Top 10 K-Dramas That Carried The Korean Wave

The Korean Wave, also known as K-wave, refers to the rise in global popularity of South Korean culture from the 1990s. Initially fueled by the expansion of K-dramas and K-pop across East, Southeast, and South Asia, the Korean Wave grew from a regional phenomenon to a worldwide one, propelled by the Internet and social media, as well as the explosion of K-pop music videos on YouTube. Since the turn of the century, South Korea has emerged as a major exporter of popular culture and tourism, both of which have become important components of the country’s booming economy. Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Korean wave has become a powerful worldwide phenomenon, greatly influencing modern cultures, the music business, the film industry, the television industry, and the behavioural characteristics of people all over the globe. With the international success of K-dramas such as Descendants of the Sun, Goblin, Boys Over Flowers, and Heir, South Korea became acknowledged as a hub of both economic and soft power similar to many Western nations, with few comparisons, particularly for a non-Western nation. In terms of production value, technology, and talent, South Korea’s mass media and entertainment sector has caught up with those of English-speaking Western countries.

Here is the list of the top 10 K-dramas that carried the Korean Wave:

  • NOTE: This article is purely written for entertainment purposes. The dramas are given this ranking based on the author’s opinion. The author does not wish to force his/her/their perspective on anyone and does not deem the rankings to be absolute. Enjoy the listicle with a light heart and a happy mind!

10. My Mister

  • Cast: Lee Sun Kyun, IU,
  • Year: 2018
  • Channel: tvN
  • Episode: 16
  • Where To Watch: Netflix, Viki

My Mister tells the story of a middle-aged guy named Park Dong Hoon, who works as a middle-aged engineer and is married to a lawyer named Kang Yoon Hee. Despite appearing to have it all, he’s miserable, with two unemployed brothers dependent on him and a wife who’s having an affair with his CEO, Do Joon Young.

9. Hospital Playlist

  • Cast: Jo Jung Suk, Yoo Yeon Seok, Jung Kyung Ho, Kim Dae Myung, Jeon Mi Do
  • Year: 2020
  • Channel: tvN
  • Episode: 12
  • Where To Watch: Netflix

The plot centres on five buddies who work at Yelje Medical Center. It’s a well-crafted medical drama with elements of romance and suspense. These five physicians in their forties have been great friends since they started medical school in 1999, and the drama is based on their friendship and the common love of music.

8. Start-Up

  • Cast: Nam Joo Hyuk, Bae Suzy, Kim Seon Ho, Kang Han Na
  • Year: 2020
  • Channel: tvN
  • Episode: 16
  • Where To Watch: Netflix

Start-Up is a storey that has set in Korea’s Silicon Valley, known as Sandbox, and recounts the tale of a lady (Suzy) attempting to launch her startup firm and a gu Nam Do San (Nam Joo Hyuk) leading a struggling startup company as they work together to accomplish their goals.

7. Penthouse

  • Cast: Lee JI Ah, Kim So Yeon, Eugene
  • Year: 2020
  • Channel: SBS
  • Episode: 21
  • Where To Watch: Netflix, SBS World, Prime Video, Viki

Penthouse follows the lives of elite families that live in Hera Palace and their children who attend Cheong-ah Arts School. Shim Su-Ryeon (Lee Ji-ah) is a beautiful and rich woman with a terrible history. Joo Dan-Tae (Uhm Ki-Joon), a prosperous businessman, is her husband. She subsequently discovers that he is keeping a secret from her.

6. Hwarang

  • Cast: Park Seo Joon, Go Ara, Park Hyung Sik, Kim Tae Hyung, Seo Yea Ji, Choi Min Ho
  • Year: 2016
  • Channel: KBS2
  • Episode: 20
  • Where To Watch: Netflix, Viki

Park Seo-Joon, Go A-ra, and Park Hyung-Sik feature in the South Korean television series Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth. It revolves around an elite group of young men known as hwarang who find their interests, love, and friendship amid the Silla Kingdom’s upheaval (57 B.C. – A.D. 935).

5. Boys Over Flowers

  • Cast: Gu Hye Soon, Lee Min Ho, Kim Hyun Joong, Kim Bum, Kim Joon
  • Year: 2009
  • Channel: KBS2
  • Episode: 25
  • Where To Watch: Netflix, Viki

Boys Over Flowers is a South Korean television series that premiered in 2009 and starred Ku Hye-sun, Lee Min-ho, Kim Hyun-Joong, Kim Bum, Kim Joon, and Kim So-Eun. Based on Yoko Kamio’s Japanese shojo manga series Boys Over Flowers. The plot revolves around a working-class girl who becomes involved in the lives of a gang of rich young men at her prestigious high school, known as the F4.

4. The Heirs

  • Cast: Lee Min Ho, Park Shin Hye, Kim Woo Bin
  • Year: 2013
  • Channel: SBS
  • Episode: 20
  • Where To Watch: Netflix, SBS World, Prime Video, Viki

The show follows a group of elite, privileged high school students as they prepare to inherit their families’ corporate empires, facing obstacles and developing along the way. Kim Tan (Lee Min-ho) is the affluent heir of the Jeguk Group, a significant Korean corporation.

3. Goblin

  • Cast: Gong Yoo, Kim Go Eun, Lee Dong Wook, Yoo In Na, Yook Sung Jae
  • Year: 2016
  • Channel: tvN
  • Episode: 16
  • Where To Watch: Netflix, Prime Video, Viki

Kim Shin (Gong Yoo) is a renowned Goryeo Dynasty military officer who is betrayed by the envious monarch he serves. When Kim Shin is confronted with death rather than glory after a valiant battle, God transforms him into a goblin entrusted with saving specific individuals from a life of suffering.

2. Legend Of The Blue Sea

  • Cast: Lee Min Ho, Jun Ji Hyun
  • Year: 2016
  • Channel: SBS
  • Episode: 20
  • Where To Watch: Netflix, Viki

Shim Cheong (Jun Ji-Hyun), a mermaid, and Heo Joon-Jae (Lee Min-ho), a smart con-artist, are the main characters in the series. Their journey is paired with the side story of their Joseon-era incarnations, the mermaid, Se-Hwa, and town head, Kim Dam-Ryeong, focusing on reincarnation, fate, and unrequited love.

1. Descendants Of The Sun

  • Cast: Song Joong Ki, Song Hye Kyo, Jin Goo, Kim Ji Won
  • Year: 2016
  • Channel: KBS2
  • Episode: 16
  • Where To Watch: Netflix Viki

This drama revolves around a love story between Captain Yoo Shi Jin of the South Korean Special Forces and Doctor Kang Mo Yeon, a Surgeon at Haesung Hospital in Seoul. They will find themselves amid major events and grave threats in both their Motherland and the imaginary, war-torn country of Urk.

If you guys have gotten into the Korean Wave through some other Dramas, let us know down in the comments.

2 thoughts on “Top 10 K-Dramas That Carried The Korean Wave

  1. Right now with Grid and Military Prosecutor I am just enjoying the otherwise lull in k-drama time…there is forecasting love but i am more in the mood for something more action packed…so small mercies right now with the above 2 mentioned dramas.

    Liked by 1 person

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