From the extended 16+ episode long stories to unforgettable characters, there really is nothing quite like a good Korean drama. There’s also nothing quite like the hollow feeling of loss you experience when your favourite show ends.
Among the good, the bad and the ugly are some Korean dramas that stand the test of time and can be regarded as some of the best ever created. Here, we’ll be showcasing and celebrating our favourite fantasy tale offerings!
Of course, do feel free to comment below if we’ve missed any noteworthy entries and we’ll be sure to review it and see if it makes the list!
So without further ado, TheReviewGeek team present our picks (in no particular order!) for the Best Fantasy Korean Dramas of All Time.
Guardian: The Lonely and Great God (Goblin)
Guardian: The Lonely & Great God is quite simply one of the best Korean dramas ever made. Armed with excellent cinematography, crackling chemistry between its main cast and one of the best soundtracks in this medium, Guardian (often referred to as Goblin) is a wonderful journey from start to finish and a must-watch for fantasy fans.
At the heart of this one lies Dokkaebi (Kim Shin), a 939-year-old immortal who happens to be best friends with a Grim Reaper and a student called Eun-Tak with a tragic past. As fate would have it, Eun-Tak happens to be his bride who’s destined to break Shin’s immortal curse.
The story takes many twists and turns along the way but manages to nail every single part of its production. When it comes to gold-standard K-Dramas, this one sets a very high bar.
Hotel Del Luna
Hotel Del Luna may not be the strongest drama on the list, nor does it do anything particularly outstanding with its story. However, it does pack one heck of an emotional punch and arguably trumps every other drama from 2018 for its soundtrack. It’s also another classic IU masterclass in acting.
Hotel Del Luna refers to a gateway hotel between the real world and the after life which this drama takes place in. Following a bright opening act, a lot of the middle episodes fall into an episodic format until the third act starts to ramp up the drama, light horror elements and emotion.
There are some truly emotional scenes peppered throughout and the finale is certainly one of the most gut-wrenching episodes of Korean TV in quite some time. The supernatural elements and world building are excellent throughout and the cinematography is really impressive too.
Strong Woman Bong-Soon
Part-fantasy, part comedic drama, Strong Woman Bong-Soon gives no illusions about its premise. It’s a drama about a strong woman called Bong-Soon who was born with superhuman strength. Putting her abilities to good use, she’s hired by the CEO of a gaming company to be his bodyguard. It’s a simple premise on paper but one that’s propped up by a thick layer of comedy and romance.
Yes, the series includes all the usual tropes like slow-mo kissing and some cheesy dialogue, but it’s easy to look past in the wake of such a fun and lovable storyline. Like many others on this list, the chemistry between the two lead characters is ultimately what helps this stand out and if you haven’t already, this is definitely worth checking out if you’re in the mood for a classic Korean drama treasure.
Mystic Pop-Up Bar
Based on the popular web-comic “Ssanggabpocha”, Mystic Pop-up Bar marks the first Wednesday/Thursday show aired by JTBC this year. With an original story and some great chemistry from the cast, this Korean drama hits all the right notes when it comes to humour, tension and world building.
It tackles a lot of important themes around life and death too, along with the consequences of our actions which offers up a nice layer of depth to this series.
The story mainly revolves around Weol-Ju who runs the mystic Pop-up Bar at night. Due to her actions in the past, she has been sentenced to settle the grudge of 100,000 people or she will be sent to Hell. She is also helped by manager Guibanjang who always stays by her side.
With time running out, Weol-Ju becomes desperate and seeks the help of Han Kang-Bae who has the ability to make people spill their secrets just by touching them. The story follows the trio as they help each other reach their goal while some deep secrets and revelations are uncovered along the way.
Dubbed as the Korean Game Of Thrones, Arthdal Chronicles leans much heavier into its high fantasy concepts and mixes that in with a health dose of complicated political drama.
The story is admittedly pretty convoluted and will punish you if you’re not paying attention during every minute of its episodes.
Set in the fictional land of Arthdal during Ancient times, the story sees a military force led by Tagon rise up and seize control of the land. Prophesied to bring balance back to the world, Eunseom and Tanya front the Wahan Tribe, a peaceful colony, find themselves on the brink of extinction.
All of this builds up to quite the dramatic conclusion to round things out with. Given a second season has already been green-lit, this isn’t the last we’ll see of this Korean drama!
This meta self-aware K-drama offers up a smartly written plot based on a webtoon of the same name.
