K-MOVIE 10 Darkest K-Dramas You Need to Watch

10 Darkest K-Dramas You Need to Watch


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K-dramas cover a spectrum of genres, such as romance, comedy, thriller, fantasy, drama, and more. Not all K-dramas are simple and light-hearted as many often think. There are many that delve into darker, intense, and complex issues. These grim tales draw viewers into the shadowy corners of humanity that some might be unwilling to explore and thus are not suitable for everyone. Darkness in K-dramas can manifest in many ways, delving into profound subjects such as tragedy, crime, horrors, psychological struggles, and more.



From twisted psychological journeys to gritty crime sagas and haunting narratives of despair, these shows invite people into the depths of human psyches. They boast some of the most chilling scenes ever seen in K-dramas and are certainly not for everyone. These stories may not necessarily bring tears to your eyes, but they guarantee to leave you shocked, disturbed, mesmerized, and excited. Here are some of the most gripping, intense and unsettling K-dramas to watch next.

10 White Christmas (2011)

Comprising eight episodes, the psychological thriller K-drama, White Christmas, revolves around a group of students trapped in school during their winter break. A murder and the arrival of threatening letters suggest that there might be a killer among them. As the plot unfolds, secrets and mysteries come to light and characters are forced to confront their darkest secrets.

What Makes It Dark

White Christmas adopts a notably grim tone as it deals with disturbing and taboo subjects while also exploring the psychology of its characters, presenting their inner struggles and trauma. The K-drama’s atmosphere is eerie, enhanced by the isolated setting of the school environment, which creates a claustrophobic and tense ambiance. The impact of the mystery letter on each character contributes to an overarching sense of dread throughout the series. The actors’ compelling performances further heighten the plot’s credibility and intensity.

Stream on KOCOWA

9 Nobody Knows (2020)

Nobody Knows

The South Korean crime thriller series, Nobody Knows, follows Cha Young-Jin, a detective with a traumatic past, who is investigating her friend’s murder. As she delves into the case, she discovers that the prime suspect is a young high school student from an abusive household. Young-Jin becomes emotionally invested in his life and uncovers more secrets involving other students connected to the murder.

What Makes It Dark

This dark K-drama earns its reputation through the heavy themes it portrays, which place heavy emotional weight on both viewers and the characters. It tackles disturbing subjects such as child abuse, trauma, neglect, and the harsh reality of living in a society where justice isn’t always served. The suspenseful narrative unfolds as this detective’s investigation delves deep into human psychology and trauma, creating a challenging yet mind-blowing crime drama with a brilliant plot and strong characters.

Stream on KOCOWA

8 Beyond Evil (2021)

Beyond Evil

A psychological thriller K-drama, Beyond Evil revolves around a detective duo, whose lives are entangled in a series of murder cases that unveil dark secrets buried within their small, seemingly peaceful town. While these detectives are fearless in their pursuit of the truth, they are not without their own secrets.

What Makes It Dark

The darkness in Beyond Evil stems not only from the gritty murder cases, but also from the complex psychological struggles of the characters, the murky history of the town they find themselves in, and the dark facets of humanity they encounter. The series maintains a sense of unease and suspense throughout as these detectives confront the town’s unsettling past. In this grim series, the lines between good and evil, innocent and guilty, are blurred.

Stream on Netflix

Related: 20 K-Dramas with Perfect Endings

7 Signal (2016)

Lee Je-hoon as Park Hae-young and Kim Hye-soo as Cha Soo-hyun

Signal stands out with its distinctive premise and effectively suspenseful plot. It follows two detectives from the past and the present, who communicate with each other through a walkie-talkie, united by their goal to solve cold cases and prevent crimes.

What Makes It Dark

Signal deals with intense and often disturbing criminal cases that often involve murder, corruption, and disappearances. It doesn’t shy away from the grittiness and complexities of these cases, building an atmosphere that is consistently intense and suspenseful. However, despite its dark themes, there is that underlying theme of hope and pursuit of justice as it highlights the dedication of these detectives to rectify the wrong of the past. This well-executed K-drama ensures there’s no dull moment.

Stream on Paramount+

6 Hell Is Other People (2019)

Stranger from Hell / Hell is Other People

For those looking for K-dramas that seamlessly blend elements of psychological thriller, horror, and suspense, this is the show to choose. Also known as Strangers from Hell and based on a webtoon, this gripping series revolves around Joon Woon, a young man who moves in to a new neighborhood to pursue his dreams but finds himself surrounded by dark and unsettling neighbors.

