 1871 Shinmiyangyo incident returns to Korea at a historical turning point and falls for a noblewoman. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Lee Byung-hun, Kim Tae-ri, Yoo Yeon-seok, Byun Yo-han, Kim Min-jung

Read our Mr. Sunshine episode 1 recap

5. Guardian: The Lonely and Great God (2016)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 18.680%

Final Episode Date: 21 January 2017

Premise: In his quest for a bride to break his immortal curse, a 939-year-old guardian of souls meets a grim reaper and a sprightly student with a tragic past. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Gong Yoo, Kim Go-eun, Lee Dong-wook, Yoo In-na, Yook Sung-jae

4. Reply 1988 (2015)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 18.803%

Final Episode Date: 16 January 2016

Premise: Take a nostalgic trip back to the late 1980s through the lives of five families and their five teenage kids living in a small neighbourhood in Seoul. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Lee Hye-ri, Go Kyung-pyo, Ryu Jun-yeol, Park Bo-gum, Lee Dong-hwi

3. Crash Landing on You (2019)

Network: tvN

Nielsen Rating: 21.683%

Final Episode Date: 16 February 2020

Premise: A paragliding mishap drops a South Korean heiress in North Korea — and into the life of an army officer, who decides he will help her hide. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Hyun Bin, Son Ye-jin, Seo Ji-hye, Kim Jung-hyun

2. Sky Castle (2018)

Network: JTBC

Nielsen Rating: 23.779%

Final Episode Date: 1 February 2019

Premise: For the families living at Sky Castle, an exclusive residential community that’s home to Korea’s elite, their children’s success means everything. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Yeom Jung-ah, Lee Tae-ran, Yoon Se-ah, Oh Na-ra, Kim Seo-hyung

1. The World of the Married (2020)

Network: JTBC

Nielsen Rating: 28.371%

Final Episode Date: 16 May 2020

Premise: A turbulent twister of lies, betrayals and revenge tears apart the seemingly picture-perfect marriage between a doctor and a filmmaker. (Source: Netflix)

Starring: Kim Hee-ae, Park Hae-joon, Han So-hee

And there you have it! The Top 40 Best and Highest Rated Korean Dramas of All Time.

Will you be checking out any of these K-Dramas? What would you add to this Best and Highest Rated Korean Dramas of All Time list? Let us know in the comments.

3 thoughts on “Top 40 Best Korean Dramas Of All Time

  • September 29, 2022 at 10:44 am
    Permalink

    Why is Dots not in the list seriously vincenzo above hp1 and 2
    Also dr john , dr romantic not here

  • October 9, 2022 at 10:21 pm
    Permalink

    Here are three that I think should be added to the list below, but there are more that escape me at the moment. “It’s Okay to Not be Okay”, “A Korean Odyssey”, and “My Liberation Notes”. ?

  • November 13, 2022 at 6:56 pm
    Permalink

    Nice list. I agree with above post, “It’s Okay to Not be Okay.” Also, “One Spring Night.”
    Wonderful acting & dialogue in both.

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