I think we can all agree that Train to Busan was a masterpiece in foreign horror (although I’m not sure how I feel about it getting an American remake). As a member of the rage-style zombie genre, it made the idea of another zombie movie fresh, scary and heart-breaking. I don’t know about you, but after that movie, I needed a palate cleanser: enter Korean dramas.
Korean dramas are a widely untapped world of comedy, romance and even horror. Most dramas last around 16 episodes and at an hour each, it takes you on quite the roller coaster ride in story-telling. Any Korean drama fan knows the formula of the average drama and they all follow similar guidelines: first or second lead is always a chaebol, the leading lady falls for the jerkier of the two in turn changing him into a better man.
I need to mention that the acting in some of these dramas blows other actors away in emotion and realism. Some of the best actors I’ve ever seen have been in Korean dramas, including the child actors.
Every now and then you get the rarest form of Korean drama: the horror/ supernatural drama. Fair warning, even some of the scariest dramas center around a love story; it’s a cultural thing, so you take it with the package.
I’m here to open up a whole new world for you. We’re going to go over some of the best Korean dramas available to America. There are many more dramas than the ones on the list, but many aren’t available in certain countries.
The Master’s Sun
I have this one at the top because it was so thoroughly enjoyable. After a near death accident, a woman can see ghosts and, unfortunately for her, they all know it. They come to her at all hours of the night for help and won’t leave her alone until she gives in.
Because of this, she is exhausted and more than a little eccentric. She meets a wealthy CEO who, when she touches him, makes the ghosts disappear. Much to his dismay, this causes a tired and weird woman to follow him everywhere.
This drama is hilarious, sad, and has some impressive jump scares. It genuinely gets creepy and you really grow to love some of the ghosts and are sad to see them go. Master’s Sun is available to stream on Viki and Drama Fever.
Nightmare High/ Nightmare Teacher
This little gem is available on Netflix currently. This was originally a webseries and clocks in with 12 pretty short episodes, but don’t let its lack of time length fool you.
This story follows a single homeroom in a high school. The teacher is out after an accident and a sub comes in with an optional job placement counseling after class. Those who go are treated with the ability to achieve the thing they want most: popularity, strength, but it all comes with a price.
This isn’t the typical drama and it is quite intense. I highly recommend this if you are looking for a scary show without the commitment. It is available on Netflix and Viki.
Oh My Ghostess
While this show might cater more to ladies or romcom lovers, it doesn’t come without a supernatural basis. A young girl dies a virgin and she refuses to move on until she has possessed a woman to seduce a man and lose her virginity.
A silly premise, but how many successful American movies have been made strictly about the crusade for sex? *coughAmericanPiecough* Kim Seul-Gie is one of my favorite Korean actresses. She is hilarious and unforgettable and she kills (haha) any part she plays.
Oh my Ghostess is available on Viki and Drama Fever.
Arang and the Magistrate
Historical dramas are kind of hit and miss. While the history is interesting and the costumes are gorgeous, sometimes the drama can be a bit dry. But how do you make anything better? Add some ghosts to it.
This Korean drama is about a woman named Arang who has been murdered and is on the hunt for the person who killed her. She lost all memory at the time of her death but can’t move on until she finds her killer. All the while she is chased by a reaper.
The drama is based on widely known folklore during the Joseon Era in the city of Miryang. This series is a bit longer at 20 episodes and is available on Viki and Drama Fever.
Secret Investigation Files
This is another historical drama also known as Joseon X-Files: Secret Book. The stories in this drama are based on actual historical record which makes some of the events all the more interesting.
Made to be an X-Files-esque show, a government inspector is tasked with explaining the strange and supernatural occurrences that happen in 17th century Korea. This drama received extremely high ratings for an historical drama and was critically acclaimed.
Combine your Mulder and Scully love with Korean history and you’ve hit pay dirt with this series. It is available on Drama Fever.
Remember our main man Gong Yoo in Train to Busan that we all loved so much? Well, he’s back in a sweet supernatural romance called Goblin. A magnificent warrior in the Joseon period, he was killed by his own sword and with the blood of hundreds mixing with his own he becomes a goblin.
He is immortal until the woman who is to be his bride can see his sword still embedded in his body, marry him and pull it out. Doing so finally gives him the sweet release of death he’s been deprived.
This one is a tear jerker from the beginning but it is beautiful, I mean TRULY gorgeous. The effects are spectacular, the story is deep and riddled with the supernatural and the acting is spectacular. After seeing him in Train to Busan, you just appreciate his talent even more.
Goblin is a Drama Fever exclusive and only available to Premium members after the first 3 episodes.
Free streaming services like Viki and Drama Fever are a great resource in finding foreign movies and television you would have otherwise missed. If you enjoy foreign TV and not just Korean dramas but others from China, Taiwan, Japan or Hong Kong, I would recommend becoming a premium member to get the most out of it.
Even with the free pass and ads, you still get massive amounts of new and up-to-date dramas, including those spooky gems hidden in the middle of a romcom.
Some honorable mentions for Korean dramas are Orange Marmalade, Vampire Prosecutor, Bride of the Century, Gu Family Book, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho and Strong Woman Do Bong Soon. Now, go and explore all that foreign TV has to offer in the creepy and paranormal.
Let us know some of your favorites from around the world in the comments.