Well, 2018 is drawing to a close which is really pretty crazy. But that means we get to look back on all of those wonderful Korean dramas that we got to enjoy throughout the year. The drama community experienced some shake ups this year like the big DramaFever shutdown, but it was mostly a great year and the drama watching goes on.
I watched a whole bunch of dramas again and lots of them were wonderful. I also greatly enjoyed chatting about dramas with all of you. I love connecting with you all and sharing our love of Korean dramas. Let’s continue that in 2019!
But now onto the list! This list includes all of the dramas that I watched which aired and concluded their runs in 2018. We are going to be counting down my favorite dramas from least to most favorite. I didn’t complete any real duds as far as new dramas go, so even though some of the dramas were a little ho hum, most were at least moderately enjoyable. Full reviews are also available for all of them.
As always, this is completely my opinion on these dramas, and it does not reflect Korean or international ratings or the popularity of any particular drama among fans. I watched a bunch of dramas, so stay tuned for the grand total when this list is combined with other dramas I watched at the end of the article 🙂
33. Handsome Guy and Jung Eum
Handsome Guy and Jung Eum is a very typical romantic comedy and an overall light watch with the standard couple progression from bickering to lovers. There’s comedy, romance, and cliches. Toss in a few problems along the way, a little bit of trauma, and there you have it. It lacked a strong central plot and was pretty generic overall.
The main thing I liked was Nam Goong Min and Hwang Jung Eum. I usually enjoyed them when they were on screen together since they were a fun couple and have plenty of cute and sweet moments. The drama really doesn’t stand out, but it is mostly pleasant and can work if you’re just looking for an easy filler that is cute and not too complicated. Don’t expect too much and you will probably be fine.
My Rating: 6/10 (Handsome Guy and Jung Eum Review)
32. Great Seducer
Great Seducer was kind of all over the place and had a ton of problems. I still thought it was a decent watch, and I think it did just enough right to satisfy my tastes to balance out all the not so good. But there really was a lot of not so good!
The execution of the drama as a whole was messy with the writing, editing, and characters. The seduction aspect of the drama was also a big let down. But I do have a soft spot for this type of story. Woo Do Hwan and Joy were cute enough together and shared some very emotional moments. There is stuff to like, but it’s buried in a mess. Proceed with caution with this one.
My Rating: 6/10 (Great Seducer Review)
31. Switch: Change the World
Switch: Change the World was an overall okay watch, but that about sums it up for me. Jang Geun Suk was fantastic in dual roles as a con artist and a prosecutor, and it has a fun crime caper premise. But the drama wasn’t particularly engaging for me as I wasn’t able to become emotionally invested and many of the early episodes felt episodic.
Switch: Change the World is an easy enough watch though. If you like lighter, crime caper style dramas, this is a good drama to go for. Everything is done just well enough to not create any huge issues. And for those of us who like Jang Geun Suk, this is a great drama to enjoy more of his charms as well as something a little bit different for him. Despite being a bit average, Switch does have enough going for it to make it a worthwhile watch.
My Rating: 6/10 (Switch: Change the World Review)
30. Two Cops
Two Cops was okay enough, but at the same time it didn’t really do anything to grab me. It’s a lighter crime drama with a love triangle and that twist of the supernatural. One of the best things was the bromance between Jo Jung Suk and Kim Sun Ho as they end up sharing a body and having to work together to solve a mystery. I felt like the romance angle kind of loses it’s fizzle as the drama progresses though. It starts out very strong and intriguing, but that plot line becomes much less important and eventually falls to the wayside.
So there was definitely stuff to like in Two Cops, but it had some big issues. The slowness and lack of plot progression as well as the diminishing romance story line really took the steam out of the drama. But it’s an easy enough watch with a little bit of everything with mystery, crime, humor, and romance. It’s just too bad it didn’t do more with the excellent foundation it had to work with.
My Rating: 6/10 (Two Cops Review)
Short is a simple 4 episode drama, but overall it is very enjoyable. It features a nice little window into the sport of short track speed skating as we see the friendship and rivalry between two men as they train together.
