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The Top 40 Highest-Rating Korean Dramas of All Time

Can you guess which show took the top spot?
The Top 40 Highest-Rating Korean Dramas of All Time
IMAGE Viu, Netflix
Can you guess which show took the top spot?

There's no deterring our love affair with all things K-drama. This time, we give you the lowdown on the highest rating Korean dramas of all time on cable TV, as of February 2021. Think of it as an essential tried-and-tested listicle of shows any genuine K-fan should watch.

Read up below to see if your favorite made it to the top 40.

Note: The list has been updated to reflect each show's highest rating episode as per Nielsen Korea up until February 17, 2021. It's subject to change should a new drama rate higher in the future. It does not include shows from public channels (KBS, SBS, MBC) which naturally have more viewers.

1. The World of the Married (2020)

Rating: 28.371%

TV Channel: JTBC

A revered medical doctor's seemingly perfect life is overturned when she discovers her husband's infidelity. In her pursuit to retaliate against his betrayal, a bitter back-and-forth ensues between the two as they both seek to exact revenge on the other. The World of the Married smashed TV ratings after its finale episode rated at 28.37%, breaking its own record of 24.44% which it had set just an episode prior.

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Starring: Kim Hee Ae, Park Hae Joon, Han So Hee

the world of the married highest rating korean dramas
PHOTO BY World of the Married/JTBC
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2. Sky Castle (2018)

Rating: 23.779%

TV Channel: JTBC

This satirical drama revolves around four housewives residing in the exclusive residential area of Sky Castle. Ruthlessly ambitious, the women will stop at nothing to get their children into Seoul National University.

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Starring: Yeom Jung Ah, Lee Tae Ran, Yoon Se Ah, Oh Na Ra, Kim Seo Hyung

PHOTO BY Sky Castle/JTBC

3. Crash Landing on You (2019)

Rating: 21.683%

TV Channel: tvN

The lives of a South Korean heiress and a North Korean military officer collide when the former lands into North Korean territory after a paragliding accident.

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Starring: Hyun Bin, Son Ye Jin, Seo Ji Hye, Kim Jung Hyun

PHOTO BY Crash Landing on You/TVN

4. Reply 1988 (2015)

Rating: 18.803%

TV Channel: tvN

Five childhood friends who live in the same neighborhood of Ssangmundong rely on each other as they enter the peak of their turbulent teen years.

Starring: Hyeri, Park Bo Gum, Ryoon Joon Yeol, Go Kyung Pyo, Lee Dong Hwi

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PHOTO BY Reply 1988/TVN

5. Goblin (2016)

Rating: 18.680%

TV Channel: tvN

A romantic fantasy drama, the series follows the story of a 939-year-old Goblin, also known as the Protector of Souls, as he ends up falling for the girl destined to end his cursed immortal life.

Starring: Gong Yoo, Kim Go Eun, Lee Dong Wook

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PHOTO BY Goblin/TVN

6. Mr. Sunshine (2018)

Rating: 18.129%

TV Channel: tvN

A poor boy born into a house servant's family travels to the United States during the 1871 Shinmiyangyo incident. He soon grows up to become an American military officer who returns to his homeland and falls in love with an aristocrat's daughter, all while unveiling a sinister plot by foreign nationals to colonize Korea.

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Starring: Lee Byung Hun, Kim Tae Ri

PHOTO BY Mr Sunshine/TVN

7. Mr. Queen (2020)

Rating: 17.371%

TV Channel: tvN

In modern-day Seoul, prestigious chef Jang Bong-hwan of the President’s Blue House gets caught in a scuffle that leads him to fall off a building. When he wakes up, he realizes he’s traveled back to the Joseon period, and his soul is now inhabiting the body of Queen Kim So-yong. Unable to escape this odd situation, he sets out to learn more about the queen’s life but ends up getting caught in the Kingdom’s political drama.

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Starring: Shin Hye Sun, Kim Jung Hyun 

PHOTO BY Mr. Queen/TVN

8. Itaewon Class (2020)

Rating: 16.548%

TV Channel: JTBC

Ex-con Park Saeroyi and his misfit group of employees work to turn their modest bar into the number one pub in Itaewon. Reaching their goal turns out to be an uphill battle as they deal with the ruthless CEO of Jangga Co., a.k.a. the man responsible for setting off a chain of events that landed Saeroyi in jail in the first place.

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Starring: Park Seo Joon, Kim Da Mi, Kwon Nara, Ahn Bo Hyun

PHOTO BY Itaewon Class/JTBC

9. 100 Days My Prince (2018)

Rating: 14.412%

TV Channel: tvN

Lee Yul, a crown prince suffering from amnesia, ends up in the care of Hong Shim, an intelligent but unmarried woman, and her father. Thinking of himself to be a commoner, he weds Hong Shim to save her from being punished by a law that he himself established as a prince.

