Searching for the best historical Korean drama series since the last 20 years has becoming the trend. For whatever reasons, many people creatively imagine how would it be to create a story provoking to change history. Is it because of regret and resentment?
Days ago, I found it interesting to gather as many Korean dramas as possible. That’s why I thought of compiling a whole bunch of list.
In this post, I’ll share the 87 best historical Korean drama series known as sageuk, which is a South Korean term denoting historical drama series, films, and plays.
1. Warrior Baek Dong Soo (2011)
Childhood friends Baek Dong Soo and Yeo Woon are both prodigies in combat.
But while Baek Dong Soo became the top swordsman in the land, Yeo Woon would go on to serve a group of clandestine assassins whose aim is to overthrow the throne. (Source: IMDb)
2. Queen Seon Deok (2009)
The series begins at the end of King Jinheung’s reign and continues until the end of Queen Seondeok’s reign.
Deokman was born as one of the twin daughters of King Jinpyeong and Queen Maya.
But due to a prophecy, King Jinpyeong sent his daughter away from the palace with the help of his clumsy but loyal servant, Seohwa, in order to save Queen Maya from being ousted by Mishil, whose ambition was to become Queen.
Seohwa raised Deokman as if she were her own, but a turn of events eventually led Deokman into finding out her real identity—only to be abandoned once again by her family to save the throne from Mishil’s hand, with the exception of her twin sister Cheonmyeon, who ended up losing her life while trying to help Deokman escape.
Out of hatred, Deokman set out to take back what was taken from her and avenge her sister by bringing Mishil down
Becoming the first female king of Silla with the help of her trusted friend, Yushin and troubled rogue Bidam, who eventually led a rebellion near the end of her reign. (Source: Wikipedia)
3. Jumong (2006)
Story of a man, Jumong Taewang, who founded the kingdom of Goguryeo (one of the three kingdoms in Korea) in 37 B.C. that ruled over Korea and some part of what is now China. (Source: IMDb)
4. The Legend (2007)
It’s a story of a man, Damdeok, apparently the reincarnation of Hwan-woong, discovers the lost four gods imprisoned centuries ago by accident.
The adventure sets while he’s struggling to become the king of Goguryeo because Yeon Ho Gae, his friend, mistook him as his mom’s murderer.
5. Hong Gil Dong, The Hero (2008)
Hong Gil Dong is the son of a minister. Due to the strict Confucian laws of the Joseon Dynasty, Gil Dong, born an illegitimate child, is not accepted by his father and family.
After struggling severe discrimination by family and society, Gil Dong escaped and decided to become a bandit leader. (Source: IMDb)
6. The Moon That Embraces The Sun (2012)
The story of the secret love between Lee Hwon, a fictional king of Joseon, and Wol, a female shaman.
Wol was born as Heo Yeon Woo, the daughter of a noble family who won the love of the crown prince, Hwon.
Her enemies, jealous of her family’s position in court, schemed against her, wrestled away her rightful place as crown princess, and nearly took her life.
Years later, an embittered Hwon meets Wol, now a female shaman with no recollection of her past. (Source: Dramawiki)
7. Bridal Mask (2012)
Based on the hit manhwa series of the same name, Bridal Mask brings viewers to 1930s Korea during the height of Japanese imperialism.
Lee Kang To (Joo Won of Baker King Kim Tak Goo) is an ambitious and callous Korean officer employed by the Japanese colonists.
Despite his mother’s disapproval of his work and his own brother’s antagonistic history with the Japanese, Kang To continues to play by the colonist’s rules in hopes of becoming successful and bringing his family out of poverty.
However, a mysterious figure wearing a traditional Bridal Mask always seems to get in Kang To’s way.
The Bridal Mask appears as a Zorro-like figure who protects the people from the Japanese colonists’ oppression and abuse of power.
An unexpected turn events brings Kang To to cross paths with the mysterious Bridal Mask, changing his future and the nation’s history forever. (Source: MyDramaList)
8. Faith (2012)
The series is also known as The Good Doctor. It’s about a 21st-century plastic surgeon Eun Soo gets kidnapped and brought 700 years in the past for her healing powers.
Goryeo era bodyguard to the king General Choi Yeong is smart but a little naive, he almost never smiles. He faces conflicts with the female doctor Eun Soo, but soon feels attracted to her. (Source: MyDramaList)
9. Arang and the Magistrate (2012)
Lee Eun Oh, a noble’s son, arrives at a small village in search of his missing mother.
There, Arang, the ghost of a young woman that lost her memories of her past life, asks him to help her to figure out her identity and how she died. (Source: IMDb)
10. Queen In Hyun’s Man (2012)
Kim Boong Do is a scholar who travels 300 years into the future of modern Seoul and meets Choi Hee Jin, a no-name actress who is expecting a career renaissance through her role as Queen In Hyun in a TV drama. (Source: IMDb)
11. The Great Seer (2012)
The story set in the late Goryeo Dynasty in which a group of Feng Shui advisers to the government authorities help the hero Lee Sung Gye become the first king of the Joseon Dynasty. (Source: IMDb)
12. The Princess Man (2011)
Princess Se Ryung is the headstrong and forward-thinking daughter to Grand Prince Su Yang, who is determined to be King.
She falls in love with the son of his mortal enemy, and their romance gets caught in the crossfire of her father’s quest for the throne. (Source: MyDramaList)
13. Tree With Deep Roots (2011)
The series is also known as Deep Rooted Tree. Early in his reign, King Se Jong accidentally causes the death of his in-laws and their slaves in an attempt to save them from his brutal father, King Tae Jong. Two young slaves, Ddol Bok and his friend Dam, survive but neither knows the other has.
