There are a number of genres in the K-Drama world. The more commonly enjoyed ones are romances, fantasy dramas, historical dramas, etc. It is important to find a drama genre that matches your taste. Some drama lovers may find themselves adding makjang K-Dramas to their watchlist more regularly.
These dramas boast a more dramatic than the typical K-Drama storyline.
Makjang dramas are dramas that are considered over-the-top because they seem unrealistic or have far-fetched plots. The characters often have their own morals that go beyond the norm and there are often unbelievable plot twists that no one can see coming. Some common cliches in this genre include long-lost family members, amnesia, unexpected deaths, birth secrets, etc.
As ridiculous as this genre may sound to some people, these dramas can be addictive. That is the largest reason why people watch them.
Here is a list of makjang dramas to add to your watchlist and get you started with the genre if you haven’t already.
Note: This is not a ranking, the list is in random order.
1. “SKY Castle” (2018)
Cast: Yum JungAh, Jung JoonHo, Choi WonYoung, Kim HyeYoon, SF9’s Chani, Kim SeoHyung, and more.
Summary: The story follows the wealthiest families living in a luxurious neighborhood called SKY Castle. It explores their ambition to make their families successful at all costs.
Watch Because: This drama brings to light the competitive nature of the education system in Korea. It is exaggerated but also true to an extent that should be interesting to watch for those with a deeper interest in Korea.
Cast: Lee JiAh, Kim SoYeon, Eugene, Um KiJoon, Shin EunKyung, Bong TaeGyu, Yoon JongHoon, Park EunSeok, Kim HyeonSoo, Kim YoungDae, Choi YeBin, and more.
Summary: It tells the real estate and education war happening in a 100-floor penthouse between an unreachable queen, a ‘Prima Donna’ full of desire who devours everything, and a woman who is speeding up for the upper class. They have huge greed which is hard to fulfill.
Watch Because: It has 3 seasons that get continuously outrageous as you watch them, perfect for if you can’t get enough of the drama. The story also shows the variations of struggle across two generations (parents and their high school-aged children). This drama is also highly acclaimed in Korea for the caliber of acting from the cast and was a breakthrough drama for many of the cast members. The ending will also have you thinking about it for months!
3. “Young Lady And Gentleman” (2021)
Cast: Lee SeHee, Ji HyunWoo, Kang EunTak, Park HaNa, Lim HyeYoung, and more.
Summary: When a widower with three children meets the vibrant energy of their live-in tutor, the two become interested in each other despite a very large age gap.
Watch Because: Although the age gap between the two romantic leads is quite big, for the most part, this drama is a feel-good watch that will have you waiting eagerly for the next episode.
4. “World of the Married” (2020)
Cast: Kim HeeAe, Park HaeJoon, Kim YoungMin, Han SoHee, Park SunYoung, and more.
Summary: What will happen when the perfect family comes under the strain of a husband falling into a dangerous external relationship?
Watch Because: This drama will have you feeling every emotion with the characters and on the edge of your seat with suspense. It will make you question everything and keep you addicted wondering how the story will unexpectedly change next.
5. “Mine” (2021)
Cast: Lee BoYoung, Kim SeoHyung, Lee HyunWook, Ok JaYeon, VIXX’s N, Jung YiSeo, and more.
Summary: Encaged in a gold-clad life of secrets and lies, two women in a conglomerate family seek to topple all that stands in their way of finding true joy. (Netflix)
Watch Because: This is a more understated makjang. It is extremely dramatic but has a subdued way of delivering the drama. Most of the characters pride themselves on being refined and poised. That makes them even more intimidating because you can’t anticipate their actions behind their calm demeanors. However, that is what makes this such an interesting watch.
6. “Love (Ft. Marriage and Divorce)” (2021)
Cast: SungHoon, Lee GaRyeong, Lee TaeKon, Park JooMi, Jeon NoMin, Jeon SooKyeong, Lee MinYoung, Song JiIn, Lim HyeYoung, and more.
Summary: Three successful career women have their worlds rocked when their romantic lives face turbulent times.
Watch Because: It has 2 seasons so far which means the ultimate binge session! This drama explores the ins and outs of relationships down to extreme details. It makes you question psychology and why people behave the way they do. Not only that, but it also plays with the motif of appearances and the truths behind them.
7. “The Second Husband” (2021)
Cast: Uhm HyunKyung, Cha SeoWon, Oh SeungA, Han KiWoong, and more.
Summary: When a woman gets betrayed by the love of her life, his new wife causes her a world of misfortune and she takes it upon herself to get revenge no matter what it takes.
Watch Because: This show is riveting as it takes you through the complicated emotions of a feud motivated by never-ending revenge. You won’t know what’s going to happen next even if you try to predict it.
8. “Red Balloon” (2022-2023)
Cast: Seo JiHye, Lee SangWoo, Hong SooHyun, Jung YooMin, Lee SungJae, and more.
Summary: A story of people who want to fulfill their desires and resolve their issues of the heart. However, at what expense?
