You might be an expert in the Upside Down.
Maybe you’ve formed a strong opinion on Steven Avery’s guilt/innocence/facial hair choices.
Perhaps you’ve watched so much “Fuller House” that you can thoroughly describe the contours of John Stamos’s beautiful face.
But regardless of how much binge-watching you do, there’s a strong chance that you’re missing out on some of the most beautifully bingeable TV in the world: Korean TV shows.
Korean dramas (also called K-dramas) are the addictive TV series popular in Korea. And whether or not you need to use subtitles to understand a series, watching Korean dramas can actually help you learn Korean.
With the abrupt closure of DramaFever, Korean drama fans took a hard hit. DramaFever offered excellent Korean drama streaming options.
However, all is not lost! There are still plenty of great options to get your fix of your favorite Korean shows.
With these 12 convenient resources for watching Korean dramas, you’ll always have plenty of bingeable Korean content to enjoy.
Why Watch Korean Dramas?
In Korean dramas, all vocabulary is introduced in context. When words are presented in context, it’s easier to understand how to use them in real life.
If you want to take in-context learning to the next level, you might also try FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. However, FluentU also offers more supportive resources than your favorite Korean drama will provide. That’s because each video is captioned, and the captions are annotated, giving you easy access to any word’s meaning, example sentences and an associated image.
Plus, because FluentU’s algorithm tracks your learning, the questions you see will be level-appropriate to build on what you’ve already learned. Not only can you use FluentU online, you can also download the app from iTunes or enjoy the Android app.
Korean dramas are also totally bingeable. They feature intense situations, great continuing plot lines and interesting characters. It might be hard for you to stop watching. Luckily, though, you don’t even need to feel bad about your binge since it will improve your Korean skills.
They also offer a nice range of very usable vocabulary. Many shows feature general vocabulary you can use in everyday situations. However, if you want to learn more specialized vocabulary, you can even select which drama to watch based on what you want to learn. For instance, if you want to learn business Korean, you might try watching a Korean drama set in the business world.
Not only that, watching Korean dramas can familiarize you with Korean popular culture. Korean pop culture is unique, vibrant and globally popular. Watching Korean dramas can help you connect with this culture and better understand common underlying themes.
Finally, Korean dramas can give you something to talk about with your Korean friends. It’s not always easy to come up with new conversation topics, but if you watch Korean dramas, you’ll never run out of things to say to your Korean friends, and that can help you snag more Korean conversation practice.
How to Get the Most out of Korean Dramas
Use subtitles as a tool, not a crutch.
Don’t get us wrong—subtitles are a totally valid learning tool. However, it’s important to use them as just that: a tool. That means that you shouldn’t keep using them when you no longer need them. Using subtitles early on can help prop up your skills until they improve enough to watch fully in Korean, but watching fully in Korean should be your ultimate goal.
Read online reviews in Korean.
Well-rounded skills are essential for Korean students, but watching Korean dramas doesn’t build all your skills. Luckily, you can improve your reading skills while still obsessing over your favorite dramas. To do so, try reading online reviews of your favorite shows in Korean.
You can often find these simply by searching the Korean name of the show. If you find that the reviews are still a little too advanced for you, you could also try Readlang, which can provide instant translations of words and phrases.
Write your own reviews in Korean.
To round out your skill set even more, write your own reviews in Korean. You can use these for fun, ask a conversation partner to correct your work or even post your reviews online for others to read. Regardless of what you choose to do with your reviews, writing them can give you valuable practice.
Find a conversation partner who is a fan of your favorite shows.
Language exchange can give you topnotch speaking practice. And if you find a conversation partner who loves the same Korean dramas you love, you’ll never run out of topics to discuss, and therefore you’ll get more conversation practice. Plus, when you love a show, it’s always nice to have someone to talk about it with!
Memorize your favorite scenes.
If you love a scene, memorize it. You can play it out with yourself. Doing different voices for each character isn’t mandatory, but it is fun. Otherwise, enlist the help of a Korean-speaking friend and act out the scene together.
