The Best of Sageuk aka Korean Drama in the Joseon Period

Shelly Lee
4 min readSep 3, 2021
The Best of Sageuk aka Korean Drama in the Joseon Period

If you haven’t watched a Sageuk drama yet, be prepared to be swept in a lush, epic drama, colorful in intrigue and costumes, as well as beautiful countryside and the amazing interior of palaces. I love sageuk because I feel like being transported to another time and dimension. All without being trapped in the ancient norms! Also, the OST! Sageuk drama tends to have really good OST (my favorite is 100 Days My Prince).

First, a sneak peek of a handsome king (Kim Soo-hyun):

In no particular order, here are some of my top picks for sageuk drama:

100 Days My Prince: a prince lost his memory in an accident, woke up in a nearby village and through a series of unfortunate incidents, was married to a commoner young woman under an edict he enforced as a prince. Oops. The scenes where the prince tried to do blue collar villager work were too funny! Watch the trailer here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LxsJGR7DgU

Mr. Queen: a tale of time travel and gender bending theme. What would you do if you were an alpha man who was very successful in your job and personal life, and later woke up to find that not only you were trapped in a body of a woman, but a Joseon woman? Hilarious, epic and great acting all around. A must see! Watch the trailer here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2-Ikfk0hJbw

Queen: Love and War is a story of a queen selection in the Joseon era and the competition amongst the candidate. However, the King fell in love with one of the candidates a long time ago. The problem was, he didn’t know who she was! Check out the trailer here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uV-iZieWl78

Joseon Flower Crew is a story about matchmaking in the Joseon era. This is one drama I didn’t really get. *spoiler* If your first love who loved you very much turned out to be King, why would you reject him and be with someone else who didn’t treat you that well? I still put it in this list because I was rooting for the King. Check out the trailer here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TiSyc7JmGc

The Royal Tailor: a story of a handsome, talented fashion designer in the Joseon era who dressed the young, beautiful and shy queen. Of course, when you put handsome and beautiful in the same room, sparks flew, but not how we expected it to be. A beautiful movie. Watch it if not just for the dresses alone.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPiUPfibhH4

Crowned Clown: a remake of 2012 film Masquerade, about a clown who was an exact doppelganger of the current Joseon king, who was a tyrant. What made things worse (or exciting, depending on how you view it), the clown fell in love with the Queen. Uh-oh. What would happen next? View the trailer here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7l2X2dn8wgM

Dong Yi: based on true historical records, it is a love story between King Sukjong and Choi Suk-bin, who entered the palace at age 7 and rose to become a Royal Concubine and gave birth to Yi Geum, King Yeongjo. I watched it for Ji Jin-hee, one of my favorite actors. Watch the trailer here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgjHPVbLTpQ

Masquerade: a film version of the Crowned Clown starring Lee Byung-hyun, if you don’t feel like watching long episodes. Most Lee Byung-hun movies are a must see, and this one is no exception. Watch the trailer here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TnfM5XWOtI

Scarlet Heart: Ryeo tells a story of a 21st century woman who falls into the water and emerges in the Goryeo period. She takes on the body of her previous life and begins a fascinating life in the palace. To me, watching it is a no-brainer. Lee Joon-gi, IU, Nam Joo-hyuk, and Kang Ha-neul? Oh yes! It’s practically eye candy on every scene. Watch the trailer here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ljxyaAIphc

Moonlight Drawn by Clouds (Love in the Moonlight): a light, comedy filled sageuk drama. Park Bo Gum is handsome and amazing in this drama. Kim Yoo-jung is great as the leading lady (leading eunuch?) Do you know that Park Bo Gum’s character (Crown Prince Lee Yeong) was based on a real Joseon Crown Prince? Daebak! Yes, his name was Crown Prince Hyomyeong. His biography could be read here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAfBvfe4WGQ

Queen for 7 Days is a tragic love story between Lady Shin (Park Min-young) and Prince Jinsung (Yeon Woo-jin). This drama is based on a true, and also tragic, event in the late 14th century in Joseon. Park Min-young has stated that this drama could be thought as “Love in the Moonlight” five years later. In reality, the characters in Queen for 7 Days lived 300 years earlier (in 1500’s) than Love in the Moonlight (in 1800's).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmQ5ERSdqqg

Hope you are enjoying this list. Which one is your favorite?

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