The 10 best K-dramas of 2024 – so far (2024)

From the cultural phenomenon that is Lovely Runner to the deadly plot of A Killer Paradox, the K-drama world in 2024 has been filled with thrills and romance aplenty – and we’re only halfway through the year. The brilliance of Korean shows this year bodes well for what’s to come, including the final season of dystopian series Sweet Home and Disney+’s Light Shop, from the mind of Moving writer Kang Full.

  • READ MORE: The 15 best K-pop songs of 2024 – so far

But before those highly anticipated programmes hit our scenes, join NME as we revisit the most beloved K-dramas of the year six months in, including the criminally underrated Midnight Romance in Hagwon, the absurd camp comedy of Chicken Nugget and the deliciously melodramatic Marry My Husband. Here are the 10 best K-dramas of 2024 so far.

A Killer Paradox

The lines between right and wrong get blurred in this blood-spattered, inventive thriller. Lee Tang (Choi Woo-shik) is a normal student, working a part-time job and disheartened by his prospects in life. During a run-in with a drunk old man one night, all that changes, putting him on a murderous path of vigilantism and plunging him into the world’s dark, dangerous underbelly.

  • READ MORE: ‘A Killer Paradox’ review: retribution rules in this anti-hero tale

A Killer Paradox excels at bringing the moral conundrum at the heart of Tang’s story viscerally to life, while it refuses to stick within the confines of genre, mixing in new elements of fantasy to keep things fresh.

Rhian Daly

A Shop for Killers

Jeong Ji-an (Kim Hye-joon) inherits her uncle’s business, only to find it’s a black market for elite assassins. Now targeted for death, she must use her uncle’s cryptic training and hidden arsenal to survive a flurry of deadly drones and lethal human weapons. It’s the exact family-friendly series you’d expect to find on Disney+ of all places (or Hulu, if you’re in the US).

  • READ MORE: ‘A Shop for Killers’ review: plot holes don’t detract from this gripping thriller

A Shop for Killers blends sharp cinematic action sequences with an intriguing mystery. Nothing is as it seems when the show utilises crafty flashback episodes to unravel the larger narratives of burdened legacy and found family.

Daniel Anderson

Chicken Nugget

It may actually be an impossible task to explain how heartwarmingly ridiculous Chicken Nugget is. Featuring a rare duo of a father and the guy who likes his daughter, they spend the Netflix series trying to figure out how to turn her back from a chicken nugget into a real woman. Yes, that’s the actual plot. There are aliens and robot dogs, and a variety of other machines.

  • READ MORE: ‘Chicken Nugget’ review: snack on this absurdist, bite-sized treat

As they try to hatch an adult human from a chicken nugget, the show leans into absurd campiness: sometimes it’s a historic K-drama, and at others it’s making fun of K-pop cultural memes from decades past. Does the concept of Chicken Nugget make much sense? No. Is it an absolute joy to watch? Yes.

Tamar Herman

Doctor Slump

Don’t be misled by the title. Doctor Slump is a heartwarming balm, not a sterile medical drama. Park Shin-hye excels as Nam Ha-neul, a burnt-out anesthesiologist, while Park Hyung-sik embodies Yeo Jeong-woo, a gifted surgeon at a crossroads.

  • READ MORE: ‘Doctor Slump’ review: a heartwarming enemies to lovers tale

The cosy chemistry of the pair – finally reunited over a decade since The Heirs – lingers in every scene with a dash of good humour thrown in. Doctor Slump also tackles the pressures of perfectionism and mental health with gentle empathy, offering solace to all who witness their personal healing.

Daniel Anderson

Lovely Runner

In just a few short months, Lovely Runner has become one of the most popular K-dramas so far this decade. The time-travel series stars Byeon Woo-seok and Kim Hye-yoon as star-crossed lovers Ryu Sun-jae and Im Sol, with the latter trying to defy Sun-jae’s death across multiple timelines to ensure her perfect happily ever after.

From giddy high-school romance to tsundere adult slow-burns, viewers are privy to a myriad of destinies through Sun-jae and Sol’s relationship – or, perhaps more factually, relationships – which makes for a true rollercoaster ride over 16 episodes.

Sara Delgado

Marry My Husband

Revenge is sweet but can also be complicated, as Kang Ji-won (Park Min-young) finds out in Marry My Husband. After being murdered by her cheating boyfriend, Park Min-hwan (Lee Yi-kyung), while she’s battling terminal cancer, she’s given a second chance at life – and uses it to pass her fate on to her best friend (and Min-hwan’s mistress) Jeong Su-min (Song Ha-yoon).

  • READ MORE: ‘Marry My Husband’ review: deliciously melodramatic, immensely addictive

Although it’s a trope-filled watch that still relies on the tired belief that taking off your glasses unmasks your beauty, the dramatic twists are so addictively paced that it’s easily overlooked. Park Min-young’s portrayal of Ji-won as the downtrodden underdog finally getting her moment after tragedy is beautifully done, and the show’s beating heart.

Rhian Daly

Midnight Romance in Hagwon

Midnight Romance in Hagwon is a refreshing standout in a year so far dominated by action-packed revenge, dystopian thrillers and time-travel dramedies in the K-drama world. The show follows the blossoming relationship between a former tutor (Jung Ryeo-won) and her ex-student (Wi Ha-Joon) as they reunite to work alongside each other in a cutthroat private education industry.

But the actors’ undeniable and palpable chemistry aside, it is screenwriter Park Kyung-Hwa’s skill combined with director An Pan-Seok’s artistry in crafting a delicate slice-of-life drama that takes Midnight from your standard love story to a heartfelt and moving depiction of the lives of dedicated educators.

Sofiana Ramli

Pyramid Game

Pyramid Game might have flown under the radar, but it’s a darkly captivating must-watch. This Korean thriller swaps jock cliques for a terrifying reality: life is a matter of popularity, from birth to death. High school students secretly rank classmates, with the lowest ostracised and viciously bullied.

  • READ MORE: ‘Pyramid Game’ review: vile school violence makes for a brutal watch

WJSN’s Bona shines as Soo-ji, the exchange student thrust to the bottom, joining fellow outcast Ja-eun (Ryu Da-in). From there, the series turns into a gripping battle of wits between Soo-ji and the school’s frosty queen bee, Ha-rin (Jang Da-ah), exploring the harrowing consequences of social hierarchies and the struggle to maintain a moral compass.

Daniel Anderson

Queen of Tears

Even if you haven’t watched Queen of Tears, you would have probably at least heard about the show and its unprecedented success. There is, of course, good reason behind its soaring success – it’s an affecting series about a complex woman’s deep struggle with love and loss.

The K-drama’s strengths lies in its raw depiction of emotional turmoil and what it really takes to bounce back from life’s lows. Queen of Tears is undoubtedly a masterclass in striking the right balance between emotional depth and humour, culminating in a beautiful and powerful exploration of the human condition.

Carmen Chin

The Atypical Family

The Atypical Family focuses on a family whose members all inherit their own unique set of superpowers, and in the process of losing them, they re-discover what it means to really be family, as ordinary as they have become.

With strong, emotional performances from seasoned actors like Jang Ki-yong and Claudia Kim, coupled with its unbridled exploration of taboo themes such as mental health and complicated family dynamics, The Atypical Family may not be your typical K-drama, but it’s surely one of the strongest and most original to be released this year.

Carmen Chin

The 10 best K-dramas of 2024 – so far (2024)


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