The year 2016 has been great for Korean drama.
During the last year, we’ve seen series rise to new heights of popularity and international acclaim, and we’ve seen the careers of some Korean actors and actresses rise to new levels of fame. All of these things prove that the love for kdramas is alive and well in the hearts of fans all over the world.
So with that in mind, we thought we’d do a round-up of some of the best Korean dramas that aired in 2016.
Keep in mind that for this listing we are considering Korean dramas that began and ended in 2016. So, ongoing dramas like Goblin and Legend Of The Blue Sea were not eligible.
These rankings are based on critics’ reviews and ratings the drama received during the year.
So, in no particular order, here are the best Korean dramas of 2016.
Uncontrollably Fond (KBS2)
This drama starred Suzy Bae and Kim Woo Bin and told the story of a documentary film-maker (Suzy Bae) and a Kpop star (Woo Bin) who were close friends when they were younger but drifted apart over the years.
There was a lot of pressure on this drama because it was meant to be KBS’ leading drama after Song Joong Ki’s Descendants of The Sun ended. It also starred the nation’s “first love” Suzy Bae.
~Uncontrollably fond???? pic.twitter.com/l4pbXJWP7E
— m o o o o n a???????? (@m0naiiee) December 19, 2016
Maybe the pressure was bit too much
While Uncontrollably Fond received a lot of praise for its first couple of episodes, the middle of the season seemed to drag along, and the drama’s ratings plunged.
However, a melodramatic and highly praised season finale raised the status of this drama, which is how it made it to No. 10 on this list.
The K2 (tvN)
For the kdrama lovers that love thrillers, The K2 definitely delivered. From intense action sequences to tense, dramatic scenes, this drama really raised the bar regarding production quality for action Korean dramas. The shower fight scene alone was a shining moment for this drama and for lead actor in The K2, Ji Chang Wook.
Starring Chang Wook and Song Yoon Ah, this drama centers on a former secret service agent who is abandoned by his colleagues and ends up becoming a bodyguard for a wealthy family. He soon develops a close relationship with the eldest daughter of the family he’s guarding.
During its run, The K2 outshone its competitors’ ratings on the weekends and got great reviews from critics. However, as the Inquisitr previously reported, it failed to deliver the blockbuster ratings that were expected of the series given its large budget.
— Yenny (@Kayak_Yenny) December 25, 2016
W–Two Worlds (MBC)
Starring Lee Jong Suk and Han Hyo Joo, W–Two Worlds tells the story of a wealthy character in a webcomic, Kang Cheol (Jong Suk) and a real-life surgeon, (Hyo Joo) who live in parallel universes until a mysterious event, her father’s disappearance, allows her to travel into the world of the comic.
W made waves because of its unique storyline and impressive acting from Lee Jong Suk and Han Hyo Joo. It also combined romance suspense and a touch of sci-fi and fantasy to create and epic Korean drama that won’t be forgotten anytime soon
Moonlight Drawn By Clouds (SBS)
A breakthrough moment for actor Park Bo Gum’s career, Moonlight centers on a prince of the Joseon dynasty who falls in love with a woman who is pretending to be a eunuch of his court.
Featuring gorgeous traditional Korean garments, lush landscapes, and some stellar acting by Park Bo Gum and Kim Yoo Jung, the show won over more than 20 percent of the audience in its time slot, as Yon Hap News reported at the time.
Also, as Kpop Starz notes, the show became so popular that the media started referring to the phenomenon as “Moonlight Syndrome.”
Moon Lovers – Scarlet Heart: Ryeo (SBS)
Moon Lovers starred Lee Ji-Eun as a 21st-century woman (Hae Soo) who finds herself in the Goryeo Dynasty after a mysterious supernatural event. While there, she meets Prince Lee Wang Wook (Kang Ha-neul), and later Prince Wang So (Lee Joon-gi), who conceals half of his face behind a mask and is called ‘wolf dog.’ The show revolves around the politics and adversarial relationship between the princes who are in a tug of war for the throne and for Hae Soo’s heart.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, Moon Lovers did not fare so well in Korea, and for the most part, the drama’s audience share domestically was in the single digits.
However, Moon Lovers excelled outside of Korea and was the most successful in China and the Americas.
Doctors is a heartwarming story of a young, rebellious high school girl, Yoo Hye Jung (Park-Shin Hye) who is reformed thanks to the influence of her mentor, Hong Ji Hong (Kim Rae Won). Yoo goes on to become a doctor and eventually reunites and falls in love with Hong Ji Hong, thirteen years later.
Doctors thrilled audiences with the chemistry between Kim Rae Won and Park Shin Hye. So much so, that rumors soon circulated that the two actors could be in a relationship with one another, as this Inquisitr article noted.
The show won over audiences, and the ratings showed it. As Yibada reported, Doctors got very close to a 20 percent national viewership level. Doctor‘s Episode 9 and 10 got 19.4 percent and 19.3 percent respectively during July.
Cinderella And Four Knights (tvN)
A clean, fun kdrama for all ages, Cinderella and Four Knights reminded us of why people fall in love with Korean drama in the first place.
Starring Park So Dam as the lead character Eun Ha Won, the story follows her as she’s given the opportunity to live in the household of the powerful chairman of the Kang Group, as long as she’s able to reunite his grandsons. There are some conditions on the offer, though, namely that she cannot date any of the young men.
Cinderella did reasonably well in the ratings in Korea especially when you consider that it was on a cable channel. As Inquisitr previously reported, the drama garnered 3.5 percent of the nationwide viewership in South Korea and gained some international fans as well.
Descendants Of The Sun(KBS)
Descendants Of The Sun (DOTS) changed the game for Korean drama in 2016. The show broke records in terms of domestic and international popularity and critical acclaim. It also turned Song Joong Ki and Song Hye Kyo into celebrity superstars, with gossip sites continuously speculating about the relationship between “SongSong.”
A miliary drama, DOTS revolves around the relationship between Captain Yoo Shi Jin (Song Joong Ki) and Dr. Kang Mo Yeon (Song Hye Kyo) as they confront the daily perils of war.
What was your favorite Korean drama of 2016? Let us know in the comments below.
[Featured Image by KBS]