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Starring: Do Kyung Soo, Nam Ji Hyun, Kim Seon Ho

PHOTO BY 100 Days My Prince/TVN

10. Hospital Playlist (2020)

Rating: 14.142%

TV Channel: tvN

Five doctors who've been friends since medical school go through the ups and downs of their job in Yulje Medical Center, all while sharing their love for music by forming a band.

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Starring: Cho Jung Seok, Yoo Yeon Seok, Jeon Mi Do, Kim Dae Myung, Jung Kyoung Ho

PHOTO BY Hospital Playlist/TVN

11. Signal (2016)

Rating: 12.544%

TV Channel: tvN

When police lieutenant and criminal profiler Park Hae-Yeong gets hold of a special walkie talkie that can communicate with people from the past, he joins forces with a detective in 1989 to solve three decades of related murders.

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Starring: Lee Je Hoon, Kim Hye Soo, Cho Jin Woong

PHOTO BY Signal/TVN

12. The Lady in Dignity (2017)

Rating: 12.065%

TV Channel: JTBC

A wealthy woman living a luxurious life finds her daily routine tarnished when a mysterious stranger moves into her home as the caregiver to her ill father-in-law.

Starring: Kim Hee Sun, Kim Sun Ah

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PHOTO BY The Lady in Dignity/JTBC

13. Hotel del Luna (2019)

Rating: 12.001%

TV Channel: tvN

Located in downtown Seoul, the peculiar Hotel del Luna has existed for several millennia catering to lost souls. It's CEO, Jang Man Wol, is cursed to run the establishment for all of eternity as punishment for a sin she can't remember. The only way to free herself from her penance is to find someone who's committed a crime far worse than hers. 

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Starring: IU, Yeo Jin Goo

PHOTO BY Hotel del Luna/TVN

14. Reply 1994 (2013)

Rating: 11.509%

TV Channel: tvN

Alternating between 1994 and 2013, the series follows six university students all residing in one boarding house in Seoul, where they encounter the daughter of the house's owner, Sung Na-Jung. While experiencing various cultural Korean milestones together, including the emergence of the K-Pop boygroup Seo Taiji and Boys, and the Sampoong Department Store collapse, these seven strangers soon learn to treat each other like family.

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Starring: Go Ara, Jung Woo, Yoo Yeon Seok, Kim Sung Kyun 

PHOTO BY Reply 1994/TVN

15. Prison Playbook (2017)

Rating: 11.195%%

TV Channel: tvN

A star baseball player's bright future hits a dire snag when he's sentenced to one year in prison after defending his sister from sexual assault. Forced to adapt to a life behind bars, he gets reacquainted with a former baseball player and childhood friend, now turned prison guard.

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Starring: Park Hae Soo, Jung Kyung Ho, Krystal, Jung Hae In

PHOTO BY Prison Playbook/TVN

16. The Uncanny Counter (2021)

Rating: 10.999%

TV Channel: OCN

Disguised as employees at a noodle shop restaurant, four demon hunters visit earth to thwart evil spirits from attempting to attain eternal life.

Starring: Cho Byung Gyu, Yoo Joon Sang, Kim Se Jeong, Yeom Hye Ran

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PHOTO BY The Uncanny Counter/OCN

17. The Crowned Clown (2019)

Rating: 10.851%%

TV Channel: tvN

To protect their king during a state of social unrest, the Joseon empire asks Ha Sun, a clown and the king's lookalike, to take his place in the palace. Anxious about being found out, Ha Sun struggles with his new role, especially when he finds himself falling for the beautiful Queen Yoo So-Woon.

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Starring: Yeo Jin Goo, Lee Se Young 

PHOTO BY The Crowned Clown/TVN

18. My Kids Give Me a Headache (2012)

Rating: 10.715%

TV Channel: JTBC

A drama that follows a family of three generations, the story starts with eldest daughter Hee Jae whose secret pregnancy causes a storm within her tight-knit family once they find out about her nine month old belly.

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Starring: Uhm Ji Won, Yoo Dong Geun, Kim Hae Sook

PHOTO BY Childless Comfort/JTBC

19. Encounter (2018)

Rating: 10.329%

TV Channel: tvN

Opposites attract in Encounter when divorcee and hotel CEO Cha Soo Hyun, and the innocent and ordinary Kim Jin Hyuk, both searching for a fresh start, cross paths and fall in love during a trip to Cuba. 