Ddol Bok blames the king and vows to kill him to avenge the deaths of everyone he loved.
He spends several years becoming a great warrior. Dam, who has a photographic memory, becomes a court lady called So Yi, but she feels so guilty about her role in the other slaves’ deaths that she is mute.
Ddol Bok returns to the palace under the name of Kang Chae Yoon in order to kill the king. However, he becomes embroiled in the mystery surrounding the deaths of several Hall of Worthies scholars.
The deaths were caused by a secret society called “Hidden Root,” which was created long ago by followers of Jeong Do Jeon, with the goal of giving more power to ministers and less to the king.
King Tae Jong killed Jeong Do Jeon and all of his family except his nephew, Jeong Gi Joon, who is now the leader of Hidden Root and lives in disguise not far from King Se Jong. (Source: MyDramaList)
14. The Duo (2011)
The drama tells the story of two men who were switched at birth. A twist of fate results in Chun Doong, who is of noble birth, living his life as a slave and later becoming a heroic outlaw.
While Gwi Dong was born as a beggar but lives Chun Dong’s life as a nobleman, growing up to become a police chief.
They become Jjakpae (Duo / Partner) and both fall in love with the same girl, Dong Nyeo. (Source: MyDramaList)
15. Kim Soo Ro (2010)
The series is also known as The Iron King. This drama charts the life of Kim Soo Ro, legendary founder of Geumgwan Gaya, the ruling city-state of the Gaya confederacy, which dominated sea trade and iron working during the Three Kingdoms Period.
Kim Soo Ro’s fiery temperament, charisma and intelligence are his only defense in the extended political struggle.
With competition for the throne from his half-brother and lifelong rival, Ijinashi, his former friend Suk Tal Hae, and the dangerous ambitions of Shin Kwi Gan. (Source: MyDramaList)
16. Dong Yi (2010)
“Dong Yi” is a historical drama based on the life of Dong Yi later known as Choi Suk Bin. She worked in the royal palace as a lowly water maid. King Sok Jong then selected Choi as his concubine.
Choi would then give birth to Yeong Jo, the second son of King Sok Jong and the future king of Joseon. After the birth of Yeong Jo, Dong Yi would become Suk Bin. (Source: MyDramaList)
17. Sungkyunkwan Scandal (2010)
In the Joseon era, Kim Yoon-hee masquerades as a boy to earn a living as a book transcriber.
Her family’s dire circumstances and the encouragement of a noble’s son finally drive her to attend Sungkyukwan University, forbidden for females. (Source: IMDb)
18. Chuno (2010)
The series is also known as The Slave Hunters. Chuno follows the story of Lee Dae Gil, a man of high birth, whose family was ruined when Won Ki Yoon, a slave, burnt down his house and escaped with his sister, Un Nyun, who was in love with Dae Gil.
Driven by his desire for revenge, he survived his harsh years on the street and made his name as a slave hunter, dedicated in his pursuit to find Un Nyun, his first and only love.
Song Tae Ha is a General of the Army who became a slave after being falsely accused of a crime he did not commit, and finds himself on the run from Dae Gil’s relentless pursuit.
Both men become entangled in a love triangle with Un Nyun, who is no longer a runaway slave, but Kim Hye Won, a nobleman’s daughter. (Source: MyDramaList)
19. The Kingdom of the Winds (2008)
The drama about the life of Jumong’s grandson, Moo Hyul, who was born with a curse to kill his parent, siblings, son and destroy Goguryeo. (Source: MyDramaList)
20. Ja Myung Go (2009)
Legend has it that more than 2,000 years ago, the Kingdom of Nangnang possessed a mystical Ja Myung Drum which will sound by itself when enemies invade.
In reality, Ja Myung Go does not represent the drum but instead, is embodied by the King’s daughter, Princess Ja Myung.
Princess Ja Myung and Princess Nak Rang are born on the same day and time to the same father but different mothers.
It is predicted that one princess will become the nation’s saviour while the other will bring the entire nation down.
Using her family’s powerful background, Princess Nak Rang’s mother successfully establishes her daughter as the savior princess.
Princess Ja Myung, on the other hand, is branded the princess of destruction, escapes death with the help of her mother and grows up among the common folk. (Source: MyDramaList)
21. Iljimae (2008)
Set during the Joseon Dynasty, Yong acted as a hooligan in the marketplace by day but at night he was a thief who robbed corrupted government officials to give to the poor.
After each robbery he left behind a painting depicting a plum tree branch to make his mark and was thus named Iljimae.
His main purpose was not so much to rob but to search for the owner of a specially designed sword which he saw as a child was used to kill his father, a loyal subject of the emperor.
Eun Chae is a government official’s daughter who despite her upbringing has a lot of empathy towards the poor.
She met Iljimae by chance and couldn’t help admiring him for what he stood for even though she had never seen his face. (Source: MyDramaList)
22. Seoul’s Sad Song (2007)
The series is also known as the Conspiracy in the Court. Lee Na Young (Kim Ha Eun) was trained to be an assassin after being rescued from servitude when her high ranking father was convicted of treason.
Her childhood sweetheart Park Sang Kyu (Jin Yi Han) who had returned from studying abroad and worked as a government official was looking all over for her.
So did her former servant Yang Man Oh (Lee Chun Hee) who had become the leader of the merchant group.
