From the extended 16+ episode-long stories to unforgettable characters, there really is nothing quite like a good Korean drama. There’s also nothing quite like the hollow feeling of loss you experience when your favorite show ends.
Among the good, the bad, and the ugly are some Korean dramas that stand the test of time and can be regarded as some of the best ever created. Here, we’ll be showcasing and celebrating our favorite bone-chilling and goosebump-inducing horrors!
Of course, do feel free to comment below if we’ve missed any noteworthy entries and we’ll be sure to review it and see if it makes the list.
Strangers From Hell
Split across 10 episodes, Strangers From Hell is certainly a shorter offering than the usual 16-chapter Korean dramas on the market. The story revolves around a boy called Jong-Woo who moves to Seoul and finds himself abandoned and alone inside an apartment block. Unfortunately, it’s also shared by some pretty creepy and unnerving characters.
From the maniacally laughing Deuk-Jong to the quiet and reserved Nam-Bok, every character inside this block has a secret they’re holding. Across the 10 episodes, we learn exactly what that secret is, spilling over into a pretty climactic and thrilling finale.
Strangers From Hell isn’t particularly scary but it does hold up as a compelling psychological thriller. There are some pretty gruesome scenes midway through too and a couple of genuinely shocking segments. This one is not for the squeamish but should be enough to reach those looking for a dose of anxiety and paranoia from their horror.
Beautifully presented and dripping in Asian culture, the zombie action-thriller Kingdom is quite the thrill ride. Split across two seasons, Kingdom effortlessly blends political drama with a thrilling action plot, full of beautifully shot set pieces.
The story begins slowly, using its first episode to show off the gorgeous setting of Hanyang in South Korea as we travel back through time to the Joseon Period. Crown King Lee Chang is our protagonist and while he begins engaging in a bitter feud with the Queen, physician Seo-Bi in Jiyulheon makes a horrific discovery.
With Lee Chang by her side, the pair realize the dead are coming back to life and mercilessly hunting the living. With no guns or modern weaponry, much of the tension comes from seeing these men and women make do with the scarce resources around them.
It’s one of the few shows that balances this action with tension perfectly. The second season only builds on this, leading to the very possible prospect of a third season.
While it would be easy to write off The Cursed as yet another horror series, the mystery and ideas presented in this one are enough to make it an engaging and absorbing watch throughout.
The main story revolves around Jin-Hee, a reporter who investigates a violent case involving Forest, the biggest IT company in South Korea. The chairman of the said company happens to be a shamanist and unfortunately, that also brings with it a spiritual consulting company mixed up in their affairs.
From here, the series manages to weave mystery and horror together beautifully but also has a knack for being quite slow-paced at times. If you can go in with a bit of patience, however, this one delivers an intriguing story worth checking out.
Goedam is a Korean horror anthology, that takes cues from folktales and urban legends to produce 8 episodes of varying degrees of horror. From gory and gruesome to good old fashion jump scares, Goedam is a bit of a mixed bag but its better offerings are definitely worth checking out.
From the Slit-Mouthed Woman, the Elevator Murderer and dead relatives stealing your soul in dreams, there are a lot of intriguing ideas that manifest themselves across these 8-15 minute episodes. We highly recommend episodes 1, 2, and 6 but your favourites are likely to differ.
Well-written and undeniably spooky, The Guest is a possession-based horror that shows off an unconventional team-up, this time between three different characters. Hwa Pyung is a young psychic born into a shaman family who learns about a powerful demon known as “son” (guest). This demon has the power to control other demons and also possess weak-minded people.
With this demon on the loose, Hwa-Pyung teams up with Choi Yoon, a young boy born into a Catholic family, and Kil Yeong, the daughter of a detective, after their families are killed by a demon.
After forging a friendship, we cut forward 20 years to find “Son” back on the hunt again, forcing this unlikely trio to team up and try and stop him before it’s too late.
The show is well-written, with a lot of memorable moments and some pretty intense sections too.
Priest is a spooky Korean drama revolving around a young Catholic priest called Soo-Min. Enlisting in a group called 643 Regia, Soo-Min is taught how to exorcise demons by Priest Ki-Sun, who also happens to be the founder of the group.
Soo-Min’s motivations predominantly stem from his past, which saw his own Mother possessed by a devil and die.
With Soo-Min playing up the exorcist side of things, the victim in all this becomes Ham Eun-Ho, a doctor who’s determined to save lives after her own family was involved in a tragic accident. An atheist at heart, Eun-Ho begins to question her life when she witnesses a supernatural phenomenon and stumbles into Priest Soo-Min because of it.
