5 Sageuk Male Leads You Need to Meet


Sageuks have always been my thing and incidentally the first Kdrama I ever saw was a sageuk/historical drama.

Since then I’ve never stopped looking out for great historical/period dramas with a little bit of fusion if available.

They may not be the best ratings magnet but many can deliver a meaty offering to satisfy most tastes.

The main factor is how visually appealing historical Korean dramas can be. And how sometimes it’s up to the lead male actor to carry the drama series through and keep you glued till the end.

Now to introduce you to some of the best male leads in Kdrama sageuks you simply have to check out if you want any sageuk-lover cred.

#1.  Lee Joon-Gi

Sageuk cred – Arang and the Magistrate, Joseon Gunman, Iljimae

#2. Yoo-chun

Sageuk cred – Sungkyunkwan Scandal, Rooftop Prince

#3.  Ji Chang Wook

Sageuk cred – Empress Ki, Warrior Baek Dong soo

#4. Jo Hyun-Jae

Sageuk cred – Soo Baek Hyang aka King’s Daughter

#5. Uhm Tae-Wong

Sageuk cred – Sword and Flower

Lee Joon-gi

The name Lee Jun-ki and the word heroic seem to go hand in hand when it comes to sageuk. You need a sensitive yet capable alpha-male who can effortlessly save the day and win your swooning heart for keeps? Then he’s your man.


You’ll find him in 2014’s Joseon’s Gunman playing the disguised avenger who can rock both some snazzy coat-tails and some swashbuckling ninja-type costumes to boot. Sageuk hero rating? He’s a definite 10.

Yoo Chun

Although he plays a scholar for the most part (Sungkyunkwan Scandal) or as a time-traveling king determined to find the truth (Rooftop Prince) he certainly has his macho side. Sageuk hero rating – 8/10


Ji Chang Wook

In Warrior Baek dong-soo  he validated himself in many ways. He showed that sensitive side we all love in a true hero and he also came correct when it was time to save his damsel and his friends.


As an Emperor in Empress Ki he showed courage when it mattered the most and always knew just what to say or do to win over the situation to the good of all. Sageuk hero rating 9/10

Jo Hyun-jae

In Subaek Hyang aka King’s Daughter our male lead was a study in masculinity and emotion. And hot diggety he knew his way around a kiss scene like no other. He then rocked a few battle scenes like a boss and he still made our hearts melt when he tried to win the affections of his beloved. 10/10


Uhm Tae Woong

As one of my all-time fave Sageuk dramas, Sword and Flower showed how a male lead can display lasting devotion to a lost love. Or a love he thought was lost.

In all, I was mesmerized by his screen presence in this role and none of the other factors affecting the drama even mattered. Wielding a sword or a bow ‘n’ arrow he pulled off some serious stuntin’. And he was darned good at sweeping his ladylove off her feet, literally and figuratively. Sageuk rating: 9/10


How-to’s of being a sageuk male lead

– Know how to rock the long weaves

– Look authentic in historical costumes be it as a royal, noble or warrior dude

– Use that voice. Yep there’s a certain sageuk voice you need to cultivate especially if you want to sound like you’re from way, waaay back.

– Can’t fight martial arts? Then  know how to wield a sword. Or at the very least, a bow and arrow. Because you know, you need an outlet for all that macho-ness.


18 thoughts on “5 Sageuk Male Leads You Need to Meet

  1. Ji Chang Wook!!!
    That’s a nice list up there.
    I also liked Kim Soo Hyun in Moon Embracing the Sun, and historical parts of You From the Stars.
    Jin Yi Han looked good too in Dr. Jin and Empress Ki.

    “– Use that voice. Yep there’s a certain
    sageuk voice you need to cultivate
    especially if you want to sound like you’re
    from way, waaay back.” – Totally agree with this.


