Tag: rookie historian goo hae ryung

Unnie Recap: Best Kdrama Heroines of 2019

2019 has been a great year for kdramas! From romcoms to mystery thrillers, a robot futuristic genre, to period/Joseon dynasty shows, there’s always something for everyone to enjoy😊 Not every show is fully relatable but there are aspects in each that make me excited to tune in for more.

This list is solely my opinion and subject to only the kdramas that I have selected to watch. Looking forward to meeting the new faces and villains who will conquer the 2020 kdrama landscape!

Top 5 Kdrama Heroines

1. Eun Dan Oh (Extraordinary You/Ha Roo found by Chance)

What if you found out that you were merely a comic book character and that you were just an extra whose life’s purpose was to serve the main character’s progression? Never the one to back down from a fight with destiny, Eun Dan Oh (Played by Kim Hye Yoon) is the #1 heroine in my list this year. Extraordinary You was such a relatable and fun korean drama to watch as the story mirrors our struggles with daily life as well. The story setting takes place in a high school where Dan Oh is fated with a terminally ill set-up and a fiancé who hates her guts. She didn’t want to steal the spotlight of the main character but rather, she just wanted to make her own decisions not planned by the writer.

Full of energy, persistent, and loyal, Kim Hye Yoon was outstanding in her role as Eun Dan Oh. Her character is living proof that you can carve your own path to happiness as long as you don’t give up. The fact that she was helped by her soulmate and friends further solidifies how influential and loved Dan Oh is. Extraordinary You also featured a great supporting cast (Baek Kyung, Do Hwa, Dried Squid) that made me root for them as well. Although there are set-ups in our lives that we cannot alter, we can still live out our best days by accepting this fact, learning to adjust, and appreciating the blessings we already have✨

Get hooked with Extraordinary You or if you’re done watching, check out my life lessons post for this wonderful show.

2. Goo Hae Ryung (Rookie Historian: Goo Hae Ryung)

A confident and smart woman ahead of her time, Rookie Historian: Goo Hae Ryung breathed new life into period kdramas. Putting the spotlight on the influence and power of women, this show tackled the fruition of women becoming historians for the 1st time in Joseon history. It emphasized the importance of being brave enough to tell the truth but at the same time being able to handle the consequences of one’s actions.

Hae Ryung wasn’t a role model by design but she slowly grew into one by learning from her mistakes. Of course, falling in love with the Crown Prince’s younger brother isn’t such a bad predicament to be in as well! This is Shin Se Kyung’s best korean drama for me because she was able to convey a range of emotions and a comedic side to her. With 40 episodes to spare, this kdrama is a treat for all romcom and drama addicts out there!

Read about my Rookie Historian: Goo Hae Ryung first impressions and if you want a detailed read of each episode, I also wrote a complete recap for your pleasure.

3. Jang Man Weol (Hotel Del Luna)

Feisty, beautiful, and hella badass, the only reason why Jang Man Weol is not higher in the list is because her character was made to thrive in a more supernatural setting. Hotel del Luna is a kdrama that focused on her being the owner of a hotel for the dead where they could do their unfinished business before proceeding to the afterlife. Man Weol had a lot of baggage against those who had scorned her and didn’t hesitate to get revenge. She also had money problems because she was always attracted to anything that would bring her money and fortune. Not all heroines are perfect of course but it’s these traits that made me rank her a little lower than Dan Oh and Hae Ryung.

With regard to the storytelling and character development aspect, Hotel del Luna gets a 5 star rating. There are misconceptions about the kdrama being “scary” (with the dead spirits and all) but don’t buy into that. It’s a visually entertaining and funny show with lots of emotional maturity and romance. Her perfect complement came in the form of Ku Chan Seong, the hotel’s only human manager and all around moral compass. Despite falling in love, Man Weol remained true to herself and didn’t change to be a friendlier or thriftier woman for him. She did learn to forgive and move forward with her life, and most importantly, love herself in the process🌙

Do check out my recommendation post for this korean drama and peruse my Hotel del Luna ending explained post after watching all 16 episodes!

4. Lee Yeon Seo (Angel’s Last Mission: Love)

Another tough and badass heroine, Angel’s Last Mission: Love was a beloved mid-year show for me. I remember being blown away by the 1st episode’s intensity and immediately wanted more! The male lead was an angel who was given a mission to help the female lead, Lee Yeon Seo, in finding love. Sounds easy enough right? Right off the 1st episode, Yeon Seo is a shell of her former prima ballerina life — blinded by a freak accident, alone in a big mansion without her parents, and cranky as hell, love is the last thing she could ever want in her life.

