I wanted to keep track of all the different things that I watch this year. I don’t know about you but sometimes people will ask me, “what have you seen lately that was really good?” Even if I KNOW I’ve seen some great stuff, sometimes I will draw a total blank. So I am going to note all the 2022 K-Dramas, Movies, and Other Shows watched this year.
Admittedly this may only be of real interest to me, but maybe it will help you decide what to watch next if you need some ideas. Most of what I watch is on Netflix, but if it’s not I will indicate where I saw it. Please note I can not guarantee every title is available in all countries. It’s also possible that it may not remain on the streaming service indefinitely, this is just as of the time I note it.
2022 K-Dramas, Movies, and Other Shows
I mostly watch K-Dramas these days (besides being entertainment, I consider them a great way to study Korean) but I am not opposed to other media, so you will find a mix of things. Aside from dramas, I enjoy horror, sci-fi, dystopian, and action/disaster films. For obvious reasons, I am not a big fan of virus/pandemic type media – zombies are good, plagues not so much.
Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha (고향 차차차) – K-Drama (On Netflix)
Oh my gosh. I loved this show so much. By the end of 2021 I had watched a lot of shows that were dark and/or violent one after the other. This included Squid Game (which I watched twice in a row; once alone and once with my daughter), Vincenzo (my fave ever but definitely violent), My Name, and Hellbound.
Once I had seen all of those back to back I really felt like I needed something light. Something vibrant. Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha was the perfect choice. The cinematography is beautiful and often saturated. The scenery of a small coastal town in Korea was delightful. The story had minimal actual drama despite being a K-Drama. The characters were fun and multi-dimensional. The acting was wonderful. I cried on occasion because I’m a crier by nature, but the storyline was not emotionally draining. The end was everything I could have hoped for. My only disappointment is I can’t be friends with the two main characters since they’re not real people.
This is definitely going to be a show that I re-visit. Since it isn’t fast-paced action (don’t confuse this with boring – it’s not slow and NOT boring!) I can put it on and have it play while I do other things. I think this may be one of my comfort shows, the way The Office was in early 2020.
The Silent Sea (고요의 바 다) – Korean Sci-Fi series (On Netflix)
The Silent Sea takes place in the undefined but not-too-distant future. Earth has suffered from extreme drought to the point that people have to line up for water – and how much water depends on your status and the water access card you own. A team of space soldiers are recruited to travel to a lunar research station in order to retrieve samples from a failed scientific mission. They find something they never could have imagined.
This show stars a familiar face and one of my favourite actors, Gong Yoo. You’ll recognize him from Train to Busan and as the much-loved Salesman in Squid Game (the fact that so many people loved him speaks volumes to Gong Yoo’s charisma. Because let’s be honest, the Salesman was NOT a good person!).
I have a soft spot for a good space story and this was exactly that – a VERY good space story. As a bonus, if you’re looking for something easy to binge this may be what you want. There are only 8 episodes and they’re each under an hour long. Perfect for a one or two day Netflix session.
Snowball (죄선의 삶) – Korean drama film (seen free via the Korean Culture Centre of Canada)
Snowball follows three high school girls who are best friends. Tired and fed up of what feels like a meaningless existence, they decide to run away to Seoul. Presumably they are seeking fun and adventure. What they find, though, is misery, desperation, and run-down survival. When they give up and decide to return home, their friendships have changed forever – and not for the best.
The storyline was interesting but in all honesty I found this movie to feel much longer than it was. It was fairly slow-paced and definitely not a pick-you-up film. The acting was very good so I’m glad I watched it but I would not recommend it if you are in any kind of a negative mood because it will not help.
(Note – not to be confused with the controversial K-drama Snowdrop which I have not seen yet)
Don’t Look Up – satire disaster movie (on Netflix)
I had mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, Don’t Look Up is a brilliant satirical movie. It follows two scientists who try to warn the public that a comet is on a crash collision course with earth. Most reactions are lukewarm at best. The US government blows off the urgency because dealing with it will conflict with the midterm elections, and eventually those in power try to determine how to monetize this catastrophe. At the same time, as the public learns of our global date with death, part of the population decides it’s all a hoax.
It’s not a hoax.
