• Best medical K-dramas offer thrilling life-or-death situations, exploring various medical specialties and procedural avenues.
  • Romantic storylines are a bonus but not necessary for a medical K-drama to be considered the best.
  • These medical K-dramas have gained popularity both in South Korea and internationally, beloved by fans worldwide.

Medical procedurals are always an exciting option to binge-watch, and the best medical K-dramas put a unique South Korean spin that sets them apart from their US counterparts. K-dramas come in all genres that have fans enthralled from comedy, romance, and even medical dramas. Medical K-dramas still cover a broad range of genres, such as those in the world of psychiatry or veterinary or historical and supernatural, within their given storylines. These K-dramas have some romance, riveting thrills, the supernatural, and even laugh-out-loud comedy.

There are plenty of gasping and holding-your-breath thrills in the best medical K-dramas, as they often entail life-or-death situations both in the ER and the rest of the hospital. Whether a surgeon or psychiatrist, medical K-dramas can explore a variety of different procedural avenues. Romantic storylines in K-dramas are always a bonus feature, but not necessarily a requirement to make the list of best medical K-dramas. These medical K-dramas are considered some of the best to have premiered in South Korea and are beloved by international fans as well.

Related: 18 K-Dramas About Falling In Love With The Boss

21 Doctor Cha (2023-)

Doctor Cha on her cell phone in the Medical Korean drama named for her

  • Available to stream on Netflix

A housewife (Uhm Jung-hwa) reenters the workforce after twenty years in this unique take on a medical K-drama. Though she’s been a housewife for years, Cha Jeong-suk has a medical degree and decides it’s time to put it to use. She has a big adjustment as she becomes a first-year medical resident.

Complicating matters is the fact that Dr. Cha’s husband is a perfectionist and a surgeon who has been cheating on his wife and their son is also a surgical resident. The show is just as much a family dramedy as it is a medical series, making it a very different addition to the wealth of doctor K-dramas that exist.

20 A Poem A Day (2018)

A woman getting her head pushed in A Poem a Day

  • Available to stream on Prime Video

One of the best medical K-dramas, A Poem a Day focuses on those who support doctors inside the hospital, such as nurses, radiologists, and physical therapists. The show follows three main characters, Ye Jae-Wook (Lee Joon-hyuk ), a physical therapy professor. Woo Bo-Young (Lee Yu-Bi), a physical therapist who dreams of becoming a poet, and Shin Min-Ho (Jang Dong-yoon), a physical therapist who wasn’t able to enter medical school. While it didn’t win any accolades, A Poem a Day is a must-watch K-drama that isn’t a romance due to its relatable characters, emotionally-charged episodes, and intriguing love triangle plot.

19 Cross (2018)

One character comforting another on the K-drama Cross

  • Available to stream on MyAsianTV

K-drama fans will be on the edge of their seats as they watch one of the best medical K-dramas, Cross. The K-drama focuses on the career of a doctor named Kang In-Kyu (Go Kyung Pyo), who has long planned to avenge the death of his father by volunteering at a prison medical office. The K-drama shows In-Kyu’s ethical and moral struggle between his sworn oath and satisfying his hunger for revenge. Due to its interesting and intriguing plot and viewership numbers, some viewers feel that Cross needs to have a Hollywood movie adaptation.

18 D-Day (2015)

The cast of the K-drama D-Day posing for the camera

  • Available to stream on Rakuten Viki

D-Day was one of the best medical K-dramas from 2015, with a twist as it was also tagged with a natural disaster storyline. Surgeon Lee Hae-Sung and orthopedic resident, Jung Ddol-Mi are faced with a monumental challenge. Both doctors are stuck in Seoul after a sinkhole appears in the city following an earthquake. The sinkhole causes the city to be blocked off as there’s no electricity, water, or the ability to call for help. As doctors, Hae-Sung and Ddol-Mi work together to treat patients and those wounded. Though its ratings aren’t as high as others on the list, the series is one of the best, thanks to its high stakes.

