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15 Asian Dramas to Watch in 2nd Half of 2023

Written by YumCha! Editorial Team Tell a Friend

With the second half of 2023 well underway, we've highlighted 15 new and highly anticipated Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Thai dramas to enjoy throughout the rest of the year!

A Time Called You

A Time Called You (South Korea)

Release Date: September 8 (Netflix)

Korea's remake of the acclaimed Taiwan time-slip fantasy series Someday or One Day is set to be released on Netflix in early September. In A Time Called You, Ahn Hyo Seop, Jeon Yeo Been and Kang Hoon portray Greg Hsu, Alice Ko and Patrick Shih's characters from the original work, respectively. Living through grief ever since the passing of her boyfriend Yeon Jun (Ahn Hyo Seop), Jun Hee (Jeon Yeo Been) receives a cassette tape that will "take her to her happiest moment." As the music plays, she wakes up in the body of high schooler Min Ju, and serendipitously encounters another person like Yeon Jun. She travels back and forth between year 1998 and 2023 to chase after the love she's been missing all those years. As revealed in the trailer, the cassette tape song (which is the soul of the original drama) is from late singer Seo Ji Won's second album Tears.

A Town Without Seasons

A Town Without Seasons (Japan)

Release Date: August 9 (Disney+)

Twelve years after the great disaster, a temporary housing settlement still remains, though not for much longer. Tanaka Shinsuke (Ikematsu Sosuke) moves into the shanty town with his cat, and gets paid to email in stories about the eccentric residents. The quirky and moving Japanese slice-of-life mini-series is based on Yamamoto Shugoro's classic 1962 novel that also inspired Kurosawa's Dodes'ka-den. Though the source material dates back over half a century, this adaptation feels both timeless and timely in its warm and good-humored look at interactions in a small community and life after loss. With maverick writer-director Kudo Kankuro bringing the story to present day, A Town Without Seasons is characteristically full of oddball characters, surreal moments and dry humor, all underlined with a nagging sense of melancholy and transience.

D.P. 2

D.P. 2 (South Korea)

Release Date: July 28 (Netflix)

"Nothing will ever change unless we do something." Netflix's Korean army series D.P., which was named Best Drama at the 58th Baeksang Arts Awards, comes back with a second season! The original cast of Jung Hae In, Koo Kyo Hwan, Kim Sung Kyun and Son Seok Goo star in Season 2 along with Kim Ji Hyun as the Lieutenant Colonel and a special appearance by Ji Jin Hee as the General Officer. Season 1's director Han Jun Hee directed and co-wrote the screenplay with Kim Bo Tong, the creator of D.P.'s original webtoon. D.P. 2 follows Private Ahn Joon Ho (Jung Hae In) and Corporal Han Ho Yeol (Koo Kyo Hwan) as they continue to catch deserters and unravel more brutal violence and bullying cases in the military.

The First Responders 2

The First Responders 2 (South Korea)

Release Date: August 4 (SBS/Disney+)

Kim Rae Won, Son Ho Joon and Gong Seung Yeon again lead Season 2 of the crime thriller The First Responders, whose Korean title has been renamed The Police Station Next To The Fire Station and The National Forensic Service! Director Shin Kyung Soo and screenwriter Min Ji Eun, who both worked on Season 1 as well as the Partners of Justice series, collaborate for the drama again. Police detective Jin Ho Gae (Kim Rae Won), firefighter Son Ho Jun (Bong Do Jin) and paramedic Song Seol (Gong Seung Yeon) join forces to save lives and investigate at emergency crime scenes with the help of the National Forensic Service (NFS) led by Yoon Hong (Son Ji Yoon). Oh Eui Shik, who appeared in Crash Course in Romance and Big Mouth, joins the cast as a new character from the NFS. Season 2 continues the mystery of a serial arson case in the city of Taewon.

Laws of Attraction

Laws of Attraction (Thailand)

Release Date: July 15 (Channel One 31)

As BL dramas become increasingly mainstream in Thailand, more broadcasters and established actors are venturing into the genre. Last year, Channel One 31 jumped into the game with To Sir, With Love, a dramarific period lakorn with a dash of forbidden pure love. Stars Jam Rachata and Film Thanapat reunite this year in the modern crime romance thriller Laws of Attraction that is serving up sizzling chemistry and suspense action. Jam plays a taekwondo teacher whose niece is killed in a car accident apparently caused by the reckless son of a shady politician. Film is a cunning lawyer with a Cheshire smile who takes up their case. The two are drawn into a tangle of danger and deception as they navigate the murky case that's more than meets the eye, and their undeniable attraction for each other.

