Last Updated on May 27, 2020 by Carmelyne Thompson
Are you looking for your next binge-worthy k-drama? Read through my 7 favorites to date that are all available in Netflix. Get your popcorn and cold drinks ready for these top 7 Netflix k-dramas to love in 2020!
#7 Memories of the Alhambra
- Lead stars: Hyun Bin (as Yoo Jin-woo); Park Shin-hye (as Jung Hee-joo / Emma)
- Genre: Sci-Fi; Suspense; MeloDrama
- Original Release: December 2018 – January 2019
Our #7 in the top 7 Netflix k-dramas to love in 2020 is the Memories of the Alhambra. The story beings when Yoo Jin-Woo (played by Hyun Bin), the CEO of an investment company, receives a message from the developer (Jung Se-joo, played by Park Chan-yeol)) of what promised to be a groundbreaking augmented reality game. Compelled by curiosity and outdoing his competition (who also is a rival who run off with his ex-wife), he travels to Alhambra, Spain.
Jin-Woo meets the developer’s sister, Jung Hee-joo (played by Park Shin-hye), who also runs Hostel Bonita. When Se-joo mysteriously disappears, he gets entangled into what seemed to be the blurring lines between AR and reality as he plays the game. He sets off to make sure that he finds Se-joo, both for his sister Hee-joo and for his need to get the glitches of the game fixed.
Why we like it: It’s interesting Sci-Fi. It’s different from the usual Rom-Com that K-dramas are really good at. The scenes are beautifully done, with even the fight scenes with AR characters executed in a believable way. The storyline of the characters and how the mysteries of the game get unraveled in the scenes are enough to get you to watch the next episodes. You would want to click onto the next episode just to see what happens next. It’s suspenseful, and the drama scenes were sincere.
The production also showed the beauty of Alhambra. Some of the shots were quite breath-taking that you would really want to pack up and book your flights to Spain.
If you’re looking for a kilig love story, this may not be for you. This may be an unpopular opinion, and without giving any spoilers, it’s not really a love story. Jin-woo may be in love more with his company and his investment on the game than with Hee-joo. But still, the love story angle can make you tear up a bit.
But if you’re into gaming and suspense, go on and start watching right away. The effects were done beautifully.
The leads, as well as the supporting cast, did a great job at doing justice to the character. It’s not a surprise that Hyun Bin got nominated for the Best Actor category for his role in this.
There are mixed opinions on the ending … but I’ll let you be the judge on that. It’s not typical compared to most k-dramas I’ve seen. But for me, the ending is ‘fitting’ to the Sci-Fi / AR plot, and to the suspenseful episodes. It leaves you wanting for a Season 2 … which, honestly, we hope they will consider. 🙂
- Lead stars: Ji Chang-wook (as Seo Jung-hu/Park Bong-soo/Healer); Park Min-young (as Chae Young-shin/Oh Ji-an); Yoo Ji-tae (as Kim Mun-ho)
- Genre: Action; Romance
- Original Release: December 2014 – February 2015
Moving to our #6 in the top 7 Netflix k-dramas to love in 2020. This k-drama revolves around an incident involving 5 friends who ran a illegal pro-democracy broadcasting station a few decades before. This incident somehow brought together the 3 main characters — the faceless ‘night-courier’ codenamed “Healer”, a tabloid news reporter (Chae Young-shin), and a star-journalist from major broadcasting company (Kim Mun-ho). The drama started to unfold when Mun-ho commissions “Healer / Seo Jung-hu)” to find a girl, an extraordinary request. As curiosity and money came more into play, the characters came closer as the plot peels more and more details and mysteries that are more than 2 decades old.
Why we like it: The action scenes are bad-ass. The fight and parkour scenes were shot incredibly, and were played nicely with the angsty character.
As the k-drama unfolds, you end up wanting to know more and more about what happened. The over-arching backstory propels the present story forward. It was written and narrated in a suspenseful way that would leave you hanging … and wanting for more. At one point, you may also blurt out (as I did), “What is with that photo?!???”
The actors have good chemistry, and were able to portray effectively the mix of action, drama, quirky rom-com, and suspense scenes that k-dramas are famous for. No wonder that the 2 leads received awards for “Best Couple” from 2 Drama Award giving bodies in Korea.
There were some open loopholes in the plot until the end, but the watcher can just put two and two together with some of the implied hints along the way. Still, it’s a great k-drama that was told in a very crafty and intense way. Pick this up for both some heart-racing action and love stories.
