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Last Updated 18.07.2024 | 10:46 PM IST



From Moving to Twinkling Watermelon, Crash Course In Romance to The Glory 2, 20 K-dramas in 2023 that redefined art of genres and storytelling

en Bollywood News From Moving to Twinkling Watermelon, Crash Course In Romance to The Glory 2, 20 K-dramas in 2023 that redefined art of genres and storytelling

Korean dramas soared in 2023 with romance, thrillers and groundbreaking superhero genres.

In the vibrant landscape of 2023 K-dramas, diverse narratives unfolded to captivate audiences. Moving soared to please superhero/fantasy enthusiasts, while King the Land and Crash Course in Romance catered to romance aficionados with their enchanting tales. The delightful surprise of Twinkling Watermelon provided a refreshing coming-of-age perspective, resonating with viewers. Emotions staged a triumphant return with the much-anticipated D.P Season 2 and The Glory 2, evoking a compelling comeback. 2023 emerged as a memorable year where K-dramas, spanning genres, wove intricate stories. Let’s look at the best 20 K-dramas of 2023 in no particular order.

From Moving to Twinkling Watermelon, Crash Course In Romance to The Glory 2, 20 K-dramas in 2023 that redefined art of genres and storytelling

1. D.P. 2
After the success of its first season in 2022, D.P. returned with its second season in 2023. In this season, we saw how An Jun Ho and Han Ho Yeol tackle issues in Deserter Pursuit Unit which get more and more personal. Based on the 2015 webtoon D.P. Dog Days, the atrocities within the barracks are also brought to light. The DP section is trying to make a change, but it is quite slow. There are hopes for a new season in 2024. Perhaps, we will see more of Jun Ho and Ho Yeol as they tackle new challenges. The series brought back Jung Hae In as Private An Jun Ho, Koo Kyo Hwan as Corporal Han Ho Yeol, Kim Sung Kyun as Sergeant Park Beom Gu, Son Suk Ku as Captain Lim Ji Seop, Cho Hyun Chul as Private Cho Suk Bong, Ji Jin-hee as Gu Ja Woon, and Kim Ji Hyun as Lieutenant Colonel Seo Eun. Directed by Han Jun-hee, the series is from a screenplay by Kim Bo Tong and Han.


Touted as the Korean counterpart for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Moving is one of those K-dramas which every fan of the superhero genre must watch. While Disney+ hardly promoted the series, it became an international sensation upon the release with viewers eagerly awaiting the release of the next episodes. The drama spawned 20 episodes and introduced a gripping tale of superhumans, power, politics and humanity. Based on Kang Full's webtoon, this supernatural drama delves into the lives of three high school students and their parents as they unearth latent superpowers. Navigating the complexities of adolescence and family dynamics, the series weaves a nuanced narrative that explores the intertwined threads of power, identity, and relationships. Moving brought newfound fame to the cast and shined spotlight on rising stars. The cast includes Ryu Seung Ryong, Han Hyo Joo, Zo In Sung, Cha Tae Hyun, Ryoo Seung Bum, Kim Sung Kyun, Lee Jung Ha, Go Youn Jung, and Kim Do Hoon.


Women in positions of power are quite formidable forces to reckon with. Queenmaker shows you just that. Written by Moon Ji Young and directed by     Oh Jin Seok, the drama follows Hwang Do Hee (Kim Hee Ae) and Oh Young Sook (Moon So Ri), two women from different walks of life who come together to create a society which is just and stands morally high. A morally conflicted fixer leverages her expertise to elevate a civil rights lawyer's mayoral bid, navigating the intricate balance of redemption and retribution as she dismantles her former employer's oppressive legacy.


How can one think of rom coms and not think of King the Land? If you have been looking for silly mush drama then you are at the right place. Starring 2PM’s Lee Jun Ho and Girls’ Generation’s Im YoonA, this drama is just what you need to feel all kinds of butterflies and silly smiles throughout. A cute yet predictable romance between a hotel conglomerate Gu Won, who is at war with his step sister over inheritance and his employee Cheon Sa Rang, a hotelier who always has a smile on her face till she meets Gu Won. Korean dramas were missing the essence of cliché romantic comedies of late 2010’s and this came at the right time giving the mush feels and soft romance.


