Korean dramas have captured the hearts of viewers worldwide with their unique storytelling and captivating narratives.
One particular theme that has always had immense popularity is time travel.
These dramas skillfully weave together the complexities of the past, present, and future, inviting viewers on a thrilling journey through time.
The allure of time travel lies not only in the imaginative plotlines but also in the emotional depth it adds to the narratives.
Characters find themselves facing extraordinary circumstances as they grapple with the consequences of altering the course of history or attempting to rectify past mistakes.
This exploration of the human condition, accompanied by a touch of fantasy, creates a profound and thought-provoking viewing experience.
Moreover, K-dramas often infuse time travel narratives with elements of romance, heightening the emotional stakes and adding a layer of the dramatics that we’ve all come to know and love with K-dramas.
The intricate relationships that develop between characters across different time periods lend an air of mystery and longing, making these dramas all the more captivating.
In this article, we will delve into the world of K-dramas that feature time travel! So fasten your seatbelts as we embark on a thrilling journey through time and discover the enchanting realm of Korean dramas about time travel.
Mr. Queen, tvN (2020 – 2021)
Mr. Queen is a historical fantasy drama series that tells the story of Jang Bong-hwan, a womanizing, free-spirited chef working in the Blue House who gets transported back in time and finds himself inhabiting the body of Queen Cheorin in the Joseon dynasty.
Jang Bong-hwan must negotiate the complicated world of the royal court, where political intrigue and power struggles are common while coping with the confusion of being in a woman’s body.
In his role as Queen Cheorin, he is forced to rely on his resourcefulness and uncanny partnerships to survive after becoming embroiled in a plot to depose the king.
Queen and I, tvN (2012)
Queen and I is a fantasy romantic comedy-drama that revolves around Kim Bung-do, a scholar in the Joseon dynasty.
He is also one of the supporters of the rightful Queen In-Hyun, who had previously been deposed by a royal concubine.
A magical talisman somehow transports Bung-do to the present where he encounters the famous Queen In-hyun – who happens to just be a character in a new K-drama – and ends up falling in love with the actress who plays her, Choi Hee-jin.
However, their romance faces numerous challenges and Bong-gu must navigate the complexities of the unknown future, all while striving to find a way back to the past.
Splash Splash Love, MBC (2015)
Splash Splash Love is a Korean time-travel romantic drama that follows the story of Danbi, a high school student who, in a bid to escape a major mathematics exam, uses her time-travel abilities to transport herself to the Joseon era during a rainstorm.
Despite hating math in her own timeline, she becomes known as the smartest in this kingdom!
She and the King inexplicably fall in love, but Danbi makes the hard choice to return to her own time.
King Lee Do swears that he will find her again and once again during a rainstorm, the two are reunited through Lee’s reincarnation.
The King: Eternal Monarch, SBS TV (2020)
The King: Eternal Monarch is a fantasy romance drama that follows the parallel worlds of the modern-day Republic of Korea and the Kingdom of Corea.
Emperor Lee Gon of Corea discovers a portal connecting the two worlds and crosses over to find detective Jung Tae-eul, who is a familiar face associated with his father’s murder.
As they navigate their differences and the political tensions in both worlds, they uncover a dangerous conspiracy and strive to protect their loved ones.
Love blossoms between them, but they face immense challenges, including a power-hungry villain who seeks to exploit the portal for his own gain.
Tale of the Nine Tailed 1938, tvN (2023)
One of the most recently aired series on the list is Tale of the Nine Tailed 1938, which actually just recently wrapped up its 12th and final episode.
It serves as the second season of the popular supernatural fantasy drama Tale of the Nine Tailed, but the storyline is also somewhat of a prequel.
Following the events with Nam Ji-ah in the original series, protagonist Lee Yeon is transported back in time to 1938 and the then Japanese occupation of Korea.
Dr. Jin, MBC (2012)
Dr. Jin is a historical medical drama that follows the story of Jin Hyuk, a brilliant neurosurgeon in the present day who, because of his highly analytical mind, can sometimes be cold and indifferent.
After suffering from a personal tragedy involving his girlfriend, he gets transported back in time to the Joseon dynasty.
Struggling to adapt to the primitive medical practices of the era, Jin Hyuk uses his modern knowledge to save lives and make advancements in medicine and even medical devices.
He meets people who help him, but his actions soon start interfering with the course of history.
Rooftop Prince, SBS (2012)
In a complex story of intersecting fates and (possible) reincarnations across timelines and generations, Rooftop Prince weaves romance into comical misunderstandings and heartwarming moments.
