Here we are again, looking back on what Korean dramas the year 2021 gave us. It was another solid year filled with lots of wonderful dramas to choose from. There were several huge hits, some that even made their way outside of the kdrama niche. I missed several of the big ones, which I do hope to get in at some point, but I still enjoyed a nice variety of dramas and had a good kdrama year.
I always love connecting with all of you over our kdrama love too, and there were many great conversations had as we shared our love and frustration. Thank you for another wonderful year together!
Now, onto the list! This list includes all of the dramas that I watched which aired and concluded their runs in 2021. We are going to be counting down my favorite dramas from least to most favorite. There were quite a few more mediocre dramas for me this year, but there were also several that really shined. Full reviews are 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. Be sure to hang around for the grand total of how many new and old dramas I watched at the end of the article 🙂
18. So Not Worth It
So Not Worth It is a sitcom that is a quick and easy watch with only 12 half hour episodes. This series is very light and is primarily a comedy as we see a group of international students get involved in a variety of crazy and troublesome situations that have humorous results. Most of the comedy wasn’t really to my tastes, but it did have moments that I found funny.
Since a good chunk of the humor wasn’t to my tastes, the situational nature of the show did make it feel draggy for me despite my like for the characters and the cute little romance. I think if you like the comedy style though, this could be a great and unique show for you because it has such a light and fun feel to it.
My Rating: 6/10 (So Not Worth It Review)
17. Scripting Your Destiny
I found Scripting Your Destiny to be an okay watch overall, but that’s about it. The pacing moves swiftly, and it has a pretty good little fantasy story that leans comedic but gets meatier towards the end. The production is decent, but some of the acting was a bit so-so though.
It’s a simple and quick watch. I think it’s well done for a web drama, but it wasn’t very engaging me for me. If you like light fantasy romance on the humorous side, this could be a good fit for you.
My Rating: 6/10 (Scripting Your Destiny Review)
16. Check Out the Event
Check Out the Event is a 4 episode romance drama that is pretty basic with a simple plot, but it is very easy to watch. We watch a couple who recently broke up have to pretend to be a couple again to go on a trip they won.
A pretty good chunk of the drama just involves our couple going around in circles with her asking why he broke up with her and him not really saying. We also get a bit of a love triangle as well as two other couples who have their own story.
It’s not all that engaging, and I didn’t really get invested in any of the characters, but I thought it managed to do well enough with its 4 episodes and tell a decent little story in that short amount of time.
My Rating: 6/10 (Check Out the Event Review)
15. Live On
Live On is a pretty straightforward high school drama with romance and a little mystery. I found it pretty basic and a bit slow, but at only 8 episodes, it was a quick watch. We get plenty of romance between several couples in the show as well as other relationships that are explored.
While it was a decent drama, I just never fully got into it. There was enough going on to keep the plot moving along though, and it was good to see some more difficult topics addressed. It can work for you if you just want something simple and fun with a decent story that wraps things up quite nicely.
My Rating: 6/10 (Live On Review)
14. River Where the Moon Rises
River Where the Moon Rises was a very average historical for me. The story was solid, but I didn’t find it particularly engaging. The production was also really good so everything felt that it was of good quality. The acting was great all around too, but I struggled to connect with the characters.
We do get plenty of palace intrigue and plotting from various baddies. This was fairly standard stuff that was straightforward. The politics increase as the drama progresses which really made things draggy for me, especially in the latter half of the drama.
River Where the Moon Rises also had to deal with a main actor switch in the middle of its run which didn’t help and was definitely felt, but I would consider it more of a minor issue. Not a bad watch overall, but not very memorable either.
My Rating: 6/10 (River Where the Moon Rises Review)
13. Lovestruck in the City
Lovestruck in the City was a bit of mixed bag for me. It had some elements that I really loved and some that I didn’t care for it. I loved the main romance which was very engaging. Ji Chang Wook and Kim Ji Won were both great in their roles.
I didn’t particularly like the documentary/interview format that some of the show was done in and greatly favored the more traditional storytelling. I wasn’t too interested in the side couples either. Overall, Lovestruck in the City was a quick and easy watch though. Swoony moments, great chemistry between our leads, and an interesting story made it enjoyable.
My Rating: 6.5/10 (Lovestruck in the City Review)
Imitation is a drama that is very easy to watch. I really liked the story of Ma Ha struggling in the industry and finally getting her chance while also having to navigate a relationship with a popular boy group member. I also found Ma Ha completely adorable!