  2. I’m glad you liked the list! Kim Soo Hyun of the Moon Embraces the Sun fame definitely has some serious Sageuk cred 🙂
    I haven’t seen Dr. Jin yet though.
    And yes that voice! Lol Sageuk speech/language is ancient compared to the ones used in modern-based dramas. Also they use that special ‘tone’ of voice that’s so authoritative which is fun 😀


    1. I forgot to add Park Si Hoo from The Princess’ Man. He looked cool as the happy-go-lucky teacher of the princess, but he looked even cooler as the guy in black- set out for revenge- rocking the long hair. Plus there were swords and bow and arrows 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Whoa I need to catch up on my Sageuk viewing! I’ve got Princess’ Man lined up to watch. I tried to focus my list on 3 factors: popularity of the actor, popularity of the Sageuk and my overall rating of the drama and its male lead. Still like I said I’m always open to discovering more hot Sageuk dramas and even hotter actors so thanks!


  3. He definitely is and he makes me want to change my list to Top 6 instead of 5. So many great sageuk male leads out there but I just had to round it up at my 5 most fave.


  4. Jo Hyun Jae is one of my favourite sageuk actors. I highly recommend Ballad of Seo Dong if you have not watched it yet. Lee Joon Gi’s Iljimae is also a really fun and enjoyable watch.


    1. Welcome to another JHJ fan!! He’s definitely a major fave of mine though I’ve only seen one of his sageuk dramas. I will check out Ballad of Seo Dong, and I have seen Lee Joon Gi’s Iljimae some weeks back and it was awesome. I’m always on the lookout for good sageuks so thanks for the suggestions! 🙂


      1. Ballad of Seo Dong is a must watch if you like sageuk. Intricate plot-line, complex characterisation, perfectly timed cliffhangers that keep you clicking on each new episodes, and of course, a most touching love story. Simply the best drama ever.

        And as a bonus, JHJ is beyond handsome in there XP. If King’s daughter got 10/10 Seodongyo should get 20/10…..

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice article! I really wanted to continue with Soo Baek Hyang, but dropped it half way, more due to its length than anything else. The main theme was awesome, and I found Gu Chun the best character (despite the fact that he survives so many near-death experiences it’s mind boggling). On another note, this is just a minor quibble, but I’m pretty sure the romanisation for historical dramas is sageuk (사극). 🙂


    1. Gu Chun really had nine lives in that drama series – I hope you go back and finish it! He had a way of stealing the scene even though he wasn’t the main lead.

      ***Edited: thanks for the correction with the sageuk spelling!! Been spelling it wrong all through the beginning of this blog but I’ve got the hang of it. I didn’t realize what you meant until much later *blush* lol


  6. Thank you for including Jo Hyun Jae in your list of sageuk male leads. As mentioned by another poster JHJ also appeared in “Ballad of Seo Dong”. He is the title character in this drama. The drama has few kissing scenes 😀 , but it is great on romance, mystery, adventure and political intrigue. It has plenty of great cliffhangers too.

    JHJ also appeared in another sageuk “Great Ambition” (2003). This is his first sageuk where he played the young Crown Prince accused of plotting against his father. Though he is not the male lead in the drama he caught the attention of viewers because of his very good portrayal of the lonely Crown Prince. The male lead in this drama is Jang Hyuk, and the 2 actors have formed a friendship that they have maintained up to now. This drama was directed by the late Director Kim Jong Hak.

    JHJ also appeared in the sageuk movie “Untold Scandal” (Bae Yong Jun as male lead), where he played a young, naive yangban scholar. The movie is quite racy. 😀

    I hope you don’t mind, I will be reblogging your post in my JHJ blog. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. JHJ + Jang Hyuk = winning combination! Thank you for recommending once again Ballad of Seo Dong – I have firmly decided that’s my next binge drama!! Also, my first time of learning about Great Ambition. I will try to find it.
      I’m definitely a JHJ fan, he was captivating in all the 100+ episodes of King’s Daughter so it’s no wonder he made a lasting impression on me! “Untold Scandal” sounds like it’s right up my street 😀 Can’t wait to sit down and check them all out. Thanks bunches!!
      And do feel free to reblog. That will be great!


  7. My favorites are;
    Kim Nam Gil as Bidam from Queen Seondeok
    Ji Chang Wook from Empress Ki
    and Yoo Chun! I love him both in Rooftop Prince and Sungkyunkwan Scandal

    I also like Lee jun Ki in Scarlet Heart Romance.

    Liked by 1 person

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