Drew is a Fantasy-LitRPG author and a blogger. He's also a pharmacist whose goal is to share with everyone the trials and joys of writing.
Why Read Korean Web Novels?
I won’t play a hypocrite about the pros of reading Korean web novels. I read for entertainment—even pleasure. The lessons I gain from novels are just a welcome plus, though sometimes an unexpected one. That's reason enough for someone like me, and maybe for you, too.
If I'm tired from the hustle—the endless grind—I read for a change. That is where web novels come in. I first read a web novel for a light diversion, then just kept reading them; years later, web novels have turned into an unstoppable hobby for me. They're a simple and effective way to help me chill out and pass the time.
Nowadays, English-translated Korean web novels have mesmerized a vast number of online readers and drawn a huge following. Their popularity is still rising rapidly. If you want to know why, how about trying out some the best web novels I've read?
So without further ado, here’s my list of the most impressive web novels from South Korea that you must read right now.
My Top 15 Binge-Worthy Korean Web Novels You Mustn’t Miss
- The Novel’s Extra by Jee Gab Song
- Second Coming of Gluttony by Ro Yu-jin
- Daddy, I Don’t Want to Marry by Heesu Hong
- The Great Storyteller by Im Han Baeg
- Dungeon Defense by Yoo Heonhwa
- Trash of the Count’s Family by Yoo Ryeo Han
- Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint by Sing-Shong
- God of Music by Lee Chang Yeon
- Everyone Else Is a Returnee by Toika
- Lucia by Skye
- Solo Leveling by Jang Sung-Lak
- SSS-Class Suicide Hunter by Shin Noah
- The Villain Wants to Live by Jee Gab Song
- Kidnapped Dragons by Yuzu
- The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor by Nam Heesung
1. The Novel’s Extra by Jee Gab Song
What would you do if you discovered yourself transmigrated into a novel you wrote? Worse, what if you were in the role of a normal bystander, a talentless mob of unknown origin. An extra. That’s the thought-provoking hook of The Novel Extra.
Reading how Kim Hajin, the main character (MC), struggles with his newfound world of monsters and heroes put me into a three-day binge mode. That’s how enamored I was when I first read this gem.
If you’re into superhero-isekai tropes spiced up with comedy and drama, then this web series might be for you.
My Rating: I’ll be happy to give this novel an 8/10 for its interesting concept and well-executed plot. And as a Lit-RPG fan, I love it. The novel was quite a novelty. I would even reread it from time to time
2. Second Coming of Gluttony by Ro Yu-jin
Seol Jihu is a gambling addict, and it ruined him so badly. His life, his family, relationships, and future. So regrets? He had tons of it. Thus left with no choice, he goes into a fantasy world of magic, and in the end, died filled with regret.
Yet, a twist of fate would give him a chance. Not a redo, but to send his regrets and emotions to his past self.
If you like epic fantasy Korean-style, Second Coming of Gluttony might be a top choice for your binge.
My Rating: A novel filled its gripping plot and character development. It has awesome world-building and eye-catching side characters. It was time well-spent reading this, so I’ll give it 8/10.
3. Daddy, I Don’t Want to Marry by Heesu Hong
Met with a gruesome end, Jubelian finds herself back in the past. The days when she was still stupid and poisonous. Given the chance to change her fate, she’d start redeeming herself. Righting her past mistakes while learning more about her once estranged father.
Daddy, I Don’t Want to Marry is not only your typical romance story but a story of redemption. If you don’t enjoy reading and are more of a visual reader, this novel also has a high-tier manhwa waiting for you to enjoy.
My Rating: I’ll give this Korean novel a 7/10 for its fulfilling plot twist that had me clutching my smartphone.
4. The Great Storyteller by Im Han Baeg
How interesting would it be if a struggling author suddenly has a second chance in life? Armed with his experiences, death even, how will he change? And what will he write?
The Great Storyteller isn’t just a simple second chance novel about success. But something more personal for those burning themselves for their crafts and passion.
If you’re tired of overpowered MCs, then this modern slice-of-life might be a good choice for you.
My Rating: Unlike the other web novels I have read, The Great Storyteller is very personal. So here’s an 8/10 for its likable, well-fleshed characters that have depth and humanity.
5. Dungeon Defense by Yoo Heonhwa
Join Dantalian, the Demon Lord of Many Faces, as he schemes through hordes of demon lords. Our MC is not a heroic nut job, but a master of manipulation. He fights not with swords and blades, but with his eloquent tongue and endless trickery.
Fair warning, folks, Dungeon Defense isn’t for the faint of heart. It is a grim, dark novel filled with death, schemes, betrayals, blood, and smartassery. But if you’re dead tired of testosterone-rich novels, then this story might be your perfect dose.
My Rating: Dungeon Defense was one hell of a refreshing read. A solid plot, well-done characters, and mind-churning schemes. A novel that could keep you on your toes. This rarity has to be a 9/10.
6. Trash of the Count’s Family by Yoo Ryeo Han
Kim Rok Soo, an orphan, transmigrates into the novel The Birth of a Hero. Not as the common underdog-and-because-of-that-I’m-gonna-punish-the-heaven-type. Instead, he takes over the body of Cale Henituse, a spoiled drunkard of a young noble.
His desire? To live a chill, slack life. But when did fate ever agree with the whims of transmigrated folks? Never!
My Rating: An 8/10. The series started slow but soon had me binging through the night. Trash of the Count’s Family is a more lighthearted isekai. But unlike its counterparts, this novel dealt with the tropes so well that I ignored the rules it broke.
7. Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint by Sing-Shong
Cliché. After reading through the last chapter of an unpopular post-apocalyptic novel, Kim Dokja finds himself at the end of the world. The twist? The apocalypse looked like how the same thousand-chapter novel he just read began.