Crown Prince Lee Gak and his three loyal servants time-travel from the Joseon era to present-day Seoul in a bid to solve the mysterious death of his beloved Crown Princess.
He poses as the lost grandson of a wealthy CEO – who he happens to resemble exactly – and encounters a woman who also looks exactly like his late wife.
Getting closer to her might help solve the mystery of her death back in their timeline, but he may end up hurting someone else along the way.
Live Up to Your Name, tvN (2017)
In the historical medical drama Live Up to Your Name, Heo Im is a respected doctor and acupuncturist in the Joseon era, tending to the poor by day and the nobles by night.
However, he is mistakenly charged with treason and supposedly killed. Instead he wakes up in present-day Seoul!
In the modern era, he meets and forms an unlikely partnership with Choi Yeon-kyung, a pragmatic and ambitious cardiothoracic surgeon.
Together, they navigate the clash between traditional and modern medical practices while overcoming personal obstacles and gradually developing a deep bond.
Faith, SBS TV (2012)
Also known as The Great Doctor, Faith begins in a historical setting where the King’s wife is fatally injured in an accident.
He orders his Captain of the Royal Guard, Choi Young, to enter a portal to retrieve the “Heaven’s Doctor” that they heard of in their legends.
Choi Young travels to modern-day Seoul and brings back Eunsoo, an actual doctor, who then saves the queen.
He had promised to bring her back once her duty was done, but they both soon get embroiled in schemes to keep Eunsoo in the past as more and more people become selfishly interested in her medical prowess.
Life on Mars, OCN (2018)
In a slightly different theme from the previous shows on the list, Life on Mars is a crime thriller series that follows a talented forensic scientist who also leads a crime investigation team.
After an accident, Taejoo awakens to find himself transported back to 1988 with no idea how he got there or why.
Now a detective in the past, he works with his current team to solve a serial murder case with the antiquated technology and methods of the era in order to also solve the mystery behind his time travel.
Signal, tvN (2016)
Signal is yet another crime thriller series that is less about actual physical time travel and more about a mysterious connection between past and present that stems from a seemingly innocuous object: a walkie-talkie.
Park Hae-young is a young criminal profiler from the present day who stumbles upon a mysterious walkie-talkie that helps him solve a murder cold case through its ability to connect him to a detective from the past, Lee Jae-han.
Through the walkie-talkie, they collaborate to solve cold cases and prevent crimes from happening, but consequences soon follow.
Times, OCN (2021)
Similar to Signal, OCN’s political thriller series Times connects the past and present, but this time through a phone and between two journalists: Jinwoo in 2015 and Jungin in 2020.
They work together at first to prevent the murder of Jungin’s father, who is the current president of South Korea.
Along the way, they uncover a dangerous conspiracy involving political corruption and manipulation of time and work together to fight against the forces that seek to control the future so they can preserve their nation’s tomorrow.
Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, SBS TV (2016)
Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo is a historical drama series based on a Chinese novel.
Like many of the previous shows on this list, the series features the protagonist (named Hajin) traveling way back in time but this time, to the Goryeo dynasty to the year 941.
On top of that, she finds herself in the body of Haesoo, one of the many male princes of the current ruling family who are all fighting for the crown.
As she navigates political rivalries and intense love triangles, Ha-jin discovers her own destiny and the tragic fate that awaits those around her.
Chicago Typewriter, tvN (2017)
In the popular fantasy drama series Chicago Typewriter, viewers will meet three central characters whose stories unfold over the course of time – specifically, two different timelines.
There’s Sejoo, a handsome and renowned writer with many fans who suffers from depression; Seol, a veterinarian and fan of Sejoo; and Jinoh, a talented ghostwriter.
As their paths converge, a mysterious typewriter helps them discover how their past lives were connected during the Japanese occupation of Korea in the 1930s, and how their friendship then crossed decades into the present.
Manhole, KBS2 (2017)
If we could time travel, we’d always be tempted to go back in time to prevent the things that we don’t want to happen.
In Manhole, Bongpil does just that when he discovers a manhole that allows him to travel back in time.
What does he do when he gets to the past? Well, anything to stop his dream girl’s wedding from happening!
However, his efforts often lead to hilarious and chaotic consequences.
Alongside his loyal friends, he navigates the challenges of altering the past and learns valuable lessons about love, friendship, and the importance of living in the present.
Hit the Top, KBS2 (2017)
Hit the Top is a combination of humor and nostalgia, and takes place primarily in the constantly evolving world of K-pop.
