The 9 Best Asian Dramas Currently on Netflix
Sometimes finding a show to watch on Netflix can feel like looking in your closet and saying you have nothing to wear. There’s a wealth of content on there, but stumbling upon a truly enjoyable, new show that’s worth your emotional investment can feel like a Sisyphean task. And as I spend, well, quite a lot of time on Netflix, I’m here to take the guesswork out of it for you. Since May is also Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, this is going to be an Asian drama edition. Here are all the best ones on Netflix that you can stream right now.
Life Plan A and B
This 2016 drama from Taiwan starring Rainie Yang and Johnny Lu explores the all-too-relatable premise of a young couple building a life together and an overseas job opportunity that forces them to choose between love and career. Rather than choosing one, the story splits into two parallel universes that follows the protagonists along the two paths their lives take hinging on one major decision. It’s a tale of loneliness, one’s duty towards family, sacrifice, and in-depth exploration of the haunting question “what if?”
Strong Woman Do Bong Soon
While some dramas feature strong female characters, Do Bong-soon (Park Bo-young) is quite literally a strong female. Born with superhuman strength, a trait that is inherited by all the women in her family that she spends most of her life attempting to hide, she is hired as the bodyguard of a talented but spoiled video game company CEO. A series of kidnapping cases prompts Bong-soon to come out of hiding and learn to use her power for good, and of course, it doesn’t hurt that she falls in love along the way.
A Love So Beautiful
This endearing Chinese drama from 2017 made stars of its two leads, Hu Yitian and Shen Yue. Chen Xiaoxi has had a crush on her neighbor Jiang Chen her whole life, while for most of his life, Jiang Chen has regarded her as little more than an annoyance. The story accompanies the characters and their tight-knit circle of friends from school to university and into adulthood, and is a deeply satisfying watch full of character exploration, growth, and the enduring, many facets of love.
Memories of The Alhambra
Set in the stunning backdrop of Granada, Spain, this unconventional 2018 Korean drama stars Park Shin-hye and Hyun Bin. Aside from the stunning location, this drama has features the darker side of augmented reality and what happens when something that was created for fun becomes anything but. Park Shin-hye plays Jung Hee-joo, a beautiful hostel owner and sister of a missing AR game inventor, and Hyun Bin portrays Yoo Jin-woo, the wealthy VR investor who travels to Spain to learn more about an intriguing new game invented by Hee-joo’s missing brother.
Something in the rain
This 2018 drama starring Son Ye-jin and Jung Hae-in taps into Korea’s rigid age-based social hierarchy. This at-times heart-wrenching story tells the tale of Yoon Jin-ah, a thirty-something career woman, who runs into her best friend’s younger brother who has just returned from overseas, and the two realizing their mutual, somewhat taboo attraction towards one another. It’s a tender study on the laughable notion that society could dictate how we are allowed to love when love itself is an ungovernable thing.
Oh My Ghost
A 2015 drama starring arguably one of Korea’s most watchable young actresses, Park Bo-young, “Oh My Ghost” is the story of a timid young aspiring chef, Na Bong-sun, who bears an unfortunate secret: she sees dead people. Bong-sun runs into the spirit of a young virgin ghost who is everything she is not — bold, fiery, and on a mission — and the two make a pact to merge lives. Meanwhile, Bong-sun’s employer, Kang Sun-woo (Jo Jung-suk), a handsome, haughty celebrity chef, begins to take notice of the change in Bong-sun.
Good Morning Call
While the premise of guy and girl through some hijinks or other wind up becoming roommates and falling in love is an overwhelmingly common trope in Asian dramas, this 2016 Japanese drama is one that plays it slow and sweet. Adapted from a popular 2007 manga of the same name, “Good Morning Call” tells the story of two high schoolers, the gullible and effusive Nao Yoshikawa and the curt, yet devastatingly handsome Hisashi Uehara who both get scammed and wind up renting the same apartment. Needless to say, only adorable things to follow.
Romance Is a Bonus Book
Another noona-dongseng (older woman, younger man) story, this 2019 Korean drama starring one of favorites, Lee Jong-suk (if you haven’t seen him in W yet, you should) and Lee Na-young, Romance Is a Bonus Book is one of the newest releases on the list. Cha Eun Ho has been in unrequited love with his older girl friend Kang Dan-i pretty much his entire life, but Dan-i has been oblivious for all of hers. She married another man, had a kid, and even left behind a budding career in marketing to care for her family, while Eun Ho over the years has become a superstar editor in the book publishing world. Then, Dan-i’s marriage and world falls apart, and to make ends meet, lies her way into becoming an intern at Eun Ho’s company.
Ashes of Love
Okay, so I’ll be the first to admit that this 2018 Chinese drama starring Yang Zi and Deng Lun is the least accessible to a Western audience on this list, but as it’s also my favorite, I had to put it on here. If you have an appetite for Chinese mythological fantasy, can overlook seriously terrible CGI, and have the patience to sit through 60 episodes, then by all means, dig in. Jin Mi (Yang Zi) is the lovechild of the Floral Goddess and the Water God who has been hidden away her entire life due to the secrecy of her birth and Xu Feng (Deng Lun) is the only son of the Heavenly Emperor and Empress. The two were never intended to meet, and yet, meet they did. The story follows them through what is essentially three lifetimes together, and it’s a hell of a ride.