I don’t know about you, I’m a sucker for a good vengeful tale. I’m not a confrontational person in real life, but I just love watching someone dish out some much-deserved payback! So on that note, here are the 5 BEST revenge K-Dramas that I recommend watching!
Of course, I completely expect to expand this list as watch more. And if you have a good one to suggest, be sure to comment at the end!
The BEST Revenge K-Dramas – don’t miss these!
I should add, of course, the South Korean entertainment industry is not the only place to find a good revenge tale. That being said, the quality of these shows is just beyond amazing. I don’t even know how to explain it. You just have to watch one of these shows below, and you’ll get it.
Just know, if you are new to K-Dramas, you are in for an exciting ride! And fair warning, you may become addicted!
1. Vincenzo – my personal top pick for best revenge k-dramas
Vincenzo was my first revenge drama and it still ranks in my top five dramas overall. Song Joong-Ki is one of my favourite actors and he plays this part so well. In this story, Vincenzo was born in South Korea but adopted at a young age by an Italian family. He grows up to become a mafia consigliere and knows how to handle himself. But when the Don dies and his son attempts to kill Vincenzo, he flees to South Korea.
It’s not his first time back home though; at some point he stashed a large amount of gold in the basement of Geumga Plaza and he intends to retrieve it. Unfortunately an unethical, unsavory company purchased the building. Now Vincenzo needs to figure out a way to get his gold back. The treasure is the only thing on his mind and he wants nothing to do with the tenants of the plaza.
Eventually though, he begins teaming up with them to fight back against the company that purchased the plaza. Some of the methods are legal – he works alongside a law firm in the building. Some of the methods are not-so-legal mafia-style methods.
This show is dark in places, funny in others, and exciting all the way through. You’ll love to hate the bad guys and root for the good ones.
Vincenzo is 100% at the top of my revenge K-Dramas list. I definitely plan to watch it again!
Food and drink note: You’ll want to drink makgeolli, but make sure you’ve got everything you need for hangover soup the next day. Vincenzo and one of the lawyers in the building drink a little too much makgeolli and hangover soup is the only thing that saves him.
There is also a moment that was fun for me as a Korean language learner, when I heard a character saying, “꼭꼭 숨어라 머리카락 보인다”. I recognized it from the song “Wolfgang” by Stray Kids and it was early enough in my journey to be really excited to be able to pick it out! It’s a phrase used while playing Hide & Seek. When you’re learning a language that is as difficult as Korean is, it’s such a huge win to be able to recognize a whole phrase.
2. Itaewon Class – the revenge long game
You know that dreaded, “where do you see yourself in five years” question at a job interview? And you’re trying to answer smoothly while thinking, “I don’t even know where I see myself in five days”?
Well, Park Sae-Ro-Yi not only has a five year plan; he has a 15 year revenge plan. Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m doing tomorrow, but he sure does.
The show starts with a fight where he defends a school classmate from the class bully. He refuses to apologize to the bully’s restaurant mogul father, Jang Dae-Hee, so the school expels him and Dae-Hee fires Sae-Ro-Yi’s father from the restaurant he owns.
They do the best they can, working towards a dream of opening their own pub, but his father is tragically killed in a car accident – caused by the bully. Sae-Ro-Yi is sent to prison for beating the bully within an inch of his life, and he spends his prison time plotting his revenge.
Unlike Vincenzo, he has no plans of violence. He simply wants to open his pub, be successful, and rise higher than Jang Dae-Hee’s company. He knows exactly what he intends to do, and will stop and nothing to fulfill his dreams. Every episode is amazing and you will cheer him on every step of the way.
Food and drink note: Don’t watch this show on an empty stomach. The food they make in the pub will make you extremely hungry, especially their signature 순두부 찌개 (Sundubu Jjigae), which is one of my favourite things to make! You’ll also have an urge to drink soju while you watch Sae-Ro-Yi try to outpace the bad guys.
3. The Glory – long-term revenge again
The Glory is not a show for the faint of heart. Moon Dong-Eun is brutally bullied in school as a teenager. In fact, it goes well past bullying and into violence. But she has a plan. A long term plan. And nothing will get in her way when it comes to executing it.
