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12 Korean Crime Dramas That Will Keep You Up At Night

Storylines this gripping deserve a binge-watching session!
Crime and thriller K-dramas
PHOTO: (LEFT TO RIGHT) FLOWER OF EVIL/TVN, EXTRACURRICULAR/NETFLIX
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Are you just as hooked on K-dramas as we are? Then you're likely familiar with the following: Scenes that send shivers down your spine, cliffhangers that leave you at the edge of your seat, and endings that make you want to watch the whole series in one sitting. 

When it comes to TV shows, South Korea does not only excel in romantic K-dramastearjerkersand those that are based on true storiesthey're pros in the crime and mystery genre, too!

Here are 12 thrilling K-dramas that will leave you breathless, intrigued, and sufficiently creeped out.

1. Signal (2016)

Who's in it: Kim Hye Soo, Lee Je Hoon, Cho Jin Woong

Where you can watch it: Netflix

Every Korean crime drama roundup must always include Signal, and for good reason. It's widely regarded as one of the best crime shows to come out of South Korea in recent years, and the fact that it's inspired by real-life murder investigations and cold cases in the country makes it even more chilling. On paper, the story of how a mysterious walkie-talkie allows a detective and a profiler in 2015, and a detective in 1989 to crack cases and bring justice to victims might sound absurd, but Signal really is more than that. If we had to choose just one title as your gateway into this wildly addictive genre, we'd pick this.

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2. Trap (2019)

Who's in it: Lee Soo Jin, Sung Dong Il, Lim Hwa Young

When esteemed news anchor and aspiring politician Kang Woo Hyun goes on a trip to the mountains with his wife and son, he didn't expect to encounter cruel individuals who kidnap his family and leave him nearly dead. The high-profile case falls into the hands of Ko Dong Kook, and Yoon Seo Young, who must uncover the events that transpired that day. Things are never as straightforward as they seem, however, and the two detectives suspect that there may be something more sinister at play.

3. Stranger (2017)

Who’s in it: Bae Doona, Cho Seung Woo, Yoo Jae Myung, Shin Hye Sun

Where you can watch it: Netflix and Viu

Stranger, also known as Forest Of Secrets, made headlines and earned praise from around the world for its stellar acting, tightly-woven storyline, and realistic representation of modern-day South Korea. While a murder case is at the center of the story, what really propels the plot forward and makes it a worthy watch is its depiction of corruption, bribery, and deception among high-ranking officials in the government and the police. Stranger is a masterpiece that's truly worth the hype—Netflix didn't pay $200,000 per episode for nothing!

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4. Tunnel (2017)

Who’s in it: Choi Jin Hyuk, Lee Shi Ah

Where you can watch it: Netflix and Viu

It's 1986, and Park Kwang Ho is investigating a serial killer who preys on young females. After yet another murder, our hero chases the suspect into a tunnel, only to emerge 31 years into the future. There, he learns that someone is murdering women in an eerily similar manner to the killer from his original timeline. Unfamiliar with modern methods like profiling, DNA capturing, and simple Internet searches, Kwang Ho employs good old-fashioned smarts in his fervent desire to catch the killer and return to his pregnant wife. Yes, it gets emotional and heartbreaking, but truthfully, that's what makes Tunnel so compelling!

5. The Guest (2018)

Who’s in it: Kim Jae Wook, Kim Dong Wook, Jung Eun Chae

Where you can watch it: Netflix

What compels a person to commit brutal crimes? Jealousy, revenge, and psychotic tendencies are common tropes found in dramas, but in the case of The Guest, there exists a darker, more menacing presence that quietly waits in the shadows for its next victim. An exorcist, a psychic, and a detective reluctantly band together to solve these supernatural crimes. Undoubtedly the scariest show on this list and the one most worthy of a "horror" label, this is a drama we'd warn against watching at night with the lights turned off.

