I have always loved what I like to call “period pieces.” These are those historical gems that mix a nice bit of historical reality with dramatic and typically romantic fantasy. The costumes, the language and the culture all take you to a different time. And like most television I watch, I watch in suspended disbelief. In other words, I don’t take them too seriously. That’s not to say that my emotions don’t mix in… oh, no. In fact, because I watch with just the reality presented, these stinkers get me every time!
Of course, when you think of historical/costume and period pieces, you can’t neglect all of the beautiful ones in k-drama and Chinese drama land. One of the first dramas I watched in this genre was Jang Ok Jung, Lives in Love. (2013) It was awesome. Awesome. The chemistry between the king and his consort was amazing. It is classically tragic and honestly, I did stop watching before the ending because, well, historically, the ending was accurate. That’s all I am going to say about that. This is the story about King Sook Jong, played by Yoo Ah In and primarily (as the name implies) Jang Ok Jung, who became Lady HeeBin (Hui Bin) played by Kim Tae Hee. This is really their love story, wrapped up in palace politics, tied off with some nice exile, torture, poison and of course some good cat fights between all of the palace women. Toward the end of the drama, Lady Choi is introduced, and well, having spoiled (or saved myself the tears) the ending by looking up the history, I stopped watching because I couldn’t stand what was going to happen with Lady Choi. I loved this king couple so much!!!
Fast forward about a year and a million k-dramas later and I find myself looking back at my watch later list. On that list was a drama called Dong Yi. I remembered adding the drama to the list a long time ago but never got around to watching it because it is a lofty 60 episodes long. As I read the description again, I remembered the other reason why it got sidelined so long ago. This story is about King Sook Jong and Lady Choi, aka Dong Yi, aka Choi Suk Bin. Having let my emotions settle about Jang Ok Jung, I gave this drama a try.
Well, four sleep deprived days later, Dong Yi is finished and so is my box of tissues. I loved this story too!!! Ji Jin Hee does an amazing job of playing King Sook Jong. The guy made me giggle with laughter at a historical drama. Seriously. The love and caring he showed for Dong Yi (played by Han Hyo Jo) is beautifully portrayed as well. Having watched Jang Ok Jung, who plays a pivotal role in the drama, I saw the overlap between the two stories and I think I could feel the kings angst all that much more. Unlike many historical dramas, I really liked the way the writers finished off the story. The timing of the story’s events seemed a bit off if you look at history, but they sure jammed a lot of the real events into this one. All I can say is that it was a crazy time! No wonder there are two dramas out there about this period. And if you really want to mix things up with this same time period and group of women, you can also check out the time travel drama Queen Inyeon’s Man. This is one of my favorite dramas and also another one of my first watches. Queen Inyeon (In Hyun) was King Sook Jung’s second wife. She appears in both Dong Yi and Jang Ok Jung of course.
So I began to wonder. What other dramas are out there about this crazy time in history? Turns out, the currently airing drama Daebak! (aka Jackpot, aka The Royal Gambler) happens to have King Sook Jong and Dong Yi (Lady Suk Bin) in it as well! This story is about their son Yeoning (later becomes King Yeongjo). I haven’t started watching it, but now it’s on the list!
Next up is the drama about King Yeongjo’s son, the Crown Prince Sado. I think Dong Yi may have been a tad disappointed about how this story plays out for her grandson in the k-drama Secret Door. Reading the description of the drama, seems about right for political pressure and a king who was always threatened for his throne and really for his life. Haven’t watched it yet, but it’s on the list too! This story seems full of intrigue and tragedy, so I think I need to brace myself for this one. And for more conspiracy theory around Prince Sado, you can check out Warrior Beck Dong Soo.
Following the bouncing monarchy ball, you can find a drama about King Yeonjo’s grandson, Prince Sado’s son, Yi San (Lee San) called, well, creatively, Yi San. Apparently, King Yeonjo was a bit stressed, pressured or maybe a bit whackado so this story is about King Yeonjo and his son Crown Prince Sado and his son Yi San. Having watched Dong Yi, the description of Yi San seems to fit the bill for the great grandson of Lady Choi Suk Bin. Again, haven’t watched, but have to add it to the list! With Lee Seo Jin as Yi San, I am sure this will have great chemistry and he won’t leave his performance wanting. If you haven’t seen him in Marriage Contract, don’t miss it!
Whew! There are many other k-dramas set in and around these pivotal times but these main royal family members didn’t quite seem to have the central roles so I didn’t get into them here. Ok… one more…set during King Yeongjo’s reign, Sukgkunkwan Scandal is a classic, must watch k-drama. If you haven’t watched a costume/period drama before, this drama HAS to be the place to start. Seriously. Watch it. Love it. Seriously.
Have you guys seen any of these dramas? Know any others that fit in here? I would love to know if you have watched them and what you thought so leave a comment.
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