Trending K-Drama The World of the Married(A World of Married Couple) set a new record as the highest-rated drama in Korean cable TV history, scoring a rating of 28.371% nationwide for its finale episode last May 16. The top spot was previously occupied by satire/black comedy K-Drama Sky Castlewhich concluded its 20-episode run in February 1, 2019 with a rating of 23.779% nationwide.
Ever since TWOTM's pilot episode last March 27, the series has had a steady ratings climb that started from a nationwide rating of 6.260%. By episode 12 released last May 2, it had successfully overtaken Sky Castle with a 24.332% nationwide rating. Both TWOTM and Sky Castle are under JTBC.
Sky Castle was unbeatable, and had sat comfortably on the top for one year and three months until TWOTM shook viewers with its melodrama-romance-thriller-family genre that K-Drama fans couldn't help but obsess over. Not your typical infidelity drama, it appealed to a wide audience as it drew attention to various issues surrounding divorce, parenting, mental health, feminism, discrimination in the workplace and the community, career struggles, and an abusive relationship.
"The World of the Married" took the top spot from "Sky Castle" in the list of the highest-rated dramas in Korean cable TV history | JTBC
Now that TWOTM is done, we're experiencing a bit of déjà vu when CLOY ended. We find ourselves asking the same questions. What should we watch next? How do we move on from this? Really, it's hard to pick a K-Drama that deserves our time and attention, especially with an endless list of recommendations culled from our relatives, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. Let's face it, yes, we're under quarantine, but that doesn't mean we have all the time in the world to just sit, relax, and enjoy this addictive cycle of K-Drama marathon. The key is to be selective and smart about your choice.
Now, what better way to streamline your options than by considering this list of the highest-rated dramas in cable TV history as your checklist? It's true, just because a series has high ratings doesn't readily mean it's a great option for you; there are a lot of factors that come into play, the first and most crucial one being your taste and preference. Still, it's nice to have these shows as part of your K-Drama collection.
See the list in the gallery below. Here are 30 shows to keep you busy for the months to come:
Finale nationwide rating: 28.371% | Genres: Melodrama, romance, thriller, family | Ji Sun-woo, portrayed by Kim Hee-ae, has always thought she has a perfect life with her husband Lee Tae-oh (Park Hae-joon) and teenage son Lee Joon-young (Jeon Jin-seo). This portrait of a happy family, however, is soon replaced by an ugly picture of betrayal, revenge, and all the spiteful things that come in between. Tae-oh cheats on Sun-woo with a much younger lady, Yeo Da-kyung (Han So-hee), and that's when things took a turn for the worse.
2 / 30
2. Sky Castle (2018)
Finale nationwide rating: 23.779% | Genres: Satire, drama, black comedy | The overarching theme of this series is presented via the materialistic tendencies and excessive ambition of a group of rich housewives (portrayed by Yoom Jung-ah, Lee Tae-ran, Yoon Se-ah, Oh Na-ra, and Kim Seo-hyung) living in an upscale residential area called SKY Castle. They want to ensure their children's future by pushing them to get into the top universities, no matter what it takes! As
a toxic bunch of overachievers, their superficiality and absurdity constantly become the root of the problems.
3 / 30
3. Crash Landing on You (2019)
Finale nationwide rating: 21.683% | Genre: Romantic drama | What happens when a South Korean heiress (Son Ye-jin as Yoon Se-ri) accidentally lands in North Korea and meets a dignified military man (Hyun Bin as Capt. Ri Jeong-hyeok)? Well, initially, there's tension because of the ongoing Korean conflict between their countries. But despite the gravity of the situation they're in, the tension is slowly relieved by love wafting in the air, with the promise of a love-conquers-all scenario.
4 / 30
4. Reply 1988 (2015)
Finale nationwide rating: 18.803% | Genres: Family, romance, comedy | This nostalgic coming-of-age drama is set in the year 1988, and revolves around the lives of five teenagers (portrayed by Hyeri, Ryoo Joon-yeol, Kyo Gyung-pyo, Lee Dong-hwi, and Park Bo-gum). They grew up together, and are still living in the same neighborhood. The changes in each of their lives are presented vis-à-vis pop culture references that are fascinating at the time.
5 / 30
5. Guardian: The Lonely and Great God (2016)
Finale nationwide rating: 18.680% | Genres: Fantasy, romance, drama | Military general Kim Shin (Gong Yoo) is framed as a traitor and killed by the King. He is then cursed by the Almighty for his murderous acts to protect his country. His punishment is to stay immortal and carry the burden of seeing his loved ones pass away. Many, many years later, the now 939-year-old goblin meets the bubbly highschooler Ji Eun-tak (Kim Go-eun), who turns out to be the legendary “Goblin’s bride;” she has the ability to put an end to his immortality. When romance makes its way between the two, the Goblin finds it hard to leave and end his almost millennium-long existence and suffering.