The Longest Promise

The Longest Promise (Mainland China)

Release Date: July 2 (Tencent/WeTV)

Based on a novel by Cang Yue, The Longest Promise gives you everything you want from a xianxia costume fantasy drama: magical cultivation, fantastical people and beasts, power struggle, master-disciple romance and battles against darkness, all backdropped by beautifully divine settings. Perhaps most importantly for many Chinese drama fans, it has Xiao Zhan. The popular actor is ethereal as the tragic prince Shi Ying who is forced to flee the palace and assume a new identity. Taking the path of cultivation under his revenge-bent mentor (Han Dong), Shi Ying grows up into a master of martial and mystical arts. His strict, otherworldly existence is shaken by Ren Min as spunky princess Zhu Yan who becomes his disciple.

Lost You Forever

Lost You Forever (Mainland China)

Release Date: July 24 (Tencent/WeTV)

After a somewhat lackluster (and unlucky) run of dramas in the past few years, Yang Zi finally gets to shine with this hit costume fantasy series based on novelist Tong Hua's Chang Xiang Si trilogy. The first season sets the magical stage for lovable princess Jiu Yao, who is left on her own after her mother dies in battle. Escaping to the mortal world, she disguises herself as a man and becomes a doctor serving the local folks. All is peaceful until she begins to cross paths with various people who will lead this lost princess back to her royal past: a mysterious injured man (Deng Wei) whom she rescues, a charismatic demon (Tan Jianci) who takes an interest in her, and her devoted cousin (Zhang Wanyi) who has been searching for her for centuries.


Moving (South Korea)

Release Date: August 9 (Disney+)

Disney+'s highly anticipated original Korean series Moving is led by a star-studded cast including Ryu Seung Ryong, Han Hyo Joo, Jo In Sung, Cha Tae Hyun, Ryoo Seung Bum, Kim Sung Kyun, Kim Shin Rok, Kim Hee Won, Park Hee Soon and Kwak Sun Young. Based on the same-titled webtoon by Kang Full, the sci-fi fantasy actioner revolves around children who are hiding their superpowers and their parents who are hiding painful pasts and secrets, and how they get through huge dangers together. Lee Jung Ha, Go Youn Jung and Kim Do Hoon lead the series as three teenagers with special abilities who happen to gather in the same high school. Park In Je (co-director of Kingdom Season 2) helms the supernatural family drama.

 Mysterious Lotus Casebook

Mysterious Lotus Casebook (Mainland China)

Release Date: July 23 (iQiyi)

Based on a novel by Teng Ping, Mysterious Lotus Casebook is a delightful take on the wuxia drama with detective mystery, buddy comedy and revenge redemption arcs thrown in. Love and Redemption's Cheng Yi plays legendary martial arts prodigy Li Xiangyi, who established his own clan at age 17 and became the top swordsman of the pugilistic world by age 20. However, that's all in the past. Disappearing after a battle with Di Feisheng (Xiao Shunyao) ten years ago, he now lives a drifter's life as Li Lianhua, a doctor who becomes famous despite having no actual medical skills. Heavenly Sword and Dragon Slaying Sabre's Joseph Zeng plays a rich kid who idolizes Li Xiangyi and wants to be a detective. Meeting by chance, they team up to solve strange mysteries while bickering every step of the way.

One Day

One Day (Japan)

Release Date: October (Fuji TV)

Pulling together a top-drawer cast led by Ninomiya Kazunari, Nakatani Miki and Osawa Takao, Fuji TV's fall 2023 drama One Day is described as a story of mystery, love and miracles over the course of one particular day, Christmas Eve. Ninomiya Kazunari plays an amnesiac man who wakes up near a dead body and goes on the run as he searches for clues to the shooting incident and his lost memories. Osawa Takao plays a lonely chef who is working tirelessly on Christmas Eve when a stranger suddenly breaks into his restaurant. Nakatani Miki plays a TV newscaster who heads to the scene of the shooting to chase her last news story. The fates of the three originally unrelated main characters gradually intertwine on this one day. The series is written by Japan Academy Prize-winning screenwriter Tokunaga Yuichi (Fly Me to the Saitama) and directed by hitmaker Suzuki Masayuki (Hero).