Song Hye-Kyo stars in this show – I loved her in Descendants of the Sun SO MUCH, so I was excited to see her play a very different character. She portrays Dong-Eun as an adult. In flashbacks we see the absolute horror that she went through as a student, the sheer violence she was subjected to. It is trigger-warning content, honestly. But like Sae-Ro-Yi in Itaewon Class, she sets out her long-game revenge. Unlike Sae-Ro-Yi, she doesn’t just want to live a good life, she intends to destroy everyone who ever harmed her.
Dong-Eun has studied to become a teacher and purposely lands a job as the homeroom teacher of the daughter of her primary tormentor. While she has no intentions of hurting a young child, she now has access to the head bully Park Yeon-Jin, and the other bullies she still hangs out with.
I can’t even say anything else out of fear of ruining this absolutely brilliant payback story. Just know that this show appears on lists of the best revenge k-dramas everywhere for a reason!
4. Money Heist Korea: Joint Economic Area (pt. 1 & 2) – the surprise revenge
You wouldn’t think that a heist show would have anything to do with revenge. Isn’t a heist just about getting all the money you can get your hands on?
Well, that’s one reason. But in this drama there’s a little more to it than that.
It is set in a fictional future with a reunited North and South Korea. The new mint is located in the area that used to be the demilitarized zone. The Joint Economic Area is home to the country’s money printing press and it becomes the target of this heist plan.
The heist is organized by The Professor, and he gathers the exact people he wants on his team. No one uses their real names, everyone is a city: Berlin, Tokyo, Rio, etc. Each one has a specialty that drove The Professor to seek them out. Every one of them has reasons for wanting to get their hands on their share of the money they’re about to steal.
The plan is incredibly perfect. Or is it? There are unexpected twists and turns and The Professor will need to be quick on his feet to pivot that plan each time they hit a snag.
A bit of a plot twist (no spoilers!)
The revenge theme doesn’t come into play until the second half of the season – and I refuse to give even the slightest hint about it. You’ll just have to watch for yourself to find out. It’s a fast-paced and extremely exciting show. The good news is that it’s all available on Netflix now; when I started it, I didn’t realize it would be divided into a part one and part two, so I got stuck on a cliffhanger and had to wait about 5 months to see the second half!
The biggest plot twist: I can pretty much guarantee you will be cheering for criminals, right from the very start before you even know the why behind the heist. It’s like viewer Stockholm Syndrome, and I’m totally okay with that!
5. My Name – violent revenge
Yoon Ji-Woo is just a child when she witnesses her father’s murder. She doesn’t know who pulled the trigger, but she is determined to find him and make him pay. Her first step, when she’s a little older, is to join the local crime and drug ring. The leader, Choi Mu-Jin, counsels her by having her enroll in the police academy. Once she joins the police department, she becomes a mole for the gang.
Between her connections to the crime organization and her partner at the department, she is sure she will be able to track down her father’s killer. However, while is she busy with her revenge plan, someone who doesn’t want her in the group targets her. She has to keep one eye open at all times to protect herself.
This is definitely a fast-paced show! It’s an absolute adrenaline rush all the way through the season and the fight scene choreographies are top quality. As soon as it was over, I was wishing there would be another season but it wraps up completely, so I doubt that will happen.
Bonus emotion: Aside from being one of the best revenge K-Dramas I’ve ever seen, this is a great show to watch as a woman. While there are some great film and TV physical fighting roles for women out there, they aren’t as common as male roles. It was really nice to see a female character kicking ass – literally!
Those are my top 5 best revenge K-dramas so far
There are probably so many more that I haven’t seen yet, but right now these rank on my list of the best revenge K-Dramas out there. A vengeful story line is always good for the adrenaline (maybe not the blood pressure…).
Based on the final moments of Squid Game I have a feeling season two will be a contender for another revenge show for me. I just have to be patient and wait for its release.
In the meantime, I am always seeking a new one to watch, so please leave me a comment below and tell me what you think is the best revenge K-Drama. If I haven’t seen it yet, I’ll definitely make time to watch it!
Pin it for later!
They’re all so good!