Forget about learning history in class, watching sageuk (historical) drama surely is a more fun way to learn about Korean history, culture as well as traditional clothes! We have collected 6 best sageuk drama that is so good they will allow you immerse on the stories and don’t be surprised if the next thing you do is wishing that you are strolling at one of those beautiful Korean palaces while wearing those pretty hanboks..
- Empress Ki
This sageuk drama is filled with A-list casts, such as Ha Ji Won, Joo Jin Mo, Ji Chang Wook and Baek Jin Hee. If that is not impressive enough, the drama tells solid story about a Korean slave woman named Ki Nyang (Ha Ji Won) who loves her country and king (Joo Jin Mo) but ended up to serve Mongolian king (Ji Chang Wook) who head over heels for her. Tangled between love triangle, serving her home country and taking revenge for her parents’ death, Ki Nyang pushes her way up to not only survive but also thrive.
Here the audiences will able to see the different acting skill level of these A-listers, especially Ji Chang Wook who brilliantly showed multiple personalities from such a scaredy cat to a charismatic king. And the slow yet burning romance is definitely worth to watch, even with all 55 episodes. It’s only right to put this drama on the list of best sageuk drama.
2. Queen for Seven Days
This recent sageuk drama is one of those underrated Korean dramas. Because despite its domestic viewer rating, it actually offers brilliant story, great original soundtracks, great acting skills and intense chemistry from the characters.
Based on true historical character, this drama tells about the pure love of prince Jinsung/Lee Yeok (Yeon Woo Jin) and Lady Shin Chae Kyung (Park Min Young) ever since they were little, only to be clouded by King Yeonsangun/ Lee Yoong (Lee Dong Gun)’s fear for his throne and then love for Shin Chae Kyung. Although it may seems like those ordinary sageuk drama filled with throne race and love triangle, Queen for Seven Days actually has more heart warming sides and surprising plots here and there. Some fans even claim this to be the best Sageuk drama of 2017.
3. Moon Embracing the Sun
This sageuk drama proves that adding mystery/thriller to historical drama could be a blast. And known as the drama that help soaring many big names like Kim Soo Hyun, Yeo Jin Goo, Kim Yoo Jung, Kim So Hyun, Im Si Wan, and many more, it surely too good to be missed.
Lee Hwon (Kim Soo Hyun/young: Yeo Jin Goo) met Heo Yeon Woo (Han Ga In/young: Kim Yoo Jung) by accident first without knowing their identity. When its time for Lee Hwon’s wife selection, he was thrilled to find that Yeon Woo is chosen despite the Queen Dowager’s wish to choose Yoon Bo Kyung (Kim Min Seo/young: Kim So Hyun). But to everyone surprised, Yeon Woo died from mysterious illness leaving Lee Hwon broken hearted behind. Years later, even after Lee Hwon married Bo Kyung, he cannot forget Yeon Woo and decline every marriage consummation proposals. Which lead Queen Dowager to “heal” Lee Hwon by unknowingly put Shaman Wol (who is actually Yeon Woo) as living talisman near Lee Hwon.
There, we got a complete stories from first love, crown fight, multiple love lines, thriller to the infamous memory lost.
4. Scarlet Heart: Ryeo (Moonlovers)
Wish to watch sageuk drama filled with beauty and clean cut handsome men? Yup, this sageuk drama is definitely suits you. Unfortunately, despite its deep story, it received a rather small viewer ratings domestically (well, Scarlet Heart: Ryeo was on the same airing time with Park Bo Gum’s Love in the Moonlight. So there’s that.)
A 21st century woman transported back in time to Goryeo dynasty, and found herself in the body of Hae Soo (Lee Ji Eun/IU). There, she encountered 8 handsome royal princes with some of them fighting for the throne. Still adjusting with her new environment, Hae Soo fell in love with the warm and smart 8th prince, Wang Wook (Kang Ha Neul). But as they were getting along, she unknowingly finds herself on a love triangle with the 4th prince, Wang So (Lee Joon Gi) who has a strong facade and infamous to be cruel. This seems to be typical sageuk drama kind of love triangle soon turned into a deep mess as the princes’ rivalry and politics grow stronger.
5. Jewel in the Palace
Talking about best sageuk drama will not complete without “Jewel in the Palace”. This classic and Hallyu-pioneer sageuk drama is surely a jewel that can’t be missed especially for international audiences who wish to see the beauty of Korean culture, traditions as well as foods.
The drama itself based on the life of Jang Geum, who is claimed to be Korea’s first female doctor in Joseon era. In the drama, Jang Geum (Lee Young Ae) is said to be the daughter of ex-palace lady who flee from the palace after learning about royal conspiracies. After her parents died, little Jang Geum brought into the palace by her adopted parents and manage to work at the royal kitchen. Keep showing such a great talent, Jang Geum silently trying to unveil the mystery behind her parents’ death with the help of her late mother’s secret letter and best friend. All the politics, conspiracies and even romance happened around her, lead her to finally become Korea’s first female doctor.
6. Love in the Moonlight (Moonlight Drawn by Clouds)
Many people avoid sageuk drama as it is normally full of intense political issues, nerve-wrecking conspiracies, as well as deep poetic lines. But fear not, for Love in the Moonlight/ Moonlight Drawn by Clouds is going to bring fresh air into sageuk genre. Based on popular webtoon with the same title, this drama is full with youth and light feelings as it revolves around young loves and friendship more than the politic part. Well, just look at the cast: Park Bo Gum, Kim Yoo Jung, Kwak Do Yeon, B1A4’s Jin Young and Chae Soo Bin. So much of youth and beauty!
Hong Ra On (Kim Yoo Jung) had to separate with her mother and live as a boy following a troupe group. During this time, Ra On met a young nobleman (Park Bo Gum) whom she got into series of misunderstanding with. One thing lead to another, and Ra On was forced to be an eunuch and has to serve the careless Crown Prince, Lee Yeong, who actually is the nobleman. Clueless, Ra On starts to befriend with Lee Yeong.
Honorary Mention for Best Sageuk Drama:
- Hwarang: the Poet Warrior
If you like Love in the Moonlight and Scarlet Heart: Ryeo then you might also like Hwarang that has lots (yes, there are so many of them it’s such a blessing for your eyes) of handsome young men, gives you youthful vibes and revolves around friendship more than the typical politic-full-force sageuk drama.
- The Scholar who Walks the Night
If you like sageuk drama with the sense of fantasy/thriller like Moon Embraces the Sun, this drama is surely can’t be missed. Also based on popular webtoon, it tells about vampires during Joseon era.
- Queen SeonDeok
One of the best classic sageuk drama that you have to watch (that is if you like Jewel in the Palace kind of sageuk drama that’s not only quite long but also full on conflicts) about the first female king of Silla, Queen SeonDeok. Along with a good story, you will also spoiled with great acting skills from the actors/actresses.
See detail review of Love in the Moonlight: K-Drama Review: Moonlight Drawn By Clouds / Love in the Moonlight