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Best Websites to Watch Korean Dramas
Korean dramas, also known as Kdramas, have become hugely popular worldwide thanks to their gripping storylines, high production values, and appeal that transcends cultural boundaries. With streaming services continuing to add more Kdramas to their libraries, viewers now have more options than ever for watching these binge-worthy series.
If you’re new to the world of Kdramas, it can be overwhelming figuring out the best platforms and services to use. To help you out, we’ve compiled this guide to the top websites and apps where you can watch and stream Korean dramas, both free and paid options. We cover everything you need to consider from content libraries to subtitles and more. Read on for the key details so you can determine the best Kdrama streaming sources to suit your preferences and budget!
When it comes to streaming Korean dramas, Netflix is an obvious first stop for many fans. As one of the largest streaming platforms globally, Netflix boasts a solid library of licensed Kdrama content with over 80 Korean series available as of the end of 2022.
Netflix has been actively acquiring the global distribution rights to Korean dramas over the past few years. This includes acquiring the rights to new dramas like Extraordinary Attorney Woo and Alchemy of Souls soon after their domestic Korean broadcasts so the platform can stream new episodes globally alongside their airing in Korea.
Beyond newly airing dramas, Netflix also licenses many previous hit Kdramas like Crash Landing on You, It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, Our Beloved Summer, Business Proposal, Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha and others, so its library spans a variety of genres and themes.
- The major advantages Netflix offers for watching Kdramas are:
- A large and expanding Korean drama library with new exclusives.
- New episodes quickly added for simulcasting with Korea.
- No ads during playback.
- Downloadable content for offline mobile viewing.
- 4K and HDR streaming quality in supported plans.
The only real downsides of Netflix for streaming Korean dramas are the lack of some major licensed titles carried by competitors and no options for free streaming. Paid subscription plans start from $9.99 per month in the United States. But for avid Kdrama fans who watch a lot of new dramas, a Netflix subscription can certainly be worthwhile!
If Netflix seems lacking classic older Kdramas you want to see or currently airing Korean shows that other streaming services have exclusivity over, check out Viki. Owned by Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten, Viki focuses specifically on Asian drama content with Korean dramas making up a large portion of its huge streaming library.
Viki claims to offer over 1,000 Korean drama titles including a combination of all-time classics like Boys Over Flowers, more recent award-winning series such as Mr. Sunshine along with currently airing Korean dramas not available on Netflix. For passionate Kdrama fans who want access to the most extensive range of licensed Korean series, Viki is likely the top choice.
Beyond its vast content library spanning older classics to brand new exclusives, other great features Viki provides for Kdrama viewing include:
- New episode simulcasting for select Korean dramas.
- Fan created subtitles in 200+ languages.
- Limited selection of free dramas available.
- Offline viewing for mobile devices.
- Multiple subscription tiers starting from $4.99 monthly.
The main limitations of Viki are the presence of ads in content for free users, less 4K streaming support compared to Netflix and some geo-restrictions on titles depending on your region. But with one of the biggest libraries packed with Korean drama classics and exclusives, Viki remains a top choice for serious Kdrama fans. Sign up to browse its extensive catalogue for yourself!
Another major industry player steadily expanding into the Korean drama streaming space in recent years is Chinese video streaming platform iQIYI. The site currently claims to offer over 500 Korean drama titles with a mixture of all-time favourite series, critically acclaimed award winners and exclusive streaming rights over select new Korean shows.
In particular, iQIYI has been aggressively bidding for and securing exclusive rights from Korean broadcasting stations over some of their newly airing dramas. For example, much anticipated new Korean series like Poong, The Joseon Psychiatrist and May I Help You are exclusively available on iQIYI. So if you want to stay fully up to date with the newest and hottest Korean dramas, an iQIYI subscription can be extremely useful.
Beyond just newly airing exclusives, iQIYI also holds the rights to many hit classic Korean dramas and movies like Descendants of the Sun, Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo and Train to Busan unavailable over Netflix.