The three got entangled in a conspiracy against the Emperor who was determined to carry out reforms to create a new Korea whereby the class system would be eliminated. (Source: MyDramaList)
23. Strongest Chil Woo
Kang Chil Woo was a lowly police officer during the Joseon era. His parents were killed in a raid and his main goal was to stay below the radar to survive.
However, when his sister was killed, his outlook on life was forever changed, and in seeking revenge, he turned into an assassin and began to mete out justice to criminals. (Source: MyDramaList)
24. Ballad of Suh Dong (2005)
This drama is loosely based on one of Korea’s oldest folk songs. Suh Dong was the illegitimate son of the Baekje king and with the help of Princess Sun Hwa, the daughter of the king of the Silla, he went on to become the king of Baekje against all odds. (Source: MyDramaList)
25. Yi San
This series is also known as the Wind of the Palace or Lee San. This drama details the life of King Jeongjo, Joseon’s 22nd monarch, who is remembered in Korean history as one of Korea’s greatest kings, one who loved the people and reigned for the commoner. (Source: MyDramaList)
26. Thousand Years of Love (2003)
This is a time travel series. More than a thousand years ago from the present time, Puyeoju is the Baek Jae Empire’s princess.
Unlike other princesses, she is active and skilled in the arts and in sports. When the Baek Jae Empire crumbles due to a spy, Kum Hwa, she runs away with her bodyguard General Guishil Ari and falls in love with him in the meanwhile.
The new conquerer Kim Yu Suk is also in love with the princess, but only receives hate in return. In a desperate attempt to win her, he kills Ari, but the princess runs away and jumps off a cliff to kill herself.
While falling, she travels more than one thousand years into the future, which is our present time of 2003. Only she remains to be who she was.
She encounters Ari to be an aimless fashion designer Kang In Chul with a warm heart and bad temper.
Although, he is annoyed at her ignorance of the present world, he comes to fall in love with the princess again.
Fujiwara Tatsuji is the son of the Fujiwara dynasty, and once again is mysteriously attracted to the princess. Only she knows the past that holds all three of them together. (Source: MyDramaList)
27. Jewel in the Palace (2003)
The series is also known as The Great Jang Geum. About 500 years ago during the time of Chosun Dynasty, Korea boasted a rigidly hierarchical and male dominated social structure.
Based on a true story about a legendary girl, Jang Geum, who became the first woman to be the supreme royal physician of her times.
Despite her poor condition as a low class girl in the male dominated society, Jang Geum overcame a series of social discrimination and landed herself as a royal cook, later becoming the royal physician, then ultimately the physician in charge of the king.
She was even given by the king the title “The Great Jang Geum.” The story of her checkered life on her success and breakdown as well as her love story beautifully unfold. (Source: MyDramaList)
28. Secret Investigation Record (2010)
Secret Investigation Record is based on cases detailed in the Annals of Joseon History with a bizarre twist; these incidents incorporate mysterious, supernatural elements that cannot be explained through science.
Kim Hyung Do is an inspector of the state whose single-minded focus on his investigations into administrative misdeeds bring him into direct contact with these strange mysteries.
Heo Yoon Yi, on the other hand, is a government employee who aids him and attempts to understand thesescientific impossibilities with an open mind, in contrast to his cynicism. (Source: MyDramaList)
29. Dr. Jin (2012)
A surgeon treats a mysterious patient who has a human-shaped tumor in his head, only to discover himself time-travelling to the year 1861. (Source: IMDb)
30. Jeon Woo Chi: The Taoist Wizard (2012)
Three wizards release Jeon Woo Chi, a magician who is free from his ancient scroll entrapment in order to save the world from goblins wreaking havoc in the modern day. (Source: tvN Asia)
31. Sword And Flower (2013)
The series is also called The Blade and Petal or Knife and Flower. Knife and Flower, an action/spy/romance drama, is set in the Koguryo period.
It is about how Moo Seol, the daughter of King Young Ryu, falls in love with Yeon Choong, the child Yeon Gaesomun had with a concubine. But Moo Young debates whether she should have her revenge, as Yeon Gaesomun is the man who killed her father.
Yeon Choong, was born between a father of noble blood and a servant mother. Despite his talent, he finds he cannot rise higher in rank due to the fact that he is a concubine′s son.
He is later ordered by his father to kill the person he loves, he defies his father’s orders to murder the daughter and travels between his love for his prey and his fealty towards his father. (Source: MyDramaList)
32. The Fugitive Of Joseon (2013)
Set during the reign of King Injong, the protagonist is a royal physician desperate to cure his ailing daughter.
He becomes a fugitive when he gets entangled in an assassination plot to poison the crown prince, and fights to save both his daughter’s life and his own. (Source: IMDb)
33. Gu Family Book (2013)
A melodrama epic about the great deal of trouble Choi Kang Chi, born as a half-human-half-mythical-creature, who goes through struggles in order to live more like a human than anyone else despite not being able to become human.
He is the son of Gu Wol Ryung, the guardian spirit of Jiri Mountain, and Yoon Seo Hwa, an ordinary human.
Choi Kang Chi later was raised by adopted family. He grows up as an outspoken character who’s full of curiosity and one day, he realizes that he’s a half-human-half-beast through a certain incident and starts living his second life.
While going through the struggles, he met Dam Yeo Wool who is a master of martial arts and archery at young age and then, they both fall in love with each other. (Source: DramaWiki)
34. Joseon Gunman (2014)
n the time of enlightenment of 19th-century Joseon. It stars a hero who is the son of Joseon’s greatest swordsman.
