Best Korean Dramas of 2019

Best Korean Dramas of 2019 - Shin Sung Rok, Jang Na Ra, Lee Seung Gi, Suzy, Yeo Jin Goo, Ji Chang Wook, Won Jin Ah, Jang Dong Yoon, Kim So Hyun, Jinyoung, Shin Ye Eun, Yang Se Jong, Woo Do Hwan, Jin Ki Joo, Minah, Park Shin Hye, Kim Jae Wook, Park Min Young, Rowoon, Kim Hye Yoon, L, Shin Hye Sun, Kim Min Jae, Yoo Seung Ho, Lee Yi Kyung, Kim Sun Ho

2019 is already almost over, so that means it’s that fun time to remember all of the amazing Korean dramas we enjoyed throughout the year. There were plenty of great ones from a wide variety of genres that I was able to get in.

It was also a another wonderful year of getting to chat with all of you about those dramas. It was so much fun sharing our thoughts, joys, and frustrations about them with each other. I really love connecting with you through our love for Korean dramas!

Now let’s check out the list! This list includes all of the dramas that I watched which aired and concluded their runs in 2019. We are going to be counting down my favorite dramas from least to most favorite. Luckily, it was another solid year where I didn’t complete any real duds with just a few that were mediocre. 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. Stay tuned for the grand total of how many new and old dramas I watched at the end of the article ๐Ÿ™‚

32. My Fellow Citizens

Dear Citizens Korean Drama - Choi Siwon and Lee Yoo Young

My Fellow Citizens has a fun premise with a con man unknowingly marrying a cop. It has a caper style feel with lots of humor as well as some dramatic moments. It focuses on some interesting topics concerning politics like the vast amount of corruption going on behind the scenes including lots of lies just to get votes. The show highlighted these things well while also keeping some humor and never getting too heavy.

Sadly, the show focused heavily on campaigning and politics which caused me to lose interest because I find that stuff slow. Choi Siwon and Lee Yoo Young were both fantastic, but I did think their romance was way underutilized. This definitely isn’t a genre I love, but it was still an okay enough watch.
My Rating: 6/10 (My Fellow Citizens Review)

31. Romance is a Bonus Book

Romance is a Bonus Book Korean Drama - Lee Jong Suk and Lee Na Young

Romance is a Bonus Book was a drama I initially had trouble clicking with it, but I eventually did. Though even then I found the drama incredibly slow throughout. Much of this was due to my personal taste rather than the drama itself though. Let’s face it, I like angst and thrills, hehe

It’s a simple and low key sort of show that has relatable and realistic characters, a positive story, and a mature friends to lovers relationship between the main couple. The whole drama had a very positive vibe to it that just felt sort of cozy and warm combined with a well-written script and excellent directing.

Romance is a Bonus Book’s initial difficulty hooking me, slower pacing, and lack of angst gave me some issues, but then it’s interesting characters, fun relationship dynamics, and overall positive feel helped to balance things out. So overall, it was a decent enough watch. My Rating: 6.5/10 (Romance isย  Bonus Book Review)

30. Kingdom

Kingdom Korean Drama - Joo Ji Hoon

Being that I’m not a big fan of horror or zombies, Kingdom didn’t quite fit my overall tastes. There was definitely a lot more gore than I would care for. While it had some negatives for me, there were also some positives.

After an initial slow set up, the pace really picks up withย lots of action. There’s a pretty great story in place too involving a conspiracy around the king. The production is also very high quality and feels very cinematic. Kingdom really isย a pretty solid drama. Withย its decent story, thrills, and plenty of zombie action,ย I think lovers of zombies and the horror genre will be pretty pleased with it.
My Rating: 6.5/10 (Kingdom Review)

29. SKY Castle

SKY Castle Korean Drama - Yum Jung Ah

SKY Castle was a ratings monster, and that is the sole reason that I checked it out. It is a satirical black comedy about all that wealthy families go through to get their kids into good universities. I found myself feeling quite conflicted about it though. My experience can be summed up in that the first third was fairly dull, the middle was decent, and the last third was crazy good.

It was a slow burning drama built upon each episode to ramp up the intensity, and then in that last third things just get all kinds of wild! With story lines like intense family pressure, suicide, and murder, this drama turned out to be a whole lot more than just kids getting into good schools.

While I greatly appreciated the groundwork that was laid early on to result in some big payoffs towards the end, the slowness for such a large part of the drama did really get to me. But its excellent script, great production, and talented actors work together for a very unique experience that pulls you into the twisted world that is SKY Castle.
My Rating: 6.5/10 (SKY Castle Review)

28. Clean With Passion For Now

Clean With Passion For Now is an easy romantic comedy that is plot light. It’s mostly fun with plenty of cute, but it is slow at times with some pacing issues. Although the drama keeps a lighter vibe, I thought it blended the humorous and serious elements well. There was plenty of comedy and fun to add joy, but then there were some very emotional and heartrending moments.

It focuses on mental health issues such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in the form of germophobia. Although the illness is the source for a lot of humor and not always completely accurate, it does a fair job of bringing attention to the disorder by showing the mental and physical toll it brings. But this is a rom-com, and the show’s simple and humorous side is what the drama does best. It has a sweet couple that deliver plenty of adorable couple moments on their journey to love.
My Rating: 6.5/10 (Clean With Passion For Now Review)

27. Encounter (Boyfriend)

Encounter (Boyfriend) Korean Drama - Park Bo Gum and Song Hye Kyo

Encounter was a mixed bag for me. The romance between Park Bo Gum and Song Hye Kyo was the main selling point by far. I enjoyed the role reversal withย the woman being the rich CEO of a companyย and the man as the newbie employee. The drama most excelled at telling their story. It was a beautiful relationship filled with healing, and they are what made the drama enjoyable enough.

Everything outside of themย was fairly dull for me though. Everything and everyone felt average, and my interest in the story waxed and waned. Most of the obstacles our couple faced were resolved fairly quickly, and that took away most of the tension.

