If you haven’t already been sucked into the Korean drama craze, first, what have you even been doing? And second, 2021 is as good a time as ever to get started. I don’t know what sort of magic these shows possess, but there’s nothing like a K-Drama to put my emotions and fangirling tendencies into overdrive. So if you’re looking for a good laugh, a good cry, a good scare, or a good dose of butterflies in your stomach (thanks to all the drop-dead-gorgeous stars), a Korean-language show will probably give you your fix. And, yes, they are absolutely worth the minimal effort it takes to read subtitles.
While there are libraries full of essential K-Dramas from years past that absolutely deserve your attention, this year’s roster has brought some really good new options that belong to the canon. From silly romantic comedies to series that explore psychological trauma—you’ll definitely find something to your liking. Here are some of the best Korean dramas to watch in the new year.
Seo Dal-mi (Bae Suzy) dreams of becoming the next Steve Jobs. She wants to take Sandbox (a fictional Silicon Valley of South Korea) by storm and become a CEO, and she believes she can do it with her pen pal and childhood sweetheart Nam Do-san (Nam Joo-hyuk), the founder of Samsan Tech. But what happens when she discovers he hasn’t been the man she’s been exchanging letters with all along?
Record of Youth
Sa Hye-jun (Park Bo-gum) is a popular part-time model who really wants to make it as an actor but is struggling to book gigs. Meanwhile, fangirl An Jeong-ha (Park So-dam) aspires to become a makeup artist, though her mom would rather she worked a normal office job. Record of Youth follows the two as they go through the trials of trying to achieve their dreams in a world that seems to care more about money and connections. They eventually find their way together and root for each other through it all.
Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol
Goo Ra Ra (Go Ara) is a talented pianist who goes from riches to rags real quick after her father’s bankruptcy and death. It doesn’t help that she also got left at the altar. She ends up in the small city of Eunpo, searching for a social media user named “dodosolsollalasol,” who’s been messaging her since she’s gone through hard times. There she meets Sunwoo Jun (Lee Jae-wook) in a small piano academy. Despite his seeming cold-heartedness, he decides to help her.
When My Love Blooms
Han Jae-hyun (Yoo Ji-tae) and Yoon Ji-soo (Lee Bo-young) were college sweethearts who now lead very different lives. He’s now a successful businessman, while she’s living a difficult life as a contract worker and a mother. Twenty years since they parted ways, they meet again and reignite their feelings for one another.
Tale of the Nine-Tailed
Lee Yeon (Lee Dong-wook) is a gumiho (nine-tailed fox) who sacrificed his life as a mountain god and guardian in order to protect the woman he loved. Now he lives among humans, waiting for her reincarnation to reappear so he can protect her and help her lead a longer life. He then meets Nam Ji-ah (Jo Bo-ah), a producer who’s been seeking out supernatural stories ever since she was saved from a car accident with her parents. She sees the strange man who saved her as a child in CCTV footage of a recent wedding, and he looks exactly like Lee Yeon.
Crash Landing On You
Yoon Se-ri (Son Ye-jin) is a successful CEO who owns her own makeup and clothing brand, which she built without the help of her estranged family. Because of her success, her father considers her as the top contender to take over his own company instead of her two older half-brothers (hell yes). But when she goes paragliding one day, a storm takes her over the North Korean border, where she meets a soldier named Captain Ri Jung Hyuk (Hyun Bin).