Top Korean Dramas for the year 2012

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Originally published on The Korea Guide

This year too Google has published the zietgeist for 2012 highlighting the top 10 most searched Korean Dramas in South Korea. The Moon that Embraces the Sun and City Hunter tops the list both in Korea as well as abroad. The popularity of various dramas in Korea was also measured by AGB Nielsen for the Outstanding Korean Drama Prize. So I have a list of Top 20 dramas by combining the results of both the list mentioned above.

Korean Dramas that were popular in Korea as well as abroad

moon-that-embraces-the-sun Top Korean Drama 2012

The Moon Embracing The Sun – 해를 품은 달

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Period Drama
Episodes: 20
Broadcast network: MBC

Moon Embracing the Sun (also known as the Sun and the Moon) is a 2012 South Korean historical television drama series, starring Kim Soo-hyun, Han Ga-in, Jung Il-woo and Kim Min-seo. The series is adapted from the novel of the same name written by Jung Eun-gwol and directed by Kim Do-hoon and Lee Seong-jun. It tells of a secret, poignant love story between a fictional king of the Joseon Dynasty and a female shaman against the backdrop of Korean traditional palace; and the conflicts and conspiracy of vying political powers.

Yeon Woo, the daughter of a noble family, is chosen to become the Crown Princess and future queen, but enemies in the court order her killed. Although believed dead, Yeon Woo is secretly saved by a powerful shaman and raised among the shamans. She returns to court as a shaman eight years later, having no memory of her past, and the king she was to marry is struck by her resemblance to the woman he loved. Can she reclaim her rightful position as Queen of the court?

The series won for Best Drama and Best Actor awards at the 48th PaekSang Arts Awards in the television category in 2012.

city-hunter-lee-min-ho Top Korean Drama 2012

City Hunter – 시티헌터

Genre: Action, Suspense, Romance
Episodes: 20
Broadcast network: SBS

City Hunter is a South Korean television drama series starring Lee Min-ho, Park Min-young and Lee Joon-hyuk. It is based on the Japanese manga series City Hunter written and illustrated by Tsukasa Hojo.

When Yoon Sung was a kid, his father was killed by the South Korean government after successfully carrying out a covert mission against North Korea. Raised overseas by the only surviving member of that mission, Yoon Sung is trained from childhood to become an elite fighter and highly educated in information technology. He returns to South Korea to work in the Blue House and exact his revenge on his father’s killers. But will falling in love with a female security officer complicate his plans?

Lee Min Ho won Top Excellence Award for Drama Special Actor, Top Ten Stars Award and Netizen Popularity Award at the 2011 SBS Drama Awards.

Korean Dramas that were popular mostly abroad

Dream High - Top Korean Drama 2012

Dream High – Season 1 – 드림하이

Genre: School, drama, comedy, romance
Episodes: 16
Broadcast network: KBS2

Dream High tells the story of six students at Kirin Art High School who work to achieve their dreams of becoming music stars in the Korean music industry. Go Hye Mi is a student who had majored in classical music but has to give up her dream by entering Kirin Art High School to pay off her father’s debt. However, she needs to get two other students to also come to the school in order for her to enroll in the school conditionally. These two students are Song Sam Dong, who lives in the countryside, and Jin Guk, whom she accidentally meets while trying to escape from a loan shark. Yoon Baek Hee, formerly Hyemi’s sidekick, becomes her rival in school because Hye Mi betrays her during an audition to enter the school.

my-princess top Korean Drama 2012

My Princess – 마이 프린세스

Genre: Romance, comedy
Episodes: 16
Broadcast network: MBC

An ordinary college student, Lee Seol, finds out she’s a princess. The grandson of Daehan Group, Park Hae Young, is put in charge of educating Seol on proper etiquette. However, Hae Young is put in a precarious situation when he finds himself drawn to Seol, the girl who will take away his inheritance if the monarchy is restored.

rooftop prince - top korea drama 2012

Rooftop Prince – 옥탑방 왕세자

Genre: Fantasy, Comedy, Romance
Episodes: 20
Broadcast network: SBS

When Crown Prince Lee Gak is transported 300 years into the future to present day Seoul along with his three retainers, they believe that it is their duty to solve the murder case of the Crown Princess in order to return to Joseon. They land in the rooftop apartment of Park Ha, a cheerful woman in her mid-20s, who eventually believes the odd quartet’s predicament and becomes their guardian. As Park Ha educates the four on life in the 21st century, Lee Gak comes across Hong Se Na, who seems to be the reincarnation of his wife. Taking on the identity of Yong Tae Yong, Lee Gak slowly begins to unravel the murder of Yong Tae Yong and in turn moves closer to solving the murder case of the Crown Princess.

