Time travel always adds a level of fun and intrigue to any television show when the drama of the past or future is intermixed with the present. This is often seen in sci-fi TV shows and movies and even in K-dramas and there are countless shows to binge that tantalize fans with time travel themes.
For K-dramas, the past often involves the Joseon era, riddled with political distress, turmoil, and drama. In some cases, K-dramas get creative and use time travel to solve crimes, like a heinous murderer from the past. And some even have a bit of romance to satisfy all viewers.
10 Sisyphus: The Myth (2021): 7
This 2021 K-drama has some serious Terminator vibes to it, but it’s full of good laughs, color, and drama. Han Tae-Sul (Cho Seung-woo) is a talented engineer who is determined to uncover the real reason behind his older brother’s murder. If that wasn’t enough, the storyline introduces a character who travels from the future to his current time.
In the future, the world is dominated by gangs and military cliques. To survive, you need some serious combat skills. Gang Seo-Hae (Park Shin-Hye) is just the right warrior. She travels back in time to help Tae-Sul on his dangerous journey after learning key evidence about his brother’s death.
9 Familiar Wife (2018): 7.5
Romance and time travel? Yes, please. Marriage life hasn’t been easy for the main character, Joo-hyuk (Ji Sung). He’s been married for five years but under the immense stress of taking care of both of their parents and children while working. He’s also afraid of his wife’s angry outbursts.
One day, he encounters an old man on the subway who gives him two coins. In a turn of events, the coin sends him back in time. He’s no longer married and living a different life. Now he must decide whether or not to change this fate and rekindle his first love or get his old life back.
8 Rooftop Prince (2012): 7.8
Waking up one day in present-day 2012, while actually being from the Joseon era, is a lot. Rooftop Prince has a lot of storylines to process, but it’s well worth it. The crown prince and his two confidants find themselves on the rooftop of Park-ha’s (Han Ji-min) home. The prince realizes he’s time-traveled 300 years into the future.
To make things even more interesting, he sees the long-lost sister of Park-ha who is the spitting image of his late wife, who was found drowned. He’s convinced he will find the answers to his past in 2012 and poses as the grandson of a powerful CEO, who in reality was killed by another family member.
7 The King: Eternal Monarch (2020): 8.2
Fans are in for a treat with this K-drama. Not only does the show have a male lead character that’s boyfriend-worthy, but it’s full of riveting action and a story of parallel worlds. In the show, there are two co-existing realities: present-day South Korea and the Kingdom of Corea.
The now King witnessed his father’s murder as a child at the hands of his uncle. He discovers a doorway to the parallel world and uses it to stop his uncle from raising an army. Along the way, he learns who the mysterious figure was that saved his life, but the only way to keep the timeline intact is by traveling back to that exact moment in time.
6 Queen In-Hyun’s Man (2012): 8.5
A Joseon Dynasty scholar meets an aspiring actress in the year 2012. Add some political turmoil and romance and you have a binge-worthy drama in Queen In-Hyun’s Man. In 1694, a noble-born scholar is the only survivor after his family was murdered, but there’s a bigger story at play, as it might be a conspiracy going on as he supports the reinstatement of the disposed queen.
Due to a talisman, he time travels 300 years into the future and meets an actress. The actress lands her big break posing as the queen from his era in a new drama. They soon meet and he just might fall in love.
5 Signal (2016): 8.6
This K-drama has a storyline that not many shows have explored, but it works wonders in enthralling its audience. The police procedural show is also a thriller, as it was inspired by real-life crime stories and a murder case, and the show interweaves two different timelines.
While investigating a case, a cold case profiler discovers a walkie-talkie from the year 1989. He deduces that the walkie-talkie transcends time and allows him to communicate with a detective from 1989 for a short period of time. Together, they use their knowledge to stop heinous crimes from ever occurring.
4 Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016): 8.7
Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo is inarguably one of the most talked-about K-dramas and it has everything from time-travel and romance to drama and political intrigue, not to mention some of the most heart-wrenching scenes. Be wary of total solar eclipses, as it is responsible for a 25-year-old woman living in the 21st century to be transported back to the Goryeo Dynasty.
Waking up in a new identity, she is amongst the royal princes of the Wang family. She initially falls for one of the kind-hearted princes, but she is soon pulled in by the brooding and dark fourth prince. During her love story, she gets caught in the middle of political turmoil in a battle for the throne.
3 Tunnel (2017): 8.7
Tunnel was another K-drama inspired by a famous serial murder case from the ’80s and ’90s. Available on Netflix, the drama centers around a good detective in 1986. Finally finding true love and getting married, he takes on a serial homicide case. While chasing a suspect through a tunnel, he finds himself propelled 30 years into the future once he exits the tunnel through the other side.
And the murderer is still at large. Distraught over the idea of his life possibly going to ruins without him, he believes that catching the culprit will send him back to his own time. In this future-world, he meets familiar characters from his past and a few surprises.
2 Chicago Typewriter (2017): 8.8
The time travel concept in this drama is described as reincarnation. Three resistance fighters from the 1930s Japanese occupation of Korea find themselves in a new time period in which they are reincarnated as a writer, a fan, and a ghostwriter.
Switching between the 1930s and the 21st century, these three characters start to see parallels between both time periods. As they start to uncover the truth behind their pasts, they worry it might affect their current present. For fans, the show also interweaves a love story with a memorable romantic kiss.
1 Mr. Queen (2020): 8.8
Mr. Queen will have any viewers laughing from beginning to end, while also clutching onto their seats watching the drama unfold. It’s an unconventional story of time travel that works wonders. A hotshot male chef finds himself transported to the Joseon era, but not as himself but in the body of the Queen Cheorin (Shin Hye-sun) and there’s a mystery behind the queen’s supposed attempt at taking her own life.
Along the way, while trying to conform to the current period as a woman, he gets caught in the political turmoil of the kingdom and the king isn’t the goofy and undermined ruler everyone thinks he is. In reality, he’s cunning, mysterious, and seeking the truth behind those who wish to dethrone him.
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