I really love Historical Korean dramas or Sageuk and I am a bit disappointed with the lack in quantity of sageuk dramas this year. Although lacking in quantity but not in quality I really enjoyed all of them. I decided to make a joint list from dramas of 2017 and 2018. As I have just started writing regular posts on this website (Sept. 2018), I thought to include dramas from 2017 as well. This list is based on my opinion and biases. Share your thoughts about your favorites in the comments below.
100 Days My Prince
Cast: Do Kyung-Soo, Nam Ji-Hyun, Cho Seong-Ha, Kim Jae-Young
A crown prince loses his memory while attacked and starts living as a commoner. He becomes the husband of a lady to save her from punishment and both falls in love with each other. But he has to return to the palace to find out who tried to kill him.
This drama is Joseon version of Shopping King Louis, just a bit darker. So if you have seen Shopping King Louis then you are going to enjoy it as well. It’s a romantic comedy with little darker undertones. It gets really funny during the middle part of the series thanks to the story and side characters. D.O’s performance is really excellent and I think his character’s personality is really close to his real life. Nam Ji-Hyun is flawless as always.
Cast: Yoon Shi-Yoon, Jin Se-Yoon, Joo Sang-Wook, Son Ji-Hyun (4 Minute)
A popular free willed young prince and his ambitious step-brother fall in love with the same woman. The brotherly love turns into hatred and becomes a bloodbath. The woman they fall in love is, named Sung Ja Hyun, the daughter of a prestigious government official. She is not only known for her beauty but also for the sense of compassion and righteousness.
Directed by the same person whose other works include The Princess’s Man and Gunman of Joseon. Yoon Shi-Yoon with his boyish charms and his chemistry with lovely Jin Se-Yoon were the main reason to watch it. The story although not unique and a bit lacking in the middle act picks up towards the end. The main scene stealer was Roo Shi-Gae played by Son Ji-Hyun. Her character started as a comic relief but by the end I found myself liking her the most.
Live Up To Your Name / Deserving The Name
Cast: Kim Nam-Gil, Kim A-Joong, Yoo Min Kyu
Kim Nam Gil plays an outstanding oriental medical doctor from Joseon era, who travels through time to present-day Seoul. He meets medical doctor A-Joong who only believe in modern medicine. She also travels through time to Joeson era with him.
This is not your usual sageuk drama but it is based on a real historical figure. Each and every episode is really funny. The cast is outstanding and Kim Nam-Gil performed very well especially after the disaster of Shark. It’s not only a Rom-Com but also a medical drama, so if you are into those then this is right up your alley. I can’t wait for his new series Hot Blooded Priest.
Cast: Lee Byung Hun, Kim Tae Ri, Yoo Yeon Seok, Kim Min Jung, Byun Yo Han
A young boy goes to America during the American expedition of Korea (1871) and returns as a Marine Officer. Filled with hatred against people who caused his parents death. He meets new people and fire of nationalism is ignited in him.
Stellar cast, excellent performances, and a good story make it an excellent watch. It was also the highest rated in viewership, cable TV drama of the year 2018 (at the time of the writing). It was beautiful, heartbreaking, sometimes funny and engaging from start to finish. The conversations between the three leading men were hilarious. I found their romantic chemistry (Bromance) more enjoyable than the leading couple. This one is a must watch for all Korean drama fans.
My Only Love Song
Cast: Lee Jong-Hyun, Gong Seung-Yeon
Arrogant actress and top star Seung Yeon travels through time to Goguryeo era and meets On Dal (Lee Jong Hyun). They both bicker and hate each other at the start but then falls in love.
Another time travel drama but this one spends more time in the historical era. The couple who were also the couple in variety show We Got Married stole the whole show with their chemistry. Their chemistry is off the roof and I think the casting director deserves a prize. It’s pure Rom-Com funny and romantic throughout. I will very, very, very highly recommend this series. It’s on Netflix.
My Sassy Girl
Cast: Joo Won, Oh Yeon-Seo, Lee Jung-Shin
A romance story between a cold-hearted Scholar played by Joo won and a princess played by Oh Yeon-Seo. It is set in the Joseon era and the couple tries to uncover the secret of the royal family.
This drama is loosely based on the movie of the same name. Unlike the movie it set is historical time than in the modern era. It is a light-hearted Rom-Com with less emphasis on political scheming. It is quite enjoyable and the lead couple gave a good performance.
Queen for Seven Days
Cast: Park Min-Young, Yeon Woo-Jin, Lee Dong-Gun
Tragic story about a queen who was crowned and deposed within a week due to the political faction’s rivalry. Chae Kyung’s parents were warned of their daughter’s fate by a prophecy and the girl was sent away from her family. The prophecy foretold her family’s misfortunes if she got involved with the royal family. She ultimately falls in love with the prince despite knowing the cost of her love.
This one a bit similar to the above mentioned Grand Prince but executed quite differently. The characters and the tragic story makes it stand out from other similar dramas. It’s visually quite beautiful as well. So, if you are a fan of tragedies than this is for you.
Ruler: Master of The Mask
Cast: Yoo Seung-Ho, Kim So-Hyun, L, Yoon Seo-Hee, Heo Jun-Ho
A crown prince fights a powerful group that holds the real power over the kingdom. He hides his face from the secret group and always wears a mask. One day the prince goes out of the palace and meets a girl and falls in love. But things get complicated when the secret group puts someone else in his position as a crown prince. The mask that was protecting him becomes his biggest enemy. As no one knows his real identity other than the new owner of the mask, his servant.
This is pure fiction so don’t expect historical accuracies. Just watch the first episode and you will know if you are going to like it or not. Other than that the story itself is quite intriguing and it has a beautiful cast as well.
Rebel: Thief Who Stole The People
Cast: Yoon Gyun-Sang, Chae Soo-Bin, Lee Honey, Kim Ji-Suk
It is a retelling of the life story of Hong Gil-Dong. Born during the era of tyrannical King Yeonsan. He fights the Joseon elites and corrupt establishment with his sword and wins the love of the people. He steals from the rich and corrupted and gives it to the poor.
It’s a Korean Robinhood story, told many times. What makes this different is that it’s darker than the other Hong Gil-Dong dramas I have seen. It starts a little slow so I hope you guys give it some time before scuffing it off. The story is deeply moving and you won’t be disappointed at all.
The King in Love
Cast: Siwan, Yoona, Hong Jong-Hyun
Siwan plays the role of a young Goryeo prince who wants to conquer all the lands. He only trusts his bodyguard who is also his best friend Jong-Hyun. They both meet Yoona and three of them become good friends. Love, jealousy, and loyalty cause their bonds to break.
Another love triangle but this lead by a young cast. This drama is really beautiful everything from its cast, costumes, and cinematography. The story is a bit complicated (in a good way) and you will have a hard time choosing the couple to root for. Siwan played his role perfectly but acting wise Yoona was bit lacking. Away from your usual love triangle cliches, this is one to watch.
So, guys, this is the list of my favorite Korean dramas of Historical Dramas of 2017-2018. I hope you guys will like these shows if you haven’t seen them yet. I would like to know your favorites so share in the comments below. If you have a request for any other list for Korean dramas please let me know.