It has been a slow summer so far, and you’re in the mood for some suspense, albeit without leaving the comfy cocoon of your bed. Well, we have the perfect solution for you with seven thriller K-dramas that will keep your hearts pumping and your jaws chomping (‘cause these dramas are best served with ramen cups, plural)!
1. “Psychopath Diary”
A timid pushover, Yook Dong Sik (Yoon Shi Yoon) is driven to suicide after facing setbacks in his workplace but witnesses a murder being carried out before he is able to do the deed. Whilst trying to flee from the scene, he has an accident and wakes up with no memories of his past. Having come into possession of a diary that he assumes is his, Yook Dong Sik’s personality takes a 360-degree turn when he tries to assimilate into the murderous character that the diary paints the owner out to be. This twisted self-perception molds his metamorphosis into a chilling predator who holds his own against his former tormentors.
Watch “Psychopath Diary”:
2. “Strangers From Hell”
Moving to urban Seoul for his career prospects, a young man named Yoon Jong Woo (Im Siwan) decides to move to an eerie and derelict dormitory called Eden Studios (though it quickly proves to be anything but), as he is on a strict budget. However, regret soon hits when he meets the other residents of the dormitory… and gets a trickling sense of dread that there is something terribly off with them.
Besides the dark and grimy set-up of Eden Studios, the drama takes time to flesh out each resident of the building and their oddities. While some personalities come off as creepy right off the bat, others like Seo Moon Jo (Lee Dong Wook) are first portrayed to be normal with respectable professions, which is why the tension is more insidious afterwards when they too are revealed to be off.
Through the other residents, Jong Woo comes in touch with his inner depravity and that part of him, which lurked deep within the crevices of his public persona, finds a home of sorts in Eden Studios.
Gifted with the supernatural power of mind-reading, Dong Baek (Yoo Seung Ho) puts his skill to good use by becoming a detective and solving cases. When a high-profile serial murder case lands onto his caseload, the young upstart has to pair up with brainy criminal profiler Han Sun Mi (Lee Se Young) to navigate uncharted territory.
As Dong Baek and Sun Mi close in on the hunt for the serial killer, the clues slowly add up and they realize the perpetrator may be closer than they thought. The premise of being able to read minds, which was Dong Baek’s silver bullet to most problems previously, becomes more unsettling, as it’s revealed how the end to which it was employed (and by whom) could lead to such different resolutions.
4. “Hotel Del Luna”
This drama probably needs no introduction, but if you’re up for more fantasy-supernatural content (with a dose of romance!), “Hotel Del Luna” will be sure to delight.
IU stars as Jang Man Wol, the supernatural head honcho of Hotel Del Luna, an ephemeral hotel which is mostly staffed by a slew of supernatural crew and serves spirits who are in need of a dwelling in the human realm. Gu Chan Sung (Yeo Jin Goo) takes up employment at Hotel Del Luna as a human manager after fortuitous events led his father to become indebted to Jang Man Wol. As he settles into his role, Gu Chan Sung slowly unravels the secrets behind the hotel and its longstanding owner.
Watch “Hotel Del Luna”:
5. “Kill It”
Talented veterinarian by day and cold-blooded assassin by night, Kim Soo Hyun’s (Jang Ki Yong) duality shields him from open suspicion, allowing him to refine his lethal craft while maintaining the guise of a kind-hearted animal lover. This cover is cracked when a dogged detective named Do Hyun Jin (Nana) ends up on his trail due to a case she is working on. When they realize their pasts are intertwined in complicated ways, the two set out to untangle the mystery behind their fate.
What makes “Kill It” suspenseful, and also deeply sad, is the mystery of the characters’ fate. The plot turns on the notion of childhood being a time of and for innocence and instead shapes it into a window for training before the children, numbered and commoditized, are made ready for more.
Watch “Kill It”:
6. “Lovely Horribly”
Born at the same time, Philip’s (Park Shi Hoo) and Eul Soon’s (Song Ji Hyo) fortunes were swapped during their childhood years, and since then, Philip has been living a charmed life in the public eye with Lady Luck shining on him at every turn. In sharp contrast, Eul Soon, whose good luck at birth was swapped with Philip’s, suffers from misfortune that was originally meant for the top star. In a curious spin, it also turns out that the balance of luck is a zero-sum game, with one of them being dealt with bad luck whenever the other is happy. When they end up working together on a drama project, things go haywire and the two have to figure out how to strike a balance between their shared fortunes.
The fates of the main characters, in direct juxtaposition in the past, reflect inner greed and the sacrifices that come at the expense of that greed. This tension is further dialed up by the appearance and roles of two spirits that seem to be connected to Philip — who are they and what are they after?
Watch “Lovely Horribly”:
The Netflix Original returned with Season 2 this year, and already, the horror thriller drama has got us at the edge of our seats itching for more.
Set during the Joseon period, Crown Prince Lee Chang (Joo Ji Hoon) investigates a mysterious plague that has afflicted his ill father, the King of Joseon, and spread like wildfire amongst the populace, turning those who were bitten into the living dead. Part and parcel of a political conspiracy, the Prince has to keep his wits about him to stay alive while preventing the nation from falling into the nefarious grips of the powerful Haewon Cho clan.
Unlike other zombie dramas and films, “Kingdom” doesn’t let the undead become the centerpiece of the plot. Instead, they are used as a machination to deliver the suspense that unfolds with the political power play. As the series transitions from Season 1 to Season 2, the mystery only gets more intriguing, so hang on tight for Season 3!
Hey Soompiers, which drama will you be hopping on the bandwagon of? Let us know in the comments below!
Aetcult is your friendly K-beauty enthusiast who loves her tea on and off her face (no lie). In between bouts of tinkering with new beauty products, she will probably be writing about her finds, revising her Korean language coursework and jamming to the latest K-pop song. Say hi to Am on Tumblr.
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