What Makes It Dark

Hell Is Other People is as dark as any K-drama can get, delving into the eerie behaviors of residents and the unsettling atmosphere of the building they live in, which intensifies the general sense of dread and discomfort that grip viewers throughout. It explores the themes of isolation, paranoia, and the darker aspects of human nature. The performances, score, cinematography, and plot collectively contribute to crafting a dark, gruesome, and intriguing series for thriller lovers.

Stream on Roku

5 Stranger (2017)

Bae Doona and Cho Seung-woo in Stranger
Signal Entertainment

Also known as Secret Forest, Stranger is a crime and mystery series that focuses on a prosecutor, Hwang Si-wok, who lacks the ability to feel emotions. However, he is known for his rational and analytical approach to cases. The plot kicks off with a murder investigation involving a powerful conglomerate, prompting Si-wok to team up with detective Han Yeo-Jin to uncover the truth behind the crime.

What Makes It Dark

While not heavily focused on explicit violence like other K-dramas on this list, its darkness emanates from the realistic portrayal of systemic corruption. The series has well-crafted twists and turns that captivate audiences as the mystery deepens and unfolds. The presence of intelligent characters contributes to its status as one of the best K-dramas ever created, drawing comparisons to the brilliant Bong Joon-ho movie, Parasite.

Stream on Netflix

RELATED: 15 Most Addictive Korean Dramas

4 Save Me (2017-2019)

Save Me

Save Me revolves around a young woman, Im Sang-mi, and her family, who move to a small town hoping for a fresh start, but unknowingly become entangled with a dangerous religious cult. As this family becomes ensnared in the cult’s web, Sang-mi finds herself in a desperate situation, seeking help to escape their clutches.

What Makes It Dark

This South Korean drama falls within the thriller, psychological, and suspense subgenres and will appeal to fans of all three. Unafraid to showcase the horrors of the cult, the fear and isolation experienced by its members, and the group’s darker practices, it captivates and disturbs. The actors skillfully portray the psychological toll of the cult’s manipulative nature on them, intensifying the unsettling nature of Save Me. Surely there seems to be no help or escape for these characters.

Stream on Paramount+

3 Hellbound (2021-Present)


Hellbound is a profound K-drama that will undoubtedly make many reflect on their own mortality as it tells the most bizarre and frightening story. Based on a webtoon, it is set in a world where supernatural beings pronounce judgment on humans by informing them of the exact time and date of their death before dragging them to hell.

What Makes It Dark

The grim and unsettling premise of supernatural entities arriving to declare a person’s imminent death is certainly where its darkness stems from. The drama raises questions about faith, the afterlife, and the consequences of one’s actions, exploring how society grapples with the fears of divine retribution. The series also explores various societal issues intertwined with supernatural occurrences, contributing to its overall sense of foreboding. It is a genuine horror series, with truly horrific and gory scenes scattered throughout.

Stream on Netflix

2 Black (2017)

Black K-drama 2017 (1)

With a fine combination of crime, fantasy and romance, Black follows the story of a grim reaper named Black, who inhabits the body of a human detective, Han Moo-gang. Stuck in this human body, he tries to solve a series of murder cases while uncovering his connection to a mysterious woman, who has the ability to foresee death.

What Makes It Dark

Black infuses mystical elements into a crime procedural, adding a layer of complexity and darkness to the beloved formula. It navigates the tension between life and death, moral dilemmas faced by its characters, and the themes of justice and mortality, all while maintaining a suspenseful and engaging storyline. It is a complexly scripted story that demands viewers’ close attention to details, since there’s more to the plot than meets the eye. Many will be hooked by its twisty plot.

1 Flower of Evil (2020)

Flower of Evil

A romance thriller, Flower of Evil revolves around Baek Hee-Sung, who appears to be a loving and doting father, but hidden behind his facade of a normal life, lies a dark secret. His wife, Cha Ji-Won, a detective, begins to suspect that her husband may be connected to a series of unsolved murder cases. As she delves deeper, she finds shocking truths about him.

What Makes It Dark

The darkness in Flower of Evil primarily lies in the psychological turmoil and emotional roller-coaster experienced by characters as their lives and personal truths unravel. With its outstanding performances, well-crafted script, and powerful soundtrack, it weaves together an emotionally engaging, addictive, unique, and suspenseful narrative. Lee Joon-gi is undeniably perfect in his role, embodying a character struggling with his false identity.

Stream on Netflix


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