The drama had this very low key and realistic feeling to it with a nice atmosphere. There are also some nice side stories to round things out. So if you’re looking for something short and sweet with friendship, rivalry, and a side of speed skating, definitely give Short a try. My Rating: 7/10 (Short Review)
28. Terius Behind Me
Terius Behind Me was a mostly pleasant drama. There’s a nice bit of humor and fun with the stoic secret agent Bon taking care of a couple of rambunctious kids. The romance between Bon and Ae Rin was subtle but sweet. The spy mystery was seriously lacking, and I didn’t find it particularly thrilling.
But Terius Behind Me was a fun enough story as a whole that mixed romantic comedy, family, and spy action. I enjoyed our main duo and the kids, and I laughed because of the quirky supporting characters. There are also the heartwarming moments of Bon opening up a little bit and finding a family. It’s a sweet little story that’s a pretty solid watch.
My Rating: 7/10 (Terius Behind Me Review)
27. What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim
What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim is an enjoyable story and all around solid romantic comedy. Park Seo Joon and Park Min Young are quite a treat as a couple, and they have a fun and sweet chemistry. Many will appreciate that they have pretty good communication skills with each other and some nice kisses to get excited about. The relationship between the main couple is definitely the backbone of the drama and the reason to watch.
I did find the plot to be a little lacking particularly concerning the back story and its execution. I wish it was paced better and found myself wanting to go a bit deeper. But What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim was a fun watch overall. We have a lovely couple at the center of the story, a little something extra to add to the plot, and a nice cast of supporting characters. All in all, there’s a lot to enjoy.
My Rating: 7/10 (What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim Review)
26. Devilish Joy
Devilish Joy is filled to the brim with clichés and kdrama tropes, but it throws them together in a pretty entertaining way with an adorable romance, humor, and a decent plot. The first half of the drama was fairly simple and cute, but the plot really thickens up in the second half. I was surprised by how nicely the story progressed.
The romance is super sweet, and I thought Choi Jin Hyuk and Song Ha Yoon were quite adorable together. So with a nice romance and some meat in the story to beef up the drama, it was pretty entertaining all around.
My Rating: 7/10 (Devilish Joy Review)
25. Where Stars Land
Where Stars Land was an interesting drama that I had mixed feelings on. I wasn’t big on much of the airport happenings that included job situations and multiple episodic cases that had to be dealt with.
I really loved Soo Yeon’s story though! It was incredibly painful to see him struggle so much when he just wanted to live a normal life, but some very important issues were hit upon including accepting yourself just as you are. Lee Je Hoon was amazing in his portrayal of Soo Yeon and really added so much depth and emotion. His romance with Chae Soo Bin was also very sweet and moving. All in all, I was left with a pretty positive impression of the drama.
My Rating: 7/10 (Where Stars Land Review)
Live takes a unique look at the lives of police officers in a more realistic way. The drama has a very slice of life quality to it that combines with a crime element. It highlights the every day struggles that the police face whether they are rookies or veterans. Live truly creates a world that feels real, and there was always a lot going on that kept things interesting.
Live was a slow burn for me, but it really drew me in with its rich characters. I began to bond with them and found myself invested in their lives as we went deep with their emotions and problems. None of them were perfect and some were more difficult to like than others, but they were all just trying to make it through life and do a good job. The writing, directing, and acting all highlighted this so nicely to give us a very solid drama.
My Rating: 7/10 (Live Review)
23. Greasy Melo (Wok of Love)
Greasy Melo is such a quirky and off the wall series. It really was a lot of fun and had plenty of heart. I greatly enjoyed Jang Hyuk, Junho, and Jung Ryeo Won, and I thought they were perfect in their roles and fully embraced them.
The drama does tend to meander around with the story and that last third gets a bit draggy with repetitive cooking scenes and competitions. But for the most part, I enjoyed Greasy Melo. I liked all of the characters, it made me laugh, and it was simply easy to watch. I found it to be a good drama to take a break from some of the heavier ones. Sometimes simple can work especially with a bunch of quirky characters and wonderful actors to make you smile.
My Rating: 7/10 (Greasy Melo Review)
22. Radio Romance
Radio Romance is a pretty nice watch with a cute romance coupled with a nice journey of character growth. The romance between Soo Ho and Geu Rim was very sweet. I didn’t find their relationship particularly swoony, but it felt very down to earth and comfortable. It was a nice relationship to watch blossom.