Back in the early 1990s, popular K-pop idol Hyunjae accidentally time travels to 2017, where he soon discovers that he had been in the news for mysteriously disappearing and subsequently presumed dead.
As he adjusts to his vastly different life in the future, he tries to investigate the cause of his time travel.
At the same time, an aspiring K-pop trainee crosses his path – one who he is more connected with than either of them expected.
My First Love, OCN (2018)
The South Korean romantic fantasy drama My First Love centers on Kang Shinwoo, a man in his 30s who goes back in time to his high school years.
Shin-woo runs into his younger self and his first love, Han Jisoo, when he travels back in time. Shin-woo makes an effort to rewrite their fate and win Jisoo’s affection in an effort to alter the tragic course of their history.
At the same time, Shinwoo discovers important lessons about love, regret, and the value of honoring the present as he wrestles with the repercussions of changing the past.
Tomorrow, with You, tvN (2017)
Tomorrow, with You is a romance series that follows the story of Yoo Sojoon, a time-traveling CEO of a real estate agency who can foresee his future through subway rides, and his wife Marin, a cheerful and optimistic amateur photographer.
To change his impending tragic fate that he accidentally glimpses, he marries Marin and together, they navigate the complexities of marriage while battling against their own personal struggles.
Eventually, Sojourn learns to truly love her amidst the consequences of altering destiny.
Marry Him If You Dare, KBS (2013)
Yet another romance drama on the list is KBS’ Marry Him If You Dare, which is set in the world of television broadcasting.
It follows the story of Na Mirae, a young woman who receives a mysterious opportunity to travel back in time to change her future.
The present Mirae is married to news anchor Kim Shin but travels to visit her 32-year-old self to prevent that from happening.
This causes her to go down a completely different path to really pursue the dreams she had always wanted.
Familiar Wife, tvN (2018)
The decisions we make impact the road our lives go down; one different decision could catapult things in a direction we never would have expected.
That’s what happens in Familiar Wife, a romantic fantasy drama that tells the story of Joohyuk, a married man who regrets the choices he made in his life.
One day, he encounters a mysterious opportunity to travel back in time and change his past.
In the blink of an eye, the life he knew with his wife Woojin and best friend Joonghoo is gone and his first love Hyewon comes back into the picture.
Go Back Couple, KBS2 (2017)
It’s complicated enough when a person goes back in time to change their previous decisions, but what happens when two people time travel together? Especially when these two people have a life together in the present?
Go Back Couple follows married couple Bando and Jinjoo, who are parents to a young boy and have become deeply unsatisfied with their lives – family, career, and relationship-wise.
Suddenly, the couple is transported 18 years back to when they were university students, where they make different choices and learn the enduring power of love.
The Light in Your Eyes, JTBC (2019)
The Light In Your Eyes is also known as Dazzling and emphasizes the importance of valuing the people who cause the lights in our eyes to shine throughout our lives.
In the drama series, we meet a young woman named Hyeja who possesses a special watch that allows her to manipulate time. However, using the watch causes her to age rapidly.
After having used it one too many times, Hyeja is now passing the time at an elderly care center where she meets Joonha, an employee who looks like the young Hyeja’s husband.
Nine: Nine Time Travels, tvN (2013)
A news anchor named Park Sunwoo finds nine magical incense items that enables him to travel 20 years back in time in the fantasy thriller drama entitled Nine: Nine Time Travels.
Sunwoo makes numerous trips to the past in an effort to change the tragic events that have occurred in his life, changing both his decisions and the course of history.
He soon learns, though, that every change has unintended consequences both for himself and those he loves around him, and he is forced to deal with the moral dilemmas that follow.
Sisyphus: The Myth, JTBC (2021)
In the dystopian science fiction series Sisyphus: The Myth, engineer and brilliant quantum physicist Taesul crosses paths with a mysterious woman from the future named Seohae.
In Seohae’s present, she explores a war-torn Korea and travels back in time to both prevent Taesul’s death and his invention of the time travel device she used.
Meanwhile, Taesul is trying to investigate the strange circumstances around his brother’s death and a time-travel conspiracy where he finds himself embroiled in a dangerous game where past, present, and future collide.
Tunnel, OCN (2017)
Some crimes can span decades, with the case passing through the hands of several teams and detectives without ever getting resolved.
In the crime thriller Tunnel, we begin the story in 1986 when Detective Park Gwangho is hot on the tail of a serial killer.
He chases the perpetrator through a tunnel and ends up in 2016 where the same killer is still on the loose and just beginning to continue his murder spree.
