Stranger (TV series)

Stranger (Korean비밀의 숲; RRBimileui Sup; lit. Secret Forest) is a South Korean crime thriller drama television series. Produced by Signal Entertainment and IOK Media, it was created by Studio Dragon writer Lee Soo-yeon and broadcast on tvN from June 10, 2017. The series was renewed for a second season, which premiered on August 15, 2020.

Stranger Poster.jpg
Promotional poster for the first season
Also known as
  • Secret Forest
  • Forest of Secrets
Hangul비밀의 숲
Hanja祕密의 숲
Created byStudio Dragon
Written byLee Soo-yeon
Directed by
  • Ahn Gil-ho (Season 1)
  • Yoo Je-won (Season 1)
  • Park Hyun-suk (Season 2)
Creative directors
  • Kim Suk-won
  • Kim Sung-kyoon
Theme music composerKim Jun-seok
Opening themeStranger
  • Kim Jun-seok
  • Jung Sae-rin
Country of originSouth Korea
Original languageKorean
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes32 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Lee Chan-ho
  • Min Hyun-il
  • Go Byung-chul
  • Lee Sung-jin
  • Park Eun-kyung
  • Seo Jae-hyun
CinematographyJang Jong-kyung
EditorKim Na-young
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time63-86 minutes
Production companies
Original networktvN
Picture formatHDTV 1080i
Audio formatDolby Digital 5.1
Original releaseJune 10, 2017 (2017-06-10) –
October 4, 2020 (2020-10-04)

The series was a hit with both domestic and international viewers,[1] and received favorable reviews for its tight plot, gripping sequences and strong performances.[2][3] It was featured on New York Times list of Best TV Shows of 2017,[4] and won several awards including the Grand Prize for television at the Baeksang Arts Awards.[5]


In the first season, Hwang Si-mok (Cho Seung-woo) is an exemplary prosecutor who suffers from hypersensitivity to certain sound frequencies. After undergoing corrective surgery, he lost his sense of empathy and lacks social skills. While investigating a murder, he meets Police Lieutenant Han Yeo-jin (Bae Doona), who assists his efforts to solve the case. As they begin to unravel the mystery behind the murder, they find that their efforts are continually being obstructed by participants in a major corruption conspiracy between the Prosecutors' Office and a private chaebol (conglomerate).

In the second season, set two years later, a dispute arises between the Prosecutors' Office and the National Police Agency, with the former wanting control over all investigative proceedings while the latter seeks autonomous authority to conduct investigations. In the midst of their respective agencies' conflict, Hwang Si-mok and Han Yeo-jin team up to conduct their own independent investigation of a concealed case.[6]

Cast and charactersEdit


SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedAve. South Korea
viewers (millions)
First airedLast aired
116June 10, 2017 (2017-06-10)July 30, 2017 (2017-07-30)[a]
216August 15, 2020 (2020-08-15)October 4, 2020 (2020-10-04)1.774



The entire series was written by Lee Soo-yeon who was inspired by the Korean adage "We cannot rule those who want nothing" to create the character of Si-mok.[7] Ahn Gil-ho directed the majority of the first season with the assistance of Yoo Je-won, while Park Hyun-seok took over the filming duties for the second season.[8] Unlike usual South Korean dramas, the series was developed as a potential multi-seasonal program, with most of the filming have already been pre-produced prior to its broadcast.[9][10]


In January 2017, Cho Seung-woo and Bae Doona were offered the lead roles. The same month Shin Hye-sun was added to the cast.[11] It was the first television drama Cho Seung-woo had accepted since God's Gift - 14 Days in 2014, after venturing into musical theatre for seven years.[12] For the second season, cast members Cho Seung-woo, Bae Doona, Lee Joon-hyuk and Yoon Se-ah, were all confirmed to reprise their roles. Jeon Hye-jin and Choi Moo-sung were also confirmed to join the lead cast in January 2020.[6]


