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Some recommended historical dramas to learn Korean history

It was mentioned in an earlier blog post that many dramas are categorized as historical, but not necessarily with those people will learn facts about the history of the Korean peninsula or the contemporary Republic of Korea. In this post, some dramas will be recommended, this will allow the reader to learn a little more about the Joseon Dynasty and King Sejong. These productions contain fiction and their direct purpose is not teaching about history: however, recognizing the scenarios, contexts, and characters can allow an approach to key historical milestones of the peninsula. Below, some dramas are listed in chronological order regarding the period being staged and not their release. 

Six Flying Dragons (2015) is a 50-episode SBS Drama. It focuses on the lives of six characters, of whom three are fictional, and the other three are based on real-life people; they played important roles regarding the transition between the Goryeo Dynasty and the Joseon Dynasty at the end of the 14th century. Those there were Yi Song gye, the founder of the Joseon Dynasty and ruled as King Taejo,  Yi Bang won, who would become the third king of the Joseon Dynasty, and the scholar-official Jung Do jun, who pushed changes regarding policies and the transition in power. In addition, it is possible to elucidate how Buddhism is losing importance and a new form of Confucianism impulsed by Jun Do jun is put into practice. This drama is full of plot twists, fights, and even a love story, at the end, you will be able to understand a little more about the changing power in 1392 and the years to come. 

Photo by jackmac34 on Pixabay

Tree with Deep Roots (2011) premiered four years before Six Flying Dragons, but the latter is considered its prequel. King Sejong is the son of King Taejong -Yi Bang woo-he followed him on the throne being the fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty, so this drama connects with the previous after all. Sejong the Great is well known for his outstanding contributions to Korean society. The main issue of the drama is a series of mysterious murders in the Kingdom a few days before the announcement of the Korean written system as a replacement for Chinese characters, in this story, is possible to understand how the Hangul was created and spread. Likewise, there was strong opposition from several scholars that this written system was designed for being used by ordinary people, allowing the democratization of knowledge. This drama is full of intrigue and conspiracies that allow us to get that the arrival of Hangul was not so desired by everyone. 

Photo by HeungSoon on Pixabay

King Sejong ruled between 1418 and 1450 as the monarch of the Joseon Dynasty, in this period he impulsed scientific research, an example of this is the figure of the Korean inventor Jang Young Sil, who allowed several technological advances to take place with the invention of astronomical instruments. In 2016, KBS1 released a 24-episode series called Jang Young Sil: The Greatest Scientist of Joseon. It explores the life of the inventor and how King Sejong despite his humble background allowed him to work in the royal palace and develop his research.

Photo by misterJang on Pixabay

Sometimes approaching textbooks to learn more about the history of our dream country can be a bit cumbersome and since we love dramas it is wonderful how through them, we can understand more about some Korean historical events. It is even gratifying to approach Hangul and its study after understanding how it was created, after all, although it began its diffusion in the XV century it is not until the end of the XIX century that this was used by the government institutions leaving aside the Chinese characters. 

Written by: Andrea Ramirez

Reviewed by: Angie Salavarria

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