Original Content
Posted by MaiaD Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Thirty-Five Must Watch Sageuk Dramas


With varying K-Drama plots, there is surely each genre that stands out exceptionally among others. For history nerds and enjoyers, there is a very specific K-Drama genre for you, most famously known as sageukSageuks are defined as historical K-Dramas that include elements from Korean folklore and mythology, famous or notorious princes, kings, national heroes, and famous women in history.

Originally, these dramas tended to retell the stories in history or mythologies, but after a few years, sageuks followed contemporary trends and saw the birth of its modernization and fusing it alongside many other genres. Here are some must-watch sageuk drama series for avid K-Drama viewers! 

1. Hwang Jini

Synopsis: Hwang Jini is a 2006 sageuk series based on the tumultuous life of Hwang Jini, who lived in 16th-century Joseon and became the most famous gisaeng in Korean history.

Cast: Ha Ji WonKim Young AeWang Bit Na, Kim Jae WonRyu Tae JoonJang Keun Suk

2. Dae Jang Geum: Jewel in the Palace

Synopsis: Dae Jang Geum is a 2003 hit sageuk based on the true story of Jang Geum, the first female royal physician of the Joseon Dynasty. The orphaned and young apprentice cook Jang Geum strived to learn the secrets of Korean cooking and medicine to cure the King of his various ailments.

Cast: Lee Young AeJi Jin HeeHong Ri NaIm HoYang Mi KyungKyeon Mi Ri

3. Jumong: Prince of Legend

Synopsis: Jumong retells the legendary story of the founder of the kingdom of Goguryeo, named Jumong. However, there are only a few details concerning the real story of Jumong, that's why most parts of the series are fictionalized and were replaced with scenes more grounded in reality.   

Cast: Song Il GookWon Ki JoonHan Hye JinKim Seung SooSong Ji Hyo

4. Lee San, Wind of the Palace
Synopsis: The series dramatizes the life of Korea's King Jeongjo, the 22nd ruler of the Joseon Dynasty. Jeongjo is remembered in Korean history for his sympathy for the plight of the commoner, and how he fell in love with his childhood friend. The representation of court life during the Joseon Dynasty for this sageuk appears to be based on contemporary sources.

Cast: Lee Seo JinHan Ji Min

5. The Great Queen Seondeok

Synopsis: The series begins at the end of King Jinheung's reign and continues until the end of Queen Seondeok's reign. Queen Seondeok, formerly Princess Deokman, was known as the first female ruler in Korean history.

Cast: Lee Yo WonGo Hyun JungPark Ye JinUhm Tae WoongKim Nam Gil

6. Dong Yi: The Jewel in the Crown

Synopsis: Set during the reign of King Sukjong in the Joseon dynasty, the series is based on the real-life historical figure Choe Suk Bin. The series tells the story of how Dong Yi rises from the humble position of a servant to a court lady inspector through her shrewd investigative skills and relentless drive for justice.

Cast: Han Hyo JooJi Jin HeeLee So YeonBae Soo Bin

7. Iljimae

Synopsis: The series was loosely based on the comic strip Iljimae, published between 1975 and 1977, written by Ko Woo-young based on Chinese folklore from the Ming dynasty about a masked Robin Hood-esque character during the Joseon era. It tells the story of Lee Gyeom, a lazy gangster by day and a mysterious thief who protects the citizens in the dark.

Cast: Lee Joon GiHan Hyo JooLee Young AhPark Si Hoo

8. Sungkyunkwan Scandal

Synopsis: This was set during an era when society did not allow females to be educated nor employed. However, Kim Yoon Hee needs to make ends meet and disguised herself as her brother. She eventually gets into the prestigious Sungkyunkwan University and meets other brilliant students that will change her life.   

Cast: Park Min Young, Park Yoo ChunYoo Ah InSong Joong Ki

9. Jeon Woo Chi

Synopsis: Based on the setting of the fictional utopian nation of Yuldo, Jeon Woo Chi is a Taoist wizard who gained his powers by swallowing a gumiho fox bead. Due to an unexpected situation, he travels to Joseon and becomes a reluctant hero to the masses.

