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The Highest Rated Korean Dramas of 2018 and How To Watch

Highest rated Korean dramas and best Kdramas of 2018

We are putting together our end of the year dramas for 2019 and realized that we never did anything for 2018. So here is a list of the highest rated Korean dramas of 2018. There are some really good ones on this list, though my favorite drama My Ajusshi is not included (*tear*).

I plan on putting together a favorites list for 2018 as well and then hopping into the highest rated of 2019 and our favorites of 2019. But let’s get back on track, without further ado, here are the highest rated Korean dramas of 2018 and how to watch them!


THE HIGHEST RATED KOREAN DRAMAS OF 2018

20. Misty (Mystery-Suspense)

Peak ratings: 8.4% (cable)

Premise: Go Hye-ran (Kim Nam-joo) becomes the prime suspect in a murder case. Her husband Kang Tae-wook (Ji Jin-hee) ends up being her legal counsel despite their marriage being on the rocks.

Our thoughts: Loved every single minute of this show until we got to the ending which turned this into a tragedy. But if you watch knowing that the ending makes it a tragedy, then you might love it.

How to watch: Viki

19. Live (Police Drama)

Peak ratings: 7.7% (cable)

Premise: Live follows the story of a group of cadets as they go from police academy to patrol officers. It also follows the lives of their superiors as they form the ‘Live’ team at the Hongil patrol division. Each officers story is told as they struggle to find balance at one of the most stressful jobs in the world.

Our thoughts: A realistic and gripping look at the lives of police officers and local crimes cases in Korea that was tough to watch at times. So tough that we dropped it due to the grittiness of the cases that often involved women and children. But if you can get past that, you might really enjoy this police drama.

How to watch: Netflix

18. Voice 2 (Suspense-Thriller)

Peak ratings: 7% (cable)

Premise: A woman with an incredible and uncanny ability to hear even the smallest of sounds uses these abilities at the 112 emergency call center to help fight against crimes.

Our thoughts: The Voice 1 was excellent. We heard that this one was good as well, though we didn’t really hear too much about it.

How to watch: On Demand Korea

17. 30 But 17 or Still 17 (Romance)

Peak ratings: 10.4%

Premise: A 30-year-old man does not want to have a relationship with others due to trauma he experienced 13 years ago that sent a teen girl into a coma. That girl wakes up from the coma 13 thirteen years later, she is 30 but still feels 17. Both meet at this new stage in their lives and fall in love.

Our thoughts: a delightful romantic-comedy that lives up to the healing nature of the show. Even though there is tragedy involved, it doesn’t make it heavy handed and rather delightfully shows us how each person, very quirky in their own right, is trying to balance this new life they have found and learn to love again (or love for the first time).

How to watch: Kocowa, Viki

16. Terius Behind Me or My Secret Terrius (Romantic-Comedy)

Peak ratings: 10.8%

Premise: A rogue NIS agent secretly helps his next door neighbor find out who murdered her husband, and they both get involved in a huge conspiracy.

Our thoughts: High end purses, Quiznos, and neighborhood ajummas that run things at an apartment complex help make up this crazy amazingly fun show. Though the premise seems dark, there is actually nothing dark about this drama. A fun and delightful watch whose goal is to make you laugh.

How to watch: Kocowa, Viki (country restricted)

15. Familiar Wife (Romantic-Comedy)

Peak ratings: 8.2% (cable)

Premise: A married man suddenly finds himself living an entirely different life after his fate magically changes through an unexpected event that sends him to an alternate reality. Will he stay with his first love or will he choose another path?

Our thoughts: This show was so fun when they got to the new reality that our husband finds himself in. There are bank highjinks and new lovers that are thrown into the mix that make our hero rethink what he actually wants. We heard the first two episodes were tough to watch with the crumbling marriage, so we skipped the first two episodes and hopped right into episode 3 without much of a glitch and really enjoyed this drama.

