Searching for the best Korean historical drama series in the last 20 years has become a trend. For whatever reason, many people creatively imagine how it would be to create a story to change the course of history. Was it because of regret and resentment?
Days ago, I found it interesting to gather as many Kdrama historical romance series as possible. That’s why I thought of compiling a whole bunch of them and consolidating them into one list. In this post, I’ll share the 100 best Korean historical drama series known as sageuk, a South Korean term denoting historical drama series, films, and plays of all time.
Before we begin, I like to say thank you to a lot of you who helped me grow the list of the best historical Kdrama you find in every nook and cranny of the Internet, especially to Jolan, Tor, Eric, and Marie, who recommended new saeguk series to add here. So, if you’re new here, let me ask you this question, which is the best historical Kdrama among the saeguks that made their spots on the list?
Table of Contents
- 100+ Best Korean Historical Drama Series Of All Time
- 1. Warrior Baek Dong Soo
- 2. Queen Seon Deok
- 3. Jumong
- 4. The Legend
- 5. Hong Gil Dong, the Hero
- 6. The Moon that Embraces the Sun
- 7. Bridal Mask
- 8. Faith
- 9. Arang and the Magistrate
- 10. Queen In Hyun’s Man
- 11. The Great Seer
- 12. The Princess Man
- 13. Tree with Deep Roots
- 14. The Duo
- 15. Kim Soo Ro
- 16. Dong Yi
- 17. Sungkyunkwan Scandal
- 18. Chuno
- 19. The Kingdom of the Winds
- 20. Ja Myung Go
- 21. Iljimae
- 22. Seoul’s Sad Song
- 23. Strongest Chil Woo
- 24. Ballad of Suh Dong
- 25. Yi San
- 26. Thousand Years of Love
- 27. Jewel in the Palace
- 28. Secret Investigation Record
- 29. Dr. Jin
- 30. Jeon Woo Chi: The Taoist Wizard
- 31. Sword and Flower
- 32. The Fugitive Of Joseon
- 33. Gu Family Book
- 34. Joseon Gunman
- 35. Secret Door
- 36. Three Musketeers
- 37. Scholar Who Walks The Night
- 38. Empress Ki
- 39. Jang Ok Jung, Live In Love
- 40. JeJoongwon
- 41. The King’s Daughter, Su Baek Hyang
- 42. Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo
- 43. Hwang Jin Yi
- 44. Mirror of The Witch
- 45. The Night Watchman’s Journal
- 46. Moonlight Drawn By Clouds
- 47. King Geunchogo
- 48. Gyebaek
- 49. Splash Splash Love
- 50. Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth
- 51. Six Flying Dragons
- 52. Jeong Do Jeon
- 53. The Great King Sejong
- 54. Chicago Typewriter
- 55. Painter of the Wind
- 56. Goddess of Fire
- 57. The Horse Doctor
- 58. The Merchant: Gaekju
- 59. Dae Bak
- 60. The Flower in Prison
- 61. The Three Kingdom Wars – Imjin Wars 1592
- 62. Goblin
- 63. Shine or Go Crazy
- 64. My Sassy Girl
- 65. Saimdang, Memoir of Colors
- 66. Seven Day Queen
- 67. Ruler: Master of the Mask
- 68. Hur Jun, the Original Story
- 69. Splendid Politics
- 70. Mr. Sunshine
- 71. The King in Love
- 72. Emperor of the Sea
- 73. Inspiring Generation
- 74. Kingdom
- 75. Asadal Chronicles
- 76. The King’s Face
- 77. Blooded Palace: The War of Flowers
- 78. Damo
- 79. Dae Jo Yeong
- 80. God of War
- 81. Tamra, the Island
- 82. Immortal Admiral Yi Sun-shin
- 83. Yeon Gae Somun
- 84. Eyes of Dawn
- 85. My Love From Another Star
- 86. Empress Cheonchu
- 87. Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung
- 88. The Hymn of Death
- 89. The Red Sleeve Cuff
- 90. Bossam: Steal the Fate
- 92. Tale of the Royal Secret Agent and Jo-Yi
- 93. When Flowers Bloom, I Think of the Moon
- 94. Kingdom: Ashin of the North
- 95. Diary of a Night Watchman
- 96. Kingdom of the Winds
- 97. Gwanggaeto, the Great Conqueror
- 98. Red Sky
- 99. River Where the Moon Rises
- 100. Joseon Exorcist (canceled)
- 101. Monarch Industry
- 102. Kingdom 2
- 103. King Maker: The Change of Destiny
- 104. Mr. Queen
- 105. Secret Royal Inspector
- 106. Hur Jun
- 107. Taejo Wang Geon
- 108. Ballad of Seodong
- 109. Seoul 1945
- 110. Legend of the Patriots
- 111. Mr. Queen
- Anything to add?