Filming of the first season began in April 2017, preceded by the first script reading with the cast at the CJ E&M Center in Seoul.[12] Script reading for the second season took place in January 2020.[6]


Stranger (Original Television Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
ReleasedSeptember 13, 2017 (2017-09-13)
Length157 minutes

An accompanying soundtrack compilation to Stranger was released by Mog Communications and Kakao M on September 13, 2017, in South Korea.[13] It was later reissued by Universal Music Group in overseas markets on May 11, 2018.[14] A three-disc album, the latter two discs features music composed by Kim Jun-seok and Jung Sae-rin for the program.[15][16] Ten songs were released from the soundtrack as singles in numbered parts from June to July 2017: "끝도없이 (Ad Infinitum)" by Richard Parkers, "먼지 (Dust)" Everlua, "소나기 (Downpour)" by Oohyo, "괴물처럼 (Monster Like)" by Tei, "웃어요 (Smile)" by Han Hee Jung & Sorae, the titular track "비밀의 숲 (Stranger)" by Yoon Do-hyun, "사랑할 것 처럼 (As if to Love)" by Kim Kookheon of Myteen, "물결 (A Billow)" by Yein of Lovelyz, "굿바이 잘가요 (Goodbye)"/"Back in Time" by Peter Han, and "묻는다 (Ask)" by Jung Won-bo of NeighBro & Jun Sang-geun.[17] Of these, the songs "소나기 (Downpour)" and "사랑할 것 처럼 (As if to Love)" have managed to enter the South Korean Gaon BGM Music Chart at numbers 80 and 79, respectively.[18][19]

Stranger OST Track listing[15][16]
Season 1 soundtrack
Disc 1
1."끝도없이" (Ad Infinitum)Richard Parkers4:02
2."먼지" (Dust)EverLua4:43
3."소나기" (Downpour)Oohyo4:43
4."괴물처럼" (Monster Like)Tei3:52
5."웃어요" (Smile)Han Hee-jung & Sorae3:34
6."비밀의 숲" (Stranger)Yoon Do-hyun3:20
7."사랑할 것 처럼" (As if to Love)Kim Kook-heon of Myteen4:10
8."물결" (A Billow)Yein of Lovelyz3:01
9."굿바이 잘가요" (Goodbye)Peter Han3:46
10."묻는다" (Ask)Jung Won-bo of NeighBro & Jun Sang-geun3:48
11."Back in Time"Peter Han3:46
Disc 2
1."비밀의숲" (Stranger)Kim Jun-seok4:26
2."사라지는 비밀" (Secret to Disappear)Ju In-ro2:42
3."끝을 알 수 없는 사건" (Unsolved Case)Go Bon-chun2:44
4."시초가 되는 나무" (From Root to Tree)Jung Sae-rin2:54
5."범행 장소" (Scene of Crime)Go Bon-chun3:23
6."설계된 진실" (Designed Truth)Kim Jun-seok4:19
7."공허한 단서" (Empty Clue)Ju In-ro3:30
8."적폐 침묵의 대가" (The Price of Silence)Jung Sae-rin2:46
9."후회" (Regret)Lee Yoon-ji1:46
10."법불아귀" (Law)Lee Roo-ri3:00
11."황시목의 적" (The Enemy Inside)No Yoo-rim3:00
12."수사 브리핑" (Investigation Briefing)Lee Roo-ri3:21
13."범인의 흔적" (Criminal's Trace)Lee Yoon-ji1:51
14."범행의 의도" (Criminal Intent)Kim Hyun-do2:37
15."심문" (Interrogation)Kim Hyun-joo2:50
16."그날, 그 시간" (That Day, That Time)Jung Sae-rin2:19
17."잃어버린 길" (Lost Way)Kim Jun-seok3:45
18."스며드는 감정" (Infiltration)Lee Roo-ri2:33
19."어둠 속의 추리" (Reasoning in Darkness)Kim Jun-seok3:44
Disc 3
1."용의자" (The Suspect)Kim Jun-seok3:01
2."무감각의 시선" (An Insensitive Gaze)Jung Sae-rin2:59
3."썩은 뿌리" (Rotten Roots)Kim Jun-seok4:04
4."추격" (The Chase)Ju In-ro3:12
5."용의자의 행적" (Suspect)Lee Roo-ri2:48
6."감춰진 증거" (Hidden Evidence)Go Bon-chun2:36
7."사건의 줄기" (Stem of the Incident)Kim Jun-seok2:55
8."내부이탈자" (Insider)Kim Hyun-do2:50
9."수상한 낌새" (Suspicious Secrets)Lee Yoon-ji3:44
10."흔들리는 마음" (Feelings)Lee Yoon-ji3:33
11."덫" (Trap)Kim Jun-seok3:50
12."흐릿한 감정" (Hazy Emotion)Lee Yoon-ji3:46
13."보이지 않는 손" (Invisible Hand)Kim Hyun-joo2:22
14."되돌릴 수만 있다면" (If Only I Can Get It Back)Jung Sae-rin1:56
15."신경전" (War of Nerves)No Yoo-rim2:19
16."내부의 적" (The Enemy Inside)Kim Hyun-do3:22
17."알리바이" (Alibi)Kim Hyun-joo2:24
18."배려" (Consideration)Lee Yoon-ji1:41
19."어릴 적 상처" (The Wounds of Childhood)Jung Sae-rin2:46
Season 2 soundtrack
Released on August 13, 2020 (2020-08-13)
1."Stranger" (비밀의 숲)
  • Kim Jun-seok
  • Go Bon-chun
Kim Jun-seok4:25
Total length:4:25
Part 1
Released on August 16, 2020 (2020-08-16)
  • Kim Beom-joo
  • Kim Si-hyuk
  • Kim Beom-joo
  • Kim Si-hyuk
Sunwoo Jung-a3:26
2."Crisis" (Inst.) 
  • Kim Beom-joo
  • Kim Si-hyuk
Total length:6:52
Part 2
Released on August 29, 2020 (2020-08-29)
1."In This Silence" (침목)
  • Kim Ho-kyung
  • 1601
Ha Hyun-woo of Guckkasten4:27
2."In This Silence" (침목) (Inst.) 
  • 1601
Total length:8:54

