More Korean Dramas Aim For A Second—and Even A Third—Season


Lee Joon-gi takes over the role played by Song Joong-ki in the new season of ‘Arthdal Chronicles.’


Korean dramas traditionally don’t have seasons. With a story arc that’s mostly limited to a consecutive 16 episodes, Korea’s primetime TV dramas are more like watching long movies, delivered in two hour-long segments a week. The storylines of these limited series are usually resolved by the final episode and rarely leave unanswered questions for a subsequent season. Cliffhangers are reserved for the end of episodes, but not the finale.

However, that’s changing. During the last few years a few k-dramas have presented subsequent seasons—notably Kingdom, Love Alarm, Voice, The Penthouse, Let’s Eat and Yumi’s Cells, but this year more than a dozen k-dramas will offer a second—and even a third—season.

So far, second seasons are planned for the high school zombie drama All Of Us Are Dead, which stars Park Solomon and Cho Yi-hyun; the dark fantasy Hellbound helmed by Train To Busan director Yeon Sang-ho; Island, starring Kim Nam Gil and Lee Da-hee; Tale of The Nine-Tailed, starring Lee Dong-wook and Jo Bo-ah; The Uncanny Counter, with Kim Se-jong and Yum Hye-ran; Poong: The Joseon Psychiatrist starring Kim Min-jae; Shadow Detective starring Lee Sung-min and Kim Shin-rok; Taxi Driver with Lee Ji-hoon and Esom; and The First Responders with Kim Rae-won. The tvN drama Missing: The Other Side 2 began mid-December and its 14-episode second season will end on Jan. 31.

Lee Ji-hoon will reprise his role as a vigilante taxi driver in the second season of ‘Taxi Driver.’


The second installment of D.P., the military drama starring Jung Hae-in and Son Suk-ku finished filming in Nov. 2022 and will likely air part two this year. Dr. Romantic, starring Han Suk-kyu and Ahn Hyo-seop, will air a third season in 2023 and the horror drama Sweet Home with Song Kang, Lee Jin-uk and Lee Si-young, plans to air both a second and a third season. The most anticipated return is the international hit Squid Game, which might happen this year or in early 2024.

Another notable return is Arthdal Chronicles which first ran in 2019. The conclusion of the original 18 episodes left two warring forces poised for battle with no clue as to how the battle might be resolved. The Netflix
drama, produced by Studio Dragon, had lower than expected domestic viewership, but did have an enthusiastic international fan base. Talks on whether to continue the drama went on for so long that several cast members dropped out, with actor Lee Joon-gi replacing Song Joong-ki and Shin Se-kyun replacing Kim Ji-won in the subsequent season. The completion of the saga is projected to premiere this year.

According to Studio Dragon, Korean viewers became accustomed to second seasons after watching foreign TV shows on OTT platforms. Many want domestically produced stories to follow suit. A subsequent season also offers producers a second chance to attract viewers and satisfy international audiences, who regularly view TV shows with multiple seasons.

Kim Min-jae also stars in the second season of ‘Poong: The Joseon Psychiatrist.’

Studio Dragon

“As we produced content, we realized that when viewers discover an entertaining story, they want to enjoy that subject matter longer,” said Yu Sang-won, executive producer, Studio Dragon. “Poong, The Joseon Psychiatrist was planned to have second seasons from the early stages of planning. On the last episode of season one we shared a message that we are preparing season two and we were pleased that viewers showed positive reactions.”

The first season of Poong: The Joseon Detective had 12 episodes and the second season will air 10 more starting on Jan. 11.

“The expansion into seasons should be an ‘expansion of the story’ rather than a repetition of episodes and should deliver a different impression from the previous season,” said Yu. “In that sense, the second season may seem challenging for producers, but it is an interesting challenge.”

Netflix, which began producing original Korean dramas in 2019, starting with the historical zombie drama Kingdom, has second seasons in the works for several dramas this year, as well as the dating reality show Singles Inferno.

“Korean zombie dramas, romantic comedies, and crime thrillers have all topped our global watch-lists in the past year, thanks to the passionate fan communities around the world,” said Don Kang, vice president of content, Netflix Korea. “There’s an enormous demand to continue these stories and we’re delighted to bring beloved characters and fan-favorite shows back to Netflix for returning seasons.”

‘The Glory,’ starring Song Hye-kyo, will be shown in two parts.


In some cases those second seasons are merely the conventional 16 episodes broken into smaller parts or “seasons.” For example, the 2022 Disney+ drama Big Bet aired on Hulu from Dec. 2022 into Jan. 2023 and will have a second installment some time in February. Another example is the Netflix series The Glory, which released eight episodes on Dec. 30, 2022 and will air the second eight-episode part in March.

“We also find that sometimes the rich storytelling dictates how we share these series— whether it is over several parts or volumes, such as Kim Eun-sook’s The Glory,” said Kang. “We’re excited to continue telling the stories that fans love, and find new ways to reach audiences in Korea and around the world.”

Do international k-drama fans want second seasons? Many fans are drawn to k-dramas by the fresh storytelling required for the one-season two-episode-a-week format.

Deema Abu Naser has watched Korean dramas for 12 years and blogs about them as DeemaLovesDrama. She doesn’t mind dramas having more than one season or part, even if she has to wait.

“Having a second season/part allows the drama more time to generate buzz and keep us all on our toes on what’s going to happen next,” she said. “So although it’s difficult, I personally don’t mind it.”

There are differing opinions among her 280,000 followers.

“In k-drama world, we have 16-20 episodes and the series is done-—this new change makes some people a little uneasy,” said Naser. “However, I have also heard that many fans love the second season trend as they want to see their favorites again.”

Whether viewers want more seasons or worry k-dramas will change too much, a bounty of additional seasons will round out the k-drama slate in 2023.

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