Keep this page handy as we list the Best Korean Dramas of 2023. We will keep this 2023 K-drama list updated throughout the year to keep you informed.
How does one decide what constitutes “best” for K-dramas? Official ratings? Viewer ratings? Awards?
In this list of Best Korean Dramas of 2023, we choose dramas with a mixture of good storytelling (the technical elements are solid) combined with the ability to hold your attention throughout without feeling the need to fast forward or skip around. No small order, for sure!
We humbly offer the following list of the best 2023 K-dramas for your viewing pleasure, and we’d like to thank our friends from MyDramaList and AsiaWiki on the premises. If you’d like a broader list, you may want to check out our Best Korean Dramas Of All Time article, or if you want something more specific, our Highest Rated Korean Dramas in 2023 Based on Nielsen Ratings feature.
Last Update: May 9th, 2023.
Best Korean Dramas of 2023
Alchemy of Souls Season 2
Genre: Action, Historical, Romance, Fantasy
Aired: Dec 10, 2022 – Jan 8, 2023
Where to watch: Netflix
Plot Summary: Jang Uk returns from death, and three years later, the story of the mages unfolds anew. Jang Uk becomes a hunter of the soul-shifters when a young woman, a prisoner in her own home, seeks his help to reclaim her freedom.
What makes it a good watch: The first k-drama in 2023 on this “best of” list is the fantasy epic Alchemy of Souls Season 2, the follow-up to Part 1, which aired earlier in 2022. The entire saga extended over 30 episodes and featured the interesting setup of two completely different female leads for each part. (The storyline involved soul shifting into other bodies, thus the need for a noticeably different appearance for each female lead)
This drama sets up a vast, comprehensive world full of rich characters, layers of sophisticated mystical happenings, and an OTP (One True Pairing) that is magical to behold. And that switch-up between the two female leads? Flawless. Now, with 30 episodes, there are bound to be some episodes that seem a bit repetitive, and such is the case here towards the end, but overall a drama of this magnitude with so few issues is a pretty impressive feat.
Unlock My Boss
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Comedy, Fantasy
Aired: Dec 7, 2022 – Jan 12, 2023
Where to watch: Netflix, Viki
Plot Summary: Kim Sun-Joo is a developer and the founder and CEO of an IT company. One day, without knowing why, he is chased by someone who is trying to kill him. He gets stabbed by that person, and as he senses death looming, he feels his spirit being sucked into his smartphone. His spirit then gets stuck in the smartphone.
Park In-Sung (Chae Jong-Hyeop) is a diligent young man who comes from a poor family background. One day, while he is picking mushrooms on a mountain to make money, he discovers a strange smartphone. The smartphone contains Kim Sun-Joo’s stuck spirit.
What makes it a good watch: A grown man gets trapped in a cell phone? With that bonkers of a setup, this drama could either go off the rails or be a campy good time. And thankfully, with Unlock My Boss, it’s the latter.
This drama works because everyone involved is buying into the premise, so there’s no trouble being convinced these things are happening. And as with these types of dramas, the humor is really solid. (Expect a lot of k-entertainment meta.)
The pleasant surprise here is the amount of sweetness involved, and how attached, the viewer will become to the characters. And the male lead, played by Chae Jong-Hyeop, becomes more charming as the show continues. The show also has something to say about AI and its moral implications of it in our lives. A show adapted from a webtoon, it delivers much complexity with all its moving parts.
The Interest of Love
Genre: Romance, Slice of Life, Melodrama
Aired: Dec 21, 2022 – Feb 9, 2023
Where to watch: Netflix
Plot Summary: A realistic romance story of four people who all met at the Youngpo branch of KCU Bank.
What makes it a good watch: What starts as an office romance involving our four leads becomes an exposition on social class, financial standing, and personal trauma.
The Interest of Love is a slowly-told story that layers the characters’ thoughts and actions to create a rich setting for bigger issues to play out and make the bank setting feel real. Expect to dislike most of the characters at the start, but by the end, the revelation of their perspectives will create a more sympathetic take on them.
Genre: Mystery, Romance, Melodrama, Political
Aired: Dec 19, 2022 – Feb 14, 2023
Where to watch: Netflix
Plot Summary: Nam Joong-Do and Kim Hye-Joo are a married couple. Nam Joong-Do is a member of the National Assembly and is driven to make the world a better place. His wife, Kim Hye-Joo, runs a book repair shop. She hides a secret that even Nam Joong-Do does not know. Due to this case, Kim Hye-Joo’s secret becomes public.
What makes it a good watch: Who would have thought that a story about a happily married, middle-aged, middle-class couple would be such a tense watch? The show accomplishes this feat and much more with no loud, intense background music, overwrought emotional theatrics, or unbelievable, out-of-nowhere twists. Yet, the reveals feel so monumental, likely due to the deft directorial handling.
The show’s title, Trolley, takes its name from the philosophical trolley dilemma, where a person needs to make a decision that saves one person or five, depending on how they choose to flip the level for the tracks on the metaphorical runaway trolley.
Viewers will spend time figuring out who each of the players are in this trolley scenario, as well as having their theories blown to bits time and time again, thanks to a large number of red herrings. Sometimes the viewer may feel specific episodes are stagnant, but looking back after subsequent episodes, they will see those particular episodes reveal much. The emotionally and morally satisfying ending is the payout for the anxiety-induced watch.
Love to Hate You
Genre: Comedy, Romance
Aired: Feb 10, 2023
Where to watch: Netflix
Plot Summary: Yeo Mi-Ran is a rookie attorney at Gilmu Law Firm, which works primarily with the entertainment industry. She is not interested in a romantic relationship and hates to lose to a man in anything.
Nam Gang-Ho is a top actor in the entertainment industry. He is the most popular actor in South Korea due to his handsome appearance, intelligence, and kindness. He is sought after to work in romantic movies but doesn’t trust women.
Yeo Mi-Ran and Nam Gang-Ho, who neither believe in love, fall into a love battle.
What makes it a good watch: It is a rarity among k-drama romcoms to find a drama that features grown adults acting their age, or that doesn’t have extra elements attached to it, such as a met-as-children trope, a murder-mystery, etc.
Enter Love to Hate You, a light, frothy addition to the romcom mix. This enemies-to-lovers setup maintains its bubbly nature throughout, with much assistance from the chemistry of its main leads. The topic of patriarchy is addressed to varying degrees of success. The drama debuted Valentine’s Day weekend, contributing to the great ratings. (It spent two weeks in the Netflix Global Top 10 TV (Non-English) charts.)
The Glory Part 2
Genre: Revenge, Thriller, Melodrama
Aired: March 10
Where to watch: Netflix
Plot summary: A high school student becomes a victim of high school violence perpetrated by her fellow students. She dropped out of high school because of the bullying. She then began planning her revenge on her tormentors and also the bystanders who did nothing.
That student is now an adult. She has waited for the leader of her tormentors to get married and have a child. That child is now an elementary school student. The woman who was once a victim of school violence is now the homeroom teacher of her tormentor’s child. Her cruel revenge plot begins in earnest.
What makes it a good watch: Kim Eun Sook, the famed writer behind such hits as Descendants of the Sun, Mr. Sunshine, and Guardian: The Lonely and Great God offers up her first thriller to great success.
Reuniting with Song Hye-kyo, her female lead from Descendants of the Sun “the first installment stayed at the top of the Netflix charts for 5 weeks on the Global Top 10 TV (Non-English) chart. This second part opened in the third spot on Netflix’s Global TV, taking first place in 38 nations, second in 21 other nations, and third in 13 countries.” (Netflix series ‘The Glory’ Part 2 tops global Netflix chart – The Korea Times)
While the bullying scenes can be quite graphic and brutal at times, the revenge is made all the more satisfying in comparison. The acting, writing, and story pacing will keep viewers transfixed episode after episode, which makes it a solid binge.
Call it Love
Genre: Romance, Melodrama
Aired: Feb 22, 2023 – Apr 12, 2023
Where to watch: Disney+/Hulu
Plot: Sim Woo-Joo’s life became miserable because of her father and his mistress. After her father’s death, Sim Woo-Joo is kicked out of her home by the mistress. She decides to take revenge on that woman. She approaches Han Dong-Jin, who is the son of her father’s mistress. Sim Woo-Joo gets to know him and realizes that she has fallen in love with him.
What makes it a good watch: First-time writer Kim Ga Eun creates a rich world of pathos in this drama, where characters are forced to confront their long-held beliefs. Their problems feel legitimate, and thus their struggles feel real and hard-earned.
While the viewer’s mileage for the director’s choice of pink filter may vary, it nevertheless conveys their intent to create an environment that mimics the characters’ loneliness and melancholy. If you enjoy angsty melodramas like this year’s The Interest of Love or last year’s My Liberation Notes, Call It Love will be a definite must-add to your watchlist.
Taxi Driver 2
Genre: Action, Thriller, Mystery, Crime
Aired: Feb 17, 2023 – Apr 15, 2023
Where to watch: Viki, Kocowa, Viu
Plot: Kim Do-Ki, a former Navy underwater demolition team member, is now a deluxe taxi driver who works for Rainbow Taxi Company. The company is not just an ordinary taxi company though The company offers a special “revenge-call” service. If clients ask them to get justice for them, Kim Do-Ki and his co-workers will perform the service.
What makes it a good watch: Rainbow Taxi is back, this time older and wiser. This high-adrenaline revenge drama, with its 80’s-style vibe of slick car chases, rock-anthem tracks, and retro gadgets, maybe better than its original, focusing less on revenge and more on its victims and getting them justice (Last season’s storylines were versions of real-life Korean stories, which increased the intensity of the show, while this year’s stories do not feel as strongly.)
Of course, what would Taxi Driver be without an even bigger villain to contend with? This season’s behind-the-scenes baddie is giving them a run for their money. The show wraps up with their very-satisfying character arc and a promised Season 3.
And that completes our Best Korean Dramas of 2023 list. We’ll keep this list updated every two months, so make sure to return.
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2 thoughts on “Best Korean Dramas of 2023 (May Update)”
I have watched all of the above name films plus many many others. I wish more of the films were dubbed in English. However, I suffer through the subtitles. The problem with the subtitles is that they jump from top to bottom, and often they are white on top of a light background, and difficult to read, as they are very quickly removed from the screen.
Reborn Rich and Summer Strike , though started in 2022 ended in 2023.