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Top 15 Saddest Korean Dramas and Movies

Ma-re is an enthusiast writer about Korean and Japanese culture.


Tragic life with sad ending, sad love story, sad plot twist, friendship betrayal, and heartbreaking emotions. These are just some of the characteristics of a good 'sad' drama and movie that will surely burst you into a river of tears. There are many dramas and movies that can make us cry like a baby, but among them, there are the best ones that will not end until we get our eyes wet.

Do you like watching Korean dramas and movies with heavy and intense sadness, loneliness, tragic, and guilt? Then check this list to see what are the best ones that are sure to have so much feels.

15. Stairway to Heaven (2003 Drama)


This will surely make you cry. There's just so many factors why this drama is so heartbreaking. The story started off with Cha Song-joo and Han Jung-suh's puppy love that bloomed during their childhood days. They may be so cheesy and lovable, but deep inside is a scar after losing both each of their parents, which made Jung-suh's father to re-marry and have a daughter named Han Yoo-ri and son named Han Tae-hwa. The intense battle of love begins when Song-joo returns from America, which ended up into a series of accidents, memory loss, obsessions, being possessive, insanity, and finally, the blindness that almost caused the two leads to be tearfully apart. Choi Ji Woo and Kwon Sang Woo's performance convinced us of the difficulties that the characters have been through, and seeing them cry will break your heart into many pieces. (Plus, the OSTs are so full of feels!)


  • Kwon Sang-woo as Cha Song-joo
  • Choi Ji-woo as Han Jung-suh / Kim Ji-soo
  • Shin Hyun-joon as Han Tae-hwa / Han Chul-soo
  • Kim Tae-hee as Han Yoo-ri

14. A Thousand Days' Promise (2011 Drama)


How can you not cry when all the good memories that are precious to you is slowly being taken away? Prepare yourself for this 20 episodes of hardcore melodrama. The story itself revolved around Lee Seo-yeon's losing memory. Can you imagine how sad it is when we lose the memory of someone we love? That's exactly how she laments every moment she tries to recall everything. Just how painful is it to be forgotten and to forgot? Pretty much the case, those who have dealt with Alzheimer's disease and Dementia knows how hurtful it is to see your loved one struggle that way. Also, Kim Rae Won's heartbreaking martyrdom in loving Seo-yeon unconditionally is so tearful.


  • Kim Rae Won as Park Ji Hyung
  • Soo Ae as Lee Seo Yeon
  • Lee Sang Woo as Jang Jae Min
  • Jung Yoo Mi as Noh Hyang Ki

13. Train to Busan (2016 Movie)


Although this is not originally meant for melodrama, this disastrous zombie apocalypse horror movie is also known to have break so many hearts, thanks to Seok-woo's sacrifice and death in the end. Yes, it is scary, intense, and horrifying at first, as the zombies chase after the living people like hungry monsters. But who would've thought that Seok-woo will die? He barely survived the fear of dying in the hands of the zombies after being betrayed by Yon-suk and the other passengers as they deliberately block the survivors from entering. Seeing him as he sacrifice himself to protect his daughter is so painful to watch. Also, the pregnant woman Seong-kyeong bears the burden of being a single mom after the death of his husband. The scene when Seong-kyeong and Su-an walks in the tunnel while Su-an sing and cry at the ending is truly a dramatic masterpiece.


  • Gong Yoo as Seok-woo
  • Ma Dong-seok as Sang-hwa
  • Jung Yu-mi as Seong-kyeong
  • Kim Su-an as Soo-an

12. Good Doctor (2013 Drama)


A medical melodrama with so much feels. This 20-episode drama will make you cry for each episode. You can't help but sympathize with Park Shi-on, an autistic savant who enters the field of pediatric surgery as a resident. If intelligent is all that he needs, it wouldn't be a problem for him. But his mental incapacity brought him conflict from his peers and patients, who view him as childlike and unreliable. He also thinks that he is not qualified to be a man for his crush, Dr. Cha Yoon-seo. He confessed: If I were a better person, I would have been a better man for you who can comfort you and make you happy. (I swear you'll want to hug him and pat his back) Shi-on being hurt physically, emotionally, and mentally is so heart-wrenching. Another heartbreaking line of Shi-on is when he was asked in Ep. 1 why he wanted to be a doctor, and he said that it's because of his brother and bunny. Awww cute!