A historical drama that has captivated each viewer in 2023 has to be My Dearest. Jang Hyun, adrift in purposelessness, discovers an unexpected connection with Gil Chae, a charming woman entangled in a complex love triangle with her first love, Yeon Jun, engaged to her best friend, Eun Ae. The cold-hearted man begins to thaw, entwined in the intricate emotions of an unusual foursome. As Gil Chae grapples with conflicting affections, the outbreak of war adds a layer of chaos to their relationships. Amidst the trials of conflict, their intertwined destinies unfold, challenging the boundaries of love, loyalty, and survival. In the crucible of war, they must navigate the complexities of their emotions to discover if love can endure the storms of adversity. Starring Nam Koong Min and Ahn Eun Jin in lead roles, this drama delivered a stunning tale of love, politics and longing spanning 21 episodes. Released in two parts, My Dearest kept the viewers’ attention piqued from start to finish.


Directed by Han Dong Wook, a drama that is bound to be one of the most loved gangster flicks of all time is The Worst of Evil. Ji Chang Wook and Wi Ha Joon turned heads with their performance and added a new feather to their caps of versatility. Ji Chang Wook portrays Park Jun Mo, a rural detective facing familial disdain for his wife's esteemed police lineage. Hindered by his father's drug-related history, Jun Mo seizes a chance for promotion: infiltrating the Gangnam Union, a methamphetamine syndicate led by Jung Gi Cheol (Wi Ha Joon). Posing as a cousin, Jun Mo unravels not only the criminal underworld but also startling revelations about Gi Cheol and his wife's concealed past. This intricate narrative weaves a compelling crime saga, intricately intertwining the destinies of Jun Mo, Gi Cheol, and Eui Jeong, unveiling a broader, high-stakes plotline. The Worst of Evil deals with the underbelly in South Korea in the 90s and narrates a graphically violent picture of gang war and politics.


A mother’s relationship with her child is one of the most pure and trusted ones. But what happens when a child faces neglect from their mother? What makes a mother a good one, what makes her a bad one? Directed by Shim Na Yeon, the story follows a prosecutor who reverts to a childlike state after a tragic accident. His determined mother, grappling with guilt, becomes his caretaker. Together, they navigate the challenging terrain of healing and rediscovering love. As his innocence rekindles, their journey becomes a poignant exploration of forgiveness and the transformative power of familial bonds. Ra Mi Ran and Lee Do Hyun star in The Good Bad Mother exploring the complexities of a mother-son relationship. Ah Eun Jin plays a pivotal role with child actors Gi So Yoo and Park Da On being the scene stealers of the year.


8. DR. CHA
Age is no bar when it comes to learning or starting a new journey. Dr Cha is a drama detailing the life of a woman who became a medical intern at a later stage in her life. A medical graduate turned housewife, she longs to reclaim her identity in the medical realm. Meanwhile, her seemingly perfect doctor husband skillfully juggles a successful career and a hidden life of infidelity. The story unfolds with nuances of ambition, sacrifice, and betrayal, portraying the complexity of relationships and the pursuit of personal fulfillment in the face of societal expectations. Written by Jung Yeo Rang and directed by Kim Dae Jin and Kim Jung Wook, the series was headlined by Uhm Jung Hwa, along with Kim Byung Chul, Myung Se Bin, and Min Woo Hyuk.


If you are looking for a heartwarming and an emotional coming-of-age story, then Twinkling Watermelon would make a good choice. Focusing around an individual whose family is hearing impaired, this drama details the trials and tribulations one has to go through in such cases. Eun Geol’s (played by Ryeoun) parents are hearing impaired but Eun Geol is blessed with a gift for music. He studies in the day and earns his living by playing guitar in a band in the evening. He happens to visit a store of musical instruments which lands him in a strange place where he meets three individuals, namely, Han Yi Chan (Choi Hyun Wook), Se Kyoung (Seo In Ah) and Cheong Ah (Choi Eun Soo). Seol In Ah plays the role of Se Kyung who is dubbed as the Cello Goddess. In a harmonic blend of romance and time-travel, Eun Gyeol, a high schooler, embarks on a poignant journey to 1995. Faced with the task of uniting his future parents, he navigates the intricacies of love, destiny, and the enchanting power of music in this compelling tale that transcends the boundaries of time. The series is written by Jin Soo Wan and directed by Son Jeong Hyeon and Yoo Beom Sang.


