Best Historical K-Dramas of All Time

By Sandi Thompson
Published: October 19, 2023 (Last updated: April 29, 2024)
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Best Historical K-Dramas of All Time

The weather is turning colder, and that means there’s nothing better than getting caught up in an absorbing drama. Historical K-dramas, sometimes called sageuks, especially fit this description well, as they tend to have stories that are emotionally weighty and visually stunning. These K-dramas run anywhere from historically accurate to historical fusion, combining ancient and modern aspects. Some even layer in a supernatural element, while others lighten up an otherwise heavy storyline with pops of humor. MyDramaList’s best historical Korean dramas list presents a nice balance of all these elements, and each one is a solid watch, depending on your mood.

(Please note that some series had more than one season. We combined them into one entry and then placed that entry in the list where the highest season sat. We also put in the episode count because historical dramas tend to be lengthy, and sometimes the number of episodes can be a deciding factor on what to watch.)

Best Historical K-Dramas of All Time

Alchemy of Souls (2022)

MDL Score:  9.1 | MDL ranking Overall: #26

Episode Count: 30

Set in a fictional country called Daeho, mages overcome their fates caused by a forbidden magic spell known as the “alchemy of souls”, which allows souls to switch bodies. The Hong Sisters, masters of the supernatural, composed this fantasy epic spanning two parts, with each part intentionally having a different female lead.

Under the Queen’s Umbrella (2022)

MDL Score:  9.0 | MDL ranking Overall: #45

Episode Count: 16

Kim Hye Soo stars as the hot-tempered titular character ruling over the palace and her five troublesome sons, whose shenanigans contribute to palace politics. The drama brings both humorous and thriller elements to the watch and introduces some modern issues with sensitivity.

Mr. Queen (2020)

MDL Score: 9.0 | MDL ranking Overall: #57

Episode Count: 20

After a freak accident, an egotistical Blue House chef finds himself in the body of a young Joseon-era queen and married to an in-name-only king. Fish-out-of-water hijinks abound as the new queen-chef navigates palace politics and a sensitive budding romance.

Kingdom (2019)

MDL Score:  8.9 | MDL ranking Overall: #84

Episode Count: 12

A plague sets off a zombie apocalypse in Netflix’s first-produced Korean drama. Two short seasons, plus a one-off special, make this drama a great watch to start in October for the Halloween season.

Mr. Sunshine (2018)

MDL Score:  8.9 | MDL ranking overall: #97

Episode Count: 24

Kim Eun Sook, creator of The Glory, also wrote this Japanese occupation-era drama about an aristocrat’s daughter-turned-freedom fighter and the three men who play a role in her mission. A visually stunning, woman-centric drama will leave the viewer stunned in its aftermath.

Tale of the Nine-Tailed (2020)

MDL Score:  8.8 | MDL ranking Overall: #110

Episode Count: 28

A nine-tailed fox finds himself back in Japanese-occupied Korea on a mission to locate important magical elements. He encounters friends and family from the past, along with the ramifications of his past self’s actions. He struggles to get back to the present and his loved ones, along with the necessary magical elements that sent him to 1938 in the first place. Watching the first season is worth it for the extra brotherly bromance. A third installment set in the Joseon period will be forthcoming.

The Red Sleeve (2021)

MDL Score: 8.8 | MDL ranking Overall: #138

Episode Count: 17

Based on the novel of the same name, this drama takes some liberties with the real-life love affair of Prince Yi San and his beloved court lady. Focusing the story through the lives of the palace maid, the drama shows the great sacrifice she must take on if she were to leave her court lady duties and become part of palace life.

My Dearest (2023)

MDL Score: 8.8 | MDL ranking Overall: #157

Episode Count: 20

An epic love story between a noblewoman and a mysterious man set in the 1600s during the Qing invasion. Many elements feel similar to Gone with the Wind; the leads like Scarlet and Rhett and the second leads like Ashley and Melanie.

Arthdal Chronicles (2019)

MDL Score:  8.7 | MDL ranking overall: #198

Episode Count: 30

Set in the fictional land of Arthdal during the Bronze Age. Often compared to Game of Thrones, this multi-season fantasy saga features a different male lead playing twin brothers in each of the two seasons.

Six Flying Dragons (2015)

MDL Score:  8.7 | MDL ranking Overall: #221

Episode Count: 50

Award-winning period drama depicting the ambitions and success stories of six people with Lee Bang-Won as the central figure. Lee Bang-Won was the third king in the Joseon Dynasty, which he helped his father establish.

What do you think are the best historical Korean dramas? Have we missed any off our list? Let us know in the comments below!


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