The 20 best-reviewed Asian dramas of all time on DramaFever
We all know which dramas build a lot of buzz and generate monster viewer numbers, but, as anyone who's watched a lot of dramas knows, sometimes the most popular dramas aren't always the best dramas. (I'm not going to name any names here, but you know who you are....) We've shared the 20 most popular dramas of all time on DramaFever, but what about the ones viewers enjoyed most?
If you're looking for a solid watch that other drama lovers like yourself adored, we've compiled a list of the highest-rated dramas of all time on DramaFever. These are the shows with the highest average star ratings from DramaFever viewers (all of them averaging over 4.5/5 stars). We didn't choose these rankings—you, the viewers did! Check out the list to see if you missed some hidden gems!
Note: I recognize that the star ratings may include low score outliers for things unrelated to the drama, but every show will have some of those outliers, and the scores tend to even out as you get thousands of ratings.
20. Coffee Prince (Korea, MBC, 2007)
One of our most popular dramas, this romantic comedy tells the story of Han Kyul, the handsome son of a wealthy hotelier family who is set in his bachelor ways and constantly deflects his family's attempts to make him commit. The constant pressure to get married drives him to hire a goofy young delivery boy Eun Chan to pretend to be his gay lover to scare away his family's set-ups. Trouble starts when Han Kyul begins to get to know the hardworking and lovable Eun Chan, and begins to develop real feelings for him—only to discover that "he" is actually a girl disguised as a boy. A rare drama that deals with homosexuality, this controversial series received multiple awards, such as the 2007 MBC Acting Awards for Yoon Eun Hye and Gong Yoo, as well as Best TV drama award at the 2008 Korean Producers' Awards.
19. City Hunter (Korea, SBS, 2011)
This intense, beautifully shot romantic thriller loosely based on a manga of the same name by Tsukasa Hojo, is a revenge drama done right. In 1983, 21 South Korean military operatives are sent into North Korea on a secret mission. After completing their mission, they are executed by their own side in a government cover-up. The sole survivor, Lee Jin Pyo, watches as his closest friend dies beside him. Taking his friend's son under his wing, Jin Pyo raises him as his own and trains him with one goal: to take revenge on the men responsible for this massacre. Some twenty years later, a brilliant young man joins the international communications team of the Blue House (Korea's White House). Lee Yoon Sung has but one mission in mind: to find and bring down the five men responsible for the murder of his father. To do so, he must hide his identity and fighting skills to infiltrate the government. During his quest for revenge, however, he also enacts justice, and is given the nickname City Hunter by the populace, who knows only of a shadowy figure exposing corruption in their city. Torn between his surrogate father's drive for vengeance and the innocent girl he loves, Yoon Sung must fight to survive, and choose the path he will take.
18. Pinocchio (Korea, SBS, 2014)
Amidst a sea of young news reporters competing for the next scoop, Choi In Ha (Park Shin Hye) finds herself in a tricky position, as she cannot tell a lie without a dead giveaway: breaking into a violent hiccup. Meanwhile, first-year reporter Choi Dal Po (Lee Jong Suk) proves his remarkable memory and communication skills by downplaying his good looks with a dumpy veneer of bad hair and clothing. But in a world where hard facts rule, how far can you get by lying?
17. My Lovely Sam Soon (Korea, MBC, 2005)
Brisk, endearing, and completely addictive, My Lovely Sam Soon was the runaway mega-hit of 2005. The show's popularity launched Kim Sun Ah to super-stardom and introduced Korean-American actor Daniel Henney. Considered the Korean "Bridget Jones' Diary" this refreshing drama still finds new audiences today. At 29, Kim Sam Soon's career and love life have hit a dead end. She is overweight, unmarried, stuck with an embarrassingly old-fashioned name, and has just lost her job and caught her boyfriend of three years cheating on her. Enter Hyun Jin Heon, the arrogant 27-year-old owner of a restaurant called Bon Appetit, who hires her to put her pastry-chef skills to work as the restaurant's chief baker. With Jin Heon's family breathing down his neck to get married, and Sam Soon desperately in need of money to save her family home, the two strike up a deal despite their volatile relationship. Sam Soon masquerades as Jin Heon's girlfriend and they begin to grow close, but things get complicated when Jin Heon's lost love mysteriously returns with her sights set on getting him back. Will Jin Heon be able to forget about her and learn to love Sam Soon for who she really is?
16. School 2015 (Korea, KBS, 2015)
Lee Eun Bi (Kim So Hyun), a student at Gangnam's top high school, suddenly and mysteriously wakes up with total amnesia. However, when she discovers she was once cruelly bullied, Eun Bi becomes determined to right the wrongs of her past by transforming herself into a popular and glamorous girl. But along the way, she begins to recover fragments of her memories that slowly reveal the insidious truths of Segang High School.
