It’s time to bid goodbye to the 92 Korean dramas that premiered in 2019 and welcome a slew of new shows next year. We expect to see around a hundred premieres in 2020, but we get only five new Korean dramas to watch in January, the most notable of which are the second season of a hit medical series and a thriller about a looming financial crisis.
January 3: TOUCH (Fridays & Saturdays on Channel A)
- Genre: Romantic Comedy
- Main Cast: Jo Sang-wook & Kim Bo-ra
- Predecessor: Love Affairs In The Afternoon
2019 is a successful year for Kim Bo-ra (Her Private Life) as she appeared in the award-winning series SKY Castle and got her first-ever lead role in a prime-time Korean drama. In Touch, she’s taking on the role of an idol trainee who’s been in training for ten years but hasn’t made the cut for her debut, which is how she ends up working as an assistant of a debt-ridden make-up artist played by Jo Sang-wook (Fates & Furies). It seems like the series will critique the cutthroat K-pop industry—which is very much in order now considering the recent deaths of Sulli and Goo Hara—but it is also drawing a lot of criticism because of the 17-year age difference between 24-year-old Kim Bo-ra and 41-year-old Jo Sang-wook. Jo’s role is probably a guy in his 30s, so that should make the age difference a tad bit bearable.
January 6: DR. ROMANTIC 2 (Mondays & Tuesdays on SBS)
- Genre: Medical Drama
- Main Cast: Han Suk-kyu, Lee Sung-kyung, & Ahn Hyo-seop
- Predecessor: VIP
I love Dr. Romantic‘s first season to pieces, so when SBS confirmed that it’s making a sequel, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I’m a bit disappointed that Seo Hyun-jin did not join the cast but with the addition of Lee Sung-kyung (About Time) and return of several original supporting cast members—especially chief nurse Jin Kyung, hospital administrator Im Won-hee, and kind nurse Kim Min-jae—I’m keeping my fingers crossed that season 2 will also be amazing. Han Suk-kyu (Watcher) is reprising his role as an eccentric, skilled surgeon who runs a small hospital in the countryside and plays a mentor figure to Lee Sung-kyung and Ahn Hyo-seop (Abyss) who are playing a second-year fellow in cardiothoracic and general surgery, respectively. Also known as Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim 2, the series is penned and directed by the same writer-PD duo who gave us the first season, so maybe we can expect this one to deliver.
January 15: MONEY GAME (Wednesdays & Thursdays on tvN)
- Genre: Financial Thriller
- Main Cast: Go Soo, Shim Eun-kyung, and Lee Sung-min
- Predecessor: Psychopath Diary
Money Game imagines a South Korea being struck by a second Asian financial crisis and tells the story of people who fight intensely to avert the collapse of the Korean economy. Go Soo (Heart Surgeons) portrays an economist at the Financial Services Commission and son of the most well-renowned economist in the country who wants to be recognized for his own talents. Lee Sung-min (Memory) plays the chairman of the commission who is disillusioned with the country’s financial infrastructure and hell-bent on improving it at any cost. Finally, Shim Eun-kyung (Naeil’s Cantabile), who’s returning to the small screen after five years, takes on the role of a new employee at the commission who is hard-working and committed to doing her work with fervor. The new Korean drama comes from the PD of Spring Turns To Spring and Arang And The Magistrate (2012).
January 22: THE GAME: TOWARDS ZERO (Wednesdays & Thursdays on MBC)
- Genre: Crime Thriller
- Main Cast: Taecyeon & Lee Yeon-hee
- Predecessor: Love With Flaws
This supernatural crime thriller revolves around a psychic and a detective who team up to solve a murder case that happened 20 years ago. Taecyeon‘s (Save Me) role is an optimistic person with a special ability—he can see the moment before someone’s death by simply looking into their eyes. Lee Yeon-hee (The Package), on the other hand, plays a charismatic violent crimes detective who partners with Taecyeon’s character to uncover the secrets connected to the case. The Game: Towards Zero is Taecyeon’s first drama since his discharge from the military in May 2019.
January 31: ITAEWON CLASS (Fridays & Saturdays on JTBC)
- Genre: Drama
- Main Cast: Park Seo-joon & Kim Da-mi
- Predecessor: Chocolate
The last Korean drama to premiere in January 2020 is Itaewon Class, which is based on an incredibly popular webtoon that was first published in 2016. It centers on a young man, played by Park Seo-joon (What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim) who starts a food business in Itaewon—a district in Seoul that is popular for its restaurants and bars that cater to foreigners. The story revolves around the challenges he must overcome to succeed and live in an unjust world. Co-starring with Park is Kim Da-mi (The Witch: Part 1. The Subversion), an award-winning movie actress who’s taking on a drama role for the first time. She plays a famous social media influencer who becomes the manager of the restaurant owned by Park’s character. The series is helmed by the PD of Love In The Moonlight and, interestingly, written by the same person who authored the original source work.