8:00 am EDT, July 20, 2020

The best Asian dramas and K-dramas to watch on Netflix

If you’ve decided to dip your toe into watching some of the best Asian dramas and K-dramas on Netflix, we’re here to help with suggestions of our favorite ones!

One of the great things about Netflix is that it’s made it much easier for viewers to enjoy series from all over the world. East Asia happens to have a great number of quality dramas to fill in the void of the American market, especially South Korea which is well known for their K-dramas.

From innocent tails of young love, to historical settings, and to fantasies – there’s a little bit of everything for fans to enjoy in Asian dramas and K-dramas!

Here’s our recommendations for the best Asian dramas and K-dramas on Netflix and Rakuten Viki!

The best Asian dramas and K-dramas to watch on Netflix:

‘The Untamed’

Also known as: Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation, Mo Dao Zu Shi
Categories: Chinese drama, Fantasy, Action, Historal
Available on: Netflix, Rakuten Viki

If you haven’t heard of The Untamed yet, I might be a little worried about what you’ve been up to. The Chinese drama series is based on the novel Mo Dao Zu Shi by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu.

The show revolves around the story of two male cultivators who are described as soulmates and their journey from barely being able to tolerate each other to then hate being separated.

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At the start of the show, we find Wei Ying WuXian (played bu Xiao Zhan), who has been reincarnated after a troublesome past. It’s not long before he runs into Lan Zhan Wanji (played by Wang Yibo) who recognizes him easily despite his mask.

Viewers are then brought back years into the past to find out how the two met and also everything that happened to tear them apart before the show continues on in the present to resolve the mystery of how they resolve everything.

Aside from the pair’s romance storyline, there’s also a rich plot of how the different clans interact with one another before and after defeating a big enemy. They have a lot of evil that they have to go up against. But there are also lighthearted and fun moments entwined in the plot as well.

To be honest, it’s enough to watch the show just to see Lan Zhan staring longingly at Wei WuXian. It really is a must watch for anyone that enjoys Asian dramas.

Related: 10 best WangXian scenes from The Untamed

‘Love Alarm’

k-drama netflix

Also known as: N/A
Categories: K-drama, Korean drama, Romance drama, Teen romance
Available on: Netflix

Inspired by a Duam Webtoon of the same name by Chon Kye-Young, the K-drama series Love Alarm is centered on the story of a revolutionary app that notifies users when someone close by loves them (romantically). It may sound like a simple plot, but the way that the series shows the consequences of what that means makes it more than the average show.

The main character Kim Jojo (played by Kim So-hyun) is a hardworking student who has basically had to raise herself through the years ever since her parents passed away. Living with her aunt and cousin who constantly remind her of her past and hold her accountable for her parent’s debt as well as her grandmother’s nursing home.

What Jojo doesn’t know is that she has a secret admirer, Lee Hye-yeong (played by Jung Ga-ram) who has tried to hide his feelings for her. Until his best friend Hwang Sun-Oh (played by Song Kang) comes back to Seoul right around the time the Love Alarm app is released and everything starts to change.

In trying to learn about Jojo, Sun-oh starts to fall for her too. Meanwhile, everything gets more complicated and even though there’s happiness in falling in love there are burdens too. With a second season on the way, Love Alarm is easily one of the best K-dramas on Netflix.

‘Kingdom’

k-drama netflix

Also known as: N/A
Categories: K-drama, Korean drama, Historical, Zombie
Available on: Netflix

Perhaps one of the best K-dramas that’s not romance focused on Netflix and definitely one of the more popular is Kingdom. The series is a mix between a historical drama and that of the zombie/apocalypse genre. The series is based on the webtoon The Kingdom of the Gods and takes place in Korea’s historical Joseon period.

Kingdom not only deals with the drama of their royals, but also of the impending zombie plague. Rumors of king of Joseon death have spread through the people, but there is confusion over whether he’d died or has just contracted a mysterious illness.

All of this means that it’s up to the crown prince to (try and) save the nation from falling under the clutches of the zombies which are attacking the nation and spreading the plague rapidly. If you love violence and gore this could be the best K-drama on Netflix for you!

‘Something in the Rain’

k-drama netflix

Also known as: Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food, Pretty Sister Who Treats Me to Meals
Categories: K-drama, Korean drama, Romance drama
Available on: Netflix

If you’re in your thirties, working hard, and having everyone ask you why you’re not married yet than you might connect with Something in the Rain. The K-drama follows the story of Yoon Jin-ah (played by Son Ye-jin) as she tries to deal with the reality that everyone is commenting on being single at her age as she secretly starts to have feelings for someone younger than her.

The drama starts off on a low end, with Jin-ah dealing with her long term boyfriend who doesn’t want to commit, a job she’s good at but doesn’t love, and living at home with her parents still.

When her brother’s friend, and her best friend’s brother moves back to Seoul they catch up and quickly learn they have more chemistry than they remembered. But Seo Joon-hee (played by Jung Hae-in) is younger than Jin-ah and it’s not something that any of their family would understand.