Gwangho teams up with Detective Kim Seonjae and criminal profiler Shin Jaeyi to race against time and apprehend the killer before they can commit further crimes.
Alice, SBS TV (2020)
Science fiction drama series Alice weaves a complex tale of love, fate, and the consequences of tampering with time.
The title is a reference to the time-traveling agency in 2050 that sends clients to the past in order to find peace and closure with dead loved ones and also makes sure these trips are done properly.
Viewers meet Alice agents Taeyi and Minhyuk as they travel almost 60 years to the past on a mission, but their personal lives get intertwined and affect the present – 2020.
My Perfect Stranger, KBS2 (2023)
My Perfect Stranger is one of the newest shows on this list, having just finished airing in June of this year!
The romance mystery tells a beautiful story of two strangers who time travel back to 1987.
Haejun is a seemingly aloof newscaster who is trying to seek the truth behind a serial killing case; Yoonyoung is an editor at a publishing company who wants to prevent the marriage of her parents.
They find themselves in the past and also discover that their goals are more intertwined than they think.
Kairos, MBC TV (2020)
Kairos is similar to a few other shows as the time travel occurs in parallel timelines that connect characters instead of actually traveling through time.
However, it is also a rare one as the timelines are only one month apart!
Seojin is a company executive whose daughter suddenly goes missing while Aeri is a young woman living one month behind and whose mother also disappears.
When Seojin and Aeri meet through a phone call, he asks the latter to help find his daughter while helping to find her mother in his future timeline.
God’s Gift: 14 Days, SBS (2014)
God’s Gift: 14 Days tells the story of Kim Soohyun, a distraught mother whose daughter is abducted and killed, who miraculously gets the chance to travel back to the two weeks prior to the tragedy.
Soohyun is in a race against time to find the kidnapper and stop terrible things from happening because she is determined to change the outcome.
She discovers that the truth is much more complicated and perilous than she had anticipated as she digs deeper into the murky secrets surrounding her daughter’s death.
365: Repeat The Year, MBC TV (2020)
If you could repeat the last year of your life, would you?
In the mystery thriller 365: Repeat The Year, 10 people are given the opportunity to reset their lives by going back one year in time.
They participate in a time-traveling experiment, hoping to change their fates and undo their regrets.
However, they soon realize that altering the past has dire consequences, and they must unravel the mystery behind the experiment to save their lives.
Reunited Worlds, SBS (2017)
In Reunited Worlds, a man named Sung Haesung mysteriously reappears 12 years after his untimely death.
While he hasn’t aged, he finds that everyone around him has changed and gone on with their lives.
Haesung reconnects with his childhood friends, including his first love Jung Jungwon, as he navigates the difficulties of his new reality.
Together, they learn the truth about his time travel and work to mend relationships, sever old wounds, and find happiness in the present.
See You in My 19th Life, tvN (2023)
See You in My 19th Life is based on the webtoon of the same name that was published on Naver.
It tells the story of Jieum, who has lived out several lifetimes through reincarnation and has the supernatural ability to remember all of her past lives.
Her 18th life is tragically cut short due to an accident and as she lives out her 19th, she knowingly heads down a path that will lead her to reconnect with a man from her previous life.
UPCOMING TIME TRAVEL K-DRAMAS
A Time Called You, Netflix (2023)
We’ve come across our first upcoming series on the list with the romance drama A Time Called You, which is scheduled to premiere on Netflix on September 8th!
It is an adaptation of a Taiwanese series and follows Junhee, who continues to mourn her boyfriend Yeonjun’s death one year later.
Somehow, she finds herself transported back to 1998 and in the body of an 18-year-old named Minju, who meets Siheon, a boy who looks like her deceased partner.
Marry My Husband (2023)
Another upcoming series is Marry My Husband, which is scheduled to premiere in 2023 as well but is still pretty early in the production stages!
Cast members have been set but it’s yet unclear which network will be broadcasting the show.
Marry My Husband follows Jiwon, described as a “time-limited woman”, who has the opportunity to go back 10 years.
In her new present, she dreams of exacting revenge on her cheating, murderous husband who killed her after having an affair with her best friend.
The Story of Park’s Marriage Contract, MBC (2023)
Finally, we come to the last show which has yet to premiere in the second half of 2023: The Story of Park’s Marriage Contract.
The fantasy romance series tells the story of Park Yeonwoo, a beautiful woman from the Joseon dynasty who loses her husband on the first night of their marriage.
She suddenly finds herself transported to the 21st century and under a modern marriage contract with Kang Taeha, who looks exactly like her husband.