There is one thing you should know about serial killers in Korean dramas; they do not usually appear in thrillers or crime dramas.
Sometimes, they appear in romance or even comedy dramas.
Regardless of which genre they appear in, some of these serial killers from Korean dramas are terrifying to watch.
Here are 10 serial killers from Korean dramas who terrify us:
1. The Painter Killer in Born Again (2020)
The main theme of this drama is reincarnation; about three people who remain entangled in a love triangle and murder even after being reincarnated.
In the 1980s, Gong Ji-chul (Jang Ki-young) was a lone wolf living under a controlling father.
Meanwhile, Jung Ha-eun (Jin Se-yeon) and Cha Hyung-bin (Lee Soo-hyuk) are a couple very much in love with each other.
Ha-eun is the owner of a secondhand bookstore called ‘Old Future’ and Hyung-bin works as a detective.
While chasing the true perpetrator behind a string of murders, the three of them get caught in between the cases and eventually died.
30 years later, the three of them are reincarnated. Gong Ji-chul becomes Cheon Jong-bum, a medical student. Hae-eun is reborn as an archaeologist named Jung Sa-bin while Hyung-bin is a prosecutor named Kim Soo-hyuk.
What happens when the string of murders that took place in the 80s repeat themselves? Did the original killer die, get reincarnated and start murdering again? Was the real killer never caught in the first place? Or did the murderer find a protege to carry on the murderous torch?
As for the terrifying serial killer in this drama, the culprit kills in the name of ‘art’. He paints his victims after laying them down in their graves the way he wants.
While this serial killer is terrifying, what is more disgusting are his cult followers who love his ‘works’. They even have secret chat group to talk about their ‘fandom’.
This reminds of us serial killers such as Ted Bundy, Jeffery Dahmer and Aileen Wuornos who have secret online groups for fans on social media platforms such as Facebook.
2. The Genius Killer in Gap-dong (2014)
Speaking of real-life serial killers, here is a drama inspired by one.
Set in 1986 in fictional Iltan city, a young girl is found brutally murdered. Since then, a series of murders has been found committed in the area.
The police nicknamed the suspect “Gap-dong”. The authorities also mistakenly identify the killer, causing the wrong suspect to commit suicide to prove his innocence. His death inspires his son Moo-yeom to become a police officer to clear his father’s name.
Seventeen years later, a new victim shows up sharing a similar pattern with the victims of Gap-dong. Are they the works of Gap-dong or a copycat killer?
These cases were evoked by the Hwaseong serial murders, a series of rapes and murders that occurred in the rural city of Hwaseong in Geonggi Province between Sept 15, 1986 and Apr 3, 1991.
The victims – all women – were found bound, gagged raped, and strangled to death with their own clothes.
The cases remained unsolved for 30 years until Lee Choon-jae was identified as the suspect in 2019.
3. The Psychopath Killer in Hello Monster (2015)
The drama circles around genius profiler Lee Hyun (Seo In-guk) who returns home to South Korea after receiving an anonymous email.
The email comes from a serial killer who purposely sends him clues about a series of murders targeting women with similar appearances.
Apparently, it is somehow related to Lee Hyun as his father was murdered and his brother disappeared.
The culprit behind the past is a teenage serial killer named Lee Joon-young, perfectly played by Do Kyung-so.
Working with him on these cases is Cha Ji-an (Jang Na-ra), a police officer whose father mysteriously disappeared together with Lee Joon-young.
This drama gained wide praise for its performance particularly Park Bo-gum’s performance.
4. The sexy CEO Killer in Voice Season 1 (2017)
While Kim Jae-wook’s portrayal in this drama is sexy and dangerous, it also took a toll on the actor’s mental and physical health.
He plays the role of Mo Tae-goo, a CEO by day, and a serial killer by night. Tae-goo not only enjoys killing people, but also flaunting the bodies of his victims.
In an interview, Jae-wook revealed “After shooting the gory scenes in which I had to torture and murder a person, I had breathing problems and I couldn’t stop shaking.” He also couldn’t bear to look himself in the mirror after shooting this drama.
This police procedural series centers around Kang Kwon-jo (Lee Ha-na) who works at an emergency 112 call center. Together with police detective Moo Jin-Hyuk (Jang Hyuk), the duo try to catch Tae-goo.
