CORRIE STREET OR KOREAN DRAMA in 2024?
asks Norman Warwick
Watching K-dramas is basically a full-time gig. Most episodes run over an hour long, and with the Hallyu wave (the South Korean equivalent to the British Invasion into our pop culture) in full swing, there’s more Korean TV to watch—and more places to watch it—than ever before.
A British contestant appearing on Pointless recently, reached the final round to contend for a healthy jackpot, for which the final questions and their subject matter are randomly selected. When asked what subject he would hope to see come up he stated his preference for K-Drama, an indication, perhaps that audiences are noticing K-drama on their television. It’s a good thing we’re so obsessed with K-dramas then given the length of that channel saturating output. And of course, the UK is not the only country with a love of the genre. No matter the show, whether it’s a lovesick romance, a gritty noir thriller, or a supernatural historical saga, there is a huge fandom desperately hooked to every moment, every frame of each series.
We know this, not only because the influential journalists at Paste on line magazine have offered an end-of-year listing of the top ten K-dramas of 2023, but also because our thirteen year old grand-daughter who lives in South Korea with her mum and her dad, who is also our son, tells us every plot development, every cliff-hanger and includes character references from what she calls her ´soaps´!
With all that attention comes more investment in Korean TV than ever before, which in turn, brings more pressure our way. Because who in their right mind would try and rank the year’s best K-dramas knowing how much the fans love every single one? We would, because just like you, we’re fans too, and with so much to celebrate this year, it’d be a crime not to bring the best of the best together in one extraordinary list.
Inevitably, the sheer volume of great K-dramas that were released this year means that some of your faves might not have made the cut. But believe us when we say the omission of shows like Vigilante, Mask Girl, Agency, The Worst of Evil, Taxi Driver 2, My Demon, Love to Hate You, Celebrity, Doona!, King The Land, Divorce Attorney Shin, Queenmaker, Crash Course in Romance, and See You in My 19th Life all hurt us just as much as they hurt you.
So if those shows didn’t make the cut, which ones did? Without further ado, here are our picks for the best K-dramas of the year:.
Music-loving high school student Ha Eun-gyeol (Ryeoun) helps his deaf family navigate the world and does his best to shield them from cruel, small-minded people. But in doing so, Ha Eun-gyeol inadvertently puts his own dreams on hold. That is, until he somehow travels back in time to 1995 where he forms the band Watermelon Sugar and comes of age in a gorgeous, deeply emotional story about love and putting your own dreams first. The music and comedy is fluffy and heart-warming, but there’s much more going on under the surface of Twinkling Watermelon, which is why it shines bright as one of the highest-rated K-dramas of the year among fans online.
Anyone who complains about “superhero fatigue” clearly hasn’t watched Moving, Kang Full’s webtoon adaptation that follows three teens who inherited powers from cautious parents who try their best to protect them from danger. Kim Bong-seok, Jang Hee-soo, and Lee Gang-hoon (Lee Jung-ha, Go Youn-jung, and Kim Do-hoon) aren’t your typical “heroes” per se, but you’ll root for them more than any comic book protagonists on the big screen this year, especially when a spy named Frank (Ryu Seung-bum) begins hunting them down. Not only is Moving one of the most successful Korean shows ever streamed globally on Hulu and Disney+, it even outdid the likes of Marvel and Star Wars in certain Asian territories. Maybe it’s not superhero stories that people are tired of then. Maybe we just need more quality, original fare that’s up there with Kang Full’s magnum opus.
After a Korean folklore professor dies in a supernatural attack, his daughter, Gu San-yeong (Twenty-Five Twenty-One’s Kim Tae-ri), becomes a target for the same demonic entity that he was running from prior to his death.
As the body count begins to rack up around her, San-yeong seeks help from Professor Yeom Hae-sang (Oh Jung-se), an expert who possesses the ability to see these ghostly forces. Jump scares are few and far between, especially at first, but for horror fans who enjoy chilling slowburn fare, Revenant is a truly ghoulish descent into the occult infused with eerie Korean myths and legends.