10 Highest Rated K-Drama of All Time in South Korea's Cable Television History

In recent years, K-drama market is making a big leap in the global entertainment industry, and continues to dominate the Asianovela landscape. 

Its edge remains in the modern series where realistic storylines and highly imaginative scenes are valued as some of the best in the telenovelas evolution. 

Read related topic: The Difference Between K-Drama and C-Drama. Which One is Better?

This list of the highest-rated K-Drama of all time is just based on the shows aired on South Korea's cable television, and not covered the series aired in public channels like KBS2 (Korean Broadcasting System), thus, Descendants of the Sun, which was aired in KBS2 in 2016, is not included. 

This data was released by Nielsen before 2022.

10. Vincenzo - aired in 2021 and starring Song Joong-ki playing the title character. It's a crime drama and runs for 20 episodes. It logged a 7.7% viewers rating for its first episode, making it one of the highest-rated tvN drama premieres.

The story follows Park Joo-hyung (Song Joong-ki), an adopted son of a mafia ring leader. He becomes a lawyer and changes his name to Vincenzo Cassano. He serves as an adviser to his adoptive father. When the latter died, the biological son tries to kill him. So he flees to South Korea where he gets on some real kicking-ass mission.

9. Itaewon Class - broadcasted by JTBC in 2020 and based on the webtoon of the same name. It follows an ex-convict, Park Sae-ro-yi (Park Seo-joon), who, after his release from prison opens a bar-restaurant called Danbam, with his friends, in the Seoul neighborhood, Itaewon.

He wants to be successful to seek revenge on the Jangga group that causes his misery and the death of his father. This drama has a gripping storyline but not too heavy on the romantic side.

8. Love (ft. Marriage and Divorce Season 2 - aired in 2021 and broadcasted on TV Chosun, it follows the story of three marriages being pushed to the edge, some even destroyed due to infidelity and all sorts of dishonesty and lies. And with so many twists and turns.

Song Woon (Lee Min-Young) becomes pregnant with Pan Sa-hyun's (Sung Hoon) child, but his wife (played by Lee Ga-Ryeong) refuses to give up on their marriage. His mother favors the mistress, uggh! So this drama basically talks about having a mistress, with spouses refuse to give up on marriage, and all the dizzying scenes of lies and betrayals.

7. Mr. Queen - aired in 2021 through tvN, it's a sort of a time travel/body-swap plot. Mr. Queen is a period comedy starring Choi Jin Hyuk, Jang Bong-Hwan, and Shin Hye-sun as the Queen Cheorin in the Joseon era. 

It follows a modern-day chef, Bong-Hwan, who works in the Blue House (residence of a South Korean president). He meets an accident and lands in the swimming pool of the hotel. This begins his "time travel" to the Joseon era and gets trapped in the body of the future wife of King Cheoljong, Queen Cheorin.

Mr Queen is based on the historical comedy C-Drama, Go Princess Go. But unlike Mr. Queen, Go Princess Go was heavily censored in China due to the scenes of bisexuality, a topic (just like homosexuality) that's strongly banned in mainland China.

6. Mr. Sunshine - aired in 2018 by tvN. Mr. Sunshine is a period drama and highly praised for its fine storyline, stunning cinematography and picturesque scenery of the fading Joseon dynasty. The story centers around Eugene Choi (Lee Byung-hun) who was born into slavery in Joseon. 

He escapes into the United States and becomes a Marine Corps officer. He returns to Joseon on a mission and later falls in love with a daughter of an aristocrat. Their romance faces class boundary issues while he needs to fight some ruthless enemies.

Eugene soon discovers a plot by the Japanese empire to conquer Korea and he must fight to keep Korea's independence. 

5. Goblin (The Lonely and Great God) - aired in tvN and its final episode was shown in January 2017. Goblin is a fantasy romance and one of K-drama's classic series. Praised for its remarkable storyline and highly entertaining screenplay, it contributed to the K-drama popularity in Asia.

Gong Yoon takes the role of a Goblin, an almost century-old immortal and protector of the souls, looking for a human bride to remove the sword piercing through his chest. 

During the Goryeo dynasty, he serves as a General and was killed by the palace guards. The Almighty God grants him immortality as both a reward and punishment, thus, he survives through centuries with a sword still lodged through his chest. 

As his friends and relatives began to die one by one, Goblin becomes lonely, thus, looking for someone to pull the sword from his chest to send him to the afterlife. He encounters a grim reaper (Lee Dong Wook) who cannot remember his past and a young girl who gives him reason to live. 

4. Reply 1988 - aired on tvN and its final episode was shown in January 2016. It's a story of friendship, family, and love and follows the lives of five friends growing up in the same neighborhood in Seoul. 

It brings a nostalgic throwback to their lives in 1988. It is praised for depicting the real atmosphere of the Korean culture in 1988. This drama is part of the Reply series, unlike in the previous installments, Reply 1988 focuses more on the family drama than the romance.

3. Crash Landing on You - aired in tvN and had its final broadcast in February 2020, Crash Landing on You is one of the highest-rated dramas in South Korean cable television history. Its final episode on February 16, 2020, logged a viewer's rating of 21.683%.

The story follows the life of a South Korean heiress, Yoon Se-ri (Son Ye-Jin), whose paragliding accident blew her off passed the Korean Demilitarized zone and over to North Korea. 

There, she scrambles to escape from the capture of the handsome North Korean army officer, Captain Ri Jeong-hyeok (Hyun Bin) but accidentally makes her way to his station. 

Alerted by highly-classified information that an intruder illegally entered the country, the Intelligence Unit began the hunt. Captail Ri shields her from the authorities and takes her into his home. They hatched several plans for Se-ri's return to South Korea but often met with failures. Until she learns to adapt to the simple life in Captain Ri's village.

2. Sky Castle - a family drama aired in 2019 by JTBC, Sky Castle revolves around the friendship, romance, and complex family life of four wives residing in an upmarket village called Sky Castle. Four wives with different family backgrounds but have the common ambition to get their kids into the university no matter what it will cost.

It is a comic satirical drama used to depict the materialistic desires of upper-middle-class parents in South Korea and the struggles that their children face due to high expectations. It follows a realistic retelling of events in the lives of South Korea's rich families, making it a big hit in South Korea and in the Asian region.

In reality, Sky is an acronym of three prestigious universities in South Korea: Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University. The drama's final episode in February 2019 recorded one of the highest-rating of a drama in cable television history in Korea: 23.779%

1.  The World of the Married - aired on JTBC, its final episode was aired on May 16, 2020, and logged a jaw-dropping 28.371% rating, making this drama the cable television's highest-rated drama in South Korea, well, so far. 

This is an adaptation of the hit BBC One drama, Doctor Foster, no wonder the plot is highly western and not really an entirely Asian culture - dysfunctional family, flaunting infidelity, open relationship, destroying people, and other stressful events and encounters.

It tells the story of a family medicine doctor who is married to a businessman, and they have a teenage son. All seems to be perfect until she began to suspect he has had an affair. Her suspicion becomes valid and got to meet the girl in her clinic. This is a story of a man choosing a younger woman over his wife and son, and the wife seeks revenge. 

I haven't watched this drama, and never will be. Among the titles listed here, only The World of the Married never interests me due to its stressful storyline. 

Source of this article: The Review Geek

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