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historical kdrama part 2

My continuation to my post here. Here are the historical kdramas that I have seen since.

Empress Chunchu

Watched 78 out of 78 episodes.
the main character is a princess with an eventful life. She marries a mad and violent king to ensure her brother's safety. He starts out as an abusive husband and when things start to get good between them, he dies. Chunchu's brother (the same one she wanted to protect) takes over the power and also takes away her baby to ensure his power. They have very different views on how the kingdom should be ruled - the brother wants a scholar state while Chunchu wants to strengthen the army against the Khitan threat and reconquer some Korean territories. during the series there are two wars with the Khitan, Chunchu gets taken a war prisoner, she attempts a coup against her brother, things never get quite right with her estranged son, she rules as the dowager and regent, her lover has a secret that makes him eventually raise armies against her. This is a really epic story (78 episodes!), has a lot of drama, intrigues and tragedy and yet doesn't get annoying after a while. I didn't like how they started with a lot of battle scenes before the story even begun and we got into the story, but after that it got really interesting. It's also interesting how women in this actually fight, other than the main character with superb bow skills there were at least 4 skilled female warriors. This is one of my favourite kdramas.

Queen Seon Duk

I have written about this series before, but it would be nice to have them all in one place.
Watched 62 episodes of 62
Seon Duk is the first ruling queen of Shilla. Court lady Mishil has all the power, she has so much support that she can even depose the king who refused to make her his queen. There are two prophesies. 1) The king having twins is a bad, bad omen 2) On an night when there is additional star in the Big Dipper, someone with the power to oppose Mishil appears. So when the queen gives birth to twin girls, a servant escapes with one of them to hide her and never return. The princess grows up in a Chinese desert, but her fate is to return and eventually take the power. She manages to pass as a man for years, compete with Mishil with clever plots and eventually claim her position. The final episodes without Mishil were not quite the same, but it was still good. This is another of my favourites.

The Return of Iljimae

Watched 24 of 24 episodes
There is also a series called Iljimae, which I have not yet seen, this is a different story. I've read that The Return of Iljimae is closer to the original comic book.
Iljimae is a Robin Hood type character. He is a son of an aristocrat and a servant and was taken away from his mother and then abandoned. He grows up in China with nice parents, but after finding out about his roots returns to Korea where nobody accepts him. His girlfriend gets executed for being her long-dead father's daughter. He starts to use his martial arts (and ninja skills he learned in Japan) to help the poor and powerless, finds a girl, who looks exactly like the one he loved and keeps searching for his mother. Oh and there are an old man and a boy who stalk him to write a book about him.
It was fun, although I found some characters and ideas a bit annoying. I still don't get why they started the first episode with another Iljimae in modern times.


Watched 24 out of 24 episodes.
Once a nobleman's son Dae Gil fell in love with a slave girl Un Nyun. When his father found out, bad things happened. Eventually her brother kills their master, attacks Dae Gil as well and sets the house on fire. Years later the brother and sister live as nobles and Dae Gil has become a slave hunter, still looking for her. The girl, now called Hye Won, has not forgotten him and escapes her own wedding. She meets Song Tae Ha, a general turned slave, who has escaped to save a prince. Dae Gil is after him not knowing that the woman with him is his lost love while Tae Ha and Hye Won are starting to develop feelings for each other. A separate plotline centrers on slaves who think they are organising an uprising all the while playing into politicians' hands.

And the unfinished ones


Watched 34 out of 36 (subs not out yet for the last two)
This series takes place in late 19th, early 20th century. A young butcher's mother is sick and only Japanese embassy's hospital has a doctor skilled enough to save her life. To get the huge amount of money demanded, he breaks the law, but it is too late for his mother and now he is wanted for his crime (illegally killing a cow). While escaping he steals a nobleman's clothes and name. After an American doctor saves his life, he gets interested in western medicine. Do Yang is a minister's son, who has the same interest. The story is about establishing the first Korean western style hospital Jejoongwon, the troubles the leads have in putting their social status behind them and prejudices against western medicine. Later it is more focused on the Japanese taking the power.
It's interesting to see the mix of the old and new. At first it is mostly traditional Korea with some foreign influence, by the end a lot of characters wear suits etc.

Merchant Kim ManDeok

Watched 12 out of ?
This is about a girl with a dream of becoming a merchant and we are told right away that she became famous and successful and she sacrificed her personal fortune to save people from famine. I have seen 12 episodes and I still don't know much of what's this about. There is her birth secret and at least two shameless intriguing women and at 2-3 men in love with her. So far she has gotten in trouble in the capital as a child, escaped to Jeju, been forced to become a gisaeng and then gotten in trouble again for knowing too much and trying to help people. So far I haven't really gotten into it and the almost 40 actress playing a pretty less than twenty girl is bothering me a bit.

