Whoa, we've got a large pool of interesting k-dramas coming our way this year! To help you wade through the shows, we each share the ones we're most excited about.
Before diving in, make sure you're acquainted with the upcoming titles this year—the most anticipated of which we listed here. If you want to know more about the GwenchaNoonas making the recommendations below, head over to the Team page, where we share our k-drama FAQs.
Seoul-lo The drama I’m most looking forward to is Hospital Playlist Season 2. I want to know what my favorite '99ers have been up to and I especially want to know how it’s going to turn out with Lee Ik-jun and Chae Song-hwa.
Vincenzo with Song Joong-ki playing a former adviser of a mafia boss sounds intriguing. Then there’s Oh Master featuring Lee Min-ki and Nana in one of my favorite rom-com tropes of forced cohabitation. Finally, Like a Butterfly, a drama about the friendship of a 78-year-old man who wants to learn ballet and a 23-year-old danseur or ballerino, looks like it’s going to be one of those memorable, heart-warming, tear-jerking dramas that k-dramas do best.
2021 is shaping up to be an exciting year in k-drama for sci-fi fans. There’s the dystopian Gong Yoo/Bae Doo-na starrer The Silent Sea, as well as the time-travel capers Times and Sisyphus: the Myth. Since I also prefer more serious, non-romantic dramas, I’m excited for Mount Jiri, D.P., Taxi Driver, and the cult-and-demons webtoon adaptation of Hellbound.
Usually, we don’t get second, much less third, seasons in k-dramas but happily, Hospital Playlist and Kingdom are coming back this year. So if one is looking for more than the usual rom-coms or historicals, 2021 has more than enough thrillers, sci-fi, and twisty crime procedurals to keep us watching through the next lockdown.
The 2021 lineup so far does not seem to have much comedy to offer, so I will focus on (hopefully) light romances. As a big fan of Extraordinary You (2019), I’m looking forward to Rowoon’s return in She Would Never Know / Sunbae Don’t Put On That Lipstick, a webtoon-based sunbae-hoobae (senior-junior) romance.
I’m also excited to peek into Jung So-min’s new rom-com The Monthly House that will mix love and real estate. Like everyone else, I’m probably most excited about the return of Hospital Playlist and see the gang all together again (Chae Song-hwa, cancel your move, jebal!)
It’s exciting that there’s a lot of mystery/crime and horror/supernatural k-dramas coming this 2021. Although I’m a fan of Voice 1 and 2 (2017, 2018), I can’t really seem to get excited about the recent season of Voice. Rather, my eyes are drawn to JTBC’s Beyond Evil and tvN’s Mouse.
For supernatural k-dramas, I’m looking forward to SBS’ Joseon Exorcist. I’m also looking forward to Mr. Hong because of Kim Seon-ho and lastly, I have a special interest in KBS’ Dear. M, particularly because I am actively supporting Lee Jin-hyuk’s acting career (hwaiting!).
As a fan of Reply 1988 (2015), Prison Playbook (2017), and Hospital Playlist 1 (2020), I have been patiently waiting for Hospital Playlist 2 for more barkada interactions, especially their band practice sessions.
I also welcome my favorite Korean actress Jun Ji-hyun back to the small screen. She and another JJH, Ju Ji-hoon, cast as park rangers at Mount Jiri, will encourage me to live an active lifestyle---vicariously. With The Silent Sea, Gong Yoo also returns to k-dramas and helps further push k-drama sci-fi into the mainstream. Finally, as an anime fan, I also look forward to the webtoon-based drama Yumi’s Cells.
I am most excited to see how Mount Jiri, a mystery-thriller about park rangers who work to rescue people on Mount Jiri, will fare amidst the scrutiny and if it will be worth the hype. The plot is simple but there are three things to be excited about.
First, the main characters will be portrayed by Jun Ji-hyun and Ju Ji-hoon. The cast is also filled with veteran actors that have proven in the past that they can deliver certified hits. Another factor is that the drama is written by screenwriter Kim Eun-hee, who also wrote Kingdom (2019, 2020), Signal (2016), and 3 Days (2014). The last consideration is that the director is Lee Eung-bok, who directed hit dramas like Goblin (2016), Descendants of the Sun (2016), and Dream High (2011). Although not a guarantee, with all of these three factors, I hope that this "cliffhanger" will indeed keep the fans engaged in 2021.
It’s looking like a prolific year for the drama industry in general, and we’ll be spoilt for choice over the next 12 months.
Off the top of my head, I would have to say that these titles are holding my attention the most: Hospital Playlist 2 (which I hope will continue to be as charming as the first season), and the crime/cop drama Mouse (Lee Seung-gi, you have been missed). As a fan of the slice-of-life genre, I am keeping an open mind about the upcoming titles that fall under this category. The premise behind Imitation has also piqued the interest of the fangirl in me as well, but I will approach this with a healthy dose of caution.
Hospital Playlist is one of my all-time favorites, so I’m most eagerly awaiting my doctor barkada’s return. I’m also looking forward to the comeback projects of two of my OG fave Hallyu stars: Gong Yoo oppa (The Silent Sea) and Jun Ji-hyun (Mount Jiri).
Daebak Real Estate, billed as “a unique everyday exorcism drama about the greed and conflict that arises when people compete over real estate” sounds appealing to me because of its subject matter and its headline star, the ever charming Jang Na-ra. Finally, although the casting hasn’t been confirmed yet, Mr. Hong looks like it could be a fun rom-com--I hope both Shin Min-ah and Kim Seon-ho take it on!
Liam Yeon Kimin
I’m eager to see a number of Hallyu heavyweights return to the small screen this year! Gong Yoo, Song Joong-ki, and Jun Ji-hyun were among my early favorites, which means the dystopian sci-fi The Silent Sea, the intriguing mafia rom-com Vincenzo, and the third season of Netflix’s historical zombie show Kingdom have been automatically added to my to-watch list.
The initial trailer for Sisyphus: The Myth—with the Park Shin-hye and Cho Seung-woo—looks like it promises to deliver kick-ass action sequences, so that one’s listed under things we’ll look out for.