For new K-Dramas fans and non addicts to K-Dramas, it is often hard to make a great watchlist. You most probably ask your friend’s opinions or read the reviews online to make your selection, but sometimes it is not enough. We hope this list will help you find the dramas you are looking for!
After listing up, the best romantic comedy and best action thriller romance dramas, here are the best romance historical dramas. If you are a beginner to K-Dramas, historical dramas might look unattractive to you. It is a question of taste but Korean historical dramas are very diverse. Some have few historical elements and are easy to watch. It is simply like another drama but with a pretty historical background. While some are approachable and easy-to-understand, some have complex and political plots. Your only task is to choose wisely according to your taste!
For K-Drama addicts, you probably have watched all of the drama listed below, if not, it is time to add to your watchlist.
Note: This list was first published in 2019 and updated several times with new releases. Latest update: November 2023. This is not a ranking.
1. “The Moon Embracing The Sun”
Cast: Kim SooHyun, Han GaIn, Jung IlWoo, Kim MinSeo
Summary: When they were young, Crown Prince Lee Hwon falls in love with Yeon Woo who is chosen to be the Crown Princess. However, because of political schemes, a shaman put a curse on her. People think she is dead but she resurrected with memory loss. Eight years later, she becomes a shaman and the Crown Prince still cannot forget his -dead- true love. They ended up meeting in the palace. The young King starts to investigate her death and she starts to remember her past.
For: Viewers looking for an unforgettable romantic drama.
Why watch?: This drama’s plot and acting are just perfect. Viewers are hook from the beginning to the end. The drama mixes genre with romance, fantasy, and comedy. You will be on a roller coaster of emotions and dearly attached to the characters.
2. “Jang OkJung, Living by Love”
Cast: Kim TaeHee, Yoo AhIn, Hong SooHyun
Summary: It tells the story of one of the most famous -villain- royal concubines in the Joseon Dynasty. The story takes place before and after she becomes queen.
For: Viewers looking for a romantic drama with deadly political fights.
Why watch?: The first part focuses on the romance of the two main characters and the latter part of the drama is more political with the various political schemes and relation with the King, the Queen, and the concubines. The story is addictive and viewers want to know to which extent the characters’ greediness can go.
3. “Warrior Baek DongSoo”
Cast: Ji ChangWook, Yoo SeungHo, Yoon SoYi, Shin HyunBin
Summary: This drama has themes of brotherhood, loyalty, and honor in the middle of political schemes in Joseon by the Crown Prince, assassin guilds, and others.
For: Viewers looking for an epic historical drama with bromance, swords fight, and beautiful cinematography.
Why watch?: More than romance, it is a drama that focuses on brotherhood. For those of you who like sword fights, assassins, and friendship, this is for you! Both actors acting are perfect and the surrounding actors too. Viewers are held onto their universe from the beginning to the end and it deeply touches viewers’ hearts.
Cast: Park SeoJun, Go Ara, Park HyungSik, SHINee‘s MinHo, BTS‘s V
Summary: The regent of the Kingdom of Silla is hiding her son. She also creates a new elite name Hwarang – a group of young people. Inside the trained Hwarang, her son (the future king) and a commoner have a secret.
For: Viewers looking for a cute and light historical drama with handsome and funny male leads.
Why watch?: It is easy to watch for all the public. The plot is cute and fresh. Moreover, it might be a nice first step into Korean historical dramas for those unfamiliar with Korean history.
5. “Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo”
Cast: Lee JoonGi, IU, Kang HaNeul, Nam JooHyuk, Ji Soo, Hong JongHyun, EXO‘s BaekHyun, etc
Summary: During a solar eclipse, Go HaJin is transported from modern to Goryeo times. She wakes up in the middle of the numerous royal princes. Her story then begins. She first falls in love with the kind 8th Prince but later changes to the 4th Prince. This prince is known for being fearless and hides his face with a mak. She is trapped in the princes’ rivalry over the throne.
For: Viewers looking for drama bringing viewers on a roller-coaster of emotions.
Why watch?: Lee JoonGi is one of the actors whose acting in historical dramas is not to miss. The other actors in supporting roles are also popular. The drama while being eye-candy and is quite complex in its addictive plot and numerous characters. It is well balanced between cute and dark.
6. “Empress Ki”
Cast: Ha JiWon, Ji ChangWook, Joo JinMo
Summary: It tells the love story and political ambition of Empress Ki, a lady from Goryeo taken against her will as a palace woman that ended up as Yuan Empress.