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Starring: Park Bo Gum, Song Hye Kyo, Jang Seung Jo

PHOTO BY Encounter/TVN

20. Memories of the Alhambra (2018)

Rating: 10.025%

TV Channel: tvN

Yoo Jin Woo, a brilliant game developer, and the strong spirited CEO of an investment company has his competetive nature tested after his best friend betrays him. He subsequently travels to Granada, Spain after hearing about a groundbreaking AR game created by someone from the area. There he stays at a hostel and unwittingly entangles the owner, Jung Hee-joo, into a series of strange events. 

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Starring: Hyun Bin, Park Shin Hye

PHOTO BY Memories of the Alhambra/TVN

21. Another Oh Hae-young (2016)

Rating: 9.991%

TV Channel: tvN

Alternatively titled Another Miss Oh, this 16 episode fantasy rom-com involves a long game of mistaken identity. Two women both named Oh Hae Young continually cause confusion in their respective jobs and relationships as they somehow always get entangled in each other's lives.

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Starring: Eric Mun, Seo Hyun Jin, Jeon Hye Bin

PHOTO BY Another Oh Hae Young/TVN

22. The Light in Your Eyes (2019)

Rating: 9.731%

TV Channel: JTBC

When Kim Hye Ja stumbles upon a watch that lets her travel through time, she accidentally ends up turning into a 78-year old woman overnight. Thus ensues her complicated love story with Lee Joon Ha, a young wannabe reporter who wastes away his own time and has decided to live lethargically instead.

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Starring: Nam Joo Hyuk, Han Ji Min, Kim Hye Ja, Son Ho Jun

PHOTO BY The Light in Your Eyes/JTBC

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23. Strong Woman Do Bong Soon (2017)

Rating: 9.668%

TV Channel: JTBC

With an unknown threat lurking behind him, the CEO of a gaming company hires Bong Soon, a petite woman born with supernatural strength, to be his bodyguard. He falls in love with her at first sight but faces competition for her affections seeing as she has her eyes set on a childhood friend who is now working as a police officer.

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Starring: Park Bo Young, Park Hyung Sik, Ji Soo

PHOTO BY Strong Woman Do Bong Soon/JTBC

24. Love (ft. Marriage and Divorce) (2021)

Rating: 9.656%

TV Channel: TV Chosun

This K-drama centers on three successful women who work on a radio show. Their seemingly perfect lives start to unravel when twists and turns begin to plague their happy marriages.

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Starring: Lee Ga Ryeong, Sung Hoon, Park Joo Mi

PHOTO BY Love/TV Chosun

25. Stranger 2 (2020)

Rating: 9.408%

TV Channel: TVN 

A sequel to crime thriller Stranger, the second season finds tensions rising between the prosecutor’s office and the police force as the former demands for discretionary power over new case investigations. The men in blue, however, are adamantly against the notion and are fighting for complete investigative authority of their own. 

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Starring: Cho Seung Woo, Bae Doona

PHOTO BY Stranger 2/Netflix

26. Lawless Lawyer (2018)

Rating: 8.937%

TV Channel: TVN

Former gangster Bong Sang Pil leaves his violent past to become a lawyer in order to bring his mother’s tragic death to justice. In doing so, he turns a group of loan sharks into a law firm and soon learns to cunningly skirt through legal loopholes to win their cases.

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Starring: Lee Joon GiSeo Ye Ji, Lee Hye Young

PHOTO BY Lawless Lawyer/TVN
 

27. Record of Youth (2020)

Rating: 8.740%

TV Channel: TVN 

Two childhood friends turned models attempt to branch out into acting and soon cross paths with a budding makeup artist. In a world where dreams are a luxury not everyone can afford, the trio pushes through with their pursuits, backed by sheer talent and passion to get them through.

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Starring: Park Bo Gum, Park So Dam

PHOTO BY Record of Youth/TVN

28. What's Wrong With Secretary Kim (2018)

Rating: 8.665%

TV Channel: tvN

Misunderstandings ensue and new relationships take root when the loyal secretary of a company's narcissictic Vice Chairman unexpectedly decides to quit her job.

Starring: Park Seo Joon, Park Min Young, Lee Tae Hwan  

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PHOTO BY Park Seo Joon/TVN

29. Graceful Family (2019)

Rating: 8.478%

TV Channel: MBN

Mo Seok Hee, the sole heir to her family’s business empire, returns home to South Korea from the United States to investigate the mysterious death of her mother who passed on 15 years ago. At her return, she meets Heo Yoon Do, a man hired by her family’s company to cover up the misdemeanors committed by her family.

