Korean historical dramas have been a staple amongst K-drama fans for its beautiful costumes, aesthetic backdrops, and not forgetting the romance and intriguing plots. Period dramas also give us an escape from the world we live in today for a blissful hour as we are transported to a foreign dimension where technology ceases to exist.
While every Korean historical fiction adopts certain details from the bygone eras, some shows have given a modern spin to its characters and storylines — challenging the rules of gender, history, physics, and sometimes, logic. Here are 5 K-drama that bend the rules of history:
1. The King’s Affection — Defies Gender
What if there was a woman who ascended to the throne in disguise and was deliberately left out in history because of the fact that she was a woman?
The King’s Affection blooms those daring imaginations as it tells the story of a twin sister who has to take her brother’s place as crown prince when he dies. Yi Hwi (Park Eun-bin) navigates keeping her true identity a secret, as well as her affection for her teacher, Jung Ji-un (Rowoon).
The King’s Affection is now streaming on Netflix.
2. Kingdom — Defies the nature of human biology
What if you found a plant that could resurrect people from the dead?
That’s how the deadly zombies came to be in Kingdom. The story follows Crown Prince Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon) on his pursuit to find the cause of the mysterious plague that ravaged Joseon. With his guard Moo-Young (Kim Sang-Ho) by his side, he travels far and wide to a clinic in Dongnae — the place where the plague broke out and finds physician Seo-bi (Bae Doo-na). Together, they must discover the truth behind the zombies before they hit the capital of Hanyang.
Kingdom is now streaming on Netflix.
3. The King: Eternal Monarch — Defies the rules of time and space (and logic)
What if you could switch places with a better version of yourself living in a parallel universe on a different timeline?
The King: Eternal Monarch explores this where there are two parallel universes in the 21st century – a fictional kingdom ruled by emperor Lee Gon (Lee Min-ho) and a modern-day Korea where police lieutenant Jung Tae-eul (Kim Go-eun) lives. With the help of a mysterious flute, Lee Gon travels through time and space to modern-day Korea and finally meets Jung.
The King: Eternal Monarch is now streaming on Netflix.
4. Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung — Defies gender expectations
What if gender didn’t play a role in the types of job you could get?
Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung defies these gender roles set in the Joseon era. The series centres around Goo Hae-Ryung (Shin Se-kyung), a noblewoman who was clearly born before her time. Despite being bogged down by the expectations of having to trap a man and bear his children, she defies these limitations and instead pursues her dream role as an apprentice historian in the Office of Royal Decrees. Along the way, she impresses Prince Lee Rim with her brutal honesty and quick wit.
Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung is now streaming on Netflix.
5. The Crowned Clown — Defies expectations of social class
What if you became king without having to come from a high-born family?
The Crowned Clown is a heartwarming story that follows Ha Sun (Yeo Jin-goo), an orphaned clown who lands himself in place of the king in the most unexpected way. King Lee Hun (Yeo Jin-goo) rules Joseon that is in the state of political uprising and power struggle, and in an effort to avoid assassination, brings in a clown that looks identical to him to take his place. Standing in for an unhinged Joseon king, the clown plays the part but increasingly becomes devoted to protecting the throne and the people.
The Crowned Clown is now streaming on Netflix.
Which of these rule-defying k-dramas do you love most? Find them lurking in their palaces, only on Netflix!