  • Joo Won as Park Shi-on
  • Moon Chae-won as Cha Yoon-seo
  • Joo Sang-wook as Kim Do-han
  • Kim Min-seo as Yoo Chae-kyung

11. The Innocent Man (2012 Drama)


This is not just a melodrama with sad story. It is more interesting because of revenge and surprising plot twist. You wouldn't believe that Kang Ma-ru, a man who was once lovely and adorable will turn into a fierce one after being betrayed and tasting defeat. The turning of events and scenes are simply mind-blowing, though not all are perfect, but you'll love the double memory loss and double threats, which sometimes end up into series of pain, heartbreak, anger, and frustration. As we all know, Song Joong-ki is such a cutie, but in this drama, he can turn from cute to scary, which shows how deeply immense he is in Ma-ru's character. Han Jae-hee's character is also well portrayed as a very evil woman that you'd like to see her struggling so much so that we can all get our revenge on her! Can we all throw some rocks right in her face? Grrrr! This means Park Si-yeon did a really great job.


  • Song Joong-ki as Kang Ma-ru
  • Moon Chae-won as Seo Eun-gi
  • Park Si-yeon as Han Jae-hee

10. Secret Garden (2010 Drama)


This show will make the butterflies in your stomach fly at once. Secret Garden is simply sweet, cute, funny, and lovely. At one moment you will laugh, but later you'll have your tears rolling down in your cheeks. Gil Ra-im and Kim Joo-won's modern-day Cinderella story is so heartwarming. As we see a transformation in Joo-won's character from a rich, self-centered upper-class snob, unable to love others, into a regular guy, it makes us feel great. With such unique story line of modern fairy tale and the harsh reality, it was sure hardcore for everyone who watched the whole series. Too bad this drama is not forever, although many fans wouldn't want this drama to end.


  • Ha Ji-won as Gil Ra-im
  • Hyun Bin as Kim Joo-won
  • Yoon Sang-hyun as Choi Woo-young
  • Kim Sa Rang as Yoon Seul

9. Iris (2009 Drama)


A spy drama with intense action, rushed adrenaline, and mind-blowing plot twists. Although this is a drama of action, you can't help but feel sad while watching this, especially when your favorite character dies (yes, they die). But what makes this drama really sad is the ending! I bet that if you finish watching this, you'll find the ending very sad. Some of your favorite characters are killed already, and somehow you'll be confused as to how the characters ended up acting that way. Sa Woo’s death was pretty horrifying, it depicts so much pain. you can feel Hyun-jun's devastation. And, even the main character Hyun-jun is dead (I can't believe he died) One of the saddest line by Hyun-jun is when Sa Woo died. “I know your feelings. You don’t need to strain yourself to say it. I never once doubted your true feelings, Sa Woo, even till the end. I know all your feelings, Sa Woo. I know.” Everything in the end is just sad.


  • Lee Byung-hun as Kim Hyun-jun
  • Kim Tae-hee as Choi Seung-hee
  • Jung Joon-ho as Jin Sa-woo
  • Kim Seung-woo as Park Cheol-young

8. The Princess' Man


We are all grieved by the deaths of the most famous star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. And I'm sure you'll get the same feeling as you watch this melodramatic historical romance drama. Since when did love became a crime? And what's in a name that blocks the pathway of their relationship? Featuring the forbidden love story of Lee Se-ryung and Kim Seung-yoo will bring tears in your eyes. This drama has sad love story and sad ending (though they didn't die in the end like Romeo and Juliet). The ending is so painful to watch, as Lee Se-ryung thinks that her beloved is already dead. But thank goodness, he didn't die, but he lost his sight. In the end, Seung-yoo said, "Although I lost my sight, I have retrieved my heart. Although I was unable to get revenge, I gained you instead."


