PICK: 7 Best and Most-Viewed Korean Dramas So Far in 2023

most watched korean drama 2023

Edited by Hong Hyun Jung
Translated by Yu Jin Kim

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The first half of 2023 saw a mix of success and disappointment in the drama industry. While some shows with top actors received disappointing responses due to weak storytelling, other works garnered positive buzz and achieved great results. In this article, we have compiled a list of seven dramas that have achieved double-digit viewership ratings so far this year. (Please note that this list excludes dramas that started airing this year and daily KBS dramas with existing fan bases).

Payback – 11.4% (12 episodes)

SBS’ weekend drama Payback, starring Lee Sun Kyun and Moon Chae Won, kicked off with an average nationwide rating of 8.7% and wrapped up with an impressive 11.1%. The show struck a chord with audiences, hitting double-digit ratings in 5 out of its 12 episodes. Departing from the typical romance theme, Payback focused on the vengeful journey of Eun Yong, portrayed with an ‘anti-hero’ personality. The movie-like settings and outstanding performances by the cast added to its sustained popularity among viewers.

The Good Bad Mother – 12.032% (14 episodes)

JTBC’s Wednesday-Thursday drama The Good Bad Mother delivered a rollercoaster of emotions, leaving viewers laughing and crying. The series recorded a remarkable surge in ratings, starting with 3.59% for the premiere episode and skyrocketing to a peak of 12.03% for its finale, thanks to positive word-of-mouth. The exceptional acting prowess of Ra Mi Ran and Lee Do Hyun stole the spotlight, while the captivating setting and top-notch script elevated their performances even further. It would be a disappointment if this project doesn’t secure a nomination for the prestigious Baeksang Arts Award next year.

Agency –  16.044% (16 episodes)

The unexpected triumph of  Agency after the conclusion of Reborn Rich took viewers by surprise. While the drama’s cast and storyline might not have been as compelling as its predecessor, Lee Bo Young’s exceptional acting elevated the overall performance. Starting off with ratings of 4.80% for the premiere, the show quickly gained traction and reached a peak of 11.96% by its eighth episode.

Dr. Romantic 3 – 16.8% (16 episodes)

Dr. Romantic made its highly anticipated return with Season 3 and received an overwhelming amount of love, just as expected. Despite mixed comments about the new season’s departure from its romantic essence, the strong presence of Kim Sa Bu (played by Han Suk Kyu) and the growth of Woo Jin (Ahn Hyo Sup) and Eun Jae (Lee Sung Kyung) were loved by many viewers. The comeback of Dong Ju (Yoo Yeon Suk) to Doldam Hospital towards the end of the show created a buzz, and the final episode hinted at the return of Seo Jung (Seo Hyun Jin), fueling expectations for Season 4. Unfortunately, the series fell short of achieving ratings above 20%, possibly due to external factors affecting viewership.

Crash Course in Romance – 17.038% (16 episodes)

tvN’s weekend drama Crash Course in Romance garnered a tremendous amount of love and support from a diverse range of viewers. Combining elements of romantic comedy, mystery and family drama, the show struck a chord with its audience. The remarkable transformation of Jeon Do Yeon, known for her intense and dramatic roles in previous projects, along with Jung Kyung Ho’s outstanding portrayal of his character’s prickly personality, created a captivating synergy. While some viewers expressed disappointment about the reduced focus on romance in the later episodes, the series maintained its successful streak until the very end. The drama’s popularity also had a positive impact on Jeon Do Yeon’s following project, Kill Boksoon, which received rave reviews on Netflix.

Doctor Cha – 18.546% (16 episodes)

JTBC’s Doctor Cha emerged as a standout among this year’s successful female-led dramas. The series revolves around Cha Jung Sook, a woman determined to reclaim her dream of becoming a doctor after putting it on hold for 20 years due to marriage and childcare. While the theme of adultery played a significant role in the storyline, it was the character’s inspiring journey to rebuild her life that resonated with viewers, resulting in soaring ratings. The drama surpassed 11.21% in ratings by its fourth episode and sustained its popularity with consistently strong double-digit ratings thereafter.

Taxi Driver 2 – 21% (16 episodes)

Taxi Driver Season 2 achieved a remarkable feat by surpassing the challenging 20% ratings mark, a significant accomplishment for KBS’ weekend dramas. While the highest ratings were recorded in the attention-grabbing final episode, it’s noteworthy given the struggles faced by other shows in the same time slot. The season captivated viewers by drawing inspiration from real-life incidents, with episodes delving into the controversial Burning Sun scandal involving BIGBANG’s Seungri. The compelling storytelling had audiences on the edge of their seats. Following the conclusion of the latest season, reports have surfaced about an upcoming Season 3, generating further excitement among fans.


Edited Hong Hyun Jung: I am a K-content guide who publishes various articles for people to enjoy Korean movies and dramas deeper and richer. I’ll introduce you to the works that you can laugh, cry and sympathize with.

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