Edited by Hong Hyun Jung
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
14. D.P. 2 (Cumulative Viewing Time: 36,500,000 hours)
The sequel to the 2021 hit, D.P., continues to expose the harsh realities of military life in Korea. Despite its critical acclaim, its local context limited its global reach.
13. Song of the Bandits (Cumulative Viewing Time: 46,200,000 hours)
Set during the Japanese occupation, this drama blends the macaroni Western genre into a Korean context like the movie The Good, the Bad, the Weird. Despite its high production cost of 36 billion won and visual spectacles, it received mixed reviews for its weak narrative and was overshadowed by The Worst of Evil, a Disney Plus original series released around the same time.
12. Daily Dose of Sunshine (Cumulative Viewing Time: 59,900,000 hours)
This project brought together All of Us Are Dead director Lee Jae Gyu and actress Park Bo Young. It received praise as a well-made series for its warm and touching portrayal of psychiatric ward staff and patients, despite low buzz.
11. Sweet Home 2 (Cumulative Viewing Time: 60,800,000 hours)
Sweet Home, released in 2020, was the most successful K-content on Netflix prior to Squid Game. But maybe the expectations were too high. Season 2, released last December, disappointed audiences with its unconvincing narrative. In contrast, Song Kang’s romance drama My Demon, aired around the same time, captivated global viewers. There is now anticipation whether Sweet Home will deliver a satisfying conclusion in its upcoming final season, slated for release this summer.
10. Doona! (Cumulative Viewing Time: 66,000,000 hours)
The drama, adapted from a webtoon with the same title, features a charming romance between a regular college student and a former idol. Throughout the series, Suzy’s striking appearance has been a standout, but it also faced criticism for banking almost entirely on the actress’ visual appeal.
9. Black Knight (Cumulative Viewing Time: 79,400,000 hours)
Set in a future where extreme air pollution necessitates oxygen masks for survival, this post-apocalyptic drama drew keen attention after announcing Kim Woo Bin’s casting. However, it faced critiques for its lackluster plot and technical shortcomings, thus only registering mediocre performance.
8. A Time Called You (Cumulative Viewing Time: 85,700,000 hours)
It’s a remake of a popular Taiwanese series, Someday or One Day, starring Greg Han and Alice Ko. While it didn’t quite surpass the original series, it received responses that it offers a decent watch (especially if you haven’t seen the original show). Immediately after the release, Ahn Hyo Seop’s rugged appearance sparked controversy.
7. Queenmaker (Cumulative Viewing Time: 99,480,000 hours)
A political drama led by Moon So Ri and Kim Hee Ae, it incorporated real-life incidents from Korea. Despite its clichéd story and outdated direction, it was praised for its strong female characters and actresses’ impressive performances.
6. Love to Hate You (Cumulative Viewing Time: 99,900,000 hours)
Kim Ok Vin, known for her intense roles like in Thirst and The Villainess, made her first foray into the rom-com genre. Starring opposite her is Yoo Teo, who recently gained attention with Past Lives. While the drama doesn’t break away from the clichés of the romantic comedy genre, it received love for its fresh casting and light-hearted content.
5. Mask Girl (Cumulative Viewing Time: 105,600,000 hours)
If we had to pick the most distinctive among last year’s Netflix K-content, Mask Girl would undoubtedly top the list. It successfully translated the gripping storyline and unique characters from the webtoon into a drama, generating heated discussions. The bold casting of Nana, Go Hyun Jung, and rookie actress Lea Han Byeol playing the lead character Kim Momi, along with the dazzling performances of Ahn Jae Hong and Yeom Hye Ran, left a lasting impression. It was nominated alongside The Glory for the Best Foreign Language Series at the 29th Critics’ Choice Awards, though it did not win.
4. Celebrity (Cumulative Viewing Time: 113,200,000 hours)
This drama unravels the true face behind the glamorous lives of celebrities in a mystery format. While deemed somewhat clichéd and juvenile, it gained traction as a decent time-killer. Park Gyu Young and Lee Chung Ah’s performances were particularly well-received, although the male casting faced some criticism.
3. Gyeongseong Creature (Cumulative Viewing Time: 141,700,000 hours)
The project, which garnered attention for the collaboration of Park Seo Joon and Han So hee, Hot Stove League director Jang Dong Yoon, and Dr. Romantic writer Kang Eun Young, initially garnered significant buzz. However, the series received lukewarm reviews, criticized for rehashing formulas from previously successful K-dramas. Falling short of expectations, it’s left to be seen if the upcoming Season 2 can turn the tide.
2. Bloodhounds (Cumulative Viewing Time: 164,870,000 hours)
Starring Woo Do Hwan and Lee Sang Yi, this series garnered praise for its compelling narrative and action sequences. However, there’s one letdown: the involvement of Kim Sae Ron, whose character’s role was reduced due to her drunk driving controversy, impacted the latter part of the story. It makes one wonder what could have been if not for the controversy.
1. The Glory (Cumulative Viewing Time: 622,800,000 hours)
A gripping tale of vengeance of a woman tormented by school violence, The Glory stirred significant social impact. It gained immense popularity, even earning the third-highest viewing hours on Netflix for the first half of 2023. Song Hye Kyo reaffirmed her starpower and box office prowess, and the cast, including Lim Ji Yeon, Park Sung Hoon, Cha Joo Young, and Jung Sung Il, rose to stardom. However, did this popularity come at a cost? Director Ahn Gil Ho and actress Kim Hieora were swept up in a school violence scandal themselves.
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.