  • Moon Chae-won as Lee Se-ryung
  • Park Si-hoo as Kim Seung-yoo
  • Kim Yeong-cheol as Grand Prince Suyang
  • Hong Soo-hyun as Princess Kyunghye

7. 49 days (2011 Drama)


49 days has a bittersweet story, with a touching kind of feel and a deep attachment to the viewers. This drama makes it seem that even though we might regret leaving and being left behind, death isn’t as horrible as it seems, even if we leave it before we are completely ready. It unique theme explores fate, exorcism, and other spiritual topics. Inspired by the Korean Shamanism "Bardo" that a soul usually wanders the earth for 49 days and then moves on to the next life, this drama shows true love, forgiveness, resurrection, and loving the enemy. Simply sad, tearful, and melancholy.


  • Nam Gyu-ri as Shin Ji-hyun
  • Jo Hyun-jae as Han Kang
  • Bae Soo-bin as Kang Min-ho
  • Jung Il-woo as Scheduler/Song Yi-soo[
  • Seo Ji-hye as Shin In-jung

6. A Werewolf Boy (2012 Movie)


A sad story about Kim Sun-yi's teenage days in a country home with a feral werewolf boy. At first, it is not a sad story at all. It makes you feel curious about the true nature of Cheol-su, the feral werewolf boy that Sun-yi found near their house. But as the story goes, you'll fell in love with Cheol-su's innocence. You can't help but give love to the adorable Song Joong-ki while acting like a puppy, begging for Park Bo-young's hand to pet him. But their happy memories doesn't last forever, because it was revealed that Cheol-su is dangerous, and the folks threatened him to stay away, which caused Sun-yi and Cheol-su to be apart. But what's more heartbreaking is when Cheol-su said 'Don't go.' Indeed, one word can simply make our tears stream down like a river. What a sad ending.


  • Song Joong-ki - Cheol-su
  • Park Bo-young - young Kim Sun-yi / Eun-joo
  • Jang Young-nam - Sun-yi's mother
  • Yoo Yeon-seok - Ji-tae

5. Bridal Mask (2012 Drama)


A story of Korea's hero in a life full of tragedy. Set in the 1930's where Seoul is under Imperial Japanese rule, a Korean detective named Lee Kang-to works with the Japanese police to capture “Bridal Mask,” a mysterious freedom fighter who fights against Japanese. This drama shows that fighting for freedom needs a lot of sacrifice, and to be a hero, you must lose something important. Kang-to lost his brother, mother, girlfriend, best friend, and numerous comrades just to protect the independence that Bridal Mask had been dying to save. It's just so sad to see that he had to go with all those pain. And if you're truly sympathizing, you'll feel burdened by the responsibility that Kang-to had to carry in his shoulders. No wonder why he cried like insane in Episode 6! No doubt, this is full of tragic, sadness, betrayal, and pain.


  • Joo Won as Lee Kang-to/Sato Hiroshi
  • Jin Se-yeon as Oh Mok-dan
  • Park Ki-woong as Kimura Shunji
  • Han Chae-ah as Ueno Rie

4. Empress Ki (2013 Drama)


No matter how tough-looking a woman is, she will always be fragile at heart. She might be powerful, politically greedy, and merciless, but deep inside, her heart beats only for one man. This is the story of Ki Seung-nyang, a Goryeo-born woman who ascends to power despite the restrictions of the era's class system, and later marries Toghon Temür (Emperor of Mongol Empire) to become an empress of the Yuan dynasty, instead of her first love, Wang Yu. With intense drama, heavy emotions, and amazing performance, we were able to see the sadness in Empress Ki's eyes. We saw what she honestly feel, despite securing a powerful figure. She may be an ambitious woman, but she remains weak when it comes to love.


  • Ha Ji-won - Ki Seung-nyang
  • Joo Jin-mo - Wang Yoo
  • Ji Chang-wook - Toghon Temür
  • Jin Yi-han - Tal Tal
  • Baek Jin-hee - Tanashiri

3. I’m Sorry, I Love You (2004 Drama)


A 16-episode drama that will make you cry for each episode. This story is about a man named Cha Moo-hyuk and his tragic life. All the way, he thought that he was abandoned, but later founds out the truth that mother had had an affair with a married man. In addition to that terrific revelation, he is accidentally shot twice in the head when someone attempts an assassination on his ex-girlfriend's husband. The doctor saves him but can only remove one bullet, and he has no longer than a year to live. But the most tear-jerking part is when Moo-hyuk kills himself in a dramatic motorcycle accident so that his heart could be transplanted into his beloved, and when the girl found the truth, she lies down on the grave and sleep peacefully. She dies there next to a small red bottle, leading the viewer to believe she committed suicide by drinking poison.