Part 3

Released on September 5, 2020 (2020-09-05)
1."Wish" (바람)
  • Gaho
  • KAVE
  • Gaho
  • KAVE
2."Wish" (바람) (Inst.) 
  • Gaho
  • KAVE
Total length:7:04
Part 4
Released on September 12, 2020 (2020-09-12)
1."Another Door" (또 다른 문)
  • Seo Dong-seong
  • Lee Yoon-chan
  • Uncle Sam
Lee Yoon-chan3:48
2."Another Door" (또 다른 문) (Inst.) 
  • Lee Yoon-chan
  • Uncle Sam
Total length:7:44


The pilot episode of Stranger aired on June 10, 2017 on tvN, replacing Chicago Typewriter. Netflix secured the worldwide streaming rights for the series for US$200,000 per episode, except in Korea and China, and released them in simultaneous broadcast with tvN as a Netflix original program. The Korea Times reported that Bae Doona, who had previously appeared in the Netflix original series Sense8, proved to be crucial in the purchase of the drama.[20] tvN affiliate tvN Asia also aired the program in selected Asian markets beginning on June 16, 2018.[21] A second season was commissioned by tvN, set to be released with Netflix on the same day.[22] It premiered on August 15, 2020, replacing It's Okay to Not Be Okay.[10][23]


Critical responseEdit

In an article by columnist Dena Daw for Screen Rant, Stranger was described as a "domestic and international success".[24] Though ratings-wise, the program was not a "smash hit", pundits and audiences praised it as a "league of its own".[7] Korean culture critic Ha Jae-geun described the character as a "fantasy that was borne out of a time of distrust".[7] In her review for The Korea Times, columnist Park Jin-hai commended the writing as "finely intertwined", and wrote that audiences gave a strong response to this "drama for thinking people".[7] The New York Times listed the series in tenth place as their The Best TV Shows of 2017.[25]

