They’ve got guns (or swords), leather jackets (sometimes ancient armor), nail-biting fight scenes, and that solid Kdrama smash usually loaded in 16 episodes or more. Korean action dramas pack all the punches in the industry and stuff more than just bullets and bombs in their arsenal.
Want a heart-wrenching villain origin story? A tragic backstory to the heroic lead? How about a cheesy romance on the side? Or a crazy plot driven by the craziest of masterminds? Known for great plots and a mix of many themes and genres, these shows have infinite ammo to boot – and you’re sure to find one that will satisfy your Kdrama cravings today.
The 10 Best Korean Action Dramas
We listed below the 10 best Korean action dramas that we guarantee you are going to love. Check them out and let us know which one is your favorite in the comments section below.
- Tomorrow (2022)
- My Name (2021)
- Vagabond (2019)
- Healer (2014-2015)
- City Hunter (2011)
- Bad and Crazy (2020-2021)
- Sweet Home (2020)
- Vincenzo (2021)
- Uncanny Counter (2020-2021)
- Signal (2016)
1. Tomorrow (2022)
Choi Jun Woong (Rowoon) falls into a coma and is forced to join manager Koo Ryeon (Kim Hee Sun) and Lim Ryung Gu (Yoon Ji On) in a team of “grim reapers who save lives.” Tasked to stop suicide cases, the team usually deals with the heart-wrenching stories of suicidal persons as they try to dissuade them from ending their lives.
Expect tear-jerking episodes with a dash of comedic hits from Rowoon, but bring (a box of) tissue just in case.
Look out for: Koo Ryeon’s sassy outfits, the reapers’ senses of justice.
2. My Name (2021)
Many of us first met her as the foolishly in-love college student in Nevertheless. But in My Name, Han So Hee plays ruthless Yoon Ji Woo, a woman who joins a drug group to avenge the murder of her father (killed on her birthday, of all days).
Told that a police officer is behind her father’s murder, Ji Woo enters the police force, where she is partnered with Jeon Pil Do (Ahn Bo Hyun), and becomes a spy for the drug gang.
Watch if you’re a sucker for well-directed shows (and you want to see Han So Hee do a 180 degree turn from her character in Nevertheless).
Look out for: superb directing (from the director of the masterpiece Extracurricular), mad plot twists.
3. Vagabond (2019)
Cha Dal Gun (Lee Seung Gi) is a stuntman whose nephew died in a mysterious plane crash. Realizing that the crash was not caused by a technical malfunction, he teams up with National Intelligence Service Go Hae Ri (Bae Suzy) in a dangerous bid to uncover the truth about the “accident.”
Look out for: the satisfying wins of the protagonists, the cute chemistry of Lee Seung Gi and Bae Suzy (they even won Best Couple Award!).
4. Healer (2014-2015)
This multi-awarded classic Korean action drama landed Ji Chang Wook in international fame. Here, he plays the role of a secret messenger by the codename “Healer”.
A murder incident from the 1990s brings him together with tabloid reporter Chae Young Shin (Park Min Young) and star journalist Kim Moon Ho (Yoo Ji Tae) as they find their connections to the decades-old tragedy, fighting against powerful media men and becoming virtuous reporters along the way.
Look out for: the truth behind the murder case, the tender romance between Healer and Young Shin.
Read More: Best Korean Romance Comedy Dramas
5. City Hunter (2011)
Another classic in the list. City Hunter is based on the internationally-acclaimed Japanese manga series of the same name. Here, King of Hallyu Lee Min Ho stars as Lee Yoon Sung, an IT expert who works at the Blue House to avenge his biological father’s death through a revenge plot crafted by his adoptive father.
As he carries out their plan, Yoon Sung teams up with Kim Na Na (Park Min young), a Blue House bodyguard who shares the same thirst for vengeance, and exposes the corruption of his father’s killers.
City Hunter is heavy on the romance side. So if you’re in for squeals from both cheesiness and intense action, this one’s for you.
Look out for: Lee Min Ho with his hair down in a leather jacket, Nana’s badass fighting skills.
6. Bad and Crazy (2020-2021)
A show studded with our well-loved oppas, Bad and Crazy drops twist after shocking twist. Suyeol (Lee Dong Wook) is a competent but “bad” cop with questionable morals. Ambitious and greedy, he engages in corruption for a shot at promotion.
But when he meets his moral opposite with K (Wi Ha Joon), a righteous guy with a “crazy” sense of justice, Suyeol discovers the two sides in him and learns that he’s capable of goodness, too.
Look out for: helmet guy’s identity, THAT twist revealing who K really is, loots of bromance.
You May Also Like: 25 Best Korean Drama Quotes
7. Sweet Home (2020)
After an incident that kills his family, Cha Hyun Soo (Song Kang) moves to a rundown apartment complex (definitely not like a “sweet home”). The suicidal high school student soon finds his neighbors turning into monsters.
As their daily life becomes a battle for survival, the characters learn that humans and monsters aren’t so different, after all. Sweet Home is rumored to be renewed for a Season 2. So be sure to catch it before a new season drops!
Look out for: the gorefest scenes, the apartment residents’ redemption arcs.
8. Vincenzo (2021)
Vincenzo Cassano (Song Joong Ki) is a consigliere (pronounced as “corn salad” by the Geumga tenants) for a mafia family in Italy. Returning to Seoul to recover 1.5 trillion won worth of gold buried in the basement of Geumga Plaza, he gets entangled with materialistic-turned-righteous lawyer Hong Cha Young (Jeon Yeo Bin).
The duo – with the help of Geumga tenants – wield a battle a la David and Goliath as they try to expose the evils of giant conglomerate, Babel Group. Vincenzo action, wit, romance, comedy, and friendship all at once. It’s no surprise that it ranked fourth in Forbes’s list of the most watched Netflix Korean dramas in 2021.
Look out for: you should definitely wait to see what happens to the antagonists in the end.
9. Uncanny Counter (2020-2021)
Another Korean fantasy drama on the list. Based on the webtoon Amazing Rumor by Jang Yi, Uncanny Counter revolves around So Mun (Jo Byung Gyu), a crippled high school boy. One day, So Mun magically regains the ability to walk in the condition that he joins a group of four demon-hunters, known as counters, in their quest to catch evil spirits and return them to the afterlife.
There’s death and evil everywhere in this drama. But the family-like dynamics of the counters will make you forget that a spirit just tried to crush an innocent girl with a cement boulder.
Look out for: Mun’s loving relationship with the counters and his friends will have you swooning platonically.
Similar Articles: The 10 Best High School K-Dramas
10. Signal (2016)
In elementary school, Park Hae Young (Lee Je Hoon) witnessed the kidnapping of his classmate who was later found dead. The case remains unsolved, until grown-up Hae Young, who is now a police lieutenant, meets Lee Jae Han (Cho Jin Woong), a detective from fifteen years ago.
Communicating through a time-traveling walkie-talkie, the two help each other solve cases from their respective time periods. The show is an underrated gem that reigns #1 in anyone who has watched it. Beware though: each case is heart-breaking. Don’t say we didn’t warn you when you bawl your eyes out!
Look out for: the cases featured by the show – they’re cases from REAL life!
You just saw the 10 best Korean action dramas you should watch now. But this list is just the tip of the iceberg. Whether you’re looking for straight-up action, action with romance, action with melodrama, or action with comedy – there’s a Korean action drama waiting for your next binge!
Bring some popcorn or some tissue, just in case. And be sure you don’t bite your nails!