In popular media and imagination, it would seem that the end of the world carries something of a bewildering fascination. For fans of this genre of apocalyptic exigency, our compilation of K-dramas like Duty After School will serve well.
Ethereal monsters, vampires and creatures hiding in our midst, supernatural forces out to get humanity, extraterrestrial encounters that make us question our realities, time travel, and its repercussions; there have been as many tropes as there have been fantasies.
What do people do to survive? What will the governments do? How do we survive and how does humanity mutate in the process? Are we prepared for imminent apocalypse or is it just a sci-fi fantasy that we are obsessed over?
Well, our Top 10 K-dramas like Duty After School, go the extra mile to articulate the answers to questions the likes of these. Grab your favorite snacks, settle down in your spot, and hit these dramas for a taste of something awe-inspiring!
Table of Contents
- Top 10 K-dramas Like Duty After School
- Honourable Mentions
- FAQs “K-dramas Like Duty After School”
Top 10 K-dramas Like Duty After School
Cast: Kim Kang Woo, Gong Seung Yeon, Lee Gi Kwang, Yeo Jin Goo
Genre: Sci-fi, Thriller, Mystery
Number of Episodes: 12
Say hello to Circle if you are all about alien enthusiasm after watching Duty After School. Yes, we have the classic UFO-hunting alien-abduction trope from the very first episode. But hold your horses people, because that’s not all we have. The alien arc will overlap with other dominant sci-fi tropes.
Like Duty After School, Circle does deal with a disaster that has befallen humanity. But it is entirely different in the nature of its treatment of said disaster and its plotline. Circle portrays a complex two-and-fro between two worlds separated by time (we are devolving into the present world set in the year 2017 and the future world of the year 2037).
We have two brothers who face an alien anomaly/encounter in their childhood, which leaves them fatherless, as their father disappears post that encounter.
Fast forward to the year 2037, the world is at the cusp of another kind of threat to humanity and its existence. Drumroll, please! And this different threat is none other than dystopia. The year 2037 is one where Korea has been separated into the General District and Smart District (um…The Black Knight vibe anyone?).
However, what makes this show a success is the meeting point of the two operating timelines and how they are tied together. Lest we spoil something, we will abstain from divulging more information. But Circle is curiosity served on a platter, with sci-fi action/theories, aliens, and different timelines; all blended to bring one hell of a story.
All of Us Are Dead (2022)
Cast: Park Ji Hoo, Yoon Chan Young, Lomon, Jo Yi Hyun
Genre: Sci-fi, Thriller, Horror
Number of Episodes: 12
Hey school kids and teachers! This drama is your cautionary tale! We are not even kidding. We take the zombie virus very seriously here! Think about all your biology lab experiments, dead lizards floating in watery solutions on display, and the voice of your teacher in the background telling you to be careful.
Yes. Be careful. Especially, if you have manufactured some sort of a zombie virus and then injected that into a lab rat. Like Duty After School, All of Us Are Dead is centered on the response and stories of school students, as they try to survive mortal danger.
Both shows feature teenagers faced with their teenage problems: puppy love, school crushes, grades and entrance tests, games, and friendships.
While both dramas Duty After School and All of Us Are Dead feature governmental and military intervention. However, the nature of such politico-military differs. In All of Us Are Dead, the governmental and ministerial intervention comes after the fact of zombie virus spreads.
The military works with governmental instructions to try and contain the virus. It’s not preemptive like in Duty After School. But, in both shows, there is a degree of ambivalence to the efforts of these institutions.
All of Us Are Dead follows how a group of students try to survive getting bitten by the infected students/staff in their school, as their lives are brutally interrupted by mortal danger.
Both shows deal with shocking moments and character deaths, that make it clear that the battle for your life is dangerous in both scenarios. If you want something like Duty After School in terms of pacing, suspense, and survival-like theme, don’t hesitate to pick this up.
Cast: Ryu Kyung Soo, Yoo Ah In, Won Jin Ah, Kim Hyun Joo
Genre: Supernatural, Mystery, Drama, Apocalyptic
Number of Episodes: 6
Think about fiendish-looking creatures from hell. The more ghoulish and intimidating the better. Think supernatural executioners of justice on your doorstep.
They call your name.
They give you a date.
Then they howl at you – that you are bound for hell.
That’s the world that Hellbound brings to life, a world clutched in fear and fanaticism. When so-called “messengers of hell” descend on the Earth to declare divine justice, there are cynics and believers. There is no escaping, there is no hiding. The only way you can pay for your sins it seems, is with your life.
In this context, it is the charismatic cult leader Jung Jin Soo who preaches what needs to be done through his group The New Truth, articulating a vocabulary of moral life and decisions. But the gospel of this cultist enigma is just the beginning of this grim mystery.