17 Live Up To Your Name (2017)

A modern female doctor examines a man in Joseon Era clothing in the Korean medical drama Live Up To Your Name

  • Available to stream on Netflix

Dr. Heo Im (Kim Nam-gil) is an acupuncture specialist in the Joseon Era of Korea. While he’s great at his job, he spends most of his time treating the poor. Once given the chance to treat the wealthy, he finds himself tasked with treating the migraines of the king, but his anxiety prevents him from doing so. He’s wanted for treason but somehow escapes death. His expertise is brought into a completely new era thanks to the help of some unexpected time travel in the K-drama.

When the acupuncture specialist finds himself in modern-day South Korea, his traditional practices are put up against modern medicine and the teachings of cardiothoracic surgeon Choi Yeon-kyung (Kim Ah-joong). The two approach medicine from very different perspectives, which creates an unlikely partnership for them in an odd-couple-like medical K-drama.

16 Ghost Doctor (2022-)

One man in scrubs looks straight at the camera while standing over the shoulder of another man in scrubs in an operating room in the Korean medical drama Ghost Doctor

  • Available to stream on Viki Rakuten

Dr. Cha Young-min (Rain) is a highly skilled surgeon who finds himself in a coma in this medical K-drama. His spirit is able to leave his body and join forces with another less experienced surgeon, Go Seung-tak (Kim Burn). While the latter has extensive medical knowledge he has a great fear of blood and clumsy practical skills.

What’s interesting about the series, however, is that it isn’t a case of just one doctor possessing another. There are multiple ghosts in the story that reveal just how the doctors at this particular hospital are able to do such good work, making this ghost story also a pretty uplifting one. Kim Burn also won the 2022 Korea Drama Award for Top Actor for his role in the series.

15 Jewel In The Palace (2003-2004)

A woman and man in Joseon Era clothing in the Korean drama Jewel In The Palace

  • Available to stream on Viki Rakuten

Part medical K-drama and part historical K-drama, A Jewel In The Palace is inspired by the true story of Jang Geum, the first female royal physician during Korea’s Joseon Era. While telling Jang Geum’s story, there’s also a focus on Korean culture and food.

That’s because Jang Geum (Lee Young-ae) starts her royal employment as a member of the kitchen staff. She makes it her life’s work to understand everything there is to know about cooking, food, medicine, and the relationship between all of those. The combination of topics makes for a fascinating medical K-drama.

14 Soul Mechanic (2020)

Two characters sitting on a bench in Soul Mechanic

  • Available to stream on Rakuten Viki

While not one of the best medical K-dramas on the list, Soul Mechanic certainly ranks thanks to its exploration into psychiatry and overwhelmingly sweet storyline. In this romantic and scenic K-drama, psychiatrist Lee Shi-joon (Shin Ha-kyun) is completely comfortable with himself and his abilities within his profession. Using a healthy dose of humor and fun, Shi-joon takes psychiatric healing to a whole new level. However, he’s given a problem patient in the form of musical star Han Woo-joo (Jung So-min), who suffers from serious anger management issues. Soul Mechanic, also called Fix You, started off strong with high viewership numbers, but they dwindled as the series went on.

13 Doctor Detective (2019)

The cast of Doctor Detective posing for the camera in front of a car

  • Available to stream on Rakuten Viki

A wonderful woman-led K-drama and certainly one of the best medical K-dramas, Doctor Detective follows Do Joong-eun (Jin-hee Park), an industrial health doctor. She ends up partnering with Dr. Heo Min-ki (Tae-gyu Bong) to uncover the truth behind a string of suspicious industrial accidents and diseases, but will the TL group successfully cover up the truth? While Doctor Detective has no awards to its name, the female-led K-drama kept solid ratings throughout its 16-episode run.

12 Once Upon A Small Town (2022) – Stream On Netflix

Two characters smiling in Once Upon a Small Town

  • Available to stream on Netflix

One of the best medical K-dramas also features a sweet romance storyline. Seoul city boy and veterinarian Han Ji-yul (Choo Young-woo) returns to his hometown, a small village called Heedong, to take over the veterinary clinic from his ailing grandfather. While there, he befriends a young woman and police officer named Ahn Ja-young (Park Soo-young) who holds a secret. He soon finds out that moving to a small town isn’t so bad after all. Named one of the Top 10 Korean dramas to watch on Netflix by Time, Once Upon a Small Town is a great option for both its romantic plot and medical elements.

