Ever wondered what the darkest kdramas ever made were? Here is a list for you!
Prepare yourself for a dive into the depths of intense storytelling and profound emotions with the darkest Korean dramas ever made. These gripping and thought-provoking series delve into the complexities of human nature, exploring themes of tragedy, despair, and the darkness that resides within.
From psychological thrillers to gritty crime dramas, these shows push the boundaries of storytelling, these kdramas challenge your emotions and leaves a lasting impact.
Note: many entries on this list are 18+ and deal with heavy subject matters like suicide, child abuse, substance abuse and more.
“Sweet Home” is considered one of the biggest Netflix kdrama hits of all time and follows the story of Cha Hyun-soo (Song Kang) who leaves his house and goes into an apartment following an unforeseen family tragedy.
Monsters start to arrive shortly after that. Realizing that monsters are hiding everywhere outside, the residents of the flat are stuck within the structure. Hyun-soo and the other occupants of the building defend themselves inside with the intention of enduring as long as they can. The drama is currently filming for its 2nd and 3rd seasons after the huge reception for its first season.
The cast included Song Kang, Lee Jin Wook, Lee Si Young, Lee Do Hyun, Park Gyuyoung, Go Min Si, Kim Nam Hee and more.
The drama discusses various topics such as suicide, mental health issues, human greed and its consequences, its also considered one of the bloodiest Netflix kdramas ever made.
When you mention dark Kdramas, “Save Me” is often brought up and for very good reason.
The drama is a mystery thriller about a group of friends who are kidnapped by a religious cult. The leader of the cult is played by Sung Dong-il, and the friends are played by Seo Ye Ji, Taecyeon, Woo Do Hwan and more.
The drama discusses the dark aspects of cults and how they can easily and quickly brainwash those closest to you. The drama is not an easy watch and is often considered one of the darkest kdramas ever made.
Accredited as one of the best Netflix dramas both domestically and internationally, “D.P.” focuses on the story of soldiers who work in Deserter Pursuit. The D.P. unit is responsible for tracking down and apprehending deserters from the South Korean military.
The cast of “D.P.” includes Jung Hae In, Koo Kyo Hwan, Kim Sung Kyun, Son Suk Ku, and more. It has gained massive critical acclaim from both viewers and critics alike.
The drama discuses various issues within the Korean military such as sexual assault, sexual harassment, hazing, mental health issues, bullying and more. The drama doesn’t shy away from delving into the dark aspects of Korean military that higher ups often try to cover up and a two men pursuit to protect the deserted soldiers and hold the assaulters accountable in the process.
“D.P.” is currently rolling out teasers for its highly anticipated 2nd season which will air on the 28th of July. Its not too late to binge-watch this amazing drama that tackles intense subjects about the Korean military.
Mouse is a suspenseful drama about a police officer who is tracking down a serial killer. The police officer is played by Lee Seung Gi, and the serial killer is played by Lee Hee Joon.
This is considered to be Lee Seung Gi’s most intense project to date and he’s been applauded for his performance in the drama as well.
Without getting into spoilers, various happenings and murders take place during the drama while the police officer attempts to uncover the truth behind them only to be shocked by the true identity of the serial killer.
“Beyond Evil” is considered to be one of the most critically acclaimed JTBC dramas made in recent memory. It is a crime thriller about two detectives who are investigating a serial killer case. The two detectives are played by Shin Ha Kyun and Yeo Jin Goo.
“Beyond Evil” deals with various intense subject matters and is a hard-watch too, the drama is very grim and shares a different outlook to police work under difficult circumstances and questions how far police forces should be allowed to go to catch a serial killer.
Shin Ha Kyun’s performance in particular gained immense praise and he won the award for best actor at the prestigious 57th Baeksang Arts Awards. The drama won two other awards including best screenplay.
While often not brought up in the discussion of dark Kdramas, Netflix’s “Narco-Saints” is definitely up there when it comes to dark kdramas.
The drama is a crime drama about a group of drug dealers who are trying to take over the drug trade in Seoul. Whats astounding is the fact that the drama is loosely based on the true story of Jo Bong-Haeng, who ran a major drug-smuggling ring in Suriname, the location where the drama takes place.
The drama offers a look into how innocent people could be roped into illegal activities, extorted and threatened, if not murdered. The drama follows the drug lord cosplaying as a pastor who rules Suriname with an iron fist using every possible horrible tactic to get there. It showcases his horrible actions and the quest of one man who wants to bring him down.
Hellbound is based on the webtoon of the same name and is a supernatural thriller about people who are sentenced to hell by angels. The people hear predictions of when they’d die, then the death angel comes and uses whatever harsh or brutal way to kill them.
“Hellbound” is widely considered to be a dark kdrama. It is frequently violent and upsetting and deals with themes of death, judgment, and retribution. It explores the dark side of human nature and how it can manifest and wreak havoc.
It includes a star-studded cast played by Yoo Ah In, Park Jung Min, Kim Hyun Joo, and Won Jin Ah.
Another Netflix drama, “Extracurricular” is a dark comedy about a high school student who starts an illegal business. He gets into prostituting underage girls to earn enough money to help himself. He hides behind many clever tactics to mask his actual identity while a police officer attempts to uncover the truth.
The student is played by Kim Dong Hee, and the other characters in the drama are played by Park Joo Hyun, Jung Da Bin, and Nam Yoon Su.
