Historical Korean dramas or also known as 사극 (Sageuk) usually depicts the stories during previous dynasties of Korea.
For some of you, this might be boring, but wouldn’t it be nice for you to know how Korea that is so famous now looks like in the ancient time?
With the easy access of internet these days, it is easy to see any dramas you would want. But this time, we have listed 10 best historical Korean dramas for you to watch!
Still new to Korean drama? Check this out: Top 5 Korean Drama To Binge-Watch If You Are New To K-Drama
1. The Legend 태왕사신기
The legend is a classical South Korean historical fantasy drama starring Bae Yong Joon (Actor for Winter Sonatas) as Dam-deok. The drama is based on the legend of Dangun who founded ancient Korea.
The drama also encapsulated fantasy in the form of four guardians (White Tiger, Blue Dragon, Turtle Snake and Phoenix) who serve the king of Jyusin. In this drama, there are different tribes such as Tiger Tribe (Ho jok) which defeated all other tribes during the time except the Bear Tribe (Ung jok).
There’s love triangle occurred which made the world haywired which led Hwan-ung to imprison the four guardians in objects and foretells about the new King that will rule Jyusin.
Thousands of years later, the crown prince Dam Deok (Bae Yong Joon) acts weak and slow-witted as to avoid people from harming him. But a crisis arises as he grows older and one of his family members is killed. During the time, he then uncovered the four guardians.
This is a must watch drama for those who are avid fans of Korean history! Although it chipped in some fantasy, it’s still a worthy drama to watch!
2. Jumong 삼한지-주몽 편
Jumong or in Korean-English literal translation is ‘The book of the Three Hans: The Chapter of Jumong’ is another South Korean historical drama aired in 2007. The drama depicted the story of Jumong who is the founder of the kingdom of Goguryeo. This drama also added some fantasy elements in it which does not make it 100% accurate.
Well that’s the purpose of drama right? To entertain people.
As many didn’t know, in the drama, Gojoseon (Ancient Joseon) has fallen to the Han Empire of China thus people need to appease the empire. Moving forwards to years ahead, Jumong was born and grew up to be a weak and cowardly prince.
However, he was trained in swordsmanship and martial arts but Jumong caused trouble which made his title as a prince to be taken away and expelled from the palace.
But after he proved himself of his worthiness, he is then allowed to return to the palace. With comradeship and wise strategy, the kingdom of Goguryeo was established and Jumong became the first king of the nation.
3. Hwarang 화랑
Hwarang is a story of an elite group of young men called Hwarang during the Silla Kingdom.
Jiso, who is the ruler of Silla during the time, has been safekeeping her young son Sammaekjong, hidden from people to avoid assassins and enemies.
As Sammaekjong grows to his adolescence and should take the throne but the nobles try to take over the power in the kingdom. Because of the fear, a new elite Hwarang has been established to cut the existing power coalition and to make Sammaekjong the king.
4. Gye Baek 계백
Gye Baek is a South Korean historical drama that is set in Baekje which was founded by one of Jumong’s sons. Baekje is located on the southwest side of Korean Peninsula. Gye Baek is actually General Gye-baek, a famous general who with his 5000 soldiers go up against Silla and Tang Dynasties.
This drama depicts a great history and one of the kingdoms that is being less portrayed in Korean history drama. For some, this might be a needle in a haystack.
5. Kim Su-ro, The iron King 김수로
Kim Su ro is a drama depicting the life of Suro during the confederacy of Gaya. Kim Su Ro is a legendary founder of the confederacy of Gaya which unified a dozen states.
Kim Su Ro character who was played by Ji Sung is a charismatic and intelligent man who makes use of his talent to defend himself from the political struggle with his competition which is his former friend, Shin Gwi Gan and Lee Jin Ah Shi which is his half-brother.
This is also one of the drama based on Gaya that rarely been made into a series.
6. Emperor of the Sea 해신
Jang Bogo or in its English translation, Emperor of the Sea is one of the highest rated South Korean historical dramas that is based on a novel.
The drama depicts the era of the Unified Silla Dynasty. It is a story of a slave (Jang Bo Go) who rises to the position of military commander of the sea and dominates the sea of East Asia and its international trade during the period.
This is a must watch drama as it depicts a real figure from Unified Silla which is Jang Bo Go, a strong maritime personage in the period.
7. Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo 달의 연인: 보보경심 려
This drama is a renowned historical drama globally. It is a highly recommended drama to watch that relates to the Goryeo dynasty.
The drama depicts a story of a young adult woman named Go Ha Jin who lives in the 21st century and suddenly drowns in a river and is transported to the Goryeo dynasty during the reign of King Wang Geon or Taejo of Goryeo.
Shockingly, she woke up as a different personality named Hae Soo and became entangled herself in the arguments between the princes on the fight for the throne.
8. A Jewel in The Palace 대장금
A Jewel in The Palace is a historical Korean drama set in the Joseon Dynasty. As previous culture emphasis on hierarchy where male is the dominant in the social culture during the era.
This drama is based on the true story of the first woman to be the supreme loyal physician of her time and her name is Jang Geum.
Although he was a low class, dominated within male society, she managed to overcome social situations and gradually become the royal cook, proceed to royal physician and the significant status is the physician to the king himself.
For your information, this drama is one of the 10 highest rated drama of all time.
9. Mr. Sunshine 미스터 션샤인
Mr. Sunshine is one of the historical South Korean dramas that achieved high ratings. The drama is set in Hanseong which is the former name of Seoul, now. It is a story about a man named Eugene Choi who was born as a slave in the Joseon Dynasty but was able to escape to the United States in 1871.
As time passed by, he grew up and became a United States Marine Corps officer and returned to Joseon.
Eventually, he meets and develops feelings for a young woman who is part of an organisation. In Joseon, he then fights for the authority and power of Joseon.
10. Chicago Typewriter 시카고 타자기
Chicago Typewriter tells the stories of three fighters who lived in the 1930s during Japanese occupation in Korea who reincarnated into the present as a best-selling writer, ghostwriter and a fan of the writer.
It has two story-lines which are the past and present where they are connected through a mysterious typewriter.
Be ready because this drama has a thicker modern plot but that is what makes this drama wonderful!