There’s also added drama when Jin-ah’s ex comes back into the picture, trying to win her back over but doing it in all the wrong ways! It’s a bit of an emotional K-drama, but worth checking out.

‘Love O2O’

K-Dramas on Netflix in 2019

Also known as: A Smile is Beautiful
Categories: Chinese drama, Romance drama,
Available on: Netflix, Rakuten Viki

Love O2O is one of best Asian dramas for whenever you need a pick-me-up.

Love O2O follows Bei Weiwei, an aspiring game developer, who excels in both her studies and as her avatar in the online game A Chinese Ghost Story. When her in-game “husband” leaves her for another woman, Weiwei is suddenly approached by the game’s number one player: Yixiao Naihe. Naihe suggests that they pair up, in order to enter a competition exclusively for couples, and the two immediately hit it off.

The way that Weiwei’s online life, and real life, overlap is one of the most interesting parts of this series. The romance is sweet, and devoid of the usual jealousy trope when other potential love interests are introduced. Also, the supporting cast are delightful and there are some interesting side stories involving them.

‘Boys Over Flowers’

k-drama netflix

Also known as: Boys Before Flowers
Categories: K-drama, Korean drama, Romance drama, Teen romance
Available on: Netflix, Rakuten Viki

Boys Over Flowers is probably one of the most iconic Asian dramas, and some might argue that it’s the best K-drama on Netflix overall. It’s also often the first one watched by most new fans — and for good reason.

It has seen several versions hit the screen, one as recently as 2018 in China, called Meteor Garden, which is also available on Netflix. Classic is probably the most accurate descriptor of the series, which hits several expected tropes of the genre, but never in a way that feels tired or overwrought.

The series follows Jan-di, a girl from a humble background. After she saves a boy from committing suicide, Jan-di gains the attention of F4, a group of wealthy boys who attend the exclusive Shinwa High School. Jan-di is given a scholarship to the school, which alters her entire life, particularly as she gets closer to the boys, eventually falling for Ji-hoo.

Things get significantly more complicated from there — especially as Jun-pyo is in love with Jan-di — as the close-knit F4 slowly begin to fall apart. It is well worth the watch, as are the many, many, many other adaptations.

‘Oh My Ghost!’

k-drama netflix

Also known as: Love and Soul, Oh My Ghostess
Categories: K-drama, Korean drama, Romance drama, Fantasy
Available on: Netflix, Rakuten Viki

A series that edges more into fantasy and comedy territory, Oh My Ghost! also has an interesting romance angle with a supernatural twist. It can border on the ridiculous, but in the best possible way. There are several moments that will make viewers laugh-out-loud.

Oh My Ghost! is centered around Bong-sun, a sous chef at a local restaurant. Bong-sun has very few interests, and is a little bit of a loner. Oh, and thanks to her grandmother, who practices Shamanism, she can see ghosts. Things escalate when Bong-sun is possessed by one of the ghosts, Soon-ae, who died before she could lose her virginity. While in control of Bong-sun’s body, Soon-ae seduces all of the men around her, including Bong-sun’s arrogant boss, Sun-woo.

It’s not all hilarity relating to Bong-sun and Soon-ae’s clashing personalities. There’s an interesting investigative side-story, as they try to uncover the mysterious circumstances under which Soon-ae died. So, if you like your comedy and romance mixed in with a little bit of mystery, Oh My Ghost! is the show for you.

‘Inheritors’

Inheritors k-drama

Also known as: Heirs: He Who Wears the Crown Must Bear Its Weight, Heirs, The Heirs
Categories: K-drama, Korean drama, Romance drama
Available on: Netflix, Rakuten Viki

Inheritors is possibly simultaneously the most cliched and the most obsession-inducing show Korean television has ever produced. You’ll either love it or hate it (but you’ll probably love it). Starring two of the most famous actors in the industry — Park Shin-hye and Lee Min-ho — it follows a poor high schooler who falls in love with an estranged heir to a fortune with a myriad of family problems.

The show is packed with incredibly attractive actors, lots of emotional moments, and the most scalding slow burn of all time. It also features a bad boy with a heart of gold that puts Draco Malfoy fanfics to shame and a lot of dramatic music swelling that you’ll laugh about at first but end up singing along to through your happy tears near the end.

‘What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim’

Also known as: Why Would Secretary Kim Do That?, Why Secretary Kim
Categories: K-drama, Korean drama, Romance drama, Romantic comedy
Available on: Rakuten Viki

What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim might be the best K-dramas (on Netflix or off) out there to watch when you just want to watch some fluffy romance. The plot isn’t difficult to follow at all, however it’s still interesting enough that it keeps you hooked and wanting to binge watch the entire series.

The vice president comes off a bit narcissistic at the start of the series, making his secretary do all the hard work for him. However, it doesn’t take long to realize that Secretary Kim is the real star of the show. Not only has she been able to excel in the company despite never having gone to college, she’s also taken care of her entire family, and had everyone around her half in love with her without knowing it.

It takes them some time to come to terms with their real emotions, while their connection from the past is slowly revealed. Along the way, viewers are entertained and endeared by their actions as they try to pretend not to care about each other and one-up each other at the same time.