For: Viewers looking for an intense love story and breathtaking political fights.
Why watch?: The drama is long of 51 episodes. Some might think at first sight that it is too long but it is not. The memorable love story and political schemes have enough time to develop. The viewers can only root for the strong lead female character. The superb acting of the main actors is a plus.
7. “Six Flying Dragons”
Cast: Yoo AhIn, Kim MyungMin, Shin SeKyung, Byun YoHan, Yoon KyunSang, Chun HoJin
Summary: It covers the transition from Goryeo to Joseon. It tells the story around the foundation of the new dynasty and especially young prince Lee BangWon.
For: Viewers looking for an epic and political drama about one of the most captivating periods of Korean history.
Why watch?: First of all, the drama has romance but it is minor, and second, the drama has over 50 episodes. Despite a solid cast and strong plot, the drama might not be for everyone. However, if you like great historical and political plot, this is for you and highly recommended.
8. “Bridal Mask”
Cast: Joo Won, Jin SeYeon, Park KiWoong, Han ChaeAh, Shin HyunJoon
Summary: It is the Korean version of a superhero during Imperial Japanese rule. It tells the love story of a hero without a name that has to throw away love because of his fate and the woman who tries to protect him.
For: Viewers looking for a cliffhanger drama when Korea was under Japanese rule with romance.
Why watch?: If you want to learn about this period of Korean history, the drama might be a good reason to watch. The plot is catchy. Viewers hold their breath throughout the show. The love story and brotherhood make it even more intense.
9. “The Emperor: Owner of the Mask”
Cast: Yoo SeungHo, Kim SoHyun, Kim MyungSoo (INFINITE’s L)
Summary: It tells the story of the Crown Prince fighting the Pyeonsuhwe society that controls the water supply thanks to their power. In this battle for the people, the Crown Prince and the girl who is popular among the people develop their love story.
For: Viewers looking for a love story with an appealing plot and action scenes.
Why watch?: Acting is good and the characters made it worth watching. The love story is touching and the development of the story is interesting.
10. “Gu Family Book”
Cast: Lee SeungGi, Suzy, Sung Joon, Yoo YeonSeok, Lee YuBi
Summary: A half-man and half-gumiho loves one ordinary woman and he will try his best to live like a human.
For: Viewers looking for a mysterious and fantastical love story.
Why watch?: The fantasy genre is intriguing and there are plenty of action scenes to enjoy. The love story is pure and will make you smile and cry. It is also easy to watch for viewers not used to historical dramas.
Cast: Shin SeKyung, ASTRO’s Cha EunWoo, Park KiWoong
Summary: The story is set in the 19th century where men and women are not seen as equal. A woman will try to become a historian and try to ‘change’ society. And it tells the romance between her and the prince.
For: Viewers looking for a cute and fun romance historical drama about women’s social issues with a handsome lead.
Why watch?: This historical drama is quite new in the sense that it gives light to women’s social issues in Joseon (and still relatable to some extent in the modern time). The lead female character is strong, smart, and dependent while the lead male character is cute and has many things to learn. They have a lot of cute and lovely romantic scenes.
Cast: Kim SoHyun, Jang DongYoon, Kang TaeOh
Summary: It tells the romance between a man who is disguising as a woman to infiltrate a community for widows and a girl that hates the idea of becoming a gisaeng.
For: Viewers looking for an exciting historical drama with perfect chemistry.
Why watch?: “The Tale of Nokdu” is a must-watch historical romance drama. It has the whole package to be a captivating drama: romance, comedy, action, mystery, and politics. The male character is cross-dressing which is the opposite of the usual frame. The plot will hook you from the beginning to the end and you will end up rooting for the lead couple.
Cast: Shin HyeSun, Kim JungHyun, Bae JongOk, Kim TaeWoo
Summary: Due to a sudden accident, the soul of a wild man from modern Korea entered Queen Kim SoYong’s body in Joseon. It tells the scandalous story of a soul that ran away from its body and the King CheolJong who has two faces.
For: Viewers looking for a hilarious historical drama with perfect acting.
Why watch?: This drama has received a lot of love due to its hilarious characters and story. Shin HyeSun, one of the most talented actresses, took on the role of a man from modern time who arrived in the body of the Queen in Joseon. She portrayed the character flawlessly making viewers connect with the arrogant man pretending to be a woman. Aside from it, you can expect political fights and a not-so-easy to understand king.