Overall, Encounter was a bit slow and lacking punch, but the romance makes the show. For lovers of romance, especially with a bit more maturity to it, this drama is a great fit. But personal taste is likely to be heavily at play as to whether Encounter will be a love it or hate it kind of drama.
My Rating: 6.5/10 (Encounter Review)

26. Graceful Family

Graceful Family Korean Drama - Lee Jang Woo and Im Soo Hyang

Graceful Family is an interesting melodrama with a murder mystery and a family power battle. I enjoyed our leads of Im Soo Hyang and Lee Jang Woo who both had good individual stories as well as our cold and calculating villain played by Bae Jung Ok.

I did feel like the TOP management group took up a bit too much screen time and many of the characters weren’t very likable. I didn’t get very emotionally attached to this drama, but there was some juicy family stuff and bombshell secrets waiting to be revealed. Overall, the script, production, and acting were all excellent to make for a well done investigative/revenge melo.
My Rating: 7/10 (Graceful Family Review)

25. My First First Love

My First First Love Korean Drama - Ji Soo, Jung Chae Yeon, Jung Jin Young, Kang Tae Oh, Choi Ri

My First First Love is a simple coming of age drama that focuses on changing relationships between friends. It nicely sets up everything as it introduces us to the characters, and we quickly learn their back stories and their relationship dynamics. The characters are lovable, and it’s easy to get invested in their lives as we watch them navigate life, romance, and friendship.

My First First Love is a bit laid back in its pacing which left it feeling a bit draggy in the second half, but it’s a mostly easy watch with likable characters to root for, plenty of warmth, and lots of feels. It definitely has some angst, but it’s a pleasant and cozy series that offers a nice break from some of the really heavy stuff.
My Rating: 7/10 (My First First Love Review)

24. Abyss

Abyss Korean Drama - Ahn Hyo Seop and Park Bo Young

Abyss was a pretty fun watch despite its flaws. I liked the fantasy body changing concept to spice up a crime story. The show had an interesting mystery, multiple villains, and some intriguing dynamics between the characters.

The overall execution of the story was lacking with the rules of the magical orb being a bit wishy-washy. The pacing was good though with a few plot twists. The romance between Ahn Hyo Seop and Park Bo Young developed in a natural way, and they turned out to be pretty cute together. All in all, a pretty solid watch.
My Rating: 7/10 (Abyss Review)

23. When the Devil Calls Your Name

When the Devil Calls Your Name Korean Drama - Jung Kyung Ho and Park Sung Woong

When the Devil Calls Your Name was overall an excellent series with the only major flaw for me being that it felt slow at times. But there were high stakes and consistent plot developments all the way through that kept things interesting as they peeled back the layers to the characters’ complicated stories.

The acting was phenomenal too. We had two powerhouse actors headlining with Jung Kyung Ho and Park Sung Woong pitted against each. Our leading ladies of Lee Seol and Lee El were also just as good and gave such engaging performances.

So even though the show had a distinct slowness throughout, the script, the acting, the production, and the soundtrack were all top notch. It’s fairly unique with its interesting mixture of genres, and that made for a mostly entertaining watch.
My Rating: 7/10 (When the Devil Calls Your Name Review)

22. Arthdal Chronicles

Arthdal Chronicles was a nice change for a historical with its ancient fantasy genre. With a big budget and gorgeous cinematography, it really set the stage for the magical world of Arthdal. The show was quite dark and did well with building up tension and intrigue.

Overall, Arthdal Chronicles was a unique experience. While it was a bit more political than I would like and had a lot of unlikable characters, it had a complex story, fantastic production, and a group of very talented actors. It got better as it went and brought everything together in very interesting ways. It was a great first attempt at this sort of genre, and I hope to see more kdramas try it in the future.
My Rating: 7/10 (Arthdal Chronicles Review)

21. Hotel Del Luna

Hotel Del Luna Korean Drama - Yeo Jin Goo and IU

Hotel Del Luna was a fun supernatural series that felt very magical. It was also gorgeous to look at with luxurious sets and beautiful costumes. The drama was much more episodic than I tend to like with shorter ghost stories taking up the bulk of each episode.

But there was an overarching story that was very engaging and did a lot to grow our characters as they faced life and death stakes. Both IU and Yeo Jin Goo gave wonderful performances that I really enjoyed and had a romance that was very moving. It’s a fun series that had enough positives to keep me entertained.
My Rating: 7/10 (Hotel Del Luna Review)

20. Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung

Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung is a somewhat lighter historical that was super easy to watch. It felt fairly unique with its workplace focus on the lives of female historians and all of the challenges they faced that was mixed in with a lovely romance as well as some palace intrigue surrounding a mystery.

I really loved Shin Se Kyung and Cha Eun Woo as a couple. They both gave wonderful performances and were just adorable together. Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung was a pleasant drama overall. It wasn’t exactly riveting, but I quite enjoyed it. The humor was balanced well with the heavier themes, and it was a nice drama to just relax to and enjoy the story it had to tell.
My Rating: 7.5/10 (Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung Review)

19. Nokdu Flower

Nokdu Flower Korean Drama - Yoon Shi Yoon, Jo Jung Suk, Han Ye Ri

Nokdu Flower wasn’t exactly the kind of historical I usually go for because of the strong military elements, but ultimately, I warmed up to it. It’s well-written with good pacing, has complex characters, and a vast amount of talented actors. Yoon Shi Yoon in particular gave such a strong and memorable performance.

The series is fairly unique since the story is more centered around average people rather than royalty and palace politics. The individual journeys of two brothers who end up on opposite sides of an uprising was very interesting to see.