Korean Dramas that were popular mostly in Korea

The Princess Man - Top Korean Drama 2012

The Princess’s Man – 공주의 남자

Genre: Period, romance
Episodes: 24
Broadcast network: KBS2

A tragic love story between the daughter of Prince Suyang and grandson of Kim Jong Seo. The son of Kim Jongseo, Seungyoo, is a handsome and wise man who carries a noble quality. Princess Seryeong, a daughter of King Sejo, aka prince Sooyang, is a cheerful, lively lady with a strong curiosity and bold personality. They fall in love instantly but later they find out that their parents are sworn enemies. It’s a Chosun dynasty version of “Romeo and Juliet”.

my-husband-got-a-family - top korean drama 2012

My Husband Got A Family – 넝쿨째 굴러온 당신

Genre: Family, romance, comedy
Episodes: 58
Broadcast network: KBS2

My Husband Got A Family (also known as Unexpected You, You’re a Stroke of Good Luck, You Tumbled Into My Life) tells the story of a TV series director Cha Yoon Hee (Kim Nam Joo) and a surgeon Bang Gwi Nam (Yoo Joon Sang) after they get married. Growing up, Yoon Hee had suffered enough from family conflicts between her mother and her paternal grandmother! She doesn’t want to get married so that she wouldn’t have any in-laws to cause trouble. However, she meets the perfect match – A Korean-American adoptee currently working at a general hospital in Seoul! He’s smart and his family lives in New York. It seemed like Yoon Hee could go on with happy honey moon life forever. However, her husband finds his biological family! Which means Yoon Hee now has in-laws. What is worse and unbelievable is that her in-laws are the next-door neighbors who pick fights with Yoon Hee all the time. Every day is like a war. Living with enemies as one family. Would it ever be possible?

Greatest-Love Top Korean Drama 2012

The Greatest Love – 최고의 사랑

Genre: Romance, comedy
Episodes: 16
Broadcast network: MBC

Ae Jung was once the most popular member of girl band The National Treasure Girls. However 10 years ago the band broke up and she received most of the blame. Despite her warm personality her career has suffered ever since and she now spends her time fighting for air time on variety shows. Dokko Jin is a top movie star at the height of his career. The two meet and become involved in each other’s careers. Yoon Pil Joo is a doctor of oriental medicine who has no interest in the entertainment industry but agrees to make a dating show. Dokko Jin helps get Ae Jung a role on a new reality show called Couple Making. Pil Joo is the bachelor being set up on Couple Making. Both men fall for Ae Jung both off and on the screen.

sign top korean drama 2012

Sign – 싸인

Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
Episodes: 20
Broadcast network: SBS

Sign (also known as Heaven) is a medical investigation drama about forensic doctors solving murder cases. Go Da Kyung is an eager rookie investigator who gets paired with the famous forensic doctor, Yoon Ji Hoon. They initially clash due to their different styles of investigation as well as their opposing personalities – Da Kyung’s energetic nature is a source of irritation for the prickly Ji Hoon – but later develop a complex relationship as the two strive to uncover the truth through science.

deep-rooted-tree top korean drama 2012

Deep-Rooted Tree – 뿌리깊은 나무

Genre: Period, historical, mystery, investigation
Episodes: 24
Broadcast netwrok: SBS

This series is based on Lee Jeong-myeong’s novel “Deep-rooted Tree”. It highlights the serial killings during the 7 days before the announcement of the Korean script. A series of murder occurred during the reign of King Sejong. As Kang Chae Yoon who is investigating these cases gets closer to the root of the truth, he finds himself embroiled in a massive conspiracy behind the serial killings which involves a group of genius who are willing to risked their lives towards their cause/goals and secret powers who will interfere with the course of his investigations.

the-king-2hearts - Lee Seung Ki - Romantic Korean Drama

The King 2 Hearts – 더킹 투하츠

Genre: Romance, comedy, action
Episodes: 20
Broadcast network: MBC

This drama is set in modern day where South Korea is governed by a constitutional monarchy. Lee Jae Ha is a handsome and materialistic crown prince who does not care about politics. His life turns upside down when his brother forces him to join a hybrid team consisting of soldiers from north and south Korea. Kim Hang Ah is a tough special forces agent who does not have any experience in love or dating though she wishes to get married and live peacefully. When her comrade convinces her of joining the north-south team, she meets the cocky prince and they immediately start fighting but things change when they know they are arranged to be married.

glory-jane top Korean Drama 2012

Glory Jane – 영광의 재인

Genre: Romance
Episodes: 24
Broadcast network: KBS2

Glory Jane (also known as Man of Honor) is a romantic drama about Yoon Jae In who is a struggling young woman who dreams of becoming a nurse. She meets Kim Young Kwang at the hospital when he sustains injuries. Kim Young Kwang is a baseball player who used to be hotshot hitter but got demoted to second string. As they struggling to overcome their fates, they find love.

