Frankly Speaking photo from Soompi

Nine new K-dramas to watch this May 

We all love (or need?) a dose of K-drama to help us power through a tough work week—especially in this debilitating heat.

And with a new month comes a slew of new dramas to add to your watch list.

From the usual rom-com to high octane thrillers, here are nine new K-dramas to watch this month which could help distract your mind from the punishing heatwave, even for a while.

1. The 8 Show (Netflix, May 17)

Inspired by Squid Game, this show marks the K-drama debut of Emergency Declaration director Han Jae-rim and features eight desperate characters invited to appear in a reality game show.

The group must live in a filmed studio set and have the chance to win and split a 44.8 billion won (US$33 million) prize. The catch? Their necessities must be paid for from the pot, at 1,000 times their usual price.

Among the actors portraying the players are Ryu Jun-yeol (Reply 1988), Chun Woo-hee, and Park Jung-min (Hellbound). 

2. Uncle Samsik (Disney+, May 15)

Korean film superstar Song Kang-ho (Parasite) makes his Korean drama debut (yep, this is only his first K-drama!) in this Disney+ original, written and directed by Shin Yeon-shik, who wrote Song’s film Cobweb, featured at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival.

Song plays the titular character, a cunning fixer in 1960s Korea who teams up with idealistic young man Kim San, played by Byun Yo-han (Mr. Sunshine), who dreams of changing the country. 

3. Atypical Family (JTBC/Netflix May 4)

Statuesque heartthrob Jang Ki-yong (Now, We Are Breaking Up) stars as Bok Gwi-joo who belongs to a very special family whose each member is endowed with a different supernatural power. For Gwi-jook, his power allows him to travel back to happy moments in his past. His power has a snag, though—he could not change anything in the past.

Suffering from depression and smartphone addiction, Do Da-hee (Chun Woo-hee of Delightfully Deceitful) finds himself involved with this atypical family when he starts living with them as their new house guest. 

4. The Midnight Romance in Hagwon (tvN/Netflix May 11)

Veteran actress Jung Ryeo-won (May It Please the Court) plays Seo Hye-jin, an instructor in an area in Gangnam famous for its ultra-competitive after-school academies. Meanwhile, Wi Ha-joon (of Squid Game fame) appears as Lee Joon-ho, who used to be Hye-jin’s student. 

She helped him to get into a good university and now, after quitting his job at a big company, he has become a rookie instructor at her side. Will sparks fly at their reunion?

5. Crash (ENA, May 13)

In this adrenaline-fueled action series, versatile K-actor Lee Min-ki (My Liberation Notes) is Cha Yeon-ho, a new member of the Traffic Crime Investigation team, who puts his intelligence to use in solving traffic crimes. He, however, is socially inept and, ironically, doesn’t know how to drive.

Other members of the team include the persistent Min So-hee (Kwak Sun-young, Behind Every Star) and Jung Chae-man (Heo Sung-tae, Squid Game), the violent-crimes detective who formed the team. 

6.  Frankly Speaking (JTBC, ongoing)

Inspired by the Jim Carrey-starrer Liar Liar and the Korean film franchise Honest Candidate, this drama tells the story of well-mannered TV station announcer Song Ki-baek (Go Kyung-pyo of Reply 1988), who gets into an accident and suddenly begins to speak without thinking first leading to disastrous consequences.

Ki-baek’s strange behavior catches the attention of reality TV writer On Woo-joo (Kang Han-na, My Roommate Is a Gumiho) who tries to land him for her show.

7. Connection (SBS, May 24)

Well-loved Korean actor Ji Sung (The Devil Judge) plays hotshot narcotics detective Jang Jae-kyeong, whose success lies in his refusal to make personal connections. His work philosophy is put to the test when he is inadvertently turned into a drug addict by a mysterious individual. 

Jeon Mi-do (Hospital Playlist), meanwhile, plays local news reporter Oh Yoon-jin, who was unfairly fired from her last post and now focuses her work on corruption. Soon she becomes involved with Jae-kyeong. 

8. Dare to Love Me (KBS2, May 13)

K-pop idol Kim Myung-soo as scholar Shin Yoon-bok in a still from Dare to Love Me.

Lee Yoo-young (Insider) takes the lead in this rom-com as Kim Hong-do, a designer with a temp contract at an apparel company. She is an ambitious workaholic whose efforts are never recognized, yet she never gives up on her dream.

Shin Yoon-bok (played by K-pop idol Kim Myung-soo) is a scholar who has been carrying on his family’s traditions. He lives in a village that recreates the era of Joseon dynastic rule over Korea but, dreaming of becoming a writer for web comics, moves to Seoul, where he soon meets Hong-do. 

9. Bitter Sweet Hell (MBC, May 24)

Kim Hee-sun (left) as celebrity psychologist No Young-won, and Lee Hye-young as her mother-in-law, Hong Sa-gang, in a promotional poster for Bitter Sweet Hell.

Formidable actress Kim Hee-sun (Tomorrow) headlines this drama as the celebrity psychologist No Young-won. She is married to Jae-jin (Kim Nam-hee, Reborn Rich), a caring doctor who has an insufferable mother-in-law, Hong Sa-gang (Lee Hye-young, Mother), a mystery novel writer.

When Young-won is suddenly embroiled in an unexpected incident, it puts her family in danger and she bands together with Sa-gang to protect it. 

Associate Editor

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