Watch Because: The drama makes great use of metaphors to navigate the complicated dynamic between all of the characters. Each character is somehow intertwined with the next which makes for an interesting web knitted with deceit and manipulation. There is much to resolve which will leave you wanting more at the end of each episode. Additionally, you’ll get to enjoy the discovery of Jo EunKang (Seo JiHye’s character’s) red balloon.
9. “Game of Witches” (2022-2023)
Cast: Jang SeoHee, Kim KyuSeon, Oh ChangSuk, Han JiWan, Lee HyunSeok, Ban HyoJung, and more.
Summary: The story of two mothers who start from the bottom and make their way to the top. They must face a number of obstacles like betrayals and manipulations to avenge what they believe in.
Watch Because: True to the title, this drama is a fierce battle between some very conniving female leads. It is a female-focused drama all about power dynamics and gaining the upper hand. Not only are the female characters fierce, but the male characters add to the riveting plots and schemes that will topple your expectations.
10. “Vengeance of the Bride” (2022-2023)
Cast: Park HaNa, Kang JiSub, Park YoonJae, Oh SeungAh, and more.
Summary: Eun SeoYeon (played by Park HaNa) faces betrayal from a young age and has to start a new life. When fate causes her to run into the family that betrayed her again and she realizes the truth behind their betrayal, she decides to get revenge. She marries into their family using a new identity to enact her plan.
Watch Because: Not only is this makjang drama filled with twists and turns, but it also tests boundaries. The boundaries between friendships, and romantic and familial relationships all get put to the test through an elaborate revenge plot. The shameless nature of some characters will have you gobsmacked and hungry to see some juicy justice played out onscreen.
11. “Three Bold Siblings” (2022-2023)
Cast: Lee HaNa, Lim JuHwan, Lee TaeSung, Kim SeungSu, Kim SoEun, Lee YouJin, and more.
Summary: The drama follows three siblings with strong personalities as they navigate complicated life dynamics including revenge plots, birth secrets, blasts from the past, and more unexpected situations.
Watch Because: Every single one of the siblings is admirable for the way that they handle whatever challenges come their way. Additionally, the siblings’ intertwined fate with Lee SangJoon (Lim JuHwan’s character) and his family adds not just one but two crazy family dynamics.
12. “The Love in Your Eyes” (2022-2023)
Cast: Baek SungHyun, Bae NooRi, Choi YoonRa, Jung SooHwan, and more.
Summary: Following the death of her husband, YeongYi tries to move on with her life by working hard and remaining part of her late husband’s family. Meanwhile, a chaebol heir must take over the ropes of his family’s company. The two have an interestingly entangled fate which plays out in the drama.
Watch Because: Everybody loves a good romance between a chaebol and an average girl. This one, however, doesn’t come easily due to the way that their past is entangled with each other. The drama lets you watch fate play out in a tug-of-war style as the two face an overwhelming amount of obstacles to be together.
13. “My Only One” (2018)
Cast: Choi SooJong, Uee, Lee JangWoo, Yoon JinYi, Jung EunWoo, Na HyeMi, and more.
Summary: Kim DoRan (played by Uee) lives a diligent life as she is not in the best financial situation. However, life (especially her adoptive mother) is not always kind to her. One day she runs into her biological father (played by Choi SooJong) and things take an interesting turn.
Watch Because: As much as there is also a romantic storyline in this drama. The father-daughter relationship and how it grows in the most unorthodox way over time makes the drama really interesting. It is a feel-good drama with a slightly tragic and also dramatic undertone but definitely a must-watch if you are into makjang dramas.
14. “The Secret House” (2022)
Cast: Seo HaJun, Lee YoungEun, Kim JungHun, Kang Byul, Lee SeungYeon, and more.
Summary: A lawyer on the search for his missing mother must enter the tiger’s den in order to uncover the secret behind her case.
Watch Because: This drama is a little bit darker than the other makjangs on this list. It is heavy on the unfairness and on the revenge but it makes it all worth it for the ending. This drama is one with a high moral compass that emphasizes the importance of justice and rectifying unfair situations. It also boasts a complicated plot which makes for a rollercoaster ride of a watching experience.
15. “A Man in a Veil” (2020)
Cast: Kang EunTak, Uhm HyunKyung, Lee ChaeYoung, Lee ShiKang, ERu, and more.
Summary: After a childhood incident, TaePoong (played by Kang EunTak) has his growth stunted and becomes lost between two sisters – one of which uses him for her own gain. He has to overcome this and set things straight.
Watch Because: This drama is a classic underdog story and who doesn’t love to watch one of those? TaePoong’s character arc is remarkable and adds a completely different tone to the drama after it happens. This makes for an interesting viewing experience because the first half of the drama and the second half of the drama are both filled with intriguing twists and turns.
Which makjang K-Drama is on your watchlist? Share your recommendations in the comments!
What is the best makjang K-Drama according to you?
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Love (Ft. Marriage and Divorce)