He loses his father and his younger sister gets sold as a slave, after which he trades sword for gun as he embarks on his revenge mission.
The drama will “depict the pain and courage of the young people of the era.” (Source: MyDramaList)
35. Secret Door (2014)
It is a historical drama about the conflict between father King Young Jo, who wished to strengthen the King′s rule, and his son Crown Prince Sado, who dreamt of equality among citizens in his country.
This drama will tell the discovery of the truth behind the mystery surrounding Sado’s death, who died under his father’s death sentence. (Source: DramaWiki)
36. Three Musketeers (2014)
Set in the Joseon Dynasty period (during the confusion of justification and the period of espionage and transition from ming to ping), when public desire for social reform was at a high.
The three-arc historical action-romance drama, in which warriors and spies step back and forth along borders, follows Crown Prince So Hyeon, his two bodyguards, Heo Seung Po and An Min Seo, as well as Park Dal Hyang, a yangban come warrior who has everything going for him, including personality and looks, even though he comes from a poor family.
Dal Hyang is also involved in a love triangle between Yoon Seo, the Crown Princess, and Crown Prince So Hyeon.
Meanwhile Jo Mi Ryeong is Prince So Hyeon’s first love, who later becomes the prince’s enemy and decides to take revenge. (Source: MyDramaList)
37. Scholar Who Walks The Night (2015)
Set in an alternate Joseon dynasty, Jo Yang-sun (Lee Yu Bi) is the daughter of a nobleman whose family loses everything when her father is framed for treason.
To make ends meet, Yang-sun begins cross-dressing as a male bookseller, and meets the handsome and mysterious scholar Kim Sung-yeol (Lee Joon Ki), who works at the Hongmungwan.
Sung-yeol is a vampire, and he continues to be haunted by the long-ago death of his first love Lee Myung-hee, especially when he meets Myung-hee’s present-day doppelgänger Choi Hye-ryung (Kim So Eun), an aloof nobleman’s daughter.
Meanwhile, the evil vampire Gwi (Lee Soo Hyuk) resides in the royal palace and uses his powers and political machinations to prevent the Crown Prince Lee Yoon (Shim Chang-Min) from ascending the throne. (Source: IMDb)
38. Empress Ki (2014)
A Korea-born warrior girl had to be a servant at the Mongol Yuan court but somehow overcame her low status to become an empress in another land. (Source: IMDb)
39. Jang Ok Jung, Live In Love (2013)
This drama tells the story of Jang Hee Bin, one of the most famous royal concubines in the Joseon Dynasty who was behind the deposition of King Sook Jong’s wife, Queen In Hyun.
However, unlike the countless dramas and movies about this famous villain, this drama will tell the story of Jang Ok Jung before she became concubine Jang Hee Bin and focus on her role as a fashion designer and cosmetic maker in the Joseon era. (Source: MyDramaList)
40. JeJoongwon (2010)
In this historical medical drama, three people from different backgrounds form an unlikely friendship as they all train to become the first Western medical practitioners in 1885 Korea.
Hwang Jung (played by Park Yong Woo) is a butcher’s son with no future prospects of improving his position in society. Baek Do Yang (Yeon Jung Hoon) is the son of a nobleman who does not wish to follow his father’s footsteps into politics.
Yoo Seok Ran (Han Hye Jin) is the intelligent daughter of a translator who wishes to undergo medical training. They become the first students of Jejoongwon, which is the first Western hospital in Korea.
As they rise up to become skilled doctors and surgeons, the world around them changes as Korea transitions from the old to the modern under the threat of an increasingly powerful Japan.
The drama also features plenty of new foreign stars such as Sean Richard, Ricky Lee Neely, and Catherine Baillie, all of whom play Western doctors teaching at Jejoongwon. (Source: IMDb)
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41. The King’s Daughter, Su Baek Hyang (2014)
King Muryeong was a Baekje king who oversaw a renaissance during his reign while also and building this kingdom into a sea power.
He had a hidden daughter called Soo Baek Hyang, who did not become a princess due to her evil half-sister, Seol-hee.
But Baek Hyang showed a deep filial piety to her father and was patriotic. She later became the leader of Bimun, a secret spy group that helped her country in war. She earned eternal recognition in the annals of Baekje history. (Source: MBC)
42. Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016)
When a total eclipse of the sun takes place, a 21st century woman, Go Ha Jin, is transported back in time to the Goryeo Dynasty of Korea.
She wakes up in the body of 16-year-old Hae Soo, an aristocrat living with Lady Hae, her cousin who happens to be married to one of the sons of King Taejo.
She soon befriends several of the princes, who find her carefree and exuberant attitude refreshing.
Although she knows she should not get involved in palace intrigues over the succession to the throne, she inadvertently becomes a pawn in the struggle, as several of the Princes fall in love with her. ~~ Based on Chinese novel “Bu Bu Jing Xin” by Tong Hua. (Source: MyDramaList)
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43. Hwang Jin Yi (2006)
This story is about the life of Joseon dancer, musician and poet, Hwang Jin Yi, who seeks perfection in her art relentlessly and the hardship facing women due to their lowly social status. (Source: MyDramaList)
Note: There is also a movie of this series called The Legendary Courtesan Hwang Jin Yi starring Song Hye Kyo in 2007.
45. Mirror of The Witch
The series is also known as Secret Healer. Based on Korea’s most renowned doctor, Heo Jun.