How to watch: On Demand Korea

14. Hwayugi: A Korean Odyssey (Fantasy-Romance)

Peak ratings: 6.9% (cable)

Premise: Son Oh-Gong is bound to protect Seon-mi, a little girl he met in a fateful encounter, but she has to remember his name. Twenty-five years later, Seon-mi finally remembers the name Son Oh-Gong and seeks help from him. He must show up whenever she calls which leads to them falling in love.

Our thoughts: Though this drama had serious problems with special effects and storyline, it was actually fun to watch all the actors interact with each other in their god and monsters roles. The soundtrack was wonderful as well which kind of put you under a type of spell while watching.

How to watch: Netflix

13. Lawless Lawyer (Revenge Romance)

Peak ratings: 8.9%

Premise: A man becomes a lawyer to seek revenge on the mob boss who killed his mother.

Our thoughts: Just straight fun. This drama reminded me more of a comic book than anything else, which I loved. It has high flying martial arts and a made up town where crime rules which, in that regard, makes it very similar to Sin City. If you like crime stories that play up the fiction, then you might love this drama.

How to watch: Viki

12. Shall We Kiss, First? (Romance)

Peak ratings: 12.8%

Premise: a poor woman with a tragic past falls in love with a rich man with a secret.

Our thoughts: The first several episodes of this show were magic. Straight magic. Unfortunately it fell into depressing territory towards the middle and very depressing territory at the end. So watch if you are looking for a good melo to sink into because the first 8 hours were magic.

How to watch: Kocowa, On Demand Korea, Viki

11. The Miracle We Met (Fantasy-Romance)

Peak ratings: 11.6%

Premise: After an ordinary man dies, his spirit awakes inside another man with the same name and age but a very different background. So, he becomes the head of two families and has to deal with his two completely different wives.

Our thoughts: we heard this one was pretty good. Though we didn’t watch it.

How to watch: Kocowa

10. What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim (Romantic-Comedy)

Peak ratings: 8.6% (cable)

Premise: A highly capable and overworked secretary announces that she is leaving her job. Her eccentric boss will not let that happen.

Our thoughts: Loved this show from beginning to end. It was chock full of delight and laughs as Park Seo Joon does what Park Seo Joon does best and Park Min Young tries to wrangle this eccentric man in. A delight.

How to watch: Viki

9. Boyfriend / Encounter (Romance)

Peak ratings: 10.3% (cable)

Premise: Brought together in Cuba by fate, a wealthy yet sad woman who seems to have everything and a happy confident young man who seems to have nothing fall in love and learn to navigate their two worlds.

Our thoughts: So lovely. The first episode could be a movie by itself. I really loved this drama that read as a modern look inside the life of a wealthy “princess” in a castle and the knight who saves her.

How to watch: Viki

8. Black Knight (Fantasy-Romance)

Peak ratings: 13%

Premise: A love story that spans over two hundred years to the present time as a pure man braves a dangerous destiny to protect the woman he loves.

Our thoughts: I heard that this started off wonderfully and then slipped into strange land. But the good kind of strange land?

How to watch: Kocowa, On Demand Korea, Viki

7. Memories of Alhambra (Fantasy-Romance)

Peak ratings: 9.2% (cable)

Premise: A CEO of an investment company that specializes in gaming and optical devices, purchases an Augmented Reality game the like he has never seen before. However, playing the game becomes more real than anyone could ever realize.

Our thoughts: The augmented reality game was riveting. The opening episodes that introduced the game and the stakes were amazingly done. But then it started getting lost in this love story that didn’t need to be included at all. Whenever the game is on the screen, this show is aces. Whenever it isn’t, the show falters.

How to watch: Netflix

6. Sky Castle (Murder Mystery)

Peak ratings: 12.3% (cable)

Premise: A murder mystery that spotlights the materialistic and academic desires of upper-class parents in Korea and how they ruthlessly secure the successes of their families at the cost of others. SKY stands for the top three universities in Korea: Seoul University, Korea University, and Yonsei University.

