K-drama is here: the Korean series you must stream now!
When Bong Joon-ho’s thriller / comedy Parasite won the Oscars in 2019 (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best International Film), it marked a shift in Western audiences as we slowly discovered the world. incredible that is the South Korean TV and film scene. Unlike Japanese and Chinese productions, South Korean television is more grounded and actually develops characters instead of using stereotypes and two-dimensional caricatures. This character development and drama, combined with subversive ideas and huge budgets, has made Korean television a staple.
With The Squid Game falling to rave reviews last week, here are some Korean TV productions to lose this week.
The squid game
The Squid Game tells the story of Seong Gi-hun, a driver and gamer who decides to participate in a series of children’s games to win the grand prize (4.5 billion Korean won, about 40 million euros ). Things turn horrible when Gi-hun realizes that these games are not a game because failure results in horrific death. The destitute Gi-hun quickly finds himself trapped in a sadistic world, forced to compromise his morals or lose his life.
While heavily influenced by Battle Royale, The Squid Game takes a simple idea and turns it into a series of masterpieces: What if playground games have real life and death issues? Like hopscotch but with landmines in some places! The games provide the backdrop and narrative motivation, but the series goes beyond mere gore festivals by injecting human drama and likable characters.
Kingdom was Netflix’s first foray into the South Korean television production scene, premiering in 2019. It tells the story of Crown Prince Lee Chang during the Joseon Dynastic Period (1392-1897), who travels to the borders of his country to investigate a mysterious disease. Chang must also face court intrigue, as contenders for his throne conspire to usurp him and his family. Zombies too.
Managing to differentiate itself into an oversaturated genre, Kingdom deals with the supernatural threat as a backdrop, a hidden threat advancing the plot without dominating it, as is the case with The Walking Dead. Thanks to its budget (3 million per episode), Kingdom delivers on all fronts, both as historical fiction and as a zombie survival series.
Have you ever wondered what The Godfather would look like if it was a Korean drama? You do not have ? Well, you’re in the minority as Vincenzo, the story of a Korean orphan adopted by an Italian mafia boss, takes Netflix by storm and has become one of Korea’s top-rated dramas. Song Joong-ki plays the titular Vincenzo, who returns to his hometown of Seoul in search of 1.5 tons of hidden gold. Vincenzo, who became a conglieri (high-level adviser) for a Mafia family was kicked out of his adoptive family after the death of his mentor, Don Fabio Cassano.
And if you fall in love with the actor playing Vincenzo, be sure to also watch Space Sweepers, a Korean-produced space opera film that smashed the box office in Korea.
And to complete our suggestions for Korean series, a detective drama! Hwang Si-mok is a gifted prosecutor who struggles to fit in because brain surgery has left him devoid of any empathy of any kind. He teams up with the legendary Bae Doona (Cloud Atlas, Sense8, Kingdom), a police lieutenant to solve a murder and take on one of the country’s largest conglomerates. Taking the “antisocial but brilliant” trope used ad nauseam on American television (see Dr House or any modern iteration of Sherlock Holmes), Stranger makes it work by pushing it to 11 and adding great writing and amazing footage.