“Secret Healer” is an historical fantasy drama about a young man finding his way and love for a forgotten princess.
Heo Jun faces discrimination as an illegitimate son and gives up on his natural talents, intelligence, and passion for academia.
Succumbing to the limits of his social status, he resorts to just making as much money as he can using his good looks and witty charm.
Meanwhile, Queen Sim is unable to conceive and she seeks the help of a shaman whose black magic enables her to have twins – a boy and a girl.
However, the daughter, Seo-ri, is put under a curse and abandoned deep in the mountains, where one day, she meets Heo Jun.
The curse of the abandoned princess is that whoever falls in love with her will die. Seo-ri tries to find a cure for her curse and along the way, creates magical treatments that help cure sick people.
Unfortunately, Heo Jun accidentally sets the book of magic on fire, and he stays in the mountains with Seori to try to help heal the sick in a mountain village. As Heo Jun’s passion for medicine grows, he decides to become a doctor.
As he sees Seori fight against her destiny, his affinity for her grows, and he too begins to believe that he can change his destiny. (Source: JTBC)
47. The Night Watchman’s Journal (2014)
Being able to see ghosts and other supernatural spirits is a heavy responsibility.
Prince Lee Rin (Jung Il Woo), like his father before him, discovers that he has the ability to see ghosts and other supernatural beings. (Source: IMDb)
48. Moonlight Drawn By Clouds (2016)
The series is also known as Love in the Moonlight. Hong Ra On disguises herself as a man and counsels men on dating. Due to a love letter she wrote for a client, she meets Crown Prince Hyo Myeong.
Ra On is unaware that he is the Crown Prince and Hyo Myeong is unaware that Ra On is a woman.
The Crown Prince becomes interested in Ra On. His eunuchs become aware of this and attempt to get Ra On to become one of them. (Source: MyDramaList)
49. King Geunchogo (2010)
The story of King Geunchogo, warrior king of Baekje. Under his reign, the kingdom experienced its glory days, with military conquests that saw him controlling most of the Korean peninsula and a subsequent enhancement of political power that reached its greatest height in Baekje’s history. (Source: DramaWiki)
50. Gyebaek (2011)
General Gye-Baek of Baekje and his 5,000 soldiers go up against the Silla and Tang Dynasties. Their combined forces are 10 times the size of Bekjae’s army. (Source: IMDb)
51. Splash Splash Love (2015)
Dan-bi is a high school senior who has given up on math. On the day she is about to take the KSAT for college, she is transported back into the past during a freak rain shower.
She finds herself hundreds of years in the past at the height of the Joseon Kingdom, which is suffering from a severe drought.
She encounters King Leedo who yearns to learn advanced mathematics and falls in love with him.
This is a romance that transcends space and time with two lovers who come to know each other on a deeper level. (Source: MBC)
52. Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth (2016)
The names of just few Hwarangs are recorded in history. Not many people these days truly know about Hwarangs.
How did they start?
How did beautiful looking young men become at the center of unifying old Korea’s Three Kingdoms?
To these countless questions, we look forward to finding the answers. Let’s imagine how life must have been for young people of Silla back in the 6th century. Let us tell you a story about their friendships and love. (Source: KBS)
53. Six Flying Dragons (2015)
A fiction historical drama about the ambition, rise and fall of real and fictional characters based around Lee Bang Won.
Lee Bang Won was the third king of the Joseon Dynasty in Korea and the father of King Sejong the Great. He helped his father King Taejo establish the Joseon Dynasty. (Source: MyDramaList)
54. Jeong Do Jeon (2014)
The new era of Joseon has started! The late 14th c, Goryeo. Abuse of power and corruption made people to leave the government offices and only the corrupted people are left in the high offices.
When there seem to be no hope, there are a group of young people who values the meaning of scholar heavily.
They are the Sungkyunkwan scholars who have dreams to bring peace to the world and they were the hope of Goryeo.
Sambong Jeong DoJeon is one of them. He believed that the old corrupted government should be destroyed and the destiny of scholars is to build an idealistic country.
This isn’t an ordinary revolution. Jeong Dojeon’s meticulous plans for a new future will create a whole new civilization. A politician who will wipe away our tears, the story of his life and destiny unfolds. (Source: KBS World)
55. The Great King Sejong (2008)
Born as the third prince, Chung Nyeong, was far from ascending the throne. His early years were turbulent as Korea faced political tensions from both within and abroad and facing abduction as a boy to make matters worse.
Eventually, the young prince finds himself living in a private residence outside of the palace and experiences the everyday life of commoners until he is a young man.
Later on his ascension to thethrone, Chung Nyeong (now called King Se Jong) stabilizes the newly born country and gives rise to the blooming culture of Joseon. In the process, he invents Hangul, the Korean writing system. (Source: MyDramaList)
56. Chicago Typewriter (2017)
Note: This is in Japanese occupation. Han Se Joo was a writer in his past life during the 1930s Japanese occupation of Korea. He has been reincarnated and is a bestselling author in the modern day.
But Se Joo is depressed and has writer’s block that keeps him from completing his next bestseller.
Yoo Jin Oh is a talented ghostwriter who can bail Se Joo out of his predicament, but the mysterious man has a condition for his services that Se Joo may not be able to meet.
Jeon Seol is a veterinarian and book lover who runs her own delivery service. She becomes an anti-fan of the overrated Se Joo. (Source: MyDramaList)
57. Painter of the Wind (2008)
Shin Yoon Bok is a very talented painter who disguises herself as a boy, to be able to infiltrate in the painting academy to improve her art and to search for her father’s murderer.