6 / 30
6. Mr. Sunshine (2018)
Finale nationwide rating: 18.129% | Genres: Historical, romance, melodrama | Choi Yoo-jin (Lee Byung-hun) is a Joseon-born slave. When his parents are killed, he manages to escape to the US. Years later, he returns to Joseon as the captain of the US Marine Corps and the acting consul for the US. There, he meets an aristocrat’s daughter, Go Ae-shin (Kim Tae-ri), who hides a secret identity as a trained sniper, and falls in love with her. Their relationship becomes complicated in the midst of a political turmoil that puts Joseon’s sovereignty at stake.
7 / 30
7. Itaewon Class (2020)
Finale nationwide rating: 16.548% | Genre: Drama | Lead character Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo-joon) becomes a school dropout, an ex-convict, and an orphan in just a short span of time. And it's all because of food company Jangga group CEO Jang Dae-hee and his son Jang Geun-won (Ahn Bo-hyun). Sae-ro-yi overcomes the challenges thrown his way and emerges as a restaurateur whose goal is to bring down Jangga group and beat his ultimate rivals.
8 / 30
8. 100 Days My Prince (2018)
Finale nationwide rating: 14.412% | Genres: Historical, romantic comedy | Because of his traumatic past, Crown Prince Lee Yul (Do Kyung-soo) grew up with a rude and unpleasant personality. His mother dies, and his father remarries, but the new Queen doesn't like him. One day, he and his followers are ambushed, and he almost gets killed. As he is trying to flee, he gets into an accident, which causes amnesia. A commoner man, who has a daughter named Yeon Hong-shim (Nam Ji-hyun), finds him and takes care of him. Lee Yul and Hong-shim end up getting married, not knowing that their pasts are intertwined after all.
9 / 30
9. Hospital Playlist (2020)
Ep 11 nationwide rating: 13.125% (the series is ongoing, finale episode will be released on May 28) | Genres: Medical, drama | The story is all about a group of five friends (portrayed by Jo Jung-suk, Yoo Yeon-seok, Jung Kyung-ho, Kim Dae-myung, and Jeon Mi-do) who entered the same medical university at the same time back in 1999. They are now working at the same hospital. If you get "Reply" series' nostalgic, coming-of-age vibe here, that's because its director and screenwriter both worked on "Reply 1997," "Reply 1994," and "Reply 1988" as well.
10 / 30
10. Signal (2016)
Finale nationwide rating: 12.544% | Genres: Drama, thriller | A detective from 1989, Lee Jae-han (Cho Jin-woong), is able to communicate with criminal profiler Park Hae-young (Lee Je-hoon) from 2015 through a mysterious walkie talkie. The two solve cases together and learn they can change the past and the future, and prevent more unfortunate events from happening. Hae-young is part of the special cold case team, led by detective Cha Soo-hyun (Kim Hye-soo), who used to be Jae-han’s mentee.
11 / 30
11. The Lady in Dignity (2017)
Finale nationwide rating: 12.065% | Genres: Drama, mystery, thriller | Woo Ah-jin (Kim Hee-seon) is living a luxurious life, married to a quasi-chaebol’s son (Jung Sang-hoon as Ahn Jae-suk). But when her husband betrays her, she’s left with nothing. Then a mysterious woman (Kim Sun-ah as Park Bo-ja) suddenly appears and makes Ah-jin’s life harder than it already is.
12 / 30
12. Hotel del Luna (2019)
Finale nationwide rating: 12.001% | Genres: Dark fantasy, romantic comedy | Hotel del Luna, also known as the “Guest House of the Moon,” is not your ordinary hotel. Why? Because its clients are ghosts! This is where they stay before moving on to the afterlife. The CEO of the hotel is Jang Man-weol (IU), who is stuck in this hotel because of a mortal sin she committed some 1300 years ago. She meets Gu Chan-sung (Yeo Jin-goo), a human she handpicks to be the new general manager of the hotel, considering a deal she made with his father 20 years ago. In the course of dealing with all sorts of ghosts, the two fall in love with each other.
