Fans of Korean TV series who aren’t sure where to get their next dose of K-drama should turn to Paramount+’s selection which has a small but fairly eclectic library of original Korean series and licensed content that is among the most innovative Korean shows ever produced.

From the survival series “Bargain” to the recently released psychological thriller “Pyramid Game,” we bring you a look at the underrated but absolutely binge-worthy K-dramas on Paramount+.

  • Pyramid Games

From “Pyramid Game” to “Voice” and many other Korean series on Paramount+ K-Selection

Based on Dalgonyak’s webtoon of the same name, Pyramid Game is a gripping teen thriller whose plot is probably closer to Squid Game or Alice in Borderland than anything from The CW’s golden era . Seong Su-ji (Kim Ji-yeon, aka Bona, from Twenty Five Twenty One) transfers to a girls’ high school, where her class competes every month in a strange popularity contest called the Pyramid Game.

Those who do not receive any votes from their classmates are subjected to extreme harassment and bullying, and Su-ji becomes the game’s next target. It is then upon realizing that she and some of her classmates are at risk. constantly falling victim to the game’s sadistic rules that Su-ji vows to end the Pyramid Game once and for all.

It’s during its third episode that this cleverly scripted psychological drama begins to come into its own, when Su-ji and the series’ main antagonist engage in a battle of wits that makes them seem more like heads. political thinkers than to ordinary high school girls.

Shin Seul-ki, who plays class representative Seo Do-ah, rose to prominence after participating in the Netflix reality show Single’s Inferno. As for Jang Da-ah, who plays the role of Baek Ha-rin, she is the older sister of Jang Won-young, of the famous K-pop group IVE.

  • yonder

From “Pyramid Game” to “Voice” and many other Korean series on Paramount+ K-Selection

What happens after death? Does paradise exist? What if humanity could create its own paradise, what might it look like? Would we be able to find eternal happiness there? These are just some of the deep questions explored in Yonder, a thought-provoking sci-fi drama that was the first Korean series to be produced under Paramount’s partnership with Korean entertainment conglomerate CJ ENM.

When his wife has just died, Jae-hyun receives a message from her inviting him to go to a mysterious place called “Yonder”, an artificial world built from her memories. The latter then decides to join her, but it does not take long to discover disturbing truths behind this paradise created by man.

Slow-paced and subtle, Yonder stars legendary actors Shin Ha-kyun (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Extreme Job), Han Ji-min (Our Blues), Lee Jung-eun (Parasite) and Jung Jin-young ( Ode to My Father, Queen of Tears); upon its release, it was the most watched international series on Paramount+ in the United States.

The funny thing is that Yonder is the first series directed by Lee Joon-ik, known for directing Korean cinema classics like The King and the Clown, Sunny and The Throne. Lee is one of several respected Korean filmmakers who have branched out into making TV series in recent years thanks to the rise of streaming.

  • Bargain

Bargain kdrama

In this wild six-part thriller, things are never quite what they seem. Hyung-soo (played by veteran actor Jin Seon-kyu) meets Ju-young (Burning’s Jeon Jong-seo) at a remote motel, believing he has come to pay Ju-young for his sexual services.

That’s when he finds himself gagged and tied to a stretcher as Ju-young begins auctioning off his organs to strangers who have gathered in the room. Just when things seem like they couldn’t get any crazier, a massive earthquake hits and destroys much of the building, sending the survivors into a desperate race to stay alive.

Beyond its crazy storyline, the series stands out for its unconventional approach to filming, with each episode being filmed in a single continuous take, thus helping to reinforce the chaotic and tense atmosphere that reigns there. Winner of the Best Screenplay award at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, Bargain received rave reviews in the United States and Europe, although many Korean viewers complained about the multitude of swearing found there.

Interestingly, Bargain is based on the 2015 short film of the same name directed by Lee Chung-hyeon, who is currently dating Jeon Jong-seo, who plays the role of Ju-young in the series. It was on the set of his horror film The Call that Lee met Jeon, whom he later directed in the revenge thriller Ballerina, which aired on Netflix.

  • Signal

signal season 2

It is a crime thriller with twists and turns in which police officer Hae-young (Lee Je-hoon of the hit series Taxi Driver) and inspector Soo-hyun (Kim Hye-soo of Under the Queen’s Umbrella and Juvenile Justice) solve cold cases using a mysterious walkie-talkie that allows them to communicate with Inspector Jae-han (Cho Jin-woong of The Handmaiden) from the past.