15. Gu Family Book (Korea, MBC, 2013)
When Yoon Seo Hwa (Lee Yeon Hee) falls for Gu Wol Ryung (Choi Jin Hyuk) the guardian spirit of the Jiri mountains, their doomed love quickly blossoms in the form of their child, Kang Chi (Lee Seung Gi). As a newborn, Kang Chi is sent down a river, and is raised amongst humans. Life is normal as he works for Park Moo Sol (Uhm Hyo Sup) at the Hundred Year Inn, until he realizes his otherworldly nature: he’s neither completely human, nor a true gumiho. When tragedy befalls his loved ones, Kang Chi realizes he'll need to control his newfound power in order to protect his family and come to terms with his unique identity.
14. Signal (Korea, tvN, 2016)
Inspired by a real series of grisly rapes and murders from 1986-1991, detectives from the past and present tap into a mysterious walkie talkie signal that allows them to work together across time. With hindsight and foresight on their side, can these detectives catch the depraved culprit, or are 10 women—including a 71-year-old grandmother and 13-year-old girl—forever lost?
13. Answer Me 1997 (Korea, tvN, 2012)
It’s official: the 90’s are back! The warm glow of nostalgia lights up this delightful high school drama following a group of friends through those halcyon days of — you guessed it — the last glorious decade of the 20th century. This sweet drama is sure to please anyone who has fond memories of innocent kpop, Guess t-shirts and Super Nintendo. Starring Jung Eun Ji of the kpop group APink, Seo In Gook (Love Rain), Shin So Yool, and former 90's k-pop idol Eun Ji Won of Sechs Kies!
12. Good Doctor (Korea, KBS, 2013)
As a child, Park Shi On (Joo Won) was sent to a specialized care center, where he discovered genius capacities for his autism. Coupled with an exceptional memory and keen spatial skills, the young savant eventually entered pediatric residency, where he developed into a promising surgeon. However, his mental and emotional development seems to have stopped at 10-years-old, which makes for incredible conflicts in and out of the O.R., especially with the hotheaded surgeon Kim Do Han (Joo Sang Wook). Despite warm hearted and fair colleagues like Cha Yoon Seo (Moon Chae Won) and Han Jin Wook (Kim Young Kwang), it’s a fierce and competitive adult world. One cannot simply tell Shi On to “grow up.”
11. Kill Me, Heal Me (Korea, MBC, 2015)
Cha Do Hyun (Ji Sung) is a rich heir to a family company with one major problem. Due to suppressed childhood trauma, he suffers from dissociative identity disorder manifested in 7 unique personalities who are out of his control. In order to overcome this disorder in secret, he hires a first year medical resident (Hwang Jung Eum) to help him heal by killing off each personality one by one.
10. I Hear Your Voice (Korea, SBS, 2013)
You’re innocent until proven guilty, unless you’re in the unlucky situation of being guilty until proven innocent. For these unfortunate souls, there’s only a 1% chance of freedom, and it’s up to a comically pugnacious crew of private investigators. Lawyer Jang Hye Sung (Lee Bo Young), along with her salty attitude, leads Cha Kwan Woo (Yoon Sang Hyun), a former cop-turned-lawyer, and Park Soo Ha (Lee Jong Suk), a mysterious teen with the ability to read minds. Together, this unlikely team turns convictions with unconventional methods and proves that while sometimes justice is blind to a fault, she can still hear your voice.
9. It's Okay, That's Love (Korea, SBS, 2014)
Jang Jae Yeol (Jo In Sung) divides his time between being a mystery writer and a radio DJ, but his every waking moment is consumed by his obsessive compulsive disorder. In search of treatment, he's placed in the care of Ji Hye Soo (Gong Hyo Jin), who specializes in psychiatry because of her inability to perform surgeries. Through intimate sessions, they come to realize just how much healing they both need — and that they are more than doctor and patient.
8. The Moon That Embraces the Sun (Korea, MBC, 2012)
Set in the Joseon dynasty, two brothers find themselves falling in love with a female shaman, who does not remember her noble past. Lee Hwon is the Crown Prince, but he finds the role a burden to bear. He would rather have his older, more talented brother Yang Myung play the role, but because Yang Myung is an illegitimate child he has no right to the crown. When Lee Hwon tries to escape the palace walls for a little adventure, he encounters Heo Yeon Woo, the intelligent daughter of a nobleman. It's love at first sight for him, but Lee Hwon is also set to marry another nobleman's daughter, Bo Kyung. Little does Hwon realize, but Yang Myung is also falling for Yeon Woo.
