10 Best Korean dramas in 2023
Cine21, a renowned magazine dedicated to Korean cinema, recently unveiled its highly-anticipated list of the top 10 Korean dramas scheduled to be broadcasted in 2022. In order to curate this prestigious ranking, Cine21 conducted an extensive survey encompassing 29 esteemed individuals hailing from the realms of journalism, film criticism, and television critique within the industry. These influential experts, armed with their profound knowledge and discerning taste, evaluated all episodes aired between December 20, 2021, and December 10, 2022.
Without further ado, let us embark on a captivating journey through Cine21’s illustrious lineup of the finest Korean dramas of 2022, commencing from the 10th position and progressively ascending to the highly sought-after pinnacle.
Weak Hero Class 1
Amidst the remarkable Korean dramas featured on Cine21’s list, one production that garners special attention is none other than “The Weak Hero Class 1.” This captivating addition, praised by both critics and an ardent fanbase, holds a distinctive position as the only new entry. Comprising a total of eight compelling episodes, the drama made its highly anticipated debut on November 18th, instantly captivating viewers, particularly those who were already enthralled by the original webtoon series.
“The Weak Hero Class 1” takes audiences on a journey preceding the events depicted in the webtoon, offering a unique perspective. At its core, the series revolves around the character Shi-eun, portrayed by the talented Park Ji-hoon, who brings a brilliant yet introverted student to life. In the harsh reality of school life, Shi-eun grapples with the challenges of socialization and struggles to form meaningful friendships. However, enduring relentless bullying from his classmates gradually pushes Shi-eun to a breaking point, compelling him to reclaim his power and assert himself against his tormentors. Through its narrative, the drama delves into profound themes such as the importance of friendship, the pervasive issue of domestic violence, and the complexities that come with navigating the tumultuous period of adolescence.
For eager viewers, “The Weak Hero Class 1” can be enjoyed on several platforms, including TVING, Viki, and Bilibili.tv, ensuring a wide accessibility that caters to a diverse audience. Whether drawn to the compelling storyline, the outstanding performances, or the exploration of deep-rooted societal issues, this drama promises to captivate and engage viewers in a thought-provoking and emotionally resonant manner.
Amidst the dramatic setting of a wild boar hunt, “Hunted” weaves a mesmerizing narrative that revolves around the mysterious disappearances plaguing a quaint village. Drawing viewers into a world of intrigue and uncertainty, the film explores the intricate web of secrets concealed within the tight-knit community. Imbued with a sense of enigma, “Hunted” follows a team of determined investigators who embark on a relentless quest to unravel the truth behind these unsettling disappearances.
At the heart of the film’s intrigue are the acclaimed performances of Park Ho-san, Ye Soo-jung, and Kim Soo-jin, who breathe life into the complex and multifaceted characters. Each actor skillfully portrays their respective roles, adding layers of depth and nuance to the story. Park Ho-san’s portrayal brings forth the intensity and unwavering determination of an investigator committed to uncovering the truth, while Ye Soo-jung captivates audiences with her enigmatic presence, hinting at hidden motives. Additionally, Kim Soo-jin’s performance lends an air of vulnerability and complexity to a character shrouded in ambiguity.
As “Hunted” delves deeper into the investigation, the plot unfurls with unexpected twists and turns, leaving viewers on the edge of their seats. The film explores the profound impact of secrets on individuals and communities, highlighting the lengths people will go to protect their hidden truths. Through its gripping storytelling and exceptional performances, “Hunted” offers a thought-provoking reflection on the nature of trust, the fragility of appearances, and the consequences of buried secrets.
With its atmospheric setting, captivating storyline, and an ensemble of talented actors, “Hunted” is a cinematic experience that leaves a lasting impression. It invites viewers to immerse themselves in a world where nothing is as it seems and compels them to question the motives and loyalties of every character. Prepare to be spellbound as “Hunted” takes you on a thrilling journey of discovery and suspense.
Available for streaming on Netflix, “Childhood Trauma” emerges as a riveting legal drama that showcases the immense talent of Kim Hye-soo in a prominent role. This thought-provoking series delves deep into the intricacies of delivering justice to juvenile offenders, navigating through a maze of complex factors that must be considered in the pursuit of fairness.
At the heart of the narrative lies Judge Kim Eun-seok, a strong-willed female judge grappling with her own biases and preconceived notions towards young criminals. Initially harboring a dislike for juvenile offenders, her methods of punishing these individuals often clash with the contrasting approach of Judge Cha Tae-joo, portrayed with conviction by Kim Mu-yeol. Judge Cha, driven by personal experiences of a troubled past as a child, exhibits a greater sense of empathy and compassion towards these young offenders.
As the series unfolds, viewers are treated to a captivating exploration of the complex dynamics between the two judges. Despite their divergent perspectives and contrasting methodologies, both Judge Kim Eun-seok and Judge Cha Tae-joo are bound by a shared set of principles rooted in their unwavering commitment to justice. The series serves as a platform to question societal attitudes towards juvenile offenders and prompts a deeper examination of the factors that contribute to criminal behavior in young individuals.
“Childhood Trauma” delves beyond the surface-level portrayal of crime and punishment, shining a light on the multifaceted issues surrounding youth offenders. It prompts viewers to contemplate the impact of traumatic experiences on the path of a young life and challenges the audience to reassess their own preconceptions about justice. Through the nuanced performances of the talented cast, led by the remarkable Kim Hye-soo, the series sparks conversations about empathy, redemption, and the potential for transformation even within the most challenging circumstances.
