2017 Module 3 Open Forum: Korean Historical Dramas

Welcome to Korean Historical Dramas Forum 3, 2017!

Module 3: Oct. 25 – Dec. 23 (9 weeks)

Facilitators: Anna Tzanova, M.A. (atzanova@magoacademy.org) and Helen Hye-Sook Hwang, Ph.D. (hhwang@magoacademy.org)

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 3 open forum version or see below.

KMS 100 Korean Historical Drama

Elective Course

Korean Magoist Studies Certificate Program

Mago Academy (http://magoacademy.org)

Syllabus (Modified for Mago Associates)


Period: Module III (Oct. 25-Dec. 23, 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

Jumong (81 ep.)
Tree with Deep Roots (24 ep.)

Recommended Dramas for view and discussion

Jewel in the Palace (54 ep.)
Dong Yi (60 ep.)


Jumong (삼한지주몽 ) MBC, 81ep., 2006

(history, myths, spirituality, shamanism,female character, gender & sexuality)

The series examines the life of Jumong, founder of the kingdom of Goguryeo. Few details have been found in the historical record about Jumong, so much of the series is fictionalized. The fantastic elements surrounding the original Jumong legend (such as those concerning his birth) have been replaced with events more grounded in reality.~wikipedia.org



Tree with Deep Roots (뿌리깊은 나무) SBS, 24ep., 2011

(language, culture, politics, gender & sexuality)

A high-budget historical thriller with an unusual concept, Tree With Deep Roots stars Jang Hyuk as a brilliant Joseon-era investigator. Kang Chae Yoon is an ordinary guard in the imperial palace during the reign of King Sejong. The King has a vision to create a written language for Korea, and has worked with scholars to create the first Korean alphabet. In this project he is helped by So Yi, a beautiful, mute lady of the court. When palace scholars begin getting murdered seven days before the release of the official hangul (alphabet), Chae Yoon takes it upon himself to investigate. He begins to uncover a vast, labyrinthine conspiracy behind the serial killings, which leads him to a group of shadowy, powerful men who seek control of Korea’s fate. As Chae Yoon inches closer to the truth, he discovers how far the roots of their powers extend, and finds his own life in danger. Based on a bestselling novel by Lee Jeong Myeong, Tree With Deep Roots is a tense, finely-crafted series, laced with mystery and romance.



Jewel in the Palace (대장금) MBC, 54ep., 2003

(female character, culture, social issues)

It tells the tale of an orphaned kitchen cook who went on to become the king’s first female physician. In a time when women held little influence in society, young apprentice cook Jang-geum strives to learn the secrets of Korean cooking and medicine in order to cure the King of his various ailments. It is based on the true story of Jang-Geum, the first female royal physician of the Joseon Dynasty. The main themes are her perseverance and the portrayal of traditional Korean culture, including Korean royal court cuisine and traditional medicine. ~ wikipedia.org



Dong Yi (동이) MBC, 60ep., 2010

(female character, culture, social issues)

This South Korean historical drama traces the tumultuous life of Lady Choi Sook Bin (Han Hyo Joo), who was born a lowly commoner but rises to the position of a royal concubine by winning over King Sook Jong (Ji Jin Hee) with her warm heart and wit. Lady Choi has a son by the king, Prince Yeoning (Lee Hyung Suk), who means everything to her. She gingerly and wisely maneuvers through the deadly political infighting in the royal court in order to survive and protect her son. She raises her son into a well-balanced and educated person though strict discipline, and will be rewarded by seeing him become the king.  The series swept all the major awards, including the Grand Prize, during the 2010 MBC Drama Awards.


Websites to view dramas with English subtitles: 

1. Jumong




2. Tree with Deep Roots




3. Jewel in the Palace





4. DongYi




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

Study Guides

Jumong (주몽)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dongmyeong_of_Goguryeo (Also known as Dongmyeong)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buyeo (Buyeo)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goguryeo (Goguryeo)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gojoseon (Old Joseon)

  • Who are the two protagonists, Jumong or King Dongmyeong and Soseono?
  • Who is Lady Yuhwa? How is Yuhwa portrayed in the myth of Jumong?
  • What historical period is this drama taking place?
  • What the relation between the two states, Buyeo or Buk-Buyeo and Goguryeo?
  • What is the relation between the two states, Goguryeo and Baekje?
  • What is Old Joseon?
  • What is the three-legged bird?


Tree with Deep Roots (뿌리깊은 나무)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hangul (Hangul)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sejong_the_Great (King Sejong the Great)

http://www.antiquealive.com/Blogs/Hangeul_Korean_Alphabet.html (Korean Alphabet)

https://hiddenconnections.wordpress.com/tag/hangul/ (Hangul, Hidden Connections)

http://www.ozy.com/flashback/the-revolutionary-brilliance-of-the-korean-alphabet/66307 (Characteristics of Hangul)

http://www.howtostudykorean.com/unit0/unit0lesson1/ (How to Study Korean)

  • What is the literal meaning of “Hangul”?
  • How is the role of King Sejong in “creating” the Korean Alphabet?
  • What is the distinctive characteristics of the Korean Alphabet?
  • Was King Sejong the sole inventor of Hangul?


Jewel in the Palace (대장금)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annals_of_the_Joseon_Dynasty (Annals of the Joseon Dynasty)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jungjong_of_Joseon (King Jungjong)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_Munjeong (Queen Munjeong)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gungnyeo (Gungnyeo, Palace Women)

  • When is the historical time period?
  • Who are King Jungjong and Queen Munjeong?
  • Who are Gungnyeo (Palace Women) of the Joseon Dynasty?


Dong Yi (동이)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukjong_of_Joseon (King Sukjong)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeongjo_of_Joseon (King Yeongjo)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suk-bin_Choe (Sukbin Choe, Royal Noble Consort Suk of the Haeju Choi clan)  

  • Who is Sukbin Choe?
  • When is the historical time period?
  • Who are King Sukjong and King Yeongjo?

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