It’s almost criminal how a majority of people associate K-dramas with heartwarming romances and melodramatic performances. While they’re not completely off the mark (nobody does romance as well as K-dramas), there’s a huge range of genres of TV shows that largely remain unexplored by the legions of K-drama addicts over the world. One of these hidden gems is Korean thrillers. While K-dramas usually make you swoon and sigh, these will terrify and chill you to no end. Like their romantic leads (and the contentious second leads), K-drama writers have a particular knack for writing the most depraved and terrifying villains for their crime dramas, resulting in thrillers that deliver the thrills.
From grisly murder mysteries to twisty and spine-chilling ones with supernatural elements, these Korean series are perfect to binge-watch if you love thrillers…
This fantasy police procedural will have you hooked right from the first episode with its thrilling premise. A cold-case profiler in 2015 finds a walkie-talkie that lets him talk to a detective in 1989 and the unlikely duo team up to solve a series of murders spanning three decades using this special connection. The stakes are sky high because not just lives but the fabric of reality could be destroyed with one simple mistake. It’s definitely worth a watch.
The unexpectedly terrifying thriller/murder mystery series follows detective Moo Jin-hyuk and rookie officer Kang Kwon-joo as they team up to hunt down the serial killer who took the lives of their loved ones. They’re also a part of a newly set-up dispatch team at a police emergency call center that solves cases using Kang’s voice profiling abilities.
This chilling series follows Sang Mi and her family as they move to a suburban town after the failure of their business. They soon get inducted into a religious cult headed by a charismatic leader who specialises in brainwashing his followers. With the parents fully indoctrinated into the cult, Sang Mi realises that the cult is even more dangerous than she thought, leading her to reach out to four of her former classmates to help her get out from the clutches of the cult.
The Penthouse: War in Life
This series quickly became one of the most-watched dramas in the country and became so popular that it got renewed for two more seasons. The story takes a look at a group of wealthy families living in the same building complex. Each character has hidden layers of darkness and rot that come to the surface after a death occurs at a party, causing the families to go to any extent to protect their image.
This period horror/thriller series is the first Netflix original K-drama and it has people hooked for all the right reasons. Set in the 16th century, the show follows the crown prince as he tries to uncover the horrifying truth behind the king’s untimely death that reeks of foul play. Things get out of control when a mysterious plague ravages the country, bringing back people from the dead as rabid zombies. The drama combines political intrigue with the adrenaline-inducing pace of a thriller and presents a winner.
This drama follows the popular theme of reviving a cold case from the past to uncover the real truth behind the crime. Here, Kim Yeong-goon’s mother gets murdered and the blame falls on his father, who gets convicted for it. 15 years later, he is now a police officer who teams up with the original case’s detective and lawyer to figure out what really happened on the night of his mother’s murder and whether his father was innocent or not.
This thriller poses the age-old question: Are killers born or made? The story follows rookie police officer Jeong Ba-reum who encounters a heinous serial killer who is tied to some of the most infamous murders in the country. He partners with Ko Moo-chi, who wants to catch the killer by any means necessary, not realising that an even greater evil lurks behind them.