11 Birthcare Center (2020)

The cast of Birthcare Center drinking tea

  • Available to stream on Netflix

Another fantastic female-led K-drama, Birthcare Center makes it higher on the list of best medical K-dramas thanks to its realistic exploration into post-partum care and motherhood later in life. Primarily following high-powered executive Oh Hyun-jin (Uhm Ji-won), the proficient exec finds out that having a baby is much harder than she originally thought, and finds herself under constant scrutiny of other elitist mothers while residing at a post-partum care center. Birthcare Center received two award nominations for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress at the 57th Baeksang Arts Awards, but unfortunately lost out.

10 Blood (2015)

A character with a bloody face in the K-drama Blood

  • Available to stream on Viki Rakuten

Blood isn’t just a Korean medical series, but also a vampire K-drama. The series combines elements of both genres to create a compelling narrative. It was also nominated for four awards at the KBS Drama Awards after premiering but didn’t take any trophies home.

The series follows Park Ji-Sang (Ahn Jae-Hyun) as an incredibly successful surgeon. This surgeon, however, has a big secret. He is actually a vampire who has learned to control his desire for blood so that he can save terminally ill patients. The supernatural elements and the medical cases are just the tip of the iceberg as the vampire doctor is also drawn to the niece of the chairman, giving a romantic element to the series as well.

9 Hospital Ship (2017)

The cast of Hospital Ship taking care of a young man

  • Available to stream on Kocowa

Unlike some of the other best medical K-dramas that are usually set in a hospital, Hospital Ship has its doctors traveling around in a ship and providing healthcare to those on far-flung islands. The thrilling K-drama show follows the lives of the doctors aboard the ship, Song Eun-Jae, a highly-regarded surgeon from a large hospital in Seoul, and Kwak Hyun, a famous surgeon who decides to render his military service by joining the ship. Some viewers found the show to be a slow burn due to the pacing of its episodes. Despite that, Hospital Ship received awards from both the 10th Korean Drama Awards and the 36th MBC Drama Awards.

Related: Love & Leashes (2022) & 9 Other Steamy K-Dramas You Should Watch Today

8 Life (2018)

A doctor concentrating on the K-drama Life

  • Available to stream on Netflix

One of the best medical K-dramas, Life follows Jin-Woo, a dedicated emergency medicine specialist at one of Korea’s top medical centers. When the hospital’s director suddenly dies from a fall, Jin-Woo suspects it wasn’t an accident. Jin-Woo soon starts butting heads with the hospital’s new president, Koo Seung-Hyo who believes running a business is the same as running a hospital. Intermixed in the Netflix K-drama are the struggles of the hospital staff and Jin-Woo uncovering the dark conspiracies and cover-ups. Life won 3 awards in total, for Best Supporting Actor and Best Screenwriter at the 6th APAN Star Awards and Best Supporting Actress at the 2nd Seoul Awards.

7 Doctor John (2019)

Cast of Doctor John holding up their hands

  • Available to stream on Viki Rakuten

Doctor John is another one of the best medical K-dramas that surpassed the 16-episode mark with a total of 32 episodes. The drama centers around two doctors and the recurring theme of the morals behind euthanasia. Cha Yo-Han (Ji Sung) is a top anesthesiologist who comes off as rude and cold. He had previously served time in jail for euthanizing dying patients he could no longer help.

He and second-year resident, Kang Si-Young (Lee Se-Young) work together to diagnose patients and find the root cause of their pain. Doctor John has three accolades to its name, winning the Excellence Award at the 12th Korea Drama Awards and the Excellence Award in Miniseries (Actress) and Child Actor Award at the 27th SBS Drama Awards.

6 Doctor Stranger (2014)

Four young medical professionals in the Korean drama Doctor Stranger

  • Available to stream on Viki Rakuten

North and South Korea have a very contentious relationship in reality, and that relationship is reflected in this popular medical K-dama. The series was even illegally purchased in North Korea by smugglers at its time of release. It also earned awards at the Korea Drama Awards, the APAN Star Awards, and the SBS Drama Awards, and became a huge streaming success in China.

