Korean dramas are one of my favorite things to watch during my free time. They are filled with lessons and moments that are delivered through various levels of versatility by actors and actresses. Many of the internationally acclaimed Korean dramas include Crash Landing On You, The Guardian: The Lonely And Great God (a.k.a Goblin), True Beauty, Hospital Playlist, Vagabond, Start-up, Flower of Evil, Hotel Del Luna, Sweet Home, etc.
However, I believe that there are many underrated Korean dramas out there that are as exciting, entertaining, and enjoyable as the popular ones listed above. So today, I will be listing 5 underrated Korean dramas that will definitely blow your mind and keep you hooked throughout! So keep an open mind and enjoy yourself :D
1. WELCOME TO WAIKIKI
Kang Dong-gu (played by Kim Jung-Hyun) aims to be a movie director but ends up being preoccupied with other things that prevent him from reaching his goal. Lee Jun-ki (played by Lee Yi-Kyung) dreams of being a renowned actor but always ends up with small, insignificant roles that get him nowhere. And finally, Bong Du-shik (played by Son Seung-won), who wants to be a screenwriter, but ends up as a freelance writer and part-time worker without much to go on.
The three young men try to run a guesthouse, eager to make money and support the production of their upcoming film. However, clueless about how to run the guesthouse, they are joined by Kang Seo-jin (Dong-gu's sister who helps manage the guesthouse), Min Soo-ah (Dong-gu's ex who was conned and remains penniless), and Han Yoon-ah (A single mother who has nowhere to go with her baby daughter, Sol).
As the viewer and audience, we encounter a unique group of people who end up connecting to one another and learning life lessons along the way. It is an underrated, but unbelievably hilarious drama. Trust me, you won't be able to stop laughing to catch your breath. I recommend this drama to those who need a little comedy and silliness to brighten up their lives during these times.
This drama is available to watch on Dramacool (for free with English subs) and Rakuten Viki.
2. CATCH THE GHOST
Catch The Ghost is an UNDERRATED crime/ thriller drama with quite a detailed plot and storyline. It revolves around Yoo Ryung (played by Moon Geun-Young), a young, righteous, and perseverant woman, who joins the Subway police to investigate the case of her missing twin sister's death. The case was previously neglected by Ha Ma-ri (played by Jung Yoo-jin), the head police officer at the Metro Crime division. Ryung believes that her sister was a victim of the serial murders conducted by the mysterious "Subway Ghost", whom the police are yet to catch.
After joining the subway police, she ends up as partners with the chief, Ko Ji-Seok (played by Kim Seon-ho). However, during the nights of her shifts, she sneaks into the subway tunnels to hopefully "find" her sister alive and unharmed. Ji-Seok, unaware of her secret trips to the tunnels, chooses to always abide by the rules and struggles to keep Ryung out of trouble. As they grow closer, they eventually team up to catch the Subway Ghost and find themselves falling for each other.
There is a LOT more to the plot, but you can find that out for yourself once you watch the drama :D
Finally, as someone who was never a fan of crime/ thriller films, I enjoyed this drama beyond the point of entertainment. Not only was it progressing at such an interesting pace, but the plot twists and moments of enigma will keep you on the edge of your seat. It also has memorable and humorous moments among the lead protagonists that will throw in the occasional giggle.
P.S: The drama is available in Dramacool for free (with English subs). And around mid-way through the drama, I found myself watching Ji-Seok x Ryung FMVs. So trust me, you WILL be rooting hard for the lead couple of your choice.
3. HYMN OF DEATH
The Hymn of Death is a historical, tragic melodrama based on true events. It tells the tale of Kim U-jin (played by Lee Jong-suk), a playwright who lives during the Japanese colonial period in Korea. Although he is married and settled, he ends up falling in love with Yun Shim-deok (played by Shin Hye-sun). Yun Shim Deok was said to be the first Korean soprano who recorded the song "Praise Of Death" in 1926.
The hardships and hurt that these characters go through are truly beautiful to watch as the viewer. I supported them wholeheartedly, and I think you will as well, even if you're not an avid Korean drama watcher. The acting by Lee Jong-suk and Shin Hye-sun is quite impressive, and really highlights the emotional power this drama holds.
The drama is only 3 episodes long (each episode being a little over an hour) and is available to watch on Netflix & Dramacool. This drama would be recommended to those who'd like to cry a little or enjoy some good acting (either works the same way ;) It's a wonderful drama and I enjoyed every single moment of it.
4. THE MERMAID PRINCE
Shin Hye-Ri (played by Jung Shin-hye) visits a coastal area in the Gangwon Province on a graduation trip with her two best friends. While drunk, she has an accidental encounter with the mysterious and delicate Choi Woo-hyuk (played by Moon Bin). Coincidentally, Woo-hyuk is also the owner of the guesthouse Hye-ri and her friends are residing at during their stay. Through her trip, she finds herself falling for him and secretly names him "The Mermaid Prince".
The drama has a very beautiful and enticing aesthetic. It emits a pleasant and joyful vibe when you watch it and is quite the experience. The only problem this drama has faced was the criticism of how it didn't use the plot idea to its worth. Unfortunately, this is because of the budget and length of the drama. It is a 6-episode (15 minutes per episode) series on YouTube (with English subs) with around 6–7 main cast members. Regardless, I thought it carried a beautiful and aesthetic story with quite a cliff-hanger ending.
I definitely believe that YOU, as the viewer, would also enjoy the general aesthetic of the drama and storyline. The vibe is quite appealing and soothing. And just so you know, the drama also has a prequel series called The Mermaid Prince: The Beginning. It was released at the end of 2020 on YouTube.
5. DO YOU LIKE BRAHMS
If you are an avid k-drama watcher, you might have seen dramas within all kinds of genres. But, have you ever seen a musical Korean drama before?
Do You Like Brahms is about Chae Song Ah (played by Park Eun Bin) who gets accepted into a music school to study violin. Though she's already graduated once and is 7 years older than her classmates, she finds it difficult to cope and reach the same level as them. Along the way, she meets Park Joon Young (played by Kim Min Jae) who is a talented pianist in Korea. As the two lead protagonists go through their musical journeys of learning, love, and failure, they find their own comforts and happiness.
This k-drama felt very underrated to me as it was advertised a lot but was never talked about. I thought it provided a bunch of learning lessons about life, relationships, perseverance, and much more. It has so many hidden gem moments and I truly loved it! It can be boring sometimes, but the story is very intriguing and heartwarming. I think it's definitely something we can see in real life and even relate to in a sense (for all viewers). If you want something that is fresh, satisfying, and reliable to watch, this drama is for you (also, if you like classical music, it is for you).
In conclusion, I hope you enjoyed this article and might try watching some dramas listed above. I guarantee you that there will be somebody from these dramas that you'll end up falling in love with, so give it a go!