#5 Goblin (a.k.a. Guardian: The Lonely and Great God)
- Lead stars: Gong Yoo as Kim Shin / Goblin; Kim Go-eun (as Ji Eun-tak); Lee Dong-wook (as Wang Yeo / Grim Reaper); Yoo In-na (as Sunny / Kim Sun)
- Genre: Fantasy; Drama; Romance
- Original Release: December 2016 – January 2017
Goblin is our #5 in the top 7 Netflix k-dramas to love in 2020. Kim Shin, a decorated military general from the Goryeo Dynasty is framed as a traitor and killed by his master, the young King. He was cursed by the almighty to stay as an immortal goblin and endure the pain of seeing his loved ones die as a punishment. The only way to put an end to his immortality is the Goblin’s bride, whose aid in pulling out the sword will culminate his painful immortality.
Ji Eun-Tak, a high school student with a rather tragic life, summons the goblin by chance and their fates begin to entwine. Goblin’s ‘nephew’ leases the Goblin’s house to a grim reaper, and the two end up living under the same roof. Sunny is a charismatic young lady who runs a chicken shop in which Eun-Tak works as a part timer. As the lives of Kim Shin, grim reaper, Eun-Tak and Sunny interweave, a deeper story unfolds as more is revealed about how their lives are intertwined.
Why we like it: Though the underlying premise of this k-drama is outright SAD and heart-breaking (eternal punishment; curse from the Almighty) goblin bride must pull the sword, thus killing the goblin; pain of immortality; pain of not knowing anything about your past life; crossing over to your death … etc. etc.), the story was told in a way that you will always be curious about the characters / how they ended up like that / what will happen to them. The way that it was narrated brings you along as it jumps from one era to another; one life to another; one related back story to another.
There were a lot of heavy drama moments that were balanced out by a rather light (sometimes comical) portrayal of the Grim Reaper’s love story with Sunny. It could have done away with a lot of the flashback scenes as well, but those were effective in making you feel their pain. Nonetheless, it is worth watching. The multiple awards received by the show and the actors for this k-drama tells a lot about why this is a must watch.
#4 Hotel del Luna
- Lead stars: Lee Ji-eun (a.k.a. IU) as Jang Man-wol; Yeo Jin-goo as Gu Chan-sung
- Genre: Fantasy; Rom-Com
- Original Release: July – September 2019
Hotel del Luna
This is our #4 in the top 7 Netflix k-dramas to love in 2020. Hotel del Luna is a hotel like no other: it caters to the dead, and cannot be seen in its true form during the day. It can only be seen by the living during the full moon. Jang Man-wol, the hotel owner, is stuck and cursed for a millenium for her grave sins in the past. She must cater to the dead guests before they pass on to the cycle of reincarnation. With the help of the Mago, she encounters Gu Chan-sung’s father with whom she strikes a deal.
Gu Chan-sung returns to Korea, and later on fulfills his father’s promise to manage the hotel. He becomes introduced to the nuances of managing Hotel del Luna, and well as the secrets of the guests that is keeping them from passing on.
Why we like it: The premise of having a grand hotel for the dead is a good setting for the story. As Gu Chan-sung works to help the guests (and even the employees) with their grudges, he unravels the mysteries about the hotel and its owner. Each backstory (guests and employees) is a good watch, and lends a good facet to the overall story.
Although it follows the typical k-drama rom-com formula of ‘guy-meets-girl-and-they-fall-in-love’, the unpredictable mix of horror, suspense, drama, and even comedy in the plot makes it a great watch.
#3 Descendants of the Sun
- Lead stars: Song Joong-ki as Captain Yoo Si-jin; Song Hye Kyo as Doctor Kang Mo-yeon; Jin Goo as Master Sergeant Seo Dae-young; Kim Ji-won as First Lieutenant Yoon Myung-ju
- Genre: Romance; Melo-drama; Action
- Original Release: February – April 2016
Yup! Descendants of the Sun is our #5 in the top 7 Netflix k-dramas to love in 2020. This k-drama tells the story about a special forces captain (Yoo Si-jin) and a doctor (Song Hye Kyo) who fall in love while providing aid in a country dealing with a natural disaster and civil strife.
Dae Young and Myung Joo make up our second couple. They have their own obstacles to overcome. Myung Joo’s father disapproves of the relationship, and they have spent a lot of time apart. But they are able to reconnect in Urk and their relationship blossoms again.
Why we like it: There is great chemistry between the characters, and it helps them in portraying the love, friendship, and the special bond that connects people who are brought together by difficult circumstances.
It showed enough of the struggles from natural disaster, strife, and war without being too heavy. This, in fact, lends a great background to building the story around the characters. The struggles and pains became real, and you would feel raw emotions as one disaster after another falls on the couples.
It may sound like your typical ‘against all odds’ love story. However, this k-drama had the right mix of action, melo-drama, suspense, and even some dashes of comedy that ties the general love story all together. Grab enough popcorn as you watch this kilig series coz you will definitely be tempted to binge-watch it.