100+ Best Korean Historical Drama Series Of All Time
1. Warrior Baek Dong Soo
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 covert assassins whose aim was to overthrow the throne. (Source: IMDb)
2. Queen Seon Deok
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, to save Queen Maya from being ousted by Mishil, whose ambition was to become Queen.
Seohwa raised Deokman as if she were her own. Still, a turn of events eventually led Deokman to discover her real identity—only to be abandoned again by her family to save the throne from Mishil’s hand, except for her twin sister Cheonmyeon. The latter 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)
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
It’s a story of a man, Damdeok, apparently, the reincarnation of Hwan-woong, who 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 for his mom’s murderer.
5. Hong Gil Dong, the Hero
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 with severe discrimination from family and society, Gil Dong escaped and decided to become a bandit leader. (Source: IMDb)
6. The Moon that Embraces the Sun
The story of the secret love between Lee Hwon, a fictional king of Joseon, and Wol, a female shaman. Wol was born 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
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 brother’s antagonistic history with the Japanese, Kang To plays 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 event brings Kang To to cross paths with the mysterious Bridal Mask, changing his future and the nation’s history forever. (Source: MyDramaList)
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 into the past for her healing powers. Goryeo-era bodyguard to king General Choi Yeong is brilliant but naive. He rarely smiles. He faces conflicts with the female doctor Eun Soo but soon feels attracted to her. (Source: MyDramaList)
9. Arang and the Magistrate
Lee Eun Oh, a noble’s son, arrives at a small village searching for 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
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 expecting a career renaissance through her role as Queen In Hyun in a TV drama. (Source: IMDb)
11. The Great Seer
The story is set in the late Goryeo Dynasty, in which a group of Feng Shui advisers to the government authorities helped the hero Lee Sung Gye become the first king of the Joseon Dynasty. (Source: IMDb)
12. The Princess Man
Princess Se Ryung is the headstrong and forward-thinking daughter of 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
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 loves. 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 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 to give more power to ministers and less to the king.
King Tae Jong killed Jeong Do Jeon and his family, except for 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
The drama tells the story of two men who were switched at birth. A twist of fate results in Chun Doong, of noble birth, living his life as a slave and later becoming a heroic outlaw. While Gwi Dong was born as a beggar, Chun Dong lived’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
The series is also known as The Iron King. This drama charts the life of Kim Soo Ro, the 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
“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, King Sok Jong’s second son and Joseon’s future king. After the birth of Yeong Jo, Dong Yi became Suk Bin. (Source: MyDramaList)
17. Sungkyunkwan Scandal
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)
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 to his pursuit of finding 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
The drama is about the life of Jumong’s grandson, Moo Hyul, who was born with a curse to kill his parent, siblings, and son and destroy Goguryeo. (Source: MyDramaList)
20. Ja Myung Go
Legend has it that more than 2,000 years ago, the Kingdom of Nangnang possessed a mystical Ja Myung Drum, which would sound by itself when enemies invaded. In reality, Ja Myung Go does not represent the drum but is embodied by the King’s daughter, Princess Ja Myung. Princess Ja Myung and Princess Nak Rang were born on the same day and time to the same father but to different mothers.
It is predicted that one princess will become the nation’s savior while the other will bring down the nation. Using her family’s strong background, Princess Nak Rang’s mother successfully establishes her daughter as the savior princess. On the other hand, Princess Ja Myung is branded the princess of destruction, escapes death with the help of her mother, and grows up among the common folk. (Source: MyDramaList)
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 primary purpose was not to rob but to search for the owner of a specially designed sword he saw as a child that was used to kill his father, a loyal subject of the emperor.
