After binge-watching endless hours of rom-com and melo Korean dramas, it’s time to switch it up with something a bit more eery, serious and spine-chilling. The most recent trending thriller series that is taking world by storm is none other than Squid Game. The survival-game-greed to make easy money-based story is making its way to the top to becoming the most watched series of a non-English series on streaming platform-Netflix.
Since the Squid Game promises to keep you on the edge of your seat, there are other Korean thriller series that have certain nuance that isn’t seen on American television. Korean dramas are not all about romances where the perfect-looking leads ultimately end up together after overcoming a series of obstacles. There are many well-known thriller Korean dramas out there with enthralling storylines that can be binge watched if you’re up for some suspense-filled dramas – from gruesome murder cases to unimaginable large-scale corruption plots, eery and dramatic drama that interweaves, murder, corruption, and even the supernatural. The villains manage to make the room feel chilly and make going to the bathroom in the dark a no-go.
SWEET HOME (2020)
The thriller drama gained mass popularity on Netflix for its apocalyptic storyline complete with grotesque monsters. A must-watch as the tenants of a building find themselves locked in and fearing the outside world. Overnight, the world descended into chaos with a deadly disease that turns humans into the worst monsters. The building’s tenants must learn to survive while also keeping watch as anyone can become can turn. In the midst of it all is a distraught male character played by Song Kang who has all the abilities of a monster but struggles to keep his humanity.
BEYOND EVIL (2021)
This is a legal thriller drama starring Yeon Jin Goo and Shin Ha Kyun. The story of two fearless lawmen, Lee Dong Shik and Han Joo Won, willing to go to extreme lengths in search for a serial killer who has shaken up their quiet city. In the course of uncovering the culprit’s identity, they question the innocence of everyone involved in the case including themselves. When a string of gruesome killings occurs, a pattern takes shape that is oddly reminiscent of some cold serial-murder cases from 20 years prior. Dong Sik and Joo Won team up, vowing to stop this vicious culprit in his tracks. As their investigation proceeds, they are forced to look far deeper than what the evidence suggests, questioning the culpability of all those surrounding the case, including their own.
TAXI DRIVER (2021)
The show would give anyone the creeps and plays upon the storyline fear. 2021 released drama starring Lee Jee Hoon, Esom and Kim Eui Sung gives “revenge-call” service to its clients. The lead character has lived more honestly than anyone else as an officer in the Special Forces. Yet, when a serial killer murders his mother, he spends his days in agony. While feeling wronged and broken, Do Gi meets Jang Sung Chul, who recruits Do Gi to work for his company, Rainbow Taxi. Far from an ordinary taxi service, Rainbow Taxi is a secret organization that avenges victims whom the law didn’t protect. Here, Do Gi becomes a star driver who delivers satisfying revenge. Meanwhile, Ha Na is a prosecutor who investigates Rainbow Taxi. She is furious with their lawless behavior, but at the same time, she feels confused to see them solve cases that the law cannot. Between those who believe that revenge embodies true justice and those who pursue the outlaws, Do Gi seeks what justice truly means.
Kingdom is a 2019 political horror thriller that has fans talking. The show is a first for Netflix in creating an original Korean series. Based on a webtoon series titled The Kingdom of Gods and set in the Joseon periodduring the 1590s, the drama follows the crown prince, Lee Chang, on his journey to uncover the truth behind a mysterious disease plaguing the kingand opens up with the crown prince uncovering a political conspiracy. Together with his guard Moo-young, they head off to a faraway province, Dongnae, in search of a physician. If that wasn’t bad enough, he starts to suspect foul play in the death of his father. While conducting his own investigation, he must also uncover the origin of a mysterious plague. To add even more drama, the plague brings people back from the dead as blood-thirsty monsters. The storyline is what has people hooked and is a well-deserved watch.
Mouse is anything but flowers and sunshine as it revolves around a heinous serial killer with ties to one of Korea’s more infamous murderers. A suspenseful story that asks the key question, “What if we could identify psychopaths in advance?” A crazed serial killer’s ruthless murders have left the entire nation gripped with fear, and chaos reigns. Justice-seeking rookie police officer, Jung Ba Reum, comes face to face with the killer. While he survives his dangerous encounter with the psychopath, Jung Ba Reum finds his life completely changing before his eyes. As they follow the bloody path of the killer, they never expected an even greater evil to be lurking in the shadows. The drama also plays upon the psychological question of whether a killer is born or created. The intriguing part about most thriller K-dramas is that they don’t need a romantic element to keep viewers’ attention.
