“The Glory,” starring Song Hye-kyo, has quickly become one of the most talked-about stories among Netflix users worldwide. South Korean TV series, also known as K-dramas, have experienced a surge in global popularity, exemplified by the overwhelming success of Squid Game, which has garnered more than 142 million viewers since its release.
Hallyu, or the Korean wave, has had a remarkable impact on Western audiences despite cultural differences and geographical distance. K-dramas tend to be short, usually 16 episodes, and themes range from the classic story of two people from different social classes falling in love to doctors, schoolchildren, comics, action and even fictional plots with mythological beings.
Thanks to platforms like Netflix, K-dramas have become increasingly accessible and have reached a whole new international audience.
Not surprisingly, the popular streaming platform is already ranking the most watched K-dramas. Here is the list of the most popular ones:
1. Reborn Rich – 7 weeks in the ranking 2.
Starring Song Joong-ki, Shin Hyun-bin, Tiffany Young, Park Jin-young, among others.
Yoon Hyun Woo (Song Joong-ki) is a dedicated, hardworking and loyal secretary. of the Jin family, who runs the lucrative business empire Soonyang Group. But one day he suffers a brutal betrayal by the family, who falsely accuse him of embezzlement. He dies soon after, but miraculously “comes back to life” by waking up in the body of the youngest male member of the family, Jin Do Joon.
2. The Glory – 1 week in the rankings
Starring Song hye-kyo, Lee Do-hyun, Lim Ji-yeon, among others.
This drama follows a woman who creates an elaborate revenge plan after surviving brutal bullying from several schoolmates. You can’t miss these amazing K-dramas!
3. Alchemy of Souls: Part 2 – 3 weeks in the ranking.
Starring Lee Jaewook, Go Younjung, Hwang Min-hyun and more.
Follows the thrilling story of Uk, a hunter of invading souls, as he helps a woman, who is imprisoned in her own home, regain her freedom.
4. Alchemy of Souls: Part 1 – 17 weeks in the rankings (cumulative after re-entry).
Starring Lee Jaewook, Go Younjung, Hwang Min-hyun and more.
Discover the fantasy adventure of a powerful sorceress trapped in the body of a blind woman, who must rely on a member of a prestigious family to change her destiny.
5. Mr. Sunshine – 11 weeks in the ranking (cumulative after re-entry).
Starring Lee Byung-hun, Kim Tae-ri, Yoo Yeok-seok and more.
Witness the gripping story of a young Korean boy in 1871, who returns to his homeland at a critical historical moment and falls in love with an aristocrat.
6. Alice in Borderland: Season 2
Starring Kento Yamazaki, Tao Tsuchiya and Nijiro Murakami
Join Ryohei Arisu and his two friends on the adventure of a lifetime. Experience the parallel reality of Tokyo, where they must face a series of dangerous and sadistic games in order to stay alive. Alice in Borderland: Season 2 has proven its staying power, having been in the top ten most watched in 19 countries for over a week – don’t miss this thrilling, suspenseful story!
K-dramas have enjoyed immense success around the world, and that success can be attributed to the rise of the hallyu, or “Korean wave.” This phenomenon began in the late 1990s, when The Peoples Daily first used the term to refer to the popularity of Korean culture in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam and Indonesia.
Now, hallyu is a phenomenon that encompasses TV dramas, movies, K-pop, celebrities and idols, cuisine, makeup and more, and is becoming increasingly popular around the world. Even in countries with barriers to foreign culture, such as North Korea, hallyu has become a powerful force.
The success of popular titles such as Goblin, Boys Over Flowers, Moon Lovers and You Are Beautiful is a testament to the global reach and influence of hallyu.
K-dramas differ from other international productions because of the unique opportunity they provide for Korean society to reinvent and redefine itself in the eyes of the world. In this way, K-dramas offer an invaluable platform for Korean culture to reach many people.
After the war with Japan and North Korea, these shows have become an integral part of Korean culture, providing a platform for the country to reconnect with the rest of the world. In addition, K-dramas are closely related to the Korean pop industry (K-pop), as their soundtracks are often used to promote and advertise the programs, helping to attract more viewers.
January is the perfect time of year to jump into a good show and immerse yourself in another world, and the popular streaming service Netflix has an ever-growing selection of K-dramas to offer. Here are the top 10 most watched Netflix K-dramas that you can start watching in January.
1. Crash Landing on You: A 2019 romantic-comedy and adventure drama, Crash Landing on You tells the story of Yoon Se Ri, a wealthy and pampered South Korean heiress who accidentally paraglides into North Korea. Once there, she meets Ri Jung Hyuk, a North Korean army officer who finds himself reluctantly protecting her. The two are then forced to go on the run together and try to find a way back home.
2. Itaewon Class: A stylish and captivating 2020 action-drama, Itaewon Class follows Park Sae Ro Yi as he deals with personal betrayals and injustice. After a chance meeting with a mysterious stranger, Sae Ro Yi attempts to open his own restaurant in a former bar fight that he was thrown out of. All the while, he is also guided by an old man who was once a fighter himself.
3. My Holo Love: If you’re looking for a romantic science-fiction drama, My Holo Love is a great choice. This 2020 drama tells the story of a woman who struggles with face blindness, and one day encounters a mysterious AI hologram who calls himself ‘Holobear.’ This AI claims to be her soulmate, but his presence triggers memory flashbacks that slowly show her a past she’s forgotten.
4. Hospital Playlist: This 2020 medical-drama follows five lifelong friends as they train to become doctors and continue their friendship into adulthood. Despite their different backgrounds and careers, the five remain close and even meet up to play music together.
5. Memories of the Alhambra: This 2018 fantasy-drama follows Yoo Jin Woo, a CEO of a high-tech gaming company, who visits the Spanish city of Granada in search of a revolutionary augmented reality game. Little does he know, that once there he will be exposed to a mysterious ancient encounter with the Alhambra palace, where a secret hidden world awaits.
6. Love Alarm: In this 2019 romantic drama, Kim Jo Jo is a young woman who wants to live a normal life and is drawn into a never-ending love triangle. To make matters worse, her life takes an unexpected turn when a mysterious app tells her who likes her whenever someone within a 10-meter radius has romantic feelings for her.
7. Hi Bye, Mama!: In this 2020 fantasy-drama, the ghost of Cha Yu-Ri returns from the afterlife and embarks on a journey to reunite her family. With her death approaching closer and closer, Yu-Ri is given one last opportunity to reconnect with her family before she passes away.
8. Reply 1988: In this wonderful 2015 slice-of-life drama, five friends living in Ssangmundong, a neighbourhood in Seoul, deal with their everyday lives and struggles. This includes love, family, societal beliefs, and of course friendship.
9. Because This is My First Life: A 2017 romantic-drama, because this is my first life follows two people with different approaches to life who enter an unlikely contract marriage. The two must confront their feelings and differences as they try to keep up the affable front of a happily married couple.
10. Mother: Lastly, we have this fantastic 2018 crime-drama about a strong, no-nonsense single mother who will do anything for her child. The drama revolves around a deserted and presumed-dead child named Lee Hwi, and his maternal figure who never stops searching for and working towards the truth.
Whether you’re in the mood for a romance, action, drama, or science-fiction, any one of these K-dramas would make for a great watching experience. So why not pick one and start binging this January?
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