Posted by: urise | October 13, 2011

The Popularity of Joseon Dynasty Era for Korea’s Historical Drama

It is interesting to watch historical drama of Korea especially when the setting is using Joseon dynasty era. I watched many of historical drama of Korea and I think the outstanding story often used that era. At first, I thought that Korea’s historical drama is just a drama, not using the reality of that era’s life. But when I searched some website eg., I found that many of Korea’s historical dramas were using the truth of Joseon era’s life. That was shocking me for a moment because the stories of those dramas really happened in that era. There were 27 kings of Joseon era. The first king was Taejo Wang and the last king was Sunjong Wang.

“Joseon (July 1392 – October 1897) (also Chosŏn, Choson, Chosun), was a Korean state founded by Taejo Yi Seong-gye that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was founded in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Goryeo Kingdom at what is today the city of Kaesong. Early on, Korea was retitled and the capital was relocated to modern-day Seoul and the kingdom’s northernmost borders were expanded to the natural boundaries at the Amnok and Duman rivers (through the subjugation of the Jurchens). Joseon was the last royal and later imperial dynasty of Korean history. It was the longest ruling Confucian dynasty”

In this topic, I will explain about some outstanding historical drama of Korea (indeed in Joseon era). I think the story of each king era of Joseon dynasty is very interesting to discuss according to the drama and the truth of its history. Here are those dramas.

1. Deep-rooted Tree (now airing on SBS 2011)

Based on Lee Jeong-myeong’s novel “Deep-rooted Tree”. Work that highlights the serial killings during the 7 days before the announcement of the Korean script. A series of murder occurred during the reign of King Sejong. As Kang Chae Yoon who is investigating these cases gets closer to the root of the truth, he finds himself embroiled in a massive conspiracy behind the serial killings which involves a group of genius who are willing to risked their lives towards their cause/goals and secret powers who will interfere with the course of his investigations.

In this drama, the king who were leading the country are King Sejong the Great and also former king who was the father of King Sejong, King Taejeong. As a former king, King Taejeong had great influence for the reign of King Sejong. King Taejeong was the fifth son of King Taejo, and was qualified as an official of Goryeo Dynasty in 1382. During his early days, he helped his father to extend his support with the citizenry and many influential figures of the government. Taejong helped his father found a new dynasty by assassinating powerful officials such as Jeong Mong-ju, who remained loyal to the Goryeo dynasty. King Sejong is the third son of King Taejong. During his regency, he reinforced Korean Confucian policies and executed major legal amendments. He also used the creation of Hangul and the advancement of technology to expand his territory.

2. Princess’ Man (aired on KBS 2  2011)

A tragic love story between the daughter of Prince Suyang and grandson of Kim Jong Seo. The son of Kim Jongseo, Seungyoo, is a handsome and wise man who carries a noble quality. Princess Seryeong, a daughter of King Sejo, aka prince Sooyang, is a cheerful, lively lady with a strong curiosity and bold personality. They fall in love instantly but later they find out that their parents are sworn enemies. It’s a Chosun dynasty version of “Romeo and Juliet”.

In this drama, the king who were leading the country are King Munjong, King Danjong, King Sejo, and King Yejong. King Munjong (1414–1452) was the fifth King of the Joseon Dynasty, who ruled Korea from 1450 to 1452. He was the eldest son of King Sejong the Great, and succeeded him in 1450, but died of disease two years later. He was succeeded by his son, Danjong of Joseon. King Danjong succeeded his father, Munjong of Joseon, at the age of 12. Since he was too young to rule, the government of the kingdom fell to the premier, Hwangbo In, and his vice-premier, General Kim Jongseo. King Sejo was the 2nd son of King Sejong and known as Grand Prince Suyang. As Kim Jongseo and his faction used the chance to extend the power of court officials against many royal family members, the tension between Kim and Suyang greatly increased; not only Suyang himself, but his younger brother -Grand Prince Anpyeong- also sought an opportunity to take control of the kingdom. Grand Prince Suyang then killed Kim Jongseo and his faction, thereby taking the reins of power into his own hands as King Sejo. King Yejong is the son of King Yejong. He succeeded his father, King Sejo in 1468, but was too physically ill to govern, and died a year later.

3. Dae Jang Geum (aired on MBC 2003)

About 500 years ago during the time of Chosun Dynasty, Korea boasted a rigidly hierarchical and male dominated social structure. Set in this period, “Jewel in the Palace” is based on a true story about a legendary girl (Jang Geum) who became the first woman to be the supreme royal physician of her times. Despite her poor condition as a low class girl in the male dominated society, Jang Geum overcame a series of social discrimination and landed herself as a royal cook, later becoming the royal physician, then ultimately the physician in charge of the king. She was even given by the king the title “The Great Jang Geum.” The story of her checkered life on her success and breakdown as well as her love story beautifully unfold. “Jewel in the Palace” is sure to touch your heart.

In this drama, the king who was leading the country is King Jungjong. King Jungjong was the son of King Seongjong and also the grandson of King Yejong. He succeeded his half-brother, Yeonsangun, because of the latter’s tyranical misrule, which culminated in a coup placing Jungjong on the throne.