Cast: Cha Tae HyunUeeLee Hee JoonBaek Jin HeeKim Kap Soo

10. Moon Embracing the Sun

Synopsis: The historical-fantasy drama is adapted from the novel of the same name that tells a love story between Lee Hwon, a fictional king of the Joseon Dynasty, and Shaman Wol, a female shaman and formerly Lady Heo Yeon Woo who is the destined queen of Joseon. It includes the backstories, the conflicts, and the conspiracy of vying political powers.

Cast: Kim Soo HyunHan Ga InJung Il WooKim Min Seo

11. Arang and the Magistrate

Synopsis: The series revolves around the story based on the folklore of Arang, a woman who lost all her memories when she became a ghost and is unable to rest in peace until she finds out how she died. She eventually finds a way through the nobleman Kim Eun Oh, who can see, hear, and touch spirits.

Cast: Lee Joon GiShin Min AhYeon Woo Jin

12. Gu Family Book

Synopsis: Gu Family Book is a fusion martial arts action historical drama about Choi Kang Chi, a half-man, half-gumiho who is searching for a centuries-old book that, according to gumiho legend, contains the secret to becoming human.

Cast: Lee Seung GiBae SuzySung JoonLee Yu BiYoo Yeon Seok

13. Deep Rooted Tree

Synopsis: Taking the series' title from the poem Yongbieocheonga which says that trees with deep roots do not sway, the series tells the story of a royal guard who was investigating a case involving the serial murders of Jiphyeonjeon scholars in Gyeongbok Palace while King Sejong comes to create the Korean written language, Hangul. 

Cast: Han Suk KyuJang HyukShin Se Kyung

14. Painter of the Wind

Synopsis: The series is based on the bestselling historical fiction novel that took artistic license with the premise that perhaps the Joseon painter Shin Yun Bok had really been a woman. It centers on Yun Bok, a talented young painter who disguises herself as a boy to search for her father's murderer and meets Kim Hong Do, a master painter who will guide her. 

Cast: Moon Geun YoungPark Shin Yang, Ryu Seung Ryong, Bae Soo Bin, Moon Chae Won

15. More than a Maid

Synopsis: The series focuses on Guk In Yeob, the only daughter of a nobleman and of the State Councilor, who becomes a slave overnight due to her father being branded as a traitor. She eventually befriends her fellow slaves and develops feelings for a head servant and an undercover warrior. 

Cast: Jeong Yu Mi, Oh Ji Ho, Kim Dong Wook, Lee Si A, Jeon So Min, Lee Yi Kyung

16. Empress Ki

Synopsis: The series revolves around Ki Seungnyang, a Goryeo-born woman who ascends to power despite the restrictions of the era's class system and later marries Toghon Temür to become an empress of the Yuan dynasty, instead of her first love, Wang Yu. This was a fictional take by portraying Empress Ki as a brave warrior instead of the real-life Empress Ki, who was responsible for attacking her native land.

Cast: Ha Ji WonJoo Jin MoJi Chang WookBaek Jin Hee

17. Love in the Moonlight

Synopsis: Based on the novel, Moonlight Drawn by Clouds, focuses on the story of Crown Prince Lee Yeong's growth from a boy into a revered monarch and his unlikely relationship with eunuch Hong Ra On, a woman disguising herself to make a living.

Cast: Park Bo GumKim Yoo JungJung Jin Young, Chae Soo BinKwak Dong Yeon

18. Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth

Synopsis: The series is based on the historical elite warrior group of Silla called Hwarang, referenced as the Flower Knights. In the series, Kim Jid Wi joins the Hwarang in order to disguise himself and prevent being suspected as the king of Silla due to many assassination attempts. However, another Hwarang, Kim Sun Woo, is revealed to also have the rights over the throne.

Cast: Park Seo JoonGo AraPark Hyung SikChoi Min Ho, Do Ji Han, Kim Tae Hyung, Jo Yoon Woo, Sung Dong Il

19. Queen for Seven Days

Synopsis: Said to be set five years later of Love in the Moonlight, this is a historical drama that draws attention to Queen Dan Gyeong, who was dethroned from her position after merely just seven days during the Joseon dynasty.

Cast: Park Min YoungYeon Woo JinLee Dong Gun

20. Jang Yeong Sil

Synopsis: This is a historical series based on the story of Jang Yeong Sil, born a slave but became a scientist and astronomer during the Joseon Era. He had a lot of contributions to science and technology during the Joseon Era, such as the water clock, the sundial, the astronomical instruments, the rain gauge, and also much research on weaponry.

