With The 2021 Baeksang Awards completed, we know what the best of the best is! These 9 K-Dramas from the past decade are certified by the Baeksang Awards for being the best quality shows you can get. They have won numerous awards, but in this specific case, they have won the Grand Prize/Best Drama and Best Screenplay showing that they’re perfect through and through.
Here are the 9 K-Dramas you should be adding to your list this summer!
2011 – Secret Garden
This drama tells the story of Kim Joo Won (Hyun Bin), an arrogant CEO who is a perfectionist, and Gil Ra Im (Ha Ji Won), a poor and humble stuntwoman. When they accidentally meet, Joo Won mistakes Ra Im for actress Park Chae Rim, and it marks the beginning of a bickering relationship. Though soon, Joo Won tries to hide a growing attraction to Ra Im. To make it worse, a strange sequence of events results in them swapping bodies.
This show was a smash hit with an economic effect of ₩20 billion KRW (about $18,102,086 USD) and ratings up to almost 40%. It took out the competition by not only winning the Grand Prize, but Best Drama, Best Screenplay, and Best New Actress as well. It is also the series that launched Hyun Bin into international fame.
2012 – Deep Rooted Tree
King Sejong (Han Seok Kyu) accidentally causes the death of his in-laws and their slaves in an attempt to save them from his violent father, King Taejong (Baek Yoon Shik). Two slaves, Ddol Bok (Jang Hyuk) and Dam (Shin Se Kyung) survive but don’t know that each other has. Ddol Bok blames the king and vows to kill him, spending years becoming a great warrior. Dam, who has a photographic memory, becomes a court lady named So Yi but feels so guilty about the other slaves’ deaths that she stays mute.
Ddol Bok returns to the palace as Kang Chae Yoon to kill the king. However, he becomes invested in the mysterious deaths of Hall of Worthies Scholars. The deaths were caused by a secret society called “Hidden Root,” created by Jeong Do Jeon’s followers to give more power to ministers and less to the king. King Taejong killed Jung Do Jeon and all of his family except for his nephew, Jung Ki Joon (Choi Woo Shik), who is now the leader of Hidden Root and lives in disguise.
This series won the Grand Prize as well as Best Screenplay and has become a classic in the K-Drama community.
2013 – The Chaser
Detective Baek Hong Suk (Son Hyun Joo) lost his 15-year-old daughter in a car crash, and his wife died of shock shortly afterward. He later learns that her death is tied into a conspiracy. Reporter Seo Ji Won (Kim Sung Ryung) is the daughter of a large corporation and helps Hong Suk uncover the truth of his daughter’s death. While helping him, she finds out that her brother-in-law, a presidential candidate, is involved in corruption.
Despite little to no promotion and no major stars, The Chaser became the number one show in its time slot, probably due to its well-structured storyline and solid acting skills! The series took the prize for Best Drama, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor.
2016 – Signal
Fifteen years ago, a young girl was kidnapped on her way from school, and Park Hae Yeong (Lee Je Hoon) witnessed the crime. A few days later, the girl was found dead, and the police couldn’t find the murderer. Because of this, Hae Yeong started not to trust the police. Fifteen years later, he is now a police officer and criminal profiler. One day, he finds a walkie-talkie that allows him to contact Detective Lee Jae Han, who is currently in 1989. They then set out on a mission to solve cold cases and prevent more.
This show was a widespread success and is still one of the highest-rated Korean Dramas in cable television history. It took Best Drama, Best Screenplay, and Best Actress.
2017 – Dear My Friends
Park Wan (Go Hyun Jung) is a translator who is constantly nagged by her mother, Jang Nan Hee (Go Doo Shim), to hang out with her elderly friends. The story revolves around the friends’ last years as they rediscover themselves through relationships, family, the struggles of old age, and their life journey that they share with Wan in the hopes that she will write a novel about them.
This series caused an extreme upset as it beat out some other beloved series such as W, Goblin, Love in the Moonlight, and Dr. Romantic (although Goblin won the Grand Prize). This drama gave people comfort and made them feel like the characters were their own family. It won Best Drama and Best Screenplay.
2018 – Secret Forest (A.K.A. Stranger)
Hwang Shi Mok (Jo Seung Woo) had brain surgery when he was a child, which caused him to lack emotion. Now, Shi Mok works as a rational, cold, and lonely prosecutor. However, he is one of the only prosecutors that isn’t corrupted. One day, a dead body is thrown in front of him, and he meets Police Lieutenant Han Yeo Jin (Bae Doo Na) at the scene. They work together to rid the prosecutor’s office of corruption and solve a serial murder case.
This series won the Grand Prize, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor! It was a hit amongst both international and domestic fans and was created around the time Bae Doo Na gained popularity for her role as Sun in the American TV show Sense8. It was also featured on the New York Times list of Best TV Shows of 2017.
2019 – My Mister
Park Dong Hoon (Lee Sun Kyun) is a middle-aged engineer married to attorney Kang Yoon Hee (Lee Ji Ah). However, his life is not as happy as it seems. He has two unemployed brothers, Sang Hoon (Park Ho San) and Gi Hoon (Song Sae Byuk), who rely on him and, not to mention, his wife is secretly having an affair with CEO Do Joon Yeong (Kim Young Min)—Dong Hoon’s current boss. One day, he receives an unexpected bribe and notices that his co-worker, Lee Ji An (IU), saw. Ji An is a young part-time worker who is drowning in debt and is the only one to take care of her ill grandmother. Dong Hoon then gets entangled in his brothers’ struggle and the company’s internal rivalry.
This K-Drama received amazing critical acclaim and is one of the highest-rated Korean Dramas in cable television history. It won Best Drama and Best Screenplay.
2020 – When The Camellia Blooms
Oh Dong Baek (Gong Hyo Jin) is a single mother who runs a bar-restaurant named Camellia. The townspeople often gossip about her since she grew up as an orphan, is a single mother, and runs a bar where many men frequent. Regardless of the gossip, police officer Hwang Yong Shik (Kang Ha Neul) is in love with her. Meanwhile, Dong Baek’s ex-boyfriend Kang Jong Ryul (Kim Ji Suk) suddenly reappears. He is a famous baseball player, that hid their relationship when they dated. While Dong Baek tries to navigate her daily trials, a serial killer roams the town, and she may be the next target.
This series swept the board by winning the Grand Prize, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Screenplay. It was the highest-rated mini-series of 2019 and the second highest-rated K-Drama of 2019.
2021 – Beyond Evil
Lee Dong Sik, a once capable detective, is now demoted to performing menial tasks at the Manyang Police Substation. His new superior, Han Joo Won, is transferred in. He is an elite detective whose father is a candidate for the National Police Agency’s next chief. Despite his prestige, Joo Won holds a long-held secret. When a string of killings occurs, they realize a pattern similar to some serial cases from 20 years ago. Dong Sik and Joo Won vow to stop the murderer at all costs but may lose themselves in the process.
This year, Beyond Evil took home the prizes for Best Drama, Best Actor, and Best Screenplay. This series rocked the K-Drama world, bringing light to 2021.