Meanwhile, Eun Chae is a government official’s daughter who, despite her upbringing, has a lot of empathy toward 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
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 working as a government official, looked 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 died, 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
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 known as the Wind of the Palace or Lee San. This drama details the life of King Jeongjo, Joseon’s 22nd Monarch, remembered in Korean history as one of Korea’s most fabulous kings, who loved the people and reigned for the commoner. (Source: MyDramaList)
26. Thousand Years of Love
This is a time travel series. More than a thousand years ago from the present time, Puyeoju was the Baek Jae Empire’s princess. Unlike other princesses, she is active and skilled in the arts and 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 as 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 falls in love with the princess again. Fujiwara Tatsuji is the son of the Fujiwara dynasty and is mysteriously attracted to the princess once again. Only she knows the past that holds all three of them together. (Source: MyDramaList)
27. Jewel in the Palace
The series is also known as The Great Jang Geum. About 500 years ago, Korea boasted a rigidly hierarchical and male-dominated social structure during the Chosun Dynasty. 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 a male-dominated society, Jang Geum overcame 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, her success and breakdown, and her love story beautifully unfold. (Source: MyDramaList)
28. Secret Investigation Record
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 brings him into direct contact with these strange mysteries. On the other hand, Heo Yoon Yi is a government employee who aids him and attempts to understand these scientific impossibilities with an open mind, in contrast to his cynicism. (Source: MyDramaList)
29. Dr. Jin
A surgeon treats a mysterious patient with a human-shaped tumor in his head, only to discover himself time-traveling to 1861. (Source: IMDb)
30. Jeon Woo Chi: The Taoist Wizard
Three wizards release Jeon Woo Chi, a magician, free from his ancient scroll entrapment to save the world from goblins wreaking havoc in the modern-day. (Source: tvN Asia)
31. Sword and Flower
One of the best Korean historical drama series was named The Blade and Petal or Knife and Flower. By the way, this Kdrama historical romance called Knife and Flower was an action/spy/romance drama 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 cannot rise higher in rank since 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 loyalty toward his father. (Source: MyDramaList)
32. The Fugitive Of Joseon
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 his daughter’s life and his own. (Source: IMDb)
33. Gu Family Book
A melodrama epic about a great deal of trouble, Choi Kang Chi, born as a half-human-half-mythical creature, struggles 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.
An adopted family later raised Choi Kang Chi. He grows up as an outspoken character full of curiosity. One day, he realizes he’s a half-human-half-beast through a particular incident and starts living his second life. While going through the struggles, he met Dam Yeo Wool, a master of martial arts and archery, at a young age, and then they both fell in love with each other. (Source: DramaWiki)
34. Joseon Gunman
The Korean historical drama series is set at the time of enlightenment in 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 a sword for a gun as he embarks on his revenge mission. The best Korean historical drama will “depict the pain and courage of the young people of the era.” (Source: MyDramaList)
35. Secret Door
It is the best Korean historical romance that shows the conflict between his 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. The drama moves forward to 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
The public desire for social reform was high in the Joseon Dynasty period (during the confusion of justification and the period of espionage and transition from ming to ping).