scent of a woman - romantic korean drama 2012

Scent of a Woman – 여인의 향기

Genre: Romance
Episodes: 16
Broadcast network: SBS

A woman, Lee Yeon Jae, is given the grim prognosis that she only has a short time left to live. She decides to quit her job at a travel agency and live her life to the fullest.

fashion king - top korean drama 2012

Fashion King – 패션왕

Genre: Romance, Melodrama
Episodes: 20
Broadcast network: SBS

Fashion King tells the story of young aspiring designers in Dongdaemun Market as they dream of success, and the relationships, love, and challenges they face along the way. Kang Young Gul has never had any goals or dreams for a bright future until he meets Lee Ga Young. Together they work towards their dreams.

Dream High Season 2 - Top Korean Drama 2012

Dream High Season 2 – 드림하이 2

Genre: School, drama, comedy, romance
Episodes: 16
Broadcast network: KBS2

In Season Two, Kirin Arts High School has fallen from its top arts academy status into dire financial straits and is in danger of closing. This season follows a new group of students after the previous group graduated. The school is taken over by OZ Entertainment Agency, who transfers their own idol stars over to the school to avoid the law that prohibits underage entertainers from performing after 10pm. Competition arises between the troubled students of Kirin and the newly transferred idols from OZ.

a-gentleman-dignity - top korea drama 2012

A Gentleman’s Dignity – 신사의 품격

Genre: Romance, comedy
Episodes: 20
Broadcast network: SBS

A drama about the careers and love lives of urban professionals. It tells the story of four men in their forties as they go through love, breakup, success and failure. Kim Do Jin, an architect with a scathing tongue, has a romantic relationship with strict high school teacher Seo Yi Soo, who moonlights as an umpire at amateur baseball games. Im Tae San is dating a cold-hearted woman but wonders if there is someone else out there for him. Choi Yoon tries to heal his heart after losing his wife four years ago. Lee Jung Rok marries an older woman for money but may lose his comfortable lifestyle in a divorce.

Shut Up Flower Boy Band - Korean Drama 2012

Shut Up! Flower Boy Band – 닥치고 꽃미남밴드

Genre: Youth, romance, drama
Episodes: 16
Broadcast network: tvN

Eye Candy is a six member underground rock band led by Byung Hee. When the group transfers into the prestigious Jungsang High School, they find their rival, Strawberry Fields. This is a story about the two rock bands and how they deal with friendship, relationships, and their passion for music.

history-of-salaryman top Korean Drama 2012

History of the Salaryman

Genre: Comedy, Politics, mystery
Episodes: 22
Broadcast network: SBS

One night Yoo Bang enters a dark, mysterious villa with nothing but a flashlight, only to find an executive of the Chunha Medical Group, Ho Hae slouched in a chair, dead and Jin Ho Hae’s niece, Yeo Chi hiding behind a curtain. At Ho Hae’s funeral, Yoo Bang and Yeo Chi are suddenly taken into custody for his murder. We’re taken three months into the past to reveal what led to this murder and exactly who was responsible. During this flashback we meet Choi Hang Woo, a director from Ho Hae’s rival pharmaceutical company, who is undercover to steal the formula for their new drug and the Chief Researcher from Chunha Group, Cha Woo-Hee. The lives of these individuals will all be intertwined within these three months to reveal exactly just who murdered Ho Hae, and why..

bridal-mask - Historical Period Korean Drama 2012

Bridal Mask – 각시탈

Genre: Period, action, drama, romance
Episodes: 28
Broadcast network: KBS2

Gaksital is a famous manhwa set in the 1930s, during the Japanese occupation. The hero, Lee Kang-to, is known as ‘Gaksital’ because he wears a mask to hide his face — one of those traditional play masks, specifically the rosy-cheeked one reserved for the female role, aka the bride. He’s an unassuming young man in real life, but when he dons his superhero mask, he fights injustice and rights wrongs during one of the darkest periods of Korea’s history.

moo Shin - Historical Period Korean War Drama 2012

God Of War – 무신

Genre: Period, historical
Episodes: 56
Broadcast network: MBC

Moo Shin, also known as Soldier, is about a real person by the name of “Kim Joon” in the history books (i.e. Goryeosa), a slave (aka “No-Bi” in Korean) earning himself freedom via hard work and determination, rising to the top military official serving the emperor Gojong of Goryeo and overruling the feudalistic government that had been in power for over 60 years. Major event that took place during his time was Mongol invasions of Korea.

Websites where you can watch Korean Drama online

Synopsis source: Dramawiki, viki,


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