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[PICK] Best Suspenseful Thriller Dramas

Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

Thrillers with strong narratives and twists have long been loved. While the K-drama craze through Netflix is mainly led by romance-based projects such as It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, Crash Landing On You, and The King: The King: External Monarch, Korean dramas continue to expand their territory to various genres. In particular, heavy but eye-catching thriller works are steadily produced. From action thrillers with colorful attractions to intellectual political thrillers, let’s look into the wide world of K-drama.

 

Extracurricular

Credit: Netflix

Extracurricular, which revolves around teenagers, is ironically a controversial work that has been rated R. The story takes place when Ji Soo, who acts out a model student in school but in reality, runs a teenager-prostitution business, gets caught by a classmate. In Extracurricular, there are no “soft youth romance” stories that we are familiar with. Instead, the project depicts intense and desperate conflicts between human beings to survive the violent and brutal reality. Especially, performances shown by Kim Dong Hee and Park Joo Hyun, who carefully expressed the complicated psychology of the troubled characters, are quite impressive. Rather than defending or pitying these kids who turned to crimes, the drama keeps a certain distance and leaves the judgment to the viewers.

 

Vagabond

Credit: SBS

Cha Dal Gun becomes an awakened tiger in the face of his nephew’s death in a mysterious plane crash, and with the help of NIS agent Go Hae Ri, he sets off on a journey to discover the truth. This mega-project, which took four years to plan and one year to produce, featured attractions at a different level from existing dramas. The car chase scene has a great speed, and shooting and action scenes using various angles and splendid camera techniques are dynamic. Many said that the story is somewhat lacking compared to its jaw-dropping scale, but it depicted the two main characters fighting against huge power in a thrilling way, and raised the immersion by throwing twists or hints that reverse the story entirely.

 

Bad Guys

Credit: OCN

To combat rising violent crimes, a detective teams up with three notorious inmates, a hitman, a gangster, and a genius psychopath. Like the title, the drama is about “bad guys catching other bad guys.” These three criminals eagerly go after other criminals to shorten their own sentences. Also, the fact that the main characters are all “bad guys” raises the tension as a single secret from their past can jeopardize the already-rocky teamwork. Though there were some negative responses towards romanticizing criminals, the project received a lot of love for their unique material and cool action scenes. Thanks to its popularity, the second season Bad Guys: Vile City and the film version The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos were produced.

 

Man to Man

Credit: JTBC

Adrenaline-filled action and buddy comedy came together. Man to Man depicts the performance of NIS black ops agent Kim Seol Woo, who is in charge of guarding super-special Hallyu star Yeo Un Kwang. As a work based on spies, thrilling action, overseas location, and close intelligence warfare create attractions, while unique characters such as a perfect bodyguard, Hallyu star who specializes in playing villain roles, and a manager who became a successful fan add to the fun. Above all, the best charm of the drama is the budding bromance between the star (Park Sung Woong) and bodyguard (Park Hae Jin). Seeing the two go from quarreling all the time to having each other’s back will put a smile on your face.

 

Designated Survivor: 60 Days

Credit: tvN

It is a remake of the American political thriller drama television series Designated Survivor. The story takes place as the National Assembly explodes by a terror attack, killing all South Korean lines of succession. When Park Moo Jin, the South Korean Minister of Environment, becomes the highest-ranking government official left alive, he must sit as the acting president for 60 days. One of the most remarkable things about the drama is the perfect adaptation. Since the original series deals with the political situation in the U.S., it is natural for the remake version to go under some adaptation, and at the time, it has gained positive reviews for its realistic portrayal and unique colors. It carefully reflected the domestic political situation, including an uncertain peace agreement with North Korea and confrontation between the opposing parties, and added to the dramatic fun by introducing a limited time of 60 days to the system of “Designated Survivor” that does not exist in Korea.

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