With one blood-filled season, Squid Game gave fans of K-dramas another fantastic show to obsess over and brought in new watchers to the genre. Each episode kept viewers coming back for more, waiting to see which players would live to see the next round of the children’s games with a deadly twist. Like the VIPs who bet on select players, fans had favorites too — from the kind and sometimes frustrating Gi-hun to the cunning and traitorous Sang-woo.
Although the first season of Squid Game ended on a cliffhanger, with Gi-hun turning back to hunt down the organizers of the game, a second season is yet to be confirmed or announced. For newbies to the K-drama world and established fans of the genre looking for something to watch until a second season airs, there are several other dramas with similar plotlines, themes, and characters that can fill the gap.
After passing a hidden camera audition, Nam Da-Jung gets an invitation to a reality show called Liar Game. In the game, the players are pitted against each other in psychological warfare until only one of them remains to claim the grand prize of 10 billion won.
In Liar Game, Nam Da-Jung is lured into the game by the temptation of getting easy money to pay off her debts. It’s similar to Squid Game in this aspect but in this game, losers aren’t brutally killed, so it’s the perfect option for viewers who want something similar, but with a lot less blood and death. The K-drama version currently only has one season with 12 episodes, but the Japanese TV drama series of the same name already has two seasons.
While the King of Joseon is severely ill, a mysterious message announcing his death appears on a billboard, stating that the Crown Prince, Lee Chang, should be crowned immediately. Doubting the announcement, Lee Chang sneaks into the palace to confirm the sad news for himself, but in his father’s place, he finds a monster. Throughout the first and second seasons, Lee Chang battles to protect the kingdom from the deadly plague while working on uncovering an ongoing coup.
Kingdom first aired on Netflix in 2019 and in addition to the two seasons, it has a special feature-length episode called “Kingdom: Ashin of the North” that’s set before the first season. Apart from the zombie apocalypse that separates it from Squid Game, the K-drama is a dark thriller that’s just as gripping, with a high-stakes race against time just like the deadly, timed games in Squid Game.
In Strangers From Hell, a cash-strapped Yoon Jong-woo moves into Eden Studio while interning at a company in Seoul. Although he’s put off by the odd residents and the condition of the place, his financial situation forces him to stay put and bear it. But then, even stranger things start happening, causing him to fear for his life.
One of the biggest lessons in Squid Game is that you can’t trust anyone and Strangers From Hell has a similar lesson in its plot, as well as the darkness, gore, and epic plot twists that fans love most about Squid Game. Currently, the show has one season consisting of 10 episodes.
What seems like an innocent online invitation from a friend to play an app game turns into a life or death situation for high school sophomore, Kaname Sudo. With no way out of this deadly game of kill or be killed, Kaname strives to find the Game Master and get rid of him once and for all.
Fans of anime will enjoy the Japanese drama, Darwin’s Game. It has the grit and thrill of Squid Game, lightened to some extent by its animated format. Regardless of this, the drama executes the survival game aspect well and keeps viewers on the edge of their seats throughout the 11 episodes that make up the first season.
Following a tragic accident that robbed him of his family, Cha Hyun-soo moves to a new apartment for a fresh start. Unfortunately, monsters start attacking the city and wiping out humanity. Before long, the apartment simultaneously becomes his prison and his refuge from the monsters lurking outside.
According to CBR, Sweet Home is based on a Korean webtoon by Kim Kan-bi and Hwang Young-chan. The show is a survival drama like Squid Game, but in this game of survival, money isn’t the price — getting out alive is. The show currently has a single season consisting of 10 episodes and fans are hoping for a second season to tie up the many cliffhangers from the first.
Alice In Borderland follows an unemployed and unhappy Ryohei Arisu who’s left behind in Tokyo with two of his friends after an odd light appears in the sky and everyone else disappears. Trapped in the abandoned city, Ryohei and his friends are forced to participate in dangerous games in order to survive and avoid execution by red lasers shot from the sky.
The highly underrated Netflix original J-drama holds the most similarities with Squid Game, from the plot to the overarching themes in the show. However, this one has more sci-fi themes that add a futuristic element to the thriller drama. The first season with eight episodes first aired on Netflix in December 2020 and the show has already been renewed for a second season.
D.P. follows the Korean military police in their pursuit of deserters and in the process, it delves into the heartbreaking aspects of military life that aren’t often talked about. The Netflix K-drama shines a light on bullying and hazing in the military and the impact of those on the soldiers’ mental health.
Similar to Squid Game, D.P. has a “survival of the fittest” theme where the weakest in the fold suffer the horrific consequences of not being able to keep up with the rest. The first season of the show has six episodes and a second season is yet to be confirmed by Netflix.
Beyond Evil starts out as a simple murder mystery until a string of deaths crops up, resembling the unsolved murder of a police detective’s sister, Yu-Yeon. Two detectives embark on a thrilling journey to catch the serial killer responsible and along the way, they start to doubt each other and everyone around them.
Apart from the main plot concerning the games, Squid Game had an interesting sub-plot that involved police detective, Jun-ho and his investigation of his brother’s disappearance. Fans who enjoyed that storyline will appreciate the story of Yu-Yeon’s murder investigation in Beyond Evil, as well as a convoluted plot that keeps viewers second-guessing everything they know.