Not only can this give you speaking practice, but you can use any lines you memorize to model tricky grammar and vocabulary rules so that you never forget them.
To make better progress, it helps to use your Korean skills regularly, so you have a perfectly valid excuse to watch your favorite Korean dramas often. To make it even easier, you can watch Korean dramas online or via drama apps, so it isn’t too hard to keep your favorite shows handy.
Wondering Where to Watch Korean Dramas? Try These 12 Sites!
Even if you’re short on cash, you don’t need to be short on Korean dramas. AsianCrush offers over 20 Korean TV series, some of which you can watch for free online or on your favorite device.
Many of AsianCrush’s offerings are relatively current, including recent programs like “아이리시 어퍼컷” (“Irish Uppercut”), which follows a dead sous-chef working at an afterlife pub.
Shows on AsianCrush usually offer English subtitles, so they’re approachable even for beginning Korean students.
For more comprehensive access to AsianCrush’s collection and to remove ads, you may also consider subscribing AsianCrush’s premium service.
Rakuten Viki includes shows that have aired, shows that are currently airing and even some original programs. “진심이 닿다” (“Touch Your Heart”) is a particularly popular current drama that follows an actress who works as a secretary to prepare for a role.
One useful feature for Korean students is the ability to search by subtitle language, allowing you to target shows with your ideal subtitling scheme. Almost all of the shows offer English subtitles. However, there are also nearly 200 shows that offer Korean subtitles, allowing you to read along in Korean as you watch.
With hundreds of current and previously aired Korean shows, OnDemandKorea won’t leave you wishing you had more to choose from. If anything, the variety could prove overwhelming. And whether you watch online or via your favorite device, you’ll have plenty of material and ways to watch it.
Subtitling options vary between shows. Some offer English subtitles, some offer Korean subtitles and some offer no subtitles. Luckily, you can filter by subtitling options to see which K-dramas match your preferences.
While some shows are available for free, others require a membership. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell which shows are free and which require a subscription until you try to watch them. “전설의 마녀” (“The Legendary Witch”) is one free subtitled option that follows four former prisoners who open a bakery together.
Kocowa is a streaming service provided by three major Korean networks, so it should come as no surprise that it can be your go-to source for Korean music, dramas and variety shows. You can watch programs online or with your favorite device through Kocowa apps.
And you’ll have plenty of great shows to choose from. For instance, “복수가 돌아왔다” (“My Strange Hero”) is a popular recent series that follows a protagonist who tries to resolve a misunderstanding from his past.
Shows often offer optional English subtitles, allowing you to choose when to use them.
You can have limited access to programs that contain ads for free. However, a paid membership allows you unlimited access to ad-free viewing.
ViewAsian offers TV shows and movies from all over Asia, including Thailand, China and, of course, South Korea. Show offerings vary more than many streaming providers, with both serious dramas and more goofy, over-the-top programs.
You can watch shows through ViewAsian online for free, but beware the many ads. Programs generally offer optional English subtitles, which is convenient for Korean students.
One terrific drama option is “하나뿐인 내편” (“My Only One”). There are dozens of episodes following a woman who finds out she’s adopted… oh yeah, and her adopted parents are murderers, so there’s that…
Do you hate discovering that the show you want to watch requires a subscription? Do you wish you could just get all your Korean content for free? Well, Tubi is just the service you’re looking for. With dozens of great (and completely free) Korean dramas that you can watch online or on your favorite device, it’s hard to go wrong with Tubi.
The simple interface makes it easy to browse for your next favorite show. Once you’ve made your selection, you can decide whether or not you want to include English subtitles.
While there are enough options to suit virtually anyone’s interests, “메디컬 탑팀” (“Medical Top Team”) is a particularly good choice if you want to learn some Korean medical vocabulary.
As long as you’re cool with the occasional ad, Tubi might be your next favorite Korean learning tool.
