Though most audiences look for strong storylines in shows, many K-dramas have phenomenal soundtracks that are worth listening to on repeat.
Many popular K-dramas include fantastic soundtracks that are just as good if not better than their storylines. In recent years, K-dramas have gained popularity among Western audiences, getting attention for their creative storylines and dynamic characters. With these shows becoming more easily accessible, their popularity is ever-growing.
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For those new to the genre, popular K-dramas can get them started on their journey. This might include adaptations like 18 Again or award-winning shows like Beyond Evil. Others may prefer to get acquainted with the genre through music first. For these individuals, soundtracks exist that provide emotional connection and complex musical compositions, matching up with the storylines and tone of their K-drama.
13 Secret Garden (2010)
One of the best soundtracks comes from the Cinderella-like story K-drama Secret Garden. The songs on the soundtrack provide just the right balance between fantastical and grounded. Sporting vocals by series star Hyun Bin, “The Man” is the heart of this soundtrack. This track proves that the actor has numerous abilities outside of acting including emotional conveyance through vocals and strong pitch control. All the other songs in Secret Garden seem to center around this track, providing an emotional connection.
12 Reply 1988 (2015)
The soundtrack of Reply 1988 strikes just the right balance between nostalgia and fresh sounds. Just like the TV show, the music draws in listeners whether they lived in 1980s Seoul or not. The piano refrains and accordion used in the songs – especially Hyehwadong by Park Bo-ram – induce feelings of camaraderie and youthful idealism that the characters experience. Many of the vocals in the Reply 1988 soundtrack seem to float along, creating songs that a person can vibe to.
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11 It’s Okay To Not Be Okay (2020)
The soundtrack to It’s Okay to Not Be Okay functions almost like a case study on the characters. Multiple songs represent the deep mental journeys of Ko Moon-young, Moon Gang-tae, and Moon Sang-tae. Additionally, other tracks convey the complex emotions present in the plot of It’s Okay to Not Be Okay. Love comes alongside grief. Loneliness comes alongside desire. By capturing the duality of emotions, the songs on the soundtrack connect with listeners on a deeper level.
10 Squid Game (2021-)
The vastly popular K-drama Squid Game has a fantastic soundtrack that helps create terror and tension throughout the series. South Korean composer Jung Jae-il catered the music to the plot, occasionally subverting expectations. This almost creates more terror because the mismatch of emotion from the music and plot creates cognitive dissonance. After watching Squid Game, people listening to the soundtrack will undoubtedly feel fear.
9 Crash Landing On You (2019-2020)
Crash Landing On You’s soundtrack sounds like a score from a movie. The rises and falls within the melodies feel larger than life and deeply impactful. Every seemingly simple song on the soundtrack includes complex and well-thought-out music. Listeners are bound to feel the same heartbreak, hope, and love with every swell of the music in Crash Landing On You. This phenomenal soundtrack provides some of the most romantic songs of any K-drama.
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8 Cheese In The Trap (2016)
For people who prefer alternative sounds over mainstream pop, Cheese in the Trap’s soundtrack is the best choice. Unlike most other K-dramas, Cheese In the Trap includes mostly indie rock and a few singer-songwriter tunes that set the mood for the series. The music sounds charming and unique, highlighting less internationally-known Korean artists like Cosmos Hippie, Tearliner, and 20 Years of Age.
7 Extraordinary You (2019)
The characters in the K-drama Extraordinary You go through a variety of emotions, and the soundtrack matches up with it. There’s a perfect song for every emotion. The synth vibes of “My Beauty” by Verivery will hype the listener up; whereas, “I Draw You in My Heart” by Jeong Sewoon has a heartbreaking melody, complete with soulful piano riffs. Both fans of the K-drama and those unfamiliar with the series will want to listen to Extraordinary You’s soundtrack repeatedly.
6 Hotel Del Luna (2019)
The rom-com fantasy Hotel Del Luna includes several K-pop tracks that are just as catchy as they are clever. The songs include powerful female vocals, bouncy tunes, and ballads – a nice mix that keeps the album fresh. Most of the songs include basic piano instrumentation, but the singers’ vocalizations clearly relay the various emotions that the characters go through. Ultimately, Hotel Del Luna’s soundtrack will offer something new with every listen.
5 While You Were Sleeping (2017)
One of the best K-drama soundtracks comes from While You Were Sleeping, the romance show with fantasy and crime elements. The fact that the lead actors sing on the soundtrack makes it unique. Lee Jong-suk sings a song called “Come to Me” which has lyrics that sound like a love letter response to Suzy’s song “I Love You Boy.” Even people who don’t know Korean can feel the conversation between the songs by listening to music. The While You Were Sleeping score ultimately feels raw and emotional.
4 My Mister (2018)
The soundtrack for My Mister is an emotional rollercoaster, offering notes of heartbreak, joy, and melancholy. Each song does a good job of setting the expectations for what’s coming next in the plot. Additionally, the variation in tempo either speeds the pacing up to build suspense or slows the pacing down to draw attention to a scene. No matter what emotion a song has, though, hope underlies the entire My Mister soundtrack.
3 Goblin (2016-2017)
The fantasy romance show Goblin has one of the best-known K-drama soundtracks due to its dreamy and magical sound. Goblin’s soundtrack has a strong impact on the show. Every song matches up with the scene in which it takes place, influencing the tone. Despite the fact that Goblin needs the soundtrack to succeed, the songs can stand on their own due to their flawless composition.
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2 Radio Romance (2018)
Because Radio Romance centers on a radio show, it naturally needed top-notch music to succeed. The soundtrack doesn’t disappoint, offering highly produced music to which someone could dance or sing along. Warmth resonates through the songs, even when it’s a slower tempo or a sadder intonation. Ultimately, Radio Romance’s songs sound like what would play on a real radio station, making them ideal for the K-drama.
1 Descendants Of The Sun (2016)
The Descendants of the Sun soundtrack has such a strong impact that it will bring tears to the driest of eyes. For anyone who watched the K-drama, the romantic music will also bring a feeling of bittersweet loss. Three of the songs from the Descendants of the Sun soundtrack – “This Love” by Davichi, “Everytime” by Chen & Punch, and “Always” by Yoon Mi-rae – had such a strong impact that they ranked high on Korean music charts.