As much as this post is about heroines only, I do have to give credit to the leading man, Kim Dan (Played by actor L), as he brought out the fun and softer side of the show. He was the perfect complement to Yeon Seo for her to open up to other people and face her fears in becoming a ballerina again. Make it your mission to listen to Angel’s Last Mission: Love OST as the music elevated the show’s appeal even more🎵

Probably one of the hardest life lessons post I wrote, this is a must-read for everyone who needs some encouragement to not give up and keep fighting💪🏻

5. Yoon Se Ri (Crash Landing on You)

Taking the kdrama world by storm, Crash Landing on You is an ongoing show that collided with my romcom heart just a few weeks ago! The only reason why I couldn’t rank Se Ri higher is because there has only been a handful of episodes released and we don’t know her that well yet. Nevertheless, she made such a strong impression that it’s only fitting this kdrama made my top 5 list.

Getting stranded in North Korea due to a paragliding accident, Se Ri must figure out a way to go back to South Korea. As a successful CEO of her own company, Se Ri is a cheerful, confident, yet picky woman who has expensive tastes. She meets her love interest in North Korea, Captain Jeong Hyeok, as he aids her in getting back home. I was surprised that Se Ri had a dark period in her life as shown in a flashback (She contemplated suicide) so watching her character exude a lighter and happier aura is endearing. I’m ecstatic to see how she’ll eventually take over her dad’s business and how the aftermath of leaving Jeong Hyeok will impact both of them.

Read about my Crash Landing on You summary and find out why this kdrama will be your next TV addiction!


There are plenty of other great korean dramas that aired this year too so I hope you discover your own favorites❤️ We have a different kind of life compared to a kdrama heroine but surely the feelings and thoughts that we have coincide with theirs at one episode or another. As much as watching these shows makes me want to do better and live more fruitful days, I hope these same emotions influence your lives too.

Cheers to what has been and may you all have a blessed 2020 ahead🥂

Unnie Life Lessons: 4 Woman Empowerment Tips by Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, empowerment is defined as “the granting of the power, right, or authority to perform various acts or duties.” I believe though that empowerment is not about just taking action, but it’s also being able to listen and realize when your deeds are wrong and doing something to correct it💪🏻

Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung gave women a voice — an influence and power that one can only dream of in a dynasty such as Joseon. Not only Hae Ryung, but supporting characters such as the Queen Dowager, Mo Hwa, Sa Hui, and even the Crown Princess, who stood up for themselves at one point in time and didn’t let other people deter them from speaking their mind when it was necessary. The men here (Prince Lee Rim, Crown Prince, Officer Min, etc) were also nothing short of gracious and respectful to our heroines — without their help, a woman’s revolution at the time would have been impossible.

I cannot emphasize enough my high regards for this because of the unique angle given to women, the romance, and the overall fresh storyline💞 Read about my recommendation post for this kdrama if you’re interested in watching this. My recaps for this show is also available for your reading pleasure!

Unnie Life Lessons

1. Just because you know and speak the truth doesn’t mean other interpretations or opinions are necessarily wrong. Sometimes, understanding the reason for such actions can open our eyes to an issue/perspective.
  • Hae Ryung is a smart and knowledgable female lead who rarely hesitated to voice out worldly facts. I appreciated the fact that she loved to read books but it also isn’t wrong if someone has a different opinion about a particular topic.

  • In the historian exam, Hae Ryung wrote that a solar eclipse was a natural phenomenon and that it’s not something that a King can control simply by performing a ritual. But when the Crown Prince explained that not everyone in Joseon can have a good education like her (Since Hae Ryung is a noble), they wouldn’t know that fact. There are poor people all over and the ritual is meant to calm the villagers nerves and assure them that everything will be okay.
  • Yes, what Hae Ryung answered was true but it also makes sense that not everyone can have access to that information. I know that back then was a different time because now, information is readily available for anyone to peruse. But we can’t expect everyone to perceive an issue the same way — there could be different solutions to a problem and both could either be right or could be improved upon.
  • Even when it doesn’t make sense to us, putting ourselves in another person’s shoes can give us more insight on their situation giving us clarity about their actions.
2. Doing the right thing is not always met with everyone’s approval. Be prepared to take responsibility for your actions and be mindful if your decisions can affect other people too.

  • Hae Ryung submitted a petition that got her into trouble because it involved palace politics. She was made to do all of the tasks left by the assistant clerks and was frowned upon by her male historian peers.
  • Like Officer Min pointed out, one must be ready for the responsibility of such deeds. Don’t complain or lament that you only did the right thing because every action, no matter how good the intention, can elicit a consequence that you must be ready to handle.