On the other hand, it was also vaguely unsettling to see how perfectly this film mirrors our world today. Between people choosing to believe anything science-based is a hoax to the depiction of a certain political party, it all felt just a little too real.
I decided to root for the comet. I don’t know what that says about my mental health. Regardless, great movie, I enjoyed it despite the discomfort, and the acting was fantastic. It clocks in at over two hours but doesn’t actually feel that long.
All Of Us Are Dead (지금 우리 학교는) – Zombie series (on Netflix)
I’m going to do my very best to sum up my reaction to this incredibly, amazingly, well done show.
I watched this show as quickly as I could, although I wish I had started it on a Friday night – because I absolutely would have binged all 12-ish hours of it in one weekend. Back when I watched The Walking Dead for the very first time, I thought, “WOW, I have never seen anything like this.” That’s the exact reaction I had to All Of Us Are Dead as well. I have never seen anything like this on TV ever.
The first 45 minutes of episode one have a bit of zombie* background information but most of it is introducing us to the main characters. The final 15 minutes covers the start of the outbreak. The show does not slow down at all for the remaining 11 episodes. I can best describe this series as a 12-hour panic attack. It was incredible. I loved this show so very much.
I don’t even want to say much else because I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. Just know that it’s a wild ride, the main characters are wonderful (and imperfect which makes them believable), and the show is scary as hell. Also, they way they wrapped it up before rolling the final credits was perfect. They CAN leave it there and it’s a totally satisfactory ending; they can also do a season two in a very natural way without making it seem like they’re just trying to cash in.
I will probably watch this show again some day.
*Zombie is probably a good catch-all term but in all honesty these non-human creatures are more similar to those in 28 Days Later, which is technically more rage than zombie, but to-may-to, to-mah-to, either way it was top quality.
You can read a more in-depth but spoiler free review here which I wrote as part of the Honorary Reporter program with the Korean Culture Centre of Canada.
The Woman in the House Across the Street From the Girl in the Window – thriller/whodunit (on Netflix)
Super-long title aside, this was an enjoyable little binge-fest for me.
The season is only 8 episodes, and they are all well under half an hour each, so you can watch the entire series in less than four hours of your time. It’s pretty fast-paced too, so it feels even shorter. I don’t watch or read a lot of this genre but it does have one of my favourite plot-lines for the times that I do: The Unreliable Narrator.
If you’ve ever read (or watched, though I did not see the movie) The Girl on the Train it is very similar in the sense that Anna, the main character is not a reliable narrator. She is a heavy drinker, on medication that can cause hallucinations, and she has a hyperactive imagination compounded by grief. Every time to see something through her eyes, you are left wondering if it really happened, if she thinks it happened, or if she just imagined it altogether.
One thing to keep in mind – it’s not meant to be a serious mystery thriller. It’s got a lot of “wtf” humour in it and it’s actually a bit of a parody of the thriller genre. That being said, the final episode was a bit on the silly side (I’d use the old expression “jumped the shark” to be honest) but it was a fun show. As a bonus, it stars Kristen Bell, and I absolutely love her. Not sure there will be a season two, this would work well as a one-and-done limited series.
Itaewon Class (이태원 클라쓰) – K-Drama (on Netflix)
It took me an episode or two, and then I was all in on this one.
I had heard good things about Itaewon Class (이태원 클라쓰) so I knew to hang on even when I wasn’t fully convinced at the beginning. It’s the story of Sae-ro-yi, an ex-con who doesn’t even have a high school education, and his pursuit of his dream to open a pub. There’s so much more to it than that though. It’s also a story of the revenge he seeks against the people who destroyed his life and put him in prison in the first place. For me the best part was watching a character who had started off as very standoff-ish change into someone with a tight circle of friends and confidants. I rooted for him all the way through this show and was sad to see it end.
Everglow (빛나는 순간) – Korean drama film (not currently streaming)
Sadly, Everglow is not currently streaming on any of the major platforms. I was fortunate to have a free screening at home courtesy of the Korean Culture Centre of Canada. Hopefully it will be available on some streaming services soon because this was a delightful film.
This movie shows Kyung-hoon arriving in Jeju, heart set on filming a documentary about the area’s best female free diver, Jin-ok (Ko Doo-sim). Too bad she is dead-set against being involved in any way. We get to see him working his magic to convince her, and over the days and weeks that follow, they develop a charming friendship.