Who said a rom-com can only feature young characters? Love can happen at the most unexpected place and at an unexpected time. It does not see a person’s age. It just happens. Hospital Playlist fame Jung Kyung Ho stars opposite Jeon Do Yeon in Crash Course in Romance. It tells the story of a love that blooms between Nam Haeng Son, a former volleyball player turned eatery owner and a single mother and Choi Chi Yeol, a sought-after math tutor at a private coaching class. But there is more to their story than just their jobs. Written by Yang Hee Seung and directed by Yoo Je Won, the series also stars Roh Yoon Seo, Oh Eui Shik, Shin Jae Ha and Lee Chae Min.


Seeking revenge is just a taxi ride away! Lee Je Hoon stars in the titular role named Kim Do Gi in Taxi Driver. In Season 2 of the acclaimed web comic adaptation “The Deluxe Taxi (Red Cage)” by Carlos and Lee Jae Jin, Do Gi (Lee Je Hoon) and the enigmatic Rainbow Taxi crew return, expanding their clandestine operations to Vietnam. The team, driven by a quest for justice, transcends borders to avenge those failed by the legal system. Do Gi, a former Special Forces operative haunted by his mother's unsolved murder, navigates a complex moral landscape. The Rainbow Taxi service, offering a unique "revenge-call" service, blurs the lines between righteous retribution and vigilantism. As he grapples with the true essence of justice, Season 2 promises a riveting exploration of morality, revenge, and the pursuit of what is right. Written by Oh Sang Ho and directed by Lee Dan, the series also stars Kim Eui Sung, Pyo Ye Jin, Jang Hyuk Jin, Bae Yoo Ram and Shin Jae Ha.


12. THE  GLORY 2
Revenge is a dish best served cold. The Glory gives a stunning testament to that. In The Glory, a resilient young woman, pushed to the brink by relentless bullying, orchestrates a complex revenge plan. Opting to rise above her tormentors, she becomes a primary school teacher. The plot thickens as she unexpectedly takes in the son of her chief tormentor, blurring the lines between vendetta and redemption. The narrative explores the intricate dance between trauma and transformation, as the protagonist grapples with the power to shape a young mind while navigating the haunting echoes of her past. Helmed by Ahn Gil Ho, the story is by Kim Eun Sook. The series also stars Lim Ji Yeon, Yeom Hye Ran, Lee Do Hyun, Park Sung Hoon, and Jung Sung Il in the ensemble cast.


In the gripping series, the routine of Sungjin High School shatters as a global alien invasion unfolds. Terrifying insect-like creatures emerge from otherworldly eggs, prompting a desperate conscription decree for all third-year students. Despite facing imminent university entrance exams, the students, clad in their school uniforms, embark on military training under the leadership of platoon leader Lee Choon Ho. As they grapple with rifles, hand-to-hand combat, and obstacle courses, their class teacher, Park Eun Young, strives to shield them from harm. Adapted from Ha Il Kwon's web-toon, the series explores the unexpected intersection of youth, education, and duty. The series stars Shin Hyun Soo, Lee Soon Won, Im Se Mi, Kwon Eun Bin, Kim Ki Hae, Kim Min Chul, Kim So Hee, Kim Su Gyeom, Kim Jung Lan, Moon Sang Min, among others. Duty After School was directed by Sung Yong Il.


Kim Tae Ri and Oh Jung Se join hands to star in a thrilling mythological horror drama Revenant. Kim breathes life into Sun Young, a resilient young woman juggling part-time work and law studies to support her clumsy mother. Unfazed by horror tales, her skepticism shatters when she unwittingly triggers a malevolent force through a cursed object. Meanwhile, Oh embodies Yeom Haesang, a peculiar folklore literature professor delving into the supernatural. Endowed with the ability to perceive spirits, Haesang, dismissed as eccentric, dedicates himself to unraveling the mysteries behind ominous occurrences. As Sun Young grapples with her paranormal ordeal, Haesang emerges as her enigmatic guide in this spine-chilling tale of the spectral unknown. The series is written by Kim Eun Hee and directed by Lee Jung Rim and Kim Jae Hong.