Spark (Hong Kong)

Release Date: TBA (ViuTV)

ViuTV has been bringing Hong Kong viewers the most talked-about sports dramas in recent years, from 2020's We are the Littles to last year's I SWIM and We Got Game. This year, they take on the world of ice hockey in the teen drama Sparks! Directed by Anthony Yan (Vampire Cleanup Department), the drama sees MIRROR's Ian Chan and Anson Kong setting sparks as opponents on the ice hockey rink. Team Sparks fell apart after losing their diligent captain Pak Wai to an accident. Encouraged by a fan, Pak Wai's brother Chin Fan (Ian Chan) is determined to rebuild the team again for his late sibling. Competing again against strong rival Team Storm led by Tin Shing (Anson Kong), Team Sparks gets roundly defeated but the passion in their hearts is rekindled. The game is on!

Turn To Me, Mukai-kun

Turn To Me, Mukai-kun (Japan)

Release Date: July 12 (NTV)

Cherry Magic! Thirty Years of Virginity Can Make You a Wizard?! star Akaso Eiji takes his first primetime leading role in the Japanese romantic comedy Turn To Me, Mukai-kun based on Nemu Yoko's manga Kocchi Muitte yo Mukai-kun. Akaso plays Satoru Mukai, an office worker who has been hopelessly single for ten years. He's determined to start a new relationship, but doesn't really know how. With each potential new girlfriend that appears, and the fumbles and misunderstandings that ensue, Mukai-kun realizes his own misguided assumptions and approaches to relationships – and begins to understand why his last girlfriend broke up with him ten years ago. Haru provides love advice – that she herself has difficulty following – as a new friend Mukai-kun meets. Both funny and perceptive, Turn To Me, Mukai-kun reveals the relatable challenges and differing perspectives in starting and maintaining a relationship.

The Uncanny Counter 2

The Uncanny Counter 2: Counter Punch (South Korea)

Release Date: July 29 (tvN/Netflix)

The phenomenal 2020 Korean series The Uncanny Counter returns with its sequel, The Uncanny Counter 2: Counter Punch, from the same writer and director of Season 1! Jo Byeong Kyu, Yoo Jun Sang, Kim Se Jeong, Yeom Hye Ran and Ahn Suk Hwan reprise their roles as "counters" who hunt down evil spirits from the afterlife along with their new teammate Yoo In Soo. Kang Ki Young, Kim Hieora and Kim Hyun Wook portray the main villains – a gang of demons who have soaked up the superpowers of several Chinese "counters." Jin Seon Kyu takes the role of Ju Seok, a hot-blooded firefighter who lost his wife to the villains, and seeks revenge.


VIVANT (Japan)

Release Date: July 16 (TBS)

Hanzawa Naoki director Fukuzawa Katsuo and star Sakai Masato reunite for TBS's crime action blockbuster VIVANT. This original story starts in the seemingly familiar territory of Sakai dealing with finances gone wrong, and then escalates alarmingly to international terrorism. Sakai plays Nogi Yusuke, a division chief in a corporation with energy projects in Balka Republic in Central Asia. When a large amount of money is incorrectly remitted to a local contractor, Nogi is on the chopping block for the error. He heads to Balka to recover the funds, but ends up getting left in the desert and then implicated in a terrorist attack. Packed with top actors including Abe Hiroshi, Nikaido Fumi, Matsuzaka Tori and Yakusho Koji, this ambitious series aims high with a record-setting production budget and a dense, twisty narrative filled with action, intrigue, psychodrama and a large-scale scope rare for Japanese television.

The Worst of Evil

The Worst of Evil (South Korea)

Release Date: September 27 (Disney+)

Ji Chang Wook and Wi Ha Joon lead the Disney+ original crime action series The Worst of Evil set for release in September. The Worst of Evil stars Ji Chang Wook as police Park Joon Mo, who infiltrates a massive criminal organization to investigate drug trafficking between Korea, China and Japan during the 1990s. Wi Ha Joon takes the role of Jung Gi Cheol who is the gang boss of the drug cartel, while Im Se Mi plays a narcotics officer who is also Park Joon Mo's wife. Director Han Dong Wook, who directed the film Man in Love, teams up with screenwriter Jang Min Suk (Local Hero) for this dark and thrilling drama.

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Published August 18, 2023

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