Our thoughts: We heard so many great things about this show but did not watch ourselves. It became the show of 2018 and into 2019 achieving peak ratings of 23% in 2019. It also took over the cultural moment of Korea as phrases from the drama started to appear in commercials, variety shows, and other dramas all year long.

How to watch: Viki

5. Prison Playbook (Drama)

Peak ratings: 11.2% (cable)

Premise: An enthralling drama revolving around the lives of convicts, their family members, and duty officers working in a correctional facility. 

Our thoughts: We hear good things about this show. Worth checking out to see if it is the drama for you.

How to watch: Netflix

Peak ratings: 16.9%

Premise: After a body is found on the freeway, the four main suspects are shown as being South Korea’s powerful elites. The most influential and famous female lawyer in the country decides to take the case and defend one of the suspects due to a request from her friend. However, as she looks deeper into the case, a web of corruption starts to reveal itself.

Our thoughts: The only thing I remember hearing about this show is that the main woman was changed like half way through due to drama. I don’t even know what was going on, but it didn’t really affect the ratings that much. So if you watch and wonder where the main lady went, that is what happened.

How to watch: Kocowa, On Demand Korea

3. The Last Empress or Empress’ Dignity (Romantic-Comedy?)

Peak ratings: 15.8%

Premise: This drama follows the life of a failing musical actress who marries the Emperor of the Korean Empire (if the empire still existed in the 21st century) as she tries to find love but instead gets entangled in the murder of a royal family member which puts the royal family in a negative spotlight that may lead to the end of the empire.

Our thoughts: So fun, so hilarious, so serious and yet comical, this drama was the surprised delight of 2018 and on into 2019. It is impossible to predict what will happen as the #1 makjang writer penned this show as her first foray into 16-20 episode miniseries. She knocked it right out of the park; I can’t wait to watch her next one!

How to watch: Viki, On Demand Korea, Kocowa

2. 100 Days My Prince (Romantic-Comedy)

Peak ratings: 14.4% (cable)

Premise: After a failed assassination attempt, the crowned Prince finds himself with amnesia and living in a simple village as the local village idiot. Except he still acts and speaks like a noble, to the annoyance of all the village people. Through a royal decree, he has to potentially marry a local woman in town and becomes her biggest burden.

Our thoughts: A really fun and comedic historical drama that will have you saying the phrase “Am I the only one uncomfortable?”. I thoroughly enjoyed this show in its hilarity and love story that delighting until the end.

How to watch: Viki

1. Mr. Sunshine (Historical Romance)

Peak ratings: 18% (cable)

Premise: A young boy escapes slavery by smuggling himself on a ship born for America. He becomes an officer in America and returns to Korea as an American Officer to help fight Korea’s war with Japan. he falls in love with a noble woman who is an undercover freedom fighter.

Our thoughts: This was a frustrating watch because the bad guy seems to always win in everything he does until the very last moment. But it is a well shot and acted drama that Korea fell in love with.

How to watch: Netflix

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4 Comments

  1. WPB
    November 26, 2019 / 6:13 pm

    Thanks for the “assignment” 😊
    I watched some of them but there are more on the list that I haven’t. Netflix does a poor job helping. I know they have the description of the show, trailer and all. But their filtering function is lacking. I found Viki a lot better in helping me to pick my shows.
    Do you have lists for 2017 and before?

    • V
      Author
      November 26, 2019 / 10:34 pm

      Netflix is so weird with finding Korean dramas. Sometimes I will click on Romance Korean dramas, but all the romance Korean dramas they have wont pop up or they will show up waaaaaaaay low on the list after a lot of other countries shows. It is so strange.

      I don’t have a list of 2017 or before, but I can try and find something!

  2. December 1, 2019 / 2:58 pm

    You so have to make a list where My Ajusshi sits at the top. More people need to discover this quiet, underrated gem that packs a punch. Even better it is now available on Viki!

    • V
      Author
      December 2, 2019 / 12:02 pm

      I plan on making a post of my favorite dramas of 2018 and My Ajusshi will be on the tippy top of that list! So happy that it is on Viki now!

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