At the 54th Baeksang Arts Awards, the series received eight nominations, including two considerations for Grand Prize for Television, winning one for the whole series.[26] Cho Seung-woo and Lee Soo-yeon also won Best Television Actor and Best Television Screenplay, respectively.[26] In a Gallup Korea poll, audiences aged 19 and above selected Stranger as their 12th favorite show in July 2017.[27] While Google Korea listed the series as the ninth most-searched television program of 2017.[28]


According to data published by Nielsen Korea, the pilot episode of the series was seen by 3.041% of total nationwide viewers, in metropolitan Seoul, it earned 3.2% rating, which made it the highest-rated program of the day among non-terrestrial channel programs.[29] The program achieved its highest rating on the first-season finale, earning 6.568% nationwide rating and a 7.622% rating within Seoul-based viewers.[30] On average, it was seen by 4.562% of total viewership.[31] On the TNmS rating system, the series premiered with a 3.2% rating and ended its first season with a 7.1% rating.[32] The last episode recorded noticeably a strong rating performances as it took the lead rating for the first time against hit variety show Hyori's Homestay that aired in same time slot and became the highest rated program of the day among non-terrestrial channel programs.[33][34]

Stranger : South Korea viewers per episode (millions)
SeasonEpisode numberAverage
Source: Audience measurement performed nationwide by Nielsen Media Research.[35]
Average TV viewership ratings (season 1)
Ep. Original broadcast date Average audience share
AGB Nielsen[36] TNmS[37]
Nationwide Seoul Nationwide
1 June 10, 2017 3.041% 3.627% 3.2%
2 June 11, 2017 4.148% 5.498% 4.0%
3 June 17, 2017 4.088% 4.420% 3.6%
4 June 18, 2017 4.170% 4.923% 4.5%
5 June 24, 2017 4.064% 5.203% 3.7%
6 June 25, 2017 4.082% 5.174% 3.9%
7 July 1, 2017 4.389% 4.888% 4.0%
8 July 2, 2017 4.154% 5.237% 4.6%
9 July 8, 2017 4.319% 5.506% 4.3%
10 July 9, 2017 4.834% 6.434% 4.6%
11 July 15, 2017 4.733% 5.709% 5.0%
12 July 16, 2017 5.511% 6.875% 5.0%
13 July 22, 2017 4.451% 5.582% 4.4%
14 July 23, 2017 5.447% 7.125% 6.0%
15 July 29, 2017 4.993% 6.240% 5.1%
16 July 30, 2017 6.568% 7.622% 7.1%
Average 4.562% 5.629% 4.6%
  • In the table above, the blue numbers represent the lowest ratings and the red numbers represent the highest ratings.
Average TV viewership ratings (season 2)
Ep. Original broadcast date Average audience share
(AGB Nielsen)[35]
Nationwide Seoul
1 August 15, 2020 7.627% (1st) 9.102% (1st)
2 August 16, 2020 6.415% (1st) 7.585% (1st)
3 August 22, 2020 7.014% (1st) 8.190% (1st)
4 August 23, 2020 6.442% (1st) 7.378% (1st)
5 August 29, 2020 6.041% (1st) 7.070% (1st)
6 August 30, 2020 6.281% (1st) 7.487% (1st)
7 September 5, 2020 6.502% (1st) 6.950% (1st)
8 September 6, 2020 7.493% (1st) 8.856% (1st)
9 September 12, 2020 7.190% (1st) 8.553% (1st)
10 September 13, 2020 7.203% (1st) 8.031% (1st)
11 September 19, 2020 6.843% (1st) 8.017% (1st)
12 September 20, 2020 7.458% (1st) 8.707% (1st)
13 September 26, 2020 7.179% (1st) 7.755% (1st)
14 September 27, 2020 8.837% (1st) 10.312% (1st)
15 October 3, 2020 8.307% (1st) 9.589% (1st)
16 October 4, 2020 9.408% (1st) 11.039% (1st)
Average 7.265% 8.414%
  • In the table above, the blue numbers represent the lowest ratings and the red numbers represent the highest ratings.