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
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 Crown Prince Lee Yoon (Shim Chang-Min) from ascending the throne. (Source: IMDb)
38. Empress Ki
Known as the unforgettable, if not iconic, Korean historical drama based on true story, Empress Ki tells a story of a Korean-born warrior girl who 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
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)
In this historical Korean 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 prospects of improving his societal position. Baek Do Yang (Yeon Jung Hoon) is the son of a nobleman who does not wish to follow in his father’s footsteps in 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, the first Western hospital in Korea. As they rise 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 new foreign stars such as Sean Richard, Ricky Lee Neely, and Catherine Baillie, all of whom play Western doctors teaching at Jejoongwon. (Source: IMDb)
41. The King’s Daughter, Su Baek Hyang
King Muryeong was a Baekje king who oversaw a renaissance during his reign while also 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 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
Based on the Chinese novel “Bu Bu Jing Xin” by Tong Hua, “Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo” is a funny historical Korean drama that starts when a total solar eclipse occurs, and a 21st-century woman, Go Ha Jin, is transported back 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 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. (Source: MyDramaList)
43. Hwang Jin Yi
Among the best historical drama Korea has ever produced, “Hwang Jin Yi” is a story about the life of a Joseon dancer, musician, and poet named Hwang Jin Yi, who relentlessly seeks perfection in her art, and the hardship facing women due to their lowly social status. Note: There is also a movie in this series called The Legendary Courtesan Hwang Jin Yi starring Song Hye Kyo in 2007. (Source: MyDramaList)
44. Mirror of The Witch
The series is also known as Secret Healer. Based on Korea’s most renowned doctor, Heo Jun, “Secret Healer” is a historical fantasy drama about a young man finding his way and his 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 making as much money as possible using his good looks and witty charm.
Meanwhile, Queen Sim cannot conceive and 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 jilted princess is that whoever falls in love with her will die. Seo-Ri tries to find a cure for her condemnation 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 also begins believing that he can change his destiny. (Source: JTBC)
45. The Night Watchman’s Journal
Being able to see ghosts and other supernatural spirits is a heavy responsibility. Like his father, Prince Lee Rin (Jung Il Woo) discovers that he can see ghosts and other supernatural beings. (Source: IMDb)
46. Moonlight Drawn By Clouds
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.
On the other hand, Ra On was unaware that he was the Crown Prince and Hyo Myeong was unaware that Ra On was 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)
47. King Geunchogo
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 most significant height in Baekje’s history. (Source: DramaWiki)
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)
49. Splash Splash Love
“Splash, Splash Love” is yet another best Korean historical drama known for its time travel romantic comedy that transcends space and time with two lovers who come to know each other on a deeper level.
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, suffering from a severe drought. She encounters King Leedo, who yearns to learn advanced mathematics, and falls in love with him. (Source: MBC)
50. Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth
The names of just a few Hwarangs are recorded in history. Not many people these days genuinely know about Hwarangs. How did they start? How did beautiful-looking young men become central to 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 the young people of Silla back in the 6th century. Let us tell you a story about their friendships and love. (Source: KBS)
51. Six Flying Dragons
A fiction historical drama about the ambition, rise, and fall of real and fictional characters based around Lee Bang Won, who 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)
52. Jeong Do Jeon
The new era of Joseon has started! In the late 14th century, Goryeo. Abuse of power and corruption made people leave the government offices, and only the corrupted people were left in the high offices. When there seems 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 of bringing 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 was to build a romantic country. This isn’t an ordinary revolution. Jeong Dojeon’s detailed 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)
53. The Great King Sejong
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 faced abduction as a boy to make matters worse. Eventually, the young prince finds himself living in a private residence outside the palace and experiences the everyday life of commoners until he is a young man.
Later on, in his ascension to the throne, Chung Nyeong (now called King Se Jong) stabilized the newly born country and gave rise to Joseon’s blooming culture. In the process, he invents Hangul, the Korean writing system. (Source: MyDramaList)
54. Chicago Typewriter
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 delivery service. She becomes an anti-fan of the overrated Se Joo. (Source: MyDramaList)
55. Painter of the Wind
Shin Yoon Bok is a very talented painter who disguises herself as a boy to be able to infiltrate 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)
56. Goddess of Fire
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 was regarded as the dojo of Shintaro porcelain.
Crown Prince Gwang-Hae loved her profoundly 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)
57. The Horse Doctor
The series is also called The King’s Doctor. A Medical drama about the life of a low-class veterinarian of that era who was a horse doctor and then became a high official as a court physician in charge of the king’s health in the late period of the Joseon Dynasty. (Source: IMDb)
58. The Merchant: Gaekju
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 shaping the way that industry and business are done in his time. (Source: MyDramaList)
59. Dae Bak
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)
60. The Flower in Prison
A story about Ok-nyeo, a talented girl born and raised in prison who 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)
61. The Three Kingdom Wars – Imjin Wars 1592
This docudrama depicts political situations in Joseon, Myung Dynasty, and Japan during the Imjin War. (Source: MyDramaList)
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)
63. Shine or Go Crazy
The series is also called 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)
64. My Sassy Girl
A love story of a cold city scholar Gyun Woo, known as “Joseon’s national treasure”, and the sassy princess Hye Myung in the Joseon Dynasty era. (Source: IMDb)
65. Saimdang, Memoir of Colors
A Korean art history lecturer discovers the diary of historical figure Shin Saimdang, who was a genius artist and passionate lover. The art history lecturer unravels the secret of a mysterious portrait. (Source: IMDb)
66. Seven Day Queen
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 and the jealousies between the brothers. When Dan Kyung’s father stages a coup against the king, Queen Dan Kyung is dethroned only after seven days and expelled from the palace. (Source: IMDb)
67. Ruler: Master of the Mask
Set in 18th-century Joseon, this Korean historical drama 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 a 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 grows as a just ruler. (Source: IMDb)
68. Hur Jun, the Original Story
“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, was 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)
69. Splendid Politics
The series is also called 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 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 a slave.
To survive in the hostile environment, she hid the fact that she was a princess. She also defeated 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. However, she never loses her focus on returning to Joseon one day, bringing 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)
70. Mr. Sunshine
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)
71. The King in Love
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, 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 he recalled having met when he was a child and was lodged in his mind ever since. Wang Won saw how bright and confident San was and befriended her. But this friendship planted the seeds of tragedy. San’s beauty mesmerizes Won and Lin, and their seemingly strong bond starts to the fray over one woman. (Source: MBC)
72. Emperor of the Sea
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. Pirates plagued the sea passage then, and Jang Bo Go went head to head with them in battles and managed to keep the pirates at bay.
This epic Korean historical drama series 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)
73. Inspiring Generation
Based on the comic series “Age of Feeling” by Bang Hak Ki, the Kdrama historical romance series is set during the Japanese occupation in the early 20th century. Shin Jung Tae loses his father at age 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 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. (Source: MyDramaList)
“Kingdom” is set in Korea’s medieval Joseon period. A crown prince is sent on a suicide mission to investigate a mysterious plague 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)
75. Asadal Chronicles
Eun Som was 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 is 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, and the first Empress of Asadal. (Source: Wikipedia)
76. The King’s Face
The 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 can become the King. (Source: MyDramaList)
77. Blooded Palace: The War of Flowers
The series is also known as Cruel Palace. It is a cruel story that depicts the battles between concubines within the royal palace who turn to the dark side 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 Joseon.
When she succeeds, there is a bloody battle over the power she receives. By birth, she was of a lower class, but she used her extraordinary beauty to get the favor of King In Jo and managed to come between King In Jo and Crown Prince So Hyun. (Source: DramaWiki)
This series and our heroine took place in the Joseon Dynasty. Chae Ok was separated from her brother when her nobleman’s father 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 social injustice, and both brother and sister faced off against each other on the opposite sides of the law. (Source: MyDramaList)
79. Dae Jo Yeong
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 by the scriptwriter of Giant and Salaryman. (Source: MyDramaList)
80. God of War
This drama is about a man born to the slave class during the Goryeo Dynasty, overruling the feudalist government that had been in power for over 60 years and becoming the most powerful man in the country. (Source: MyDramaList)
81. Tamra, the Island
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 lying on the beach.
The young man’s name is William, 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)
82. Immortal Admiral Yi Sun-shin
It is late 1598, shortly before the Battle of Noryang, the final confrontation of the Imjin War. The remnants of the Japanese invasion force are desperate to go home. Still, they are also driven by the 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 power base. These incidentally combining ambitions fan King Seonjo’s paranoia and make him eventually fear that Yi might come after his throne. After a series of acts of high treason, he decides to have Yi arrested.
On the other hand, Yi is determined to teach Japanese a lesson for the atrocities they committed against the Korean people, despite orders to remain quiet. While the Japanese are to pull out without any more bloodshed, he rallies his naval force and prepares for the upcoming battle. The battle commences, and the Japanese are dealt a crippling blow, but an arquebuse bullet fatally wounds Yi.
As he lies 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)
83. Yeon Gae Somun
Yeon Gae Somun is the general who killed the penultimate King of Goguryeo, Yeongnyu, in 642. It was a period of tremendous instability because of the pressure from Shilla, and 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. He started repressing Buddhism (the Kingdom’s official religion) in favor of Taoism. (Source: MyDramaList)
84. Eyes of Dawn
Based on a bestseller novel by Kim Seong Jong, “Eyes of Dawn” tells the story set during the Japanese occupation in the early 20th century, specifically the three young Koreans caught in the vortex 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. (Source: DramaWiki)
85. My Love From Another Star
This is one of the best historical Korean drama series, which 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, my Love From The Star, circles 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 capabilities, 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 began to lose control of himself and his alien powers.
86. Empress Cheonchu
Empress Cheonchu, aka The Iron Empress, is another successful South Korean historical drama series that aired in 2009. As the title suggests, it revolves around 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 power struggles. However, with her determination to win and strong willpower, she overcame them.
87. Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung
Aired in 2019 on MBC, Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung is set in the Joseon Dynasty, revolving around a woman known for her free spirit and strong belief in challenging the status quo. “Women shouldn’t be objectified and underestimated.” A motto Hae-ryung believes the government should act upon. However, it contradicts the reality wherein women are prohibited from learning, abused, and wronged.
Her life faces trouble when she passes the search for historian apprentices for the Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty—a task only given to men. From there, her desire for women’s equality is further challenged as she meets fellow historians who constantly look down on her and meets the solitary romance novelist Prince Yi Rim.
While popular among women, he never discloses his identity as an author and remains hidden under the pen name “Maehwa.” He instead keeps his solitary and peaceful inside his chamber by not involving in any politically inclined agenda. However, that will take its turn as he falls in love with the activist, Hae-ryung.
With the help of fellow historians and the revolutionaries, Hae-ryung and Prince Yi Rin continue the fight for what is right and seek answers behind the ongoing oppression.
88. The Hymn of Death
This series is about the tragic romance between the first soprano and the married genius playwright. The Hymn of Death is so good that many recommend this as one of the best Korean dramas you should never miss. So, why not include it on the list then, right?
89. The Red Sleeve Cuff
In the 18th century, “The Red Sleeve Cuff” depicts a love story between King Jeongjo and royal concubine Uibin Sung. Sung Deok-Im is a court lady. She gets involved with Crown Prince Lee San, and he falls in love with her. The crown prince eventually becomes King Jeongjo. He now desires Sung Deok-Im to become his concubine, but she refuses.
Sung Deok-Im wants to live her life freely, which is impossible as a concubine. She also knows that the life of a royal concubine does not generally bring about happiness. Yet, Sung Deok-Im becomes the concubine of King Jeongjo. (Source: AsianWiki)
90. Bossam: Steal the Fate
Ba-Woo is a degenerate man. He gambles, steals, fights, and will do bossam (customary remarriage procedure where a widow is kidnapped) for money. He hides his real identity. While performing a bossam, he mistakenly kidnaps Princess Soo-Kyung.
She is the daughter of Prince Gwanghae and the daughter-in-law of his enemy Lee Yi-Cheom. For a secret political agreement, she married the older brother of a man she loved, but her husband died on the day of her wedding. She then became a widow. (Source: AsianWiki)
92. Tale of the Royal Secret Agent and Jo-Yi
A comedic, historical period drama that centers around an intelligent but lazy secret agent and a divorcee woman who holds beliefs ahead of her time while searching for her happiness.
Ra Yi Eon is a grade 6 civil servant agent. Despite having a goal to spend his days selling dumplings in a small shop set up within the territories outside of palace grounds, his sharp intelligence leads him to be offered a high position as a civil servant agent, where he is immediately given a mission to tackle. One trait of his is that after leaving his work right on time every day, he likes to roll around in his house while snacking on steamed dumplings.