13 / 30
13. Reply 1994 (2013)
Finale nationwide rating: 11.509% | Genres: Romance, comedy | A series that shifts between 1994 and 2013, it focuses on the lives of six university students (portrayed by Jung Woo, Yoo Yeon-seok, Kim Sung-kyun, Son Ho-jun, Baro, and Min Do-hee) who live together in a boarding house in Seoul; the boarding house’s owners have a daughter (portrayed by Go Ara). This group of college students come from different provincial areas in South Korea, and later become the best of friends. Historically and culturally significant events from 1994 and the years that follow are presented alongside these characters’ life stories. Watch to find out who Go Ara’s character ends up marrying in the group.
14 / 30
14. Prison Playbook (2017)
Finale nationwide rating: 11.195% | Genre: Black comedy | Superstar baseball pitcher Kim Je-hyuk (Jung Kyung-ho) has been imprisoned for a year as he was convicted of assault after saving his sister from a sexual attack. While adjusting to life in the prison, he meets different types of prisoners and prison staffers, some of whom later become his friends. Interspersed with Je-hyuk’s story, focusing on his baseball career, are the life stories of these prisoners and how they end up in jail.
15 / 30
15. The Crowned Clown (2019)
Finale nationwide rating: 10.851% | Genres: Historical, romance, melodrama | Set in the Joseon era, King Lee Hun (Yeo Jin-goo) finds himself in the middle of power struggles. To avoid assassination, he puts in his throne a clown named Ha Sun (also played by Yeo Jin-goo), who looks very similar to him. Ha Sun falls in love with Queen Yoo So-woon (Lee Se-young). He also becomes a good leader worthy of the throne. What happens to the real King? That’s what’s exciting to find out!
16 / 30
16. Childless Comfort (2012)
Finale nationwide rating: 10.715% | Genre: Family drama | Three generations of the Ahn family all live under one roof. There are the parents, their three sons and three daughters-in-law, plus their children! The eldest granddaughter in the family gets pregnant and becomes a single mother. Each and every one of them must now deal with societal discrimination arising from this scenario.
17 / 30
17. Encounter (2018)
Finale nationwide rating: 10.329% | Genres: Romance, melodrama | This is a love story between a rich daughter of a politician (Song Hye-kyo), a CEO of a hotel, and a carefree young man (Park Bo-gum). She was married to a man from a rich family, but he cheats on her and she becomes a divorcee. During a trip to Cuba, the two lead characters meet, and their brief encounter sparks a lasting relationship.
18 / 30
18. Memories of the Alhambra (2018)
Finale nationwide rating: 10.025% | Genres: Fantasy, action, thriller, romance | Yoo Jin-woo (Hyun Bin) is the CEO of an investment company. He travels to Spain to meet the creator of a groundbreaking AR game, Jung Se-joo (Park Chan-yeol). However, Se-joo is missing and Jin-woo meets Se-joo's sister instead (Park Shin-hye as Jung Hee-joo). Hee-joo is the owner of the hostel Jin-woo is staying at. As Jin-woo tries to unlock the mystery of Se-joo's disappearance, he becomes completely immersed in the game and finds it hard differentiating the real world from the AR world.
19 / 30
19. Another Miss Oh (2016)
Finale nationwide rating: 9.991% | Genres: Rom-com, drama | Sound engineer Park Do-kyung’s (Eric Mun) life becomes miserable after his fiancée, Oh Hae-young (Jeon Hye-bin) didn’t show up to their wedding. A year later, he finds out that Hae-young is set to marry an entrepreneur, Han Tae-jin (Lee Jae-yoon). Driven by revenge, he sabotages Jae-yoon’s business, causing him bankruptcy and imprisonment. Tae-jin calls off the wedding, with Hae-young’s welfare and happiness in mind. It turns out this Hae-young (Seo Hyun-jin) just happens to have the same name as Do-kyung’s fiancée. Their paths cross and they become close, but what will happen when Hae-young finds out Do-kyung is the reason her wedding didn’t push through?
20 / 30
20. The Light in Your Eyes (2019)
Finale nationwide rating: 9.731% | Genres: Fantasy, romance, drama | 26-year-old aspiring announcer Kim Hye-ja (Han Ji-min) gains the ability to control time, and suddenly becomes a 70-year-old woman. Her time travel leads her to a young man, Lee Joon-ha (Nam Joo-hyuk), who dreams of becoming a reporter but is now idling his life away. During a complicated time in both of their lives, they meet and love blooms.
21 / 30
21. Strong Girl Bong-Soon (2017)
Finale nationwide rating: 9.668% | Genres: Fantasy, thriller, action, rom-com | Do Bong-soon (Park Bo-young) was born with superhuman abilities. Because of her strength, she lands a job as the bodyguard of a rich heir and CEO of a gaming company, Ahn Min-hyuk (Park Hyung-sik). A series of kidnapping cases puts Bong-soon's strength and her ability to control it to the test. Bong-soon and Min-hyuk's quest to find the kidnapper brings them closer to each other.