While this website doesn’t look as fancy as other options on this list, if you want to watch your favorite Korean TV programs online for free, it’s not a bad website to try.
DramaGo focuses on Korean dramas, and new content is added every day, so you never have to worry about running out of Korean TV shows to watch.
“알함브라 궁전의 추억” (“Memories of the Alhambra”) is one good option that’s based around an augmented reality game. The unexpected twists will keep you on the edge of your seat!
That being said, if the occasional pop-up ad gets your goat, DramaGo might not be your best option.
MyAsianTV is a simple, no-fuss website that allows you to watch TV and movies from South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and China for free.
Perhaps the most unique thing about MyAsianTV is how easy it is to browse. You can see which Korean drama episodes were uploaded most recently if you prefer current content. However, you can also filter by country, year and genre if you’re in the mood for something more specific. Prefer the hottest shows? MyAsianTV also includes a list of the top programs of the day, week and month.
Not only can you watch your favorite Korean shows online, you can also download programs, which is terrific if you don’t want to fork over money for Wi-Fi access on your next flight.
Some shows are subtitled in English, though others are not. “로맨스는 별책부록” (“Romance Is a Bonus Book”) is one popular recent series for which subtitles are available. It follows life and love at a publishing company.
You could be missing out on Korean dramas that you’ve already paid for access to! That’s because Netflix offers enough Korean dramas to fill your weekends (and your heart).
To see your options, just search “Korean TV dramas” to browse some of the top options. And because Netflix always offers English subtitling that you can turn on or off, you can choose whether or not you want to use this tool.
“힘쎈여자 도봉순” (“Strong Girl Bong-soon”) is one of the most popular Korean options on Netflix. It follows a superhero in a love triangle.
Plus, because you can access Netflix on your computer, smart TV, Roku or favorite device, you’ll have plenty of different ways to watch.
If you prefer Hulu to Netflix, don’t worry—there are still plenty of Korean dramas you can watch!
You can easily browse some of the most popular Korean TV shows on Hulu to select your favorite. Plus, Hulu offers optional English subtitles that you can use until you’ve built up your Korean skills enough to go without.
“오 마이 비너스” (“Oh My Venus”) is a fun option that will have you yucking it up as you follow a woman trying to lose weight with the help of a personal trainer.
Like Netflix, Hulu is also readily available on your computer, devices or smart TV.
YouTube may be your go-to source for user-generated content, but it can also be a useful resource for watching Korean dramas.
When you search YouTube, you’ll undoubtedly encounter some Korean dramas updated by users, but you don’t have to stick to content of questionable copyright in order to get your Korean drama fix. Some channels upload content for you! In fact, you can enjoy nearly 50 playlists of Korean dramas with English subtitles courtesy of KBS World TV. With hundreds of episodes to choose from, your Korean learning cup runneth over.
And because YouTube is also easy to access via app, web browser or smart TV, you can watch anytime and anywhere for free.
Amazon can be a tricky source for Korean students. Sometimes, Korean dramas will be available for free with an Amazon Prime subscription, but they can also come and go pretty quickly, so it’s hard to keep up. However, you can access Amazon Prime shows on your computer, device or smart TV, so if you can find a Korean drama, watching it is convenient.
You can browse Amazon Prime’s Korean content, but unfortunately, the list combines movies and TV, so finding Korean drama series requires some hunting. Additionally, some options charge an additional fee for viewing. At the time of publication, “신감독의 슬기로운 사생활” (“The Sensible Life of Director Shin”) is one Korean drama available for free with an Amazon Prime subscription. The show follows a man making how-to videos.
Additionally, you may be able to find some Korean TV show DVDs for sale on Amazon. For instance, “태양의 후예” (“Descendants of the Sun”), which follows a romance in a fictional war-torn country, is available as a DVD set with English subtitles.
No need to suffer from binge-induced guilt. With these 12 resources for watching Korean dramas, you can be proud of your addiction.
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