For fans wanting one streaming home packed with top classic and exclusive new Korean content, iQIYI has major appeal.
Other great features iQIYI offers viewers are:
- New Korean drama episode simulcasting.
- Select titles available for free with ads.
- Multiple pricing tiers from $4.99 monthly for HD streaming.
- Offline viewing and downloads.
- Apps available across platforms like mobile, Smart TVs and more.
The only real drawbacks to iQIYI are its less extensive English subtitling compared to sites likes Viki and fewer internationally acclaimed Korean drama exclusives versus competitors. But with its huge content library and licensing agreements over exclusive broadcasting rights for upcoming Korean dramas, iQIYI remains an excellent option for Kdrama streaming, especially Asian geo-markets where its services thrive.
A lesser known but still excellent platform specifically geared towards Korean entertainment fans is Kocowa. A streaming service launched through a partnership between Korea’s top 3 terrestrial broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS, Kocowa focuses on bringing English subtitled Korean dramas to global audiences faster than competitors.
If you’re a diehard Kdrama fan hungry for the newest series while they’re still airing in Korea and get frustrated waiting for international platforms to license and subtitle episodes, Kocowa is likely the top solution. They pride themselves on providing the fastest subtitled simulcasts of Korean dramas from KBS, MBC and SBS so international fans can stream episodes almost concurrently with broadcasting in Korea.
Beyond super quick subtitled streaming of the latest series, great features offered by Kocowa include:
- Huge on-demand catalogue of classic Korean dramas from its 3 broadcasting partners.
- Select free content available without subscription.
- Original Korean entertainment variety shows and movies.
- Dedicated mobile apps.
- Multiple subscription packages from $6.99 monthly.
The main limitation over platforms like Netflix is a naturally smaller content library focused heavily over KBS, MBC and SBS series holdings. But for fans who want the very fastest access to new Korean dramas airing in Korea or shows licensed exclusively by Kocowa, it is a superb platform pairing quick simultaneous releases with robust streaming feature
Expanding into providing Korean entertainment content internationally similar to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video has also emerged as a noteworthy Kdrama streaming consideration for fans.
While still ramping up its Korean drama library versus some competitors, Prime Video already houses over 50 Korean series spanning critically acclaimed shows like Misaeng to all-time classics such as Coffee Prince and Secret Garden. More uniquely, Amazon holds exclusive distribution rights over big name Korean movies like Parasite and Minari unmatched amongst competitors.
Amazon is also actively competing for streaming rights over new high profile Korean dramas like Little Women and Big Mouth that have aired exclusively over its platform. So fans wanting both top Korean movies and critically praised drama series can find a quality over quantity streaming library with Amazon Prime Video.
- Some great features Prime Video offers Kdrama viewers includes:
- Included for no extra cost in Amazon Prime memberships.
- 4K and HDR streaming plus 5.1 audio over select titles.
- Intuitive interface across platforms like mobile, smart TVs, consoles.
- Advanced recommendation algorithms the more you watch.
- Offline downloads available for mobile viewing.
Downsides over dedicated Kdrama platforms are naturally a smaller Korean focused catalogue and less simulcast airing of currently broadcasting Korean dramas in favor of exclusivity deals. However, between some top Korean film and show exclusives and constantly expanding content library through big investments, Prime Video deserves consideration amongst avid Kdrama streaming fans with access.
One free option almost all Kdrama fans are likely aware of is streaming over YouTube. While most current licensed Korean dramas will be geo-blocked outside Korean IP addresses, YouTube can offer a free and accessible way for global fans to check out older classic Kdramas which have entered public domain status.
For example, legendary must-watch series like Winter Sonata, Stairway to Heaven or Coffee Prince all have full episode playlists uploaded (sometimes unofficially) to YouTube. So if you hear about iconic Kdramas everyone suggests fans should see from years past, searching them over YouTube is an easy way to watch them 100% free.