Cast: Song Il GookKim Yeong CheolKim Sang KyungPark Sun Young

21. The Tale of Nokdu

Synopsis: Set in the Joseon Dynasty, Jeon Nok Du is forced to dress as a woman in the guise of the widowed Lady Kim Nok Soon to learn the truth about his birth and meets Dong Dong Joo, who is a gisaeng trainee who wants to take revenge.

Cast: Jang Dong YoonKim So HyunKang Tae OhJung Joon Ho

22. River Where the Moon Rises

Synopsis: Taken from a classic Goguryeo folktale, the series retells the love story between Princess Pyeonggang, who was born a princess but raised an assassin who aims to win back her country and rightful throne, and On Dal, who is a peace-loving, pure man who goes against his principles in order to protect Princess Pyeonggang.

Cast: Kim So HyunNa In WooLee Ji HoonChoi Yu Hwa

23. The Emperor: Owner of the Mask

Synopsis: Set during the Joseon Dynasty, Crown Prince Yi Sun has been masked in order to protect him from the Pyunsoo Group. Along the way, as he witnessed the people's suffering, the Crown Prince decides to devote himself to fighting the Pyunsoo Group and reclaiming his throne.

Cast: Yoo Seung HoKim So HyunKim Myung SooYoon So HeeHeo Joon HoPark Chul Min

24. Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung

Synopsis: The story revolves around the time of the Joseon Dynasty, where Goo Hae Ryung works as a historian and has been looked down upon because of her gender and meets Yi Rim, a romance novelist who, in reality, is heir to the throne. 

Cast: Shin Se KyungCha Eun Woo

25. The Red Sleeve

Synopsis: The series is based on a novel of the same name. It tells the record of a royal court romance between Yi San, future King of Joseon, who believes his duty is to his country first above love, and court lady Seong Deok Im who wants to protect the life she has chosen.

Cast: Lee Jun HoLee Se YoungKang Hoon

26. Six Flying Dragons

Synopsis: The story tells about the foundation of the Joseon Dynasty in Korea and the ambitions, success, and conflicts of several real and fictional people, with a focus on the young prince Yi Bang-won, the future King Taejong.

Cast: Yoo Ah InKim Myung Min, Shin Se KyungByun Yo HanYoon Kyun SangChun Ho Jin

27. Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo

Synopsis: The series centers around Go Ha Jin, who is transported back to the Goryeo Dynasty, waking up as Hae Soo, among the many princes of the ruling Wang family, during the reign of King Taejo. She inevitably gets involved in palace politics and rivalry among the princes' fight for the throne.

Cast: Lee Joon GiIUKang Ha Neul, Kim San Ho, Hong Jong Hyun, Yoon Sun Woo, Byun Baekhyun, Nam Joo Hyuk, Ji Soo, Kang Han Na, Jin Ki Joo, Seohyun, Sung Dong Il

28. Lovers of the Red Sky

Synopsis: This was set during the Dan dynasty era when ghosts, demons, and gods are involved in human life, which recounts the fateful relationship of Hong Cheon Gi, the only genius female painter, and Ha Ram, a blind astrologer 

Cast: Kim Yoo JungAhn Hyo SeopGong MyungKwak Si Yang

29. 100 Days My Prince

Synopsis: Upon losing his memory, Lee Yul, the crown prince, encounters a commoner's life as Na Won Deuk, and experiences unforgettable love as the husband to Joseon's oldest bachelorette, Yeon Hong Shim. Both were married with the circumstance of neither of them being aware of each other's true identities, living as commoners alongside villagers.

Cast: Doh Kyung SooNam Ji HyunJo Sung HaJo Han ChulKim Seon HoHan So HeeKim Jae Young

30. Mr. Sunshine

Synopsis: Mr. Sunshine takes place before the Japanese annexation, centering around Eugene Choi who was born into slavery in Joseon and eventually managed to escape to the United States and joined the Marine Corps. Later, Eugene returns to Joseon in order to carry out a mission and falls in love with Go Ae-shin, a noblewoman who is secretly part of the Righteous army.

