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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, one of Korea’s most popular exports is its television dramas. Unlike TV shows in other countries, Korean dramas tend to air for only one season, with roughly 12-30 episodes. These dramas either focus on a historical period (Saeguk) or are set in contemporary times.

Whether you’re looking for a tear-jerking love story or action-packed thriller, there is sure to be a K-Drama for you. To make your selection process easier we’ve compiled a list of the 10 hottest K-Dramas of 2017 (in no particular order).

In case some of these links go dead, be sure to check our article that focuses on how to access Korean dramas with English subtitles.

10. Suspicious Partner (수상한 파트너)

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Marking actor Ji Chang-wook’s last project before he heads to fulfill his mandatory military service, “Suspicious Partner” delivers to its audience a charming blend of complex legalese and conventional love story.

The plot focuses on the relationship between a prosecutor and prosecutor trainee as they attempt to solve a case involving a devious serial killer. Noh Ji-wook (Ji Chang-wook), is a private attorney who harbors a painful past regarding his parents and first love.

He struggles to work with naive, young prosecutor trainee Eun Bong-hee, whose abrasive personality immediately he dislikes. However, as with all love stories, the two grow closer as the case unravels and they begin to fall in love.Hottest K-Dramas of 2017 Suspicious Partner

You Should Watch This Drama If

If you’re a fan of steamy kiss scenes then this is the drama for you. Coupled with a beautiful OST, the scenes where Ji-wook and Bong-hee lock lips are probably the hottest and most memorable of 2017. You won’t be able to keep your eyes away from the screen as our two heroes disregard traditional customs associated with K-Drama kisses and eagerly go at it.

Also, the show features one of the coldest villains of the year in Dong-ha (Jang Hyun-soo). His lack of compassion and complete disregard for others will have you rooting hard for our prosecutors to serve Dong Ha a plate of ice cold justice.

How To Watch It

Viki (for viewers outside of Korea)

Drama Cool (for viewers in Korea)

9. Strong Woman Do Bong-soon (힘쎈여자 도봉순)

This drama tells the story of a young woman (Do Bong-soon), blessed with the gift of superhuman strength. Bong-soon’s strength is a hereditary gene passed on to female members of her family.

Bong-soon’s dream of creating her own hit video game comes closer to fruition when she is hired as the bodyguard for the wealthy Ahn Min-hyuk. Min-hyuk is the CEO of a video game company and his carefree attitude and general dislike for following the rules is the exact opposite of what Bong Soon looks for in a man.

After a series of kidnappings in her neighborhood, Bong-soon, with the guidance of Min-hyuk, learns how to use her powers to combat crime. As the two spend more time together, it’s clear what was once a professional relationship is growing into something more.

Hottest K-Dramas of 2017 Strong Woman Do Bong SoonYou Should Watch This Drama If

If you’re looking for cute characters with great on screen chemistry, “Strong Woman Do Bong-soon” delivers. Do Bong-soon, played by Park Bo-young, is so small and innocent looking, you will forget that she possesses superhuman strength.

Park Hyung-sik, who portrays Min-hyuk, delivers a surprisingly warm and pleasant performance. He dotes over Bong-soon and their playful bantering will have you all smiles; wishing you could find yourself a man as sweet as Min-hyuk. Although idol-actors are considered not as talented as traditional actors, Park Hyung-sik’s chemistry with Park Bo-young, coupled with his innocent image, make for a couple the audience will adore.

How To Watch It

Viki (for viewers outside of Korea)

Drama Cool (for viewers in Korea)

8. The Bride of the Water God (하백의 신부)

Venturing away from traditional K-Drama settings, “The Bride of the Water God” is a fantasy drama that tells the story of the water god Ha-baek (Nam Joo-hyuk). Ha-baek, like most gods, is arrogant and comes to Earth in order to discover a stone that would allow him to reacquire his throne.

Things get complicated when he attempts to use his servant and bride-to-be So-Ah (Shin Se-kyung) to help him find the stone. So-Ah is unaware that her family has been destined to serve the water god for generations and thinks that Ha-Baek is crazy. Eventually, more gods arrive on Earth, some of whom are longtime rivals of Ha-Baek.

