Captivating K-Dramas That Were Actually Inspired By True Stories

As it’s often been said, a lot of fiction is actually based on facts. While most of the shows we watch are fictional stories filled with dashing heroes and starry-eyed lovers, did you know that some of them were actually inspired by real events and real people? As you’ll see below, history is often the best foundation for a great show, especially if it’s dramatic.

“Queen For Seven Days”

This drama was actually based on the story of Queen Dangyeong (Park Min Young) from the Joseon period who came into power in 1506 alongside King Jungjong (Yeon Woo Jin). After only seven days as queen, she was suddenly removed from her position and kicked out of the palace. While her title was restored later after her death, her story still remains famous due to her having such a short reign as queen.

Catch the first episode of “Queen For Seven Days” below:

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“Reply 1988”

While “Reply 1988” isn’t centered around an exact story from that time period, the drama became popular due to it’s accurate attention to detail. Set during the year of the ’88 Olympic games in Korea, the show perfectly captures the life of an average youth in the late 1980s. One character, Choi Taek (Park Bo Gum), was inspired by an actual Baduk player named Lee Changho, who became famous at the young age of 13 for his expert skills at Baduk.

You can see more of Choi Taek in “Reply 1988” below:

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“My Wife Is Having An Affair This Week”

This drama (starring Song Ji Hyo and Lee Sun Gyun) is a remake of the Japanese series written by Tomoko Yoshida, was actually inspired by a real event. As the story goes, there was a man who posted in an online forum with a question that said: “My wife is having an affair this week; what should I do?” The question went viral, which in turn brought about its transformation to the screen.

Check out the first episode of the show below!

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“Hwarang”

The drama (starring Park Seo Joon, Go Ara, and Park Hyung Sik) may not be based on a specific story, but the Hwarang actually did exist as important members of society during the Silla period. Just as the drama emphasizes, the Hwarang was made up of elite young men. The group’s purpose was to prepare these young men to become highly educated politicians and administrators.

Check out “Hwarang” below:

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“Signal”

This drama (starring Jo Jin Woong, Kim Hye Soo, and Lee Je Hoon) may be considered fictional due to the way the lead characters communicate across two different time periods, but it actually has some truth to it. The producer based the show on real-life cases like the Park Choroung Bitnari kidnapping and the Hwaseong Serial Murder case. In real life, Hwaseong is the most infamous case in Korean history and it still remains unsolved to this day. It was the producer’s hope that those crimes would never be forgotten by the public and never be repeated again.

Check out the first episode of “Signal” below:

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“Empress Ki”

While the relationships are fictional, the characters in this drama are based off of actual people. Empress Ki (Ha Ji Won) did exist, and her story is quite infamous in Korea. Ki was born in Korea during the Goryeo dynasty, but was later sent to Mongol Yuan as a concubine for the emperor (Ji Chang Wook).

As the drama depicts, she rose in the ranks and eventually became Empress. However, with her newfound power, she ended up invading Korea with Yuan’s troops. Even though some considered Empress Ki as a leader for the Koreans living in Yuan, others call her a traitor for trying to invade her own country.

Check out the trailer for “Empress Ki” below:

“Six Flying Dragons”

The main characters of “Six Flying Dragons” are both historical and fictional. This drama shows the stories of six different people at the end of the Goryeo dynasty in the late 1300s. Out of the six dragons, Lee Bang Won (Yoo Ah In), Jeong Do Jeon (Kim Myung Min), and Lee Seong Gye (Chun Ho Jin) are all real people that existed during that time period. Lee Bang Won is the main character who later became the third king of Joseon after helping his father, King Taejo, establish the Joseon Dynasty.

Check out the first episode of “Six Flying Dragons” below:

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Which drama did you find the most captivating? Let us know in the comments below!

J. Simpson is a Creative Writing student hailing from the U.S. with a habit for binging Asian dramas and rocking out to Korean music. She hopes to one day travel internationally and teach English. Say hello and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.