“Extracurricular” can get violent at times and deals with heavy subject matters such as prostitution, pimping, sexual violence, high school bullying and more. While the focus is on high school students, these students make questionable decisions that cause severe consequences to the people around them.
While often forgetting when the topic of dark kdramas is brough up, “Gap Dong” is definitely considered one of the darkest kdramas of the 2010s.
The drama is a mystery thriller about a serial killer who is targeting children. The serial killer is based on the real-life case of the infamous Hwaseong serial murders.
Serious topics covered in the show include police corruption, serial killings, and how the legal system fails the victims who need it the most. There are scenes of physical violence, sexual violence, and murder.
Another OCN drama makes the list. “The Guest” is a supernatural thriller about a priest, a police officer, and a medium who are investigating a series of mysterious exorcisms. The priest is played by Kim Jae Wook, the police officer is played by Kim Dong Wook, and the medium is played by Jung Eun Chae. The three unite to hunt down the evil spirit once and for all.
The dark kdrama features a lot of unsettling imagery including spirit possession, and exorcism. Its definitely a gritty kdrama that will stick a while with you after you wrap up watching it.
TVING’s “Bargain” is probably the newest kdrama on this list. It is a fantasy thriller about a group of people who navigate what happens when a sudden earthquake occurs.
The story follows a character played Jin Sun-Kyu who goes to a motel room and pay for sex. While he thinks he’s negotiating for it, turns out he’s been cornered, and the woman he’s supposed to sleep with [played by Jeon Jong Seo], who is part of an organization, is plotting to harvest his organs to the highest bidder.
As the people who bargain for his organs begin discussing what to take, an earthquake occurs halting their plans.
While the drama is considered a dark comedy, beneath the surface, it tackles the dark human nature, how far people can sink to manage to stay alive in a situation where survival is for the fittest.
Strangers From Hell
“Strangers From Hell” is a horror thriller about a man who moves into a boarding house and starts to experience strange and disturbing things. The man is played by Im Siwan, and the other residents of the boarding house are played by Lee Dong Wook, Lee Hyun Woo, and more.
The young man starts to experience horrible things and feels the people at the boarding house are up to no good. He begins to lose his sense of reality as he deals with his own mental health issues, family issues on top of a deranged man [played by Lee Dong Wook] who seems to want to tip him over the edge.
While “Strangers From Hell” is not considered scary for the most part, it is very creepy. It will make you feel nauseated and uneasy while watching it. It tackles a lot of subjects including cannibalism, mental health issues and emotional manipulation.
“Strangers From Hell” is definitely not for the faint of heart but it gets better the more you watch as you being to piece together what happened to the young man and how it happened.
Probably the biggest Netflix drama to date across the board and one that is very dark too.
“Squid Game” is a series that tells the story of individuals who participate in a mysterious survival game with a prize of 45.6 billion won and risk their lives to become the final winner. It was released in September 2021 and became a global sensation.
The drama gained immense praise and critical acclaim shortly after its release. “Squid Game” features a lot of violent scenes of the death of the contestants who try to win the massive prize. While its not exactly scary, it is definitely dark and tackles a lot of subjects concerning the current state of the lower class in South Korea and how life forces them to accept dying for the sake of winning one massive prize that shall change their lives.
The 2018 mystery drama follows a woman who takes in a young girl who she believes is being abused by her mother. She must find a way to protect the girl from her mother, even if it means breaking the law.
“”Mother” is a gritty, gripping tale about parental love and child abuse and how some people tend to ignore it or brush it aside for their own interest.
It tells the story of a new race with a body that is immortal, these people get hunted down and exploited. One of those people happens to be Dong Soo [Jung Hae In], who was kidnapped by an organ trafficking organizations and lost one eye. He then gets chased by a serial killer after learning that his eyes were transplanted to the said serial killer [Go Kyung Pyo] who commits horrible crimes and is making national news.
Besides being the first Korean drama directed by Takashi Miike, the drama explores the dark state of organ trafficking, human greed and features a serial killer who kills innocent women and turns them into ‘art.’
Its gritty, violent and definitely a must-watch if you love dark kdramas.
One Ordinary Day
“One Ordinary Day” is the first-ever Coupang Play drama and is based on the BBC’s series “Criminal Justice.”
It tells the story of a man who gets framed for the death of a woman he spent the night with, it aims to explore the criminal justice system through his story. Kim Soo Hyun took on the role of Kim Hyun Soo, an ordinary hard-working college student who becomes a suspect in a murder case overnight due to a mistake.
He uses evil to survive in a cruel world. Cha Seung Won played the role of Shin Joong Han, a lawyer who barely passed the bar exam and is the only person who reaches out to Kim Hyun Soo. He aims to exonerate him.
The drama was labeled 19+ for the majority of its run time. It explores a crime of a woman who suddenly gets brutally murdered and a man who unfortunately gets mixed into the situation. Because of his dire situation and less than average circumstances, he’s forced to endure the harsh life of prison and loses his innocence in the process.
Because of what happened to him, his entire outlook on life changes for the worse. It’s a dark gritty drama about how the justice system can fail you if you don’t have the money or the connections to pull yourself out even if you are innocent.
We’ve covered the best dark Korean dramas. Which ones have you already seen and loved? If there are any hidden gems or personal favorites that we missed, feel free to share them with us in the comments!