6 Best Korean Costume Historical Drama To Binge-Watch This Long Weekend

 Best historical Korean drama

When it comes to costume historical series, Chinese productions always excel. The costume drama genre is really their territory. They always give us jaw-dropping martial arts fight sequences, stunning costume design, and gripping story development.

But there are some cases in which other drama industries in Asia, such as Japan and South Korea, offer their own version of fantastic costume drama masterpieces. Some went on to become classic and iconic. 

If you're looking for the best ancient costume historical series from South Korea to binge-watch this long weekend, here are six of the best in this genre. We chose the one that follows the ancient setting.

1. Jumong (2006)

  • Episode: 81
  • Season: only one
  • Network: MBC
  • Main Cast: Song Il-kook as Jumong, Han Hye-jin as Soseono, Kim Seung-soo as Prince Daeso, Jun Kwang-ryul as King Geumwa, and Oh Yeon-soo as Lady Yuhwa

Best historical Korean drama

Jumong is an epic South Korean historical series aired on MBC in 2006. Originally scheduled for 60 episodes, MBC extended it to 81 because of its popularity. The commercial success in the international scene of Jumong has been considered part of the Korean Wave (Hallyu).

The series follows the life of King Dongmyeong, the founder of the kingdom of Goguryeo (the ancient name of Korea). He was born during the turbulent period of territorial invasion when China (through the Hans) conquered Gojoseon in the early century, and the northern Korean Peninsula was harshly subjugated as tributaries to the Chinese Han. 

Haemosu, the local leader of the Army formed to resist the invaders, teamed up with Prince Geumwa of Buyeo to defend their territory. He met Lady Yuhwa and they fell in love. But Haemosu later was captured by the Han forces and presumed dead.

Lady Yuhwa was taken to Buyeo and became the concubine of Prince Geumwa. She later gave birth to Jumong, who many believed was the son of Geumwa but actually, his real father was Haemosu.

Jumong was constantly bullied by the sons of Geumwa and when the latter became King, Jumong became the subject of many assassination attempts, prompting him to leave the palace.

Along his journey, he encountered a blind old man, who turned out to be Haemosu. The man taught Jumong combat skills and warfare strategies. He later returned to Buyeo and after so many twists and turns, established the Kingdom of Goguryeo. 

2. Dong Yi (2010)

  • Episodes: 60
  • Season: only one
  • Network: MBC
  • Main cast: Han Hyo-joo as Choe Dong-yi/Royal Noble Consort Suk, Kim Yoo-jung as young Choe Dong-yi, Ji Jin-hee as King Sukjong, Lee So-yeon as Jang Ok-jeong/Royal Noble Consort Hui, and Bae Soo-bin as Cha Chun-soo

Best historical Korean drama

Dong Yi is set during the reign of King Sukjong (17th century) in the Joseon dynasty. The series is based on the real story of the historical figure, Choe Suk-bin, the wife of King Sukjong, and the mother of King Yeongjo.

Dong-yi rises from the humble position of a palace maid to a court lady inspector through her shrewd investigative skills and relentless drive for justice, and finally to the king's concubine.

3. Jewel in the Palace (2003)

  • Episodes: 54:
  • Season: 1
  • Network: MBC
  • Main cast: Lee Young-ae as Seo Jang-geum, Ji Jin-hee as Min, Jeong-ho, Hong Ri-na as Choi Geum-young, Im Ho, as King Jungjong

Best historical Korean drama

Based on the true story of a legendary girl, Seo Jang-geum, who became the first woman to become the supreme royal physician of the Joseon dynasty. 

Jang-geum became an orphan when her parents were both killed when she was eight years old. She was adopted by Kang Duk-gu and Na Ju-daek, a family who made a living by selling wine. 

Two years later, Jang-geum enters the palace after King Jungjong ascends to the throne. She is committed to entering the middle kitchen (where her mother used to cook) to uncover a letter written by her mother. 

During this time, she meets Lady Han and they form a mother-daughter bond. The Right State Councilor frames Lady Han and Jang-geum as traitors in league with Jo Gwang-jo, the famous Joseon reformer. To save Jang-geum, Lady Han declares that she alone is guilty of treason. 

Despite her poor condition as a low-class girl in a male-dominated society, Jang Geum overcame a series of social discrimination and landed herself as a royal cook, later becoming the royal physician, and then ultimately the physician in charge of the king.

