Historical films or television series are referred to as sageuk (사극) in Korea. What makes this genre entirely different from others is that it takes you on an exciting, exhilarating journey back to earlier times of the daebi-mama (대비 마마) or Queen Dowager, daegun (대군) or Grand Prince of the Blood, junggungjeon (중궁전), where queens live and kings exercise their reign. Every single one of these episodes gives you a sneak peek into Korea’s remarkable history, culture and language all from the comfort of your home.
We know this genre has blown up in popularity, and sageuks are almost a dime a dozen. If you are thinking of catching some of the best this genre has to offer, here are 5 of our recommendations for you!
1. Kingdom, January 2019
You can’t talk about historical Korean dramas without ever mentioning Kingdom. This political period horror television series premiered in January 2019, telling the story of a Crown Prince and his pursuit of uncovering the source of a mysterious plague that killed the king and ravaged his country.
Take an overblown zombie thriller and mix it in with a period Korean setting – if both of these are your favourite genres and you’re looking for something new, Kingdom just might be the right one for you.
2. Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth, December 2016
This is a story about an elite group of handsome young men called hwarangs, or flowering knights, who discovered their passion, love, and friendship amidst the turmoil in the Silla Kingdom. They were called upon by the queen to protect the kingdom and the Crown Prince.
The plot takes a sudden twist when it is revealed that the Crown Prince the hwarang were supposed to protect is actually a number amongst their midst. Treachery, deceit and high stakes drive the plot with each episode, leaving tense resolutions in its aftermath.
3. The Empress Ki, October 2013
The Empress Ki is one of the biggest historical drama series. It received the Golden Bird Prize for Serial Drama at the 9th Seoul International Drama Awards. It’s about a Goryeo-born woman, Ki Seungnyang, who defied all expectations and was appointed empress to the ruling king despite the era’s class system.
The series highlights the emperor’s deep love for Empress Ki as well as her passions and political ambitions in the imperial palace. Her penchant for cunning and strategy belies the ruthless plots and schemes of those around her as they seek to drag her down and take influence in her place. Watch her slowly learn to navigate the vicious snakes found in the pit of the royal palace as she seeks to take what she believes truly belongs to her.
Period dramas that take you on a rollercoaster ride back to the earlier times are indeed enthralling. The set pieces are almost characters themselves as it conjures up scenes of how royal households and imperial courts operated. While all events are dramatised, it makes you wonder how much each historical figure had to go through on their path to become the most influential figure in their reign and time.
If all these K-dramas have done nothing but fuel your love for all things K, then you’d undoubtedly be interested in picking up the Korean language. Whether it is for personal understanding of the dramas you watch or a deep love and admiration of the Korean culture, the teachers at Sejong are here to provide engaging Korean language courses in Singapore for you to learn the Korean language in a fun, engaging, and systematic way. What are you waiting for? Sign up today!