I have paid subscriptions to NFlx, Prime, VIKI, YouTube.. but still out of luck. There are so many warnings about ”bad” streaming services.. what to do?.. could you write about the topic of access??
I feel your pain. It’s frustrating when you dearly want to check out a particular drama, but can’t seem to find it.
The reason I’ve held off on writing about drama access, is because it differs so greatly across regions. Geo-restrictions are a Total Thing, and what’s accessible to me would naturally be different for you (unless you’re in Singapore where I am, in which case we’d have the same access).
HOWEVER! I’ve noticed that you guys have been chatting about this on the blog recently, and have been sharing with one another which shows are available on which platforms, and I thought this would be a great time to put this post out, and give everyone a place to share tips and information specific to your location.
In this post, I’ll be sharing what I know about legal streaming access. There are.. uh, other options available, but since those aren’t actually legal, and can expose you to questionable malware and other nasties, I won’t be covering them in this post.
Everyone, please do share ALL about where one can watch dramas where you’re from, in the comments. This truly is a case of Sharing is Caring! <3
IMPORTANT NOTE: Because sharing about questionable drama sites could expose this site to DMCA bots and make it vulnerable to takedown notices, PLEASE don’t share questionable drama sites in the comments. (If I spot any, I will have to remove problematic links from your comment.) Thank you for looking out for the blog! <3
THE STREAMING PLAYERS: WHAT I KNOW
Arguably the biggest recent player in the streaming game, Netflix carries a good number of dramas, and it appears that the number is increasing. From what I understand, you do need to be savvy with alternative drama titles, since Netflix tends to use different drama titles than the origin country. Netflix is subscription only, ie, there is no free option available.
A longtime streaming source, Viki is pretty excellent, if the dramas are not geo-restricted for you (like they are for me, most of the time). Subtitles tend to be more nuanced and detailed, and there’s also the option of allowing comments from other viewers to show, which gives you the feeling of watching with a community, rather than on your own. Viki is subscription based with no ads, or free to use with ads.
A collab between MBC, KBS and SBS, to bring their content to US audiences. Like Viki, Kocowa is subscription based with no ads, or free to use with ads. Random factoid: Kocowa stands for Korean Content Wave.
Amazon Prime Video
There’s a selection of Asian dramas and movies available, and you pay for what you choose to rent. A useful resource, if you’re already an Amazon Prime member. But it’s probably not worth it to pay for Prime just to get access to the shows – in my opinion, anyway. 😅
There’s a nice number of dramas available on YouTube. There are lots of Chinese dramas available on various channels. The easiest way to figure out if a C-drama is available to you, is to use the search function on YouTube, because there are literally too many C-drama channels too keep up with. For kdramas, you might want to check out KBS World and SBS World, as there are selected dramas available. Generally, on YouTube, if subs are available, you’d need to click CC to see them.
Viu’s a streaming service that carries a decent range of dramas, with both subscription-based and free options. However, Viu is only available in selected countries (Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, and South Africa).
Hotpot TV offers free to watch Chinese and Taiwanese dramas, and appears to have a nice selection. However, geo-restrictions apply. I personally can’t seem to access any of the shows I’ve clicked on, but the shows might be available to you where you are.
Appears to have a smallish selection of kdramas and movies, among its other offerings. Subcription-based, with a free trial available for new subscribers.
Free to use, and appears to have a selection of Asian movies, among its other offerings. I wasn’t able to access the movies I clicked on, so geo-restrictions seem to apply.
Offers a pretty wide selection of Korean – and some Chinese – dramas, with subtitles (sometimes only Chinese subs seem to be available, though mostly, English subs seem to be available). Some titles are available only on the premium plan, but otherwise many titles appear to be free to view. Geo-restrictions apply, but if you’re located in North America, then this could work for you.
Basically the Chinese version of OnDemandKorea, with the focus mainly on Chinese dramas. There’s an option to navigate the site in English (top right hand corner of your screen). Many titles are available, but most are only available with Chinese subtitles. Also, geo-restrictions apply.
Edit: Tubi TV
Thanks to Coqui on Facebook, and to Snow Flower, for the information on Tubi TV! Tubi TV is free to use and has quite a nice selection of dramas and movies. I spotted Korean and Chinese titles when I visited, but none that looked especially recent. Classic titles like Coffee Prince and The King 2 Hearts are available though. Geo-restrictions do apply (so if you’re not in the US, you can use the next tip, on VPN!)
EDIT: GETTING AROUND GEO-RESTRICTIONS
Thanks to munkondi for the reminder; there is a way to get around geo-restrictions, and that’s by using a VPN service. There are free VPN services available, but the amount of bandwidth you’re allocated wouldn’t be enough for you to watch dramas, so you’d have to go with a paid subscription. But, it does give you access where otherwise you wouldn’t have it?
2nd Edit: Yet another way of getting around geo-restrictions, thanks to Annette for the tip!! Basically, you can use Opera as your web browser while accessing the dramas. Opera has a free, built-in VPN which you can turn on in the settings. Annette has helpfully provided a link to a tutorial here. Thank you, Annette!
I know that this might not be super helpful in itself, since this is just a broad strokes look at the streaming players. But I do think that as everyone chips in to share in the comments, that many of us will be able to find helpful tips and information specific to our location.
I hope this helps! Share away, my friends! 😀
1. If you feel that I missed anything, or if you have your own insights that you’d like to share with the rest of us, do tell us about it in the comments!
2. Do you have a question of your own? Drop me a comment here or on the Dear kfangurl page, or send me an email!