10 Most Beautifully Shot Korean Dramas | TheReviewGeek Recommends

10 Most Beautifully Shot Korean Dramas

Korean dramas have carved a unique niche in the global entertainment landscape, setting themselves apart with their storytelling finesse and distinctive aesthetic. Part of their charm comes from the thoughtful and sublime use of cinematography, lending a visual language to the narrative that’s likely to resonate with audiences worldwide.

This fusion of traditional Korean culture with modern filmic techniques offers an alluring blend of the familiar and the exotic, contributing to the global appeal of K-dramas.

Compared to Hollywood, Korean dramas often lean towards subtlety and restraint in their use of cinematography. They rely on carefully composed frames, thoughtful color palettes, and nuanced lighting to convey the narrative’s emotional beats and thematic underpinnings.

Their approach tends to prioritize harmony and balance, mirroring the principles of traditional Korean aesthetics. The result is a visual experience that is simultaneously rich and understated, able to convey complex emotions and ideas with an elegant simplicity.

From the lush, historical panoramas of series like “Mr. Sunshine” to the sleek, contemporary vistas of dramas like “Search: WWW”, the visual storytelling of K-dramas has become an integral part of their charm and allure. 

Below we celebrate our choices for the 10 most beautifully shot Korean dramas, ones with the best cinematography and use of colour. As always, do let us know in the comments below if you agree or disagree with our picks!


Signal

Signal is a crime thriller series with a unique premise, involving communication between detectives from the past and present. The cinematography plays a key role in establishing the series’ atmosphere and tone. The show uses a mix of handheld and stable shots to create a realistic, grounded atmosphere, while the faded shots between the past and present are beautifully constructed and really add to the mystery.

The use of color in Signal is distinct too, with the past depicted in a warmer, sepia tone while the present depicted in cooler, bluer hues. This contrast helps to distinguish between the two timelines. Interestingly, there are some unique, tight close-up shots frequently employed to express the intense emotions of the characters too.


Chicago Typewriter

From the very first episode, you know you’re watching something aesthetically special with Chicago Typewriter. This time-travel drama shifts between the 1930’s and the present day regularly, and it’s renowned for its rich visuals and meticulous attention to detail.

The series uses plenty of wide, sweeping shots to capture the grandeur and scale of its historical settings, while split screen shots and detailed interior shots are equally shown, contributing to the atmosphere of each era.

Like Signal, there are distinct color palettes that fluctuate between a nostalgic, sepia-toned past and a vibrant, over-saturated present. The camera work is excellent too, including elegant tracking shots and detailed close-ups, helping to create an immersive, cinematic experience.


Mr. Sunshine

Mr. Sunshine’s visuals are simply breathtaking. This historical drama, set in the early 1900’s, depicts a period of great change and turbulence in Korean history and the series’ cinematography truly captures the cinematic splendor of that. There’s high production values with this one, depicting plenty of grand, sweeping shots to depict the historical setting and more intricate close-ups to highlight the exquisite period details.

Mr. Sunshine uses a warm, slightly desaturated color palette that evokes the past but there are specific colors often used to symbolize the different characters or factions.

Characters are often positioned within the frame according to their status or emotional state, with low-angled or high-angled shots working really well to showcase that. 

The camera work too, is versatile, incorporating everything from dynamic action sequences to intimate moments, with lots of variety with technique, including slow motion and switching the depth of field, creating a visually rich experience.


Kingdom

Kingdom is a historical zombie drama series that stands out for its genre fusion and excellent production values. The cinematography in Kingdom is outstanding, combining the grandeur of a period drama with the intensity of a horror series. There are some gorgeous panoramic shots to depict the landscape, which contrasts against tight, claustrophobic shots to heighten the tension.

Kingdom’s color palette shifts from warm and vibrant during the day to cool and eerie at night, with blue and greys in particular showing that during those tense sequences.

The framing often emphasizes the disparity between the royal court and commoners, as well as between safety and danger. Characters and zombies are frequently framed in contrast with one another, while the camera work, employing quick pans and sudden zooms, enhances the horror.


Sky Castle

Sky Castle is a satirical drama that focuses on high society’s obsession with success and prestige, especially through their children’s education.