4. Six Flying Dragons (2015)

  • Episodes: 50
  • Season: 1
  • Network: SBS
  • Main cast: Yoo Ah-in as Yi Bang-won (later King Taejong), Kim Myung-min as Sambong Jeong Do-jeon, Shin Se-kyung as Boon-yi, Byun Yo-han as Yi Bang-ji, Yoon Kyun-sang as Moo-hyul, and Chun Ho-jin as Yi Seong-gye (later King Taejo)
Best historical Korean drama

The story tells about the foundation of the Joseon dynasty in the Korean Peninsula, and the ambitions, success, and conflicts of several real and fictional characters, with a focus on the young Yi Bang-won who would later become King Taejong, the 5th son of the founder of the Joseon dynasty, King Taejo.

During the establishment of the Joseon Dynasty, six dragons held vast powers and each fought for their political views. 

These six dragons — Prince Yi Bang-won (Yoo Ah In), Jeong Do Jeon (Kim Myung Min), Yi Seong Gye (Chun Ho Jin), Boon Yi (Shin Se Kyung), Yi Bang-ji (Byun Yo Han) and Moo Hyul (Yoon Kyun Sang) — fall on opposite sides of a power struggle between those who want a country ruled by ministers and those who want absolute power.

Do Jeon helps his father, Seong Gye, who becomes the first King Tae Jo, establish the Joseon Dynasty, but Bang Won (the future King Tae Jong), becomes his biggest enemy.

5. Queen Seondeok (2009)

  • Episodes: 62
  • Season: 1
  • Network: MBC 
  • Main cast: Lee Yo-won as Princess Deokman, later Queen Seondeok, Go Hyun-jung as Lady Mishil, Uhm Tae-woong as Kim Yushin, and Kim Nam-gil as Bidam
Queen Seondeok Korean drama
Queen Seondeok (2009)

The series begins at the end of King Jinheung's reign and continues until the end of Queen Seondeok's reign. Deokman was born as one of the twin daughters of King Jinpyeong and Queen Maya. Still, due to a prophecy that the dynasty would end once the Queen gave birth to twins, King Jinpyeong had to send his daughter away from the palace to save Queen Maya from being ousted by Lady Mishil.

The King entrusted her daughter to his loyal palace servant, Seohwa, who brought and raised Deokman away from the kingdom. She told Deokman she was her mother. 

But a turn of events eventually led Deokman to return to the kingdom to uncover the mystery of her birth and identity, only to be abandoned once again by her family to save the throne from Mishil's manipulation. 

Deokman became close to her twin sister. Princess Cheon Myeon but while escaping, Cheon Myeon sacrificed her life to save Deokman. 

Out of hatred, Deokman set out to take back what was taken from her and avenge her sister by bringing Mishil down and becoming the first female king of Silla with the help of her trusted friend, Yushin, and the troubled rogue, Bidam, who later revealed as the abandoned son of Lady Mishil. 

6. Empress Ki (2013)
  • Episodes: 51
  • Season: 1
  • Network: MBC
  • Main cast: Ha Ji-won as Ki Seung-nyang / Ki Nyang, Joo Jin-mo as Wang Yoo, King Choonghye of Goryeo, and Ji Chang-wook as Toghon Temür / Ta Hwan (the last emperor of the Yuan dynasty in China)
Empress Ki Korean drama

One of the rarest South Korean costume dramas that was filmed in the Hengdian film studios in China because the setting is the Yuan dynasty, the Mongol-led Chinese empire that preceded the Ming dynasty. 

Empress Ki follows the story of Ki Seung-nyang / Ki Nyang, a woman who was born in Goryeo (Korea) but was sent to  China's Yuan dynasty as a child with a group of tribute women. 

Her mother was killed when the group tried to escape, but she managed to flee. She grew up disguised as a boy and became a great warrior.  

Initially, the fiancée of Wang Yoo of the Goryeo dynasty, she was later forcibly taken to the Yuan court in China and was chosen as the concubine of the Yuan emperor, Toghon Temür. 

She was given the name Lady Ki and became the favorite concubine of the emperor. This made her the targe of assassination and treachery by the Emperor's first empress, Tanashiri (played by Baek Jin-hee).

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