Inspired by true crimes that occurred in Korea, Signal has received numerous awards, including Best Drama at the 2016 Baeksang Arts Awards (more or less the Korean equivalent of the Golden Globes). After the release of the first season around eight years ago, the second season of the series is currently in development.

Interestingly, Signal, written by Kim Eun-hee (who went on to write Revenant and Kingdom, Netflix’s first hit K-drama), was originally supposed to be broadcast by Korea’s premier channel SBS, but this The latter finally abandoned the idea due in particular to the poor results obtained by Kim’s previous series on the channel. Cable channel tvN then picked it up, making Signal one of the most popular Korean television series of the time. It is very likely that the leaders of SBS subsequently blamed themselves.

  • Save Me

From “Pyramid Game” to “Voice” and many other Korean series on Paramount+ K-Selection

While religious cults are such a hot topic in Korea that it has sparked a number of documentaries and scripted content, no other K-drama addresses the phenomenon in as much depth as Save Me. Directed by Lee Jae-moon , who also worked on Signal, this mysterious and disturbing thriller examines the enormous influence that pseudo-religious groups sometimes exert on Korean society as well as how ordinary, rational human beings can easily become drawn into these practices.

For its first season, the series is adapted from the webtoon Out of the World by Jo Geum-san, while the second season is based on the animated film The Fake by Yeon Sang-ho, best known for directing Train to Busan , Hellbound and Parasyte: The Grey. Both seasons are available on Paramount+.

Interestingly, despite airing both seasons of Save Me before the outbreak, the series saw renewed interest in Korea during the pandemic, as many viewers made comparisons between the first season and the Shincheonji sect, which has been widely blamed for spreading the pandemic in Korea.

  • Voice

From “Pyramid Game” to “Voice” and many other Korean series on Paramount+ K-Selection

“Voice” is one of the few ultra-violent K-dramas made before streamers like Netflix gave birth to more K-dramas with graphic content. It follows police officer Kang Kwon-joo (Lee Ha-na) who uses her keen sense of hearing to prevent people from becoming victims of horrific crimes. In each season, a male detective played by a Hallyu superstar (Jang Hyuk in the first season, Lee Jin-wook in seasons 2 and 3, and Song Seung-heon in the fourth season) joins her and the duo solves business while tracking down serial killers.

The extremely violent depictions of Voice did not prevent it from being so popular in South Korea that it was renewed for four seasons (an extremely rare occurrence at the time), the first two of which are available on the Paramount+ site. It has also been the subject of Japanese and Thai remake versions.

The curious thing is that Voice has attracted a lot of controversy and complaints from viewers in South Korea due to its excessive violence, so much so that the production team received a warning from the Korea Television Standards Commission. communication during the show’s first season and was forced to increase its age rating from 15+ to 19+. Despite the persistence of graphic content, the series however returned to a 15+ rating for its second and third seasons, while only the first episode of the fourth season was rated 19+.

  • A Bloody Lucky Day

From “Pyramid Game” to “Voice” and many other Korean series on Paramount+ K-Selection

As one customer after another hails his taxi, driver Oh Taek (Lee Sung-min of Misaeng: Incomplete Life and 12.12: The Day) thinks to himself that he is having the luckiest day of his life. life. He then wonders if dreaming of pigs last night has anything to do with his unusual luck (Korean superstition holds that seeing pigs in a dream brings good luck). That’s when a mysterious passenger, introducing himself as Geum Hyeok-soo, offers him a large sum for a long-distance trip, which leads Taek to believe that his dream really had consequences.

This day, which promised to be auspicious, quickly turns into the worst night of his life, because Taek learns that Hyeok-soo is in fact a psychopathic serial killer on the loose. On the highway, Hyeok-soo kills his victims one by one and Taek must do everything he can to stay alive.

A Bloody Lucky Day

Although the storyline may be reminiscent of Collateral, this gripping 10-episode series relies more on complex character development, emotional storytelling, and graphic violence to draw in audiences.

Amusingly, the series’ Korean title, “운수오진날”, literally means “The Day of Misdiagnosed Luck”, thus alluding to Taek’s dream. In interviews, actor Yoo Yeon-seok, who plays Geum Hyeok-soo, said that he thought a lot about how to portray the character of Hyeok-soo, who has permed hair and a frog face in the original webtoon. Since Yoo obviously couldn’t change his facial structure, he opted for a curly wig and freckles.

Among the Paramount + series on this list, which are the most interesting to you?