Dong Yi

Watched 12 out of 50 (still airing)
This is made by the same people as Dae Jang Geum and Yi San, so it may happen that the endless intrigues will get to my nerves eventually like it happened with those two, but at the moment I'm enjoying this very much.
The story: The poor have an organisation called Sword Fraternity to help the week. The fighting political factions frame them for their latest killings and everybody in the fraternity is killed. Only Dong Yi, the leader's daughter and one member manage to survive. Dong Yi is determined to prove her father and brother's innocence and enters the palace as a slave girl in hopes of finding the palace lady who knows something of the plot. The lady in question is lady Jang, the king's favourite, who has her own political ambitions while the king's mother is plotting against her. Dong Yi manages to get involved in all that and while helping lady Jang out meets the king in disguise. As a reward for her services Dong Yi is promoted to palace girl to great opposition. That's the story so far. Dong Yi's fate is to one day outshine lady Jang and become the king's favourite and her son will one day be king.

I found trailers for some of them.

Queen Seon Duk


Empress Chunchu. This one is a bit long to really be trailer, but I couldn't find anything better

Dong Yi


I think I'm the most curious about Empress Chunchu and Dong Yi from the list. For the first drama, I love strong female leads who aren't afraid to do whatever they want. Female characters like Chunchu are rare in historical dramas in general so it's always nice to see something fresh.

For the second, it's purely out of bias since I loved Dae Jang Geum. XD

I love the costumes in historical K-Dramas so it's always a visual treat.
Queen Seon Duk had female characters doing what they want as well, it is about the women in power after all, but Seon Duk was not so much a warrior. She did spend years as a soldier in training, but he wasn't physically as strong as the men around her (and some of them were incredibly strong). In Empress Chunchu the empress's brother, the king was trying to build a Confucian state which put a lot more restrictions on women. Oh and Liao was also ruled by the emperor's mother in this.

At first I really, really loved Dae Jang Geum, but after a while how the leads got in serious trouble and begged people to believe they are innocent every two episodes started to get on me. Also I enjoyed the cooking more than medicine. I have been stuck on episode 50 for 1,5 years now I think. XD I think I will finish it one day though. Yi San was even worse in that regard.

I would love to have a historical jdrama like this, where its more about the characters' adventures than telling history. Jin with its weird time traveling was fun in a different way than, say, taiga dramas.
I'll keep an eye out for Queen Seon Duk as well then. :) It's always nice to see strong female characters because personally I find that there are few dramas that have them. (Including North American dramas.)

In Dae Jang Geum, I liked the cooking more too. I don't remember what happened in the finale but I think it was a satisfying ending. I'm not entirely sure though.

I have yet to come across a Taiga drama that captured my full attention. The only one that came close was Fuurinkazan and that was because Gackt was in it. XD
I tend to enjoy historical dramas with female characters much more than others and sometimes I have trouble liking them if there aren't any female characters. It's the same with taiga dramas as well. The ones that I actually finished are "Toshiie and Matsu" and "Atsu-hime". I kinda lost the point of "Fuurin Kazan" after the revenge plot got dismissed and Yuu-hime just waited in some mansion with her son. Yoshitsune started to feel to much a Gary Stu.

I'm still stuck at episode 50 of DJG, but I did take a little peek at what is to come and from what I saw I made a guess that she will be alive and free, but not together with her love. That tends to be one of the standard endings with the others being everyone dies and eventually they died of natural causes (used in biographical dramas). I might be totally wrong about DJG though.
Ah, I wanted to see Chuno. It looks interesting, I love the female lead, and it's only 24 episodes XD I find I don't have much patience for anything over 30 episodes in kdramas.
The 24 episodes ones tend to be the fun ones. XD I'm a bit disappointed with the way Chuno ended, but you should still try it. As a side note Strongest Chil Woo from my old kdrama post is kind of similar in that it takes place at the same time period and even the same prince is tried to be saved, but it's much lighter in tone and has a happier ending.
So the first two are among your top favourites. They look interesting. They both look like they would have strong female lead characters.

I think you were telling me about some of these shows in your last e-mail. (Eek, I'm so late with my reply again!)
They do, one in a warrior woman/iron empress kind of way and the other in I can play this political chess scheming game kind of way. I think Dong Yi will make its way to my favourites as well, but since it's still only around one fourth into the series, it's too early to be sure.

LOL and I'm so late with replies to so many other things.