Kim Hong Do is the man who teaches Yoon Bok how to paint and falls in love with his apprentice not knowing that he is a she! (Source: IMDb)
58. Goddess of Fire (2013)
The series is also called Jun Yi, Goddess of Fire. Joseon-era pottery was notable for its best quality and advanced baking method in the late 16th century.
Baek Pa-seon, the woman of fire, was Joseon’s first female potter and regarded as the dojo of Shintaro porcelain.
Crown Prince Gwang-hae loved her deeply but had to let her go. This TV miniseries depicts her early life in Joseon instead of Japan, where a shrine is dedicated to her. (Source: MBC)
59. The Horse Doctor (2012)
The series is also called as The King’s Doctor. A Medical drama about the life of a low-class veterinarian of that era who was a horse doctor then becoming a high official as a court physician in charge of the king’s health in the late period of the Joseon Dynasty. (Source: IMDb)
60. The Merchant: Gaekju (2015)
In late Joseon, a poor man named Cheon Bong Sam inherits a decrepit inn and honestly works his way up to becoming a powerful merchant.
As tradesmen clash against the bureaucratic powers that attempt to oppress them by rigging bad deals, Bong Sam never loses sight of his humble beginnings as a peddler.
Even after achieving great success and eventually shapes the way that industry and business are done in his time. (Source: MyDramaList)
61. Dae Bak (2016)
The series is also called Jackpot or The Royal Gambler. Dae-Gil and King Yeongjo enter a match.
Dae-Gil bets his life and King Yeongjo bets the entire Kingdom of Joseon on the outcome. (Source: IMDb)
63. The Flower in Prison (2016)
A story about Ok-nyeo, a talented girl born and raised in prison but gains great skill and wisdom through her encounters with extraordinary people from all walks of life.
She becomes a crusader for the oppressed peasant class and embarks on a journey to find the class she belongs to in the caste system.
Through the life of Ok-nyeo, this TV miniseries introduces Joseon’s proud legacy of human rights laws, which Ok-nyeo fights to enact throughout the kingdom. (Source: MBC)
64. The Three Kingdom Wars – Imjin Wars 1592 (2016)
This docudrama depicts political situations in Joseon, Myung Dynasty, and Japan during the Imjin War. (Source: MyDramaList)
65. Goblin (2016)
Dokkaebi (Gong Yoo) needs a human bride to end his immortal life. Meanwhile, the Angel of Death has amnesia.
Somehow these two meet and live together. They see off those who have passed away and are now leaving this world. (Source: IMDb)
66. Shine or Go Crazy (2015)
The series is also called as Shine or Be Mad. Wang So, a Goryeo prince, was born with the name, “Shine.”
Shin Yul is a woman hailing from the Balhae kingdom and believed to have the powers of an oracle.
A prince who suffered vile remarks because of a cursed prophecy finds himself attracted to a former princess from a fallen kingdom who faces death because of her fate to become the light of another kingdom.
Their love is at a point of either shining or flaming out. (Source: MBC)
67. My Sassy Girl (2017)
A love story of a cold city scholar Gyun Woo, who’s known as “Joseon’s national treasure”, and the sassy princess Hye Myung in a Joseon Dynasty era. (Source: IMDb)
68. Saimdang, the Herstory (2017)
A Korean art history lecturer discovers the diary of historical figure Shin Saimdang, whom was a a genius artist and passionate lover. The art history lecturer unravels the secret of a mysterious portrait. (Source: IMDb)
69. Seven Day Queen (2017)
Kyung is the daughter of a powerful politician during the Joseon Dynasty. She falls in love with Crown Prince Lee Yuk, who lives under the tyranny of his half-brother, King Yeon San Gun.
When Lee Yuk rises to the throne and becomes King Jung Jong, Chae Kyung becomes Queen Dan Kyung, who becomes caught in the cross-fires of different political factions as well as the jealousies between the brothers.
When Dan Kyung’s own father stages a coup against the king, Queen Dan Kyung is dethroned only after seven days and expelled from the palace. (Source: IMDb)
70. Ruler: Master of the Mask (2017)
Set in the 18th-century Joseon, it tells the story of Crown Prince Lee Sun and his fight against a powerful and wealthy organization Pyunsoo hwe, who controls the country behind the scenes.
He becomes a hope for the people who suffer from lack of water due to the greed of Pyunsoo hwe, who tried to privatize the nation’s water supply.
With the help of the woman he loves, Ga-eun, Lee Sun overcomes adversity and grow as a just ruler. (Source: IMDb)
71. Hur Jun, The Original Story (2013)
“Hur Jun, the Original Story”is a miniseries that traces the life of a man who beat the oppressive caste system to rise to the top in his field.
The actual Hur Jun, the Original Story wrote Dongui Bogam, which is registered as a UNESCO Memory of the World, 400 years ago.
Even after his death, Hur Jun, the Original Story’ book is used by oriental doctors in the 21st century to heal people. (Source: MBC)
72. Splendid Politics (2015)
The series is also called as Hwa Jung, The Princess of Light. Princess Jungmyung was the only direct descendant of King Seonjo still alive and when she was born, her birth was celebrated around the palace.
She had the sweetest smile a baby could have. Queen Inmok was relieved that she had a baby girl instead of a boy.