The series uses a restrained, elegant cinematography style that matches its upper-class setting. It often uses symmetric compositions, reflecting the controlled, orderly world of its characters. Not only that but each of the different houses represent the emotional state of our families. For one, we have plants and plenty of natural elements reflecting the ability to be free and in touch with one’s inner state.

Similarly, another house adopts harsh lines and suffocating black, reinforcing the oppressive patriarch living inside. The color palette is stylish all the way through, contributing to the feel of cold perfectionism that characterizes the world of Sky Castle.


Goblin

Goblin is a fantasy-romance series that balances elements of comedy, drama, and supernatural – but it’s also a visual treat too. Goblin is visually stunning, with a cinematic quality that sets it apart from other fantasy series. It uses intimate close-ups and grand, sweeping shots, as well as clever framing, playing with scale and perspective.

The series uses a rich, vibrant color palette that contributes to its fairy-tale atmosphere, while specific colours – like bright red or light pink – used to represent specific characters in the show.

Similarly, the camera work captures the epic fantasy elements and smaller, personal moments, with techniques such as slow motion and switching between time periods through doorways in a clever way.


flower of evil

Flower of Evil

Flower of Evil is a suspenseful crime drama revolving around a man hiding his past and his detective wife who begins to suspect him. Say what you will about the narrative, but this show has some very impressive cinematography. 

The series utilizes “negative space” really well, with a focus on facial expressions and reactions to heighten the tension. The color scheme is often moody and muted, reflecting the darker themes of the series. Specific colors are used symbolically, such as the recurring motif of red, which represents danger and secrets.

Characters are frequently framed in isolation, while mirrors are used cleverly to reflect inner turmoil and secrets.

The camera work is dynamic and intense, mirroring the suspense and tension of the narrative as well.


TALE OF NOKDU

The Tale of Nokdu

The Tale of Nokdu is a romantic comedy set during the Joseon era, following a man who disguises himself as a woman to infiltrate a mysterious all-female community. The cinematography is vibrant and lively, with a strong emphasis on physical comedy and visual gags. As expected, the colours are bright and saturated, contributing to the series’ light, humorous tone.

Framing is used to highlight comic situations and character interactions, while there’s a recurring motif of framing characters symmetrically or asymmetrically, emphasizing their differences and/or similarities. There are a couple of beautiful fading shots in here to watch out for as well.


Search: WWW

Search: WWW is a drama that focuses on the lives of women working in the competitive world of web portal companies. The series uses sleek, modern cinematography to reflect its tech-focused setting. It often uses dynamic compositions to reflect the fast-paced, competitive world of its characters. The tracking shots mimic the speed and precision of the digital world, while the organic changing depth of field shots only reinforce that.

The color scheme is cool and modern, with a focus on contrasting whites, blues and greys that evoke a digital, corporate atmosphere. Given the work environment, framing is used to highlight the power dynamics within that world too, with plenty of low-angle and high-angled shots. If that wasn’t enough, characters are often framed in isolation, reflecting their ambition and individualism.


Crash Landing On You

Crash Landing on You is a romantic drama about a South Korean heiress who accidentally crash-lands in North Korea and falls in love with a North Korean military officer.

The series adopts a cinematic quality, featuring picturesque landscapes and cityscapes of both North and South Korea, as well as breathtaking shots of Switzerland too.

The show combines wide, sweeping shots to capture the grandeur and beauty of its settings, as well as intimate close-ups that reveal the characters’ emotions.

The drama uses a warm, saturated color palette, enhancing the romantic tone, but it also helps to differentiate the two settings as well. North Korea is often depicted in more subdued, earthy tones, while South Korea is presented with brighter, more vibrant hues. Furthermore, Switzerland is depicted in a very bright, welcoming way as well.

The camera work in the series is dynamic and versatile, encompassing everything from dramatic aerial shots (particularly during the paragliding scenes) to handheld shots during more intense, action-filled sequences.

This blend of visual storytelling elements in Crash Landing on You helps elevate the drama, creating one of the most impressive and visually engaging experiences in any Korean drama.


So there we have it! Our picks for the 10 most beautifully shot Korean dramas! Do you agree with our picks? Disagree with our choices? Let us know in the comments below!

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