Home Featured 10 Best Detective Korean Dramas 2021 | Mystery and Crime K-Dramas To Binge-Watch!

10 Best Detective Korean Dramas 2021 | Mystery and Crime K-Dramas To Binge-Watch!

by song-i
best detective Korean dramas

Who doesn’t love a good mystery? If you’re in the mood for some crime-solving, these best detective Korean dramas are the ones to watch!

I have always adored mystery and detective dramas. Of course, one thinks of the classics like Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie when talking about detective stories.

But did you know there are several detective Korean dramas that are just as good?

If you’re up for some nail-biting, seat-gripping, binge-watching, you should check out this list of detective K-dramas.

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Top Detective Korean Dramas 2021

Don’t know what to do this weekend? Here are some of the best detective Korean dramas you can binge-watch. Most of these K-dramas are available on streaming sites like Netflix, Viu, and Amazon Prime. 

Vagabond

Date of Release: 2019

Starring: Lee Seung-gi, Bae Suzy and Shin Sung-rok

Available On: Netflix 

Our Rating: 9.5/10

Vagabond is unlike any other detective Korean dramas you might have seen. The suspense thriller is not the cutesy romantic dramas people expect from K-dramas.

And yes, there is a romance angle in the drama, but it fits in the plot and doesn’t take away from the storyline at all.

So speaking of story, this detective K-drama revolves around an aspiring actor Cha Dal-Geon. He loses his ward and nephew in a plane crash and cannot reconcile himself with the grief.

Until one day he meets a NIS agent called Go Hae-Ri (played by none other than Korea’s sweetheart Bae Suzy) who helps grieving families involved in the crash.

Together, they uncover a sinister mystery that pinpoints the plane crash being done on purpose.

What happens next? You’ll have to see. The sheer scale of Vagabond is amazing. 

Not only does it make powerful political statements that will make you think, but it also builds atmosphere by moving the scenes from South Korea to Morocco to Portugal. 

Mouse – Best Detective Korean Dramas on Viu

Date of Release: 2021

Starring: Lee Seung-gi, Lee Hee-joon, Park Ju-hyun and Kyung Soo-jin

Available On: Viki, Viu

Our Rating: 8/10

If you’re a fan of movies like Silence of the Lambs or the Korean film The Devil I See, then you will surely enjoy this detective K-drama.

Mouse ponders the philosophical question of whether a killer is born that way or made so by their circumstances.

The show follows the evildoings of a psychopathic serial killer who is remorseless in his pursuits. 

However, giving him a good chase is the newly appointed detective Go Moo Chi. 

Can Moo Chi find the serial killer by tracing his heritage and DNA? Who is the mouse and who is the cat in this game of chase?

I’m not giving out any spoilers, you have to watch the show to find out. The twist ending makes it worthwhile, trust me!

Partners for Justice

Date of Release: 2018

Starring: Jung Jae-young and Jeong Yu-mi

Available On: Netflix, Wiki

Our Rating: 8.5/10

This K-drama will intrigue fans of shows like Rizzoli and Isles. The show centers around Baek Beom, an eccentric forensic doctor and Eun Sol, a smart but clumsy rookie cop.

Partners of Justice has two seasons and originally aired in 2018.

Less Than Evil

Date of Release: 2018

Starring: Shin Ha-kyun, Lee Seol, Park Ho-san and Kim Gun-woo

Available On: Viki, Dramacool, Watchasian

Our Rating: 7.6/10

best detective Korean dramas
Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/CS_9CZbpVCY/

This is one of the detective Korean dramas that is a remake of a western show. The show’s Hangul or original Korean name is 나쁜 형사 or “Bad Detective”. 

If you loved the British detective drama Luther starring Idris Alba, you have to check out this Korean remake. 

Like most crime thriller dramas, Less Than Evil’s plot revolves around a battle of wits between a ruthless but reliable detective Tae Suk and his archnemesis the serial killer Jang Hyung-min.  

What’s interesting about this detective drama is Tae Suk’s character. He can go to any length to achieve the results and catch the culprit. 

But is Hyung-Min two steps ahead of him? Watch to find out!

Voices

Date of Release: 2021

Starring: Jang Hyuk, Lee Ha‑na, Kim Jae‑wook

Available On: Netflix Wiki, Watchasian

Our Rating: 9/10

The only complaint viewers have about detective Korean dramas is that they are over too quickly. 

So if you want to make sure you have a good supply of these addictive K-dramas, check out Voice, a Netflix crime thriller drama.

The show has multiple seasons and will keep you hooked throughout.  

Voice is all about a duo of call center workers who take in emergency calls and help the people who’re in trouble. 

If you like Sherlock-Watson or Mulder-Scully type iconic team-ups then this show has Moo Jin-hyuk, a rough-around-the-edges detective, and Kang Kwon-joo a policewoman with excellent audio perception. 

