[HanCinema's News] Top 10 Thriller K-Dramas That Will Keep You on the Edge of Your Seat
By Ishani Sarkar | Published on
Need some riveting thriller K-Dramas for your weekend binge? Keep reading because we have curated a perfect list of the top 10 thriller K-Dramas that need to be on your watch list.
One of the most popular genres in Korean film and television is that of a thriller. Be it psychological, crime, mystery or revenge, thrillers can be hair-raising and equally entertaining. In the world of K-Drama too, thrillers have always been commercially successful as well as critically acclaimed. Here are 10 of the best Korean thriller dramas that are guaranteed to leave you wanting more.
It is quite rare for K-Dramas to be renewed for seasons more than 1 so when they are, it is a clear indicator of its commercial and critical acclaim. Secret Forest or Forest of Secrets is a perfect balance of some of the most unpredictable twists and turns, coupled with perfectly imperfect characters who are caught up in the midst of a highly corrupt system. Triggered by the death of Park Moo-seong, launching a heavy handed investigation into the case, Secret Forest takes us on a roller coaster ride of emotions, political intrigue, suspense, crime mystery and more. Starring Cho Seung-woo as Hwang Si-mok, a prosecutor and Bae Doona as Han Yeo-jin, a police detective, Secret Forest is a must-watch for K-Drama fans and non-fans alike.
One of the most underrated yet brilliant psychological thrillers in the world of K-Drama is "Remember You", starring Seo In-guk as Lee Hyeon, Jang Nara as Cha Ji-an and Park Bo-gum as Jung Sun-ho accompanied by Choi Won-young as Lee Joon-ho. One of the most striking elements of this drama, besides the brilliant story-telling, incorporation of symbolism, art history and seamless acting, is the soundtrack of this drama which is sure to initiate a sense of suspense from the very start of the drama. Park Bo-gum does an immensely commendable job in his strangely dual role and Do Kyung-soo appears in the first few episodes, amplifying the sinister creepiness of the overall ambience of the drama manifold. A couple of estranged brothers, a childhood love story and a psychopathic killer on the loose; "Remember You" will leave you with goosebumps until the very last episode.
"Kingdom" and "Kingdom - Season 2" may very well be referred to as cinematic masterpieces and genius commentaries of class struggle, hunger, politics and power. Based on a very real mysterious event recorded in the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty where hundreds of thousands of deaths were noted but not accounted for, writer Kim Eun-hee-I transforms the resentment of the deprived, the hunger of the unprivileged and the anger of the oppressed into a zombie apocalypse where the hunters become the hunted. This is poetic justice at its finest and the cinematography, the acting and the characters make for an unforgettable watch.
While a majority of K-Drama fans are bitter over the ending of "Vagabond", it does not take away from just how incredible the journey is, quite literally. Vagabond stars actors Lee Seung-gi, Bae Suzy and Shin Sung-rok as they navigate a corrupt system to mete out final justice. Filled with some of the greatest action to ever be seen in a K-Drama to the most heart-wrenching scenes of familial grief, "Vagabond" has it all.
A crime thriller based on real cold cases with a fantastical time-travel twist, "Signal" is one of the highest rated K-Dramas of the genre. Starring Kim Hye-soo, Cho Jin-woong, and Lee Je-hoon, this drama relies heavily on its plot rather than fancy distractions to appeal to a wider audience. However, time travel never comes without consequences and consequences that one might have to pay for dearly. The high emotional quotient, unpredictable turns of events, brilliant writing and acting make this show a must-watch. After all, this is exactly why we have come to love writer Kim Eun-hee-I.
"Voice" is not one for the faint of heart. A dark crime thriller with plenty of gore peppered in, Voice will make you want to double check your door locks at night. Starring Jang Hyuk as Min Jin-hyeok, Lee Ha-na as Kang Kwon-joo and Kim Jae-wook as the eponymous voice, the urgency of the drama translates perfectly into the most gritty murder-mystery. Above all else, the character build up of the serial killer Mo Tae-goo is no joke at all and he is certain to become your favourite villain, should you decide to give this masterpiece a try.
"Healer" stars everyone's favourite action star Ji Chang-wook and Park Min-young in the leading roles which makes this not just an incredible thriller but also a perfectly well-rounded K-Drama in general. From action to comedy, crime, mystery and romance, "Healer" does it all with grace. The characters are so well written that they don't seem out of place in the slightest and the narrative comes full circle at the end, making this drama worth the 16 hours of watch-time.
What starts off as a "whodunit" thriller turns into the wildest whirlwind of mystery, suspicion, corruption and deeper darker secrets. The plot is not the least bit predictable, which keeps the excitement peaking in every episode. Truth itself becomes ambiguous in the search for justice and the actors, Han Suk-kyu, Seo Kang-joon and Kim Hyun-joo are perfect picks for their characters. There is not one dull moment in the entire series and "WATCHER" has one of the best written screenplays ever. As such, it would be a pity to pass on this rare gem.
"Train" is another example of a masterful cross-over between science fiction and crime mystery. An abandoned train station and the train that runs through it is actually a portal to a parallel dimension where our protagonist, Do-won's murdered loved one is alive. Not only that, but the train station is also the site for a series of serial murders. Do-won now not only has the burden of his own father's sins but also justice for both worlds on his mind. Despite this parallel world building is a commonly used trope in fantasy dramas, "Train" puts a novel twist to it that is definitely worth the watch.
Finally, another one of the highest rated K-Dramas in present time, "The Uncanny Counter" is certainly an unlikely addition to this list but a deserving one nonetheless. "The Uncanny Counter" tells the story of demon slayers or counters who have been chosen to hunt down malevolent spirits in order to protect human life. While this sounds like every supernatural K-Drama ever, "The Uncanny Counter" is like no other. From the incredible action, the characters and their relationships and 'heavenly' twists and turns, this drama will blow your mind.
By Ishani Sarkar
Ishani Sarkar is a Hallyu journalist with over 4 years of experience in writing about Korean Entertainment, editing and managing content as well as conducting interviews with Korean artists. She's a student of Literature but a learner for life, seeking small but certain means of happiness. Ishani Sarkar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.