Posted inKorean Dramas

Top 25 Historical Kdramas To Binge Today!

Top Historical Kdrama

Some of the most beloved and highly rated historical Kdramas are epic love stories, while others are dramas with political intrigue that keep you on the edge of your seat. 

The stunning visuals and incredible performances by the cast make each of these shows a masterpiece in its own right. 

In this blog post, I will be taking a look at some of the most significant historical Kdramas of all time. 

These dramas not only provide an insight into Korean history but also offer a glimpse into Korea’s rich culture and deep values. 

So, whether you’re a die-hard Kdrama fan or new to this genre, sit back, relax, and get ready to find your next favorite historical Korean drama.

1. The Great Ambition (2002)

The Great Ambition Kdrama

The Great Ambition revolves around two brothers, Park Jae Young (Jang Hyuk) and Park Si Young (Han Jae Suk). Knowing the truth about their father’s business, Park Si Young decides to use all the dirty tricks in his book to gain control over his family business.

His effort pays off, and he becomes known as a strong businessman, but the only person he’s unable to control is Park Jae Young, his righteous brother who disapproves of his business ethics.

If you want a historical Kdrama that explores a crushing family dynamic that will keep you on your toes all through, then you don’t want to miss The Great Ambition

2. The King’s Face (2014)

The King's Face Kdrama

This drama is loosely based on the life of Prince Gwanghae (Gwanghaegun of Joseon) and the trials he faces as he works towards the throne of Joseon. 

All hell breaks loose when Prince Gwanghae, the son of a concubine, becomes the crown prince, and for the next 16 years, he tries to survive the constant death threats and dethronement conspiracies floating around him. 

On top of that, he faces the threat of losing his childhood ladylove to his own father, King Seonjo (Seonjo of Joseon), who sees him less as a successor and more as a rival. 

This is one of the more political Kdramas on this list, and I promise that you’re going to enjoy it. There are bits of romance here and there and a healthy dose of political intrigue that’s sure to keep you up at night.

3. Empress Ki (2013)

Empress Ki Kdrama

Empress Ki is quite possibly one of the most popular historical saeguks in history, and with good reason. With an array of talented cast, and a heart-wrenching plotline, this drama scored a ten across the board in my books, and I just know for sure that you’re going to enjoy it. 

The drama, based on actual events, tracks the journey of Ki Seung Nyang, a Goryeo-born woman who rises to become the empress of a powerful dynasty in a foreign land. 

In this drama, Seung Nyang is taken to Yuan against her will to serve as a palace woman. Despite her lowly status, she rises to power and marries Emperor Toghon Temür after overcoming all hurdles and conspiracies created by the first wife of the emperor.

The final episode of this Kdrama devastated me, and I haven’t been able to watch it since the first time. I can assure you that by the time you’re through with this drama, the OST is going to be like Pavlov’s bell. That’s to say; you’re going to shed buckets once you hear the first notes of any of the songs on the track. 

4. Faith (2012)

Faith Kdrama

After marrying Noguk, a Yuan Princess, King Gongmin starts the journey back to Goryeo under the protection of his royal guards headed by Choi Young (played by Lee Min Ho). 

Their procession is attacked, and the devastated King orders Choi Young to bring a doctor through the magic portal to save the new queen. 

The portal takes Choi Young to modern-day Seoul, where he meets Yoo Eun Soo, a doctor. He forcefully brings her to Goryeo with a promise to safely send her back once she saves the queen. 

Back in Goryeo, the duo is presented with different hurdles, and political discord is rife with conspiracies left and right shrouding the mysterious ambush.

If you want a time-travel historical Kdrama that perfectly blends romance with action, then Faith should definitely be on your watchlist. This is one of the OG saeguks, so if you’ve watched it before, this is the sign you’ve been waiting for to re-watch it now!

5. Moon Embracing The Sun (2012)

Moon Embracing The Sun Kdrama

In Moon Embracing The Sun, Crown prince Lee Hwon (played by Kim So Hyun) falls in love with Lady Heo Yeon Woo at first sight, and she is announced as the crown princess. 

But to secure more hold on the throne, the queen orders the head shaman to cast a spell of fatal sickness on Lady Heo so that she can make a girl from her clan the crown princess. 