It also tackled a unique portion of history set during the early stages of the Japanese occupation that changed the face of Joseon. All of these elements came together to make for a pretty solid drama.
My Rating: 7.5/10 (Nokdu Flower Review)

18. Perfume

Perfume turned out to be a pretty fun romantic comedy that dealt with lots of difficult issues surrounding weight. I’m a fan of Sung Rok and was thrilled to see him be cast a proper lead for a change, and he was very funny here. Then we had Ha Jae Sook and Go Won Hee who did wonderful as the two versions of Min Jae Hee.

Overall, I found Perfume to be a pleasant, fun, and moving drama. It was humorous and had a nice little story going for it. We had fleshed out characters who had a chance to grow as well a very positive overall message. In the end, it left my heart feeling very full.
My Rating: 7.5/10 (Perfume Review)

17. Touch Your Heart

Touch Your Heart Korean Drama - Lee Dong Wook and Yoo In Na

The legal romantic comedy Touch Your Heart gave us the highly anticipated reunion of our famed Goblin couple played by Lee Dong Wook and Yoo In Na. Thankfully, their amazing chemistry carried over, and they gave us such a sweet and fun romance. Lee Dong Wook’s stoic attitude contrasts perfectly with Yoo In Na’s bright and sunny disposition. They were both actually pretty adorable!

The legal side of the drama was more low key, but it was engaging enough and rounded things out nicely. Touch Your Heart is basic in its formula, but it did what a romantic comedy needs to do most by completely selling our main couple.

Lee Dong Wook and Yoo In Na’s fantastic chemistry coupled with an adorable relationship journey made the drama quite enjoyable. Then add in that little bit of angst and a dash of thrills, and everything balanced out well.
My Rating: 7.5/10 (Touch Your Heart Review)

16. My Country: The New Age

My Country: The New Age was quite the watch! It has a fantastic story, great production, and plenty of action which includes some impressive sword fights to keep things exciting. It’s also the kind of drama that might just rip your heart out and then stomp all over it!

I liked that My Country: The New Age was more serious and angsty while giving me an intense story of two long-time friends pitted against each other, a heartfelt romance, and plenty of intrigue. Yang Se Jong, Woo Do Hwan, and Jang Hyuk gave some seriously impressive and memorable performances here. My Country: The New Age was enjoyable all the way through.
My Rating: 8/10 (My Country: The New Age)

15 Extraordinary You

I was surprised by just how much I enjoyed Extraordinary You! I love meta stories like this with comic characters becoming self-aware. The drama is bright and fun with lots of humor including poking fun at many of the classic tropes we all know.

The rules of the comic world were very interesting, and there was a solid mystery concerning why the characters acted certain ways as well as why so many unusual things were happening. There were also a lot of great themes explored as the characters became self-aware, coped with their new knowledge, and attempted to change their fate.

Kim Hye Yoon and Rowoon were an adorable couple, and I really enjoyed their relationship which was a mix of cute fun and low-key angst. Iย  really enjoyed all the characters and the world that they inhabited. Extraordinary you was a lot fun with lots of heart, and I had such a wonderful time watching it.
My Rating: 8/10 (Extraordinary You Review)

14. Melting Me Softly

Melting Me Softly Korean Drama - Ji Chang Wook and Won Jin Ah

Melting Me Softly was such a fun drama for me. I got hooked quickly and enjoyed it all the way through. It leans heavily leans towards the romantic comedy side with a dash of sci-fi surrounding the frozen experiment our main couple undergoes. The comedy is quite silly and over-the-top, but it worked for me.

Not everything makes logical sense and there is just a basic problem to solve regarding our couple being frozen and a straight forward villain looking to cause trouble. This part of the story isn’t particularly hard hitting, but it adds in a nice back drop for the romance and the comedy.

The sci-fi concept of Melting Me Softly was interesting, and I loved all of the characters who made me laugh quite a lot. I also thoroughly enjoyed the sweet romance that blossomed into such a caring and nurturing relationship. Both Ji Chang Wook and Won Jin Ah were wonderful individually and as a couple. (Melting Me Softly Review)

13. Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency

Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency was a great drama overall. It starts out pretty light with a lot of fun surrounding the Flower Crew. Nothing like a group of handsome men matchmaking to keep things interesting. It gets more serious as it progresses as the stakes for everyone become very high.

Even though I didn’t love the direction the love triangle went, I liked the mixture of humor and serious and thought the pacing was good all the way through which is something I always appreciate. The story was solid and the characters were both interesting and entertaining. All in all, it was a very fun watch.
My Rating: 8/10 (Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency Review)

12. Absolute Boyfriend

Absolute Boyfriend is a pretty simple drama that’s mostly cute fluff. It has a more laid back pace that I would normally find slow, but in this instance I found it quite cozy because I loved the characters and the atmosphere. I really enjoyed its focus on relationships.

I also liked that issues of humanity and the complexities of a human/robot relationship were explored. I loved watching the relationship between Yeo Jin Goo and Minah develop. They were cute, loving, and had to endure a lot of hardships. And Yeo Jin Goo was super adorable in this drama!

Absolute Boyfriend is best viewed with the right set of expectations. Don’t expect anything too grand, don’t take it too seriously, and just go with the flow for what is a simple but cute series with some relationship angst and a touching journey of a robot trying to find his humanity.
My Rating: 8/10 (Absolute Boyfriend Review)

11. He is Psychometric

He is Psychometric Korean Drama - Jinyoung and Shin Ye Eun

He is Psychometric is that exact mixture of elements I love. There is a nice romantic side to the show that is very sweet and fun, but then there is the main crime element that is much darker and was quite serious.

The show did an excellent job by having a very intriguing mystery included from the very beginning that nicely peels back those layers throughout. This drama is the definition of a serialized crime drama with all of the crimes dealt with tying into the main mystery.

Everything was laid out well with fantastic pacing, and it got more suspenseful as it went which really kept me interested. The mix of mystery/crime and romantic elements blended together nicely to create a type of story that I really love. He is Psychometric was very enjoyable all around, and I really wish there were more dramas out there that pulled off this mixture so well.
My Rating: 8/10 (He is Psychometric Review)

10. The Crowned Clown

The Crowned Clown Korean Drama - Yeo Jin Goo

A historical with Yeo Jin Goo in dual roles as a villainous king and a kind clown is pretty much what I would want from a drama. It’s the best of both worlds! And he was truly phenomenal as always.

