11 Non-Romance K-Dramas To Watch in 2021
Although life is slowly moving back to normal, let's do our part by avoiding crowds while binging on the latest korean dramas at home!
K-dramas have a reputation for being cliche love stories, but Korean dramas are actually more diverse than most people think. You might think the typical romance dramas are too cheesy, but there are plenty of Korean dramas that focus on more than just getting the girl (or boy!).
For those of you who aren’t big fans of romance dramas, we have compiled a list of non-romance dramas that you can enjoy in 2021. While some of the following dramas may contain a romantic plotline, they are not the main focus of the story, and only serve to spice things up a little!
Before we get into the K-Dramas of 2021 that are currently airing or have yet to air, let’s take a look at a few popular dramas from 2020 that are worth re-watching! Some of them are available on Netflix, and we hope the new ones will be released on Netflix soon too!
This korean historical drama revolves around the Crown Prince of the Joseon Dynasty Lee Chang (Ju Jihoon). He was investigating a brewing political conspiracy and rumors about the death of King Joseon. That's when he stumbles across an unnatural plague which is said to resurrect the dead.
Amidst the chaos and death that ensues, Chang meets allies who try to make stop the spread of the disease into the province. But unfortunately, they came to discover that the plague has already adapted.
Why you should watch: Period dramas and zombie flicks are both popular genres, but how often do we see a period drama about zombies? Most zombie stories take part takes place in the present or future. Thus, seeing the zombie apocalypse play out in a korean historical setting is unique and definitely worth watching!
Kingdom is available on Netflix
After a dead soldier comes back to life after being attacked by an unknown creature in the DMZ, a special task force is formed to uncover the truth.
Military dog handler Yong Dongjin (Jang Dongyoon) is close to his discharge date when he gets roped into his last mission with the special task force. This is when he crosses paths with his ex-girlfriend First Lieutenant Son Yerim (Krystal Jung).
Why you should watch: Despite the two leads being exes in the drama, the storyline does not place too much emphasis on their romance. Instead, it places the focus on both characters' task at hand.
The characters are also well-written, and showcases the personal growth of each main characters too.
3. Sweet Home
Sweet Home is a Netflix drama based on the webtoon of the same name. The k-drama centers around Cha Hyunsoo (Song Kong), a suicidal high school boy, who moves into 1410 in Green Home after losing his family in a car accident.
When a mysterious apocalypse turns people into monsters that reflect their most desperate desires appears, Cha bands together with a group of fellow apartment residents for survival.
Why you should watch: The visuals are good and the varied ensemble of characters ensures that you will definitely find one that you like and want to root for. With only ten episodes, Sweet Home is very bingeable as well.
The following dramas started airing earlier this year, and are currently still ongoing. Catch it on Netflix with their English subtitles!
Sweet home is available on Netflix
Lee Jinwoo (Lee Seojin) is a reporter in 2015, and Seo Jungin (Lee Jooyoung) is also a reporter—but five years later, in 2020.
Both reporters discover that they can contact each other via phone call. And they team up to prevent the murder of Seo’s father, who is the President of South Korea in 2015.
Why you should watch: Two strangers in different timelines being connected via a phone is not a new concept, but it is intriguing nonetheless! You can always expect some good twists and turns in the story whenever time is a major plot point in this korean drama.
Police officer Jung Bareum’s (Lee Seunggi) life is changed after he encounters a psychopathic serial killer. This leads him and his partner Go Moochi (Lee Heejoon) to go on a search to uncover the truth behind psychopathic behaviours.
Questions such as whether fetal genetic testing can be used to test for psychopathy in an unborn child, and if it would be wise to keep a child that is determined to be a psychopath, are raised in the course of their search.
Why you should watch: If you’re a fan of detective shows, this one's for you. There are so many clues and little details that fans are piecing together to form their own theories on what the truth is.
The following are dramas that will air soon, or are set to be broadcast sometime in 2021.
6. Joseon Exorcist
The founding rulers of the Joseon dynasty had enlisted the help of monsters and demons to overthrow Goryeo dynasty in the past.
In the present, these evil spirits return, targeting the royal family in particular.
King Taejong (Kam Woosung) and his two sons Prince Chungnyung (Jang Dongyoon) and Prince Yangnyung (Park Sunghoon), have to fight back against these undead spirits, exorcising them to save Joseon.
Why you should watch: If you enjoyed Kingdom, you might enjoy this as well. However, instead of a disease, it’s the evil spirits that the protagonists have to fight—perfect for people who are more interested in the supernatural than zombies.
Seo Yi-kang (Jun Jihyun) is the top ranger at Mount Jiri. Her vast knowledge of the mountain allowing her to navigate the trails expertly to track down any lost hikers.
New to the rangers is Kang Hyun-jo (Ju Jihoon), a former military captain who becomes a ranger after encountering a horrific experience on the mountain. Together, they must work together to rescue lost trekkers and perhaps discover the mysteries of the mountain along the way.
Why you should watch: Another must-watch for fans of Kingdom, with both series sharing a writer, Kim Eunhee, as well as an actor, Ju Jihoon! Cliffhanger is also the first drama to be filmed on Mount Jiri, Korea’s first and largest national park.
8. Taxi driver
Kim Do-gi is a graduate of Korea Naval Academy whose mother was murdered when he was a kid. He works as the driver of a deluxe taxi for a company that offers a revenge-call service to its clients.
Why you should watch: The series is based on the webtoon Deluxe Taxi by Carlos and Lee Jaejin, so fans of the webtoon should definitely be excited about its adaptation. Besides, who doesn’t love a good revenge plot?
9. The silent sea
In the future, Earth has undergone desertification, and a special team—comprised of team leader Han Yoon-Jae (Gong Yoo), astrobiologist Dr Song Ji-An (Bae Doona), and head engineer Captain Ryoo Tae-Seok (Lee Jon)—is sent to the abandoned Balhae Base research station on the moon to retrieve a mysterious sample.
Why you should watch: With actors like Gong Yoo (Train to Busan) and Bae Doona (Kingdom, Sense8), it’s no surprise that fans are looking forward to the series. It’s also Lee Joon’s first drama after being discharged from the military in 2019.
Hellbound is based on the webtoon The Hell, and talks about a society thrown into chaos when supernatural entities appear. This results in people being codemned to hell and the creation of a new religion.
Yoo Ah-In stars as Jung Jinsoo, the leader of this new religion, with Park Jungmin, Kim Hyunjoo, and Won Jinah rounding out the rest of the main cast.
Why you should watch: The series will be directed by the author of the webtoon himself, Yeon Sangho. If you do not know who he is, he is the director of hit films Train to Busan and Peninsula!
A member of an organised crime ring, Yoon Jiwoo (Han Sohee), infiltrates the police to investigate her father’s death, receiving help from Choi Moojin (Park Heesoon), the boss of South Korea’s biggest drug ring.
Assigned to the Drug Investigation Unit, Yoon is partnered with Jeon Pildo (Ahn Bohyun).
Why you should watch: There are plenty of stories about police going undercover to infiltrate gangs, but not as many about gang members infiltrating the police, much less a female gang member. That alone makes this series worth a watch!
Korean dramas are diverse, covering popular genres such as horror, crime, and sci-fi.
Even if cliche romance stories are not for you, many high quality dramas are produced each year in Korea, and there will surely be a drama that suits everyone.
Hopefully this list has helped you find some new non-romance dramas to add to your to-watch list!
Share this article with a friend who's thinking about which korea drama to watch in 2021!