The kind head shaman does as ordered but later resurrects Lady Heo from her grave. She survives but loses her memories, and years later, she returns to the palace as Shaman Wol.

This historical Kdrama took the world by storm, and with good reason. Featuring an array of talented actors and an OST that may (read as: will definitely) make your heart feel like it’s been exposed to raw fire, you definitely do not want to miss this drama. 

6. The Tale Of Nokdu (2019)

The Tale of Nokdu Kdrama

Having strict instruction from his father, Jeon Nok Du (Jang Dong Yoon) stayed on an island his whole life and never once put a foot on the mainland. 

After an attack on his family by a group of female assassins, he ends up chasing the female killer to the capital. 

Nok Du finds out that the only way to enter that village is to disguise himself as a woman, and the story evolves as he finesses his way into the town disguised as a woman and starts to uncover the many secrets about his birth. 

7. Tinted With You (2021)

Tinted With You Kdrama Cover

While working on a mysterious canvas as an assignment, Jung Eun Ho (Jun) ends up traveling back in time, and he meets Lee Heon, a deposed prince. 

Lee Heon (Yoo Hyun Woo) is scared of being murdered by his older brother, who wants to secure the throne permanently. The both of them grow closer as they try to avoid the unending conspiracies in the royal palace hatched against Lee Heon. 

Related: Interesting BL Kdramas to Watch Today!

8. Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016)

Moon Lovers Scarlet Heart Kdrama

Go Ha Jin, a 21st-century down-on-her-luck woman, wakes up in the body of Hae Soo, in the Goryeo dynasty, and in the house of Prince Wang Wook (Kang Ha Neul). 

While living as Hae Soo, she becomes closer to the various princes, and they get up to all kinds of mischief and fun together. 

Despite wanting to stay away from the politics, Hae Soo finds herself right in the middle of it as Wang Wook and Wang So – the brothers she has come to cherish in different ways – fight for the throne.

If you watch Kdramas at all, then there’s no way you haven’t heard of this drama.  Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo quite literally took the world by storm when it was released, and it still causes significant ripples in the community today. 

This Kdrama is the perfect blend if you want deep romance and political intrigue wrapped in a thoroughly engaging plot. You don’t want to miss this!

9. Hwarang (2016)

Hwarang Kdrama

Kim Sun Woo (Park Seo Joon) grew up in the countryside, and when he got to the capital, he joined Hwarang, an elite group created by Jiso, the regent queen.

The bond between the group starts to grow deeper, and the story evolves as these warriors fight together against potential usurpers of the throne.

10. Tree With Deep Roots (2011)

Tree With Deep Roots Kdrama

King Se Jong (Han Suk Kyu), in trying to save his in-laws from his father’s wrath, accidentally causes their deaths.

 Every enslaved person from his in-law’s house dies, but two manage to escape the mayhem, but they don’t know about each other. Years later, they return to the palace as a warrior and court lady to affect their revenge.  

This Kdrama is based on a novel with the same title by Lee Jeong Myeong, and trust me when I say it was spectacular. I haven’t read the book, but this drama impressed me in ways I cannot explain. Watch this beautiful historical Korean drama if you’re in the mood for a revenge story that will make you sob.

11. Inspiring Generation (2014)

Inspiring Generation Kdrama

This riveting historical Kdrama is set in the 1930s during the Japanese occupation of Shanghai. One day, Shin Jung Tae’s father is killed right before his eyes. 

He is then accused of killing his father, and his prosecution results in a conviction. Jung Tae then decides to take revenge and get justice, and to do that, he starts training to become a fantastic fighter.

12. Lovers Of The Red Sky (2021)

Lovers of the Red Sky Kdrama

Guys, this drama is the bomb, and this isn’t cap. If you missed//loved Ahn Hyo Seop in Business Proposal, then you’re going to love him even more in Lovers of the Red Sky. In this drama, he’s in all his fiery glory, complete with red eyes and a dazzling smile.

This drama revolves around two extremely gifted people – Hong Cheon Gi (Kim Yoo Jung), a blessed painter, and Ha Ram (Ahn Hyo Seop), a talented astrologer. I won’t go into details so that I don’t end up spilling the entire plot but suffice it to say that their destinies are intertwined. 