Escape Room – Suspense film (Netflix)
Escape Room was listed on Netflix as a horror movie, but really it’s more horror-adjacent. It’s much more of a scary suspense or thriller film. We meet six strangers who all receive an invitation to challenge themselves to a fully immersive escape room experience with a $10,000 prize on the table. They soon realize that the escape rooms aren’t immersive – they’re real and not escaping means death.
Who will make it out alive?
It was definitely an exciting movie. I’ve done one escape room before and I loved it, but I definitely won’t be accepting any random invitations to participate in one any time soon.
Mad For Each Other (이 구역의 미친) – K-drama (Netflix)
Business Proposal (사내맞선) – K-drama (Netflix)
I have always said that I am not a big romance fan. I love a little romance in a story but not as the primary focus. Or so I thought. K-dramas have taught me otherwise and this one definitely sealed it for me. It turns out I even have a romance trope that I enjoy – the fake romance to true love trope! When these two characters begin fake dating to appease his grandfather’s demands to find a wife, they never expect to start falling for each other for real. You will root for them the whole way through. Bonus – the second lead love story is just as compelling!
Train to Busan (부산행) – Korean horror film (Amazon Prime via Shudder)
I’ve mentioned Gong Yoo is one of my faves right? He is absolutely incredible in this film. A distracted and very busy divorced father, he is tasked with getting his daughter to his mother’s home in Busan for her birthday. He expects to make a very quick round-trip journey on the high speed train, back in time for lunch at the office.
It goes a little awry when a zombie outbreak affects their travels. Now he needs to save his daughter and himself from the fast-spreading zombie disease. And maybe he’ll need to care about more than just himself and team up with the others around him if they want to survive.
(This movie has one of my favourite intense scenes in a zombie film ever!)
Strangers From Hell (타인은 지옥이다) – K-drama (Netflix – no longer streaming)
This show is exceptionally creepy, I rushed to catch it all before Netflix took it off and it was worth the effort. In many dramas you see nice, potentially high-end Seoul apartments but not this one. Jong-Woo moves into a shared residence to save money for a nice apartment with his fiancee. Unfortunately, the other residents living there are highly questionable and more than a little suspicious. Between the people living there, the paper thin walls, the rumors of tenants disappearing, and the horrific state of the building, you will be glued to the screen trying to figure out what’s going on.
Lee Dong-Wook plays one of the main characters and I have to say, he plays the part well because I love him but I had a totally visceral reaction to him every time he was on screen!
Parasite (기생충) – Korean thriller film (Netflix)
You know this film. Even if you haven’t seen it, you’ve heard of it because it won a ton of Oscars including Best Picture when it first came out. I watched it awhile back but my family hadn’t seen it, so I watched it again with them.
If you haven’t seen it yet, you are doing yourself a disservice. This film does two things – it lays out one of the greatest con games I have ever seen as a poverty-stricken family tricks its way into the services of a wealthy one through outright lying, manipulation, and cunning behavior. You won’t even be mad at them, you’ll root for them the whole way. The other thing it does is it sheds a light on poverty and classism in a very stark way. It deserved every award it won.
The Red Sleeve (옷소매 붉은 끝동) – Historical K-drama (Viki)
Lee Joon-Ho from K-pop group 2PM stars in this Joseon Dynasty historical drama. This show has everything – history, drama, thriller moments, intrigue, political negotiations, class, and romance. It also has a bad-ass female lead character that I loved so very much.
One of my besties recommended this show to me and she warned me not to look up the history behind the show to avoid spoilers and I will do the same for you. If you don’t already know the historical facts (the show takes plenty of liberties for the sake of entertainment, but it is based in many parts on fact), don’t go looking for them until you’ve finished the last episode. There are a few things that would ruin the show if you’re going in blind like I was.
Goblin (쓸쓸하고 찬란하神-도깨비) – K-drama (Viki)
Also known in English by the title Guardian: The Lonely and Great God. This show currently stands as my all-time favourite K-drama that I have ever seen. It stars Gong Yoo (who is, as I’ve said before, one of my #1 actors) and Lee Dong-Wook, and it tells the story of an ancient general who is cursed to live forever as a Goblin unless he finds his Goblin Bride to remove a sword – that is invisible to everyone else – from his chest, returning him to nothing. As if that is not enough, he is also cursed to remember the death of every single person he has known and cared for. He roams the earth hiding his never-aging existence while searching for the Goblin Bride.
