The OST (original soundtrack) is an integral part of any South Korean drama. The songs regularly top the music charts and the lead actors often feature on the tracks too. Here’s a run down of the top ten best OSTs that should be on your playlist (Spotify playlist is at the end of the article).
Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha (2021)
In this series, we follow the story of big-city dentist (Shin Min-a) who opens up a practice in the quaint seaside village of Gongjin. The series, also starring Kim Seon-ho, is one of the most-watched non-English language shows on Netflix. It’s a feel-good series with a delightful OST of dreamy indie tracks to match. Standout numbers include Romantic Sunday (Car, the Garden), One Sunny Day (Kassy) and The Image of You (Sandeul of boyband B1A4).
Bulgasal: Immortal Souls (2021)
Starring Lee Jin-wook, Kwon Nara, Lee Joon and Kim Woo-seok, Immortal Souls: Bulgasal is a beautifully told story about reincarnation, revenge and folkloric monsters with a brilliant soundtrack to match. The understated I Will Never Die (Nam Hye Seung) is a highlight, featuring haunting distorted vocals and a melancholy piano hook. Pair the moody soundtrack with the image of world-weary vampire Bulgasal (Lee Jin-wook) gazing wistfully at the horizon (in a way you only can if you’ve lived for 600 years) equals aesthetic perfection.
Hotel del Luna (2019)
Korean singer Punch is hands down the queen of the OST having lent her talents to a variety of top-rated series such as Goblin (Stay with Me), Descendants of The Sun (Everytime) and Moon Lovers (Say Yes). Hotel Del Luna stars Lee Ji-eun and Yeo Jin-goo, and is about a hotel for ghosts. The original song, Done For Me, is one of Punch’s best songs to date, with a spine-tingling chorus of descending bass and silky soft rap verses.
Itaewon Class (2020)
Itaewon Class is an award-winning series about ex-con Park Sae-Ro-Yi (played by Park Seo-Joon) who opens a street bar. It’s full of dramatic twists, revenge and romance. Original song Start Over by Gaho is an uplifting number about rising above life’s challenges and forging your own path. The chorus is topped off with an energetic ‘woh’ and a sing-along worthy ‘ahhhhhh’ in the chorus. It goes without saying, the big ticket act here is BTS’s V, who sings Sweet Night, a song which went on to top the charts worldwide. Odd title aside, You Make Me Back by Kim Woo Sung is also excellent.
Sweet Home (2020)
When a strange disease starts infecting people and the world turns upside down overnight, Cha Hyun-soo (Song Kang), alongside his apartment block neighbours, must fight to survive against nightmarish monsters. Imagine Dragons’ Warriors features heavily in this apocalyptic horror series but the real fun is found in Cho Yoon Jung’s operatic epic Dies Irae and high-energy hip-hop banger Side by Side by BewhY.
His Master’s Sun (2013)
Heart-warming rom-com horror His Master’s Sun has a playful and cheesy soundtrack. Highlights include the instantly recognisable hook of Touch Love by Yoon Mirae, the bouncy All About by MelodyDay and Watch Over You sung by Seo In Guk, who also stars as Kang Woo. This OST mainly grows on you because literally every episode packs in at least one of the aforementioned songs. Then by the end of the series, you’re left with a hangover not only from the emotional rollercoaster that is Joo Joong-Won (So Ji-sub) and Tae Gong-Shil (Gong Hyo-jin)’s relationship, but also from a newly developed addiction to the catchy OST.
Six Flying Dragons (2015)
Over the course of 50 episodes, we’re immersed in the power struggles of 14th century Korea, leading to the foundation of the Joseon Dynasty. This historical drama features some truly incredible sword fight scenes, which wouldn’t be complete without an equally as awesome soundtrack. Just watch the fight scene below between Lee Bang Ji (Byun Yo-han) versus Gil Tae Mi (Park Hyuk-kwon), where the music, Six Dragon Resentment by In Ro Joo, really lifts the whole scene to a whole other level of epic.
Crash Landing On You (2019)
If there’s any Korean drama that should be on your Netflix watch-list, this is it. South Korean heiress, Yoon Se-ri (Son Ye-jin), accidentally crash lands in North Korea and officer Jung Hyuk (Hyun Bin) risks his life protecting her. Plus, there’s no better time to see what the hype is about as the co-stars recently announced they’re getting married! No K-drama OST list is complete without a ballad, and here we’ve got beautiful songs from the likes of Yoon Mirae on Flower (she also sings Always on the series Descendants of the Sun) and Yerin Baek on Here I Am Again.
Korean Odyssey (2017)
This fantasy romantic comedy is based on a 16th century Chinese story about spirits and demons, Journey to the West. It’s set in the modern era and stars Lee Seung-gi, Cha Seung-won and Oh Yeon-seo. The OST has a handful of great songs by the likes of Mackelli (who also wrote for the series About Time), BUMKEY and MeloMance. The strongest contribution comes from K-Pop boyband NU’EST W. Let Me Out low-key slaps, building up from a gentle piano then opening into a full blown Europop-esque chorus.
my name (2021)
In this fast-paced action thriller, Ji-Woo (Han So-hee) is on a quest to uncover the truth and avenge her father’s death. From the stylish cinematography to the title track My Name feat. Swervy and JEMINN, every element of the series is slick and gritty. Sung half in English, half in Korean, My Name is written by Hwang Sang Jun, who also composed for the K-Drama Extracurricular.