TheSauce

10 K-Dramas to Watch on Netflix (& Their Spiciness Ratings)

10 K-Dramas to Watch on Netflix (& Their Spiciness Ratings)

Quarantine Netflix binging is a real thing (as we all know). But have you tried binging Korean dramas? There’s unexpectedly a wide variety of high-quality K-dramas ranging from sweet romance to chilling apocalypses. Most Korean dramas are one season, which means that they won’t completely eat at your time. We’ve also rated the spiciness levels of each K-drama based on the strength and type of emotion that it elicits, so we’re sure you’ll find at least one of interest!

1. Crash Landing on You


Image from Google

Spiciness Rating: 
KPOP Sauce: Original Spice

Think Romeo and Juliet…except Juliet is an extremely wealthy South Korean heiress and Romeo is a North Korean elite and army captain. Yup, star-crossed lovers...which also means it’s an emotional, heart-wrenching ride as you watch the two slowly fall for each other despite all odds. We rated this our Original Chile Sauce for not only its endearingly sweet moments but also its nerve-wracking action scenes. Watch the trailer here

2. Memories of the Alhambra


Image from Google

Spiciness Rating: 
KPOP Sauce: XXX (Extra Spicy) 

Imagine putting in a contact lens that can transform the world around you into an augmented reality game. Influenced by the tales of the Alhambra Palace, this Spanish-influenced game involves duels, quests, and wild chases! The male lead character, Yoo Jin-Woo, is a CEO who travels to Spain in order to take a look at this groundbreaking technology, and meets the game developer’s sister, Jung Hee-Joo, who is the owner of a hostel that he’s currently residing in. This all sounds like fun and games until the games (which involves a whole lot of fighting?!) start to bleed into reality. We’ve rated this extra spicy for all of the dramatic action scenes and the whirlwind of emotions the main characters put us through. Watch the trailer here and make sure to pay special attention to all of the absolutely stunning locations they filmed at!

3. Mr.Sunshine


Image from Google

Spiciness Rating:
KPOP Sauce: Kimchi Mayo

Mr. Sunshine is a historical drama set in the early 1900s and tells the story of Korean activists who are fighting for their country’s independence. Eugene Choi, the male lead who is born a slave, escapes Joseon and lives in the United States as a poor orphan after a horrible tragedy befalls his family. The next time he returns to Joseon, it’s as a U.S. Marine Corps officer, where he meets Go Ae-Shin, an aristocrat’s granddaughter, and falls in love with her. However (just like the male lead), there’s more to her than meets the eye. This K-drama is a deeply contemplative, warm-hearted, and patriotic piece that clashes three cultures together: Korean, Japanese, and American. Due to the fusion of cultures, we’ve rated this our Kimchi Mayo spice.  Watch the trailer here!

4. Hospital Playlist


Image from Google

Spiciness Rating:
KPOP Sauce: Honey Glaze

If Grey’s Anatomy met Friends, the result would be something like Hospital Playlist. Centered around five friends who met at medical school in 1999, this drama traces the day-to-day experiences of these intimately close friends who work together at the Yulje Medical Center. At work, they are doctors in different departments who work tremendously hard to care for their patients, but after work, they play in a band that they started back in med school. We’ve rated this our Honey Glaze sauce, because it’s a perfectly sweet and savory story about friendship, romance, and emotionally-wrenching hospital work. Watch the trailer here. The second season is coming out soon, so make sure to watch the previous season first!

5. Reply Series


Image from Google

Spiciness Rating:
KPOP Sauce: Honey Glaze

The Reply Series has three seasons, all set in different years: 1997, 1994, and 1988 (in order). Kind of like the American Horror Story series, there’s no need to watch previous seasons in order to understand the other ones. In addition, the cast of the main family (more or less) stay the same with minor variations here and there. Each season is perfectly reminiscent of the times and traces the lives of different families and friendships. In each of the seasons, there’s a main cast of friends the story revolves around and one big question the audience is trying to figure out the entire season (reminiscent of How I Met Your Mother): Who ended up with who? The best season by far is Reply 1988, so we definitely recommend you start here. We rated this our Honey Glaze sauce for its warmth and kick of comedy. Listen to one of the drama’s soundtracks here!

