What is a “Fusion Sageuk,” and why are they so popular?

Fusion Sageuk Moon embracing the sun

Let’s talk about a sub-genre of K-drama that’s taken the world by storm – the “Fusion Sageuk.” If you’re a fan of K-dramas, then you’ve definitely heard of it. But for those of you who are new to the world of K-dramas, let me tell you, you’re in for a treat.

First, let’s talk about what a Sageuk is. Sageuk is a genre of K-drama that deals with historical stories. They are usually set in the Joseon era, the era where Korea was ruled by kings, or sometimes in the Goryeo era, the era before Joseon. Sageuk dramas were very popular in Korea before 2000, but they were usually watched by older viewers. Younger viewers, especially those in their teens and twenties, were turned off by the obscure language and lack of excitement. But that changed with the emergence of Fusion Sageuks.

So what is a Fusion Sageuk? It is a historical drama that blends elements of traditional Korean history with modern elements like romance, comedy, and action. Fusion Sageuks often have a fantastical element to them, like time travel or reincarnation. This unique blend of traditional and modern elements makes it more appealing to younger audiences, and as a result, Fusion Sageuks have become very popular in Korea and around the world.

One of the most successful Fusion Sageuks of the past twenty years is Moon Embracing the Sun. This drama is set in the Joseon era and tells the story of a young king who falls in love with a shaman. The drama was a huge hit in Korea, and it was also very popular in China and other Asian countries. The lead actors, Kim Soo-hyun and Han Ga-in, were praised for their performances. Kim Soo-hyun played the role of the young king, Lee Hwon, who was very charismatic and charming. Han Ga-in played the role of the shaman, Wol, who was beautiful and strong-willed. Their chemistry on screen was so intense that viewers couldn’t help but fall in love with them.

But Moon Embracing the Sun is just one of the many successful Fusion Sageuks that have been produced in the past few years. Other popular Fusion Sageuks include Scarlet Heart: Ryeo, which is a time-travel drama set in the Goryeo era, and Gu Family Book, which is about a half-human, half-gumiho (a mythical nine-tailed fox) who falls in love with a noblewoman.

Now, let’s talk about why Fusion Sageuks are so popular. One reason is that they appeal to viewers of all ages. Older viewers appreciate the historical aspect of the dramas, while younger viewers enjoy the modern elements like romance and action. Another reason is that they are very accessible. Many Fusion Sageuks are available on Netflix, making them easy to watch for viewers around the world.

If you’re new to K-dramas, you might be wondering where to start. Well, I have some recommendations for you. The King: Eternal Monarch is a great place to start. While it’s not a historical drama, it does take place in an alternate universe where a “Kingdom of Corea” has survived. It’s a great introduction to Korean courtly life if you like modern-day K-dramas, with its mix of romance, action, and fantasy.

If you’re ready for a deeper-dive into historical dramas, then Mr. Queen is a great option. It’s a 2023 drama about a modern-day man who is transported back to the 19th century Joseon dynasty where he discovers his soul is in the body of the queen. It’s a “first Sageuk” as the main character is not familiar with how the society works and has to learn about it during the show, and the plot means there’s a natural blend of historical and modern elements.

Another great thing about shows in this genre is that they often have strong female leads. In the Fusion Sageuk Moon Embracing the Sun, Han Ga-in’s character Wol is a shaman who is skilled in martial arts and can hold her own in a fight. In Scarlet Heart: Ryeo, IU’s character Hae-soo is a modern-day woman who is transported back in time and has to navigate the complicated world of the Goryeo era. And in Gu Family Book, Suzy’s character Dam Yeo-wool is a skilled martial artist who helps protect the innocent.

Fusion Sageuks are a sub-genre of K-dramas that have become very popular in Korea and around the world. They blend traditional Korean history with modern elements like romance, comedy, and action, making them appealing to viewers of all ages. If you’re new to K-dramas, I highly recommend checking out The King: Eternal Monarch or Mr. Queen as a great place to start. And for those of you who are already fans of K-dramas, I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I say that Fusion Sageuks are some of the best dramas out there. So grab some popcorn and get ready to be transported back in time!