While Radio Romance doesn’t do anything particularly revolutionary, it’s cute and fun with a main couple that is easy to root for. It also delivers plenty heartfelt moments to make for a thoughtful and enjoyable story.
My Rating: 7/10 (Radio Romance Review)
21. Rich Man
Rich man has a very classic set up, but it does its job and delivers its story in an entertaining way. I found it to be very pleasant and just all around enjoyed it. The main story develops quite nicely, and we get a well paced drama that is plotted well. The main romance is slow to develop, but the story really is more about their journey as characters, and that was done so well that I didn’t really mind.
I was genuinely surprised by Rich Man. It seems so basic, yet it really pulled me. I enjoyed all of the characters, the main story, the back story, and it even had some nice little side stories. It was light and fun with a solid emotional core and a great soundtrack to enhance it. All in all, it was such a nice drama.
My Rating: 7.5/10 (Rich Man Review)
20. Familiar Wife
I have a love for time travel dramas, and Familiar Wife was a great story for the genre. We have a fantasy angle along with a nice mix of humor and seriousness that included some high stakes for the characters.
Ji Sung and Han Ji Min nicely depicted the struggles of marriage, change, and regret. The characters were very relatable and also enjoyable with such a fun banter between them. The drama’s focus on relationships was executed really well to tie everything together. Familiar Wife was an entertaining story that was both contemplative and fun in a way that made for a thoroughly enjoyable journey.
My Rating: 7.5/10 (Familiar Wife Review)
19. Just Between Lovers
Just Between Lovers is a sad but beautiful story. The script was well thought out with all scenes and character interactions having importance. The love story between Junho and Won Jin Ah had a very natural progression. Rather than any big theatrics, it developed organically in a way that made each subtle development feel important. They are each in a lot of pain and have a lot of issues to work through both personally and as a couple, but their relationship is the definition of a healing one.
It’s depiction of trauma and healing was heart achingly real. But even in the midst of tragedy, life does goes on. And those struggling need others to reach out to them and show them that they are not alone. Just Between Lovers shows just how much of a difference that can make.
My Rating: 7.5/10 (Just Between Lovers Review)
Andante was such a charming story! This underrated drama shines in its simplicity and thoughtfulness. In a world of flashy and exciting dramas, Andante goes against the grain. The story itself isn’t anything revolutionary, a high school boy coming of age and learning about life, but it’s execution is wonderful.
The drama has such a low key and understated feel to it that I found incredibly warm and cozy. It had a bit more of a medical aspect to it than I would have liked as it dealt with end of life issues, but even that was handled so well in developing the characters and their stories. Some of the topics are uncomfortable, but the drama is always hopeful in it’s presentation of how precious the relationships of friends, family, and even strangers are as well as how beautiful life is.
My Rating: 7.5/10 (Andante Review)
17. Mr. Sunshine
Mr. Sunshine was a highly anticipated drama because of its writer/PD combo, and it really delivered on many levels. It featured breathtaking cinematography that highlighted the setting and exquisite costumes to perfectly bring the time period to life along with an incredibly high quality production. And the acting from our main cast is top notch in every way.
The story is plotted well with plenty of stuff always going on. There are personal character journeys, action, romance, and intrigue. The drama does go through some slow spells, and it could have benefited from fewer episodes and tightening up the story. But this is definitely a case where I was so enthralled with the atmosphere and the time period that it made up for a lot of what the drama lacked.
The scope of the drama definitely feels grand with a story that carries immense weight. It wasn’t perfect and had its flaws, but it’s a story that makes an impact in both an extravagant but also very meaningful way. The story of the Righteous Army is beautiful, inspiring, heartbreaking, and so emotional. It’s a unique drama among historicals, and it really delivers a memorable experience on so many levels.
My Rating: 8/10 (Mr. Sunshine Review)
16. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes
The Smile Has Left Your Eyes is a dark melodrama that is quite the emotional roller coaster. We have phenomenal performances from our three leads of Seo In Guk, Jung So Min, and Park Sung Woong who gave us complex and moving performances. Absolutely amazing actors!
Then there is our dangerous romance between Moo Young and Jin Kang. It is filled with lies, secrets, and tragedy. We go on a heartbreaking journey with them to learn about the mysterious Moo Young, if Jin Kang can can make a difference in his life, and what will ultimately become of these lovers. It’s a difficult road for them and for us, and The Smile Has Left Your Eyes is one of those dramas that will certainly leave an impression on you.