Hottest K Dramas of 2017 Bride Of The Water God

You Should Watch This Drama If

If you want to see the best visuals Korea has to offer, this is the perfect drama to watch. Long considered one of the most handsome actors in Asia, Nam Joo-hyuk is fit to play a God, while Shin Se-kyung’s pure beauty will leave you breathless. Shin Se-kyung’s portrayal of So-Ah as a conflicted and unhappy young woman is spot on and was well praised by netizens.

However, some fans have criticized the drama’s dialogue and Joo-hyuk’s acting; saying that the final product did not meet the hype leading up to its release.

How To Watch It

Note: This drama is still airing and is scheduled to end on August 22. It airs every Monday and Tuesday on TVN at 22:50 Korean Standard Time.

Viki (for viewers outside of Korea)

Drama Cool (for viewers in Korea)

7. Fight My Way (쌈 마이웨이)

At first glance, “Fight My Way” looks like a drama you’d only watch for a few weeks before you get bored and move onto something new. Incredibly, this drama starring Park Seo-joon and Kim Ji-won received high ratings and was the most watched show in its time slot.

It tells the story of four friends in their mid-20’s struggling to survive in a world that has seemingly turned its back on them. Ko Dong-man (Park Seo-joon) is a former taekwondo prodigy, who is now a washed up MMA fighter. His childhood friend, Choi Ae-ra, is a department store clerk, who yearns to become a news anchor.

Their two other friends Joo-man and Seol-hee live relatively comfortable lives, but on the inside, their six-year relationship is fracturing. The drama also focuses on the blossoming romance between Dong-man and Ae-ra.

Hottest K-Dramas of 2017 Fight My Way

You Should Watch This Drama If

If you’re a young adult, you’ll immediately relate to this coming-of-age tale about the struggles we face during the seasons of change. Both of our main characters, Dong-man and Ae-ra are still mentally unable to face the real world. Their immature attitudes are hindrances as they attempt to move on from broken dreams.

Even if one is not struggling professionally, viewers can also relate to the duo of Joo-man and Seol-hee. At first glance, their lives are a perfect picture of adult harmony, but deep inside, they feel something is missing; that maybe there’s something more to their lives than going through the motions of corporate life. Both begin to question what they truly value in life and viewers will receive a front-row ticket to the insane roller coaster that relationships always bring.

How To Watch It

Viki (for viewers outside of Korea)

Drama Cool (for viewers in Korea)

6. Hit the Top (최고의 한방)

With a charming mix of K-Pop and time travel elements, “Hit the Top” begins in the year 1993 and tells the story of popular 90’s idol singer Hyun-jae (Yoon Shi-yoon), who is admired for his good looks, fashion sense, and talents in singing and dancing.

Everything seems to be running smoothly for Hyun-jae, until one day, he is suddenly transported to the year 2017. Hyun-jae has no idea why he was suddenly sent into the future, but he learns that he was destined to die in 1994. Unbeknownst to him, Hyun-jae has a biological son with his girlfriend Bong-hee named Ji-hoon (Kim Min-jae), who dreams of one day becoming an idol like his father.

To make matters worse, Hyun-jae’s former manager Gwang-jae (Cha Tae-hyun) has adopted Ji-hoon as his son and secretly harbors feelings for Bong-hee. Hyun-jae finds that all the people he once knew have moved on with their lives and struggles to adapt to a much different world than the one he knew.

Hottest K-Dramas of 2017 Hit The Top

You Should Watch This Drama If

K-Pop enthusiasts will enjoy this drama as it takes a deep look into the intricacies of the Korean music industry. The drama details the grim reality of surviving in such a competitive industry; from the trainees who have yet to debut, to the struggling artists whose time in the spotlight has seemingly come to an end.

However, it’s also a heartwarming tale about reconnecting with loved ones and discovering your true self. At the start of the drama, Hyun-jae is a rebellious idol with little regard for others. When he’s transported to the future, he’s at the bottom of the idol food chain and begins to understand the struggles of those less fortunate.

