It has been an exhilarating year for K-dramas. Netflix has invested a ton in creating new original shows and they were all massive hits. ‘Squid Game’ set new records of viewership and then ‘Hellbound’ managed to go even beyond that. The bar was really high for other production companies as well and K-drama fans were blessed with a diverse offering.
Let’s take a look at the K-drama highlights of 2021.
There’s a murder in a small town that resembles a cold case that shook the entire town off its axis. The JTBC show focuses on two police agents who could not be any more different. Lee Dong-sik, played by Shin Ha-Kyun, was the brother of the victim of the cold case and also the main suspect. The second officer is Han Joo-won, played by Yeo Jin-goo. He is new in town and goes very much by the book.
It’s a thrilling show with many twists and turns that will keep you at the edge of your seat. If you’re into crime shows at all, definitely give it a try. Check out our full review here.
‘Squid Game’ had a solid grip over every media for a solid couple of weeks. The show’s dark view on capitalism was original and gripping. Players join in on a game to win a boatload of money, but it comes with do-or-die games that can only have one survivor. The short series had very tight writing and stellar performances. There is a second season coming, so stay tuned!
Another super original concept for Netflix! The show, based on a WebToon, is about creatures who come to earth after certain people receive a death prophecy where they are told they are going to hell. The series deals with the fragile balance of believers and non-believers and the New Truth, a new religion who knows how to avoid getting the death prophecy. It’s intriguing, an interesting character study and a fast watch.
Move to heaven
Geu-Ru is a young guy who has Asperger’s Syndrome. He struggles with changes and tries to keep a defined structure in his life for everything he does and his work as a “Trauma Healer” in his father’s company ‘Move To Heaven’. Geu-Ru experiences a dramatic loss and is forced to change and adapt to a new life with the person he loves the most, his father.
‘Move To Heaven’ was one of the highlights of 2021. This drama revolves around Geu-Ru, his views and his world. It is comforting, raw and unique. We loved its human and sensible storytelling and its incredible acting. You can stream it on Netflix.
‘D.P.’ or ‘Deserter Pursuit’ is another Netflix hit. Jung Hae-In stars as Private Ahn Joon-ho who has started his mandatory military enlistment. His unit suffers from severe bullying and harassment and when he gets offered the role of a D.P. he promptly joins the team to get away. Only it has quite the rocky start and Private Ahn has a hard time letting go.
Each episode shows a new story of a soldier who deserted that the D.P. team has to catch. Sometimes the stories are rather heartbreaking and the show did a great job showing the humanity of certain characters.
‘D.P.’ is a series that does not shirk away from hard topics. They also managed to create a visually appealing show despite its genre.
The JTBC series takes place in a renowned law school in Korea. The students and the professors have to work together to solve a murder case of one of the professors. A handful of students, all with their own troubles and backgrounds, work together to clear the name of Professor Yang (Kim Myung-min) who is the main suspect.
‘Law School’ is a great series about the criminal justice system. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it.
‘Taxi Driver’ is another great series based on a WebToon. The SBS series is about a small group of people who run a revenge taxi service together. We get to see some gut wrenching stories of people who were taken advantage of and not supported by both police and the law. That’s when the taxi service comes in. The series starring Lee Je-Hoon is an excellent watch.
This Netflix series stars our female protagonist Yoon Ji-woo (Han So-Hee) who witnesses the murder of her father. She joins her father’s gang and plans revenge on the cop who murdered him. We follow her as she learns how to fight, learns how to plot and infiltrates the police force. We love a female vengeance story.
Hometown Cha Cha Cha
Yoon Hye-Jin is a dentist with high principles and a fabulous style. After several unfortunate events she decides to move to Gongjin, a colourful sea-side town to open her own dental clinic. There she meets the very interesting residents and the unique Hong Du-sik, a handy man with a tragic past, a bright personality and outstanding skills.
‘Hometown Cha Cha Cha’ was one of our favourite dramas of 2021. Saying that this drama was a comforting watch really minimises how incredible this K-Drama was. The character development and growth was insane, and it got even better with the striking acting and wholesome personalities of every single character of this series. Make sure to watch it on Netflix.
Shim Deok-chul is a 70-year-old retired man who decides to follow his lifelong dream of learning ballet after watching Lee Chae-rok dance. Deok-chul convinces Chae-rok to teach him ballet, and they both begin a journey of personal growth and healing emotions.
‘Navillera’ was adapted from a WebToon with the same name. This story was a heartwarming show that showed viewers that it’s never too late to start and follow one’s dream. This story was comforting, human and real, and became one of our highlights for its storytelling and wonderful plot.
Vincenzo Cassano was born in Korea and adopted and raised in Italy. He is a lawyer and works as a Consigliere for the Italian mafia. He returns to Korea, fleeing from wars between the mafia groups and meets the lawyer Hong Cha-Young. They both start working towards mutual interests but corruption and money gets in the way of their plans. This duo will seek justice even if it is in their own way.
Saying that ‘Vincenzo’ was popular at the beginning of the year is an understatement. This drama took over the K-drama world and became one of the most viewed and popular shows. We loved it because it doesn’t follow the typical hero storyline, this drama very much shows that something good can be evil, and what seems evil can turn out to be good.
Yoo Na-Bi is an art student who stops believing in love after being heartbroken. Park Jae-Eon is a flirtatious guy who gets smitten by Na-Bi, however, he doesn’t believe in relationships. The attraction between them is inevitable but they both want different things in life.
‘Nevertheless’ was brought to the small screen by Netflix and was definitely one of the most talked about shows in 2021. The chemistry between the actors was incredible and the side stories fantastic. This show was based on a WebToon and had viewers from all over the world in love with the characters.
2021 was obviously blessed with some extremely good series. There were a lot of crime and thriller series this time, so people who liked those, got really lucky. These were just some of the 2021 K-drama highlights, there were so many awesome series apart from this list as well. However, these were definitely some of the most hyped up dramas.