There was plenty of intrigue to keep things exciting all the way through. The romance between Yeo Jin Goo and Le Se Young was also very sweet. I really thought they had a lovely and comfortable chemistry.

The Crowned Clown really tied everything together quite nicely with its talented actors, script, and direction to create a wonderful story that was filled with intrigue, romance, and heart. All in all, that makes for a pretty great historical!
My Rating: 8/10 (The Crowned Clown Review)

9. The Secret Life of My Secretary

The Secret Life of My Secretary Korean Drama - Kim Young Kwang and Jin Ki Joo

The Secret Life of My Secretary was a wonderful surprise! We get a light and fun romantic comedy that has a nice little mystery on the side. The drama also had an older feel to it which I loved.

The Secret Life of My Secretary was just such a fun series. It won me over right from the start and held my attention all the way through. The show was cute, funny, thoughtful, and delivered plenty of heart. Kim Young Kwang and Jin Ki Joo were wonderful in their roles, and I was invested in their relationship from the beginning. A great series overall!
My Rating: 8/10 (The Secret Life of My Secretary Review)

8. Memories of the Alhambra

Memories of the Alhambra Korean Drama - Hyun Bin and Park Shin Hye

I like sci-fi type stories, so the very anticipated AR based Memories of the Alhambra was right up my alley. This is a pretty different topic for sure. I loved that so much of the drama was set in Spain which definitely gave it a unique atmosphere.

This is a crazy journey as the game gets out of control. This drama is full of twists and crazy cliffhangers to make for a pretty wild ride. But there are a fair share of plot holes and unanswered questions.ย The concept is fantastic, but the finer details and overall execution is sloppy.

Memories of the Alhambra worked well for me though. It has lots of unique qualities with its AR story, being set on location in Spain, and its ample use of special effects. Then add in a thrilling story with plenty of surprises as well as a dash of romance from our talented stars, Hyun Bin and Park Shin Hye, and you have a pretty entertaining drama. It was definitely a fun one!
My Rating: 8/10 (Memories of the Alhambra Review)

7. My Strange Hero

My Strange Hero is fairly simple in terms of story, but where it shines is with its characters and their personal journeys. It’s got a very quirky side combined dash of angst and a lot of heart. I loved the high school portions of the drama and watching Bok Soo and Soo Jung’s romance blossom.

The emotional beats were also very strong concerning the big incident that happened between Bok Soo, Soo Jung, and Se Ho. I loved that our villain Se Ho had his back story fully intertwined with them and that we were able to dig deep into his character and motivations. Kwak Dong Yeon was simply amazing in the role!

So My Strange Heroย was quite aย fun drama. It never felt heavy despite some of the serious topics, and it always had a very feel-good tone to it. Yet, it still delivered plenty of very emotional moments from the characters that really touched my heart. The entire cast was just fantastic and made for an all round wonderful experience.
My Rating: 8/10 (My Strange Hero Review)

6. Her Private Life

Her Private Life Korean Drama - Kim Jae Wook and Park Min Young

Her Private Life is exactly how I like my romantic comedies. It has a good amount of comedy, a sizzling romance, and a solid main story to push everything forward. Park Min Young was fantastic and perfectly showcased the duality of being a mature working woman while being a dedicated fangirl too. Kim Jae Wook was also great as the prickly but softhearted man who turns out to be a bit of a fanboy for Park Min Young. They also provide all kinds of swoony and heart-fluttering moments for us to enjoy.

The drama was always completely engaging with wonderful pacing that never felt draggy. That’s frequently a challenge in romantic comedies, and I sure do appreciate how well this drama put everything together.
My Rating: 8.5/10 (Her Private Life Review)

5. Vagabond

Vagabond Korean Drama - Lee Seung Gi and Suzy

Vagabond was a fantastic drama that was jam-packed with action, intrigue, and life and death stakes. If you just go with the flow, it’s a wild ride. It had a great story with many talented actors.

Lee Seung Gi and Suzy’s long-awaited reunion was also wonderful to watch. It was great to have this duo back together again. Shin Sung Rok was very underutilized in this drama, but I still enjoyed getting to see him.

Vagabond was a fun drama on so many levels. The thrills just keep coming thanks to a great pace, intriguing corruption mystery, and consistent plot developments. The characters are interesting and sympathetic as well as being very entertaining. Action dramas of this quality and scale don’t come around very often, and it was definitely a treat to see.
My Rating: 8.5/10 (Vagabond Review)

4. Angel’s Last Mission: Love

Angel's Last Mission: Love Korean Drama - L and Shin Hye Sun

The fantasy romance Angel’s Last Mission: Love had me intrigued early on with it’s premise of a trouble-making angel helping a woman with an icy heart find love. We’ve got interesting characters with rich back stories, a bit of mystery, and a forbidden romance that packed such an emotional punch.

L and Shin Hye Sun both gave wonderful performances as our lovely couple who just wanted to be live and be together. I loved the angsty and desperate love that they experienced and completely felt their joy and sorrow.

This is the kind of romance story I would like to see more often because it allowed me to be completely invested in the couple by focusing so strongly on them and their amazing love story. In the end, Angel’s Last Mission: Love really won my heart.
My Rating: 8.5/10 (Angel’s Last Mission: Love Review)

3. The Tale of Nokdu

I loved this drama so much! The Tale of Nokdu is one of those dramas with a little a bit of everything: action, romance, intrigue, mystery, humor, angst, and heart. And that combination makes for a pretty terrific drama!

Jang Dong Yoon was wonderful in the portrayal of a man having to disguise himself as a woman, and there was lots of fun humor surrounding that. He and Kim So Hyun also made a wonderful couple with a relationship that was quite swoony as well as heart wrenching. The rest of the cast was really amazing too.