Not everyone is who they say they are. The Netflix originals series Extracurricular is centered on four high school students who start committing crimes to earn money that leads to heinous consequences. While the concept isn’t new, the way the show’s story is structure and how it escalates will catch one’s attention. Ji Soo goes from a model student to a criminal after committing an unthinkable act. A school bully Min Hee, who gets caught up in Ji Soo’s crime. When a classmate takes an interest in his secret, to end her blackmail he does what he has to even if it’s deadly.
NOBODY KNOWS (2020)
The crime show takes to path sadness, guilt, redemption. Nobody Knows has many thrilling elements that have the audiences hooked. Cha Young-Jin (Kim Seo-Hyung) has lived for 19 years in a deep hole of guilt and regret. She feels responsible for the murder of her best friends by Stigmata, the infamous serial killer.Her downstairs neighbor’s son, Eun Ho, has built a relationship with her ever since she moved above their apartment. One day Eun Ho, seems to have fallen off the roof of their apartment building and left in a coma. Young Jin senses foul play and decides to take it upon herself to get to the bottom of it. With the help of Eun Ho’s homeroom teacher, Sun Woo, they both begin to uncover that Eun Ho’s injuries were no accident. Vowing to get justice for her friend and knowing the killer will one day come after her, she joined the police force and became a diligent detective. After years of waiting, the killer is back and Young-jin must stop him before it’s too late and goes after someone she cares about.
TELL ME WHAT YOU SAW (2020)
Strictly categorized as a thriller and suspense, Tell Me What You Saw gives exactly what audiences will get from this chilling and dark series. Oh Hyun Jae used to be a top criminal profiler. He solved many cases with his skills, but one day an explosion, caused by a serial killer, ended the life of his fiancé. After the horrific incident, Oh Hyun Jae vanished and he now lives in seclusion. Meanwhile, Cha Soo Young is a police officer in the countryside. She has a special ability which allows her to remember exactly everything she sees. Due to her special ability, she is selected as a rookie detective who will partner with Oh Hyun Jae informally. Together, they work to solve cases and uncover the truth behind the Peppermint Killer, the resurfaced serial killer who murdered Hyun Jae’s fiancé five years ago.
SAVE ME (2017)
Save Me is a definitely a must-watch list for its spine-chilling thriller storyline. Following the failure of her father’s business, Sang Mi and her family move to Muji-gun where they have no friends or relatives. There she meets four young men, Han Sang Hwan, Seok Dong Cheol, Woo Jung Hoon, and Choi Man Hee. When Sang Mi and her family face some trouble, Spiritual Father Baek Jung Ki of Goosunwon offers to help them but the church, in reality, is riddled with abuse, violence, brainwashing, and possibly murder. After the suicide of the family’s son, things spiral out of control and the cult takes advantage. Years later, deeply rooted in the cult, the daughter wants out and the four young men try to save her.
This drama is a mix between thriller and artificial intelligence. Kang Ki Beom is an elite police officer whose attempt to bring down Argos, a nationwide criminal organization, results in a group of masked assailants from Argos killing his beloved wife and cutting out both of his eyes. Kang wakes up in a hospital only to find himself accused of murdering his family members. The NIS then approaches him with an offer to become a member of Rugal, a special team organized by the NIS. He receives two artificial eyes with Rugal’s biotechnology built into them and with them gains unique new abilities with which to take down criminal organizations. Kang Ki Beom and Rugal set out on a mission to wipe out Argos.
THE VEIL (2021)
A Korean-style spy investigation show with a story about a top National Intelligence Service (NIS) agent. In his endeavor to uncover the internal traitor that brought him to his downfall, he confronts a much bigger enemy behind the organization. Han Ji Hyuk, essayed by Nam Goong Min, is the top field agent in the NIS. He is held in awe by his colleagues for his perfect record and skill at completing missions. He had been driving an organized crime syndicate into a corner when he vanished off the face of the earth, but he returns in the most horrific state and doesn’t remember anything that happened within the last year. With his memory lost, Ji Hyuk gets assigned to a team with minor tasks. While, on the team, he meets Je Yi, who is delicate and heartwarming but with a painful past. Seo Soo Yeon is the head of team 4 of the Crime Information Center who is excellent at performing her duties and solving cases. She has great affection for people, and she especially cares for her teammates.
THE PENTHOUSE: WAR IN LIFE (2020-2021)
The Penthouse: War In Life became one of Korea’s top watched dramas that ranked in the Top 50 Korean television series per nationwide viewers and one of the few series to have more than one season. Audiences will be kept on their toes as this makjang (over-the-top) drama ranges from thriller, mystery, suspense, crime, and revenge as it tells a deadly story of trying to become number one and cover-up. The residents of Hera Palace, a luxury penthouse apartment with 100 floors, have many secrets and hidden ambitions. Sim Su Ryeon, who was born into wealth, is the queen of the penthouse apartment.
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