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Starring: Im Soo Hyun, Lee Jang Woo, Bae Jong Ok

PHOTO BY Graceful Family/MBN

30. Misty (2018)

Rating: 8.452%

TV Channel: JTBC

An ambitious anchorwoman suddenly finds herself as the prime suspect of a murder case involving her former lover. The only man who steps up to defend her is her husband who agrees to be her legal counsel despite their failing marriage.

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Starring: Kim Nam Joo, Ji Jin Hee, Jeon Hye Jin

PHOTO BY Misty/JTBC

31. Misaeng: Incomplete Life (2014)

Rating: 8.240%

TV Channel: TVN

With only high school credentials and the knowledge of baduk to get him through, a man is forced to let go of his dreams, before he’s thrust towards the cold realities of a corporate world as a clueless intern.

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Starring: Im Shi Wan, Lee Sung Min, Kang So Ra  

PHOTO BY Misaeng: Incomplete Life/TVN

 32. Familiar Wife (2018)

Rating: 8.210%

TV Channel: tvN

In this fantasy romance drama, a couple unsatisfied with their marriage struggle to stay afloat financially. When Joo Hyuk, a regular bank employee, accepts two coins from a strange man in the subway, he ends up traveling back in time where he wakes up married, instead, to his first college love.

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Starring: Ji Sung, Han Ji Min, Kang Ha Na

PHOTO BY Familiar Wife/TVN

33. Lie After Lie (2020)

Rating: 8.203%

TV Channel: Channel A

After being framed for killing her husband, a pregnant Ji Eun Su is sent to prison and gives birth to her baby girl behind bars. Years after she’s set free, she thinks up a plan to reunite with her estranged daughter who was adopted by a kind-hearted journalist.

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Starring: Lee Yoo Ri, Yeon Jung Hoon, Lee Il Hwa

PHOTO BY Lie After Lie/Channel A

34. Dear My Friends (2016)

Rating: 8.087%

TV Channel: TVN

A group of elder friends share their life journey with a reluctant writer named Park Wan in hopes that she’ll end up writing a novel about them.

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Starring: Go Hyun Jung, Go Doo Shim, Kim Hye Ja

PHOTO BY My Dear Friends/TVN

35. Live (2018)

Rating: 7.730%

TV Channel: TVN

This crime drama revolves around the daily workings of police officers as they form the Live team for the Hongil Police Precint Office.

Starring: Jung Yu Mi, Lee Kwang Soo, Bae Sung Woo, Bae Jong Ok

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PHOTO BY Live/TVN

36. Arthdal Chronicles (2019)

Rating: 7.705%

TV Channel: TVN 

Set in the mythical ancient land of Arth, Arthdal Chronicles stars Song Joong Ki and Jang Dong Gun as their characters fight and struggle to find unity among their respective tribes at the cusp of a new civilization’s birth.

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Starring: Song Joong Ki, Kim Ji Won, Jang Dong Gun

PHOTO BY Arthdal Chronicles/TVN

37. The Good Detective (2020)

Rating: 7.609%

TV Channel: JTBC

When a five-year-old murder case is re-opened after new evidence is revealed, the veteran detective responsible for the potentially wrong conviction teams up with a young hotshot to uncover the truth.

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Starring: Son Hyun Joo, Jang Seun Jo

PHOTO BY The Good Detective/JTBC

38. My Mister (2018)

Rating: 7.352

TV Channel: TVN

My Mister centers on three middle-aged brothers, particularly Park Dong-hoon, an engineer whose personal life falls apart after he learns of his wife’s infidelity. Stoic and distraught, he crosses paths with Lee Ji Eun, a struggling young woman in her 20s who ends up drawn to his charms. Together, the two develop a close bond and help each other to be happier.

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Starring: IU, Lee Sun Gyun, Jang Ki Yong 

PHOTO BY My Mister/TVN

39. It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (2020)

Rating: 7.348%

TV Channel: TVN 

It's Okay not to Be Okay follows Moon Gang-tae, a lonely community health worker at a psychiatric ward who prefers to keep to himself. He eventually crosses paths with Ko Moon-yeong, a successful children's story book writer who knows nothing about love, and suffers from antisocial personality disorder. Throughout the course of the series, they help each other heal from their respective emotional wounds.

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Starring: Kim Soo Hyun, Seo Ye Ji, Oh Jung Se

PHOTO BY Its Okay Not to Be Okay/TVN

40. Oh My Ghost (2015)

Rating: 7.337

TV Channel: TVN

A timid young woman named Bong Sun is possessed by a lustful ghost who hopes to finish her unsolved business on earth by seducing Bong Sun’s conceited crush and work boss, Sun Woo. 

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Starring: Park Bo Young, Kim Seul Gi, Jo Jung Suk

PHOTO BY Oh My Ghost/TVN

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