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Top 10 Korean Dramas of 2016

Updated on December 12, 2016

We're now on the last month of 2016, which means it's time to take a good look and review all the Korean dramas that we have this year. We are so glad to have great lineup of dramas this 2016. From the early half of the year we have the phenomenal drama, Descendants of the Sun, and at the second half we have the hit historical - romance Love in the Moonlight. Isn't it fantastic that we'd get to see these amazing series this year?

Besides the two mentioned dramas, we also have other great series that made us laugh, cry, and fall in love. Well, whatever the genre may be - romance, melodrama, romantic comedy, action, medical, suspense, thriller, historical / sageuk, family, or crime, the best 10 K-dramas of 2016 is finally here. Based on popularity, ratings, reception, and review, the top dramas of the year are as follows:

10. Six Flying Dragons

The New Hit Sageuk

Air Date: From October 5, 2015 to March 22, 2016, every Mondays and Tuesdays at 22:00 on SBS

Starring: Yoo Ah-in, Kim Myung-min, Shin Se-kyung, Byun Yo-han, Yoon Kyun-sang and Chun Ho-jin.

Episodes: 50

Genre: Historical, Action

Highest Rating: 19.3% for Episode 36 (February 2, 2016)

Although it started airing in 2015, this 50-episode drama maintained its good, high ratings until its last episode in 2016. For a drama to be aired in the long run and maintain its ratings is indeed a difficult thing to do, because viewers might get bored over time. But Six Flying Dragons continued to set the viewers' hearts racing on fire because of unstoppable actions, interesting story, intense conflict, and epic battles. If you enjoy watching sageuk and you have a background on Korea's history, you'll surely love the twist of the series. It's also a big bonus if you have watched the 2011 historical drama, Deep Rooted Tree, because that drama is the sequel to this series. Because of its perfect casting, the drama made the audience wowing with each scene, and since 2015, the drama has been garnering several awards, including the Best Actor Awards in TV for Yoo Ah-in in the 52nd Baeksang Arts Awards.

9. The K2

The Action Drama of the Year

Air Date: From September 23, 2016 to November 12, 2016 every Friday and Saturday at 20:00 on tvN

Starring: Ji Chang-wook, Song Yoon-ah, Im Yoon-ah and Jo Sung-ha

Episodes: 16

Genre: Action, Political

Highest Rating: 8.489% for Episode 6 (October 8, 2016) Note that this drama airs on a cable channel/pay TV which normally has a relatively smaller audience compared to free-to-air TV/public broadcasters.

The eloquent killer, Ji Chang-wook is back in this action drama! And a drama featuring SNSD's Yoona? With her fiery role in this story, how can we not watch it? Written by Jang Hyuk-rin, who also wrote 2014's Reset and 2015's Yong-pal, this bodyguard-action drama received positive reviews and praises from its viewers. Audiences are all amazed by the action scenes which includes various fighting techniques (systema, taekwondo, aikido, and jujutsu) as well as the use of bullet time. The drama was a big hit despite its controversy with the 'hot and steamy' fighting episode in the bathhouse. The K2 remained its high ratings, topping cable channel viewership ratings throughout its 8-week broadcast, and Ji Chang-wook became tvN's highest-paid actor for this drama.

8. Uncontrollably Fond (Lightly, Ardently)

A Heartwarming Melodrama

Air Date: From July 6 to September 8, 2016 every Wednesdays and Thursdays on KBS2 at 21:55

Starring: Kim Woo-bin and Bae Suzy

Episodes: 20

Genre: Romance, Meoldrama

Highest Rating: 12.9% for Episode 5 (July 20, 2016)

Finally, Kim Woo-bin as the lead actor! This drama started so well, with high ratings and positive reception from the viewers, especially because Kim Woo-bin is such a lovable actor and many of his fans are anticipating for his first-ever lead role. Also, Suzy is a popular K-pop icon. The story started pretty exciting, as the back story between the two lead characters are pretty interesting. However, the drama dropped its ratings in the halfway, because the story is becoming slow-paced and there are too many flashbacks in a particular episode (which is not necessarily needed). Also, the story could end in about 16 episodes, without those flashbacks. Anyways, the drama is still popular because of Kim Woo-bin's shining moments with Suzy, as well as the cute relationship of Jin Kyung and Yoo Oh Sung (which is so touching). We hope to see more of Woo-bin in the future dramas to come, right?

