6 creepy K-dramas to binge-stream this Halloween
From Netflix bangers like Hotel Del Luna and Kingdom to more niche Korean streaming gems, we’ve got all the scares you need.
Image courtesy of Netflix
Whether it’s a zombie-infested village, haunted hotel, or a doomed romance you’re after, we’ve got you covered with all the spookiest K-content available to stream right now. As everyone knows, spooky szn simply isn’t the same without a haunting series or two to obsess over. But if you’re planning your fourth Buffy rewatch this year, you might want to consider broadening your cultural horizons, perhaps even venturing into the multifarious realm of the K-drama.
Korean dramas are famed for their addictive nature as well as their more unique supernatural elements -- you are as likely to find vampires and serial killers, some of the more classic staples of the horror genre, as you are to encounter gumihos (nine-tailed foxes) or grim reapers. Here’s some of i-D’s favourites.
For vengeful spirits and many fabulous outfits: Hotel Del Luna
A young man is coerced into working as a manager for a Seoul hotel that caters solely to ghosts, with Jang Man-wol -- its bad-tempered but impeccably dressed owner -- portrayed by none other than K-pop sensation IU. As more is revealed about the colourful hotel and its, uh, special guests, Man-wol’s backstory unfolds, and with it the details of a terrible crime she once committed long ago.
If a zombie plague sounds like your thing: Kingdom
Set in the Joseon period, Crown Prince Lee Chang is faced with accusations of treason as a mysterious (zombie-making) disease ravages his kingdom, a land already plagued by corruption and famine. But perhaps the prospect of a rapidly-spreading infection isn’t quite what you’d like to focus on right now. Understandable.
Regardless, this definitely isn’t one for the faint-hearted: corpses litter the fiery landscape, heads are chopped off, and bodies are chewed to pieces. In the words of one YouTube commenter: “This makes The Walking Dead look like Sesame Street.”
For a period horror with an enemies to lovers romance: Tale of Arang
Based on a folkloric figure in Korean history, the ghost of a young woman named Arang haunts every magistrate appointed to her village until one will agree to solve the mystery of her murder: she cannot rest in peace until she finds out the truth. An instant classic.
The drama expands on the word-building of the original folk legend to include grim reapers, the Jade Emperor and his brother Yeom-ra -- the ruler of the underworld in East Asian mythology -- making for a fascinating gothic fairytale.
If you are convinced that hell is other people: Stranger from Hell
Here’s one for the psychological thriller fans! A young man moves to Seoul from the countryside for an internship, and can only afford to stay in Eden Studio, a run-down apartment building, filled with residents that… have something not quite right about them. Prepare for a tense viewing from beginning to end, and to wonder if our hero Yoon Jong Woo is just losing his mind, or if his neighbours are just as monstrous as they seem.
If you’re looking for something in the vein of Grey’s Anatomy meets Twilight: Blood
A (seemingly) young surgeon balances his work at the Taemin Cancer Hospital with his secret identity as a vampire. A modern day, spooky Hannah Montana, if you will. If Miley Stewart believed so fervently in the sanctity of human life that she suppressed an interminable thirst for blood. Okay, not really.
As Park Ji-sang clashes with a new co-worker with whom he shares a complicated past, and finds himself falling for another -- a hotshot physician named Yoo Ri-ta -- attempts to shine a light on the inner workings of the famed research hospital, where another vampire is performing horrific experiments on unsuspecting patients.
For a story of possession, reincarnation and family rivalry: Tale of the Nine Tailed
Although currently airing, Tale of the Nine Tailed has already cemented itself in the hearts of K-horror fans. This surprisingly creepy drama opens with an introduction to Nam Ji-ah, a girl who loses her parents in a car crash only to see them return to play house with her, Coraline-style. She is saved by a gumiho (nine-tailed fox) who threatens to eat her if she recalls him doing so. Beautiful autumnal palette? Check. Frankly terrifying possession scenes? Check. What more could you want?