This is one of those dramas that you definitely need to persevere with but there are undoubtedly a lot of chilling moments dotted throughout this one making it well worth watching.
Bring It On, Ghost
Bring It On, Ghost is an intriguing Korean drama, one that channels those ghost-hunting vibes with an unconventional team and some lovely drama along the way. This is far less a horror and much more geared toward fantasy romance but the ghost design is certainly spooky so we thought we’d add it on!
The main character here is Park Bong Pal who happens to be a college student with the ability to see and communicate with ghosts. Intent on making a bit of extra money, he hires himself out as an exorcist to help people vanquish ghosts that are haunting them.
Along the way though he meets Kim Hyun Ji, the ghost of a 19-year-old student who’s unable to move on from this plane of existence. With both of them inexplicably linked, a professor at Bong Pal’s university called Hye Sung could hold the clues to what’s going on.
Nicely written, Bring It On, Ghost channels those unconventional team-up vibes to make for a really enjoyable Korean drama.
The Ghost Detective
The Ghost Detective is, unsurprisingly, about a detective who hunts ghosts. More specifically, we’ve got the usual male/female pair-up with this horror drama, as former military man Lee Da-Il works as a private investigator alongside Yeo-Wool, who becomes his assistant. Fearless and driven for the truth, the pair team up together and begin investigating the death of Yeo-Wool’s younger sibling.
Alongside this serialized story is a more episodic romp as the pair solve different cases. To add more intrigue and mystery to the proceedings, a mysterious woman dressed in red called Sunwoo Hye appears at the different crime scenes the pair arrive at.
With a good balance of drama, tension, and horror, The Ghost Detective features some genuinely unnerving moments dotted throughout. It’s also worth noting that this drama won both the Excellence Award for Male Actor in a Drama and Best Supporting Actress too, so this one’s definitely a critically acclaimed option.
Adapted from the webtoon of the same name, Sweet Home is an action-packed fight for survival as humanity finds itself on the brink of extinction. When people suddenly begin to turn into monsters outside, a group of misfit residents inside an apartment complex are forced to work together. Of course, cabin fever, fear, and paranoia begin to consume our characters. This is only made worse when a few begin to fall prey to that very same infection they’re trying to keep out.
When the monsters do show up, Sweet Home ramps up the pace and tension to deliver 4 breathless episodes of action back to back. It’s not until the halfway point of the show that we actually stop and learn more about the characters we’ve been following. This serves as a proverbial deep breath, building toward a climactic finale across this 10-episode series that leaves the door wide open for a second season.
There will undoubtedly be some that dislike this way of serializing Korean dramas but Netflix’s latest foray into horror definitely has some promise and more than a few tense moments.
The Village: Achiara’s Secret
More mystery than horror in truth, The Village: Achiara’s Secret combines elements from Twin Peaks, Midsomer Murders, and other mystery series of its kind to produce a small-town horror that slowly chips away at the happy façade to showcase something very ugly and shocking at its core.
The centerpiece of this tale is Achiara, a quiet, peaceful village boasting very little crime. The villagers there, unfortunately, find their world turned upside down one day when English teacher Han So-Yoon discovers a buried corpse. With no identity or motive, it’s up to rookie policemen Park Woo-Jae and So-Yoon to find out what’s really going on.
If you’re looking for a compelling whodunit with eerie, unsettling vibes, this one’s definitely worth checking out.
Save Me is a pretty chilling drama with a very gripping premise. The main storyline here revolves around a religious cult known as Goseonwon which has much of the country in its grasp, boasting a large number of followers. Although they present themselves as a peaceful church, there are certainly some dark secrets lurking under this pleasant façade.
Following their son’s suicide, Sang-Mi’s family is torn apart as the cult leader Baek Jung-ki lures them to the dark side. With her Father fully brainwashed and her Mother mentally unstable, Sang-Mi is trapped in this nightmarish hell.
The actual story takes place three years later as four men, unaware of the cult lurking in the shadows, are approached by Sang-Mi who whispers “Save me.” What ensues from here is a mixture of thriller, drama, and mystery as these men all team up to try and infiltrate the cult and save Sang-Mi from the hell she’s caught in.
There are some really tense moments here and a lot of that is thanks to the Spiritual Leader, who plays up the role of the cult leader perfectly.
And there we have it, our picks for the best horror Korean dramas of all time! We’ll periodically update this page as we watch more Korean dramas and work through any requests you guys may have for us as well.
What do you think of our list? Have we included your favorites? Or have we missed any must-watch dramas? We love to hear from you so do feel free to let us know in the comments below.