K-Drama Starter List: Historical / Sageuk

K-Drama Starter List: Historical / Sageuk

Need a break from rom-com K-dramas? Or wanting to learn the history of Korea? Or you just want to explore other genres? Well, I think it’s about time to introduce yourself to historical period dramas or Sageuk (사극).

SAGEUK /noun

…denotes historical period dramas, including traditional drama plays, films or television series. In English language literature sageuk usually refers to historical films and television series (of South Korea). (Source

Yes, I know maybe some of you would back out and think that Sageuk won’t be your thing. First, they are historical (boring). Second, most sageuk have 50 episodes (hello life!). Third, there are too many deaths in a series (ugh, spoiler). And fourth, there are other genres out there (point taken).

Just like most of you, if a sageuk is not fictional or rom-com, I’d say NO in an instant. It was just early last year when I gave Sageuk the chance. And it started when I saw a teaser of Yoo Ah In headlining a historical drama. From then on, I just can’t help but fall in love in every period dramas I’ve seen.

*Well except for those who have *meh story lines. Believe me, there are too many. *cough *cough


Six Flying Dragons 10/10

Network: SBS | Episodes: 50 | Release Date: October 5, 2015 – March 22, 2016

“Period drama depicts the ambitions and success stories of 6 people with Lee Bang-Won (Yoo Ah In) as the central figure. Lee Bang-Won was the third king of the Joseon Dynasty. He helped his father King Taejo (Cheon Ho-Jin) establish the Joseon Dynasty.” (Source)


Six Flying Dragons was one of the most well-written Sageuks I’ve seen and is definitely on my top 3 most favorite K-dramas of all time. From the actors, stunts, storyline, and OSTs, (for me) everything was perfect. All throughout the season, I can hardly count how many times I’ve switched sides. As much as I want to tell you more about this series, I can’t seem to find the exact words to justify its beauty.

If you are curious how Joseon Dynasty was built. And who is the King (young version) behind the formation of the Korean alphabet or Hangul, then you should watch SFD. Just be warned, this has 50 episodes, but all worth it.

Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo 8/10

Network: SBS | Episodes: 20 | Release Date: August 29 – November 1, 2016

“When a total eclipse of the sun takes place, Hae-Soo (IU) travels back in time to the Goryeo era. There, she falls in love with Wang So (Lee Joon-Gi) who makes other people tremble with fear.” (Source)


Sooooooo…yeah…This Sageuk shattered my heart. It made me believe in chances that true love can defy fate. Though I know how the story will end (since it is based on a Chinese version “Scarlet Heart”), I still had that hope the writer-nim will somehow change the tragic ending. BUT THEY DIDN’T. Worst IU teased us fans of a possible alternate ending or a season 2.

Aside from shippable love lines, this show is filled with OPPAS, who proved that they are not only hot but excellent actors too. IU is so blessed to work with hot men, ‘how to be you?” Note that this drama was the Korean version of China’s Scarlet Heart which is based on the novel Bu Bu Jing Xin by Tong Hua.

Jang Ok Jung, Living by Love 7.5/10

Network: SBS | Episodes: 24 | Release Date: April 8 – June 25, 2013

“Drama series follows the turbulent life of Jang Ok-Jung (Kim Tae-Hee), who is also known as Lady Jang Hui-Bin, one of the most famous royal concubines in the Joseon Dynasty. She began her career as a court lady who stitched clothing as a fashion designer of her time.” (Source)


I’d be honest, I have no intentions of watching this till I saw Yoo Ah In Oppa’s name on the billing. I always like Ah In in all of his period drama, so I thought why not try this one. Thank God I did! This show made me realize that I shouldn’t just purely base my K-drama choices in the lineup of the casts but also look at the synopsis of the show.


Queen In Hyun’s Man 7/10

Network: tvN | Episodes: 16 | Release Date: April 18, 2012 – June 7, 2012

Lead stars Ji Hyun-Woo and Yoo In-Na used to date in real life. The official announcement of their break-up was in 2014. (Source)


Moon Embracing The Sun 8/10

Network: SBS | Episodes: 50 | Release Date: October 5, 2015 – March 22, 2016

One of the main casts is  KIM SOO HYUN! Do I need to say more? *wink *wink


And that’s 5 of my recommended dramas that I think will make you appreciate Sageuk and Hallyu more. If you have your own favorite Sageuks, don’t hesitate and comment below. Maybe there are still gems out there that I haven’t watched. Annyeong Chingu!

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