South Korea doesn’t play around when it comes to entertainment.
K-pop has been all the rage for years.
South Korean movies are gaining popularity around the world.
And let’s not forget Korean dramas.
South Korea has been pumping out TV series full of comedy, romance and suspense for decades. It’s hard not to fall in love with the detailed storylines of K-dramas!
But K-dramas offer so much more than entertainment.
Did you know that watching K-dramas can actually help you improve your Korean language skills?
There’s a surprisingly ample supply of online resources that stream K-dramas. (Legally, in fact!) We put the best of the best together in one list so you can browse to your heart’s content.
First, let’s take a deeper look into how watching K-dramas online can improve your Korean fluency.
How Can Watching Kdramas Online Improve My Korean Language Skills?
- Listening to spoken Korean is necessary for improving your comprehension, pronunciation and listening skills. The only surefire way to improve your ability to understand Korean is to listen closely to native speakers conversing in the language.
- Korean subtitles will help learners match spoken Korean to 한글 (hangeul) — hangul characters. If you’re learning about the Korean alphabet and are struggling to connect spoken sounds to their written counterparts, watching Korean shows with Korean subtitles is a great way to familiarize yourself with hangul.
- English subtitles will help learners associate Korean words with their translations for improved comprehension. Being able to translate words in real time during conversations is a daunting task. By watching Korean media with English subtitles, you’ll get better at connecting Korean words with their English translations.
- K-dramas in particular provide valuable insight into Korean culture. Chances are, you aren’t just learning Korean for the heck of it. You’re likely studying either because the culture fascinates you (and we don’t blame you!) or because you want to travel to South Korea. Watching K-dramas will tune you into how people dress, act and live in modern-day South Korea.
- K-dramas are often conversational in style, making them perfect for studying conversation speed. Even though K-dramas are scripted, the dialogue is paced pretty similarly to real-life conversations. This can seriously help you improve your listening skills, especially when it comes to casual conversational speaking.
- They’re the perfect supplement to learning with FluentU. Already taking in Korean entertainment with FluentU? If not, check it out!
Imagine watching K-dramas and actually being able to understand what the characters are saying! FluentU can help you get there. It will introduce you to authentic Korean accents, accompanied by annotated subtitles and personalized quizzes.
These 6 K-drama Online Resources Will Keep You Binge-watching All Weekend
In this list, we’ll be looking at both paid and free sites for finding Kdramas. Check these wild freebies out!
Free K-drama Online Resources
If you already love K-dramas (or any type of Asian dramas), you’ve probably heard of Viki.
This streaming platform is bursting at the seams with content, and it’s totally free to enjoy. If you’re interested in higher-quality content without advertisements, Viki offers the Viki Pass Plus premium plan for $9.99 a month or $99.99 a year.
Subtitle availability varies for Korean dramas on Viki, but by simply clicking on the homepage of the drama you’d like to watch, you’ll see all the subtitle information before you begin watching. Most Korean dramas on Viki have English subtitles, making it a great resource for beginner and intermediate learners.
Try checking out:
- 슬플 때 사랑한다 (Seulpeul Ttae Salanghanda) — “Love in Sadness.” This melodrama follows the story of a woman on the run from her abusive husband. The real drama starts when she falls in love with the one man who will help her.
- 열혈사제 (Yeolhyeolsaje) — “The Fiery Priest.” Who doesn’t love a good crime thriller? This drama is about a priest, a detective and a prosecutor who solve mysteries about violent crimes.
Unfortunately, Viu is only available in a handful of mostly Asian countries. If you use a VPN (virtual private network) you may be able to access Viu from another country.
Viu doesn’t offer a ton of English subtitles for their Korean dramas, so it would best suit advanced learners as a resource for learning Korean
We suggest watching:
- 역도요정 김복주 (Yeokdo-yojeong Gim Bok-ju) — “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo.” A sports drama about college athletes trying to make it big and fall in love.
- 그녀는 예뻤다 (Geunyeoneun Yeppeodda) — “She Was Pretty.” A romantic comedy based on a true story. Two acquaintances change drastically from their youth and reconnect as adults.
Dramago is a free streaming site that features drama series, films, mangas and more.
Episodes are updated daily, and there’s a wide range of K-dramas to choose from. The majority of content provides both Korean and English subtitles.
We think you’d like:
- 해치 (Haechi) — “Haechi.” A period drama about a group of people who band together to reform the Korean government.
- 눈이 부시게 (Nun-i Busige) — “The Light in Your Eyes.” A fantastical, comedic drama about a young woman who can travel through time.
Paid K-drama Online Resources
Netflix has a lot of hidden K-drama gems. While the selection is far from massive, there are plenty of stellar shows with a diverse range of plots and themes.
The majority of Netflix K-dramas are in their original Korean dubs with a variety of subtitles to choose from. With Netflix, any level of learner can enjoy Kdramas.
You’ll pay between $8.99 and $15.99 for a monthly subscription, depending on the HD quality and number of devices you want to connect. Plus, the first month is free, so you don’t have much to lose!
We suggest checking out:
- 힘쎈여자 도봉순 (Himssenyeoja Do Bong-sun) — “Strong Girl Bong-Soo.” This show is one of the highest-rated Korean dramas in cable television history. It follows (you guessed it) a girl named Bong-Soon who has superhuman strength.
- 꽃보다 남자 (Kkochboda Namja) — “Boys over Flowers.” This oldie but goodie is based on a Japanese manga of the same name. It follows the journey of a young woman who gets caught up in the affairs of a rich kid and his pals.
Like Netflix, Hulu offers a surprising number of Korean dramas.
Hulu’s subtitle options are a tad inconsistent, but for the most part, you can watch dramas with both English and Korean subtitles.
You’ll pay between $7.99 and $39.99 for Hulu, depending on how many features you want. But we recommend using a free trial before you commit to anything!
Try out these dramas for size:
- 푸른 바다의 전설 (Pureun Bada-ui Jeonseol) — “The Legend of the Blue Sea.” A fantasy drama about a con artist and a mermaid who fall in love.
- 당신이 잠든 사이에 (Dangsini Jamdeun Saie) — “While You Were Sleeping.” A field reporter, cop and lawyer all acquire the ability to see the future in their dreams.
Kocowa is a pretty major resource for Korean drama. You can enjoy dozens of high-quality K-dramas for free with ads. It’s worth noting that even with ads, you have to pay to watch some of these series.
This site also hosts variety shows and K-pop music videos, as well as a 24-hour live stream broadcast channel featuring various shows.
Subtitle offerings vary, but you’ll be able to find a K-drama with both Korean and English subtitles easily.
Take a look at:
- 봄이 오나 봄 (Bomi Ona Bom) — “Spring Turns to Spring.” Two women swap bodies and get a chance to live the lives they’ve always wanted.
- 왜그래 풍상씨 (Waegeurae Pungsangssi) — “Liver or Die” aka “What’s Wrong, Poong-sang?” The life story of a lonely older man who lives exclusively for other people.
K-dramas truly are addictive, aren’t they?
With the help of these awesome websites, we bet you’ll end up binge-watching at least one season a K-drama this weekend. And the second season. And the third season.
Em Casalena is a published author, freelance writer and music columnist. They write about a lot of stuff, from music to films to language.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn Korean with real-world videos.