The series follows a young South Korean man (Lee Jong-suk) who ends up stuck in North Korea when his father is asked to travel to the country for a medical emergency. He and his father are refused entrance back into South Korea, but as an adult, he’s eventually able to defect to South Korea and pursue a medical career of his own. What happened in his youth, including the woman he fell in love with, in North Korea, continues to affect his life as a professional in South Korea.

5 Doctor Prisoner (2019)

Two characters staring each other down in Doctor Prisoner

  • Available to stream on Viki Rakuten

Doctor Prisoner is one of the best medical K-dramas and will take fans down a dark path of revenge for a doctor who was wrongly accused. Na Yi-Je (Namkoong Min of the baseball show Hot Stove League) is a top surgeon falsely accused of malpractice. Yi-Je is kicked out of the hospital, and his reputation is ruined. Yi-Je decides to work as a doctor at a prison — but he has a hidden agenda. He hopes to accumulate enough prison connections to exact his revenge on the people responsible. Doctor Prisoner is highly acclaimed, scooping up a total of seven awards at the 14th Seoul International Drama Awards, the 12th Korea Drama Awards, and the KBS Drama Awards.

Related: 10 Shows To Get You Started On Your K-Drama Journey

4 Good Doctor (2013)

Female doctor leaning her head of Si-On's shoulder in Good Doctor

  • Available to stream on Viki Rakuten

The popular medical drama The Good Doctor starring Freddie Highmore isn’t an original show. The American version is a reboot and adaptation of one of the best medical K-dramas, Good Doctor. The 20-episode drama followed Park Si-On (Joo Won) who’s an autistic savant. He enters a hospital as a pediatric surgery resident but has a tough time proving his worth. With only six months to earn his place the odds are against Si-On, especially when he starts to fall in love. Good Doctor is highly acclaimed among audiences and critics alike, earning itself 14 awards in the Korean Drama Awards, KBS Drama Awards, Baeksang Arts Awards, and more.

3 Hospital Playlist (2020-2021)

The main cast members from Hospital Playlist in scrubs.

  • Available to stream on Netflix

Hospital Playlist is a must-watch, as it’s one of the best medical K-dramas to stream right now that will have audiences crying with laughter, feeling heartfelt emotions, and sighing in contentment. The medical K-drama got such rave responses from fans that Netflix approved a second season. Hospital Playlist focuses on five best friends who met in medical school. Now they all work as surgeons in different departments at the same hospital.

Fans watch as these friends face life challenges including raising a child, a broken marriage, career-changing decisions, and family troubles. All the while, these characters deal with the harsh reality of working as doctors. Don’t worry, this group of friends always finds a way to uplift each other with some comedy. Similar to Good Doctor, Hospital Playlist has won 14 separate awards, including some for its great soundtrack, but it is slightly better than the other medical K-drama because of its hilarious ensemble cast.

2 Kill Me, Heal Me (2015) – Stream on Kocowa

Kill Me Heal Me poster with two characters smiling at each other

  • Available to stream on Viki Rakuten

Certainly one of the best medical K-Dramas available, Kill Me, Heal Me revolves around Cha Do-hyun (Ji Sung), a business heir who has Dissociative Identity Disorder and seven alters due to a couple of traumatic events. He seeks the help of first-year psychiatry resident Oh Ri-jin (Hwang Jung-eum), which is fine and well, until Ri-Jin’s journalist twin brother, Oh Ri-on (Park Seo-joon) starts digging for dirt around Do-hyun and his wealthy family.

Related: 15 Best Time Travel K-Dramas, Ranked

Much like Good Doctor, Kill Me, Heal Me got both a Chinese remake (A Seven-Faced Man) and a Hong Kong remake (Threesome), with the Hong Kong version turning it into a legal dramedy instead. Kill Me, Heal Me is easily one of the best medical K-dramas based on its accolades record alone, earning 17 awards and being nominated for an additional 17.

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