Like Duty After School, Hellbound articulates a world hit with sudden danger and threats to human life. Both shows deal with the hysteria this danger causes. But they diverge in the source of the hysteria, even though both result in the devastation of human life.
Both shows echo a fight for survival, a sort of struggle against an impending apocalypse. While the former is heavily grounded in following the reactions and breakthroughs of a group of students, the latter follows the suspicions of a female attorney that The New Truth movement is a fraud that has encouraged fanaticism and obscured the real nature of the calamity facing the human race.
Duty After School and Hellbound converge at the application of a tone of grim and impending dubious disaster.
The School Nurse Files (2020)
Cast: Yoo Teo, Nam Joo Hyuk, Jung Yu Mi
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Number of Episodes: 6
Cute, dark, ghosty, and humorous; all in a show about mortality and survival. You read that right! With different stories in every episode with one overarching concern binding them together, The School Nurse Files is a surprise bomb in the shell of a medical drama.
Like Duty After School, The School Nurse Files deal with monsters/creatures. The former has aliens (that everyone can see), and the latter has monsters formed out of human desires and wants (that only our main protagonist An Eun Young can see). While both shows deal with the extermination of their respective creatures, the matter is dealt with differently in both dramas.
The School Nurse Files is slightly odd and weird at first glance. But that adds something to be desired. It is the show’s saving grace. You end up musing along with the characters and their stories.
Cast: Joo Ji Hoon, Ryu seung Ryong, Bae Doo Na, Kim Sung Gyu
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Historical, Political,
Number of Episodes: 6
This Netflix-produced cine-drama from South Korea really breaks the conventional mold of zombie apocalypse stories.
Similar to Duty After School, Kingdom deals with fighting (and trying to survive) against existential danger to the entire human race and civilization.
It’s just that the matter becomes extensively convoluted with the twist of palace politics, assassinations, transfer of power plots, and subplots. This show blends the fight for saving mortality and human beings in the context of the past and delivers one of the most realistic and jaw-dropping end-product.
It’s not a matter of if you should watch Kingdom, given you are looking for K-dramas like Duty After School. It’s a matter of when. The experience itself is the end.
Dark Hole (2021)
Cast: Park Keun Rok, Kim Ok Bin, Song Sang Eun, Lee Joon Hyuk
Genre: Sci-fi, Horror, Action
Number of Episodes: 12
This OCN production goes toe-to-toe with Duty After School if not even further. Both shows deal with threats to human civilization. In the latter, it is literally aliens. Vibrant and exotic-looking aliens. But yeah. You catch the drift.
In Dark Hole, it is the spread of an epidemic of sorts – an outbreak that makes people into creatures/ mutants/ monsters of some kind. You can even throw in zombies to the list. So, it is a “mask up” order for the people of Mujishi, the town in South Korea where the drama is set. What ties this disaster to the alien apocalypse facing human civilization in Duty After School is the fact that the alleged virus is extra-terrestrial in nature.
The broody and grim mood of this show is slightly outlandish. But the trail to overcome an existential crisis in both shows is kindred.
Dark Hole follows the efforts of a female detective, a high school senior, a discredited policeman, and a female shaman, as they each strive to find deliverance of their own kind. Survival is a matter of struggle. And both Duty After School and Dark Hole mince no effort to drive this home.
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Cast: Kim Young Kwang, Kim Hye Eun, Ha Seok Jin, Jung So Min
Genre: Medical, Drama, Romance
Number of Episodes: 20
This drama, like Duty After School deals with certain dangers to human life, possibly apocalyptic. But instead of exploring supernatural or extraterrestrial tropes, the focus here is on one of the most relevant real-world problems that plague human civilization in the 21st century i.e. environmental distress leading to natural disasters.
Globally, the impact of natural disasters like earthquakes, and violent storms like tornadoes, tsunamis, etc. pose a threat to human existence, and as such can result in total destruction if environmental resources aren’t used judiciously and sustainably.
D-day focuses on how human beings can come together in moments of environmental crisis and try to survive existential crises. This one doubles down as a medical show as well and as such is a real treat if you love the genre.
You have the classic doctor character – Hae Sung – who wants to go against the grain of the profit-seeking interests of the medical industry and the hospital where he works. You also have the character of Ddol Mi, a resident who is rather profit-seeking, but soon finds the appeal of being a people’s doctor as the effects of the earthquake that hit Seoul changes her outlook.
Together, they try to save as many as possible. Fighting the political red tape and medical emergencies. The show exposes the taxing situation of the first responders as well, adding depth to their stories and characters.
If the survivalist nature of Duty After School is your thing, but you want something without the supernatural/alien element, this one can soothe your thirst.