This k-drama is multi-awarded, along with its cast. The Song-Song couple (turned real-life partners, who are now unfortunately estranged) and the supporting cast also bagged a lot of awards for this series. Watch it before the rumored sequel hits the screens!
#2 Crash Landing on You
- Lead stars: Hyun Bin (as Ri Jeong-hyeok); Son Ye-jin as Yoon Se-ri; Kim Jung-hyun (as Gu Seung-joon / Alberto Gu); Seo Ji-hye as Seo Dan
- Genre: Romance; Melo-drama
- Original Release: December 2019 – February 2020
Crash Landing on You
The ultra-blockbuster hit globally is our #2 in the top 7 Netflix k-dramas to love in 2020. This k-drama tells the story of two star crossed lovers, Yoon Se-ri (Son Ye-jin), a South Korean Chaebol heiress, and Ri Jeong-hyeok (Hyun Bin), a member of the North Korean elite and a Captain in the North Korean Special Police Force.
It starts with Yoon Se-ri’s paragliding accident where a sudden tornado blows her off course from Seoul. She awakens to find herself up a tree in a forest in the DMZ in North Korea. There she meets Ri Jeong-hyeok, literally falling into his arms from the tree. Ri Jeong-hyeok eventually gives Yoon Se-ri shelter, and develops plans to secretly help her return to South Korea. Over time, they fall in love, despite the divide and dispute between their respective countries.
Why we like it: This k-drama may sound like a typical ‘boy-meets-girl’ and ‘against-all-odds’ kind of love story. To be frank, it is. What makes it interesting is that this Romeo and Juliet are ‘forbidden’ from being together, and are in a situation where they cannot cross the line (quite literally).
It’s one of the few mainstream shows that gives us a glimpse on what is life like in North Korea. Although this is very ‘unofficial’ and is still disputed by a lot of propaganda agencies in North Korea, it is still quite interesting. As per the show, they did extensive research by interviewing a lot of N. Korean deflectors. With the country still literally closed, this may be the closest that we can get in terms of seeing normal day to day life in the country.
‘CLOY’ also had the extra scenes at the end of each episode that showed viewers snippets of how and when their paths have crossed before. Apart from the breath-taking scenes in Switzerland, these episode bonuses left wondering if and when they will find out how fate had tempted them, even in the past.
This k-drama is not selfish in the scenes that built the characters of the supporting cast. As such, anybody who watches will definitely love the 4 N. Korean soldiers, the neighbors in the N. Korean community, the stories (and love stories) of Alberto Gu and Seo Dan, and even the other supporting cast.
(Spoilers) The ‘switch’ midway also made it very interesting. They showed good contract between the daily life in the 2 countries in the Korean Peninsula.
As a bonus … the stars in this k-drama are outright GORGEOUS!
#1 Mr. Sunshine
- Lead stars: Lee Byung-hun (as Choi Yoo-jin / Eugene Choi); Kim Tae-ri (as Go Ae-shin); Yoo Yeon-seok (as Goo Dong-mae / Ishida Sho); Kim Min-jung (as Lee Yang-hwa / Kudo Hina); Byun Yo-han as Kim Hee-sung
- Genre: Historical Romance; Melo-drama
- Original Release: July – September 2018
This classic and our ultimate favorite is our #1 in the top 7 Netflix k-dramas to love in 2020! Its multiple awards and recognitions would agree with us.
A Korean boy from a family of slaves ends up in the United States after the 1871 Shinmiyangyo incident. He returns to his homeland during a historical turning point. Now an officer with the American military, he meets and falls in love with an aristocrat’s daughter (Go Ae-shin), who is part of the Righteous Army. At the same time, he discovers a plot by foreign forces to colonize Korea. Soon, he becomes embroiled in the fight for Joseon’s independence. As Ae-sin tries to figure out if Eugene is a friend, they wonder what the English word “love” means.
Why we like it: This k-drama’s historical backdrop sets to tone to the depth of its characters’ stories. Though it may have limited appeal to those who appreciate stories that are told under traditional times, how the actors expertly portrayed the characters is really quite something. This expressive depiction is really epic.
This is a strong story of patriotism, loyalty, and love. It features girl power, and help that comes from unexpected avenues. As you go through the episodes, it peels the layers of the intricacies of each of the characters’ personas.
This is truly a drama that is timeless and powerful. The production, writers, and the actors really deserve for me to stand in my living room and do a slow clap. Watch it, and do the same!
These are our top 7 Netflix k-dramas to love in 2020. Tell us your recommendations and favorite k-dramas as well in the comments! We would love to watch more!
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