Just keep in mind streaming relies on kind fans uploading their personal copies so video quality, subtitles and availability can hugely vary across different Kdrama titles on YouTube. But for all-time classics you simply want to sample freely, it remains a great starting point.
A hugely popular free streaming site with content across movies, TV shows and Korean dramas worth highlighting separately is Tubi. Require no credit card sign ups unlike competitors; just create a free member account.
In terms of Korean drama content, Tubi may offer a smaller library versus subscription platforms but does house several top older Korean series and movies with careful curation ensuring quality over quantity. Notable hits featured spanning critically acclaimed titles like Signal to enduring classics such as Coffee Prince and Boys Over Flowers.
While ad supported without ability to remove commercials, Tubi offers a totally free option for fans to enjoy some hand selected top Kdramas across a few great genres and themes like romance, sci-fi mystery thrillers, high school comedies and more. For sampling free legal Korean shows easily accessible across devices, Tubi is a great choice.
For audiences wanting to go direct to one of Korea’s main broadcasting networks for free yet legal access to Korean dramas and variety entertainment shows, KBS World offers an excellent option.
KBS World is the international wing of national Korean broadcasting network KBS offering both live TV channels and extensive on-demand programming fully free worldwide. Available across web browser streaming and dedicated mobile apps, KBS World houses hundreds of top rated classic and more recent Kdramas entirely for free from romances like Boys Over Flowers to action thrillers such as Iris.
With a focus on fully subtitled Korean content for global audiences all enabled 100% legally, KBS World is a wonderful free resource for fans to enjoy Korean entertainment spanning acclaimed dramas to popular music shows and performances. Well worth checking out its extensive on-demand catalogue.
What is the best free website to watch Korean dramas?
The best free websites to watch legal Korean dramas are Viki, iQIYI, KBS World and Tubi. All offer select titles available to stream fully free supported by advertising. Viki in particular stands out with the largest content library enabling free viewing across many hit classic Kdramas worth checking out.
Where can I watch Korean dramas with English subtitles?
The leading Korean drama streaming platforms like Viki, iQIYI, Kocowa, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video all offer extensive libraries with primarily Korean audio and synchronized English subtitles. Many classic Korean dramas on free sites like YouTube will also have English subtitles added by fans.
Is it legal to watch Korean dramas online?
Streaming platforms like Viki, Netflix, iQIYI and Kocowa have full broadcasting rights over the Korean dramas in their libraries, making watching them fully legal. Select public domain classics over sites like YouTube are also legal. Generally trying to access newly airing Korean shows from unauthorized streaming sites is an illegal breach of broadcasting copyright laws.
Which is better Netflix or Viki for watching Korean dramas?
Netflix tends to be stronger for exclusive newer Korean drama titles and higher streaming quality in 4K, while Viki absolutely dominates for breadth of Korean drama catalogue spanning older classics. Most hardcore Kdrama fans subscribe to both given the unique strengths and weaknesses of each service.
Korean dramas have enticed viewers globally with their addictive blend of compelling stories, high budget production and universal themes that resonate across cultures. Luckily, fans worldwide now have access to more stellar Kdrama content than ever before across a range of paid and free streaming platforms tailored to different preferences and budgets.
In reviewing all major providers, Netflix, Viki and iQIYI still lead the market when it comes to licensed libraries packed with top rated classic and exclusive new Korean dramas. Meanwhile free alternatives like ad-supported Viki and iQIYI options, KBS World plus YouTube allow sampling great Kdrama content without any subscription fees.
Ultimately casual fans and diehard binge viewers alike have excellent Korean drama options spanning free viewing to paid packages delivering quick access to the newest series airing in Korea today. Whether you’re looking for a limited free trial or want unlimited subscriptions enabling you to stream hundreds of hours worth of top series, the Kdrama platforms highlighted offer every fan an optimal experience. Enjoy!
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