7. Cheer Up! (Korea, 2015, KBS)
Set against the backdrop of an incredibly competitive high school, a group of students find solace in cheerleading club. Along with the social and romantic trials of adolescence, this unlikely group of cheerleaders smile in the face of unreasonable academic expectations.
6. Healer (Korea, 2014, KBS)
Kim Moon Ho (Yoo Ji Tae) is a successful reporter at a mainstream news station, but when he pursues a 10-year-old mystery, he's forced to dive into an underground news agency. On his journey to break open the case, Moon Ho teams up with Chae Young Shin (Park Min Young), a second rate tabloid writer, and Healer (Ji Chang Wook), a mysterious "night courier" who goes undercover to investigate on his own.
5. The Master's Sun (Korea, SBS, 2013)
The Hong Sisters, famed romantic-comedy screenwriters, flirt with horror in this unique take on opposites. Joo Joong Won (So Ji Sub) is a rapacious CEO who is only concerned about money. His secretary, Tae Gong Sil (Gong Hyo Jin), is a dark and reticent insomniac who is burdened with the ability to see ghosts. Joong Won and Gong Sil are an unlikely duo in every regard, but they share one thing in common: they are both intensely crippled personalities that need a lot of help. Can the money hungry Joong Won recognize priorities beyond the dollar sign, and can the lonely Gong Sil ever live a life without fear? Together, strange as it may be, it’s possible in this unique dance between yin and yang.
4. Oh My Ghostess (Korea, tvN, 2015)
Na Bong Sun (Park Bo Young) may be a skilled chef, but she lacks the self-esteem to shine professionally and socially. Beyond her cooking talents, however, is an uncanny ability to communicate with ghosts. One day, her mystic senses go out of control when the seductive ghost of Shin Soon Ae (Kim Seul Gi) possesses her. Imbued with a fiery new "personality," Bong Sun starts turning heads, including that of Kang Sun Woo (Jo Jung Suk), the hottest chef in town and Bong Sun's secret crush!
3. My Love from Another Star (Korea, SBS, 2013)
Do Min Joon (Kim Soo Hyun) is an otherworldly beauty, literally. After crash landing on Earth 400 years ago, Min Joon has diligently observed humans for centuries, ultimately coming to cynical conclusions. On top of being a super babe, Min Joon's got enhanced vision, hearing and agility — all the more reason to believe he's superior to everyone on Earth. That is, until he pursues the beautiful actress Cheon Song Yi (Gianna Jun) for a romance out of this world.
2. Oh My Venus (Korea, KBS, 2015)
In an effort to support her family, Kang Joo Eun (Shin Min Ah) has become a workaholic lawyer without any regard for her personal well being. Overweight, unattractive and depressed at the prime of her life, Joo Eun comes across Kim Young Ho (So Ji Sub), a renowned personal trainer who considers health a deeply personal calling. Can Young Ho and his stubborn perfectionism whip Joo Eun’s body—and heart—back into shape?
1. The Hours of My Life (Japan, Fuji TV, 2014)
The elder son of a hospital director, Sawada Takuto (Miura Haruma) is a fourth year university student with vague goals for the future. Though his parents originally had hopes for him to be a doctor, they eventually began to shift their focus to their younger son, Rikuto. Takuto is popular amongst his peers and females, but he avoids deeper emotional ties due to many inner insecurities. One day, Takuto learns he is suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), an incurable, neurodegenerative disease, and does not have long to live. Now, he decides to live actively and turn his previous life around.
And now, a few fun facts about the list: The Hours of My Life may be the only non-Korean drama that made the cut, but it also topped the entire list, so that's a double whammy of impressiveness!
The oldest series on the list is My Lovely Sam Soon (2005); the newest is Signal, which just ended its run last week. If you haven't seen it yet, let me just go ahead and say that it absolutely deserves a spot among the best dramas of all time. Go watch it right now — I'll wait!
As far as network competition goes, it all came out pretty even. SBS squeaked out the most spots on the list with 6; MBC and KBS tied at 5; cable network tvN had a strong showing with 3; Japanese broadcaster Fuji TV snagged one.
Th list also spreads the love for a variety of favorite actors and actresses, as no star has more than two dramas in the rankings.
What do you think of the rankings? Did anything surprise you? Share your thoughts in the comments below! Remember, if you hate the way it all shook out, you can change the rankings by giving high star ratings to your favorite shows and fewer stars to the ones that didn't quite catch your fancy.
Happy drama watching!