When he finally finds her, you’d think the story ends quickly. It does not, and the tale that is told throughout the series is beautiful and heartbreaking at every turn. It will take something truly spectacular to ever knock this show out of its #1 position in my heart.
Come for the storyline, stay for the bromance!
Old Enough (はじめてのおつかい) – Japanese docuseries (Netflix)
I’m going to be honest here. While this docuseries was fascinating, it gave me incredible anxiety watching it. It follows toddlers and very young children as they run errands for their family – alone! The children who are usually ages 3-6 (though I believe one of the episodes followed a 2-year-old if I’m not mistaken) are sent to make deliveries for their parents or to purchase grocery items. They navigate long routes to their destination, and those making purchases have only their money and their memory to guide them as they try to remember what to buy.
I was absolutely amazed by how well the kids all did but I don’t think I could have done it myself when my kids were that age!
Kingmaker (킹메이커) – Korean political thriller film (Not currently streaming)
I watched this as part of the films offered monthly through the Korean Cultural Center of Canada. It follows two men – one who wants to be president and one who is determined to get him there. The political strategist is prepared to take any means necessary to make the win a reality.
I did enjoy this film but I had a bit of trouble following the political nature since I’m not very well versed in Korean politics yet. Amazing acting.
Descendants of the Sun (태양의 후예) – K-drama (Viki)
When I finished Goblin, I immediately worried I would never love another drama again. A little dramatic I suppose? I chose this show because it starred Song Joong-Ki, and I had loved him in Vincenzo.
I’m so glad I did because I adored this story! Shi-Jin, special forces captain, and Mo-Yeon, a highly competent doctor meet in the hospital under less than savory circumstances. After all misunderstandings clear up, they try several times to go on a date. With Shi-Jin’s work, they are interrupted each time and eventually give up when they decide they are too different.
One time jump later, and Shi-Jin is stationed as a peacekeeper in a fictional war-torn country; Dr. Mo-Yeon is stationed there shortly afterwards to lead a medical team – against her will. When their paths cross again, it gives them another chance with each other.
But will they take it?
Not only is the promise of romance enough to make this show fantastic, the action never stops with military tasks, illegal arms runners and traffickers, natural disasters, and more. Great show!
Money Heist Korea: Joint Economic Area (종이의 집: 공동경제구역) – K-drama (Netflix)
I haven’t seen a lot of heist tales before. Even if I can’t compare because of that, this show was non-stop excitement.
In this fictional story of a re-unified Korea, the Korean mint sits in the Joint Economic Area. “The Professor” builds a group willing to follow his plans to rob the mint. But is there more to the story than simple theft?
No one uses their real name. All the characters are known only by city names – Berlin, Tokyo, Denver, etc. Their mission is simple – a peaceful hostage situation where no one gets hurt, they print money, and leave the site with more wealth than they could ever imagine.
Naturally nothing goes quite as planned.
This show was released in two parts. I watched these first six episodes in two days because it was so hard to stop watching.
Extraordinary Attorney Woo (이상한 변호사 우영우) – K-drama (Netflix)
Tomorrow (내일) – K-drama (Netflix)
20th Century Girl (20세기 소녀) – Korean romance/drama film (Netflix)
Hi, Bye Mama (하이바이, 마마) – K-drama (Netflix)
Money Heist Korea: Joint Economic Area, Part 2 (종이의 집: 공동경제구역) – K-drama (Netflix)
After many months of waiting, Netflix dropped the final six episodes of Money Heist Korea. Part one finished on a peak of action. Part two kept that wave going the whole way through.
The most interesting part of this series for me is that obviously the main characters are the “bad guys”. They’re robbing the mint and they’re taking hostages. None of them have a clean background. We shouldn’t like them.
And yet I loved them. You probably will too.
If you like to watch shows that make your heart race from start to finish, this is your show. No spoilers but one scene made me scream obscenities all by myself in my living room. You’ve been forewarned.
Alice In Borderland, Season 2 (今際の国のアリス) – Japanese drama (Netflix)
And now, check out what’s on my watch list in 2023!
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