Netflix has long bet on international productions to bring much-needed diversity to the platform’s catalog. But while many a viewer had never been remotely interested in watching a Korean TV show, Squid Game changed everything. A worldwide smashing hit, the South Korean dystopian drama garnered a swooping 111 million viewership in its first month alone.
In so doing, Netflix’s biggest launch in history boosted the visibility of non-English language content. Squid Game also demonstrated the innovative spirit and versatility of the South Korean TV industry. If you thought K-dramas were all about corny romances, thus, you might reconsider your stance with these four action-packed and suspenseful Korean thrillers to put on your Netflix watch list.
Based on true events, Narco-Saints tells the story of a South Korean drug lord in Suriname. The series kicks off as the ordinary entrepreneur Kang In-gu sets out to Suriname to launch a stake export business. But before long, he gets arrested for smuggling coke on his ships, albeit unbeknownst to him. And when a Korean intelligence agent proposes he act as an undercover agent to get him out of jail, Kang’s life turns upside down as he gets entangled with ruthless drug traffickers.
With all the ingredients of a gripping crime thriller and a talented cast to boot, starring none other than Squid Game’s Park Hae-soo, Narco-Saints has enough action and drama to keep viewers on the edge of their seat throughout its six binge-worthy episodes. This thriller is also a solid addition to the list of shows to watch if you’ve loved Narcos.
Kingdom (2019 – )
From Seoul Station to the critically-acclaimed Train to Busan, South Koreans know their way around a zombie story. And while Korean zombie shows come in no short supply on Netflix, Kingdom stands out for its original spin on the genre. This period horror series embarks viewers on a spine-chilling time-traveling trip back to medieval Korea. Set during the Joseon era, Kingdom stuns with its vibrant costumes and superb historic locations, from remote mountain villages to grand palaces.
But the show’s breathtaking cinematography only serves to elevate its engrossing narrative mixing elements of political intrigue with thriller drama and sheer atmospheric horror. A second season built upon these compelling premises in equally cinematic and riveting fashion, while the Ashin of the North feature film expanded on the lore beautifully.
Cha Dal-gun is an actor wannabe turned underrated stuntman whose second job is to take care of his orphaned nephew, Cha Hoon. One day, as he works on a set, he catches glimpse of a TV broadcast reporting a plane crash in Morocco, only to realize his nephew was on that very plane.
But as he lands in North Africa to mourn the loss of Cha Hoon, he begins to uncover a grim truth about a crash that might not be the accident everyone believes. Vagabond is an intense story of corruption and conspiracy, with a sprinkle of romance. And its dense storyline, which tightly wraps up in 18 episodes, makes it perfect binge-worthy material.
Insider follows the story of judicial apprentice Kim Yo-han. Known for his poker face and collected nature, Yo-han is hand-picked to conduct a high-stake undercover investigation. Yet things go south, and he ends up in jail. Struggling to get his life back on track, his only way out is to obtain a hand of cards as he gambles his fate away in prison.
A dark and violent tale of vengeance and corruption, this action-suspense drama is chock-full of plot twists and adrenaline-pumping action sequences. Punters may also relish Insider’s unnerving gambling scenes, which might get them itching for real gambling action. And players don’t need access to brick-and-mortar casinos to go all-in.
Even in countries with few gambling venues like India, the best live casinos online conjure up the atmosphere of a true-to-life casino. Live games use a video interface to connect players with actual dealers. Gamblers may thus interact with both the dealer and their fellow players. And live baccarat, roulette, or Texas Hold’em is even available on mobile, far removed from the harshness of Insider’s prison gambling den.
K-dramas have been gaining much international recognition these past years. So, if you’re a fan of intense thrillers looking for a change of scenery on your next Netflix binge-watching session, the above shows are a great introduction to the variety of Korean productions.