01 April 2024

K-Drama on Netflix: A Not-Guilty Pleasure

The abundant supply of South Korean TV series available on Netflix, like chocolate or ice cream, is only a guilty pleasure if you overindulge. The majority of them are romcoms and historical dramas, occasionally venturing into fantasy or threading a social issue through comedy and romance. There's always some kind of intrigue, whether it's dynastic power politics in the historicals or cutthroat business in the contemporary shows. There's plenty of action for martial arts enthusiasts, witty dialogue (with subtitles that range from excellent to comical, the latter adding to the fun), and an enthralling education in the culture, history, and scenery of Korea.

Extraordinary Attorney Woo The cream of the crop. This show about a brilliant, adorable young woman on the autism spectrum who struggles to make a place for herself as a lawyer has endeared itself to everyone to whom I've recommended. It's funny, touching, clever, and inspiring. The machinations of Woo's fellow lawyers and family members provide plenty of plot twists. The Korean judicial system is fascinatingly different from its Western counterparts. And there's just enough romance. There are a number of dramas on TV with neurodivergent protagonists now, including the excellent French series Astrid, but this one, the first I saw, remains my favorite.

Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung This feminist historical drama has ranked No. 1 in Best of K-drama lists. The determined heroine surmounts obstacles of gender and class to win a place as a scribe at the royal court of Joseon, the kingdom that preceded modern Korea. She meets and clashes with an isolated royal prince who is secretly the bestselling author of steamy romances. Then the lies and secrets, murder, usurpation, and rebellion that swirl around the throne become entangled with the quiet life of the scribes.

Crash Landing on You North and South Korea meet in this combination of romcom and suspense when a workaholic young businesswoman goes hang-gliding, gets caught in a storm, and is stranded north of the 38th Parallel. A straight-arrow North Korean soldier hides her against his better judgment. Complications ensue. It seems gossip, jealousy, and dysfunctional families thrive on both sides of the DMZ. There's a thriller plot involving political corruption and murder and a rare and evidently quite accurate look at some aspects of North Korean village life.

Alchemy of Souls This fantasy drama has fabulous special effects in both the magic and fight scenes as well as good acting and a lot of humor, although things go badly for the hero and heroine and their friends along the way in an imaginary kingdom where mages rule.

Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency This historical didn't make the Best of lists, but I thought it was a lot of fun. Three guys who can't make it into the civil service run a matchmaking agency in the Kingdom of Joseon. Romance and royal intrigue abound.

Any fans of K-drama out there?


  1. Thanks so much for these recommendations, Liz! I'm due for some new and different shows. Also was wondering about Astrid, so am glad to see you liked it as well. I love these posts where people make recommendations on current shows to watch. Melodie

  2. And thanks for responding, Melodie. You and I haven't talked about TV, but although they're all romances, just about all of these pass the Bechdel test. Extraordinary Attorney Woo has a best friend, the Rookie Historian breaks the gender barrier for her job with several others, the business mogul South Korean woman who crash lands in North Korea makes friends with a group of women who dominate village life...

  3. I've seen only Extraordinary Attorney Woo, which impressed me to pieces. I was charmed and the series helped offset the nasty taste of Squid Games at the time. I enjoy her colleagues, especially her university classmate who can't stop herself helping Woo. Apparently the show's producers waited a year for the Woo actress to become available, and it was worth it.

  4. Leigh, I think you'd enjoy Crash Landing. The streaming services have made TV global, and it's such a pleasure. I'm currently watching Judge Dee's Mystery (Chinese) and The Man Who Died (Finnish).


Welcome. Please feel free to comment.

Our corporate secretary is notoriously lax when it comes to comments trapped in the spam folder. It may take Velma a few days to notice, usually after digging in a bottom drawer for a packet of seamed hose, a .38, her flask, or a cigarette.

She’s also sarcastically flip-lipped, but where else can a P.I. find a gal who can wield a candlestick phone, a typewriter, and a gat all at the same time? So bear with us, we value your comment. Once she finishes her Fatima Long Gold.

You can format HTML codes of <b>bold</b>, <i>italics</i>, and links: <a href="https://about.me/SleuthSayers">SleuthSayers</a>