22 / 30
22. Lawless Lawyer (2018)
Finale nationwide rating: 8.937% | Genres: Legal, thriller | Two lawyers from Lawless Law Firm, Bong Sang-pil (Lee Joon-gi) and Ha Jae-yi (Seo Ye-ji), fight for justice as corrupt judge Cha Moon-sook (Lee Hye-young) continues her greedy ways. It is their goal to expose her evil deeds not only to ensure justice prevails but also to avenge their loved ones who have suffered from Moon-sook's crime.
23 / 30
23. What's Wrong With Secretary Kim (2018)
Finale nationwide rating: 8.665% | Genre: Rom-com | Lee Yoong-joon (Park Seo-joon) is the president and vice chairman of a huge company. Kim Mi-soo (Park Min-young) is his secretary. They've worked together for nine years, but Mi-soo suddenly resigns. That's when Young-joon realizes how important she is to him. As romance brews, a connection between them back when they were kids becomes known.
24 / 30
24. Graceful Family (2019)
Finale nationwide rating: 8.478% | Genres: Mystery, suspense, melodrama | Mo Seok-hee (Im Soo-hyang) is the daughter of MC Group’s president. Her mother was murdered, forcing her to go to the US. Upon returning to Korea, she finds her grandfather in a coma. She meets Heo Yoon-do (Lee Jang-woo), a lawyer who doesn’t have an office and only solves his neighbor’s problems. Yoon-do gets hired as a lawyer for the TOP Team that manages the affairs of the Mo family. He encounters former judge and now TOP Team head Han Je-kook (Bae Jong-ok) whose secret agenda is to control the MC Group as well as the political landscape and economy of Korea. Seok-hee discovers that Yeon-doo’s mother killed her mother, but she’s convinced there’s more to this story, and that Je-kook could be behind it.
25 / 30
25. Misty (2018)
Finale nationwide rating: 8.452% | Genres: Melodrama, mystery, thriller, romance | Well-known anchorwoman Go Hye-ran (Kim Nam-joo) becomes a suspect in a murder case. Her husband, Kang Tae-wook (Ji Jin-hee), becomes her legal counsel despite their marital issues. As they handle this problem together, they find themselves falling back in love with each other.
26 / 30
26: Misaeng: Incomplete Life (2014)
Finale nationwide rating: 8.240% | Genre: Drama | Jang Geu-rae's (In Si-wan) life has been all about the board game Go; however, after failing to achieve his dream of becoming a professional Go player, he lands an internship at a huge trading company. There, he learns to navigate his way through the real world and the corporate setting with the concept of Go guiding him along the way.
27 / 30
27. Familiar Wife (2018)
Finale nationwide rating: 8.210% | Genres: Fantasy, romance, drama | Cha Joo-hyuk (Ji Sung) and Seo Woo-jin (Han Ji-min) have been married for five years, and they have two kids. However, their marriage is not happy, as they're struggling financially and going through so much stress juggling work and family life. Joo-hyuk meets his first love, Lee Hye-won (Kang Han-na), by chance, and she confesses that she liked him in the past. One day, a man he meets on the subway gives him two coins that leads him to travel back in time. When he wakes up, his life has become different, and he has a different wife!
28 / 30
28. Dear My Friends (2016)
Finale nationwide rating: 8.087% | Genre: Drama | A group of old men and women in their 60s and 70s become friends with 37-year-old Japanese translation writer Park Wan (Go Hyun-jung). As they share their life stories with her, deeper bonds are formed; they wish she'd write a novel about them.
29 / 30
29. Live (2018)
Finale nationwide rating: 7.730% | Genre: Drama | The series encapsulates the lives of police officers. It zooms in on the experiences of Han Jung-oh (Jung Yu-mi) and Yeom Sang-soo (Lee Kwang-soo)—from the events that led them to take on this job to their day-to-day struggles in carrying out their duties.
30 / 30
30. Arthdal Chronicles (2019)
Finale nationwide rating: 7.705% | Genres: Fantasy, romance | In the fictional land of Arthdal during the ancient times, power struggles and chaos are endless. The plot centers on three main characters—Eun-sum (Song Joong-ki), Ta Gon (Jang Dong-gun), and Tanya (Kim Ji-won)—and the endless battles between them; in the process, the truths behind their origins are revealed and they discover the connections that tie them together.