Kim Jo Yi is a passionate woman who is ahead of her time. She is a realist who believes that people can get divorced. She lives in an era when women can’t even be part of the family registry, but she dreams of getting divorced and having a fresh start in life. (Source: Naver & Allkpop via MyDramaList)
93. When Flowers Bloom, I Think of the Moon
Set during the late Joseon period, when a strict alcohol prohibition was enacted, Nam Young works as an officer for the Saheonbu. One of the missions at the Saheonbu is to crack down on people who break the alcohol prohibition. Nam Young came to Hanyang (the old name for Seoul) from his hometown to find success. He has an attractive physical appearance and is a man of principles.
He meets Kang Ro-Seo and becomes confused by her. Kang Ro-Seo is the daughter of a poor noble family. She is the breadwinner in her family. She doesn’t mind doing manual labor for money. She starts brewing alcohol during the strict alcohol prohibition period to pay off the debt she has fallen into. (Source: AsianWiki)
94. Kingdom: Ashin of the North
The deceased king rises, and a mysterious plague begins to spread; the prince must face a new breed of enemies to unveil the evil scheme and save his people. (Source: Netflix)
95. Diary of a Night Watchman
Also known Night Watchman’s Journal, it is about the life struggles of Prince Rin and his quest of reviving the Night Watchmen to watch out for monsters and spirits. Ri’s father, who was also the king, was under a spell when he murdered Ri’s mother, the queen.
96. Kingdom of the Winds
It is a 2008 Korean historical series about King Daemusin, the third ruler of Goguryeo and grandson of King Jumong.
97. Gwanggaeto, the Great Conqueror
Also known as King Gwanggaeto the Great, it is a Korean historical drama based on the life of the nineteenth monarch of Goguryeo, Gwanggaeto the Great. The drama was based on two sources, Gwanggaeto the Great by Jeong Jip and Great Conquests of Gwanggaeto by Hyeong Minu. (Source: Wikipedia)
98. Red Sky
Set during the Joseon era, Hong Cheon-Ki is a female painter with genius-like painting talent. She is picked as the first female painter of the Dohwaseo (Korean Royal Academy of Painting). Hong Cheon-Ki also has a beautiful appearance and bright personality. For her, painting is everything. One day, she meets Ha Ram.
Ha Ram is an officer at the Seowoongwan, an office in charge of astronomy, geography, the art of divination, meteorology. When he was young, an accident caused him to become blind. Hong Cheon-Ki falls in love with him and she does not care that he is blind. Hong Cheon-Ki keeps appearing in front of Ha Ram and he finds himself waiting for her. (Source: AsianWiki)
99. River Where the Moon Rises
Born a princess and raised a soldier, Pyeong Gang is determined to be the first Empress of Goguryeo. (Source: IMDb)
100. Joseon Exorcist (canceled)
Joseon Exorcist is a South Korean fantasy-supernatural television series. The series, directed by Shin Kyung-soo and written by Park Gye-ok, stars Jang Dong-Yoon, Park Sung-hoon, and Kam Woo-sung. (Source: Wikipedia)
101. Monarch Industry
A woman’s plan to marry the Third Crown Prince is disrupted by rampant imperial corruption. (Source: IMDb)
102. Kingdom 2
While strange rumors about their ill King grip a kingdom, the crown prince becomes their only hope against a mysterious plague overtaking the land. (Source: IMDb)
103. King Maker: The Change of Destiny
Joseon’s most excellent teller uses fame and wealth to save the girl he loves. (Source: IMDb)
104. Mr. Queen
When a modern-day chef gets trapped in the body of a queen in the Joseon era, chaos ensues. (Source: IMDb)
105. Secret Royal Inspector
Set towards the end of the Joseon era, Sung Yi-Gyeom placed first in the state examination, and he now works at the Hongmungwan (administrative and research department). He doesn’t have a goal or ambition for his life.
One day, Sung Yi-Gyeom is caught gambling. As punishment, he is assigned to work as a secret royal inspector. His job is to eradicate illegal acts and corruption by public officers. He carries out his new career with the help of Hong Da-In and Park Chun-Sam. Hong Da-In is a female inspector and solves cases with Sung Yi-Gyeom. Park Chun-Sam is Sung Yi-Gyeom’s servant. Park Chun-Sam is talkative, affectionate, and tearful.