7. Guardian: The Lonely and Great God (Goblin)

An Epic Fusion of Past and Present

Air Date: From December 2, 2016 to January 21, 2017 every Friday and Saturday at 20:00 on tvN

Starring: Gong Yoo, Lee Dong-wook, Kim Go-eun, Yoo In-na and Yook Sung-jae

Episodes: 16

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Drama

Highest Rating: (so far) 12.5% for Episode 3 (December 9, 2016) Note that this drama airs on a cable channel/pay TV which normally has a relatively smaller audience compared to free-to-air TV/public broadcasters

After such a long wait, here's another Gong Yoo drama, and it is his highly-awaited return to the small screen! Seeing him in warrior outfit makes him so hot, isn't it? This new drama series is about the immortal Goblin named Kim Shin, and the human bride that could end his curse of being immortal. He lives together with an amnesiac grim reaper and in the present time, after 900 years of waiting he met Ji Eun-tak, a high school student who happens to be the legendary goblin's bride. Have you ever wonder why this is such a big hit? The series was written by Kim Eun-sook, who also wrote the popular series The Heirs (2013) and Descendants of the Sun (2016). It is Kim's second collaboration with director Lee Eun-bok after both working on Descendants. We hope that this is going to be a lot more interesting until next year!

6. W: Two Worlds

A Fantasy Webtoon World Adventure

Air Date: From July 20 to September 14, 2016 every Wednesdays and Thursdays at 22:00 on MBC

Starring: Lee Jong-suk and Han Hyo-joo

Episodes: 16

Genre: Romance, Melodrama, Suspense, Fantasy

Highest Rating: 17.8% in Episode 5 (August 3, 2016)

After her role as Choi Suk-bin in the 2010 hit historical drama, Dong Yi, Han Hyo-joo is back in the small screen in this drama! Together with the handsome Lee Jong-suk, she entered the world of 'W', the world that his father created in his webtoon. The drama is popular and it continued to have good ratings until the last episode. What makes the viewers keep on hanging is the new conflict that arises after one has been solved. A new twist is always on the line waiting, which makes it more fantastic to watch. It is not as romantic as other dramas, but the story is like a roller-coaster of emotions. Although in the end, some fans are a bit skeptical on watching the last episode, because they are concerned if the story will end sadly especially when Kang Cheol debunk the idea of a happy ending. Anyways, the drama is overall great - it is something new and cool.

5. The Legend of the Blue Sea

A Dive into a Legendary Love Story

Air Date: From November 16, 2016 to January 19, 2017 every Wednesday and Thursday at 22:00 on KBS.

Starring: Jun Ji-hyun and Lee Min-ho

Episodes: 20

Genre: Fantasy, Romantic-Comedy

Highest Rating: (so far) 21.3% for Episode 4 (November 24, 2016)

After 3 years of waiting from his previous drama, The Heirs, finally, Lee Min-ho is back once again on the small screen, together with the My Love from the Star actress, Jun Ji-hyun. The drama is one of the most anticipated this year, because K-drama fans can't wait to see these two brilliant actors in one series. This drama follows a fantasy story, inspired by a classic Joseon legend from Korea's first collection of unofficial historical tales about the tale of a beautiful mermaid who was caught by a fisherman. The romantic part is the love interest between the mermaid named Se Hwa and the son of a Joseon noble family named Dam-ryeong. The series is also very funny and cute, as the two lead actors share some comical moments. Jun Ji-hyun is really good in romantic comedy, you'll surely miss her funny moments in My Love from the Stars as you watch her here. Indeed, the story and the main cast is simply amazing!

4. Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim

A Great Story of a Good Doctor

Air Date: From November 7, 2016 to January 10, 2017 every Mondays & Tuesdays at 22:00 on SBS

Starring: Han Suk-Kyu, Yoo Yeon-Seok, and Seo Hyun-Jin

Episodes: 20

Genre: Medical, Romance, Melodrama

Highest Rating: (so far) 24.7% for Episode 10 (December 6, 2016)

A drama that will make you feel sad and happy at the same time. One of the top-rated dramas this year is Romantic Doctor, Teacher Kim. It gained a sudden rise in its rating from the past few episodes, from 10.5% to a blasting 24.7% in Episode 10. The ratings speaks for the drama - it has a good story. (I wonder why it isn't so popular as the other dramas?) It is a motivational story about Boo Yong-joo, a genius and triple-board certified surgeon who had a traumatic incident. He then disappears and changes his name to Kim Sa-bu to work at a small hospital named Doldam. In that place, he is helping Kang Dong-joo and Yoon Seo-jeong to become great doctors. Seeing them working as a team is really heartwarming, and some sad scenes might make your hearts broken.

3. Doctors (Doctor Crush)

Crush Hard on Doctor Crush

Air Date: From June 20 to August 23, 2016 every Mondays and Tuesdays at 22:00 on SBS

Starring: Kim Rae-won and Park Shin-hye

Episodes: 20

Genre: Medical, Romance, Melodrama

Highest Rating: 23.8% for Episode 17 (August 15, 2016)

She once played the role of a gender bender, teenage heir, a non-bias reporter, and now, Park Shin-hye stars as a gangster turned doctor. Pretty cool, right? What's cooler is her action scenes - because she's a gangster, you'll see her awesome stunts. Can you imagine the pretty and sweet-faced Shin-hye getting caught in a brawl? But she's not just a fighter. She is also smart. The drama follows the story of Yoo Hye-jung, a tough girl who was once a scary gangster. Known as a delinquent in high school, she found it hard to trust people, so she keeps her cold attitude. However, she changes after meeting her mentor Hong Ji-hong, who plays a key role in transforming her life from a "hopeless" delinquent to a compassionate doctor. They part ways subsequently but meet again after 13 years, when Yoo Hye-jung becomes a doctor. The drama has an interesting transformation story of Hye-jung's life which makes it popular. The ratings were also maintained high until the ending episode.

2. Love in the Moonlight (Moonlight Drawn by the Clouds)

The Sweetest Love Story Ever

Air Date: From August 22, 2016 until October 18, 2016 every Monday and Tuesday at 22:00 on KBS2

Starring: Park Bo-gum, Kim Yoo-jung, Jinyoung, Kwak Dong-yeon

Episodes: 18

Genre: Historical, Romance, Romantic-Comedy, Melodrama

Highest Rating: 25.3% for Episode 18 (October 18, 2016)

Have you been caught by the 'Moonlight Syndrome'? I think everyone does! Love in the Moonlight is a historical drama, but it is not a hard sageuk with so much war scenes, political problems, and serious mood. In fact, Moonlight is not heavy at all. It is a cute, sweet, and very romantic story set in the Joseon period. It makes us reminded of 2010's Sungkyunkwan Scandal, which somehow gives a similar feeling - the leading lady is also a girl pretending to be a boy. But I'd say this drama is brighter, sweeter, and cheesier. In fact, what makes this so much better is the Crown Prince's character. Unlike most male leads, he is not clueless about Ra On's true persona. He became aware that she's a girl in his own way, and he is not afraid to show affection at all. Park Bo-gum truly shines in this drama, and Kim Yoo-jung is stunningly beautiful. Jinyoung is super handsome as well, you can't hate him at all for being the second lead! And Kwak Dong-yeon is a cool fighter! Everything is just perfect, cute, and lovable, which makes it so popular and successful.

1. Descendants of the Sun

2016's Most Popular Drama

Air Date: From February 24 to April 14, 2016 every Wednesdays and Thursdays at 22:00 on KBS2

Starring: Song Joong-ki, Song Hye-kyo, Jin Goo, Kim Ji-won

Episodes: 16

Genre: Romance, Romantic-Comedy, Action, Melodrama

Highest Rating: 41.6% for Episode 16 (April 14, 2016)

Can a doctor and a soldier fall in love with each other? The answer is yes! The newest love story that made us fall harder for K-dramas is 2016's Descendants of the Sun, featuring the love story of Captain Yoo Si-jin, and his beloved doctor, Kang Mo-yeon. The drama is considered unique as there were no dramas that portray a love story involving a soldier and a doctor. What's more, there are so many outside factors that affects both of their personal lives. Isn't it frustrating when they can't date properly because they have a sudden work to do? But still, they found love amidst the many grasses that grows on the pathway of their relationship. This is what makes the audiences go for their story as they advances towards another problem, and find another solution to continue. The drama's ratings were also amazing, as they hit 41.6% during the last episode, which makes Descendants the top-rated drama surpassing the 2014's My Love from the Stars. Because of the huge success of this drama, Song Joong-ki and Song Hye-kyo became one of the highest paid actors in Korea.

What is the best 2016 Korean drama?

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