The main premise revolves around the idea of a comic book heroine suddenly becoming aware that she’s inside a comic and doing all she can to course-correct the author.
It’s a fun, romantic and oftentimes surprisingly poignant drama that absolutely nails its ending. The cast all round do a great job with this one and the fantasy elements work beautifully alongside the main storyline.
The Legend of the Blue Sea
The Legend of the Blue Sea is one of the better shows involving mermaids. Split across 20 feature-length episodes, the story begins in 1598 with newly appointed governor Dam Ryung staying at an inn for the night. There, he runs into a captured mermaid named Sim Chung whom he releases back into the ocean.
Fast forward to the present day, we follow our protagonist Joon-Jae who happens to be a smooth talking con-man staying abroad at an oceanside resort. However, when Sim Chung washes up on shore, she casts her gaze on Joon-Jae and the two meet.
It’s a pretty intriguing set up and one that combines a good amount of humour with bubbling romance. As per the usual run of Korean dramas, the middle set of episodes do fizzle out a little but stick with this one – the conclusion is brilliant and rounds things out nicely.
A Korean Odyssey
If you’re looking for a good old fashioned fantasy drama, you can’t go wrong with A Korean Odyssey.
The story here takes place in 2017 with Son Oh-Gong and Woo Ma-Wang in conflict with each other. Oh-Gong is bound to his protective role towards a little girl called Seon-Mi whom he met years before. Having made a contract with her, entitling the girl to seek help whenever she needs it, the two meet again in a fateful encounter.
The story is well written, with compelling characters that boast some great chemistry which helps drive this one forward. Much like Blue Sea, this is another 20 episode thriller worth checking out.
The Uncanny Counter
Currenting airing on Netflix, The Uncanny Counter takes elements of Rugal and Vagabond and mashes them up together, blending the action of the latter with the superpowers of the former. The result is something that works really well to drive home an action-packed thriller chock full of ghosts, spirit levels and well-choreographed fights.
Another webtoon adaptation, The Uncanny Counter gravitates around a boy called Mun who’s haunted by the death of his parents years before. Injured and forced into using crutches, he’s bullied at school until a group of Noodle Bar residents called “Counters” arrive and recruit him to their squad.
What follows is an action-packed thrill-ride mixed in with political and thriller elements.
Angel’s Last Mission: Love
Angel’s Last Mission is another fantastical drama, one that combines romance and light bites of comedy nicely.
The story revolves around Dan, who happens to be a care-free angel who always winds up in trouble. In order to return to heaven, he’s given a mission to find true love for a cold and selfish former ballerina called Yun-Seo. During his mission though, this angel happens to fall in love with the girl himself.
It’s certainly an intriguing set-up and one that works well across its run-time, with a whole load of heartache and memorable moments to boot.
He Is Psychometric
He Is Psychometric won’t be for everyone and it’s certainly a bit of a slow burn too. However, it’s also a show that’s undoubtedly thrilling with a unique premise that immediately draws you in.
The story here revolves around a guy called Lee An who happens to have a special psychometry ability. Just by touching someone, he can read their memories. Determined to use that power as a force of good, good looking Lee An isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed.
The story takes an intriguing turn though when Jae-In enters the fray, a girl armed with a scar in her mind which she tries to hide. Together with Lee An, the pair join up and try to solve cases.
Be warned though, this one comes equipped with one of those love/hate endings (no spoilers here!) which will make or break your experience with this.
49 Days is the oldest Korean dramas on this list but no less dramatic. In fact, it’s actually one of the saddest Korean dramas out there! Released way back in 2011 the show does feel quite dated by today’s standards but the story is no less effective.
The drama here revolves around a woman named Ji Hyun Shin who has everything; loving parents, best friends and an adoring fiance. What could go wrong? Well, unfortunately she crashes en-route to her wedding and winds up in a coma.
A reaper known simply as “Scheduler” shows up before her and offers Ji Hyun a second chance. In order to secure her route back to life though, she must make 3 people cry pure tears. Thrust into the body of Yi-Kyung, a woman who’s lost absolutely everything, she sets out to make her mission a reality.
This is a truly heartbreaking drama so be prepared to shed some serious tears with this one!
And there we have it, our list of best fantasy Korean dramas of all time! We’ll periodically update this page as we watch more Korean dramas and work through any requests you guys may have for us as well.
What do you think of our list? Have we included your favourites? Or have we missed any must-watch dramas? We love to hear from you so do feel free to let us know in the comments below.