2021 has been an exciting year for K-drama fans so far.
We’ve witnessed stories of psychopaths, activists, high school students, lawyers, serial killers, and office workers that made us squeal in kilig and cry our hearts out. Many well-known names like Song Joongki, Kim Bum, and Seo Inguk have also returned to the small screen.
From heart-racing thrillers to feel-good romances, it’s hard to believe that we’ve only wrapped up the first half of the year. Here’s a look at our top K-drama recommendations from the first half of 2021. Enjoy!
(Author’s note: This list contains K-dramas that aired from December 2020 to June 2021.)
Cast: Kim Myungmin, Kim Bum, Ryu Hyeyoung, Lee Jungeun
Corruption and terrifying murders aside, this K-drama tells the story of students who are navigating through the competitive world of law school. This legal series shows the reality of studying to be a lawyer and being an educator of law. It’s a very satisfying watch since it talks about the difficulties of the Korean justice system (which relates to our own) while offering a glimpse into the lives of those who are involved.
Cast: Song Joongki, Jeon Yeobin, Ok Taecyeon, Kwak Dongyeon, Kim Yeojin
Song Joongki’s return to the small screen is enough reason why you need to watch this K-drama. Fangirling aside, this dark comedy series underscores an underlying theme: fighting evil with evil. Watching Vincenzo Cassano (Song Joongki) struggle with his moral compass takes you on a rollercoaster ride since it will make you rethink what is right or wrong in a different way.
Doom at your Service
Cast: Seo Inguk, Park Boyoung
Before you roll your eyes and think that it’s another “thriller” K-drama—it’s not. This series shows why Inguk and Boyoung are known as “chemistry fairies” among fans. Even though this series has a promising storyline, it actually falls a little flat in the second half. What makes it worth watching, though, is the acting between the two leads.
Cast: Im Siwan, Shin Sekyung, Choi Sooyoung, Kang Taeoh
“I believe in fate if he’s really handsome.” If you’re looking for a K-drama to watch after a stressful day, this is the one for you. This series contains the classic elements that you would expect in a fluffy rom-com: good-looking lead actors, a kilig storyline, and just enough mushiness to make your day brighter.
Cast: Moon Gayoung, Cha Eunwoo, Hwang Inyeop
Ah, high school. It can either be the best or worst time of a person’s life. For Im Jookyung (Moon Gayoung), it’s a mix of both. As she evaluates her relationship with her longtime crush Lee Suho (Cha Eunwoo) and bestie Han Seojoon (Hwang Inyeop), she comes to terms with her personal appearance as well.
Youth of May
Cast: Go Minsi, Lee Dohyun, Lee Sangyi
This historical K-drama is not for the weak-hearted since it talks about the atrocities that happened during the Gwangju uprising in 1980. It tells the story of a nurse Kim Myeonghee (Go Minsi) who fell in love with Hwang Heetae (Lee Dohyun), the son of pro-government parents. It’s a very heartbreaking watch that requires your full attention and a lot of tissues.
Cast: Song Kang, Park Inhwan
A lot of us are unsure if we’ll reach the age of 70, but Navillera will show you a glimpse of what it’s like. This heartfelt K-drama talks about the frustration of fighting for your dreams, no matter what age or place you come from. It focuses on the theme of ballet where 20-year-old Lee Chaerok (Song Kang) suffers from a lack of motivation while 70-year-old Shim Deokchul (Park Inhwan) who’s passionate about the craft.
She Would Never Know
Cast: Won Jinah, Rowoon, Lee Hyunwook, Lee Joobin
This romcom is underrated among fans, but it’s a very satisfying watch if you’re looking for a unique twist to the officemates-turned-lovers trope. Chae Hyunseung (Rowoon) falls in love with Yoon Songah (Won Jinah), his senior colleague at work. It’s an adorable love story between an older woman and a younger man where it’s done in a very tasteful way. We assure you that the storyline is age-appropriate and not cringeworthy.
The Penthouse 2: War in Life
Cast: Lee Jiah, Kim Soyeon, Eugene, Um Kijoon, Yoon Jonghoon, Park Eunseok
This K-drama is perfect if you’re looking for a good old-fashioned makjang (think Ang Probinsyano). The storyline picks up where its first season has left off as many of the characters are thrown into chaos. You don’t have to expect much about it since many of its events are exaggerated and over-the-top, yet it’s done in a way that’s very addicting to watch.
What is your favorite K-drama of the first half of 2021?