2017 Module 2 Open Forum: Korean Historical Dramas

khdWelcome to Korean Historical Dramas Forum 2, 2017!

Module 2: June 27 – August 28 (9 weeks).

See general info on Korean Historical Dramas.

No homework or prerequisite. Please feel free to enter in “Leave A Reply” at the end of this page your questions, comments, and suggestion on any of dramas and/or Korean Historical Dramas in general. Or you can send a message in Contact Form below.

Note: Romanization of Korean words: In principle, we follow the Revised Romanization of Korean (RR). However, because most websites that we are using do not follow any system consistently, we are accommodating the conventional ways of Korean-Romanization.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanization_of_Korean (Romanization of Korean)

What’s in this page?

Syllabus (Required and Recommended Dramas, their info and websites to watch, etc.)

Study Guides

Drama Links

Contact Form

Find the PDF KHD syllabus module 2 open forum version or see below.

KMS 100 Korean Historical Drama

Elective Course

Korean Magoist Studies Certificate Program

Mago Academy (http://magoacademy.org)

Syllabus for Module 1 (Modified for Mago Associates)


Period: Module II (June 27-August 28, 2017)

Facilitators: Helen Hye-Sook Hwang, Ph.D. and Anna Tzavona, M.A.

Description: This course offers a series of Korean Historical TV-dramas or Sageug (사극) and discusses the traits of female characters as well as general features of Korean history, culture, art, aesthetics, thought, customs, and people. What makes Korean drama so unique? What is the “secret recipe” that makes it so popular internationally? Why is it that, after a few episodes, one can‘t wait to see the next one or the next new drama? Those questions have made many wonder, from audiences to journalists and critics. Participants are invited to explore answers to these questions and more. Our emphasis is on woman’s place in history, as well as her role as creator, healer and leader; her strife to discover and reinvent herself, her inherent wisdom, her abilities to surrender, without giving up, and her potential to adapt, thrive, and ultimately transform the world she is in. Our selection of dramas qualifies high criteria in story content, character development, actor portrayal, multiplicity of ideas and values, and abilities to educate, while engaging and entertaining the viewer. Facilitators (Dr. Helen Hye-Sook Hwang and Ms. Anna Tzanova) will provide articles and audio-video materials concerning salient themes.

If you consider enrolling Magoist Certificate Programs, we strongly encourage you to email us (magoacademy@gmail.com) for a full participation.


Required Dramas for view and discussion

The Great Queen Seondeok (62 ep.)
Empress Ki (51 ep.)

Jang Okjeong, Live in Love (24 ep.)


Recommended Dramas for view and discussion

Seongkyungwan Scandal (20ep.)
The Great Merchant (30ep.)

All viewing website links are provided in the classroom.


 Queen Seondeok (선덕여왕) MBC, 62ep., 2009

(history, queen, culture, gender & sexuality, social issues)

Deokman (Queen Seondeok’s childhood name) was born a twin but was abandoned as a baby. She was later brought back to the Silla palace, where she joined forces with her twin sister Princess Chonmyong to oppose Mi-shil, who wanted to seize power. Mi-shil devised sinister plans to have the two Silla princesses exiled from the kingdom, and in a secretive battle, Princess Chonmyong was assassinated by Mi-shil. But Princess Deokman shrewdly enlisted the help of General Kim Yusin and eliminated her archenemy Mi-shil. She became the first female ruler of the Silla kingdom.~asianwiki.com


Empress Gi (황후) MBC, 51ep., 2014

(female character, queen, history, culture, East Asia)

The series revolves around Gi Seungnyang, a Goryeo-born woman who ascends to power despite the restrictions of the era’s class system, and later marries Toghon Temyur (Emperor of Mongolia) to become an empress of the Yuan Dynasty, instead of her first love, Wang Yoo. The series depicts her loves and political ambitions as she is torn between the two nations.




Jang Ok Jung, Live in Love (장옥정, 사랑에 살다) SBS, 24 ep., 2013

(gender, female character, history, politics)

Haute couture meets the high court in this drama based on Lady Jang Hui Bin, or Jang Ok Jung (played by Kim Tae Hee), one of the most celebrated royal concubines of the Joseon Dynasty. Lady Jang establishes herself as a coveted fashion designer who quickly finds herself sought after not only by fashionable noblewomen, but by the king himself (Yoo Ah In). Political drama and the catwalk collide in this tale of fashioning dreams into reality!


 Seonggyungwan Scandal (성균관 스캔들) KBS, 20ep., 2010

(gender & sexuality, female character, social issues, religion)

Set during the Joseon Dynasty, “Sungkyunkwan Scandal” centers around 4 young handsome students who study at Sungkyunkwan University and tells the story of their love and friendships.  Kim Yun-Hee is a smart, responsible young woman with an independent drive. Since her father passed away she has worked to support her family, but also managed to do well in her studies. One day, Kim Yun-Hee takes the place of her brother and disguises herself as a man to take a men’s only national exam.



The Great Merchant, Kim Mandeok (거상 김만덕) KBS1, 30ep., 2010

(female character, history, culture, social issues)

The series follows the life of Kim Man-deok (1739-1812). Kim was born on Jeju island. Adopted by the head of a gisaeng house at the age of 12, she became a government gisaeng ― a type of Korean traditional entertainer who is designated and reserved specifically for government officials. After discovering a talent in business and commerce, she later became one of the most successful female merchants on the island.

When Jeju was struck by a deadly famine in 1795 (the 19th year of King Jeongjo, Kim Man-deok sold all her assets and donated approximately 90% of her money (approximated to be ₩70 billion in today’s currency) to save millions of lives. ~ wikipedia.org


Websites to view dramas with English subtitles: 

Queen Seondeok (선덕여왕)




Empress Gi (기황후)




Jang Ok Jung, Live in Love (장옥정, 사랑에 살다)




Seonggyungwan Scandal (성균관 스캔들)




The Great Merchant Kim Mandeok (거상 김만덕)




The first link is for free on-line viewing. For DramaFever you can watch on your TV with a subscription.

Study Guides

Queen Seondeok (선덕여왕)


  • Who is Queen Seondeok?
  • What historical period is this drama taking place?
  • What are the names of ancient Korean states that co-existed with Silla (57 BCE-935 CE)?
  • What are the major achievements of Queen Seondeok?
  • What are the fictional elements that are different from historical accounts?


Empress Gi (기황후)


  • Who is Empress Gi?
  • What was the political situation of Goryeo (910 CE-1392 CE) in the late 14th century?
  • When did the Mongol invasion of Goryeo take place?


Jang Ok Jung, Live in Love (장옥정, 사랑에 살다)


  • Who is Jang Okjeong?
  • What historical period is this dram taking place?
  • What was her familial background?
  • How did factional politics affect her life, advancement and demolition?


Seonggyungwan Scandal (성균관 스캔들)


  • What is Seonggyungywan?
  • What historical period is this drama taking place?
  • How Neo-Confucianism was supported by the rulers of the Joseon Dynasty (1392 CE-1910 CE)?
  • How does Neo-Confucianism treat women and men differently?


The Great Merchant (거상 김만덕)


  • When and where was Kim Man-deok born?
  • Where is Jeju Island located?
  • What is gisaeng and how was she able to become a business woman and philanthropist?