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6. Possessed (2019)

Who’s in it: Song Sae Byeok, Go Joon Hee

Where you can watch it: Netflix

If The Guest sounds downright terrifying, you can consider this drama! Despite its title, Possessed is a delightful mix of comedy, mystery, fantasy, and just the right amount of creepiness, with an interesting plot and likable characters to boot. When the resurrected spirit of a lunatic serial killer wreaks havoc in the city, a cranky, cynical detective teams up with a fashionable online seller-slash-psychic to stop the murderer. The detective may not be as mundane as he thinks he is though, especially when ghosts start showing up at his apartment.

7. Pied Piper (2016)

Who’s in it: Shin Ha Kyung, Jo Yoon Hee

Where you can watch it: Viki

The pen is mightier than the sword, as the adage goes. Nowhere is it more applicable than in Pied Piper, a drama about a police crisis negotiation team. Shin Ha Kyun is Joo Sung Chan, the charismatic and quick-witted head negotiator, while actress Jo Yoon Hee is Yeo Myung Ha, a member of the SWAT team. The series highlights the many cases they encounter, all of which they must handle without the use of force.

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P.S: The Philippines plays a crucial, though admittedly not very desirable, role in the first episode.

8. Voice (2017)

Who’s in it: Jang Hyuk, Lee Ha Na

Where you can watch it: Netflix and Viu

It's uncommon for a Korean drama to ever see a second season, much less a third one. So popular and well-received was Voice that the producers came out with a second season in 2018, to be followed by another in May 2019! In the first season, Jang Hyuk portrays temperamental detective Moo Jin Hyuk, while Lee Ha Na is a skilled voice profiler named Kang Kwon Joo. After brutal murders took their loved ones away, Jin Hyuk and Kwon Joo are brought together by the same desire to catch the perpetrator.

9. Life On Mars (2018)

Who’s in it: Jung Kyung Ho, Park Sung Woong

Based on the 2006 British television series of the same name, Life On Mars sees Jung Kyung Ho as Han Tae Joo, a skilled detective who is attacked while on the job, falls into a coma, and wakes up in 1988. A modern man who can't justify the old-school bullying and brutality rife among the police in '80s Korea, Tae Joo immediately locks horns with the station's caption and, effectively, his new boss, Kang Dong Cheol. As Tae Joo slowly warms up to his colleagues, he must figure out why he was sent back in time while solving a murder mystery that's somehow connected to his childhood.

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10. He Is Psychometric (2019)

Who’s in it: GOT7's Jinyoung, Kim Kwon, Sistar's Dason, Shin Hye Eun

Where you can watch it: Netflix and Viu

GOT7's Jinyoung is no newbie to the acting scene—he has several credits to his name, including playing the younger version of Lee Min Ho's character in Legend Of The Blue Sea. In He Is Psychometric, he plays Lee An, a young man who has the skill to see people's memories just by touching them. When the same terrible accident he experienced as a child occurs in the present day, An strives to get to the bottom of things using his special ability. What he doesn't know, however, is that the people he's working with—a stoic prosecutor, a sharp detective, and a police officer who's hiding a dark secret—were all involved in the accident that separated An from his parents.

11. Extracurricular (2020)

Who’s in it: Kim Dong Hee, Park Ju Hyun, Jung Da Bin, Nam Yoon Soo

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Where you can watch it: Netflix

This Netflix original series will definitely make your heart beat fast—not because of the kilig but of a different kind of thrill it comes with. Extracurricular circles around four high school students who were involved in ~extracurricular~ activities outside school as a means to survive, and FYI,  it's not the wholesome type (we'll leave it at that so you'll have more reasons to watch the drama!). One of them is Jisoo, a star student who is willing to sacrifice anything to be able to graduate. There are a lot of cliffhangers and brutal scenes here, so expect the gigil (apart from the furious thumping of your chest) while watching this K-drama.

12. Flower Of Evil (2020)

Who’s in it: Lee Joon Gi, Moon Chae Won

Where you can watch it: Netflix and Viu

What would you do when your significant other turns out to have an extremely dark past you didn't know about? Homicide Detective Cha Ji Won discovers something about her husband—who is an undeniably outstanding father to their daughter—and his many, many secrets. Like what they say, the truth will always come out no matter how much you conceal it, and Flower Of Evil shows that and more.

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