Cast: Kim MyungSoo (INFINITE’s L), Kwon NaRa, Lee YiKyung
Summary: It is the comic investigation story of late Joseon secret royal inspectors who are the secret ears of the palace. They actively and cheerfully eradicate corruption and help victims of injustice.
For: Viewers looking for an easy-to-watch and funny historical drama with a bit of romance.
Why watch?: The most fun and lovely trio (funniest bromance ever) are going for adventures across the country. This drama will put you in a good mood and make you laugh hard. But at the same time, their investigations are also nerve-breaking and captivating. It is the perfect ratio of comedy and action.
Cast: Jung IlWoo, Girls’ Generation’s (Kwon) YuRi, Shin HyunSoo
Summary: A man who kidnaps widows for remarriage life is turned upside down when he kidnaps a princess by mistake.
For: Viewers looking for an emotional romance touching on the women’s condition in Joseon with politics.
Why watch?: The background of this drama about widow and women in Joseon make it memorable. The overall atmosphere is quite serious and emotional as the lead characters’ situations are far from being happy once. Complex love relationships, dangerous situations, and politics are keywords.
Cast: Park EunBin, SF9’s RoWoon, Nam YoonSoo, VICTON’s ByungChan, Bae YoonKyung, DIA’s Jung ChaeYeon
Summary: It is the secret court romance drama of a woman who was abandoned because she was born as a girl. When her twin brother died, she began to pretend to be him: the crown prince while trying to keep her identity and affection for her first love.
For: Viewers looking for a good plotline and a sweet love story.
Why watch?: The plot of the drama is woman-centered and mainly focuses on Park EunBin acting as the king. On one side, you have beautiful flowery sets and her affection for RoWoon, and on the other side, her being scared of being caught and all the political schemes. This combination makes this drama a good one to watch.
Cast: 2PM’s Lee JunHo, Lee SeYoung
Summary: A record of a mournful court romance between a court lady who wanted to protect the life she had chosen and a king who put the country ahead of love.
For: Viewers looking for a touching drama that makes them cry.
Why watch?: It is a sad love story (better to know before starting) that moved the heart of countless viewers. This is not only the acting and chemistry of quality but also the thoughts on what is love compared to your personal life’s aspirations that make this drama stand out. It is by far a high-quality historical K-Drama you don’t want to miss.
Cast: Kim YoungDae, Park JuHyun, Kim WooSeok
Summary: “The Forbidden Marriage” is a delightful and exhilarating palace fraud drama about a marriage scammer who claims to be possessed by the spirit of the king’s late wife.
For: Viewers looking for a hilarious romantic comedy
Why watch?: The king (Kim YoungDae) can’t forget his late wife but the scammer (Park JuHyun) pretends to be possessed by her spirit and this is all how they got closer. The drama is full of comic moments and gives watchers comfort and a happy time. Really entertaining! The drama directing and set were also very romantic and pretty giving us beautiful scenes. Note that this drama added a modern twist to its old story making it even more relatable.
*Note: “Alchemy of Souls” is not a historical drama. It is complete fiction and is not set in any time in Korean history. However, this drama might interest fans of historical drama so we are adding it as a bonus.
Cast: Lee JaeWook, Jung SoMin (S1), Go YunJung (S2), Hwang MinHyun, Shin SeungHo, Oh My Girl’s Arin, and more.
Summary: “Alchemy of Souls” is set in a great country that does not exist in history or on maps; a fantasy romance drama in which the protagonist’s fates have been twisted due to magic.
For: Viewers looking for an unforgettable drama full of twists and addictive elements
Why watch?: This drama has a lot of addicted and passionate fans for a reason. This drama has no miss and has become a new classic drama! Action, fantasy, romance, bromance, mysteries, shocking twists, beautiful costumes and sets, high-quality CGIs, etc all make this drama truly unmissable! Between tears, laugh, and smiles, this drama has all to steal your heart.
You can also recommend to readers through the poll (opened on June 23, 2021) and the comments. (Note that “The King’s Affection”, “The Red Sleeve”, “The Forbidden Marriage”, and “Alchemy of Souls” were added later than the other dramas in the poll)
What is the best romance historical K-Drama according to you?
※You can vote multiple times without sign in.
The Moon Embracing The Sun
Jang OkJung, Living by Love
Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo
The Emperor: Owner of the Mask
Rookie Historian Goo HaeRyung
Check out other K-Drama watchlists below: