If you’ve enjoyed binge-watching the new Korean drama Mask Girl on Netflix over the weekend and don’t know what to do with yourself after, we thought of curating a list of adrenalin-pumping revenge thrillers that will keep you hooked. This new show has to be one of the more exciting ones of the year, starring so many amazing women in powerful roles. As we’ve seen many times, the “revenge” genre is one that is very popular amongst Koreans, and this year alone, we’ve had three massively successful ones already. Mask Girl is unique in the way it plays with the timelines throughout the show. While there aren’t many shows that follow the same pattern, there are many that are wholly about vengeance and keep you on the edge of your seat in the same manner. Murders, debauchery, and action—we cover it all in this list.
This show got Song Hye-Kyo back in the game after a not-so-successful previous show. Seeing her embody such a role was a shock to most viewers, but soon, her subdued character and catchy dialogue really made an impression on all of us. This show is about school bullying and the effect it has on adults. The Glory is simply jaw-dropping at points, and although the first half of the show is more exciting, the ending is extremely satisfying. The premises of the two shows are very different but the themes are interwoven with each other. They’re both about systemic oppression and have a link to one’s appearance and status in society. Both shows have strong female characters on both sides of the line, and everyone does an incredible job at portraying their morally challenged characters.
The most simple form of a revenge thriller, the story is very straightforward, and this show promises a lot of action and thrills. Starring the amazing Han So-Hee as the main lead, this show really put her on the map as a strong lead actress. If for no other reason, the way she trained and transformed for this show is worth watching. A strong and traumatized female character seems to be a common theme in these shows, and Yoon Ji-Woo is an incredibly memorable character. There’s a drug cartel and a powerful man that Ji-Woo needs to fight against all by herself, but on the way, she finds some executioners for herself. Another one of Netflix’s shows that finishes up smoothly in 8 episodes and is extremely easy to binge-watch.
The World Of The Married
When this show came out, it became the most-watched show with the highest viewership rating in South Korea at the time. It is incredibly addictive, and for those of us who waited every week to watch a new episode during the lockdown, it was really something to look forward to. Infidelity is the easiest theme to pick for revenge, and The World of the Married gets more infuriating with every episode. The drama is intense, and although there are no murders involved, the show is just as thrilling as a murder mystery. This time, Han So-Hee is the adulterer, and on the opposite side, we have veteran actress Kim Hee-Ae. Both actresses are fantastic in their own way, and it’s especially easy to absolutely despise Han So-Hee’s Da-Kyung. An additional reason to watch is the fantastic fashion in this show.
The Good Bad Mother
Alright, we know this is more of a family drama than a thriller, but it is a story about a son getting revenge on the man who killed his father. Additionally, the way Lee Do-Hyun manipulates us through his character is mind-boggling, to say the least, and just as thrilling as any action-packed show. The Good Bad Mother will make you laugh, cry, pull your hair out, and scream with joy. The common theme between the two shows is how not to have people walk all over you. Of course, we can’t forget the “mommy issues,” considering the name of the show in Korean is just Bad Mother. Sometimes revenge is the only salvation.
Since we’re already on the drama angle, here’s another favorite. A classic tale of vengeance involves a one-man army standing against a large conglomerate. Generational trauma, class issues (as the name might suggest), and everything that comes in between are covered on this show. It is one of Park Seo-Joon’s most successful shows, as he plays this stoic character who is only interested in revenge. He opens a restaurant in the popular area of Itaewon and soon builds a trusty team that helps him reach his end goal.
Between World of the Married and Celebrity, it is difficult to say which is more dramatic, but Celebrity has to take the cake for the most cussing and physical violence among civilians. While Mask Girl’s social media escapades began in 2009, when everything was brand new, Celebrity is set in the difficult 2023 era, where becoming a social media star feels as difficult as getting a medical degree. Jokes aside, Celebrity is dramatic, witty, and unique, but it still feels familiar in many ways, reminding us of old “makjang” K-Dramas. Park Gyu-Young is amazing in this new kind of role for her. Again, you can expect a lot of amazing fashion on this show because it is about social media influencers. Take a look into the world of fashion and lifestyle influencers and the lengths they can go to to get popular (The Idol could take some notes).
An older show of the lot, Lawless Lawyer, stars Lee Joong-Ki and Seo Ye-Ji in the main roles. This show is extremely serious and may be hard to follow sometimes. Witty dialogue and banter are a huge part of what makes this show fun to watch. A gangster turned lawyer sounds a bit strange, but that’s our protagonist in this show. Again, it’s a great man’s fight against the justice system, and he hopes to avenge the death of his mother. Sang-Pil takes advantage of all the little loopholes in the justice system so he can fight for absolute power using his own means. Similar to Mask Girl, you can anticipate morally gray characters who find themselves beyond the binaries of judgment.
How many of these shows have you watched? If you have a favorite revenge drama that we haven’t mentioned here, let us know in the comments below!