With its compelling narrative and powerful performances, “Childhood Trauma” invites audiences to confront the complexities of the legal system, the societal responsibility towards juvenile offenders, and the essential need for empathy in the pursuit of true justice. Prepare to be engrossed in a gripping tale that examines the human capacity for compassion and understanding in the face of trauma and adversity.
Yumi’s Cells 2
With an unwavering commitment to its captivating and true-to-life storyline, “Yumi’s Cells 2” emerges as a highly acclaimed drama that has resonated deeply with audiences. Expanding upon the foundation laid by its predecessor, this eagerly anticipated sequel delves even deeper into the intricacies of Yumi’s life, masterfully portrayed by the talented Kim Go-eun. In this installment, viewers are invited to witness the complexities that arise as Yumi navigates her budding relationship with Yoo Babi, skillfully brought to life by Jinyoung.
Remaining true to the authentic atmosphere that defined the first installment, “Yumi’s Cells 2” fearlessly explores the notion that love alone does not guarantee a happily-ever-after ending. This introspective drama offers a raw and honest portrayal of the challenges, setbacks, and unexpected turns that can shape the trajectory of a relationship. Through the lens of Yumi’s experiences, the series delves into the complexities of love, highlighting the inevitable conflicts, doubts, and compromises that arise along the way.
“Yumi’s Cells 2” invites viewers to delve deep into the emotional journey of its characters, as they navigate the intricacies of their own hearts and the external factors that influence their paths. By delving into the multidimensional nature of relationships, the series encourages introspection and prompts the audience to reflect on their own experiences of love and the various obstacles encountered in its pursuit.
To embark on this captivating journey, viewers can immerse themselves in the world of “Yumi’s Cells 2” through the TVING and Prime Video platforms. Brace yourself for a compelling exploration of the complexities of human emotions, the fragility of relationships, and the profound lessons that can be gleaned from the pursuit of love.
Not only securing a spot on the prestigious list of best Korean dramas, but “Twenty-Five Twenty-One” also achieved remarkable ratings in 2022. The show garnered an impressive national average rating of 9.6%, reaching its peak at 11.5% in the final episode.
Centering around the love story between Na Hee-do, portrayed by Kim Tae-ri, and Baek Yi-jin, played by Nam Joo-hyuk, the series spans the years 1998 to 2021. Their paths first cross at the ages of 18 and 21, and later again at 21 and 25. While they fall in love, their differing aspirations in life present challenges.
The conclusion of the show has sparked debates among viewers, with some expressing disappointment while others appreciate its realistic portrayal, particularly within the coming-of-age genre. “Twenty-Five Twenty-One” is a tvN production available for streaming on Netflix.
Anna (Director’s Cut)
Originally planned for 8 episodes, “Anna” underwent unauthorized editing by Coupang Play, reducing the episode count to 6, much to the dissatisfaction of director Lee Joo-young. Consequently, Joo-young took legal action against Coupang Play, citing infringement on the creative process.
Following the lawsuit, Coupang Play eventually aired the director’s intended version, which garnered positive feedback from critics. The series revolves around Anna, portrayed by Bae Suzy, a destitute girl who assumes the identity of a prosperous and highly-educated woman, leading to unexpected transformations in her life.
The Red Sleeve
“The Red Sleeve” is a historical drama that boasts the highest average national rating on this list, reaching 11%. The show depicts the life of a real-life character, Seong Deok-im (played by Lee Se-yeong).
As the story goes, Yi San/King Jeongjo (played by Lee Jun-ho) tries his best to win the love of palace maid Seong Deok-im. In his youth, Yi San enjoyed reading forbidden books, while Deok-im was a woman with strong desires.
“The Red Sleeve” is often considered one of the best historical dramas ever produced. The drama airs on MBC and Viu.
My Liberation Notes
“My Liberation Notes” is a unique drama that started with a low rating, barely moving past 2% despite being halfway through the story. However, the slice-of-life series soon became a viral hit, loved by both audiences and critics alike.
Not only was it shortlisted by journalists and critics, but it was also voted as the best Korean drama of the year by people in the entertainment industry, coming in third place in a survey conducted by JoyNews24.
“My Liberation Notes” follows the story of a young, introverted woman searching for her identity, claiming to be “neither sad nor happy in life.” The lives of her and two grieving brothers begin to change when a mysterious, quiet man begins working for their parents. This JTBC series is available to watch on Netflix.
“Little Women” is one of the highest-rated Korean dramas of the year, reaching 11.1% while the national average rating is 7.7%. The show is a loose adaptation of the classic novel of the same name by Louisa May Alcott.
The story follows three siblings from a poor family as they try to fight against the power of a highly influential secret community. They each approach the situation in their own way, which sometimes creates conflict between the three. “Little Women” is a tvN series that can be watched on Netflix.
Extraordinary Attorney Woo
“Extraordinary Attorney Woo” has an exceptional track record, starting with a rating of just 0.9% and finishing with a rating of 17.9%, the second-highest for a miniseries in 2022 after “Reborn Rich” (19.4%).
The show follows the story of Woo Young-woo (played by Park Eun-bin), the first and only autism lawyer in Korea, as she faces obstacles, prejudices, and discrimination in her job. The story also showcases Young-woo’s unique way of thinking and her interesting cases, as well as a romance with her colleagues at the office.
Voted as the best Korean drama of 2022 by journalists and critics, “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” is set to continue with a second season. The first season aired on ENA and is also available to watch on Netflix.