The Tale of Nokdu was a wonderful historical. It set up a great story early on that blossomed into an intense drama. The pacing was great throughout with humor to make me laugh, and then it upped the stakes with some serious plot developments. All of the elements blended together nicely to make for an entertaining watch all the way through. My heart was left feeling very full!
My Rating: 9/10 (The Tale of Nokdu Review)

2. Eulachacha Waikiki 2

Eulachacha Waikiki 2 Korean Drama - Lee Yi Kyung, Moon Ga Young, Kim Sun Ho, Ahn So Hee, Shin Hyun Soo, Kim Ye Won

Eulachacha Waikiki 2 is one of those beautiful rare dramas that actually makes me laugh out loud from start to finish. It was a ton of fun with a hefty dose of heartwarming goodness.

The comedy style is completely over-the-top and focuses a lot on characters getting into crazy trouble all of the time.ย The characters are also unique, quirky, and become quite endearing as the drama progresses as they each have their own little personal journeys to go on.

There are several romantic pairings that serve as cute side plots too that offer plenty of sweet moments. And for me, Lee Yi Kyung was the true star with his amazing comedic abilities that make me laugh like no other. He’s truly wonderful! Eulachacha Waikiki 2 had me smiling and laughing all the way through which makes it quite special.
My Rating: 9/10 (Eulachacha Waikiki 2 Review)

And the #1 drama of 2019 is…

1. The Last Empress

The Last Empress Korean Drama - Jang Nara, Shin Sung, Rok, Choi Jin Hyuk, Lee Elijah

I knew I was diving into some serious makjang with The Last Empress, and it really was all kinds of crazy! There was scheming, murder, cover ups, revenge, seduction, and lots more. And I was there for all of it! It’s over-the-top and over-dramatic in every way, and there are plenty of convenient plot devices, cliches, and loopholes. But if you just go with the flow, the craziness is quite thrilling. This is the kind of show you just have to roll with and not think too deeply about. Just enjoy the crazy!

I loved getting to experience the mixture of a historical and modern drama in The Last Empress. We get all the intrigue of a historical in a modern day setting. Things were so messy and twisted that I was always excited to see what new crazy and angsty goodness was about to head my way! It also boasted a star cast that I completely loved with Jang Na Ra, Shin Sung Rok, and Choi Jin Huk.

The Last Empress is far from being technically perfect, but it was perfect for me. It delivered deliciously over-the-top melodrama and angst at a thrilling pace that never left me bored because of the intrigue and constant plot developments. Leaving me completely entertained is all I could ask, and it did that perfectly. It’s makjang at its finest, and for those who like the genre, I wholeheartedly recommend it!
My Rating: 10/10 (The Last Empress Review)

Other Dramas I Completed in 2019

As a year end review, here is a list of the older Korean dramas 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:


Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People

Rebel Thief Who Stole the People Korean Drama - Yoon Kyun Sang


Miss Hammurabi


Hymn of Death

Hymn of Death Korean Drama - Lee Jong Suk and Shin Hye Sun

My Love Patzzi

My Love Patzzi Korean Drama - Jang Na Ra, Kim Rae Won, Kim Jae Won

Tree of Heaven

Tree of Heaven Korean Drama - Lee Wan and Park Shin Hye



Twelve Nights

Twelve Nights Korean Drama - Shin Hyun Soo and Han Seung Yeon

When Time Stopped

When Time Stopped Korean Drama - Kim Hyun Joong

That ends up being 32 new dramas and 8 older dramas for a grand total of 40ย dramas! So while I definitely didn’t get in all of the dramas I wanted to, I would say I got in a fair amount. 2019 was a fun drama year for sure. And now we close another chapter and prepare to ring in new dramas for a new year in 2020!

How was 2019 for you?ย  What were your favorite dramas of the year?

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Copyright ยฉ 2015-2019 by Kdrama Kisses.

About Kay

Greetings! Iโ€™m Kay, creator and author of Kdrama Kisses. Kdrama Kisses is dedicated to bringing you the latest in kdrama casting news, drama trailers, reviews, and more. Happy drama watching to everyone!
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41 Responses to Best Korean Dramas of 2019

  1. So many dramas I haven’t seen! I will definitely be putting them on my watch list! ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      There are soooo many dramas that come out these days. I watched a bunch, but there’s still a lot I haven’t seen either. My 2019 watch list is already bleeding over into 2020, hehe


  2. kissingsun says:

    He is psychometric was the standout for me. I loved the ending and that they didnt compromise. Also on my list that I enjoyed was Kingdom, Her Private Life and Abyss.

    But I have to say the standout for me was Chicago Typewriter which I finally watched this year. Can’t remember the last time I watched a show and when I finished crying at the last episode, I started watching it again. That one is up there with Goblin and Scarlet Heart (which ripped my heart out and danced a jig on it).

    I am so behind with this year’s dramas, but I find quite a few of them annoyed me, particularly the ending of vagabond. Currently watching Hotel Del Luna and Chocolate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      I agree, He is Psychometric was such a great drama! I too was glad they didn’t compromise on the end which was a nice change ๐Ÿ™‚

      It’s great you enjoyed Chicago Typewriter so much too. It’s always wonderful to find a drama that really moves you, and it easily becomes one of your faves ๐Ÿ™‚ I definitely had that experience with Scarlet Heart, hehe

      Yeah, we definitely need a second season to wrap up that Vagabond ending. Hotel Del Luna was a fun one too. Hope you enjoy it ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. raistlin0903 says:

