Not only attracting many viewers with interesting storylines, the following period Korean dramas also stand out for their gender-bender gags.
Historical dramas have long been popular to fans of Korean TV series. Not only revolving around the topic of history and culture, historical K-dramas also cover a wide range of genres such as comedy, romance, melodrama, fantasy, action, thriller and so on. Notably, by including cross-dressing characters and gender-bending storylines, period K-dramas often garner even more attention. Let’s take a look at the 5 most excellent disguises in some well-known historical series.
Sungkyunkwan Scandal is familiar work to fans of K-dramas across Asia. Park Min Young’s disguise as a man in the series is even considered by many viewers one of the most iconic cross-dressings in the history of Korean historical dramas.
Sungkyunkwan Scandal depicts the love and friendship of 4 young people. The drama is set in the Joseon Dynasty – an era where women are forbidden to attend school and become leaders. After going through many hardships, Kim Yun Hee decides to take her brother’s place, disguise himself as a man to take a men’s only national exam and become a student at Sungkyunkwan University.
At Sungkyunkwan, Kim Yun Hee befriends noble male students including Gu Yong Ha (Song Joong Ki), Mun Jae Shin (Yoo Ah In), and Lee Seon Joon (Park Yoo Chun). The friendship and romantic relationships between these 4 characters then begin to develop.
Many viewers claim that Park Min Young’s cross-dressing is not persuasive because of her petite figure and delicate facial features, but overall, her lovely appearance still matches well with the elegant image of a student during the Joseon era.
Empress Ki is another historical drama with an impressive “transformation” of the female lead in an attempt to disguise herself as a man. Empress Ki focuses on the story of Empress Ki (Ha Ji Won) of the Goryeo Dynasty. Before becoming a queen, Ki Seung Nyang from Goryeo, pretends to be a man. With her talent, Ki Seung Nyang turns into a courageous warrior.
An unfortunate incident causes her to become a female tribute to the Yuan Dynasty. Thanks to her intelligence, she navigates her way through love, war, betrayals, politics, and national loyalties to rise to power as the Consort and then Empress in the Yuan Dynasty. During her life, she has to confront two generations of evil queens with malicious factions.
Ha Ji Won’s disguise as a man in the drama successfully captures the hearts of many viewers for her fierce and powerful look, especially when she puts on the armor.
Love In The Moonlight
Love In The Moonlight, a popular historical drama released in 2016, revolves around the character Hong Ra On (Kim Yoo Jung). Hong Ra On is a young girl who has to pose as a man and live under the identity of Hong Sam Nom to make a living by counseling men on dating.
Because of her debt, Sam Nom gets sold into the Royal Palace as a eunuch. From here, the romance between crown prince Lee Young (Park Bo Gum) and “eunuch” Hong Sam Nom begins to blossom.
In the drama, Kim Yoo Jung’s Hong Sam Nom is established to be a cute character, not masculine and tough like other actresses’ on-screen disguises. In short, the cross-dressing in Love In The Moonlight is considered enjoyable thanks to Kim Yoo Jung’s lovely visuals, instead of looking realistic.
The Tale of Nok Du
According to many viewers, one of the most convincing gender-bending portrayals in Korean dramas belongs to Jang Dong Yoon in The Tale of Nok Du. The Tale of Nok Du talks about a man who disguises himself as a woman and infiltrates a village of widows because he does not want to be stuck with an arranged marriage. At the village, he meets the girl he loves, Dong Dong Joo (Kim So Hyun). Jang Dong Yoon dressing up as a woman in the drama has received countless compliments. Some netizens even said Nok Du’s beauty even outshines the female lead Kim So Hyun.
The King’s Affection
The King’s Affection, KBS’s latest historical drama, has attracted much attention even before its official broadcast thanks to the female lead’s top-notch cross-dressing.
The King’s Affection depicts the journey of an unfortunate princess who has to live under the identity of her deceased brother. The drama begins with the birth of twins, which is considered bad luck in the Joseon era. After the son dies in an accident, the twins’ mother, the crown princess consort, decides to keep this a secret and brings the twin daughter into the palace. She asks her daughter to take her brother’s identity and hide her true self for the rest of her life.
Taking on the role of the crown prince, Park Eun Bin has impressed viewers with her flawless disguise. Without much makeup, Park Eun Bin looks both elegant and handsome as a prince. Crown Prince Lee Hwi deserves to be listed among the textbook cross-dressing characters in the history of historical K-dramas.
These impressive disguises not only help the dramas become more unique, but also allow the actors to showcase their own charm and acting skills. If any of your favorite gender-bender historical K-dramas did not make the list, please share with us in the comment section.