2021 was a banner year for K-dramas and, while 2022 has a lot to live up to, there’s still plenty to look forward to as the industry goes from strength to strength.
A case in point is the line-up of drama series launching in January, which features several enticing productions, some of them timed for release around the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.
Among them are a pair of hospital-themed dramas, and a highly anticipated high-school zombie show from Netflix.
1. Ghost Doctor
Kicking off the 2022 K-drama calendar will be the medical drama Ghost Doctor , which will mark the return to our screens of global icon Rain (Jung Ji-hoon), last seen on Korean television station MBC’s Welcome 2 Life three years ago, alongside Kim Bum (Law School).
In the drama on cable channel tvN, the pop star will play Cha Young-min, a brilliant but arrogant doctor who finds himself involved in an unexpected case which transports his consciousness into the body of another doctor.
Kim plays Go Seung-tak, a resident doctor who is the grandson of his hospital’s founder, and the son of its current chair.
Ghost Doctor will be available on iQiyi and Viu from Jan 4. You can also catch it on tvN (Singtel TV CH 518, StarHub TV CH 824) every Tuesday and Wednesday at 9.15pm.
Originally expected to air at the end of 2021, the Wavve original drama Tracer is now set to premiere in early January both on the South Korean streaming service and on MBC.
Last seen in Run On, Im Si-wan leads the cast as Hwang Dong-ju, who serves as the chief of Division 5 at the National Tax Service. His job is to identity tax evasion by tracing financial transactions to discover funds that are being hidden from the government.
Also on the case are his teammate Seo Hye-young (Ko Asung, Snowpiercer ) and his division’s boss Oh Young (Park Yong-woo, Priest ). Hide and Seek ’s Son Hyun-joo plays In Tae-joon, the regional tax office’s ambitious director.
3. Through the Darkness
The Fiery Priest actor Kim Nam-gil will be back on screens early in the new year as a criminal profiler in the upcoming serial killer drama Through the Darkness . Kim is on board as the calm and charismatic profiler Song Ha-young, who buries himself in cases as he seeks to penetrate the dark recesses of a killer’s mind.
Based on the non-fiction book Those Who Read Hearts of Evil, the show, which co-stars Jin Seon-kyu of Extreme Job as another profiler, is looking to repeat the success of recent hit psychological crime dramas such as Beyond Evil and Mouse.
Through The Darkness will be available on Viu from Jan 15.
4. Dr Park’s Clinic
Lee Seo-jin headlines the upcoming medical comedy Dr Park’s Clinic, which will debut on tvN in mid-January. Last seen in the thriller Times , Lee plays Park Won-jang, a doctor who recently opened his own internal medicine clinic. His goal is fame and fortune, but the reality proves to be very different.
Ra Mi-ran of Honest Candidate stars as his long-suffering wife. The show is based on a web comic of the same name by Jang Bong-soo, who drew from his 18 years of experience as a doctor.
5. All Of Us Are Dead
Following a host of major genre-bending programmes, Netflix’s first major series of the year will be the high-school-set survival-action horror series All of Us Are Dead, based on the popular webtoon Now at Our School.
The latest Korean zombie series, following popular shows like Kingdom and Happiness , the series focuses on a group of high school students forced to face off with the undead.
The cast includes several up-and-coming names such as Lee Yoo-mi (Squid Game) and Park Ji-hoo (House of Hummingbird). The series is directed by Lee Jae-kyoo, who previously made the hit drama The King 2 Hearts and the films The Fatal Encounter and Intimate Strangers.
All Of Us Are Dead will be available on Netflix from Jan 28.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.