The first season that aired in 2017, sees our golden duo finishing a personal vendetta against the killer of their loved ones, while the later seasons see them team up for more crime-fighting. 

Tell Me What You Saw

Date of Release: 2020

Starring:  Jang Hyuk, Choi Soo-young and Jin Seo-yeon

Available On: Viu

Our Rating: 7.9/10

This crime Korean drama has all the trappings of a classic thriller story. The eccentric but genius criminal profiler, the sadistic serial killer, and the enthusiastic detective with the special ability.

It’s the perfect recipe for a detective Korean drama!

The show is about Oh Hyun-Jae, a profiler who lost his fiancee to a serial killer years ago and is till grappling from the guilt.

He’s recruited back into the game when a new killer appears who seems to have the same MO as the one who killed his fiancee. 

The catch? The man who killed her is dead. So who’s the new killer on the loose?

Oh Hyun-Jae teams up with a detective Cha Soo-Young (who has a very helpful photographic memory) to help solve the mystery!

Signal

Date of Release: 2016

Starring: Lee Je-hoon, Kim Hye-soo, Cho Jin-woong

Available On: Netflix, Viki

Our Rating: 8.7/10

If you’ve watched Dennis Quaid’s 2000s thriller movie Frequency, you might find the plot of this K-drama familiar.

The show revolves around a young detective in the present day called Park Hae Young who discovered a mysterious walkie-talkie on the ground one day.

She soon realizes that she can communicate with Jae Han, a police officer from the past.

Hae Young soon uncovers clues that give fresh leads in a 15-year-old case. Will she and Jae Han be able to solve the case? Is the walkie-talkie really transcending space and time to help her?

You’ll have to watch Signal to know these answers. 

What makes detective Korean dramas like Signal interesting to me is that they’re based on real-life events. 

This particular K-drama is based on South Korea’s infamous Hwaseong serial murders. 

Tunnel – Best Detective Korean Dramas on Netflix

Date of Release: 2017

Starring: Choi Jin-hyuk, Yoon Hyun-min and Lee Yoo-young

Available On: Netflix

Our Rating: 9/10

best detective korean dramas on netflix
Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/CRnc9hOgsts/

Another detective K-drama inspired by the Hwaseong serial murders is the 2017 show Tunnel.

Just like in Signal, there’s a bit of time travel involved. But instead of speaking through a walkie-talkie, the lead Park Gwang-ho ends up traveling in time himself.

Through a mysterious tunnel, Park Gwang-ho travels from 1986 to the present day. Here he discovers that the serial killer he was chasing in the past is still alive and terrorizing the town.

He teams up with successful modern-day detective  Kim Seon-jae and a criminal psychologist Professor Shin Jae-yi to solve these murders. 

Life On Mars

funny detective korean dramas
Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/CQqa-xvnXSs/

Date of Release: 2018

Starring: Jung Kyung-ho, Park Sung-woong, Go Ah-sung, Oh Dae-hwan 

Available On: Netflix

Our Rating: 8/10

But enough of the dark crime thrillers! How about watching a funny detective Korean drama to lighten the mood a bit.

Try binging on Life on Mars if you’re not in the mood to watch more cerebral thrillers. Like Less Than Evil, this show is also a remake of the British show with the same name.

It features time travel, a bumbling cop trying his best to solve decade-old cases, and many funny shenanigans!

Life on Mars stars Jung Kyung-ho as Han Tae-joo, a successful small-town detective who wakes up in 1988 after having an accident while on the trails of a serial killer. 

Nobody Knows 

Date of Release: 2020

Starring:  Kim Seo-hyung, Ryu Deok-hwan, Park Hoon and Ahn Ji-ho

Available On: Viu

Our Rating: 8.5/10

Cha Young-jin was just a young girl when she failed to save her best friend from the clutches of Stigmata, the famous serial killer.

Haunted by guilt and vengeance, 19 years later, Cha Young-jin is a diligent police officer driven by the need to catch her friend’s killer.

She teams up with local school teacher Lee Sun-woo to keep the misguided yet vulnerable youths of the school away from any evil. 

K-dramas, especially detective Korean dramas and mystery Korean dramas are such a satisfying watching experience.

Korean dramas are great at creating suspense and atmosphere and leaving you hanging for more. 

Just look at how good Parasite was…it even won an Oscar for the way the screenplay let the mysterious plot unfold.

And I’m not kidding, if you’re looking for a mind-bending plot twist, detective Korean dramas are the place to find them.

And K-dramas usually wrap up in 10-20 episodes per season. So you don’t even have to wait that long to get your twist ending. 

Also Read:

Why Korean drama is popular

List of Korean thriller movies

List of Korean gangster movies

List of Korean horror movies

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