My Rating: 8/10 (The Smile Has Left Your Eyes Review)
15. 100 Days My Prince
100 Days My Prince started strong as the story reeled me right in and had me completely engaged. There were scheming bad guys, conflicted assassins, and a village full of fun and colorful characters. Politics, betrayals, and tension filled the palace. D.O. and Nam Ji Hyun were both great in their individual roles, and I enjoyed their unique romance. Everything balanced out to make the story pretty solid all around.
So as one of our few historical offerings this year, 100 Days My Prince more than satisfied what I like about the genre. It had action and excitement as well as being fun and humorous. The pacing was great, and it kept me thoroughly entertained all the way through.
My Rating: 8/10 (100 Days My Prince Review)
14. Your Honor
Your Honor was really great on many levels. It had a pretty decent central story to keep me engaged throughout the show along with compelling individual cases and other cases that tied into the main story. Yoon Shi Yoon’s comedic abilities were on full display, and he was so much fun to watch. He also delivered an extremely compelling dual performance as two very different twin brothers.
The romance between him and Lee Yoo Young was so sweet, and they were all kinds of cute together. It’s hard for legal dramas to really win me over, but this one did. The characters and story were great, and I was never bored. Talk about a very pleasant surprise!
My Rating: 8/10 (Your Honor Review)
13. My ID is Gangnam Beauty
What a nice drama My ID is Gangnam Beauty turned out to be! It ended up being a very thoughtful drama that explored some complicated issues including standards of beauty and how society treats people because of their perceptions of beauty. It executed its story wonderfully to keep me fully engaged and never bored.
Mi Rae’s journey is a moving one as she tries to navigate life after plastic surgery and realizes that it brings its own problems. Cha Eun Woo and Lim Soo Hyang were also very sweet as a couple, and I really liked how they helped each other in so many ways. Despite some heavier topics, the drama never gets overly angsty and remains fun throughout. It was such an enjoyable drama, and I’m happy I checked it out.
My Rating: 8/10 (My ID is Gangnam Beauty Review)
12. Lawless Lawyer
Lawless Lawyer is a slick drama with a fantastic story. The legal stuff is well balanced with the overall story and the thriller element which included plenty of excitement outside of the courtroom. The plot is very well done with a few twists and turns and wonderful pacing. The characters from the heroes to the villains are all interesting and engaging to help bring this story to life.
And how wonderful to see Lee Joon Gi get to showcase his charms in a drama while still delivering the intense emotions we would expect from him. The rest of the cast is absolutely amazing bringing so much talent. Lee Joon Gi and Seo Ye Ji also make one fantastic couple with some seriously amazing chemistry.
Lawless Lawyer was such a fun watch that provided a nice mixture of elements. The story, thrills, characters, and talented actors all came together for an entertaining drama that left me pretty well satisfied.
My Rating: 8/10 (Lawless Lawyer Review)
11. Hwayugi (A Korean Odyssey)
Hwayugi was a whole lot of fun with it’s comedy as well as it’s heavy fantasy element with it’s demons, ghosts, magic, and curses. It created such an entertaining world with individual stories and elements that were interesting and engaging. I just loved the characters and the fantasy world, and I was pretty happy just spending time there.
Lee Seung Gi was back and better than ever! He was full of that rascally charm, and I was so thrilled to see this wonderful performance by him. Cha Seung Won and Oh Yeon Seo were also thoroughly enjoyable to make for an all around fantastic cast.
So all in all, I was quite pleased with Hwayugi. I waited a long time for it, and it didn’t disappoint. It was a fun ride that I’m sad to see end. I really enjoyed myself and will miss these characters and this crazy magical world.
My Rating: 8/10 (Hwayugi Review)
10. I’m Not a Robot
There really is so much to love about a drama like I’m Not a Robot. It starts out cute, but as the story thickens, it gets so good! It just gets better as it goes along. Yoo Seung Ho does what he does best and completely rips my heart out as he deals with a serious health problem, isolation, and loneliness. He brought forth every emotion with such power and thoughtfulness.
I’m Not a Robot is a very sweet love story at its heart. Yoo Seung Ho and Chae Soo Bin are super cute together. There are tons of adorable moments throughout the drama to make your heart flutter. But watching them fall in love and care for each other was the best part. This couple was so nurturing towards each other, and it was truly wonderful to see.
The story was balanced well between lighter moments and the more serious and heartbreaking ones. There’s plenty to enjoy in this lovely tale of a man who was shut off from the world who begins to break free because of one woman pretending to be a robot. My Rating: 8/10 (I’m Not a Robot Review)
9. Come and Hug Me
Come and Hug Me is such a heart wrenching story. It’s a dark tale with compelling characters that will break your heart. It really sets itself apart from other dramas in many ways. This melodrama is incredibly dark and sad yet at the same time it has this theme of hope and the possibility that no matter what horrible things have happened in life, you still have a chance to be happy. That is if you can somehow survive a serial killer coming for you.
Jang Ki Yong and Jin Ki Joo gave wonderful performances as this couple that really have the odds stacked against them. Their relationship is so nurturing, beautiful, and heart breaking. Their love story is one of immense pain and sadness but also so much love. If a couple ever deserved to somehow find happiness, it’s these two.
Come and Hug Me was beautifully written to highlight these tragic characters and their story. It’s filled with tension from beginning to end with pacing that kept me engaged as this haunting tale unfolded. Every episode and scene is important which is why the drama is so well done. Come and Hug Me really moved me, and it is the kind of drama that will leave a lasting impression.
My Rating: 8.5/10 (Come and Hug Me Review)
8. Are You Human Too?
I was excited to check out this sci-fi drama, and lucky for me, I seriously enjoyed it! It ended up being a nice mix of melodrama and sci-fi with a dash of rom-com. I got more and more into the show as it went along as the stakes for the characters grew, the tension thickened, and secrets being revealed caused varying levels of trouble. It was a fun ride! Seo Kang Joon was absolutely adorable as our sweet robot Shin III. I loved his character growth as well as his cute romance with Gong Seung Yeon.
Overall, Are You Human Too? was a fun story that took me on some very wonderful character journeys. The romance was nice and connected well with the overall story. The show was thoughtful while also having some great melodramatic qualities with a dose of action. There are a few twists and plenty of excitement all the way through the final episode. And all that makes for a pretty great experience all around.
My Rating: 8.5/10 (Are You Human Too Review?)
7. Bad Papa
Bad Papa is such an underrated drama! It’s pretty different from most of the dramas out there, and it was just an all around wonderful surprise. It was this odd mixture of family, melodrama, action, and sports. Jang Hyuk was just amazing as always and gave a very multifaceted performance.
There were all sorts of things going on in the drama which kept things interesting all of the time. The show hits upon lots of family issues and did well at showing them from each of the members’ perspectives. I was genuinely interested in all of the characters and liked seeing the relationships play out.
And though there was a good amount of dramatics there was also some humor to lighten things up. I loved all of the topics it hit upon and that the plot was so engaging from start to finish. It made me laugh, cry, and experience so many emotions. Sometimes a drama comes along and surprises you, and Bad Papa was just that drama.
My Rating: 8.5/10 (Bad Papa Review)
6. Longing Heart
What a sweet little drama this is! Longing Heart surprised me by just how charming of a story it was. It has such likable and wonderful characters that bring to life this time travel romance with plenty of heart, laughter, and feels.
I thought the drama had a lovely mixture of being a sweet love story with plenty of cute and fun moments as well dealing with a couple heavier aspects of the story that allowed things to go deeper emotionally as the drama progressed. It was balanced very well. Longing Heart is wonderful if you are looking for a sweet drama that has romance, bromance, a good story, and that touch of fantasy. I thoroughly enjoyed this drama.
My Rating: 8.5/10 (Longing Heart Review)
5. Grand Prince
Grand Prince did everything I love in a historical by giving me romance, action, angst, and thrills. I got all swoony with the romance between Yoon Shi Yoon and Jin Se Yeon as they are the definition of star crossed, fated lovers. There was also the complicated love-hate brother relationship between Yoon Shi Yoon and Joo Sang Wook which is filled with intensity, betrayal, and heartbreak.
I thought all of the other elements of Grand Prince came together beautifully. The script was well written, and the pacing was great from start to finish. There are also plenty of dramatic events to keep things exciting. Fantastic performances were given by all three of our leads. It was seriously all so well done to make for a wonderful adventure filled romance from start to finish!
My Rating: 8.5/10 (Grand Prince Review)
Return was quite the crazy and suspenseful murder mystery drama! The pacing was fantastic, and there was always something happening as one crazy event led to another. What starts out as one murder soon opens a huge can of worms. The drama peels back the story layer by layer to reveal one secret after another. Things were constantly shifting with each new development to make for a fast paced and exciting ride.
With plenty of twists and turns throughout the drama, I was frequently surprised by what was going on. So many crazy things happened that I was constantly wondering what the characters would do next and how they would get out of the difficult situations they created. And the entire cast was simply fantastic from start to finish!
Return isn’t a drama that will give you warm fuzzies or lots of lovable characters. But it is perfect if you’re looking for a crime melo with excitement, twists, turns, and lots of craziness as a group of spoiled elites fall deep into a hole of lies, deception, and murder.
My Rating: 9/10 (Return Review)
3. Money Flower
Money Flower is the definition of soapy goodness! This is one of those juicy revenge dramas filled with secrets of all kinds and twists at every turn. There are affairs, birth secrets, cover ups, bribery, and even murder! It’s makjang at its finest.
There is an intricate revenge plan in place as we have Pil Joo as the puppet master who plays everyone according to his wishes. It’s brilliant to watch unfold! Jang Hyuk is perfection in this role, and you must have someone like him to convey the many aspects of Pil Joo. Watching him was completely captivating, and he commands your attention with just his presence. A phenomenal performance by Jang Hyuk all around!
The drama was mapped out beautifully. It always knew where it was going and had a purpose. There was always plenty of tension as secrets kept piling up and everyone worked to avoid being discovered. And there are lots of big reveals with each of them being incredibly satisfying to watch play out. Money Flower executes this type of genre to perfection to make for an all around intense, emotional, and entertaining watch. This is one not to miss out on!
My Rating: 9/10 (Money Flower Review)
2. Thirty But Seventeen
Thirty But Seventeen is such an endearing, funny, and heartwarming drama! It’s fairly simple, but it’s a story of healing that delivers so much emotion and heart in the best kind of way. It’s the definition of a feel good drama.
It’s primarily a story of character journeys about people dealing with the aftermath of tragedy. Seo Ri copes with building a life after losing so much time and everyone she loved while Woo Jin suffers from extreme guilt and traumatic memories. My heart broke for them. But it was simply amazing watching them grow and heal.
Yang Se Jong and Shin Hye Sun are such a sweet couple that cares for each other very deeply. Their relationship is supportive, endearing, and so sweet. And the supporting cast is filled with fun and quirky characters. Thirty But Seventeen is a wonderful mixture of good story, humor, and heartfelt moments. It’s pretty much what I want from a romantic comedy. What a fantastic and beautiful drama!
My Rating: 9/10 (Thirty But Seventeen Review)
And the #1 drama of 2018 is…
1. Eulachacha Waikiki
Eulachacha Waikiki is the ultimate feel good drama that is completely packed with comedy, yet is also full of heartwarming and meaningful moments thanks to its wonderfully quirky and endearing characters. It’s laugh out loud funny as the characters get into some completely ridiculous situations.
The drama is then able to immediately flip from extreme comedy to such tender moments where you really feel for the characters. This isn’t a show with a big plot, but it has some nice little character and relationship journeys to enjoy. This drama brought so many smiles to my face and just made for such a fun time. I grew so attached to the Waikiki Guesthouse family, and I enjoyed every single minute of it!
My Rating: 10/10 (Eulachacha Waikiki Review)
Other Dramas I Completed in 2018
As a year end review, here is a list of the older Korean dramas, drama specials with less than the equivalent of 3 full length episodes, and dramas from other Asian countries that I completed this year. Full reviews for each drama are available by clicking on the drama title. Here they are broken into categories depending on how much I liked them with each category listing the dramas alphabetically:
That ends up being 33 new dramas and 10 other dramas for a grand total of 43 dramas! Not half bad, lol. 2018 had a lot of fun memories thanks to these amazing dramas. I’m sad to say goodbye, but it’s time to welcome in 2019 and a whole new batch of entertaining dramas!
How was 2018 for you? What were your favorite dramas of the year?