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Favorite Korean Historical Dramas

Korea is a country that truly appreciates and preserves it’s culture and history. Through Hallyu Wave, Koreans promote their cultural heritage and histories across the world. They spread it through many ways but mainly they spread it through dramas, especially historical dramas. Korea is not only good at making modern dramas but they’re also good at making historical dramas, even though they make it with a little bit modifications here and there like adding love stories or fantasy scenes. Here we give you a list of the best Korean historical dramas that you must download and watch.

7 Best Korean Historical Dramas

Dae Jang Geum (Jewel in the Palace) (2004)

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Dae Jang Geum is the first historical drama that started the first phase of Korean Wave. Starring Ji Jinhee, Lee Young Ae, and Hong Ri Na, Dae Jang Geum or “The Great Jang Geum” it aired from September 15, 2003 to March 23, 2004 on MBC. Dae Jang Geum promoted Korean traditional culture to people around the world thus becoming an all time favorite Korean historical drama.

Dae Jang Geum is a drama that tells a story about a girl whose mother worked in the palace’s kitchen and whose father was a royal guard but later she became an orphan. At first, she entered the palace’s kitchen as a cook and later she became the first female royal doctor. There was supposed to be a kissing scene between Jang Geum (Lee Young Ae) and Min Jungho (Ji Jinhee), but Lee Young Ae said there was no need and in the end the scene was removed from the script.

Queen Seondeok (2009)

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Queen Seondeok is a historical drama produced by MBC in 2009. It has 62 episodes and was aired from May 25 to December 22 2009. Lee Yowon, Go Hyunjung, Uhm Taewoong, and Park Yejin starred in this high rating drama.

This drama is about Silla’s first female ruler, Queen Seondeok. Deokman (later Queen Seondeok) had a twin named Princess Cheonmyeong but due to some circumstances they were separated. Eventually Deokman returned to the palace but disguised as a male and tried to counter Lady Mishil and her ambition to rule Silla by herself. In the end, Deokman became the first female to rule Silla and her name changed to Queen Seondeok.

Queen Seondeok was a real Silla queen, but in this drama they changed some historical background regarding to her childhood and MBC put romance in it too.

Following the massive popularity that this drama received, it got many awards too, from the main actors to the supporting actors.

Dong Yi (2010)

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Again, this drama was produced by a historical drama expert at MBC. Han Hyojoo, Ji Jinhee, Lee Soyeon, and Bae Soobin starred in this 60 episode drama. Dong Yi aired from March 20 to October 12 2010 every Monday and Tuesday at 9:55 PM.

This drama not only tells us about the romance between Dong Yi and King Sukjong but also the bloody war to get to the highest position in the kingdom. Dong Yi had to counter Jang Huibin, known as one of the most beautiful women in Joseon, and also one of the most ambitious concubines too.

Dong Yi was directed by Lee Byunghoon, the director that previously directed the infamous Dae Jang Geum. On NHK, which is a Japanese network, Dong Yi recorded the highest ratings among other Korean dramas.

Empress Ki (2013)

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Empress Ki is a drama produced by MBC that aired from October 28, 2013 to April 29 2014 every Monday and Tuesday at 9:55 PM. The main casts are Ha Jiwon, Ji Changwook, and Joo Jinmo.

Empress Ki is a drama about Ki Seungnyang, a woman that was born in Goryeo. She got all the power despite the class system at that time, although in the end she married Toghon Temür, the emperor of the Mongol Empire. She married Toghon Temür and became the Empress of Yuan Dynasty, leaving her first love, Wang Yu.

Despite the drama’s popularity, historians were worried that the viewers were not aware that the real Empress Ki was eventually attacked in her own country. But on the other side, Empress Ki got high ratings in Taiwan and become the second highest rated Korean drama after Dae Jang Geum for best foreign programs.

The Moon that Embraces the Sun (2012)

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The Moon that Embraces the Sun has 20 episodes that aired from January 4 to March 15 2012 every Wednesday and Thursday at 9:55 PM on MBC, starring Kim Soohyun, Han Ga In, Jung Ilwoo, and Kim Minseo.

This historical fantasy drama is an adaptation from a novel written by Jung Eun Gwol. The story tells us about a fictional king of Joseon and a female shaman that was supposed to be the Crown Princess and marry the king. The bloody political battle forced the supposed-to-be Crown Princess to leave the palace and died just to be revived by another female shaman that will help her return to the palace and reunite with the king.

This big hit drama ranked first on it’s time slot, beating SBS’ Take Care of Us, Captain and KBS’ Wild Romance. Since the filming of the drama was during winter, we can see the actors’ breath as they speak. The Moon that Embraces the Sun not only has 20 episodes but also 2 special episodes.

Moonlight Drawn by Clouds (2016)

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Moonlight Drawn by Clouds is a drama set in the Joseon era, starring Park Bogum, Kim Yoojung, B1A4 Jinyoung, and Chae Soobin. It aired on KBS2 every Monday and Tuesday at 10 PM from August 22 until October 26 2016 with 18 episodes.

Like Moon that Embraces the Sun, this drama is also an adaptation from a novel written by Yoon Yisoo that was serialized on Naver. The story tells us about a bright and unpredictable Crown Prince (Park Bogum) in the Joseon era that eventually falls in love with one of his political eunuchs that is actually a woman disguised as a man.

Moonlight Drawn by Clouds got positive responses in it’s own country and overseas. With good performances, music, and production, Moonlight Drawn by Clouds managed to spread the Moonlight Syndrome across Korea. Moonlight Drawn by Clouds is very different from other Korean historical dramas, it is a light historical drama that is far removed from the usual political affairs in the palace.

Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016)

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Moon Lovers is a television drama based on the Chinese novel Bu Bu Jing Xin that aired on SBS with 20 episodes. It aired every Monday and Tuesday at 10 PM from August 26 until November 1 2016, it aired in the same time slot with Moonlight Drawn by Clouds and it was a battle for SBS and KBS2. The casts are not only from real actors but there are also some idols, and actors that are still considered new in the Korean drama industry. The series starred IU, Lee Joonki, Nam Joohyuk, Kang Haneul, Hong Jonghyun, Jisoo, and EXO’s Baekhyun.

The drama start when IU’s character traveled back to the Goryeo Dynasty during a total solar eclipse. There she meets princes from the Wang family. She gets involved in not only in a complicated love story but also the politic issues around the princes.

Even though Moon Lovers was not that popular in it’s own country, it was well received by international drama lovers. It costs US$13 million to produce this beautiful drama. Moon Lovers has many easy listening OSTs that are sung by various singers including EXO’s Chen, Baekhyun, and Xiumin.

Korea is a master in making various kinds of dramas. For some people it may seem that historical dramas are boring and too heavy, but actually Korea manages to make excellent historical dramas too, beside modern dramas.