The main couple with her and Ryeok was cute, but they didn’t get as much time together as I would have liked. They face a lot of obstacles both on individually and as a couple though, so their story was still entertaining. Imitation was a nice drama all around. It had a solid story with humor, mystery, romance, and friendship. It was a fun underdog series that was a solid watch.
My Rating: 7/10 (Imitation Review)
11. Yumi’s Cells
Yumi’s Cells is a very nice and cute drama. It focuses on our leading lady Yumi’s dating life and all of the issues that brings up. The story is told in a mostly light and humorous way that makes it nice to watch.
The unique thing about the drama is the depiction of Yumi’s brain cells. We see an animated world of the cells who live in a town in her brain. The depiction of many of the thought processes that happen was done in a clever way that felt very relatable.
I liked the main story and romance between Yumi and Woong a lot. While I didn’t love everything about the cells, they added an interesting layer to the story that was very unique. It’s a very nice series that manages to present a simple relationship story in an interesting way.
My Rating: 7/10 (Yumi’s Cells Review)
10. Run On
Run On is a slice of life romance with a very pleasant feel to it. It mostly focuses on the characters and their personal journeys as well as their romantic relationships. There are a sprinkling of dramatics throughout, but nothing to crazy. We spend a lot of time going in depth with two separate couples a they learn about each other.
Run On was a pretty solid show. I thought the first half was great and kept me very engaged. The second half did slow down some though. While it was definitely noticeable, I still found found the drama quite pleasant during this time. This isn’t a drama that feels grand, but it goes in depth with its characters, provides nice relationship journeys, and explores a variety of themes. So overall, I was mostly pleased with Run On.
My Rating: 7/10 (Run On Review)
9. Mr. Queen
Mr. Queen is a solid drama that is a lot of fun with plenty of laughs. It excelled with the humor with Shin Hye Sun shining in her role as the Queen. The romance wasn’t particularly swoony, but the relationship was a unique one for sure.
There is also a nice helping of palace intrigue to balance things out and propel the plot along. As is common with many historicals, it gets more serious as it progresses, but it does keep the humor too. The last third did lose some steam, and I didn’t love the ending, but overall, it was still an entertaining drama with a fresh spin on the typical relationship dynamics we usually see at play combined with a good story to flesh things out.
My Rating: 7/10 (Mr. Queen Review)
Navillera is such a heartfelt drama. It’s an inspirational story of two people at very different points in their lives that are pursuing their dreams. It’s also the kind of drama that requires tissues on hand for the many heartwarming as well as heart-wrenching moments.
The series is more thoughtful and contemplative with a slower pace. It takes its time to tell the story and makes sure to focus on the characters and what they are experiencing. Park In Hwan was exceptional here, and we got a great outing from Song Kang too.
Navillera is very moving. The underdog story was so inspiring with so much heart. It’s the kind of story that makes you want to go out and achieve your dreams, and that’s certainly the mark of a quality drama.
My Rating: 7.5/10 (Navillera Review)
7. Monthly Magazine Home
Monthly Magazine Home is a fun and pleasant drama. Honestly, it feels like a drama I have seen dozens of times before because of its classic feel and the arrogant rich CEO and the sweet, struggling employee, but it gets things right by delivering a good story with fun characters and heart. It’s the kind of drama that really grows on you as you watch and get attached to all of the characters.
Lots of humor keeps the show light and fun throughout along with a dash of angst combined with a thoughtful look at the characters and real estate problems to add more weight to the plot. The romance is very cute and entertaining. All in all, Monthly Magazine Home was full of heart and quite enjoyable.
My Rating: 7.5/10 (Monthly Magazine Home Review)
6. So I Married the Anti-Fan
We waited a long time for So I Married the Anti-Fan, and overall, I enjoyed the drama. It feels very much like a classic style romantic comedy in just about every way. We’ve got the rich male lead who is a complete jerk to our hardworking and nice female lead. Add in some fun cohabitation hijinks with a hefty serving of tropes and cliches, and there you have it.
The drama does have a solid story that moves nicely along with some romance and a bit more angst in the latter third. Nothing riveting, but mostly enjoyable. I personally enjoy this style of drama, so it all worked pretty well for me.