Meanwhile, Sung Yi-Beom is Sung Yi-Gyeom’s younger stepbrother. His father is a nobleman, but his mother is a slave. Due to his mother’s low social status, his father does not accept him as his real son, and he is barred from having specific opportunities. He opposes his older stepbrother Sung Yi-Gyeom. (Source: AsianWiki)
106. Hur Jun
A historical Korean drama series follows the career of a man who overcame the rigid caste system to become the best in his area. Dongui Bogam penned The Real Hur Jun, the Original Story, a UNESCO Memory of the World, 400 years ago. Hur Jun, the Original Story is still utilized to treat patients in the twenty-first century by oriental physicians. (Source: MyDramaList.com)
107. Taejo Wang Geon
When the three nations were engaged in a power war, King Taejo was born and Goryeo was created. (Source: Wikipedia.com)
108. Ballad of Seodong
A young man named Seo Dong used the ballad “The Ballad of Seo Dong” to convince a lovely princess named Seon-Hwa to be his wife 1400 years ago. Seo Dong’s real name was Jang, and he later rose to become King Moo, the 30th King of Paekche.
He was gifted and had the potential to be a great leader, but as a young man, he made a living by selling horses. Seo Dong was his simple name among the commoners. He shaves his hair to seem like a Buddhist monk and sneaks into Silla to claim Princess Seon-Hwa, the third daughter of King Jin-pyeong of the Silla Kingdom, as his wife after learning of her extraordinary beauty. By giving away horses and teaching them a simple song, he makes friends with the children of Silla’s capital.
The Seo Dong song is the title of the tune. The princess is banished to a remote location as soon as word of the scandalous song reaches Silla’s royal palace. Before sending the princess into exile, the queen gives her a bar of gold. Seo Dong then enters and convinces the princess to follow him.
The princess decides it would be great to have a friend on her lengthy journey even though she has no idea where Seo Dong is from and follows him. Seo Dong wins the princess over by demonstrating his reliability, and they ultimately get married. She later discovers his name is Seo Dong and understands how a straightforward song brings the two together. (Source: AsianWiki.com)
109. Seoul 1945
“Seoul 1945,” regarded as one of the most famous historical Korean drama series, is set in the turbulent years between the end of Japan’s occupation and the division of Korea into the North and the South. Four young adults who grew up together are the focus of the story.
Kim Hae Kyung is the oldest daughter of tenant farmers; Lee Dong-Woo is the heir to a prosperous, well-connected family; and Moon Suk Kyung is the only child of an affluent and influential political ally of Japan. Choi Oon Hyuk is a child prodigy born into a family of impoverished miners.
Each person sets out on a unique route reflecting their genuine character and the chaos of the time, a combination of their own decisions and events beyond their control. Love, friendship, loyalty, vengeance, moral conscience, and ideology become the driving factors that irreversibly alter their lives as their paths cross. (Source: IMDb.com)
110. Legend of the Patriots
The South Korean drama Comrades from 1975 has been remade as Legend of the Patriots. To mark the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, its manufacture began. Eleven Korean soldiers who served in the Korean War are the novel’s main characters.
According to director Kim Sang-Hwi, the series focuses on the sufferings of ordinary individuals who experienced the conflict rather than the ideologies of South and North Korea. (Source: TheMovieDB.org)
111. Mr. Queen
One of the best Korean historical drama series that deserves to be on the list is Mr. Queen, which aired on tvN. This fantasy, romance, and drama series, featuring the story of Chef Jang Bong-Hwan, who presently serves in the President’s Blue House.
Despite having a free spirit, he entered Queen Kim So-Yong’s body during the Joseon era, which King Cheoljong despised. He discovered the King’s secret when Bong-Hwan (with the Queen Cheoljong’s body).
Though he gives the impression of being a kind, unassuming figurehead, he conceals his powerful sides. King Cheoljong is reduced to a mere figurehead because the late King Sunjo’s wife, Queen Sunwon, has absolute authority in the nation. She made it to the throne through her younger brother, Kim Jwa-Geun, who has a lot of ambition.
Anything to add?
If there are any Korean historical drama series or saeguk series I missed, leave the titles in the comment section below. I’ll check them out and add them to the list for the next update.
Note: Photo credits to respective owners. Those dramas with asterisks (*), 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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