Through a bad stroke of faith, they end up switching positions in life, and they’re thrust into two battles – one between brothers and the other against supernatural forces.

This sounds extra vague, but trust me when I say you’re going to love it! Historical Kdramas have a special place in my heart, and Lovers of the Red Sky is one Kdrama I can come back to a dozen times.

13. The Crowned Clown (2019)

The Crowned Clown Kdrama

In this drama, a paranoid king installs a lookalike on the throne to preserve his life. 

But, things get complicated when his enemies start to like the ‘new’ king and his way of doing things.  

14. Jang Ok Jung (2013)

Jang Ok Jung Kdrama

Before I start not-so-bullying you into watching this drama, I feel; it’s important to mention that the OST of this drama is beautiful. Beautiful enough that I keep picturing several scenes in my head, and I feel like bawling. 

This drama is based on the early life of Joseon’s most infamous royal concubine Jang Hee Bin. It tells the story of her life before she became a concubine – when she was living as the palace maid Jang Ok Jung, responsible for making clothes for royals. 

Crossing the lines of the social structure, she falls in love with Prince Lee Soon. What follows is a romance for the ages and a political tussle that once again proves that Joseon politicians were the sliest and ruthless fellows. This is one of the best historical Kdramas you should watch if you’re in the mood for some tears. 

15. The Royal Gambler (2016)

The Royal Gambler Kdrama

Prince Dae Gil (Jang Geum Suk) is sent into exile and forced to live the life of a commoner. Determined to take revenge on the king for his exile, he decides to use his gambling skills to win his way back into the palace. 

The drama evolves as Dae Gil and King Yeonjo (Yeo Jin Goo) face each other in a gamble. While Dae Gil bets on his life, King Yeonjo has his whole kingdom at stake. 

16. The Scholar Who Walks The Night (2015)

The Scholar Who Walks The Night Kdrama

While fighting with Gwi, the vampire kingmaker, Sung Yeol (Lee Joon Gi), loses his betrothed and is turned into a vampire. Because of this, he lives as a guardian vampire and can walk in daylight with the help of his black robe. 

He meets Jo Yang Sun (Lee Yu Bi), and both try to find a secret memorandum of the late crown prince with directions on how to kill Gwi. 

Eventually, Sung Yeol falls in love with Sang Yun but is unaware that his goal to kill Gwi can only be achieved if he sacrifices Yang Sun. 

17. Queen For Seven Days (2017)

Queen For Seven Days Kdrama

Based on the life of Queen Dangyeong, Queen For Seven Days follows the story of Chae Kyung (Park Min Young), who becomes Queen Dangyeong after marrying King Jungjong. 

But their happiness is short-lived, and the Queen’s family falls victim to the conspiracies of rival politics and is accused of treason. 

Eventually, Queen Dangyeong is dethroned and exiled after being the queen for just seven days. 

18. Jewel In The Palace (2003)

Jewel In The Palace Kdrama

Also based on the life of a real person, this drama tells the success story of Seo Jang Geum, a Joseon woman, and how she managed to excel in a male-dominated profession. 

Despite being a girl from the low class, she overcomes the gender discrimination prevalent in the rigid society of that time and becomes the first female royal physician. 

Her skills, exploits, and knowledge earned her the title of “The Great Jang Geum,” granted by the king himself.  

19. Nobleman Ryu’s Wedding (2021)

Nobleman Ryu's Wedding Kdrama

Ryu Hu Seon’s (Kang In Soo) life takes an unexpected turn when he finds out his new wife is actually a man. It turns out that his bride disappeared before the ceremony, and to save the honor of the family, her brother Choi Ki Wan (Han Se Jin) took her place. 

Ho Seon decides to keep up the ruse in order to fulfill the last wish of his sick mother, and they corporate to keep the secret of Ki Wan’s identity hidden. 

20. Secret Royal Inspector And Joy (2021)

Secret Royal Inspector And Joy Kdrama

Ra Yi Eon (Ok Taec Yeon) had a simple dream of opening a dumpling shop, but he ends up passing the civil service examination and was appointed as a royal inspector. 