‘Goblin’

kdramas goblin

Also known as: Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, The Lonely, Shining Goblin
Categories: K-drama, Korean drama, Romance drama
Available on: Rakuten Viki

Starring Gong Yoo (who you may know from Train to Busan) and Go-eun Kim, Goblin is a supernatural romance with a dash of historical drama, following the story of a man cursed with immortality. He works miracles in the real world, while waiting to meet his Bride — the only person who can remove the invisible sword from his chest and finally allow him to rest in peace.

But of course, things with his Bride don’t go quite as expected. Oh, and his roommate is literally the Grim Reaper.

With huge production value, some of the best actors in the industry, and some really powerful themes on life and death, Goblin is a show you’ll binge-watch, laugh, and cry about. You’ll also fall in love with every single character (and wish Gong Yoo made more shows dressed in ancient armor).

‘Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo’

Also known as: Itazurana Kiss: Love in TOKYO
Categories: Japanese drama, Romance drama, Romantic comedy
Available on: Rakuten Viki

Much like Boys Over Flowers, Mischievous Kiss is also a staple when it comes to Asian romance dramas, having seen several adaptations in Japan, Korea, China, and Taiwan. Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo is the most recent of these adaptations, and the second in Japan, but is perhaps one of the most enjoyable.

It follows Kotoko Aihara, a girl who underperforms at school, but is hard working, gentle, and kind. Kotoko has been in love with the most intelligent and popular boy in school, Naoki Irie, ever since he gave a speech at the entrance ceremony. In her third year at school, Kotoko decides to write a love letter to Naoki, but is instantly rejected. She vows to get over him… right up until her house is destroyed by a falling star. Kotoko and her father are taken in by the Irie family, as Kotoko and Naoki continue to clash.

Though Kotoko and Naoki infuriate each other, they each make the other’s life far more interesting, and they begin to fall for one another. Although, the realization on either side isn’t all that straightforward, as obstacles continue to come up in the form of outside sources. However, it makes the finale of the first season all the sweeter for it.

‘Emergency Couple’

kdramas emergency couple

Also known as: EC, Emergency Boy and Girl, Emergency Man and Woman
Categories: K-drama, Korean drama, Romance drama
Available on: Rakuten Viki

Emergency Couple (starring Choi Jin-hyuk, who plays the older brother in The Heirs) starts with a story of young love between a rich boy and a poor girl, who elope despite family disapproval. Unfortunately, six years later, they’re divorced and hate each other with a passion. Even worse, it turns out that they’re both now residents at the same hospital and have to work side-by-side if they want to keep their jobs.

A wonderful exploration of the meaning of marriage, rekindling the flame, and finding a balance between ambition and love, Emergency Couple is just as profound as it is funny and sweet.

‘Strong Girl Bong-soon’

Also known as: Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, Powerful Woman Do Bong Soon
Categories: K-drama, Korean drama, Romance drama, Fantasy
Available on: Rakuten Viki

Much like Love O2O, Strong Girl Bong-soon subverts several of the expected tropes, and provides a fresh, exciting series that is equal parts delightful, ridiculous, but full of heart. It is one of the most-watched K-dramas on Netflix for a reason and is definitely one fo the best K-dramas out there.

The show follows the titular Bong-soon, a girl born with superhuman strength, a trait that is passed down through the female side of her family. Bong-soon wants to find a partner who matches her characteristics, and falls for a local police officer, Guk-doo. She takes a job as a bodyguard to the heir of a wealthy family, Ahn Min-hyuk. The two clash, as Bong-soon tries to keep him, and the whole neighborhood safe, especially following a slew of kidnappings.

Fast-paced and quick-witted, Strong Girl Bong-soon is a must watch, especially if you like street-level superheroes, mixed with a little bit of romance.

‘Jumong’

kdramas jumong

Also known as: Prince of Legend, The Book of the Three Hans
Categories: K-drama, Korean drama, Romance drama, Historical
Available on: Rakuten Viki

While the West has Game of Thrones, South Korea was way ahead of everyone in 2006 when they made Jumong — a historical period drama about the founder of the kingdom of Goguryeo. Based on ancient legends, it’s the story of his life, from his early days as a prince through his adulthood as he fought to build a new kingdom.

With epic strong female characters, amazing costumes, heroic sword fights, and a dash of magic, Jumong might actually be the most epic historical show of all time. It’s a kind of transporting show that we rarely see on screen, as it takes you on a journey through the ancient history of another part of the world, the glory of which deserves to be appreciated.

About Rakuten Viki

If you’re unfamiliar with Rakuten Viki the streaming service features content from across Asia including Korea, Japan, Mainland China, and Taiwan. Rakuten Viki offers free content with advertising, as well as paid subscription plans for even more content. If you’re looking for a place to watch the best K-dramas and Asian dramas that aren’t available on Netflix, it’s a great way to go.

What do you think are the best Asian dramas or K-dramas on Netflix?

Editors note: Additional reporting by Nasim Mansuri, Donya Abramo

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