Korean dramas are famous for a variety of elements. It could be characters, the actors and actresses, the storyline, the crazy plot twists, and one of the most groundbreaking factors is the ability to put spice to different genres. This is why historical Korean dramas are one of the best out there. With South Korea’s rich history and culture, partnered with modern technology, and an impressive lineup of actors, actresses, screenwriters, and directors, you can never go wrong with South Korea’s historical dramas.
In no particular order, here are the best historical Korean dramas that you need to watch!
Jumong is based on a real-life figure and is the founder of Goguryeo in 37 BC. He was the son of General Hae Mo Su and Lady Yoo Hwa. When his father was believed to have died in an ambush, King Geum Wa took him and his mother in. He meets So Seo No, a merchant’s daughter who helped him realize his dream to build a new country.
Jang Bong-hwan, a free-spirited chef who works at the Blue House, suddenly woke up in the body of Queen Cheorin during the Joseon Dynasty. There he meets King Cheoljong, a polite and easygoing King. However, he is only King by name and a figurehead as the real power is at the hands of Queen Sunwon, the late King’s widow. Queen Cheorin soon realizes that the King has another side to him, a sinister side.
Ki Seung Nyang was born in Goryeo and has become an important figure in the era’s class system. She soon marries Toghon Temür and became the empress of the Yuan dynasty, instead of her first love Wang Yu. The show highlights Lady Ki’s love, political aspirations as well as the Emperor’s passionate love for her.
Deep Rooted Tree
During the rule of King Sejeong, several murders occurred, and the show displays Kang Chae Yoon’s investigation and as he looks for the truth. He becomes involved with a group of geniuses who are willing to die for their beliefs and secret powers that would hinder him and his investigations.
Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung
There are two stories in the drama. One appears in modern Joseon in the early nineteenth century while the other is set in Joseon 20 years ago. 19th century Joseon is highlighted with a light atmosphere, jokes, gimmicks, student fights, and more and the other is only shown in flashbacks and tackles issues like unjust treatment of class and harsh repression.
In 1930, Korea was conquered by Japan. Lee Kang-to, despite being Korean, worked with the Japanese law enforcement to catch the person dubbed “Bridal Mask”, an unknown rebel fighting for Korea’s independence.
The Crowned Clown
The story is set during the Joseon dynasty when the battle over the throne is at its peak. To avoid assassination attempts, the King puts a clown on the throne who looks exactly like him.
Tale of Nokdu
Jeon Nok Du aspires to travel the world. He’s perfect in terms of appearance, intellect, and athletic ability. To join a mysterious all-women community, Nok Du disguises himself as a woman and meets Dong Dong Joo, a sassy and clumsy Ginsend apprentice.
Scarlet Heart Ryeo
During a total solar eclipse, Go Ha-jin is transported back in time, to the Goryeo Dynasty and in the body of Hae Soo. She first fell in love with the gently 8th Prince Wang Wook but later fell in love and developed a relationship with the aloof and fearsome 4th Prince, who hides his face behind a mask.
As the drama progresses, Hae Soo is caught up in palace politics and rivalry among the princes as they fight for the throne.
The Moon Embracing the Sun
The show tells the story of Lee Hwon, the king of Joseon, and Wol, a female shaman. Wol was born Heo Yeon Woo, the daughter of a noble family with who the then-crown prince Hwon fell in love with. The drama progresses and shows that Heo Yeon Woo has enemies who are jealous of her family’s position in court. They schemed against her and took away her rightful position as the crown princess. She nearly died. Years later, Hwon meets Wol, a female shaman who doesn’t remember her past.
Love in the Moonlight
The series is a wonderful coming-of-age story that tells the story of Crown Prince Lee Yeong’s growth from a young boy into an admirable monarch and his relationship with eunuch Hong Ra-on, a girl who was raised as a boy.
My Sassy Girl
The series is set in Joseon Dynasty and tells the story of Gyeon Woo, a cold city scholar and is known as “Joseon’s national treasure” and sassy princess Hye-mung who often sneaks out of the palace to search for her mother, a dethroned queen. The story progresses to show how the characters develop from enemies to two people falling in love.
The story is set in the Joseon period in 1871 where it shows the story of a Korean boy who boards an American warship and grew up in the U.S as an American. He returns to his hometown as an American soldier who has a lot of inner conflicts.
100 Days My Prince
100 Days My Prince tells the story of Crown Prince Lee Yool who nearly died in an assassination attempt. He fell off the cliff and lost his memories. He was rescued by Hong Sim and her father and lived under a new name and personality.