According to the seer Nam Sa-go, the baby she carried would become the true ruler of the Joseon Dynasty, a king of kings and having a princess proved the prophecy to be wrong. But the turbulent times took a heavy toll on Princess Jungmyung.
Upon the death of King Seonjo, Gwanghae ascended the throne and his first order of business was to eliminate Prince Yeongchang and banish Queen Inmok from the palace.
Then his next target was Princess Jungmyung. When Inmok learned that her daughter’s life was in danger, she sent her into hiding. But assassins tracked Jungmyung down.
Through the heroic sacrifice of her bodyguard, Jungmyung was put on a boat that sailed adrift in the sea. Meanwhile the bodyguard and nanny set their boat ablaze and died to fool the assassins.
Jungmyung witnessed her nanny and bodyguard consumed by the flames. Adrift on the boat, Jungmyung lost consciousness and was picked up by a merchant boat crossing to Dejima (出島) in Japan. She was sold as slave.
To survive in the hostile environment she hid the fact that she was a princess.
She also vanquished her memories of ever being a princess so that she could focus on how to get revenge. Posing as a boy, Jungmyung worked as a laborer in the sulfur mine.
But she discovered hope in the depths of her despair. It was a friendship between Ja-gyeong that helped her cling to life.
But she never lost her focus on returning to Joseon one day and brings the downfall of Gwanghae who had taken everything away from her.
Then an opportunity arose. She began peddling information and secrets in the sulfur mines.
Leveraging her strategic location, she followed the Joseon delegation visiting Japan back to Joseon. Finally, her dream to return to Joseon had come true. (Source: MBC)
73. Mr. Sunshine (2018)
The series is set in the early 20th century. Mr. Sunshine centers on a young boy born into a house servant’s family and travels to the United States during the 1871 Shinmiyangyo (U.S. expedition to Korea).
He returns to his homeland later as a U.S. marine officer. He meets and falls in love with an aristocrat’s daughter. At the same time, he discovers a plot by foreign forces to colonize Korea. (Source: MyDramaList)
74. The King In Love (2017)
Wang Won’s father is the king of Goryeo while his mother is the Yuan emperor’s daughter. He was born with many gifts as he has good looks, the wisdom of a snake, and a magnetic personality that draws people to him.
But behind his gentle, virtuous demeanor, he has ambitions to conquer other lands. He has a faithful friend named Lin, who is a royal cousin and comrade with the same ambitions as he does. Then Wang Won has an encounter with a young woman named, San.
San was someone that he recalled having met when he was a child and was lodged in his mind ever since.
Wang Won sees how bright and confident San is and befriends her as well. But this friendship plants the seeds of tragedy.
San’s beauty mesmerizes both Won and Lin and their seemingly strong bond starts to fray over one woman. (Source: MBC)
75. Emperor of the Sea (2004)
Jang Bo Go was a slave from Shilla (a Korean dynasty that lasted from 57 B.C. until 935 A.D.) He was sold in China during the Tang Dynasty, where he was trained as a gladiator-slave.
Through hard work and perseverance, he made it back to Shilla and became a successful sea merchant.
The sea passage at the time was plagued by pirates and Jang Bo Go went head to head with them in battles and managed to keep the pirates at bay.
This epic drama tells the story of a historical figure blending it with intrigue and battle of wit to make it into a successful drama of all times. (Source: MyDramaList)
76. Inspiring Generation (2014)
The series is set during the Japanese occupation in the early 20th century. Shin Jung Tae loses his father at the age of 15 when a Japanese soldier shoots him during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai in the 1930s.
But instead of finding justice, Jung Tae is accused of his own father’s death. Jung Tae finds justice only by using his fists in the back alleys of Shanghai, growing up to become the best fighter on the continent. ~~ Based on the comic series “Age of Feeling” by Bang Hak Ki. (Source: MyDramaList)
77. Kingdom (2019)*
“Kingdom” is set in Korea’s medieval Joseon period. A crown prince is sent on a suicide mission to investigate a mysterious plague that’s spreading across his country.
The truth threatens the kingdom when he discovers that it is an atrocious epidemic in the form of zombies. (Source: MyDramaList)
78. Asadal Chronicles (2019)*
Eun Som, a cursed child born in Blue Stone Village under an ominous sign. He later becomes a conqueror of Asadal, taking it from city-state to empire.
Ta Gon, a war hero among the Saenyeok Tribe and master of strategy. He is ambitious and aims to become the first King of Asadal.
Tan Ya, a woman born under a cursed sign who overcomes adversity to become the first female politician of Asadal.
She is Eun Som’s first love. Tae Ha, the last surviving neonatal, a race different from humans, as well as the first Empress of Asadal. (Source: Wikipedia)
79. The King’s Face (2014)
Drama series follows the life of Prince Gwang Hae. Even though he is the child of a concubine, he becomes the crown prince.
For the next 16 years, until he becomes the King, Prince Gwang Hae suffers through dethronement and death threats. Using physiognomy as a weapon, he is able to become the King. (Source: MyDramaList)
80. Blooded Palace: The War of Flowers (2013)
The series is also known as Cruel Palace. A cruel story that depicts the battles between concubines within the royal palace who turn to the dark side in their bid to gain love and power from the king.
It will center around the beautiful but evil royal concubine Jo So Yong as she tries to gain the attention of King In Jo with her beauty and wit to control the power of the Joseon.
