From Dr. Brain to Itaewon Class—Best K-Dramas Based on Webtoons

However, for those who are gripped by the sci-fi thriller’s premise and can’t wait that long to find out what happens next, the series is based on a popular Daum webtoon by Hongjacga that wrapped up its story back in 2016. Dr. Brain stars Parasite’s Lee Sun-kyun in the title role as a brain scientist trying to solve the mysterious death of his family by accessing the memories and consciousness of… the dead. Behind the camera, A Tale of Two Sisters director Kim Jee-woon is acting as writer, director, and executive producer.

Sweet Home

Webtoon: Naver
Series: Netflix

Before Squid Game dominated the Netflix U.S. Top Ten, Sweet Home, you know, also made the list. The apocalyptic horror show about a high schooler who moves into an apartment building following the deaths of his parents, only to discover it is the home of a species of monsters set on world domination, was the first Korean series to rank in the Netflix U.S. Top Ten. The webtoon source material was written by Kim Carnby and illustrated by Hwang Young-chan, and it ran for 140 chapters (plus one prologue) from 2017 to 2020. Unlike some of the entries on this list, the Sweet Home webtoon has an English translation available for readers.

Yumi’s Cells

Webtoon: Naver
Series: Viki

Yumi’s Cells, a slice-of-life rom-com about an office worker named Yumi (Goblin‘s Kim Go Eun) that tells its ordinary story from the perspective of Yumi’s… wait for it… cells, is a K-drama outlier in many ways. No, I am not talking about that radical premise—which has more in common with children’s programming like Magic School Bus or Inside Out than a traditional western rom-com (this is not a criticism, quite the opposite)—but rather the fact that the K-drama went into production as a multi-season drama, which is relatively uncommon within Korea’s one-and-done, single-season drama model.

Perhaps the decision was spurred by the popularity of the series’ webtoon source material? When the Naver-based webtoon, written by Lee Dong-geun, wrapped up its 512-episode run last year, it has garnered 3.2 billion views and 5 million comments, marking it as one of the platform’s most popular series of all time. The drama just wrapped up its first season on a bit of a cliffhanger, and it will be interesting to see where it goes with its multi-season story, especially given the length and richness of its beloved source material.

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