Top 10 K-Drama That Flopped in South Korea But Became International Hits

Flop K-drama that became international hits

You won’t believe some of the K-dramas on this list! It isn’t easy to understand how these gems didn’t get the deserved recognition in their homeland. However, thanks to international appreciation, even the low-rated K-dramas have become a shining badge on the actor’s lapel and have been revived for other seasons.

A few years back, when the Hallyu Wave started to grow significantly, experts and insiders predicted the change in how Korean Entertainment is consumed and judged. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that they were absolutely right.

Since the K-dramas have become accessible through streaming sites such as Netflix, Viki, Viu, KOCOWA, and more, their success has stopped being dependent on Television ratings.  Today, we present a list of the top 10 K-dramas that haven’t received much love in South Korea but are worth watching as per international audiences.

Top 10 Low-Rated K-drama That Became International Hits

The average viewership rating for Korean Dramas is somewhere between 4% to 5%. If a drama crosses this percentage, then they are considered a success. Most dramas featuring Hallyu stars or excellent scripts and production rise to 10% and more ratings. While the mega chartbusters easily garner up to 20% rating.

We have searched and found ten K-dramas that received around 1% to 2% average rating and became a flop in South Korea, only to break through the international market with good scripts, performances, and production. Let’s get right into it!

10. Longing For You

  • Release Date: July 26, 2023
  • Episodes: 14
  • Rating: 2.6%
  • Cast: Na In Woo, Kim Ji Eun, and Kwon Yul
  • Genre: Mystery Thriller
  • Where To Watch: Viki

Synopsis: ‘Longing For You’ follows a countryside detective who joins hands with a team of prosecutors to catch a serial killer and get revenge on behalf of his younger brother.

The reason why it flopped in Korea: The drama is filled with elements such as family ties and hidden secrets that take their sweet time unraveling. However, the audience can get a hint of the episodes ahead. Additionally, the plot is familiar to K-drama audiences; hence, it didn’t garner much viewership after the initial boost.

The reason why it’s worth watching: The drama gives a perfect slow burn with its tangles of conspiracy. All the actors have performed distinct personalities who are wise and competent at their job (even this villain). Additionally, the story doesn’t have any loopholes. The frames are picturesque, and the background score adds to the melancholy charms of this mystery thriller.

9. A Good Day To Be A Dog


  • Release Date: October 11, 2023
  • Episodes: 3 (as of writing)
  • Rating: 2.3%
  • Cast: Park Gyu Young, Cha Eun Woo, and Lee Hyun Woo
  • Genre: Fantasy Romantic Comedy 
  • Where To Watch: Viki

Synopsis: A Good Day To Be A Dog‘ follows the romance between a cursed woman who turns into a dog after kissing and a man who is the only one capable of breaking the curse. Will the leads be able to pursue their feelings when the man is afraid of dogs?

The reason why it flopped in Korea: This ongoing drama has failed to pick up its rating since its release. One of the primary reasons for this is the plot that feels more suitable for a webtoon than a motion picture. Additionally, the screenplay doesn’t add anything new to the genre of fantasy where a character shapeshifts. At the same time, most of the scenes at school come off as over the top.

The reason why it’s worth watching: An old recipe only becomes a heirloom when it is delicious. Similarly, this series provides a familiar yet perfect romance with comic scenes that don’t get too heavy. From the first episode, the audience can rest assured that everything will be okay. The characters are also relatable and well-performed (the lead as a dog is adorable).

8. Lies Hidden In My Garden 

  • Release Date: June 19, 2023
  • Episodes: 8
  • Rating: 2.0%
  • Cast: Kim Tae Hee, Lim Ji Yeon, and Kim Sung Ho
  • Genre: Suspense Mystery Thriller
  • Where To Watch: Amazon Prime Video and Viki

Synopsis: ‘Lies Hidden In My Garden’ follows Moon Joon Ran, who lives a perfect life in a posh neighborhood. However, everything starts to fall apart when she starts to get disturbed by a strange smell that is coming from her backyard.

