Apple TV’s first foray into k-dramaland. Comeback dramas for Hallyu stars Song Hye-kyo, Kim Soo-hyun, and Yoo Ah-in. The first Korean drama to premiere at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival. The first acting roles for Park Hyung-sik and Lee Joon-ho since they were discharged from the military. Two shows about k-pop idols, starring k-pop idols. This month’s k-drama list is more jam-packed than the MRT during rush hour.
Nov. 4: Dr Brain
Apple TV’s first foray into k-dramaland is a sci-fi thriller adapted from a popular webtoon. Watch our favorite ahjussi, Lee Sun-kyun (Parasite, My Ahjussi), take on the role of a brilliant brain scientist whose family falls victim to a mysterious accident. Desperate to uncover what happened, he goes to extraordinary lengths to solve the tragic mystery by accessing the memories of the dead to hunt for clues.
The mind-bending 6-episode series is directed by Kim Jee-woon (The Age of Shadows, A Tale of Two Sisters) and also stars Park Hee-Soon (My Name) and Seo Ji-hye (Crash Landing on You).
Where to watch: Apple TV
Nov. 5: Happiness
Don’t be fooled by the title. This show is about the desperate struggles for survival and psychological battles that ensue in a high-rise apartment that gets sealed off when a new infectious disease emerges in the city.
Sounds familiar? The latest apocalyptic thriller from k-dramaland takes place in a new era where class discrimination is the norm, and will revolve primarily around law enforcers: Han Hyo-joo (W: Two Worlds Apart) is a special police squad member who moves into a new apartment in the building; Park Hyung-sik (Suits, Strong Woman Do Bong-Soon), in his first series after finishing his military duty, transforms into a police detective who will work with Han Hyo-joo to protect the residents; and Jo Woo-jin (Mr Sunshine) is the health service command leader tasked with stopping the spread of the disease.
Where to watch: Viu and iQiyi, starting Nov. 6
Nov. 7: Let Me Be Your Knight
Kpop fans, this is for you: A drama about kpop idols, starring kpop idols. Yoon Tae-in (U-KISS’s Lee Jun-young) is the leader and vocalist of idol group LUNA who suffers from sleepwalking. In Yoon-joo (Jung In-sun) is a tour guide, but gets involved in an incident and somehow finds herself living as fake doctor with the five members of LUNA to help cure Tae-in.
NU’EST’s JR stars as the band's bassist, AB6IX’s Kim Dong-hyun as the keyboardist, former Wanna One member Yoon Ji-sung as the drummer, and Jang Dong-joo as a vocalist.
Where to watch: iQiyi
Nov. 8: Secret Royal Inspector Joy
After impressing us with his amazing duality as the villain in Vincenzo, Taecyeon is now out to make us laugh as Ra Yi-eon, a young gourmand who is appointed a secret royal inspector against his will. Working alongside him is Kim Hye-yoon (Extraordinary You), who plays a divorced woman in her first historical drama. The trailers already promise a ton of comedy in store for us. Where to watch: Viu and iQiyi, starting Nov. 9
Nov. 8: Idol: The Coup
Every year, dozens of kpop groups debut, but only a handful find success. What happens to those that don't make it? EXID’s Hani, LABOUM’s Solbin, WJSN’s Exy, Han So-eun, and Redsquare’s Green star in this drama as members of the unsuccessful girl group Cotton Candy, who aren't quite ready to let go of their dreams. Will they find a way to rebound? Where to watch: iQiyi
Nov. 10: Melancholia
Baek Seung-yoo (Lee Do-hyun, Youth of May, Sweet Home) is a student ranked last at a prestigious Gangnam high school. But he hides the fact that he is actually a math prodigy who got accepted to MIT. Ji Yoon-soo (Im Soo-jung, Search WWW) is a passionate math teacher who challenges the competitive culture of entrance exams, and who wants to help revive Seung-yoo’s unique talent.
The drama has already stirred controversy for potentially depicting a teacher-student affair, even though it hasn’t been confirmed whether there will be romance in the show. Can they find the formula to overcoming social conventions and prejudices together? This was originally scheduled to premiere on Nov. 3, but it got delayed to Nov. 10 after production staff members tested positive for Covid-19. Where to watch: Viu and iQiyi, starting Nov. 11
Nov. 12: Now We Are Breaking Up
The goddess Song Hye-kyo (Encounter, Descendants of the Sun) returns to the small screen in a drama that promises to paint a realistic romance, starting with a break-up. She plays a fashion designer with a pragmatic and realistic perspective, while Jang Ki-yong (My Roommate is a Gumiho) stars opposite her as a wealthy freelance photographer trying to sweep her off her feet. We're not sure if this drama will make us swoon or break our hearts—or maybe both—but we're looking forward to the chemistry already evident in the teasers.
Where to watch: Viu
Nov. 12: The Red Sleeve
Based on a novel, this 18th-century romance starts between Crown Prince Lee San (2PM’s Junho or Lee Jun-ho, Wok of Love) and court lady Sung Deok-im (Lee Se-young, Memorist, Doctor John), but gets complicated when he becomes King Jeongjo. He wants her to become a royal concubine, but she wants to live her life freely. Will she sacrifice her freedom for love? Where to watch: Viu, starting Nov. 13
Nov. 17: School 2021
The KBS series on the lives of South Korean students returns for its 8th installment, this time focusing on 18-year-olds in a vocational high school who are trying to succeed outside the traditional expectations of the Korean education system.
Gong Ki-joon (Wei's Kim Yo-han) is a former taekwondo player with an ankle injury who enters a vocational high school not knowing what he wants to do. Jin Ji-won (Cho Yi-hyun) wants to be a carpenter, Jung Young-joo (Chu Young-woo) is a mysterious transfer student, and Kang Seo-young (Hwang Bo-reum Byeol) is trying to get into one of Korea’s top universities. Will they make it? Nov. 19: Hellbound
The first Korean drama to premiere at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival. Directed by Yeon Sang-ho (Train to Busan). Starring the incomparable Yoo Ah-in (Burning, Alive). Need we say more? In this six-episode webtoon adaptation, Yoo Ah-in plays the role of a cult leader in a fantasy version of Earth where Angels prophesy the time of your death right down to the minute, and unearthly beasts will chase you down and condemn you to Hell when you’re due.
Where to watch: Netflix
Nov. 27: One Ordinary Day
Kim Soo-hyun (It's Okay to Not Be Okay) promises to deliver another powerfully gripping performance in this eight-episode remake of BBC’s Criminal Justice. He transforms here into Kim Hyun-soo, a college student whose life is turned upside down when he suddenly becomes the prime suspect in a murder case. Cha Seung-won (A Korean Odyssey) will star as Shin Joong-han, a lawyer who barely passed the bar exam and who has no interest in the truth, but becomes the only hope for Hyun-soo. Where to watch: Viu
The Weekend Binge: "The Red Sleeve" https://www.gwenchanoona.com/post/the-weekend-binge-the-red-sleeve-review
The Weekend Binge: "Happiness" https://www.gwenchanoona.com/post/the-weekend-binge-kdrama-review-happiness
Best of 2021: Our Second-Half Picks https://www.gwenchanoona.com/post/best-kdrama-of-2021-second-half-recommendations
The Weekend Binge: "One Ordinary Day" https://www.gwenchanoona.com/post/the-weekend-binge-one-ordinary-day
What to Watch after "The Red Sleeve" https://www.gwenchanoona.com/post/what-to-watch-after-the-red-sleeve
We've written a review of some of the completed k-dramas: The Weekend Binge: "Hellbound" https://www.gwenchanoona.com/post/the-weekend-binge-hellbound