    Wow…that is one heck of a watch list! Unbelievable how much you have seen ๐Ÿ™‚ I definitely enjoyed Vagabond too….but like the comment above, I do have to say the ending ruined it a bit for me. Especially since itโ€™s not confirmed yet there will be a second season. Iโ€™m still in the middle of Memories of the Alhambra…itโ€™s a series that I have a bit of love/hate relationship with. Some episodes are great, others are a bit slow. But I really love the concept. For me of course you already know my favorite one: Kill It. But I have to say that a close second is Nova Land: Eagle Flag (while of course itโ€™s not a K-drama, so thatโ€™s a little bit of cheating on my part though). Iโ€™m currently really watching a lot of Asian dramas (just started with Last) and actually started a profile on to keep track of it all.
    I will defenitely keep this post close so I can get even more tips! Awesome ! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      It was definitely a good year ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad you got a chance to check out Vagabond since it was such a fun series. It is too bad they didn’t wrap it up since a season 2 is nowhere near confirmed. Memories of the Alhambra was a fun one too. It’s definitely got all kinds of issues, but it sure was unique and quite thrilling at times ๐Ÿ™‚

      Yep, Kill It has to be your number one of 2019. No contest there ๐Ÿ™‚ Ah, it’s also good to hear you ended up enjoying Nova Land: Eagle Flag all the way through. I remember you really liking that one ๐Ÿ™‚

      Ah, you finally found your way to My Drama List. It’s a must for keeping track of dramas and actors. I hope you find lots more great dramas to watch in the new year! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • raistlin0903 says:

        Well…almost two months later, and finally I can respond to this one…sorry ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Things have been very bad again on my end, and all the plans I had have taken a backseat again. I just wanted to check in today, and publish at least a bit more of a fun post instead of the usual doom and gloom my blog seems to have turned into because of all the negativity in my current life due to health and other issues.
        I hope you have been able to check out Kill it already. Would love to hear your thoughts on it ๐Ÿ˜‰ And of course, I hope you are well ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kay says:

          Awww! I always have such mixed emotions when I hear from you. I’m always soooo happy to hear from you and so sad to hear you’re still struggling so much ๐Ÿ˜ฆ You deserve a break from all of this! Again, feel free to email me if you ever need to vent. I know many times withdrawing is what’s needed for a time, but it’s nice to know you have some friendly support during improved times if you need it. Seriously though, I’m so glad to see a comment from you! It always brightens my day ๐Ÿ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

          • raistlin0903 says:

            Thank you so much. I definitely feel as if that break is somewhere still far off, but no idea how far off it is to be honest.
            That said, I try to hang in there and keep up the good fight so to speak whenever I can๐Ÿ˜Š
            Thanks for your kind offer, and I definitely will keep it in mind I promise you that ๐Ÿ˜Š
            Itโ€™s always nice to hear from you as well: hopefully the K-dramas that are currently on, will have a few that are to your liking ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š(And of course I hope you are doing well yourself๐Ÿ˜Š).

            Liked by 1 person

            • Kay says:

              Well, I’m always hoping that break comes sooner rather than later and you find a breakthrough. Just do what you can to take care of yourself and lift your spirits whenever you can. Small things can do a lot to carry you through when the big things are difficult.

              There’s definitely still plenty of great kdramas being churned out. Hopefully, they just keep coming!! ๐Ÿ™‚

              Liked by 1 person

              • raistlin0903 says:

                Well…that breakthrough sadly hasnโ€™t made it through yet ๐Ÿ˜” The past few months have been pretty horrid. But Iโ€™m trying to get back here soon. I miss talking to you and sharing thoughts on Korean dramas. I havenโ€™t watched any lately unfortunately, but with an upcoming vacation, I hope to at least watch something again. If you have any recommendations as to what is a worthwhile watch (you know what I like lol), it is appreciated. Hope as I said earlier, that things on your end are going well ๐Ÿ˜Š

                Liked by 1 person

                • Kay says:

                  That makes me so sad ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Do you feel like you’re making any progress at all or are you really still at square one? (don’t feel like you have to share anymore than you want though) I so want you to feel better! I know a lot of us want that for you. It’s good that you’ll be getting a vacation though and some time hopefully enjoy some shows.

                  Hmm, I would say from what I’ve watched this year that would be more to your taste, I would recommend 365: Repeat the Year. It’s a mystery time travel thriller that was very good and actually put a fairly unique spin on the time travel genre which is really something. Only 12 eps too which makes it a quicker watch. I have a review for it if it sounds appealing to you at all and you want more details ๐Ÿ™‚

                  Liked by 1 person

                • raistlin0903 says:

                  Honestly? Still at square one really. I have some new meds now that Iโ€™m going to try out in my vacation (they might have an effect on my bowels, which is why Iโ€™m waiting until the vacation). Itโ€™s certainly frustrating and at times making me feel helpless. I have one more test on wednesday to rule out that I might have a small groin rupture, but the doctor thinks thatโ€™s a slim chance. Until then I will keep fighting on. Itโ€™s pretty much all I can do, and I certainly am looking forward to my vacation and three weeks of rest (and watching a lot of shows lol๐Ÿ˜‚). No worries, you may ask me anything: I have no problem talking about it๐Ÿ˜Š Thank you.
                  Ooh…that sounds pretty interesting honestly. As soon as Iโ€™m done updating the comments, I will check out that review. You have made me curious indeed ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

                  Liked by 1 person

                • Kay says:

                  Ugh, that really is frustrating to have made no progress after such a long time ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I do have some experience with how incredibly helpless you feel when doctors can’t figure out what’s going on and you just keep trying one thing after another with a remote hope that something helps at all. It’s an awful place to be. I really hope you can get lucky with the new meds and finally see some improvement. At least you will get some extra rest during your vacation which I’m sure is much needed, and then hopefully, you actually have a breakthrough for a change ๐Ÿ™‚

                  Liked by 1 person

                • raistlin0903 says:

                  Thanks so much ๐Ÿ˜ŠYeah, itโ€™s ben truly frustrating to say the least. But Iโ€™m an optimistic guy, and I try to stay positive throughout all this. I hope the new meds will definitely help, but for now I will just look forward to my vacation and take things from there๐Ÿ˜Š
                  Iโ€™m sorry to hear you have had similar problems though๐Ÿ˜” I hope things on that front have at least improved for you.
                  Thanks again๐Ÿ˜Š