“Merciless” is the perfect word to describe Jae-wook’s portrayals of Tae-goo in the drama. Imagine a killer who treats his victim like a cat playing with a barely alive rat – that is how Tae-goo kills his victims.
5. The manipulative killer in Voice Season 2 (2018)
Voice was so good that it was renewed for a second season. In the second season, Kwon Yul appears as Bang Je-soo who is a serial killer that goes around collecting body parts of his dead victims.
Using his intelligence, Je-soo manipulated others to kill too.
Overall, the drama sets record for the highest premiere rating of an OCN drama.
It also surpassed the first season’s ratings.
The drama has Lee Ha-na reprise her role as Kang Kwon-jo while Lee Jin-woo plays the role of a new team leader Do Kang-woo.
6. The Don’t-Act-Up Killer in When The Camellia Blooms (2019)
The main focus of this drama is Oh Dong-baek (Gong Hyo-jin), a single mother who moves to the fictional town of Ongsan and opens a bar named Camellia.
She captured the heart of a young, playful detective named Hwang Yong-sik (Kang Ha-neul).
In the same time, Kang Jong-ryul (Kim Ji-seok) who is the father of Dong-baek’s son is trying to win her back.
This seems to be a normal love triangle until it is interrupted by a serial killer targeting Dong-baek.
His signature move? Writing the word ‘Don’t Act Up’ on a wall to scare his victim.
Putting aside the dead bodies lying around in the drama, When the Camellia Blooms is one of funniest and highest rated dramas in 2019.
7. The bar code killer in A Girl Who Can See Smells (2015)
Adapted from the webtoon of the same title, this drama stars Park Yoo-chun, Shin Se-kyung, Min Nam-goong and Yoon Jin-seo.
When Choi Eun-seol (Shin Se-kyung) arrives home, she finds her parents murdered.
They are found with a bar code carved into their skin, all indicative of the work of the ‘bar code’ serial killer.
On the same night, Choi Moo-gak (Park Yoo-chun) is at the hospital visiting his younger sister. To his horror, he finds her dead with her throat slit.
How are these murders connected?
As for the title, it refers to Choi Eun-seol who wake up with the ability to see smells as visible colours and shapes after the deaths of her parents.
Using her unique ability, Eun-seol tries to find the bar code killer.
8. The serial killer who still kills after his death in Possessed (2019)
How committed are you to your job? Would you possess someone just to continue your ‘life’s work’ even after death?
The serial killer in Possessed (2019) is so committed to killing people that he even possessed others to kill after he died.
The story focuses on Kang Pil-sung (Song Sae-byeok), a police officer who was abandoned by his family.
Just like Pil-sung, Hong Seo-jung (Go Joon-hee) was also abandoned by her mother at a young age.
Besides their sad past, the duo also shares a supernatural ability. Seo-jung is able to read people’s minds and see ghosts while Pil-sung can see ghosts too.
Using their supernatural traits, they try to catch the serial killer who possessed others to kill.
9. The Evil Twin Killer in Innocent Defendant (2017)
First of all, all applause to Uhm Ki-joon who plays two complete characters in this legal drama. He takes up the role as Cha Sun-ho and Cha Min-ho, identical twins who are heads to a major company.
Min-ho is the evil one who suffered from abuse as a child and constantly being compared to his twin.
The end result is he becomes a psychopathic maniac who kills people without mercy.
Overall, the drama is about a prosecutor who is wrongly convicted for murder and now is on death row.
Despite his knowledge in laws and prosecution, Park Jung-woo (Ji Sung) is having a hard time proving his innocence because he is inconveniently suffering from amnesia.
The story continues as he struggles to clear his name and catch the real killer.
10. The Masked Kidnapper in Strong Woman Do Bong Soon (2017)
Althoufh this drama is not about a serial killer per se, the villain in this series is just pure creepy.
Strong Woman is inspired by a French folktale about Bluebeard and his seven wives, a wealthy man who has the habit of murdering his wives and the attempts of one wife to avoid the fate of her predecessors.
In this drama, Kim Jang-hyun (Jang Mi-kwan) is the psychotic kidnapper who keeps on targeting young women.
Mi-kwan revealed in an interview that he was inspired by Christian Bale in the movie American Psycho for his role as Jang-hyun.
After capturing a number of helpless women, Jang-hyun finally meets his match in Do Bong-soon (Park Bo-young) who was born with superhuman strength.