He is tasked with carrying out a secret mission to uncover the corruption in the polity, and together with Kim Jo Yi, a woman seeking her freedom after being tied down to an unreasonable husband and mother-in-law, they embark on a journey to find and expose all the corrupt people and right all their wrongs.  

21. Maids (2014)

Maids Kdrama

Guk In Yeop (Jung Yoo Mi), the only daughter of a nobleman, is famous in Joseon for her beauty and grace. However, her father is accused of treason one day, and she turns into an enslaved person. 

Struggling to adjust to her new life as a maid, she befriends her fellow enslaved people in order to survive, and she becomes very close to her former handmaiden. 

One of those enslaved people is Moo Myeong (Oh Ji Ho), a mysterious man with a secret nobody knows. She eventually falls in love with him, and she’s thrown head-first into a valley of secrets, betrayal, and deceit.

While this is one of the lesser-known Kdramas on this list, best believe it packs a punch. This fascinating Korean Drama will appeal to you if you like a healthy mix of romance and politics. 

22. King Maker: The Change of Destiny (2020)

Kingmaker: Change of Destiny Kdrama

Kingmaker: The Change of Destiny revolves around two people who are blessed with the ability to predict the future by reading a person’s fate. Choi Chun Joon (Park Si Hoo) is one of those actors you can’t help but smile when you look at, and, my god, did he body this role of psychic. 

A soft romance blooms between himself and Lee Bong Ryun (Ko Sung Hee), a princess who is exploited by the ruling family for her shamanistic abilities.

The two come together to rewrite the country’s history, and this turned out to be one of my favorite watches of 2022. If you like a historical drama that wades into political grounds a fair bit and a romance that’s at once sweet and painful, then you’re going to love this.  

23. Splendid Politics or Hwajung: The Princess of Light (2015)

Splendid Politics Kdrama

This drama was my introduction to fierce, innovative, and capable women in Korean dramas. When Jang Myung (Lee Yeon Hee) was about to be born, there was a prophecy that the baby in the queen’s womb would be the ruler of Joseon. 

To everybody’s disappointment, the baby was a girl, and the prophecy was immediately shelved. Upon the king’s death, Prince Gwanghae (Cha Seung Won) emerges to the throne, and his first act is to cut off any potential candidates for the throne permanently. 

Jang Myung manages to escape and ends up sold as an enslaved person. She decides to live as a slave boy and works at a mine, all this while biding her time until she delivers her righteous revenge. 

Needless to say, this Kdrama is absolutely bonkers, and I know you’ll enjoy it. If you want a female lead that doesn’t suffer fools gladly and a historical Kdrama revenge plot you can actually get with, then this is the drama for you. 

24. Cruel Palace (2013)

Cruel Palace Kdrama

Jo So Yong (Kim Hyun Joo) uses her charm and wit to woo King Injo’s (Lee Deok Hwa) affection and becomes his royal concubine. She takes advantage of his weaknesses and seizes control of the inner court, becoming a sort of shadow leader. 

The only person bold enough to stand up to her is the crown prince Sohyeon (Jung Sung Woon), and she eventually kills him. For So Yong, there’s nothing like too much power, and she overturns order in the royal court. 

You’ll probably hate So Yong while watching, and, really, this isn’t a drama of redemption. If you fancy a Kdrama where the ‘evil’ person runs the show, then you’re absolutely going to love this. 

25. Haechi (2019)

Haechi Kdrama

Despite being the most intelligent and benevolent among all princes, Yi Geum (Jung Il Woo) is regarded as a half-bred prince because of his mother’s status. His general disinterest in politics drives him away from the capital, but he returns after his father and half-brother die to set things right. 

This is the drama where I first fell in love with Jung Il Woo, and seeing him in Bossam: Steal the Fate only solidified him in my books. He’s a spectacular actor, and his range is super impressive. 

If you’re a fan of historical Kdramas, then you know that they can transport you to a different time and place and will always leave a lasting impression on you.

If you’re hungry for more articles like this one, check out my other post on some of my favorite historical Kdramas of all time. 

Grab your popcorn, get comfortable, and immerse yourself in the fascinating world of Korean dramas. You won’t be disappointed!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *