These 10 Korean Dramas Are Visually Stunning


The world of Korean dramas have been having their moment, and some of the most beloved shows of the past two years, like Squid Game, have continued to become a part of the cultural legacy on a global scale. When many think of a Korean drama, they tend to go back to shows like Squid Game, or the romantic comedies that boast superb fashion and a tendency to sometimes go over the top when it comes to certain plot points and tropes. But an often underappreciated aspect of Korean dramas is the cinematography itself, although several of these shows have high production quality, especially when it comes to the kind of visuals they’re serving to audiences all around the world.

While Korean dramas have come such a long way since the success of shows like Coffee Prince and Boys Over Flowers, the production has become more updated and contemporary as time passes. We still love these classics, but as the shows take their sets abroad and have access to more technology, there have been some iconic moments in recent years that are absolutely stunning to see on-screen, no matter what you’re watching the drama on. Here are 10 K-dramas that have these jaw-dropping visual moments.


10 Doona!

Netflix

Doona! is a limited series released on Netflix in 2023, and despite its short running time, it has quite the story to tell throughout. A Korean pop idol (Bae Suzy) retires from her girl group and lives a reclusive life, finding refuge in a rented room that’s popular with university students. From the countryside of Korea, a STEM student realizes the identity of his fellow neighbor, and when he treats her like a human being, not like someone famous, they grow closer.

Why It’s Stunning

With the blocking and visuals, Doona! manages to be quite poetic with how it chooses to set up its shots. Whether it’s the introduction whether the two main characters are standing on opposite sides of the railroad tracks, or Doona standing in her room, the television playing behind her, there are plenty of scenes in the show that feel like they belong in a movie.

Stream on Netflix

9 Guardian: The Lonely and Great God

Guardian: The Lonely and Great God
Studio Dragon

Guardian: The Lonely and Great God, known as Goblin colloquially, has consistently been known as one of the most Korean dramas ever released. Kim Go-eun plays a high school student, who is the fated bride of a centuries-old dokkaebi (Gong Yoo), or goblin, which opens up a complicated side of the world and the supernatural beings inhabiting it.

Why It’s Stunning

Straight off the bat, the K-drama busts out some of its best shots as the main characters accidentally end up in Montreal in the middle of fall. Surrounded by vibrant orange leaves falling off the trees, this sets the tone for what’s to come throughout the series. Whether it’s on a Korean beach or atop a roof, there are some moments in Goblin you might want as your screensaver before you’re even halfway done the show.

Stream on Viki

8 Hotel Del Luna

Hotel Del Luna

Hotel Del Luna

Release Date
September 3, 2021

Cast
Ji-eun Lee, Yeo Jin-gu, Shin Jeong-geun, Bae Hae-sun

Main Genre
Action

Yeo Jin-goo stars in Hotel Del Luna as a Koo Chan-sung, who doesn’t know that, as a baby, his father exchanged his life to the owner of a supernatural hotel so the father could stay alive. Forced to work at the Hotel Del Luna, Chan-sung comes into contact with its eccentric owner, Man-wol (IU/Lee Ji-eun), and the people who come to pass into the afterlife through it. Along the way, he learns some secrets about the workers and Man-wol, as well as the hotel.

Why It’s Stunning

Hotel Del Luna might be lacking more in the CGI department, but its production overall is incredible. Man-wol’s fashion sense alone translates well on-screen, making it one of the more iconic shows when it comes to fashion alone. But the aesthetics of the hotel and the more fantasy elements throughout add an interesting element visually, making the ambiance truly come to life throughout the series.

Stream on Netflix

Related: 15 Most Addictive Korean Dramas

7 Mr. Sunshine

Mr.Sunshine
tvN

The tail-end of Joseon Korea comes alive in Mr. Sunshine, where an American soldier (Lee Byung-hun) comes home to his native country on an assignment. An orphan who left Korea behind when he was young, he discovers what has and hasn’t changed about his home country, but along the way of his homecoming, he falls in love with a local girl who’s involved with the politics of the area.

Why It’s Stunning

In a historical drama set in Joseon Korea, one wouldn’t expect the cinematography and visuals to be as good as they are in Mr. Sunshine. From shots to the natural landscape of Korea juxtaposed against traditional hanok homes, or a lone shot of Lee’s character riding on a horse through the woods, there’s quite a bit to admire in this series visually.

