LIST: Historical K-Dramas that trail Korea's rich past
Goo Hae-Ryung (Shin Se-Kyung) and Yi Rim (Cha Eun-Woo) in a scene from "Rookie Historian Goo Hae-Ryung."
'Rookie Historian Goo Hae-Ryung' via Netflix, screen grab
LIST: Historical K-Dramas that trail Korea's rich past
Ratziel San Juan ( - September 17, 2020 - 10:30am

MANILA, Philippines — While romance is an inevitable element in K-Dramas, some shows tie in Korea's rich cultural history to add depth to the characters' stories.

Historical K-Dramas provide viewers with a glimpse of Korea across imperial ages, delving into political conflicts, forbidden romances and royal customs.

Apart from providing insights into the country's past, they initiate discourse on age-old issues that pervade today.

'Empress Ki'

“Empress Ki” tells the story of Goryeo-born Ki Seung-Nyang and how she ascended to power by marrying the head of the Mongol Empire.

Why you should watch: This 2013 show tackles the history of class system, concubinage and political ambitions during the Goryeo dynasty. 



'Mr. Sunshine'

“Mr. Sunshine” revolves around Eugene Choi, a Joseon-born peasant who escaped to the United States during the Shinmiyangyo in 1871. When he returned to Joseon, he fell in love with an aristocrat's daughter while discovering a plot by the Empire of Japan to colonize Korea.

Why you should watch: Despite its controversial treatment, the 2018 K-Drama shows contradictions in the late Joseon dynasty, including the increasing presence of imperial Japan in the Korean peninsula and their attempt to eradicate Korean culture.



'Rookie Historian Goo Hae-Ryung'

“Rookie Historian Goo Hae-Ryung” is set during the early Joseon dynasty, where women are objectified and deemed inferior. Palace historian intern Goo Hae-Ryung dedicates her life to breaking the status quo by studying and defending the wronged. 

Why you should watch: Goo Hae-Ryung devoted her work to fighting gender stereotypes, as women are usually looked down upon by men and royal court officers. The 2019 drama also showed how the arts struggled to advance in this era.



'Love in the Moonlight'

“Love in the Moonlight” depicts the unusual love story between political eunuch Hong Ra-On and Crown Prince Hyo Myeong. 

Why you should watch: This 2016 K-Drama delved deep into the relationship of Hyo Myeong and King Sunjo, which is relevant in the history of the dynasty. Despite the altering of some historical events, the portrayal of Hyo Myeong's character received praises.



'Moon Embracing the Sun'

“Moon Embracing The Sun” shines a light on the romance between Crown Prince Lee Hwon and Heo Yeon Woo, a daughter of a high-ranking official who was cursed to death by the Queen Dowager and was revived eight years later as a shaman named Wol.

Why you should watch: Set in the Joseon dynasty, this 2012 K-Drama depicts vying political clans and the lengths they will go to maintain their power. It also takes a look at ancient customs and traditions.



'Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth'

“Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth” explores the vivid lives of elite warriors known as “hwarang” amid the Silla Kingdom's growing social turmoil. 

Why you should watch: This 2016 show portrayed Silla's rigid culture and social structures and the well-rounded education obtained by the hwarang.


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