  • So Ji-sub as Cha Moo-hyuk
  • Im Soo-jung as Song Eun-chae
  • Jung Kyung-ho as Choi Yoon
  • Seo Ji-young as Kang Min-joo
  • Lee Hye-young as Oh Deul-hee

2. The Throne (2015 Movie)


When it comes to sad genre, family-related conflicts never fails to make us cry. One of the most tragic story in Korean history is the death of Crown Prince Sado, under the hands of his father, King Yeongjo. There's a two side for this story: A son begging for a father's love and affection, and a father teaching his son to become a competent king. Just who among them is right and wrong? We simply can't tell, because the crown prince had been longing to feel a fatherly love from the king, but all he gets is scolding and humiliation. The film is essentially a portrayal of a power struggle between a narcissistic father and his emotionally abused son, who initially strives to earn his father's love and admiration, but rebels against his father once he realizes that he can never please his father nor truly earn his respect. The power-hungriness, contempt, violence, and the narcissistic need to subjugate and humiliate is made quite evident in the interactions of the king with his son. It makes us feel so sad. Just why do they have to live like this? Why can't they show for once how they love each other? Sure enough, the ending of the film is the most tragic father and son scene ever.


  • Song Kang-ho as King Yeongjo
  • Yoo Ah-in as Crown Prince Sado
  • Moon Geun-young as Lady Hyegyeong
  • Kim Hae-sook as Queen Inwon

1. Miracle in Cell no. 7 (2013 Movie)


How many bottles of tears can you make, when you know your father loves you more than he loved himself? A sad story of a father's sacrifice and being a victim of injustice, Miracle in Cell No. 7 became so popular as one of the most tear-jerking movies of all time. The film follows the story of Lee Yong-go, a mentally impaired father with the intellect of a six-year-old, who lives in a run-down house along with his daughter of the same age, Ye-sung. He was mistaken as a molester after trying to save a girl after an accident. Yong-go is falsely accused of the abduction, murder, and rape of a minor. The police quickly took advantage of his disability and forced him to admit committing the crimes, while ignoring exonerating evidence. Yong-go, who is sentenced to death, is imprisoned and assigned to Cell No. 7, the harshest cell in a maximum security prison. Although the father and daughter scenes were heartwarming, no one can deny the fact that it is so tearful when Yong-go is sentenced to death, and a little girl crying behind the jail bars makes our heart aches. But we're all helpless, just like the child, Ye-sung, and no matter how loud we shout or cry, Yong-go will never be saved.


  • Ryu Seung-ryong as Lee Yong-gu
  • Kal So-won as Ye-sung (Child)
  • Park Shin-hye as Ye-sung (Adult)

That's it!

Did we miss your saddest Korean drama and movie? Recommend them in the comment below, or vote for your favorite in the poll.

© 2016 Mare-sensei


JG on May 13, 2020:

Chocolate and Hi Bye Mamma !

Nir on March 05, 2020:

49 days is one of my most favorite ever

john on January 20, 2020:

uncontrobally fond should be included too!!

sara on November 16, 2019:

Tree of Heaven is one of the most saddest dramas I've ever watched! it should definitely be on there!!

Perera on August 13, 2019:

Moon lovers: Scarlet heart ryeo must be included too.

KR on June 07, 2019:

I'm surprised Endless Love isn't here, A Rosy Life and Scarlet Heart !!

Samara on March 25, 2018:

What about my rosy life i swear man it dried me out of my tears after it icouldn't watch any korean drama for a while.

diva on May 26, 2017:

what about A Love To Kill why is not on the list this drama is one of the saddest drama ever i almost cry every episode.

Autumn on April 25, 2017:

Why Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart is not on the list? It is the saddest yet the best korean drama I have ever watched. It was not even included in the list of best historical drama. This drama made the viewers fall in love, laugh and cry. In every episodes we joined the characters in every joy and sufferings. It is sad to know that Moon Lovers was underrated in Korea. Hey! It is highly recognized internationally!

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