Also known as police crime drama, a police procedural series focuses on the investigative procedure of crimes.
The protagonist of this type of drama is usually a police officer or the whole team from a department.
Instead of focusing only on the crime itself, this genre of drama draws the viewers’ attention to the effort goes into solving the crime.
If this is your cup of tea, here are 10 South Korean police procedural dramas you need to watch:
When Hwang Shi-mok (Cho Seung-woo) had brain surgery as a child, it caused him to lack in emotion.
He grows up to be a rational but cold prosecutor who is never involved in corruption. One day, he comes across a murder case. Together with police lieutenant Han Yeo-jin (Bae Doo-na), they work together to solve the homicide case and eradicate the corruption cases plaguing the prosecutor’s office.
Stranger (2017) is one of the highest-rated Korean dramas in cable television history. It was even featured in New York Times’ list of Best TV Shows of 2017.
The show will be returning for a second season in 2020.
2.Special Affairs Team TEN (2011)
The background story of most main characters in these Korean police procedural dramas is that they have to live with the death of their spouses.
From the story build-up on how they handle the guilt and grief to become a badass cop again.
This drama follows Yeo Ji-hoon (Joo Sang-wook), a former ace detective who now works as a police academy instructor.
After his wife was brutally murdered, he gives up teaching to get back to the field. Ji-hoon is tasked to be the lead investigator of the special task force TEN.
The team includes a criminal profiler Nam Ye-ri (Jo An), a veteran cop Baek Do-shik (Kim Sang-ho) and Park Min-ho (Choi Woo-shik), who is the runner doing all the ground work.
TEN is specialised to tackle the most violent, hardcore crimes which usually have less than a 10 per cent success rate of arrests.
3.Criminal Minds (2017)
Based on the American television Criminal Minds, this drama stars Lee Joon-gi, Son Hyun-joo, Moon Chae-won, Lee Sun-bin, Go Yoon and Kim Yeong-cheol.
It follows a group of highly trained profilers in the fictional National Criminal Investigation (NCI).
Unlike the American drama where the team travels in a jet, this Korean remake has its team travel around in a bus.
With only 20 episodes, the drama features the crimes and storyline from the first season of the American version.
4.Children of a Lesser God (2018)
Cheon Jae-in (Kang Ji-hwan) is an elite and genius detective. He can only sees facts, logic and numbers.
Meanwhile, Kim Dan (Kim Ok-bin) is a warm-hearted rookie detective who has a supernatural ability to see death.
Together, the two detectives work together to expose the corruption within a powerful organisation.
While Kang Ji-hwan was fighting crime in this drama, he found himself on the other side of the law in real life. On Dec 5, 2019, Ji-hwan was found guilty for the sexual assault of two of his agency’s female employees.
With so many cyber-crimes happening around the world, it is necessary to have a team specifically tackling them.
Phantom (2012) follows Detective Kim Woo-hyun (So Ji-sub) from the cyber investigations unit who finds himself in a cat-and-mouse game with faceless criminals in the cyber world.
This Korean police procedural drama takes on the criminal aspect of the cyber world which filled with mysteries, conspiracy and not forgetting the good old corruption.
6.Pied Piper (2016)
One of the most crucial part of a police investigation is the negotiation. Communicating especially with criminals requires skills and experiences even in real-life.
Pied Piper (2016) focuses on a police negotiation task force which specialises in tense, worst-case scenarios.
Their cases range from suicide, hostage situation to terrorist attacks.
The drama stars Shin Ha-kyun as lead negotiator Joo Sung-chan and Jo Yoon-hee as Inspector Yeo Myung-ha. Meanwhile, Yoon Hee-sung (Yoo Jun-sang) is the anchor of TNN Night News channel.
Here is another Korean police procedural drama about a detective whose spouse was killed by a serial killer.
Jang Hyuk plays Moo Jin-hyuk who was a popular detective with an impressive record of solving major cases. Things in his life spiralled downwards after his wife was murdered by a serial killer.
Meanwhile, Kang Kwon-joo (Lee Ha-na) is a policewoman gifted with perfect psycho-acoustic skills.
She was working at the emergency call centre when a murder case takes place and her policeman father was called to the scene.
At the scene, her father gets killed and Kwon-joo was listening in over the phone.
Three years later, both detectives come together to form a team to solve crimes. Both detectives have one thing in common; to catch the serial killer who took their loved ones.
Unlike most Korean police procedural dramas which end in one season, Voice was continued with another two seasons in 2018 and 2019.
In this drama, it is the female detective who is haunted by the death of a spouse.
Cha Soo-kyung (Go Hyun-jung) is the leader of Investigation Team 1 at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.
Years ago, a serial killer killed her fiance and got away with it. When a new murder case pops up resembling the old killer’s crime, Soo-kyung is appointed as the first female detective to head HIT or the Homicide Investigation Team.
Her work ethic often comes in conflict with the carefree, playboy district attorney Kim Jae-yoon (Ha Jung-woo).
Despite their differences, the duo makes a great crime-fighting team.
9.The Missing (2015)
One of the commonly seen character in any Korean police procedural dramas is a genius character.
There must be a character – be it the main or supporting character – that is a genius or a graduate from an Ivy League college.
In The Missing (2015), the genius in the drama is Gil Soo-hyun (Kim Kang-woo) who entered Harvard at the age of 10.
After working for the FBI for a decade, he return to South Korea. There, he is assigned to lead a special missing persons task force.
He is assigned to a partner, Oh Dae-young (Park Hee-son) who is an experienced detective. Unlike Soo-hyun who is analytical, Dae-young is more into his gut feeling kind of a guy.
What happen if these two opposite characters collide when solving cases of missing persons?
This television series is definitely one of the must-watch Korean dramas of all time. It received widespread acclaim not only for its storyline, but also for its performances.
On top of that, it is one of the highest-rated dramas in Korean cable television history.
What makes the drama so intriguing to watch is that the crimes were inspired by real-life cases in South Korea.
For example, its first episode featured a kidnapping case was inspired by the 1997 Park Chorong Bitnari Kidnapping Murder Case.
Speaking of real-life cases, the drama, of course, could not leave out the infamous Hwaseong Serial Murders. The case inspired the second episode of Signal (2016).
Unlike most of the Korean police procedural dramas on this list, Signal has a dose of fantasy in it.
The plot circles around a mysterious walkie talkie which allows a detective in the year 1986 to communicate with a cold case profiler from 2015.
It stars Lee Je-hoon, Kim Hye-soo and Cho Jin-woong.