Mental health is not very spoken of in K-dramas. It’s Okay Not To Be Okay turned out to be a pivotal point in bringing forth dramas that highlight mental health and trauma. Another addition to this list is Park Bo Young’s Daily Dose of Sunshine. Nurse Da-eun delves into the realm of mental health, unveiling poignant narratives of wounded souls. Amidst the shadows of night, she navigates the labyrinth of human pain, questioning if the dawn will bring healing rays to dispel the darkness within. Based on “Morning Comes to Psychiatric Wards” by Lee Ra Ha, the series is written by Lee Nam Gyu, Oh Bo Hyun amd Kim Da Hee and Directed by Lee Jae Kyoo and Kim Nam Su.


Kim Ji Yong, a vengeful police cadet haunted by his mother's unsolved murder, evolves into a clandestine avenger, dealing ruthless justice to criminals failed by the legal system. With a chilling dedication, he becomes the Vigilante, extracting confessions and retribution. Investigative journalist Choi Mi Ryeo unravels his pattern, exposing a conflicted hero. As the media amplifies his exploits, public sentiment sways between condemnation and empathy. Authorities grapple with the blurred line between justice and vigilantism, sparking a tense societal debate. The Vigilante's actions, though gruesome, force a reevaluation of a justice system in need of reform. Starring Nam Joo Hyuk in the lead role, the series is written by Lee Min Seop and directed by Choi Jeong Yeol.


In the shadow of adversity, Woojoo's heart simmered with revenge, fueled by the injustices thrust upon her homeless family. However, as the tendrils of vengeance began to weave, a surprising revelation unfolded. Dongjin, her perceived nemesis, proved to be a canvas of unexpected hues. Behind his exterior lay a thoroughly lovable, lonely, and gentle soul. The lines between enemy and ally blurred, prompting Woojoo to reconsider her vindictive designs. The tale unfolded, revealing that compassion could sprout even in the unlikeliest soil. Starring Lee Sung Kyung and Kim Young Kwang, the series is written by Kim Ga Yeun and directed by Lee Kwang Younga and Kim Ji Yeon.


The thriller is about an office worker named Kim Mo Mi (played by Ko Hyun Jung) who doubles up as a masked radio jockey at night. Ahn Jae Hong stars as Joo Oh Nam, Mi Mo’s colleague who has a crush on her and is also a fan of Mask Girl. Their lives soon spiral out of control as the identity of Mask Girl is revealed. The series is helmed by Kim Young Hoon.


Divorce Attorney Shin introduces Shin Sung Han (Cho Seung Woo), a 40-something lawyer specializing in divorces, despite never having been married himself. He's a competent, emotional yet rational attorney, invested in each case's outcome. Close friends Jang Hyeong Geun and Jo Jeung Sik provide comedic relief, their camaraderie offering a balance to the intense courtroom drama. The trio's unwavering support adds depth to Shin's character. The supporting cast enriches the narrative, complementing Shin Sung Han's charismatic presence. With a blend of humor and legal intricacies, the drama navigates the complexities of relationships, showcasing Shin's multifaceted personality and making him a compelling lead. Based on the novel “Sacred Divorce” by Kang Tae Kyung, the series is directed by Lee Jae Hoon and Lim Jun Hyuk.


Myeong Jun, burdened by desperation, kidnaps Ro Hee to save his ailing daughter. Fate intertwines as Ro Hee, an amnesiac victim, questions his paternal claim. Myeong Jun, navigating moral shadows, attempts a ransom ploy that backfires when Ro Hee's parents are discovered lifeless. Haunted by guilt, he flees, leaving Ro Hee to piece together the puzzle. Suspicion brews within her, an unsettling awareness overshadowing trust. Myeong Jun, caught between compassion and crime, grapples with an unforeseen moral reckoning as their lives entangle in a complex dance of secrets, motives, and the blurry lines between desperation and villainy. Starring Yoon Kye Sang, Park Sung Hoon, Jeon Yu Na, Kim Shin Rok, Kim Sang Ho, Seo Jae Hee, and Kang Young Seok, it is based on a novel of the same title by writer Jung Hae Yeon. The series is written by Kim Je Young and directed by Park Yoo Young.

Also Read: Park Seo Joon Special: Before Gyeongseong Creature takes over, immerse yourself in 10 must-see K-dramas and movies of South Korean superstar


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