How To Watch It

Viki (for viewers outside of Korea)

Kiss Asian (for viewers in Korea)

5. The King Loves (왕은 사랑한다)

Taking a break from the modern day drama, “The King Loves” is a historical period piece (saeguk) set during the Goryeo Dynasty. It focuses on the crown prince Wang-won (Im Si-wan), who beneath his handsome exterior, harbors desires for conquest and glory. His childhood best friend Wang-rin (Hong Jong-hyun) works as his bodyguard and possesses strong moral values.

These two friends’ lives are forever altered with the arrival of the beautiful Eun-san (Im Yoo-na). Eun-san immediately catches the attentions of both Won and Rin. They are soon entangled in a love triangle that could potentially put the entire country in grave danger.

Hottest K-Dramas of 2017 The King Loves

You Should Watch This Drama If

If you want to see actors that are considered K-Drama royalty team up for a historical love story, this is the perfect show for you. Im Si-wan, Im Yoo-na, and Hong Jong-hyun have established themselves as superstars not only in Korea but all of Asia. The fact that all three of them would be working together for “The King Loves” only increased the hype surrounding this drama’s release.

Viewers will be interested to find out if falling in love can soften Won’s hardened heart or if potentially losing Eun-san to his best friend will lead him down an even darker path.

The show was released to impressive early ratings and although some recent episodes were met with lukewarm responses, “The King Loves” has already been pre-sold to six countries including America and Australia.

How To Watch It

Note: This drama is currently airing on MBC every Monday and Tuesday at 22:00 Korean Standard Time. It’s scheduled to finish airing on September 19.

Viki (for viewers outside of Korea)

Drama Cool (for viewers in Korea)

4. School 2017 (학교 2017)

“School 2017” is a drama that provides an insightful look into the everyday lives of high school students in Korea. It focuses on a class of students trying to survive in a school system that ranks them based on exam scores. With each passing year, they feel the pressures of competing with their peers in a flawed education system that is slowly breaking their will.

Ra Eun-ho (Kim Se-jeong) is a sweet natured girl, who dreams of someday becoming a “webtoon” artist. She’s well liked among her peers, however, when one day she is falsely accused of being a delinquent, her world is turned upside down. Eun-ho’s dreams are now in jeopardy and in order to clear her name, she must discover the identity of the real culprit: Student X.

Hottest K-Dramas of 2017 School 2017You Should Watch This Drama If

The drama is an accurate depiction of the teenage angst that begins to take control during our high school years. Anyone that managed to survive the perils of puberty will relate not only to Eun Ho but also with the supporting characters. The students, regardless of their class ranking, all have personal demons they must battle.

Hyun Tae-woon (Kim Jung Hyun) is the school’s resident bad boy. With his chiseled good looks and rough exterior, Tae-woon cares little about his studies, even if his father is the school’s director. However, underneath that cold persona, Tae-woon is hiding a warm heart; something that Eun-ho may help unlock.

On the other side of the coin, you have Song Dae-hwi (Jang Dong-yoon), who is a model student. Not only is Dae-hwi blessed with good looks, he’s student body President and ranked as the top student in school. However, Dae-hwi’s personal life pales in comparison with his school life; his parents constantly neglect his achievements and he struggles to come up with the money to attend the university of his choosing.

How To Watch It

Viki (for viewers outside of Korea)

Note: For viewers currently living in Korea, the show is currently unavailable to watch online with English subtitles. However, you can download a VPN (virtual private network) in order to bypass the regional restrictions on Viki and watch the drama.

“School 2017” airs every Monday and Tuesday on KBS2 at 22:00 Korean Standard Time. The last episode is scheduled to air on September 5.

3. Man to Man (맨투맨)

If you want to see the year’s best action-comedy, look no further than “Man to Man”. Starring Park Hae-jin, who rose to fame with his acclaimed role in “My Love From the Star”, this drama focuses on a bodyguard named Kim Seol-woo (Park Hae-jin).

He is charged with protecting the famous actor Yeo Woon-gwang (Park Sung-woong). While in Woon-gwang’s employment, Seol-woo falls in love with his manager Cha Do-ha (Kim Min-jung).

In reality, Seol-woo is not a bodyguard but an undercover agent working for the NIS. The bodyguard position is merely a cover for a bigger operation. Most of the episodes focus on the developing bromance between the two men and their adventures as they fend off an evil chaebol named Seung-jae (Yeon Jung-hoon), who is hell-bent on acquiring three wooden carvings.