Stream on Netflix

6 It’s Okay Not to Be Okay

It's Okay to Not Be Okay
Story TV

2020’s It’s Okay Not to Be Okay, despite it being a representation of what various mental illnesses can look like on-screen, has its problematic moments when it comes to other scenes. In the series, Moon Gang-tae (Kim Soo-hyun) works at a psychiatric ward while taking care of his autistic elder brother, and one day, he crosses paths with a famous writer (Seo Yea-ji) who has antisocial personality disorder. When the writer becomes romantically obsessed with Gang-tae, she follows him to the brothers’ next city, trying to uncover why she’s so smitten with him.

Why It’s Stunning

One of the more interesting parts of this Korean drama is specifically how it uses multimedia elements to tell its story, creating a compelling visual story that meshes well with the angle that one of the characters writes children’s books. In addition to this, it creates quite the ambiance with its setting, production, and fashion, making it a worthy entry to this list.

Stream on Netflix

5 The Crowned Clown

The Crowned Clown drama
tvN

In The Crowned Clown, Yeo Jin-goo shows his prowess as an actor. Set in the middle of Joseon, he portrays two different characters: a king and a clown. When the king becomes paranoid that he will be assassinated by his enemies, he hires the clown, who looks like him, to take his place on the throne. But when the clown actually does a better job than the actual king, the court becomes interested in this newcomer and his capabilities.

Why It’s Stunning

With the imperial court setting of middle Joseon, one really wouldn’t expect much from The Crowned Clown, but blocking plays a key role in the visuals here. There are some really excellent shots that add to the narrative framework of the show inside the royal palace, making it very subtle, but a key role in the experience for those watching the show.

Stream on Netflix

4 Beyond Evil

Yeo Jin-goo as Han Joo-won
JTBC

For those who are big fans of the crime drama, Beyond Evil definitely is one of the Korean dramas and television shows you should check out immediately. After a serial killer strikes a small town in South Korea, the brother of one of the victims grows up to become a police officer. While he vows to find out who did this to his family and sister all those years ago, he is joined by a hotshot rookie cop from the big city. While their methods might be frowned upon, they are effective.

Why It’s Stunning

Beyond Evil’s cinematography does excellent work when showing the desolation and isolation of the environments these characters are working in. Whether day or night, there are plenty of secrets to be found throughout the fields and town, and conversations to be overheard.

Stream on Netflix

3 Start-Up

Start-Up
tvN

The world of entrepreneurship collides with romance and aspirations in the drama Start-Up, which stars Bae Suzy as Dal-mi, a young woman who wants to become the next Steve Jobs. When invited to join the process at the Sandbox, a fictional version of Silicon Valley, she’s going to meet people who will help her on her journey of self-discovery and business, ending up in a love triangle in the process.

Why It’s Stunning

Cinematography is one of the highlights of Start-Up, and the blocking of characters on-screen reflects a lot of the underlying tensions and problems between them. Whether empty spaces or the lack of it, pay close attention to Start-Up, and you’ll realize there’s another language at play on-camera.

Stream on Netflix

Related: 17 Most Romantic Korean Dramas to Watch Next

2 Flower of Evil

Flower of Evil
tvN

In Flower of Evil, Lee Joon-gi portrays the perfect husband and father who’s hiding some sinister secrets and past beneath his facade. When his wife, a woman who works at the local police department, begins to realize the extent of what he’s hidden from her, a can of worms is opened, putting their previously peaceful life under threat.

Why It’s Stunning

Fans of Goblin and Crash Landing on You would be excited to hear that the same cinematographer for those shows worked on Flower of Evil. Movement is a key part of the camerawork on this show, whether it’s a character physically moving or the camera tracking them as they follow the action.

Stream on Netflix

1 While You Were Sleeping

While You Were Sleeping
SBS TV, Netflix

2017’s While You Were Sleeping ties together three different characters through an event in their past. As the years pass, they’re all experiencing the same events in their dreams, and, whether they originally believed it or not, the events they witness while sleeping are actually the future. Now they’ve joined forces to prevent the worst from happening, especially when the situation becomes more dire.

Why It’s Stunning

Sometimes the visuals don’t need to be extravagant in order for them to stand out, and that’s what happens with While You Were Sleeping. This show is a lesson in simplicity, and some of its scenes are just beauty in its most mundane form. There’s a lot to learn from shows like this!

Stream on Viki



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