The reason why it flopped in Korea: People had many expectations with this series as it starred prominent actors, but the whimsical beginning and slow-paced plot (especially for a mini-series) didn’t suit the audiences. Additionally, the screenplay failed to raise sympathy for the characters as it compromised their reasoning to deepen the plot’s mystery.

The reason why it’s worth watching: The series captures the darkness, abuses, and helplessness of everyday life with a compelling storyline and damp palette. The drama also excellently uses the silences to fill it with the characters’ sentiments. Additionally, the drama doesn’t fall into its melancholy and gives a satisfying conclusion.

7. Welcome To Waikiki 

  • Release Date: February 5, 2018
  • Episodes: 20
  • Rating: 1.8%
  • Cast: Kim Jung Hyun, Lee Yi Kyung, and Son Seung Won
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Where To Watch: Viki

Synopsis: ‘Welcome To Waikiki’ follows the adventures of three men who come together to run a failing guesthouse called Waikiki. Things get complicated as a single mother with a newborn baby visits them.

The reason why it flopped in Korea: The series failed to garner positive response and laughter in its homeland due to slapstick comedy that at times felt repetitive and just mindless. Additionally, as the romance progressed without much variety, it stopped feeling worthwhile to tune in to another episode.

The reason why it’s worth watching: The best thing about a comedy is that it can be ridiculous, and that’s what makes this series worth watching. It is funny and nonsense (at times), but it also includes the sweetness of friendship and romance. The series also holds onto its plot without drifting into currents of comedy. Additionally, Lee Yi Kyung’s performance with the iconic ‘Gwenchana‘ dialogue alone makes this a five-star K-drama.

6. Battle For Happiness

  • Release Date: May 31, 2023
  • Episodes: 16
  • Rating: 1.76%
  • Cast: Lee EL, Jin Seo Yeon, and Cha Ye Ryun
  • Genre: Suspense Mystery Thriller
  • Where To Watch: Amazon Prime Video and Viki

Synopsis: ‘Battle For Happiness’ follows five mothers who engage in a fierce battle for a picture-perfect life, even if they have to destroy each other to win. When one of the members dies in mysterious circumstances, the suspicion falls on everyone.

The reason why it flopped in Korea: K-dramas following the tussles among high-class mothers have been frequently adapted for screen ever since the release of Sky Castle. This series also begins with a similar pattern. The sudden death does provide a good shock, but it soon drives the drama further away from its original plot, eventually giving the impression of a makjang drama.

The reason why it’s worth watching: ‘Battle For Happiness’ captures the dark side of social media and the race to become an influencer (online and offline). It also captures the downside of society that demands perfection and ends up suppressing reality to the point that it makes the word ‘truth’ lose meaning. Therefore, the drama perfectly balances the thrill and social commentary, making it worth a watch.

5. Meow, The Secret Boy 

  • Release Date: March 25, 2020
  • Episodes: 24
  • Rating: 1.7%
  • Cast: Kim Myung Soo (L), Shin Ye Eun, and Seo Ji Hoon
  • Genre: Fantasy Romantic Comedy
  • Where To Watch: Viki

Synopsis: Sol Ah is a graphic designer who wishes to become a webtoon artist. However, her life changes when she brings home a feline that turns into human form and increasingly grows attached to Sol Ah.

The reason why it flopped in Korea: ‘Meow, The Secret Boy’ alternatively titled ‘Welcome’ garnered the lowest rating during its release. One of the major reasons for this is the increasingly hopeless love triangle between the three leads. Why would one want to continue to watch the drama while knowing that a happy ending isn’t possible? However, honestly, it wasn’t as bad to fall to a 0% rating.

The reason why it’s worth watching: Firstly, INFINITE’s L as a cat that shapeshifts to a human is believable with excellent mannerisms. The progress of the romance is also well paced with necessary chemistry between the leads, and it is a very cute K-drama. The CGI and the plot remain consistent with relatable side stories. Literally, there is no reason for the low rating.

4. Tempted

  • Release Date: March 12, 2018
  • Episodes: 32
  • Rating: 1.5%
  • Cast: Woo Do Hwan, Park Soo Young, and Kim Min Jae
  • Genre: Melo, Romance, Youth
  • Where To Watch: Amazon Prime Video

Synopsis: ‘Tempted’ or ‘The Great Seducer’ follows the complicated life of students from a prestigious university as they engage in a game of love, revenge, and friendship while growing up together.