Cast: Lee Byung HunKim Tae RiYoo Yeon SeokKim Min JungByun Yo Han

31. The Crowned Clown

Synopsis: The series is a remake of the 2012 film Masquerade, which centers on the tale of the Joseon King Yi Heon and Ha Seon, his doppelganger and a clown whom he puts on the throne to escape the intense power struggles afflicting the royal court.

Cast: Yeo Jin GooKim Sang KyungLee Se Young

32. Mr. Queen

Synopsis: A chef who works for the Blue House in the present time, Jang Bong Hwan, finds himself inside the body of Queen Cheorin, who is also known as Kim So Yong, after a near-death incident. As he attempts to run away and come back to the present, he then discovers more about King Cheoljong and gets entangled in political issues and problems. This is a fictional take on the story of the 25th King of the Joseon Dynasty, King Cheoljong.

Cast: Shin Hye SunKim Jung HyunBae Jong OkKim Tae WooSeol In AhNa In Woo

33. Bossam: Steal the Fate 

Synopsis: This revolves around the story of Ba Woo, who followed the Bossam custom in the Joseon period, in which a bachelor wrapped up a widow in a blanket at night and made her his wife, where he mistakenly kidnaps Yi Su Kyeong, the King's widowed daughter.

Cast: Jung Il WooKwon Yu RiShin Hyun SooKim Tae Woo

34. Arthdal Chronicles

Synopsis: The show is regarded as the first ancient Korean fantasy drama, taking place during the Bronze Age, and is loosely based on the story of Dangun, the founder of the first Korean Kingdom of Gojoseon. The story revolves around the inhabitants of the ancient city of Arthdal, wherein Eun Seom goes through hardships to bring his tribe back to life and learns of his true origins in the process.

Cast: Jang Dong GunSong Joong KiKim Ji WonKim Ok Vin

35. Kingdom

Synopsis: The series was set during the Joseon Dynasty, three years after the Imjin War, following the story of Crown Prince Lee Chang and his subordinates, who stumble across an unnatural plague that resurrects the dead amidst his investigation of a brewing political conspiracy and rumors of the King of Joseon's death. It eventually leads to Lee Chang's continuous struggle to save his people from the spread of the plague and his dynasty.

Cast: Ju Ji HoonRyu Seung RyongBae Doo NaKim Sang HoKim Sung KyuKim Hye Jun

Here are thirty-five of the many sageuk K-Dramas that you should definitely watch! Which among the dramas is your favorite, and which would you add to your watchlist?

  1. UEE
  2. Jinyoung
  3. Bae Doo Na
  4. Baek Jin Hee
  5. V
  6. Cha Tae Hyun
  7. Chae Soo Bin
  8. Baekhyun
  9. D.O.
  10. Yuri
  11. Seohyun
  12. Go Ara
  13. Ha Ji Won
  14. Han Ga In
  15. Han Hye Jin
  16. Han Hyo Joo
  17. Han Ji Min
  18. Han So Hwee
  19. Jang Hyuk
  20. Jeon So Min
  21. Ji Chang Wook
  22. Ji Jin Hee
  23. Jung Il Woo
  24. Kim Seon Ho
  25. Kim Soo Hyun
  26. Kim Yoo Jung
  27. Kwak Dong Yeon
  28. Lee Jun Ki
  29. Lee Seo Jin
  30. Lee Seung Gi
  31. Lee So Yeon
  32. Lee Yi Kyung
  33. Lee Young Ah
  34. Suzy
  35. Moon Chae Won
  36. Moon Geun Young
  37. Park Bo Gum
  38. Park Min Young
  39. Park Seo Joon
  40. Shin Min Ah
  41. Shin Se Kyung
  42. Minho
  43. Song Ji Hyo
  44. Song Joong Ki
  45. Yeo Jin Goo
  46. Yoo Ah In
  47. Yoo Yeon Seok
  48. Hyungsik
24 47,158 Share 87% Upvoted
Lucy26015 pts Thursday, May 5, 2022 0
Thursday, May 5, 2022

Iljimae is so underrated because it was made so long ago in 2008 that it's been forgotten. It really is an amazing drama!. It's a little slow at really getting into it but when it does, that's when the greatness happens

2 (+2 / -0)
Rainbow_Pearls-5 pts Wednesday, May 4, 2022 2
Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Mr queen is so good , Words Can not describe how good this drama . It's must watch

2 (+2 / -0)

2 more replies


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