Netflix K-dramas to watch after “Squid Game”


Courtesy of Netflix

If you can get over the one-inch barrier of subtitles, there’s a whole world of K-dramas waiting for you.

Priyanka Jain, Staff Writer

Many of you have most likely watched the insanely popular K-drama “Squid Game,” and it might just have been the first time you watched a K-drama or any foreign entertainment, for that matter. I appreciate “Squid Game” for pushing people outside of their comfort zones—it encouraged many to try foreign television and fostered greater respect for foreign cultures and languages. Most importantly, “Squid Game” may have purged many people’s apprehension about using subtitles. I know that was a barrier that impeded me from watching foreign series and films. I thought using subtitles would make shows less enjoyable. But let me tell you, that is not the case at all—through subtitles, you learn to emotionally connect with foreign dialogue and even learn new phrases and words in other languages. That said, “Squid Game” is just a drop in the ocean of K-dramas. Netflix itself has a whole category devoted to K-dramas, showing the wide range of riveting and acclaimed K-dramas you might fancy. And so, for those who are intrigued and want to try a new flavor of entertainment, I have compiled a list of other popular and interesting K-dramas to watch on Netflix.

“It’s Okay to Not Be Okay”

This critically acclaimed series was the very first K-drama I watched, reeling me into the poignant and multifaceted storylines that K-dramas can offer. On the surface, this series is a romance between the protagonists Moon Kang-Tae, a selfless caretaker in the psych ward, and Ko Moon-Young, a successful children’s book author who suffers from antisocial personality disorder. But even deeper, this series tackles issues of mental health, with both protagonists coming from troubled childhoods. Moon Kang-Tae had to deal with losing his murdered mother at a young age and sacrificing his own aspirations to care for Moon Sang-Tae, his older brother who has autism. Similarly, Ko Moon-Young had to deal with a distant father and an especially abusive and apathetic mother who confined her to a solitary childhood. Along with the protagonists, we witness the challenging and tumultuous journeys of many of the supporting characters in the psych ward. This series is ultimately a tale of healing as we see how each of the characters reconcile with their pasts, find solace in others and come out more resilient on the other side. 

“Mr. Sunshine”

This historical romance is one of the highest-rated Korean dramas in television history. Its acclaim is deserved, with the series having not only vivid cinematography, but also a headstrong female protagonist who is ahead of her time. The series centers around the male protagonist Eugene Choi, a captain of the U.S. Marine Corps who was born into slavery in Joseon (the last dynastic kingdom of Korea). Following the merciless murder of his enslaved parents when he was a child, he escaped to America after the U.S. military expedition in Korea in 1871. Thirty years later, he returns to Joseon for a mission and encounters Go Ae-shin, an aristocrat’s granddaughter who is secretly part of a civilian militia. Overall, this was an enthralling series that presented an unlikely romance against the backdrop of severe political unrest in Korea, prior to the Japanese annexation of the country. 


This 2021 crime-drama and dark comedy is another epic series worth watching. Following the titular character, the show depicts Vicenzo as a Korean adopted by an Italian family at a young age. He eventually joins the mafia and is brought into the ranks of Don Fabio, the mafia boss of the Cassano family. Vicenzo becomes the right-hand man to Don Fabio, but following Fabio’s death, Vincezo becomes the prime target of the newly led family. As such, Vicenzo flees to his native land Korea in pursuit of his fortunes stashed within the basement of Geumga Plaza. This series has everything—it is replete with adventure, action and comedy all in one. Depicting a battle with a corrupt conglomerate, the show symbolizes the fight for justice against the dishonest businesses that abuse workers for increased profits. 

“The King’s Affection”

“The King’s Affection” is another multi-layered, historical romance that takes place during the Joseon Dynasty in Korea. It features a robust and badass female protagonist, Dami, the twin sister to the crown prince, Lee Hwi. When Dami’s mother gives birth to twins, an order is sent to kill the twin sister due to local superstition. To save her daughter, the Crown Princess Consort sends young Dami far away. Years in the future, the twin son Lee Hwi loses his life, and Dami is brought back to the place to assume the role of Prince Lee Hwi and cover up a potentially destabilizing tragedy. Through the series we see the adverisites Dami endures and the life she must sacrifice to become a robust and intimidating leader. 

“My Name”

This is another recent series that exploded in popularity in the United States. It is a thriller/action series that follows Yoon Ji Woo, another incredibly badass and inspiring female character. Following her father’s murder, she places her trust in a powerful crime boss and becomes an undercover agent under his direction to learn more about her father’s death. What was especially impressive about this series was the physical prowess the female actress, Han So Hee, displays in the series with her impeccable stunts. According to numerous interviews, Han So Hee, along with the other co-stars, performed all of the stunts in the show, having gone through grueling training. Even without the stunts, this is a riveting roller-coaster of a show that will leave you inspired to be as strong as Yoon Ji Woo herself. 

“Boys Over Flowers”

Lastly is “Boys Over Flowers.” This is an older, but classic K-drama in Korea. This series has garnered significant recognition across Asia and abroad, with this a nostalgic series following the narrative of a working-class girl, Geum Jan-di. In the series, we witness the ups and downs Geum Jan-di experiences as she attends the affluent Shinhwa High School. In the prestigious school, Geum Jan-di struggles with being the only student from an impoverished background while also becoming entangled with the school’s popular F4 group—a band of four boys who come from wealthy families. At its core, this drama is an entertaining coming-of-age story, teeming with innocent romances and precious friendships. This series is reminiscent of “Mean Girls” but at the same time vastly different. This is a show that you can revisit any number of times and never get tired of. 


And that completes my list of refreshing and entertaining K-dramas to watch after “Squid Game.” If you want to delve deeper into the world of K-dramas or explore other forms of media outside of Hollywood, I urge you to give these shows a try. I also want to acknowledge that this is not an exhaustive list—Netflix has countless more K-dramas that are fascinating and worth watching. Nonetheless, I give you this list as a guide to begin your exploration in foreign television. I hope you will heed my advice and try out some of these shows. You never know what you like if you don’t try.