With exhilarating tales featuring convincing figures, Korea has a rich past. But with a clean slate, it can always be that much more difficult to take on. It's quite a lot to wrap your mind around, from foreign words to intense storylines. But you can find yourself wanting to dig deeper once you get your foot in the door! Here's a list of dramas to fulfill your Korean history curiosities, to encourage you to do just that.
This drama tells the story of Ha Ji Won (Hwang Jin Yi), the notorious Gisaeng of the Joseon Dynasty. Gisaeng were highly-skilled women in the arts who provided upper-class men with a sophisticated form of entertainment. Every episode sparked interest in traditional Korean dress, as the ensembles of Hwang Jin Yi were often composed of lavish and seductive clothing. "Hwangjini" is a great series to watch if you want to gain insight into the culture of Gisaeng and the role of women during the Dynasty of Joseon.
2. “Mr. Sunshine”
Before the Japanese invasion, the late 1800s and early 1900s, in which this drama is set, were a period of increased conflict between Korea and Japan. The story follows characters from different backgrounds, such as noble lady Go Ae Shin (Kim Tae Ri) and U.S.-born Korean Marine Eugene Choi (Lee Byung Hun), on their perilous attempts to maintain an independent nation in Korea. Throughout the entire series, the level of suspense is intense, so be warned. While "Mr. While" It manages to shed light on the harsh reality faced by various freedom fighters. Sunshine is historical fiction. It also explains how life changed for Koreans as Western traditions began to adapt.
3. “Princess Hours”
Life in the palace is hard to relate to for us common people, but this works as a plus in this case. “Princess Hours” presents royal life in a relatable manner by telling the story through Shin Chae Gyeong (Yoon Eun Hye), an ordinary high school girl-turned-Crown Princess. As she navigates through uncharted waters of palace rules and customs, you’ll find yourself learning alongside her. Of course, this drama is based on the assumption that the Korean monarchy never ended. While it is not historically accurate, it does allow us to experience Korean royalty in an indirect and fun way!
4. “Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter”
Korea has its fair share of fairy tales and one of the most essential ones is "Mama Fairy and the Woodcutter". Although much of the original storyline is retained by the plot, the tale unravels in the present. This mixture of traditional folklore and modern interpretation keeps relevant and relatable the classic story. The tale of a wingless fairy (Moon Chae Won) looking for her missing wings for centuries is too sweet to be left behind as an obsolete story, don't you think?
5. “Jewel in the Palace”
Once you've learned to know a few facets of Korean culture, you're probably able to watch a drama at this level of boss. Aired in 2003, over the course of its 54 series, it reached commendable viewer ratings. The detailed plot covers the life of Jang Geum (Lee Young Ae), the first female royal physician of the Joseon Dynasty. Her humble origins in the palace as a cook allow us to get mouth-watering glimpses of the royal cuisine of the time period. Her advancement in the social classes also provides an insight into the social hierarchy of the times.
Have you watched any of the works mentioned? Which one sounds interesting the most? In the below, let us know!