10 historical K-dramas for those who don't like historical K-dramas
Whether it's because they can be confusing, extremely long, or just hard to relate to, historical K-dramas are not everyone's cup of tea, but if you're someone who sees a saeguk and automatically says no, then you're missing out! Here are 10 fun, romantic, fantastical, and unique Korean historical dramas that are perfect for those who don't know they like historicals—yet!
Sungkyunkwan Scandal is set in the famous Sungkyunkwan university, a 500-year-old establishment that exists to this day. Kim Yoon Hee is a brilliant young woman at a time that women are not allowed to attend the university. Supporting her family by doing odd jobs at a bookstore, she grows increasingly desperate at the hands of her family's debt. When her younger brother falls ill, she winds up entering Sungkyunkwan University disguised as a boy. Even though she'll certainly be beheaded if her true identity is discovered, Yoon Hee will do anything to help her brother. In school, she falls in love with Lee Sun Joon, the brilliant son of the Prime Minister. She is also befriended by Goo Yong Ha, a wealthy playboy, and street ruffian Moon Jae Shin. With all-male roommates, Yoon Hee will have to keep her wits about her so she is not found out in this fascinating look into Korea's most prestigious university. Micky Yoo Chun of top K-pop group TVXQ takes the lead in this drama based on a series of novels, while Park Min Young, Song Joong Ki, and Yoo Ah In round out the cast.
When Yoon Seo Hwa (Lee Yeon Hee) falls for Gu Wol Ryung (Choi Jin Hyuk) the guardian spirit of the Jiri mountains, their doomed love quickly blossoms in the form of their child, Kang Chi (Lee Seung Gi). As a newborn, Kang Chi is sent down a river, and is raised amongst humans. Life is normal as he works for Park Moo Sol (Uhm Hyo Sup) at the Hundred Year Inn, until he realizes his otherworldly nature: he’s neither completely human, nor a true gumiho. When tragedy befalls his loved ones, Kang Chi realizes he'll need to control his newfound power in order to protect his family and come to terms with his unique identity.
Martial arts and romantic comedy unite in this Joseon Dynasty period drama about a spunky maiden named Arang (Shin Min Ah) who’s in the habit of getting into trouble. But one day, she stumbles upon something that costs her life. The ghostly Arang employs the young and bewildered government official Eun Oh (Lee Joon Ki) to help her hunt down her killer and bring him to justice. This odd couple sets off on a murder mystery full of laughs and unexpected romance.
Set in the Joseon dynasty, two brothers find themselves falling in love with a female shaman, who does not remember her noble past. Lee Hwon is the Crown Prince, but he finds the role a burden to bear. He would rather have his older, more talented brother Yang Myung play the role, but because Yang Myung is an illegitimate child he has no right to the crown. When Lee Hwon tries to escape the palace walls for a little adventure, he encounters Heo Yeon Woo, the intelligent daughter of a nobleman. It's love at first sight for him, but Lee Hwon is also set to marry another nobleman's daughter, Bo Kyung. Little does Hwon realize, but Yang Myung is also falling for Yeon Woo.
Lee Min Ho stars in this thrilling fantasy epic, as an elite warrior in 1300s Korea who travels to the 21st century to find a doctor capable of healing the Queen. In a comic twist, his search for a doctor with godlike abilities leads him to a popular plastic surgeon. When she refuses to believe his outlandish story, he kidnaps her, dragging her back into the past to save the Queen. Will this stoic warrior give up his code of honor and choose love over war, and will this career woman ever consider a life less modern? Only time will tell—literally.
A prince from the Joseon era travels to present-day Seoul with a special team he put together, in order to solve the mysterious death of the woman he loved. To his surprise, when he arrives, he meets a woman that looks exactly like her. However, it's not only the princess who has a modern-day doppelganger—everyone seems to have one, including the prince himself. Popular singer-turned-actor Micky Yoochun ( Sungkyunkwan Scandal ) stars in SBS's newest romantic comedy.
The night watchmen of Joseon patrol the darkest hours of the day to protect the people from the evilest of all enemies. Ghosts, monsters, and supernatural forces abound and those who can see them, fight them. Lee Rin (Jung Il Woo) is the heir to the throne but chooses to lives his life as a watchman, as his father had once before him, rather than live in the palace. But when he sees the plight of his citizens under the rule of his tyrannical father, he learns that his gift can also be a curse if he lets the evil spirits take over him, and battles his way to becoming the rightful ruler of Joseon.
Unable to conceive, Queen Sim consults a witch doctor, who blesses her with not one, but two children. But when the twins are born, the royal family discovers nothing is for free: the girl, Seo Ri (Kim Sae Ron), is cursed to become a witch. Abandoned on the mountainside, Seo Ri grows up to become a beautiful and powerful sorceress who eventually captivates Heo Jun (Yoon Si Yoon).
Princess Se Ryung is the fearless and strong-willed daughter of Grand Prince Su Yang. Seung Yoo is a noble "old soul" who captures her heart. The only problem is that their fathers are powerful rivals, and both will stop at nothing to defeat the other and ascend the throne. Featuring breathtaking cinematography and gorgeous locations, The Princess's Man is a lush historical romance is widely loved, and will capture your heart. This epic Romeo and Juliet-style romance features Moon Chae Won ( Shining Inheritance ) and Park Shi Hoo ( Iljimae ) as the star-crossed lovers.
Lee Joon Ki (Arang and the Magistrate) and Lee “IU” Ji Eun (Dream High) star in a dangerous romance across time in what sure to be one of the biggest historical epics of the year. Hae Soo (IU) is a 21st century woman who gets caught in a solar eclipse and is transported to the Goryeo Dynasty, which ruled Korea from the 10th century for nearly 500 years. Suddenly, Hae Soo finds herself in the royal palace, where she comes across Fourth Prince Wang So (Lee Joon Ki). A man as feared as he is handsome, Wang So is based on the real-life fourth king of the Goryeo Dynasty and makes others tremble but wins over Hae Soo’s heart. However, he is not the only one in the palace with eyes on the throne, and a political battle of deception, secrecy and lies ensues between Wang So and all the other princes. Adding to the drama are Eighth Prince Wang Wook (Heirs star Kang Ha Neul), who is less than willing to wait in line behind seven other members of the royal family, and Third Prince Wang Yo (Beloved alum Hong Jong Hyun), whose right to the crown actually precedes Wang So’s.
Start with one of these fun historical K-dramas and you are guaranteed to be pulled into the genre! But watch out, because before long, you may know more about Korean history than you do about your own country's history!
Which of these historical K-dramas would you recommend to people who usually don't like historical dramas?
My personal recommendation is Scarlet Heart: Ryeo! I'm already in love!