Choose Your Fighter: Historical Dramas Galore!
Korea has a very rich, long history, and for some, it’s enjoyable to get a taste of it via dramas that accurately portray the earlier times.
100 Days My Prince
EXO’s D.O. stars in his first lead role as the crown prince of Joseon in 100 Days My Prince, a historical romantic drama that premiered last month. Crown prince Lee Yul comes to power via his father, who usurps the throne via the murder of the previous king and all his supporters by his father’s vice minister.
Though Yul was young, he had already promised to marry a girl named Yiseo, who was part of the previous ruling family that was overthrown in the coup. Yul believes she is murdered in the coup, but she survived and ended up being adopted by a commoner and given a new identity as Hongshim. Much later in life, Yul’s caravan is ambushed by a group of assassins. He nearly dies but is rescued by Hongshim’s new father and survives, though plagued with amnesia.
Unaware of each other’s true identities, the two end up in an arranged marriage and begin to form a relationship. Will Yul regain his memories and discover who he truly is? Will he ever discover Hongshim’s true identity as his first love? We have yet to find out; the drama is still in the midst of airing, with the final episode scheduled for October 30. This drama was previously a Dramafever exclusive, but with the recent shutdown, it has yet to become available on one of the major streaming sites.
Grand Prince marks the return of Yoon Shiyoon as Prince Lee Hwi, the main protagonist who doesn’t share his brother Lee Kang’s (Joo Sangwook) ambition for the throne. Conflict arises when both fall in love with Sung Jahyun (Jin Seyeon), the daughter of a prestigious family. Even after Jahyun makes her choice, the rivalry between the two princes continues as Lee Kang does everything in his power to get rid of his brother.
The story is based on the historical record of a power struggle between King Sejo and Prince Anpyeong that started over a woman. It’s difficult to find the historical ending to this story, so the show’s unpredictable finale garnered a lot of attention.
While this drama is also set within the Joseon dynasty, the story is much more focused on melodrama, romance, and action. If you’re looking for a historical drama that feeds into your desire for action and suspense, then Grand Prince is a better choice.
Taking place in the ancient society of Silla, Hwarang tells the story of the legendary Flower Knights of Silla. There were very high expectations for the drama as it starred big names such as Park Seojoon, Go Ara, Park Hyungsik, and SHINee’s Choi Minho, as well as the acting debut of BTS’s Kim Taehyung.
The story takes place during the reign of Queen Jiso, mother of the future king Jinheung (who goes by Jidwi amongst the Hwarang). The queen is reluctant to give up her power, even as Jinheung grows impatient, due to conflict within the royal court. Jinheung takes the identity of Jidwi to join the Hwarang and grows close to the members without them knowing his true identity. Our protagonist, Moomyung, takes the identity of Kim Sunwoo in order to stay within the royal city and avenge the death of his friend at the hands of the queen, which leads to him joining the Hwarang as well.
The story focuses on the bonds formed within the Hwarang amongst the chaos of the Silla era, with realistic portrayal of the turmoil that was often faced with neighboring countries, as well as the prolific effect of the legendary bone rank system. While the drama garnered quite a bit of criticism toward the end, it’s still a great source of history, action, comedy, and romance.
Scarlet Heart: Ryeo
Scarlet Heart: Ryeo is not for the faint of heart and has a well-known reputation as such. In a plot slightly different from our previous choices, female protagonist Go Hajin (IU) is actually a woman from the 21st century who is transported back in time to the Goryeo dynasty during a total solar eclipse, adding a fantasy element to the traditional historical storyline.
Stuck far back in time, Hajin wakes up in the body of Haesoo and becomes entangled in the politics of the ruling Wang family. She initially falls in love with gentle and warm Wang Wook (Kang Haneul), but later wavers to fall for Wang So (Lee Joongi), a fearsome prince who hides his face behind a mask.
Even for those who haven’t watched the drama, warnings from other fans have proved that there is no happy ending here; it will certainly strike you right at the very depths of your heart. If you’re a lover of angst and melodrama, Scarlet Heart: Ryeo is a good investment for you.
Moonlight Drawn by the Clouds
Breaking records during its run in 2016, Moonlight Drawn by the Clouds drew an unbelievable viewership of over 20 percent during its second-to-last episode airing. The drama was such a big deal, it even garnered its own nickname among the press as “Moonlight Syndrome.” Park Bogum stars as crown prince Lee Yeong, with the story following his journey growing from a young boy to a revered monarch.
His female counterpart, Kim Yoojung, plays Hong Raon, a street-smart girl who was raised as a boy and disguises herself as such, living as a male relationship counselor and romance novel author. She eventually ends up as a eunuch of Yeong, and the fate of the two becomes entwined. The series also features B1A4’s Jinyoung, Chae Soobin, and Kwak Dongyeon as secondary characters.
This drama falls under the romantic comedy genre, but it is known for having a little bit of everything mixed in. It has a very good reputation as one of the best historical period dramas in storytelling, plot, writing, cinematography, and all else. If you have difficulty figuring out where to start, Moonlight Drawn by the Clouds is definitely the answer!