                  Liked by 1 person

                • Kay says:

                  Optimism is good as it is probably what has carried you through so far. Hopefully, you are rewarded for your perseverance soon ๐Ÿ™‚

                  Liked by 1 person

  4. Woop woop~ Waikiki S02 on 2nd place!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Kdrama Crazy says:

    Surely! The Last Empress deserves to be at the top. After watching it I have not been able to attach myself well to any drama.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. snow says:

    Wow…32 dramas!!!!!!๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ImGian9 says:

    I would like to share all the drama that I’ve watched this year, and share my list, it will not be a classical Ranking.
    (A drama with a ” * ” mean that I loved this drama even if the rating is not a perfect score, because it’s hard for me to give a 10/10)

    Drama aired in 2019:

    – Feel Good to Die (6.5/10);
    – Encounter (7/10);
    – SKY Castle (9/10) *;
    – Kingdom season 1 (7/10);
    – Special Labour Inspector Jo (7-8/10);
    – Welcome to Waikiki 2 (7-8/10) [this season is less memorable and funny than the previous season, which I gave a 9/10 * ];
    – Big Issue (7.5/10);
    – Haechi (7+/10);
    – The Fiery Priest (7+/10);
    – The light in your eyes (9/10) * ;
    – My Only One (5/10) [I struggled while watching this drama, it was going fine until the last episode which was an insult to me. If I don’t count the last episode than I would give a 7/10];
    – Liver or Die (8/10);
    – The crowned clown (7/10);
    – Doctor John (6-/10);
    – Abyss (6.5/10);
    – Arthdal Chronicles (?) [I hope that there will be another season because I think it is incomplete as a drama. They split this drama into three parts and it’s not even finished it. The production team said that this drama will be split into three parts, that’s it. They did not say it would be a drama that has different seasons, I don’t know but if there will be another season then I would give for this season a 7.5/10].
    – Angel’s last mission: Love (8.5/10) *;
    – Search: WWW (8.5/10) *;
    -Big Issue (7.5/10);
    -Beautiful World (7-/10);
    -Hotel Del Luna (8/10);
    -Melting Me Softly (6.5/10);
    – Extraordinary you (9/10) *;
    – When the camellia Blooms (9/10);
    If I have to rank my Top Dramas of the year, would be:
    1) SKY Castle – The light in your eyes
    2) Extraordinary You
    3) Search:WWW – Angel’s last mission: love
    4) Liver or Die
    5) Hotel Del Luna

    Old Drama :
    -Come! Jang Bo Ri (9/10)*; [ The biggest surprise of this year for me, everyone who watched this drama would be saying that this was the most iconic Lee Yoo Ri’s drama. She was excellently portraying an evil character but for me, Oh Yeon Seo was the surprise, she become one of my favorite Korean actresses, I saw her on Hwayugi, but I was a bit disappointed about it, so I did not remember ].
    – My Lawyer Mr Jo (7/10);
    – Rebel (7-/10);
    – Money Flower (8/10)*;

    So, these are all the Kdrama that I watched this year. I’ve watched less drama than the other years.

    I am an filipino-italian guy who love watching korean drama and korean variety shows, and I am deeply sorry for my poor English, I will study more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      Oooh, it looks like you had a pretty good year overall ๐Ÿ™‚ We liked a lot of the same dramas too. From your top list I particularly liked Angel’s Last Mission: Love and Extraordinary You. You also got in some great older ones like Money Flower. We sure do need a season 2 for Arthdal Chronicles though!

      And don’t worry, you’re English is great. I wish you the best in your studies! ๐Ÿ™‚


    • MyKDramaticLife says:

      Hey there!

      I just have to commend you for that list.

      We have almost the same top 5, SKY Castle, Hotel del Luna and What’s Wrong Poong Sang (Liver or Die). ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚


  8. ckdrama says:

    I saw Rebel for the first tie this year too and loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Kate says:

    Such a great year for kdramas! I think it’s my first year watching so many currently airing. Hope the trend continues in 2020 ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      It really was such a great year ๐Ÿ™‚ I watched tons of newer drama too. Do you have a favorite drama for the year? I hope we get an amazing 2020 too! ๐Ÿ™‚


      • Kate says:

        Gosh, how do you even begin to rank these! I watched 23 of the ones you watched this year and this is how I ranked them. But honestly, I’d rather put them in smaller categories because it’s almost unfair to compare the genres. I loved Waikiki 1 but couldn’t get into Waikiki 2 for some reason ๐Ÿ˜ฆ
        1. The Tale of Nokdu
        2. Her Private Life
        3. Clean With Passion For Now
        4. Extraordinary You
        5. Angelโ€™s Last Mission: Love
        6. Vagabond
        7. Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency
        8. The Secret Life of My Secretary
        9. The Crowned Clown
        10. Perfume
        11. Touch Your Heart
        12. Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung
        13. Hotel Del Luna
        14. Melting Me Softly
        15. Absolute Boyfriend
        16. He is Psychometric
        17. Graceful Family
        18. Memories of the Alhambra
        19. My Strange Hero
        20. My First First Love
        21. Romance is a Bonus Book
        22. Encounter (Boyfriend)
        23. Eulachacha Waikiki 2

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kay says:

          Haha, yeah, I apparently like to torture myself by making myself rank the dramas. It really is hard because I too find it difficult to compare genres. But I do already have a good idea of which dramas I liked best especially since I have them rated. There are always a few though that really give me a tough time as I’m like “I just don’t know which I liked more!” lol

          It actually looks like we ranked a lot of the dramas we watched pretty close together which is pretty fun ๐Ÿ™‚ Seeing the list just reminds me how many great dramas we got to enjoy this year. Now I just need to get in the rest of my 2019 list somehow before I get bogged down with the 2020 dramas!


  10. D says:

    Hi Kay – thanks to you also for allowing us to share our thoughts about the dramas we love watching. I have enjoyed visiting your blog practically every day. I always enjoy reading about your thoughts on dramas and reading other people’s comments too. I watched a total of 21 this year and here is my list in the order of least favourite to most favourite. I tend to drop dramas if I’m not interested in them. The fact that I watched them all means I actually genuinely liked them all and so it was so hard to rank them. 2019 was a good year for dramas I reckon – so many good ones.

    21 Watcher
    20 Boyfriend
    19 Kingdom
    18 Clean with Passin for Now
    17 Memories of the Alhambra
    16 Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung
    15 The secret life of my secretary
    14 The Crowned Clown
    13 Vagabond
    12 He is Psychometric
    11 Her Private Life
    10 Be Melodramatic
    9 Graceful Family
    8 Touch Your Heart
    7 Romance is a Bonus Book
    6 Hotel Del Luna
    5 Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency
    4 Mr. Temporary
    3 One spring night
    2 Moment of Eighteen
    1 Radiant

    There are other 2019 dramas still on the list which I won’t get around to such as Tale of Nokdu, Extraordinary You, When the Camellia Blooms and My Country. They will have to be watched in 2020. Who knows – maybe I can catch up during the holidays. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      Hi D! Aww, it seriously makes me so happy to hear that you visit the blog that often ๐Ÿ™‚ It really means a lot to me, and I’m so glad you enjoyed reading everything. I always enjoy hearing from you and getting your thoughts on the dramas you’re watching ๐Ÿ™‚

      21 is a great number of dramas for the year! Even though I don’t drop a lot, I usually enjoy the ones I complete too, which is why I don’t finish many real duds. You’ve got a pretty great list there ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve seen most of them, but I still need to check out several of the ones you’ve got towards the top of your list which looks quite promising. So I have some that will have to wait for 2020 too. Hopefully, I can get to them before all of those new dramas start descending upon us, lol. Watching some during the holidays might help you avoid that if you get the chance ๐Ÿ™‚


  11. Snow Flower says:

    2019 was a heaven for the sageuk lovers. I was very happy with the historical dramas I chose to watch. My favorite was Nokdu Flower because it had the best and most consistent writing, plus the best female characters. But I also liked The Crowned Clown, Kingdom, and My Country (all serious sageuks) and also The Tale of Nokdu and Rookie Historian (both on the light side but with serious elements).
    My other favorite genre, mystery/thriller, was also well represented this year. I liked Mr. Temporary and Designated Survivor: 60 Days.
    In addition to current dramas, I also enjoyed watching older dramas: Rebel, Mad Dog, and Empress Ki are now among my all time favorites.
    And lastly, there were the golden classics I enjoyed rewatching: Mr. Sunshine and Chuno are as powerful as ever and will be rewatched again!


    • Kay says:

      I so agree, 2019 was fantastic for sagueks! We needed it to make up for not having very many last year. I too enjoyed all of the ones I watched from the light to the serious. They spanned a wide range and were all enjoyable in their own way ๐Ÿ™‚

      I still need to get in Mr. Temporary and Designated Survivor. They both look great.

      You did have a good time with older dramas this year ๐Ÿ™‚ I did too, especially with Rebel which is also one of my all time favorites now too.

      I think we both had a really good kdrama year ๐Ÿ™‚


  12. Pingback: Kdrama Kisses 2019 Korean Drama Awards | Kdrama Kisses

  13. MyKDramaticLife says:

    So as part of my K-Dramatic yearly tradition, here is my list:

    (listed from least to greatest)
    13 – Let Me Hear Your Song (6)
    12 – Memories of the Alhambra (6)
    11 – Abyss (6.5)
    10 – Her Private Life (7)
    9 – Angel’s Last Mission: Love (7.5)
    8 – Touch Your Heart (8)
    7 – Clean with Passion for Now (8) – just finished it yesterday ๐Ÿ™‚
    6 – Kingdom 1 (8.5)
    5 – Melting Me Softly (8.5)
    4 – SKY Castle (8.5)
    3 – Hotel del Luna (9)
    2 – Eulachacha Waikiki 2 (9.5)
    and my #1 2019 drama is
    1 – What’s Wrong Poong Sang (Liver or Die) (10)

    Also watched older dramas aired years ago and even a few years ago:
    12 – Longing Heart (6)
    11 – Dance Sports Girls (6.5)
    10 – Time (6.5)
    9 – The Heirs (7)
    8 – Fated to Love You (7)
    7 – Miracle that We Met (8)
    6 – Witch’s Court (8)
    5 – Twenty Again (8)
    4 – Dream High (8)
    3 – Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim (8.5)
    2 – Modern Farmer (9)
    1- Coffee Prince (10)

    Favorite Re-watch:
    1 – Lucky Romance (10) – now on my third watch ^-^

    Reply 1994 – dropped after watching episode 5. For some reason (since I already know about the OTP) I believe I might get worst heartache like the Reply 1988 gave me
    Room No. 9 – this was supposed to be one of those great dramas I’d love to see, but don’t know why I lost track and decided to just drop
    The K-2 – already on my second try, and did pass through the first half of the drama. Honestly I really love K-2 and Chang Wook. I just don’t know why, but I couldn’t finish this drama,. saaad.

    So that ends my 2019, with a few 13 new dramas, and 12 older ones, with a favorite rewatch of my favorite Ryu Jun Yeol romance. ๐Ÿ™‚ A total of 26 dramas.

    Cheers to 2020 and to more amazing and great K-dramas ahead!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      Always love seeing your list ๐Ÿ™‚ You got in a bunch too! And I love seeing the mix of old and new dramas in there.

      We watched a lot of the same ones too. I only haven’t seen two of your new list (What’s Wrong Poong Sang and Let Me Hear Your Song…haha, your least and most favorite). Seen half of your older list too. So many great dramas there!

      Let’s hope 2020 is filled with more great new dramas and discoveries of older gems too! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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