Hottest K-Dramas of 2017 "Man To Man"

You Should Watch This Drama If

If you love classic buddy movies filled with non-stop action, “Man to Man” will satisfy all those needs. The chemistry between Park Hae-jin and Park Sung-woong is so on point, that you’ll wonder if the two actors are actually brothers in real life.

Woon-gwang’s reckless behavior and arrogance serve as a nice counterbalance to the cool and collected Seol-woo. Seol-woo frequently seduces women if it benefits the operation and his relationship with Do-ha starts like any other. However, as he gets deeper into the case, Seol-woo questions whether Do-Ha is merely a pawn or something more.

How To Watch It

Viki (for viewers outside of Korea)

Netflix (for viewers in Korea)

2. My Sassy Girl (엽기적인 그녀)

Based on the popular 2001 film of the same name, “My Sassy Girl” unlike its predecessor, takes place in the Joseon Dynasty. It’s basically a saeguk version of the 2001 film that features Joo-won as Gyeon-woo and Oh Yeon-seo as Princess Hye-myung.

Gyeon-woo is a brilliant scholar and considered a legend of the Joseon Dynasty. Although he carries an impressive resume, Gyeon-woo is cold in nature. Hye-mung, a sassy princess, enters his life and disrupts the seemingly quiet life of one of Korea’s greatest scholars. He falls in love with Hye-mung at first but must learn to deal with the baggage Hye-mung carries.

Hottest K-Dramas of 2017 My Sassy Girl

You Should Watch This Drama If

Fans of the hit 2001 film will fall head over heels for this historical remake. The chemistry between Joo-won and Oh Yeon-seo is evident from their first meeting and their goofy interactions should have you bursting in laughter. However, beneath the fun, the drama possesses a sentimental message of being patient for the ones you love and understanding and accepting their flaws.

When he first meets Hye-mung, Gyeon-woo is just a selfish scholar. However, for some reason he cannot explain, Gyeon-woo is drawn to Hye-mung and her quirky personality. He finds himself constantly helping her out of sticky situations, even though he has never done the same for anyone else. It’s an entertaining, but moving story that is sure to melt your heart.

How To Watch it

Viki (for viewers outside of Korea)

Drama Cool (for viewers in Korea)

1. Chicago Typewriter (시카고 타자기)

“Chicago Typewriter” follows the stories of people who lived during the 1930’s and are reincarnated into the 21st century. The three main characters consist of a renowned writer known as Han Se-joo (Yoo Ah-in), his devoted fan Jeon Seol (Im Soo-jung), and a ghostwriter named Yoo Jin-oh (Go Kyung-pyo).

Se-joo, while considered one of the top writers in the nation, is secretly depressed and struggles to find balance in his life. He also suffers from a severe case of writer’s block that prevents him from writing his next bestseller.

To cope with this matter, he hires a genius ghostwriter in Jin-Oh, who can solve his needs. However, Jin-oh is not all that he appears and harbors a mysterious past. Meanwhile, Jeon-seol works as a meager job and in the modern day, she becomes an anti-fan of Se-joo.

The drama’s timeline shifts back and forth between the 1930’s and modern day Seoul, as the three characters struggle to understand the causes behind their reincarnation and what they can do to finally be at peace.

Hottest K-Dramas of 2017 Chicago Typewriter

You Should Watch This Drama If

History buffs interested in the time period when Korea was under Japanese rule will find this drama fascinating and nostalgic. Although the main timeline focuses on the present-day, some episodes will flash back to the 1930’s and our characters’ original lives. It’s educational, but also heartbreaking as we witness the struggles of Korean citizens living under an oppressive empire.

Also, our protagonists learn more about the circumstances behind their reincarnation, the drama serves as a lesson about how to deal with our pasts and the importance of moving onto a brighter future. Sometimes, it’s helpful to look back and learn from your mistakes, but you should always live in the moment and enjoy life as it comes.

How To Watch It

Viki (for viewers outside of Korea)

Drama Me (for viewers in Korea)

 

So there you have it, a comprehensive guide to some of the hottest Korean dramas of 2017. If you feel like there were some memorable dramas we left out, feel free to shoot me an e-mail with your suggestions!

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