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Nominee Result Ref.
2017 1st Seoul Awards Grand Prize (Daesang) Stranger Won
Best Actor Cho Seung-woo Nominated
Best New Actress Shin Hye-sun Nominated
2018 54th Baeksang Arts Awards Grand Prize (Daesang) Stranger Won [39]
Cho Seung-woo Nominated
Best Drama Stranger Nominated
Best Director Ahn Gil-ho Nominated
Best Actor Cho Seung-woo Won
Best Supporting Actor Yoo Jae-myung Nominated
Best Screenplay Lee Soo-yeon Won
Best New Actor Lee Kyu-hyung Nominated

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The number of viewers was released by Nielsen Media Research starting January 2018.


  1. ^ "'Forest of Secrets' K-drama steady with viewership as tvN's 1st success of 2017". Blasting News. 9 July 2017.
  2. ^ "'Stranger' starring Bae Doo-na on roll". The Korea Herald. 2 July 2017.
  3. ^ "'Stranger' ends amid much fanfare". The Korea Herald. 31 July 2017.
  4. ^ "The Best TV Shows of 2017". New York Times. 4 December 2017.
  5. ^ "Baeksang Arts Awards recognize 'Stranger,' '1987'". The Korea Herald. May 4, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c "조승우X배두나 '비밀의 숲2' 대본연습 현장 최초 공개… 오는 8월 첫방" [Cho Seung-Woo x Bae Do-na and 'Secret Forest 2' script release for the first time, to be aired in August] (in Korean). South Korea: Naver. June 5, 2020. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d Yun, Suh-young (August 9, 2017). "'Stranger' ends leaving viewers wanting more". The Korea Times. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  8. ^ "'내그대' 유제원 감독, '비밀의 숲' B팀 투입" [[Exclusive] Director Yu Je-won, Team B of 'Secret Forest'] (in Korean). South Korea: Daum. April 13, 2017. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  9. ^ "'명당' 조승우 "'비밀의 숲' 시즌 5까지 했으면... 흰머리 날때까지"" ['Feng Shui' actor Cho Seung-woo: "I want to do 'Secret Forest' until Season 5... Until I get gray hair."] (in Korean). South Korea: Naver. September 13, 2018. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  10. ^ a b "tvN 측 "'비밀의 숲2' 사전제작 중...'사이코지만 괜찮아' 후속" (공식입장)" [tvN preparing Secret Forest 2'... replacing 'It's Okay Not to be Okay' (Official)]. The Dong-a Ilbo. June 30, 2020. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  11. ^ Chung, Jin-hong (January 25, 2017). "Shin Hye-sun signs on to 'Secret Forest' cast". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  12. ^ a b "'시카고 타자기' 후속 조승우-배두나 주연 '비밀의 숲', 대본리딩 현장 공개" ['Chicago Typewriter'-follow-up Cho Seung-woo/Bae Doo-na-starring 'Secret Forest', revealing script] (in Korean). South Korea: BreakNews Co., Ltd. April 12, 2017. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  13. ^ "비밀의 숲 OST" [Secret Forest (Original Soundtrack)] (in Korean). Spotify. 13 September 2017. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  14. ^ "Secret Forest (Original Soundtrack)". Amazon. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  15. ^ a b "Stranger (Original Soundtrack)". Apple Music. September 13, 2017. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  16. ^ a b "비밀의 숲 OST" [Secret Forest (Original Soundtrack)] (in Korean). South Korea: Melon. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  17. ^ Citations concerning the release of singles from the Stranger original television soundtrack:
  18. ^ "2017년 25주차 BGM Chart" [Year 2017 - Week 25 - BGM Chart] (in Korean). South Korea: Gaon Music Chart. June 24, 2017. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  19. ^ "2017년 29주차 BGM Chart" [Year 2017 - Week 29 - BGM Chart] (in Korean). South Korea: Gaon Music Chart. July 22, 2017. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  20. ^ Park, Jin-hai (July 16, 2017). "K-drama industry finds new breakthrough with Netflix". The Korea Times. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  21. ^ "Stranger". tvN Asia. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  22. ^ Robinson, Jacob (March 10, 2020). "K-Dramas Coming to Netflix in 2020". Posterity Information Technology Ltd. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  23. ^ "배우 박지연, tvN '비밀의 숲2' 출연…조승우·배두나와 호흡" [Park Ji-yeon to appear on 'Secret Forest 2' with Cho Seung-woo and Bae Doo-na]. NewsPim. June 26, 2020. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  24. ^ Daw, Dena (February 20, 2020). "15 Best Korean Shows To Stream On Netflix". Screen Rant. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  25. ^ "The Best TV Shows of 2017". The New York Times. December 4, 2017. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  26. ^ a b "Baeksang Arts Awards recognize 'Stranger,' '1987'". The Korea Herald. May 4, 2018. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  27. ^ "한국인이 좋아하는 TV프로그램 - 2017년 7월" [Koreans' favorite TV show – July 2017] (in Korean). South Korea: Gallup Korea. July 20, 2017. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  28. ^ "2017년 올해의 검색어" [Google Trends 2017: Most-searched terms of the year] (in Korean). South Korea. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  29. ^ "효리네 민박', '비밀의 숲' 종영에 기세 꺾여…시청률 반등할까" ['Hyo-Ri's Bed and Breakfast', 'The Forest of Secrets' ended the momentum… Will viewership rebound?]. Biz Enter (in Korean). July 31, 2017. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  30. ^ ""Secret Forest" ends successful run, achieves 6.6% in ratings". Lola Digital Media. July 31, 2017. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  31. ^ "'Live Up To Your Name' surpasses average TV ratings of 'Secret Forest'". Lola Digital Media. September 11, 2017. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  32. ^ "Secret Forest ratings". inkinews. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  33. ^ "효리네 민박', '비밀의 숲' 종영에 기세 꺾여…시청률 반등할까". Biz Enter. 31 July 2017. Retrieved 2017-10-02.
  34. ^ "'비밀의 숲','효리네 민박' 제치고 日 비지상파 1위 "40대의 힘"". Sport Seoul via Naver. Retrieved 2017-10-19.[dead link]
  35. ^ a b "Nielsen Korea". AGB Nielsen Media Research (in Korean). Retrieved August 15, 2020.
  36. ^ "Nielsen Korea". AGB Nielsen Media Research (in Korean). Archived from the original on June 10, 2017. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  37. ^ "TNmS Ratings". Archived from the original on June 10, 2017. Retrieved June 10, 2017.
  38. ^ '서울어워즈' 송강호·나문희·지성·박보영 주연상…·'박열'·'비숲' 대상[종합] (in Korean). Naver. October 27, 2017. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  39. ^ "[2018 백상예술대상 종합] tvN '비밀의 숲'·영화 '1987' 대상 영예+3·4관왕" [2018 Baeksang Arts Awards Overall tvN 'Secret Forest' · Movie '1987' Grand Prize + 3 · 4 Crown]. Osen (in Korean). May 4, 2018. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  40. ^ "제54회 백상예술대상, TV·영화 각 부문별 수상 후보자 공개" [The 54th Baeksang Arts Awards, winners of each category of TV and film]. JTBC (in Korean). April 6, 2018. Retrieved May 11, 2020.
  41. ^ [54회 백상] 조승우·김남주의 '독한 변신', 男女최우수 값진 결과물 얻다 [[54th Baeksang] Cho Seung-Woo and Kim Nam-Ju's 'Strong Transformation', Men's Women's Best Value] (in Korean). Naver. May 4, 2018. Retrieved May 11, 2020.

External linksEdit