10 Thriller K-dramas To Ensure You’re Glued To Your Seat

Are you bored of binge-watching endless hours of romantic Korean dramas giving you sky-high standards of love?

Keep those ice cream tubs and boxes of tissues aside, and switch to spine-chilling thriller Kdramas that will make your jaw drop with shocking twists and turns. 

Here’s a list of 10 psychological thriller K-dramas that would pump up your adrenaline!

Save Me (2017)

Director: Kim Sung Soo

Cast: Ok Taec Yeon, Seo Yea Ji, Jo San

This 2017 psychological thriller is based on the popular webcomic Out of The World by Jo Geum San.

It follows the story of Im Sang Mi, whose family moved to Daegu after her father’s business went bankrupt.

After her brother commits suicide, her father gets involved in a cult that might not be as pious as they seem.

Sang Mi tries to escape for three years until she meets again with Han Sang-Hwan, the son of a corrupt police officer, silently asking him to save her.

While it’s not sure if webtoon artist Jo got inspired by actual events that might have happened in their life, there is a slight indication that they based it on their observation of the prevailing pseudo-Christian cults in South Korea.

Save Me is a great drama with excellent, poignant moments that leave you continually surprised at what a powerfully brave woman Im Sang Mi grows up to be. In that regard, Save Me perfectly portrays the morally grey and cold world of isolation and grief.

God’s Gift: 14 Days (2014)

Director: Lee Dong Hoon

Cast: Lee Bo Young, Cho Seung Woo, Kim Tae Woo

TV writer Kim Soo Hyun is in a tragedy when her daughter, Saet Byul, gets kidnapped and murdered. When she finds out that due to some miraculous ability, she can go back in time precisely fourteen days before her daughter’s murder, she goes all out to find the culprit responsible and prevent the tragedy. She gets help from Ki Dong Chan, a private investigator who wants to prove that his mentally ill brother is not a murderer. 

As the clock ticks and they start uncovering darker secrets, they realise something bigger and more dangerous is happening. Will they solve the mystery before their granted time is up?

God’s Gift: 14 Days is a great drama that will keep you on edge with unexpected twists and turns.

Flower Of Evil (2020)

Director: Kim Choel Kyu

Cast: Lee Joon Gi, Moon Chae Won, Jang Hee Jin, Seo Hyun Woo

Thriving on the excitement of unravelling mysteries and the high that comes from bringing criminals to justice, Ji Won, a detective, is always searching for the next clue.

But when Ji Won takes on a cold murder case, she starts down a dark path that could crumble the foundations of her happy life. Determined to bring this evil psychopath to justice, she dives ever deeper into this case, only to discover that her husband might have connections to this series of cold murders.

What appears to be a perfect family – a loving couple with a six-year-old daughter who adores her family might just be a facade to disguise the most heinous crimes.

Some compare it to You, the Netflix show, as it shows how people go to extreme lengths to hide their true violent nature. Audiences note that the drama has in-depth character arcs, and at the same time, it maintains the other aspects, such as cinematography and background soundtrack.

Mouse (2021)

Director: Choi Joon Bae, Kang Choel Woo

Cast: Lee Seung Gi, Lee Hee Joon, Kyung Soo Jin, Park Ju Hyun

The 2021 drama Mouse is a gripping psychological thriller that revolves around a heinous serial killer tied to one of Korea’s infamous murders. 

Always one step ahead of the authorities who chase him, the only sign the cops have of the killer’s presence is the grisly trail of chaos left behind. Determined to find this killer and bring them to justice, steadfast officers Ba Reum and Moo Chi eventually decide to track them down.

They embark on a quest to understand the behaviour and intentions of the killer and put an end to crimes. However, their pursuit of truth starts raising questions. Questions that make them wonder if a killer is born or created by their grief. 

Extracurricular (2020)

Director: Kim Jin-Min

Cast: Kim Dong Hee, Park Ju Hyun

A model high school student, Oh Ji Soo, leads by an excellent example for his peers. He has good grades, is well-mannered, and is favoured by his teachers. But under the guise of a model student, he lives a criminal life to pay for his college fee. When a classmate is interested in his secret, he goes to extreme lengths –  to escape her blackmail. 

Extracurricular revolve around making the wrong decisions which lead to horrid consequences. While the concept may not be new to the audience, the story structure and how things escalate as the show progresses will catch the audience’s attention.

The series has gained rave reviews for its explicit depiction of the struggles of high school teenagers.

Penthouse – War In Life (2020)

Director: Park Bo Ram, Park Soo Jin, Joo Dong Min

Cast: Lee Ji Ah, Kim So Yeon, Eugene, Um Ki Joon

This wildly popular high society melodrama is about three mothers and their secret desires to elevate on the social status stairs. The drama, spanning three seasons, shows wealthy families living in the same building, The Hera Complex, and their children at Cheong Ah Art School. Each character has demons from their dark past and a thirst for ambition. 

When a young girl mysteriously dies at a party in the complex, the families decide to take matters into their own hands and do whatever is necessary to protect their image and their children from the aftereffects of the murder.

The drama would keep the audience on their toes as it ranges from genres of thriller, suspense, and revenge to a deadly story of vicious humans trying to compete with each other to make it to the top.

Nobody Knows (2020)

Director: Lee Jeong Heum

Cast: Kim Seo Hyung, Ryu Deok Hwan, Park Hoon, Ahn Ji Ho

The psychological thriller Nobody Knows involves many elements that will intrigue audiences.

Cha Young-Jin has lived for eighteen years with deep guilt and regret as she blames herself for her best friend’s murder by a notorious serial killer.

Determined to get justice for her friend, she joins the police force and becomes a strong-willed detective, knowing the killer will come for her someday. When the killer reappears after years, Young Jin makes it her goal to stop him before he targets someone close to her. She joins school teacher Sun Woo, and they do their best to protect the at-risk youth whose lives would have changed had they been surrounded by good adults.

Strangers From Hell (2019)

Director: Lee Chang Hee

Cast: Im Si Wan, Lee Dong Wook

Hell Is Other People, popularly known as, Strangers from Hell, is a psychological thriller K-drama based on a popular webtoon by Kim Yong Ki.

Jong Woo, a young man in his 20s, moves to Seoul after his friend offers him a job there. But due to financial struggles, he can only afford to move into a sceptical and cheap motel, Eden Studios. As the story unfolds, he gets an eerie feeling that the tenants that stay there along with him have dark secrets – secrets he never wished to know about.

Each character has an eerie aura around them which adds to the spooky element of the show. The story spirals into slight madness as bizarre occurrences occur, with an even more shocking and unpredictable ending.

Squid Game (2021)

Director: Hwang Dong Hyuk

Cast: Lee Jung Jae, Park Hae Soo, Wi Ha Joon, Jung Ho Yeon

The series revolves around a survival show where 456 people, all struggling financially, are offered to win a prize amounting to 45.6 billion Korean Won by playing children’s games popular in Korea. As the game proceeds, the players discover that losing the game results in them dying, and each death would add 100 million Korean Won to the final grand prize, which would be won by one person only – the winner. 

And thus, begins the vicious mind games of the players who would go to extreme lengths to survive till the end and win the game.

A struggling single father, Gi-hun teams up with other players, including his childhood friend Sang Woo, an older man with a brain tumour and a North Korean defector, to survive the simple yet deadly game, which might affect them both physically and mentally.

Little Women (2022)

Director: Kim Hee Won

Cast: Kim Go Eun, Nam Ji Hyun, Park Ji Hu, Wi Ha Joon

Little Women is about three sisters, suffocated by poverty, caught up in the web of a rich and politically influential family. 

The chaos begins when an employee, alleged of embezzlement, commits suicide, and her friend, Oh In Joo, mysteriously gets her hands on a significant sum of money that ultimately brings a man Choi Do Il into the picture and some unexpected threats. 

Things further start worsening when the second sister, Oh In Kyung, a reporter, begins to show interest in unveiling a case involving the powerful family into which the third sister, Oh In Hye, a talented artist, already gets into their affiliation because of her friendship with the daughter of their house.

Little Women is a women-made and women-centric drama which makes it even more enjoyable with each episode ending on a shocking cliffhanger.

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