4. Chuno (aired on KBS 2  2010)

Chuno follows the story of Lee Dae Gil, a man of high birth whose family was ruined when Won Ki Yoon, a slave, burnt down his house and escaped with his sister, Un Nyun, who was in love with Dae Gil. Driven by his desire for revenge, he survived his harsh years on the street and made his name as a slave hunter, dedicated in his pursuit to find Un Nyun, his first and only love. Song Tae Ha is a General of the Army who became a slave after being falsely accused of a crime he did not commit, and finds himself on the run from Dae Gil’s relentless pursuit. Both men become entangled in a love triangle with Un Nyun, who is no longer a runaway slave, but Kim Hye Won, a nobleman’s daughter.

In this drama, the king who was leading the country is King Injo. He was the grandson of King Seonjo. FYI, King Seonjo focused on the improvement of the lives of the common people, as well as rebuilding the nation after the political corruption during the chaotic reign of Yeonsangun and King Jungjong. And King Injo was king during both the first and second Manchu invasions, which ended with the surrender of Joseon to the Qing Dynasty in 1636.

5. Dong Yi (aired on MBC 2010)

Set during the reign of King Sukjong in the Joseon dynasty, the story focuses on Dong Yi, a water maid who gains the trust of Queen Inhyeon and later the favour of the king when he is moved by her prayers for the health of the Queen during the court disputes caused by Jang Hee Bin. Dong Yi becomes a concubine with the rank of sook-bin and bears a son who will later become the 21st king of Joseon, Yeongjo.

In this drama, the king who were leading the country are King Sukjong and King Gyeongjong. King Sukjong was born on 15 August 1661 to King Hyeonjong and Queen Myeongseong at Changdeok Palace. He was the grand grandson of King Injo. King Sukjong was a brilliant politician, but his reign was marked by some of the most intense factional fights in Joseon dynasty. Sukjong frequently replaced faction in power with another one to strengthen the royal authority. He had son that would be King Gyeongjong. King Gyeongjong was  the son of Sukjong by Jang Hui-bin. Gyeongjong’s designation as heir to the throne precipitated a struggle between the Noron and the Soron faction, which supported Gyeongjong of Joseon. Due to this struggle, Soron scholars were kept out of power and factional strife reached a high point during Gyeongjong’s reign.

6. Warrior Baek Dong Soo (aired on SBS 2011)

Set in the Joseon Dynasty during King Jeongjo’s reign, this martial-arts fusion sageuk is centered around the events involving Crown Prince Sado’s conspiracy. Warrior Baek Dong Soo was a real-life legend who created a martial arts guide in Joseon. His group who defends King Jeongjo is pitted against a mysterious organization of assassins who plot to kill the King.

In this drama, the king who were leading the country are King Yeongjo and King Jeongjo. King Yeongjo was the second son of Sukjong by Lady Suk-bin (Dong Yi) of the Choi clan , succeeded his older brother Gyeongjong. The only significantly dismal incident during Yeongjo’s reign was the death of his son, Crown Prince Sado. Sado most likely suffered from mental illness. He randomly killed people in the palace and was a sexual deviant. Yeongjo could not by court rules kill his son by his own hand and on a hot August day in 1762, Sado was ordered to climb into a large wooden rice chest. After eight days, Sado died of suffocation. King Jeongjo (Yi San) was the son of Prince Sado and the grandson of King Yeongjo.

7. Yi San (aired on MBC 2007)

This drama details the life of King Jeongjo, Joseon’s 22nd monarch, who is remembered in Korean history as one of Korea’s greatest kings, one who loved the people and reigned for the commoner.

In this drama, the king who was leading the country are King Jeongjo. He made various attempts to reform and improve the nation of Joseon. He was preceded by his grandfather King Yeongjo (1724–1776) and succeeded by his son King Sunjo (1800–1834). He is widely regarded as one of the most successful and visionary rulers of Joseon along with King Sejong. King Jeongjo spent much of his reign trying to clear his father’s name. He also moved the court to the city of Suwon to be closer to his father’s grave. He built Hwaseong Fortress to guard the tomb. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Those are the historical drama of Korea that I know so far. Among those dramas, there is a tight connection about the Kings’ life of Joseon era and it is true according to the wikipedia document. And I hope after you read this story, you’ll be interested in historical drama like me. CMIIW /^^\.

Some writings were taken from





  1. how about the story of Queen In Hyun and Lady Jang? I’m quite curious about this two lady. I got interested with it after watching Queen In Hyun’s man korean drama and I’m watching now the Jang Ok Jung, live in love. also a korean drama. Both drama tackle about queen In Hyun and Lady Jang. But different perception.

  2. Hi… I’m really courious about lady jang ok jung which then became jang hee bin … What about queen in hyun?? And also dong yi.. I found those story in different version.. So if you know anything that related… Might be you can share… Thank you.

  3. Seriously I think I’ve falling in love with Korean drama’s I’ve seen jewel in the palace and I just completed Dong Yi. They are both beautiful stories with strong lessons.

  4. Thanks a lot about this article….i’m so glad and interested with this article….i’m really loves watching korea’s historcle drama especially dynasty of Joseon…..erm … first drama is Jewel in Palace…after that i’m was watching The moon embraces the sun,Princess’s man…and aslo Sunkywan Scandal…now i’m was watching Jang OK Jung….this was my favorites drama…eheheheh

    @just want to share

  5. taejo wang wasn’t the first king of joseon dynasty. he was the first king of gyoryo dynasty. the fisrt king of joseon was tae – jo (lee sung gye)

  6. Watch almost all, is it dongyi, yisan, chuno, princess man, jewel in the palace, baek dong soo.LOVELY MOVIES. AM IN LOVE WITH ALL KMOVIES

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