Korean shows have made it into the hearts of the audience all around the world and there’s no denying it. Rising above heart-fluttering rom-coms, K-dramas currently focus on expanding unexplored genres, especially keeping the international audience in mind. Be it the representation of the queer community or the sensitive portrayal of complexities in life, many shows of 2022 lived up to the expectations. From Son Ye Bin’s Thirty to Park Eun Bin’s Attorney to Youn Yuh Jung’s Pachinko, here’s a full list of the best Korean shows which can make you an avid K-drama fan.
Also read: BTS’ big moments of 2022
All of Us Are Dead
Lee Jae Kyoo and Kim Nam Su’s directorial All of Us Are Dead was under debate among the South Korean viewers in 2022 but undoubtfully, gained popularity worldwide for his underlying depiction of social issues which is regarded as taboo in many Asian countries. Primarily, the zombie apocalypse drama focuses on school students who get trapped inside the institute while the building turns into ground zero for a zombie virus outbreak.
With high-intensity violence and gore, the show subtly touches upon teen pregnancy, school bullying, misogyny and even the difference in social class in South Korean society. It stars Park Ji Hu, Yoon Chan Young, Cho Yi Hyun, Lomon, Yoo In Soo, Lee Yoo Mi, Kim Byung Chul, Lee Kyu Hyung and Jeon Bae Soo among the main cast. The show will return with the second season.
What is K-drama without a dash of love and laughter? But, Ahn Hyo Seop and Kim Se Jeong-starrer Business Proposal is not the usual kind. It revolves around the story of a middle-class girl who accepts to go on a blind date in place of her rich friend. Things take a hilarious turn when she finds out her date is actually her company head whom she has never met. The two join hands on a proposal but love takes its course and it all ends on a sweet note.
Extraordinary Attorney Woo
Extraordinary Attorney Woo became one of the most viewed K-dramas of the year with critical acclaim. The heartwarming drama stars actor Park Eun Bin as Woo Young Woo, a rookie lawyer who has autism, savant syndrome, characterised by fantastic abilities and a high IQ, despite her everyday struggle with neurotypical people.
Helmed by Yoo In Shik, it is currently the seventh highest-rated drama in Korean cable television history.
Starring Kim Tae Ri and Nam Joo Hyuk in the lead, Twenty Five Twenty One is one of the commercial hits of 2022. The coming-of-age drama is heart fluttering affair with a bitter-sweet ending, spanning from 1998 to 2021. It focuses on the romantic life of a teen fencer with big ambitions and how she meets a man during his struggling phase in life. It’s directed by Jung Ji Hyun.
Our Blues is one of the highly anticipated Korean shows, backed by tvN and Netflix. It marked the smallscreen comeback of Kim Woo Bin after years since his cancer diagnosis. With a top star cast including Kim Woo Bin, Shin Min Ah, Lee Byung Hun, Cha Seung Won, Lee Jung Eun, Uhm Jung Hwa and Han Ji Min, the show focuses on multiple stories surrounding different people who live and work in South Korea’s Jeju Island.
The show will warm your heart and also leave you with teary eyes as it proves how life is filled with ups and downs. Most importantly, each character is relatable and fresh.
Money Heist: Korea – Joint Economic Area
After the popularity of the Spanish series, Money Heist Korea turned out to be an almost faithful remake with new twists and turns, set against the backdrop of a united Korea. Offering high-octane action, brilliant car chases and more heists, the series is great for a binge-watch.
Directed by Kim Hong Sun, the Netflix original has Yoo Ji Tae, Yunjin Kim, Park Hae Soo, Jeon Jong Seo, Lee Hyun Woo, Lee Won Jong and Park Myung Hoon, reviving the iconic roles.
Apple TV+ original Pachinko became one of the critically acclaimed series, particularly for actors Kim Mon Ha and Youn Yuh Jung of Minari fame. Marking the OTT debut of Lee Min Ho, the series is based on the New York Times best-seller novel by Min Jin Lee. Titled after a Japanese pinball machine called Pachinko, it chronicles around hopes and dreams of Korean immigrants who moved to Japan after suffering during the Japanese rule in Korea.
While many said that Pachinko sees Japan in bad light, what makes it a must-watch is its cinematography with a flawless portrayal of timelines. Lee Min Ho is definitely the cherry on top who breaks away from his boy-next-door tag and steps into a negative role which charms the audience. The story of survival will return with a second installement soon.
My Liberation Notes
My Liberation Notes is not your usual K-drama but rather a slightly-stretched yet relatable take on the lives of Millennials stuck in the concrete jungle and aspiring for freedom. It stars Lee Min Ki, Kim Ji Won, Son Suk Ku and Lee El as adults who are exhausted with their everyday monotonous life while struggling with surviving in the corporate world and seeking satisfaction.
Its portrayal of life problems is real and not sugar-coated. It goes beyond the glitz and glamour of South Korean society where everyone is struggling to survive and struck a chord in the mind of every 30-something adult.
Director Kim Tae Yoon’s K-drama, Tomorrow is easily the most underrated show of 2022. It beautifully tackles thoughts around mental issues with South Korea having the highest suicide rate among OECD countries.
Neither it justifies nor commends suicide but sparks a conversation around suicide attempts. Based on a Naver webtoon of 2017, it stars Kim Hee Sun, Rowoon of K-pop group SF9, Lee Soo Hyuk and Yoon Ji On. It is based on an unemployed man who gets accidentally killed by a grim reaper and is tasked to work with them for a brief time to serve a happy life with a fulfilled job on earth. He teams up with grim reapers to save lives who try to end their life for various reasons.
Son Ye Jin, Jeon Mi Do and Kim Ji Hyun’s Thirty-Nine challenge age-old concepts of K-drama and it’s worth a watch. From challenging ageism in love to highlighting feminism, the show tells story of three best friends and their journey around finding love, celebrating friendship, dealing with heartbreaks and tackling stereotypical notions of society. All of this, just before they enter the forties club. The chemistry here is undeniable.