6. When the Camellia Blooms


Image from Google


Spiciness Rating:
KPOP Sauce: Honey Glaze

When the Camellia Blooms is a sweet story about a single mother (Oh Dong-baek) who moves to the small town of Ongsan and sets shop there. She opens her own bar, Camellia, and lives and works there while supporting her only son. Along the way, she meets police officer Yong-sik, who falls hopelessly in love with her. We’ve rated this Honey Glaze because of its sweet, persistent, small-town love story, but don’t be fooled! There’s also a mysterious murderer in this town which adds a gripping kick to the drama. Watch the trailer here!

7. It’s Okay to Not Be Okay


GIF from Google

Spiciness Rating:
KPOP Sauce: Original Spice

It’s Okay to Not Be Okay weaves the fairytale-like story of two individuals who have known each other since childhood and both struggle with their past. Meeting in adulthood, the male and female lead are drawn to each other, but their pasts hold them back from leading a happy and fulfilling life. Gang-tae (the male lead) is a caretaker in a psychiatric ward and also feels a great burden of responsibility because of his older brother, who is not only autistic but also traumatized after witnessing the murder of their mother. On the other hand, Ko Moon-young (the female lead) is a children’s book writer with an antisocial personality disorder, due to the influence and actions of her mother when she was a child. We’ve rated this drama our Original Spice because of its brilliant storytelling, relatable characters, and realistic portrayal of mental illness. As the title suggests, the message behind this warm-hearted, oftentimes comedic, and complex drama is that it’s really okay to not be okay. We love an open-minded, empowering, and accepting message! Watch the trailer here!

8. Kingdom


Image from Google

Spiciness Rating:
KPOP Sauce: XXX (Extra Spicy)

If you’re not a zombie person, then this historical K-drama won’t be for you. With two seasons so far, Kingdom is an action-packed drama about a mysterious plague that spreads throughout historical Korea (Joseon). The first season traces Crown Prince Lee Chang’s investigation into the plague while the second season is about the Crown Prince’s fight against the zombies. We rated this Extra Spicy for its back-breaking, bone-cracking zombie scenes and horror-thriller storyline. 

Watch the trailer for the first season here!

9. Sweet Home


Image from Google

Spiciness Rating:
KPOP Sauce: XXX (Extra Spicy)

Based on the popular webtoon, Sweet Home is an apocalyptic story about residents in an apartment complex who must survive the onslaught of humans-turned-monsters. No one is safe from turning, but only one young man is able to keep himself from turning fully. This young human-monster is none other than our main character, Cha Hyun-Soo, who has a tragic and unfortunate past. We’ve rated this Extra Spicy for its gory, terrifying fight (or run/hide) scenes and blood-curdling monsters. Check out the trailer here!

10.  Start-Up


Image from Google

Spiciness Rating:
KPOP Sauce: Kimchi Mayo

Start-Up revolves around a female lead (Seo Dal-mi) who has the same dream as her father: to become a successful entrepreneur. As a child, she starts writing letters to a boy, who she addresses as Nam Do-San, and is later revealed as her first love. Unbeknownst to her, her grandmother is actually the one who orchestrated these letters (due to her granddaughter’s loneliness). Her grandmother enlists the help of an orphan boy, Han Ji-Pyeong, who writes to Seo Dal-mi under the guise of Nam Do-San. Fast forward to adulthood, and we see problems arise when she meets the real Nam Do-San, who is also working to become an entrepreneur. As they navigate Korea’s Silicon Valley, relationships start to unravel and strengthen with new, surprising events! We rated this Kimchi Mayo for its sweet, puppy dog romance, and tangy story line. Watch the trailer here!

Additional Mention!

11. Lovestruck in the City


Image from Google

Spiciness Rating:
KPOP Sauce: Honey Glaze 

We want to mention Lovestruck in the City (which is currently airing) for its unique structure that we haven’t seen in any other K-drama. The drama is set up as an interview of six individuals who currently live in a city, with the premise of wanting to understand how those in cities date and love. Two of the individuals have been in a long-term relationship with each other, one is a strong female character who is unafraid of making her opinions very clear, and the other is a man who has been single for two years. The remaining individuals are the male and female lead, who fell in love with each other and embark on a passionate beachside romance. However, an unexpected event breaks them apart. We’ve rated this Honey Glaze because of its whimsical nature, mixed with subtle hints of honeyed love and spicy conflict. Watch the trailer here!

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