Squid Game (2021)
Cast: Lee Jung Jae, Wi Ha Joon, Park Hae Soo, Jung Ho Yeon
Genre: Drama, Action, Thriller
Number of Episodes: 9
K-dramas never shy away from articulating how powerful and rich people often get away with surprisingly sinister doings, as they collude together and use others who are desperate for their schemes and entertainment. Nothing exemplifies this better than Squid Game.
The name of the show is derived from an innocent childhood game, which was distorted and made sadistic. Survival in this game is high stakes. If the eerie ominous feel and tone of Duty After School got to you, Squid Game is a no-brainer.
Our protagonist Seong Gi Hun is at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, living at the fringes of self-dependence. It doesn’t help that he has a gambling problem. When he is offered a chance at redeeming his dire financial situation by taking part in the life-death version of the squid game, he takes the plunge.
What Duty After School starts with its touch-and-go with death, the threat to survival, and the test of human mettle in times of adversity – Squid Game takes to its menacing conclusion. Like Duty After School, the life of the protagonists is at risk and at stake.
Both shows feature desperation to live. They also explore the socio-economic realities one might face and how they encourage prejudice, and stereotypes and manufacture us into our circumstances. It’s for these striking points of convergences that Squid Game finds this spot on our list of K-dramas like Duty After School.
Missing 9 (2017)
Cast: Oh Jung Se, Chanyeol, Choi Tae Joon, Baek Jin Hee, Jung Kyung Ho
Genre: Adventure, Mystery, Drama
Number of Episodes: 16
Survival of the kind when calamity hits you is just one trope. It’s just one category. It’s not the only archetype.
There is another kind of survival though. The kind for which you aspire when you are thrust into the calamity and not the other way round. When a plane carrying beloved idols and stars goes down, Missing 9 sets the stage for exploring the many facets of what survival might look like.
A plane crash survivor tries to recall her memory about the crash and the chaos that ensued later.
At the core, the tying link between Missing 9 and Duty After School, is the reality of survival in adversity. Life is fragile. Threats can be extraterrestrial like they are in the latter. But they can be terrestrial and human as they are in Missing 9.
Like Duty After School, Missing 9 has a blend of humor and fear; both emotions that define the human condition.
Cast: Park Hyung Sik, Han Hyo Joo
Genre: Sci-fi, Thriller, Action
Number of Episodes: 12
Happiness is a virus-apocalypse survival romance drama. Like Duty After School, it places our protagonists in front of impending human crises and the face of an anomaly. While in the former that anomaly is actual aliens, in the latter it is an epidemic (as a result of a pneumonia drug gone awry).
Happiness delivers a kind of social commentary in its plot, much like Duty After School. Both shows tend to reveal the resistant nature of class and social inequality as well as discrimination, even in times of existential crisis.
This in turn puts into focus the ambivalence of human nature. Human beings are capable of being inexcusably selfish, nasty, and terrible. But, on the other side, the shows also reveal that humanity is embedded deeply. And that some people can work selflessly and for the greater good.
Both shows – Happiness and Duty After School feature military intervention in the context of combatting (or containing) existential crisis. In both shows, the protagonists have to fight to survive and save their lives.
Given you fall in love with Happiness vicariously, we predict our 7 must watch Kdramas similar to HAPPINESS might pique your interest. Wink Wink!
If you found intrigued or agitated by our list so far, get ready for more. If survivalist-themed apocalypse or dystopian (of both) future/present realities churn your mind the right way, we bring you some more of the K-dramas like Duty After School for further binge-watches and late nights.
From Liar Game to Sweet Home to The Black Knight to The Great Shaman Ga Doo Shim to #Alive; these recommendations bring you similar tropes, tones, issues, moods, and questions as the ones we have shared on our listicle.
Humanity in crisis and the end of the world are popular K-drama tropes. Be it aliens, zombies, viruses, natural disasters/global warming, or something supernatural; humanity is vulnerable and at risk. Connect with your mortal condition and give our list of K-dramas like Duty After School a go. You will not be disappointed!
There is something about pondering the question of existence. Steeped in the everyday hum-drum are the everlasting impressions of certain death and the end of all things we know and love. Apocalypses, dystopias, and natural disasters; all carry with them the threat of these questions and anxieties.
With our list of K-dramas like Duty After School, you can access how the Korean Entertainment industry has variously articulated the what-ifs and possibilities of what a future might look like if our anxieties and curiosities become reality. Prepare to soothe your goosebumps and dive into this list!
There is always more from where these come from! Watch to your heart’s content and engage constructively. Toodles!
Must Reads :-
FAQs “K-dramas Like Duty After School”
Netflix released Part 2 of Duty After School on April 21, 2023.
Definitely. For fans of sci-fi, apocalyptic, and survival against extraterritorial invasion Duty After School is a real treat and worth the watch.
Yes. The K-drama Duty After School concluded after Netflix released part 2 on April 21, 2023.
The second part of Duty After School consists of 4 episodes.