Lovers of K-dramas are really spoilt for choice these days. Once your current favourite drama has ended, it can be tough to decide which one to watch next. You might have already seen all the shows your friends recommended, and are looking for something new and unique. While we still love the K-dramas that are topping viewing lists, there are many other good shows that are underrated. We’ve noticed a few of them, and we think it’s time to give them the love and attention they deserve. If you seek something new and unique, consider watching these 5 hidden gem K-dramas:
1. Durian’s Affair
We admit, this K-drama’s unique English title was what first caught our eye! But it was the unique time travel plotline that kept us watching, with its intense family drama, fated romances and supernatural elements.
Two Joseon noblewomen, Doo Ri-An (played by Park Joo-Mi) and Kim So-Jeo (Lee Da-Yeon) are suddenly transported to modern day Korea. They meet a wealthy chaebol family whose members are reincarnations of people they knew in the past. Ri-An and So-Jeo must learn to navigate modern-day life and figure out what is happening to them, while rekindling old loves and rivalries.
If shows with time travel storylines and the backstabbing antics of the rich and famous are your thing, Durian’s Affair is definitely the K-drama for you.
2. Nineteen to Twenty
Korea has been hitting it out of the park recently with its reality K-dramas. The latest to add to this number is the dating reality series Nineteen to Twenty. It provides a fresh take on romance by showcasing young adults’ interactions in a shared house during their first week as adults. (The age of majority in Korea is 20).
The participants go through a series of challenges and games aimed at bringing them closer to each other. While the circumstances are very much manufactured, their reactions are completely authentic. Viewers can’t help but shed tears along with them as they navigate their feelings.
The show is over the halfway mark, and a few pairings are already forming. However, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether they will emerge from this experience as a proper couple. We know that we will be rooting for our favorites! If you love slice-of-life reality shows, give this one a watch.
To be honest, we completely missed this one when it first came out in April 2023. It has everything we love in K-dramas; political intrigue, deliciously evil antagonists and two strong female leads who must use their wits to beat a corrupt system.
Queenmaker stars Kim Hee-Ae as Hwang Do-Hee, who works as a hard-as-nails image consultant for a family-run conglomerate. After her actions to protect the family cause the death of an innocent woman, she has a change of heart and begins secretly working with activist-lawyer Oh Kyung-Sook (Moon So-Ri) to bring her employers to justice.
The drama features strong performances by both lead actresses, and the bombastic, tension-filled plot leads to a satisfying and cathartic finale. Watch Queenmaker if you love dramas that explore the seedy underbelly of government politics.
4. Not Others
The K-drama, also known as Strangers, has already hooked us. It features Jeon Hye-Jin and Girls’ Generation’s Choi Soo-Young playing a mother and daughter pair who are total opposites.
Mom Kim Eun-Mi is a youthful, free spirit who had her daughter Jin-Hee as a teenager. They have to deal with new developments in their lives. Physical therapist Eun-Mi finds herself falling for a stoic doctor, while police officer Jin-Hee has to restart her career in a small police station, while nursing romantic feelings for her boss.
The show has the perfect balance of comedy and drama, as both actresses deliver wonderful performances as mother and daughter who must learn to get along. Despite all their challenges, it is clear that they genuinely care for each other, and it is a joy to watch them interact.
5. The Real Has Come!
We have been addicted to this K-drama ever since we first heard about it. This hidden gem drama follows the romance between Oh Yeon-Doo, a high-flying language instructor who suddenly discovers she is pregnant, and Gong Tae-Kyung, an obstetrician who is a confirmed bachelor. The two enter into a marriage of convenience, but soon fall in love with each other.
What drew us in is the wonderful chemistry between the two leads, Baek Jin-Hee and Ahn Jae-Hyun. They truly make us believe in the growing relationship between Yeon-Doo and Tae-Kyung, and we want to see them officially end up together. The show is full of dramatic and heartwarming moments, and gets us thinking about important topics like how society treats unmarried mothers, and whether one can still be a parent despite not sharing the same DNA as their child.
We absolutely adore this show, and we hope you do too. Remember to have a box of tissues handy when you watch it!
Have fun exploring these hidden gem K-dramas, and we hope you find your new favorites! If you’re looking for something more action-packed and scary, check out our picks for the best zombie-themed K-dramas.