Jump to content

Do historic K-dramas care for authenticity?

Recommended Posts

  • 3 weeks later...
  • 5 months later...

I would say it depends on the drama, and in fact the genre, itself. Obviously, if we wanted reality, the characters would all look like humans would in an age without showers, processed soap, creams, shampoos, combs, laundry facilities, vitamins, dietary regimens, etc, etc. In short, idols not welcome. So there's that.


Without getting into meticulous, and sometimes contentious political discourse which defines "historical," I would say that the ability to render historical dramas accurately is relatively impossible without fully adapting the media documentation from those time periods. Before the 20th century, only the written word, along with paintings and limited photography, depicted snapshots of those eras; before 1800 only depictions through literature could attempt to accurately portray such eras. 


To that end, the eras themselves are defined by historians and archaeologists. Interpretation of the past also includes the willing desire to learn the past in ways that are not biased from current-day issues for TRUE historical depictions. So most dramas, historical or recent, fictional or biographical, are going to be prone to error and prone to misinterpretation by certain people.


And to be frank, who wants to see dramas without the K-Pop heartthrobs and celebrities? As long as there is reasonable adherence to historical standards, it shouldn't matter all that much.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

From my research, depends on the drama, and also remember there is a skew in place.

I'll give solid examples...

The Royal Tailor is 100% fiction, no matter how much they want to argue it's Historical. I'll give you a run down on why I still have a beef with it which will illuminate why I have issues with sageuk at times.


The Royal Tailor is described here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Royal_Tailor


The premise is that two men battle in the royal court for the attention of the Queen of the time.

The problem is that the way they set up the court in actuality was that 100% women made, sewed and designed the clothes. We, Korean women were triply backstabbed. From asking Historians about Korea, I found out that it was women that did all of the physical labor and the men just did administration.
The way things were set up in the movie was 100% incorrect (since I was already doing research into this). The third stabbing was that all of the clothes for the movie were made by a woman, like they always have been.


There are two departments that handled clothing. One did the sewing, which included things like sewing blankets, not just clothes. The other did the embroidery. Say the numerous patches you see in dramas. The women in the Noble Class (Jung-in and above) also did the majority of the sewing. It was seen as a strictly women's task especially after the Imjin War which strictly divided what was a woman' "place" and a man's place.

But Korean dramas tend to in historical settings glorify what men did and ignore what women actually did in history. This makes dramas like Yi San questionable because of this need for erasure. It's been going on for a while, and is thought to be one of the reasons that poor Lady Hyegyeong is often vilified by Korean dramas--because they couldn't burn her work. It's too valuable to getting the inner court workings of the time period. So what they did was hate severely on her for almost every drama and movie.


The fact is that women enjoyed a lot of freedoms before the Imjin War and it's said that Sejong had a few of his daughters also help him on Hangeul and other projects. Part of the condemnation of Mugyo is also a hatred on LGBTQIA and women (according to history). Women are the major people trying to preserve Korea's oldest religion.

So sageuk tend to put women characters as center, but then forget things like women's inheritance of land, widows' controlling large shares, women allowed to do rituals, and skip neatly over the role of the Imjin War in loss of women's rights. (The Honorable Women's list is disgusting BTW). So in dramas men are made more important than they actually were, and the women I want to see dramas for--they get skipped over. Say Saimdang--please no over say, Heo Nanseolheon, who is mostly portrayed as a whiny brat in the dramas I've seen, rather than an accomplished poet that stood up for women's rights.

So there is definitely a bias in sageuk we shouldn't ignore. Real Korean history is much cooler.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..