My Rating: 7.5/10 (So I Married the Anti-Fan Review)
5. My Roommate is a Gumiho
The fantasy romantic comedy My Roommate is a Gumiho was a very solid and enjoyable drama. I liked that the fantasy element with the gumiho mythology that was nicely woven throughout the story. The drama is fairly light with plenty of humor.
Things get going right away with Jang Ki Yong and Hyeri with lots of nice interactions between them early on. They had a solid love story with the progression from misunderstandings, to interest, to love. And then they have several big obstacles they have to overcome in order to be together.
I didn’t really find My Roommate is a Gumiho gripping, but I enjoyed every episode. The drama had such a classic feel to it that was very pleasant and easy to watch. It’s perfect for those like me that like the fantasy romantic comedy genre and want a solid story with a nice romance.
My Rating: 7.5/10 (My Roommate is a Gumiho Review)
4. You Raise Me Up
You Raise Me Up is a drama that I thoroughly enjoyed! It was a breeze to watch with a slice of life quality that sprinkles humor in among some very serious topics. With only 8 episodes, the main story takes center stage without much filler and solid pacing.
We end up getting a very impactful story of one man’s many struggles with mental health along with his journey to overcome them. Yoon Shi Yoon was phenomenal, and gave a heart-wrenching and spectacular performance. We also get a cute romance on the side as Hani helps support his healing journey. And that journey was a moving one that left quite an impression.
My Rating: 8/10 (You Raise Me Up Review)
3. Hello, Me!
I’m so glad I ended up checking out Hello, Me!. This drama was so much fun! It’s lighthearted with so much comedy gold as well as a nice helping of heart. Count me as surprised! The drama has a bit more of a classic feel to it as well as a very zany and fun style of humor. I laughed so much!
The fantasy time travel aspect of a 17 year old meeting the 37 year old version of herself was very refreshing. It’s a lovely journey to see play out, and the drama is filled with wonderful positive messages about self love.
We also get a bit of romance, a plethora of wonderfully quirky supporting characters, and several other nice character and relationship explorations. Hello, Me! brought me a lot of joy and provided plenty of feels. I liked this drama more and more as it went, and it left me feeling very satisfied.
My Rating: 8.5/10 (Hello, Me! Review)
2. True Beauty
True Beauty is a drama that is just plain fun! It is breezy and entertaining as it swiftly moves the story along. It honestly doesn’t really do anything revolutionary as you’ll find a simple story with a hefty sprinkling of classic kdrama tropes, but it packages it all in such a fun and engaging way that just made it so easy to watch. We get romance, bromance, friendship, family, and stories of personal growth.
I really enjoyed True Beauty as a whole. It’s zany brand of humor provided plenty of laughs. There are some very heartfelt elements to the story that deliver emotion and tears. In the midst of the fun are also nice little moments of insight that add some depth to the drama. Laughs, fun, and heart make for a terrific watch.
My Rating: 8.5/10 (True Beauty Review)
And the #1 drama of 2021 is…
1. Sisyphus: The Myth
Sisyphus: The Myth was such a good time! I had so much fun with this drama. It’s a grand dystopian style story that mixes fantastic action and thrills with some heart and cheesiness. In order to enjoy it though, you really need to role with the punches and embrace it for what it is. There are logic stretches galore and tons of situations that aren’t really believable, but if you can embrace some of these things, Sisyphus: The Myth is a whole lot of fun.
I love a good sci-fi story, and Sisyphus: The Myth was that. It starts out with a lot of mystery and then slowly peels back the layers. The plot was very interesting, and it kept me engaged all the way through. It was also good to have solid characters and heart in order to anchor the story. We get a nice little romance amidst all of the action too. The acting was also wonderful all around.
By having that early understanding not to take this series too seriously, it really helped me to just enjoy all of the fun that it had to offer. It was easy to forgive the flaws because of everything the show does right. Sisyphus: The Myth was enjoyable in every way.
My Rating: 9/10 (Sisyphus: The Myth Review)
Other Dramas I Completed in 2021
As a year end review, here is a list of the older Korean dramas 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 18 new dramas and 7 other dramas for a grand total of 25 dramas! I still have a pretty full watch list though, and it’s certainly not going to be getting any shorter. As we wrap up 2021, we better get ready for all of the new dramas that will be coming our way in 2022!
How was 2021 for you? What were your favorite dramas of the year?