The reason why it flopped in Korea: Albeit the satisfactory performances from the leads, the drama failed to do justice to their talents with a rushed plot. It also often went into polar situations, hardly ever centering itself, which made it difficult to watch. Additionally, the drama wasn’t promoted effectively and ended up disappointing fans who were expecting something else.

The reason why it’s worth watching: This relatively uncomplicated series that is told through a complicated lens is perfected with the excellent performances of the leads. Considering the high-class background of the series and the age demographic of the characters, their emotional ups and downs are also realistic. Therefore, this chaebol drama is worth a watch.

3. Be Melodramatic

  • Release Date: August 9, 2019
  • Episodes: 16
  • Rating: 1.4%
  • Cast: Chun Woo Hee, Jeon Yeo Been, and Han Ji Eun
  • Genre: Romantic Comedy
  • Where To Watch: Viki, MX player, and Netflix

Synopsis: ‘Be Melodramatic’ follows three friends in their 30s who live together and overcome various challenges in love, career, and life while leading an everyday life in Seoul, South Korea.

The reason why it flopped in Korea: This romantic comedy has many elements in the story, yet it is difficult to place it under romance or comedy. The romantic details are messy, and the humor is quirky to the point that it requires an acquired taste to enjoy. Lastly, the drama has over-the-top dialogues suitable to its title, Melodrama, which can feel flat to many.

The reason why it’s worth watching: ‘Be Melodramatic‘ captures the coming-of-age story of friends in their 30s. Rather than a romantic comedy, the drama is an ode to love, pain, friendships, grief, trauma, and hardships. However, it is told in a comic and witty manner. This makes it debatably one of the best series of Korean Entertainment and a favorite of thousands.

2. Entourage

  • Release Date: November 4, 2016
  • Episodes: 16
  • Rating: 1.3%
  • Cast: Cho Jin Woong, Seo Kang Joon, and Lee Dong Hwi
  • Genre: Black Comedy
  • Where To Watch: Currently unavailable on streaming networks

Synopsis: ‘Entourage’ follows the life of a handsome and talented celebrity who depends on his three friends and the agency’s CEO. Will he be able to turn into a successful actor or lose himself under the shadows of the limelight?

The reason why it flopped in Korea: The series is based on an American show of the same name, and it continues to capture the Hollywood elements of celebrity life. Although the show does have the classic K-drama feel, it was still a very unromanticized take on life under the limelight. Additionally, the sequences of black comedy didn’t sit well with the audiences in South Korea.

The reason why it’s worth watching: K-dramas are often stereotyped as romance, but Entourage reframes and portrays a story that is centered around the characters. Although the series does remind more of Hollywood, it still manages to convey the psychology of artists in a way that resonates with the Korean Entertainment system. For an adaption, this series checks all the boxes.

1. Nevertheless

  • Release Date: June 19, 2021
  • Episodes: 10
  • Rating: 0.9%
  • Cast: Han So Hee, Song Kang, and Chae Jong Hyeop
  • Genre: Romance
  • Where To Watch: Netflix

Synopsis: ‘Nevertheless’ follows an uncertain new-age romance between a heartbroken woman who finds it hard to believe in love and a flirtatious man who doesn’t wish to commit to a relationship.

The reason why it flopped in Korea: If you are a K-drama fan, then you must be aware of the backlash this series received for portraying a toxic romance. This isn’t far from the truth, ‘Nevertheless’ does portray a messed up romance driven by se*ual attraction, which makes the audience feel that the leads are better apart than together.

The reason why it’s worth watching: Not all love stories are sweet, acceptable, and mainstream, and this drama perfectly captures the messy relationships of the current fast-paced society. Perhaps, if the same story were shown under the shadow of criticism, it would have performed better on the rating charts. However, the fact that they didn’t is what makes this drama worthwhile. Plus, kudos for the actors to take up and portray the difficult and bold roles.

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