Is Omniscient Reader’s Viewpoint good? Hell yeah! This is one of the best Korean web novels I have ever read. The MC’s journey had me tuned from night to dawn. That speaks a lot, right?
My Rating: A novel worth 9/10. The novel drives a fulfilling plot that would make your emotions go haywire. Add a cast of gripping characters that would make you ask the what-ifs. Spiced that up when you throw them a crazy end of the world setting. What else can I say? Binge it.
8. God of Music by Lee Chang Yeon
Kang Yoon, an unlucky music planner, meets his end after getting chased by loan sharks. But thanks to the great lord of genre fiction, he gets a second chance in life and one unique ability.
Armed with 10 years worth of knowledge, our MC will struggle again to climb the ladder. His goal? Simple. Change his life and the future of the stars he will handle for the better.
If you’re a K-pop fan tired of classic dog-eating-dog web novels, this goodie might be your go-to.
My Rating: God of Music is another example of a well-done trope. It is a funny, light, slice-of-life read. I’ll give the novel a 7/10 for its amusing characters and eye-catching take on the Korean showbiz industry.
9. Everyone Else Is a Returnee by Toika
Everyone Else Is a Returnee is all about Yu Illhan, an always left-out social outcast. He is so much of a social outcast that when the gods transported everyone to another world. They forgot him.
So what would you feel like if you discover you’re the only human left on the Earth? Worse, you’re forced to spend a thousand years alone on a lonely planet?
My Rating: I’ll give the web novel a 7/10. It has great world-building and funny character interactions. For those who like level-grinding novels, this novel is for you folks.
10. Lucia by Skye
After Lucia’s mother died, she soon discovers she was a princess. But one day, she dreams of her bleak future. A life of misery where she gets auctioned off as royalty.
Thus, Lucia seizes her chance, offering a marriage deal to an infamous Duke. Her goal is simple. Change her dreadful future.
Lucia is a great tale of romance, sprinkled with passion and redemption. I have never been a fan of shoujo web novels, but this novel is an exemption. Unlike the usual light romance trope, Lucia possesses a captivating, mature tone. But a warning, the story is R-18. So yeah, not for everyone folks. Go touch grass or I'll bonk you.
My Rating: I’ll give it a 9/10. The novel’s depth, unlike its counterparts, is a breath of fresh air. Mix it with a solid plot, and gripping character arcs, and you’d get a diamond.
11. Solo Leveling by Jang Sung-Lak
In a treacherous world of dungeons, hunters, and monsters, Sung Jinwoo faces the daunting challenge of surviving. For himself, his sister, and his bed-ridden mom.
But on one fateful day, after surviving a high-tier dungeon that wiped his entire party, he gained a mysterious power called the System. A classic trope that speaks for itself, right?
My Rating: Despite all the mad ravings about this novel, I’d be honest and give it 7/10. The novel wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t the best. Solo Leveling hits the right check spots for new readers. Simplicity, fulfilling arcs, and well-done tropes.
12. SSS-Class Suicide Hunter by Shin Noah
After a series of odd circumstances, Kim Gong-ja, a bitter and envious Korean man, gains the ability to copy skills from other hunters. Of course, with crazy consequences and limitations, which include death. Lots of it.
At first, I wasn’t sure what to make out of the story, but then the Heavenly Demon Arc came and blew my mind. Give it a chance and check if it’s up to your alley.
My Rating: The start of the novel was a bit iffy. However, the novel soon grew on me. With its funny characters and great pacing, the novel gets an 8/10. A trope done right. Worth reading.
13. The Villain Wants to Live by Jee Gab Song
In a cruel act of fate, Kim Woojin gets transported into the game he had been creating. The bad? He has taken over the body of the game’s infamous villain, Deculein von Grahan-Yukline. The worse? He will also inherit the villain’s messy blood debts, chilling infamy, and twisted relationships.
My Rating: Jee Gab Song strikes again with his masterful use of tropes, misdirection, and misunderstanding. The world-building? Stunning! The plot? Amazing! The characters had so much depth, it’s crazy. Add how the characters’ fates entwined like a complex web and you’d have a banger. So here, take my 9/10, please.
14. Kidnapped Dragons by Yuzu
Kidnapped Dragons, despite its title, is a heartwarming story about a regressor and dragons. And no, not that dragon. But humanoid, angsty, and unhappy teenage dragons.
His goal? Big. To prevent the looming apocalypse the dragons would cause in the future. How? Baby-sit and guide the dragonlings to become kind and safe dragons. For Earth’s sake!
My Rating: Kidnapped Dragons stunned me with its fluff and plot. The character development is top-notched. The MC’s journey to rediscover himself as he relived his life was a solid page-turner. I’m a sucker for this type of story, so have this 8/10.
15. The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor by Nam Heesung
Let’s end this list with the grandpa of Korean LitRPG web novels. The Legendary Moonlight Sculptor. My first ever Korean web novel.
The story of a cash-strapped, but still greedy main character Weed (not that weed). Join him on his journey to scam. I mean to earn money through the first-ever Virtual Reality MMORPG, Royal Road. Uh, I hope someone creates such technology in the real world fast.
My Rating: For the entire series, I’ll give it an 8/10. Great world-building. Check. Immersive and funny. Big check. Weed’s journey and his eccentric antics in the virtual world were so hilarious I had stomach cramps.
Despite years of reading Korean web novels, I trust there are still a lot of gems waiting to be read. So this list isn’t exhaustive. Treat it with a grain of salt.
Still, this list contains the best Korean serial fiction I had ever read. The must-reads that I would dare to recommend. With that said, choose one, read, and discover a new world.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Drew Agravante