When she succeeds, there is a bloody battle over the power she receives. By birth she was of a lower class, but used her extraordinary beauty to get the favor of King In Jo and managed come between King In Jo and Crown Prince So Hyun. (Source: DramaWiki)
81. Damo (2003)
This series and our heroine took place in the Joseon Dynasty. Chae Ok was separated from her brother when her father, a nobleman, was accused of treason. She managed to make her way and becomes a Damo, a low ranked woman detective.
Skilled in swordplay, she must not only fight crime but face inequality for her status in society.
Her brother grew up to be a rebel leader fighting against society injustice and both brother and sister faced off against each other on opposite side of the law. (Source: MyDramaList)
82. Dae Jo Yeong (2006)
The drama tells the story of the life of Dae Jo-yeong, also known as the founder of the kingdom of Balhae. The drama is from the scriptwriter of Giant and Salaryman. (Source: MyDramaList)
83. God of War (2012)
This drama is a about a man who was born to the slave class during the Goryeo Dynasty, overruling the feudalist government that had been in power for over 60 years and becomes the most powerful man in the country. (Source: MyDramaList)
84. Tamra, the Island (2009)
Set in the 17th Century, Jang Beo Jin is a young female diver on Tamra Island. She doesn’t particularly enjoy her situation and dreams of one day leaving the island.
One day, to her shock, she discovers a young blond haired man laying on the beach. The young man’s name is William and he is a shipwrecked British citizen.
Another young man named Park Kyu enters the island under the disguise of one of the many convicts sent to Tamra Island.
In actuality, Park Kyu is a budding government official known as a Seon Bi. These three young people then become involved in a hilarious love triangle. (Source: MyDramaList)
85. Immortal Admiral Yi Sun-shin (2004)
It is late 1598, shortly before the Battle of Noryang, the final confrontation of the Imjin War. The renmants of the Japanese invasion force are desperate to go home, but are also driven by personal motivation to beat their greatest adversary, Admiral Yi Sun-shin, once and for all.
Self-serving Ming generals and Joseon officials also fear Yi’s growing popularity and its impact on their personal base of power.
These incidentally combining ambitions fan King Seonjo’s paranoia and make him eventually fear that Yi might come after his throne, and after a series of what he calls acts of high treason he decides to have Yi arrested.
Yi, on the other hand, is determined to teach the Japanese a lesson for the atrocities they committed on the Korean people, and despite orders to remain quiet.
While the Japanese are to pull out without anymore bloodshed, he rallies his naval force and prepares for the upcoming battle.
The battle commences and the Japanese are dealt a crippling blow, but Yi is fatally wounded by an arquebuse bullet.
As he lays dying, the plot backtracks important stations of Yi’s life, from his boyhood to his military career, his disgrace at the hands of his king and his reinstatement, back to the battle of Noryang, where he succumbs to his wound just as victory is declared. (Source: MyDramaList)
86. Yeon Gae Somun (2006)
Yeon Gae Somun is the general who killed the penultimate King of Goguryeo, Yeongnyu, in 642.
It was a period of tremendous instability, both because of the pressure by Shilla, but also because the political situation in Goguryeo was very confusing.
After General Yeon put Yeongnyu’s nephew Bojang as his puppet on the throne following his coup d’etat, he tried with little success to calm down Yeon’s two sons in trying to gain power, and started repressing Buddhism (the Kingdom’s official religion) in favour of Taoism. (Source: MyDramaList)
87. Eyes of Dawn (1991)
The story is set during the Japanese occupation in the early 20th century. Eyes of Dawn is the story of three young Koreans caught in the maelstrom of the nation’s modern history.
Spanning from the colonial period to the Korean War, the series brought to attention such issues as Japanese war crimes (especially the existence of ‘comfort women’) and the tragedies wrought by Korea’s ideological divisions. ~~ Based on a bestseller novel by Kim Seong Jong. (Source: DramaWiki)
88. My Love From Another Star
This is one of the best historical Korean drama series in which it reached international success in 2014.
It’s also another iconic success for South Korean actor, Kim Soo-Hyun, whose name is already notable for Moon Embracing the Sun, yet another saeguk (historical Korean drama series) back in 2012.
Anyway, My Love From Another Star aka My Love From The Star circles around an alien, Do Min-joon stuck in 1609, during the Joseon Dynasty.
When he tried to rescue a young girl from falling off a cliff, he missed his trip back to where he came from and got stranded on Earth for the next 400 years.
Because of alien abilities, he possesses nearly perfect physical attributes and enhanced abilities, forcing him to take a new identity as a human being to conceal it.
Until he reached the modern-day era, Min-joon worked as a college professor where he met Cheon Song-yi, a famous hallyu actress, shortly before he left Earth to return to his planet.
The conflict started when he got entangled in a complicated situation where he started to lose control of himself and his alien powers.
89. Empress Cheonchu
Empress Cheonchu aka The Iron Empress is yet another successful South Korean historical drama series aired in 2009.
It revolves around, as the title suggests, the historical Dowager Queen Empress Cheonchu in Goryeo.
What’s interesting about her that’s worth-watching is when she tried to fight against the Liao Dynasty for the sake of her grandfather.
The conquest circles around her wish to win back her estranged son, who lives with her brother, Seongjeong of Goryeo, the 6th ruler of the medieval Goryeo period.
During her reign, she faced various royal court issues and several power struggles. However, with her determination to win and strong will power, she overcame them.
Note: Photo credits to respective owners. Those dramas with asterisks (*), they are upcoming historical Korean drama series in 2019. Stay tuned for updates. Also, I’ll be updating my reviews for these Korean dramas. You can start reading my first review here.
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