A Male’s Guide To The Best Korean Historical Dramas

I’ve come across comments in the blogosphere suggesting that Korean dramas are mainly for women and that Korean dramas are unmasculine. Say what!?!? This couldn’t be further from the truth!  In fact, Korean men watch as many dramas as women – all the men in my family watch K-dramas as much as the women. As in any culture, there’s going to be certain dramas tailored for certain audiences. Aside from there, Korean dramas are some of the most bad ass dramas out there – especially Korean Historical Dramas!

I recently put out a list of what I personally think are the best Sageuks, or Korean Historical Dramas (click here to view). As I was putting my list together, I wondered whether or not there would be a gender gap between MY list and that of a guy’s. So I asked one of my Oppas (older male brother or friend), Ernest to give me a list of his top 10 favorite dramas. Ernest Oppa is one of the Admins on our KoreanHistoricalDramas Facebook Page. My Oppa knows his dramas! He not only provided me with a list, but he actually RANKED them!

Here is a list of the BEST Korean Historical Dramas to watch from a highly experienced male drama viewer’s perspective. I realize this isn’t a scientific survey of every guy’s drama interests, but rather a snapshot. Also these aren’t dramas only guys like nor is my list full of dramas only women like. There several dramas that are on BOTH our lists.

A huge thanks to Ernest Oppa for taking the time to help me with this. So here we go:

10) The King and I (2008)

  • King_and_INative Title: 왕과 나 (王和我)
  • Episodes, Network: 63, SBS
  • Time Period: Mid-1400’s to early-1500’s
  • Overivew: A drama about Kim Cheo Seon’s life during the Joseon Dynasty. Kim Cheo Seon was a loyal and faithful eunuch for various Kings, such as the 5th King, Munjong, and the 10th King, Yeonsangun, during the Joseon era.

9) Princess Ja Myung Go (2009)자명고

  • Native Title: 왕녀 자명고  
  • Episodes, Network: 39 SBS
  • Time Period: early 600’s
  • Overview: This drama is based on nearly 2000 year old Korean folk tale about Prince Hodong of Gorguryeo and the Princess of Nakrang Kingdom.  

This one came in on my Top 15 Honorable Mentions List. 

8) JeJoongWon (2010)

Jejoongwon

  • Native Title: 제중원
  • Episodes, Network: 36, SBS
  • Time Period: 1884 – approx 1915
  • Overview: Jejoongwon is the first modern hospital in Korea that was established in the Joseon era in 1885. Baek Do Yang is a nobleman who gives up his status to enter its ranks. Hwang Jung is a butcher’s son who becomes a physician, while Seok Ran enters Jejoongwon as an interpreter but takes on medical training to become a doctor. Check out more about this drama here: JeJoongwon Part 1, JeJoongwon Part 2Jejoongwon2

This drama is definitely in TOP 5 List of ALL TIME!

7) Immortal Admiral Yi Soon Shin (2005)

  • Native Title: 불멸의 이순신 (不滅의 李舜臣)
  • Episodes, Network: 104 (+ 2 special programs), KBS1
  • Time Period: mid to late 1500’s
  • Overview: This is the story about the life of 불멸의 이순신one of Korea’s all time greatest heroes, Admiral Yi Soon Shin. Through this drama, we see him through difficult times perseveres and ultimately gains victory against the Japanese army during the Imjin War (1592-1598 e10d2yo1_6fdd2e_c2xA.D.).

 

I haven’t seen this yet, but its now on my short list of what to see next.

6) Shin Don

Shin Don

  • Native Title: 신돈
  • Episodes, Network: 61, MBC
  • Time Period: mid-1300’s
    • Overview: Goryeo was under Yuan rule (Mongols). Prince Gong Min married a Yuan princess in hopes that one day Goryreo could be freed. Shin Don was a Buddhist priest who both Queen Nokuk and King GongMin depended on for advice in ruling Goryeo. Click here for more about the life of Shin Don.

I haven’t seen this yet, but its now on my short list of what to see next.

5) Chuno추노_1-1

  • Native Title:추노
  • Episodes, Network: 24, KBS1
  • Time Period: Mid 1600’s
  • Overview: This action packed drama tells the story of a ruined nobleman who becomes a slave hunter to search for his one true love. He is also in 추노Chunoheavy pursuit of a fallen general who becomes a run-away slave.

Based on Oppa’s recommendation, I’m in the middle of watching this now and loving it!!

4) Jumong (2006)

jumong

  • Native Title:주몽
  • Episodes, Network: 82, MBC
  • Time Period: 108 BC – 19 BC
  • Overview: This story is about Jumong and how he became the founder of Goguryeo in 37 BC. Goguryeo was one of the ancient Three Kingdoms of Korea which lasted for over 700 years. For those interested in Korean history, this drama comes first in chronological order of Korean history. This drama was a global sensation and a ratings blockbuster all over the world and universally on any “must watch” list.

Jumong-arrowDelve deeper into Jumong’s story on my Jumong page.

3) Dae Jo Young (2007)

  • DaeJoYeongNative Title: 대조영
  • Episodes, Network: 108, KBS
  • Time Period: mid 600’s to early 700’s
  • Overview: Dae Jo Young is an exciting drama that tell about the life of the title character and how he came to become the first king of the Balhae Dynasty out of the ashes of Goguryeo.

For a closer look at this drama, and about Dae Jo Young, please click here.

While this wasn’t on my main list, I really love this one. It’s also one of my dad’s favorites. I would highly recommend it this one for sure!

2) Queen Seondeok (2009)

QueenSeonDuk-asHwarang

  • Native Title: 선덕여왕 (善德女王) Seondeok Yeowang
  • Episodes, Network: 62, MBC
  • Time Period: early 600’s
  • Overview: A highly fictionalized interpretation of the real life Deokman, who eventually becomes Queen Seon Duk, the first female queen of Silla who reigned from 632 – 647. While the story itself is a fictionalized interpretation, many of the people and leading characters were real. This drama was the start of it all for me!

1) Emperor of the Sea (2005)

  • Emperor of the SeaNative Title:해신 (海神)
  • Episodes, Network: 51, KBS2
  • Time Period: early to mid 800’s
  • Overview: This drama tells of the story of Jang Bo Go who was a slave from Silla. 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. To read more about the real Jang Bogo, click here.

This is another very excellent drama that didn’t make it on my list. Had my list been a bit longer, it would have made it! 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here to go to My List of the BEST Sageuks Ever (according to ME)

  • Japanime Talks

    Interesting list! Emperor of the sea was really good!

  • Willow Flower

    It is interesting to see a male’s perspective. What a surprise ‘Ernest Oppa (오빠)’ ranked ‘Emperor of the Sea (해신)’ as his first choice. It is one of my favorite Korean historical dramas too (the other is ‘Jewel in the Palace 대장금’). There are so many things I love about the drama ‘Emperor of the Sea.’ Love the spectacular sceneries, love the amazing costumes, love the beautiful soundtracks. And I wound up falling for the supporting character ‘Yeom Jang (염장),’ played by Song Il-Gook (송 일국), who is ruthless in many ways yet so helpless when it comes to one woman he loves, ‘Jung-hwa (정화),’ played by Soo Ae (수애).

  • Humbledaisy

    Is Immortal Admiral Yi Soon Shin the main character in the movie Roaring Currents? I thought that one might interest the men in my family.

    • Yes, that is correct. I was planning to write a brief article on Admiral Yi. BTW – for those of you who saw Gu Family Book…..it’s also the same character.