  • Doing the right thing is not a crime, but we must consider the effect our actions can have on other people and try exploring other ways to deal with a problem. Hae Ryung could have approached the stipend corruption in a different manner and pondered some more about how the petition can affect her coworkers as well.
  • All throughout the kdrama, Hae Ryung insisted to help and divulge the truth and true enough, she humbly accepted any praise or backlash (if there was) that came along with it. Like her, Sa Hui was bold enough to make her feelings for the Crown Prince known even if it meant people would gossip about her. I know this example is not a “right thing” per say but the fact that she was ready for any punishment is owning up to her actions😁
3. Accepting the fact that there are things in life we cannot change and that this shouldn’t stop us from continuing to live our best days.

  • Mo Hwa comforted Hae Ryung when the latter found out that her decision led to a child’s death. She felt responsible because she could have taken the child with her back to Haeju, but because of Hae Ryung’s concern that the kid might already have smallpox and infect others, she decided against bringing her there.

  • Death is a permanent part of life. Hae Ryung thought of what was best for everyone but it doesn’t mean that if she had decided to take the child with her, that the child would have survived either. If someone we love passes away, we mourn and feel sad about it. But we don’t let such an event weigh us down forever, we have to make good use of our time and do what we can to live well.
  • It would be unfair for us (the living) to deprive ourselves of what life can offer, both joyful days and hardships, by blaming ourselves for things that are out of our control. Let’s use the time we have to continue to work hard and pursue the things that make us happy🦋
4. Be true to yourself and don’t compromise your values just because there are people/situations who/that put you down. Your sincerity and honesty will attract good karma & people into your life.
  • Hae Ryung’s character was never shy in speaking the truth and fighting for what she believed in. She fought tooth and nail to be heard and ruffled up a few government feathers along the way but eventually won over the good graces of people. In the scene below, she was bold enough to persuade the King to stop hating the historians because their role is not to criticize the Royal family, but rather, to write their good traits as an example for the next generation.
  • Even when the King had given her a hard time, she was still perceptive enough to impart such a realization without compromising any values as a historian.✍🏻

  • In relation to tip #2, when Hae Ryung submitted the petition to request for a special investigation regarding the past, she was supported by her fellow historians. It was a risky move but because it was the right thing to do and she did it properly, everyone backed her up and they were eventually rewarded with a happy ending.

Like I mentioned in my last episode recap for the kdrama, Hae Ryung was an imperfect character that also learned a lot from her experience as a historian. In the end, I do think that she and the other women have come a long way since the 1st episode. They are now respected and treated as equals who possess thoughts that matter as well✨

Just like the traditions of the past, it’s not always easy to speak one’s mind and have the courage to be ourselves now in a world where social media triggers comparison and hateful comments. But I believe that as long as we’re mindful of our words, don’t treat mistakes or odd comments as a negative but rather a learning experience, we’ll live an empowered and loved life😊💕

Unnie Recap: Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung (Episodes 39 & 40) – Ending

History has proven that dictatorships or countries with a King can fall and be rebuilt into a new nation for the people. The Second State Councilor has his own plans to put into action but our protagonists will not go down without a fight. The only constant thing in this world is change, whether we are ready for it or not — we can either embrace such an occurrence, or die trying to reject it.

Episode 39

We are treated to another flashback 20 years ago showing how the Second State Councilor caught and threatened Jae Kyung as a kid to change the contents of the King’s letter. King Yi Gyeom patiently awaits for his child to be born as Mo Hwa congratulates him for having a son. No time to celebrate though as the invasion happens moments after and King Yi Gyeom is killed for supposed treason. Although Jae Kyung reports back to Seoraewon about what he did, it was still too late. Yeongan entrusts him to take Hae Ryung far away so they can live a new life, just as Prince Lee Rim was saved by Sam Bo and Mo Hwa.

An officer and several guards barge into the Office of Royal Decrees and arrest Officer Min for causing “trouble” at the Royal Court. Despite the historians’ protests, Officer Min doesn’t fight back and simply turns himself in quietly. He has a stare down with his father outside, the latter being pressured by his minions to punish his own son for reading the petition.

Also worried for the Prince’s safety, Hae Ryung seeks aid from the Military Commander to sneak Prince Lee Rim out of Nokseodang. They successfully dodge anyone who can catch them in the Palace and hand in hand go to a safe hideout once outside. Both are greeted by the Queen Dowager and the Prince’s loyal followers, swearing their allegiance to help him. Mo Hwa discloses to the Prince that they plan to end things once and for all at the banquet to commemorate the King’s 20th year of reign to be held in a few days. She warns him that if things go awry, they cannot protect him anymore and must therefore escape.

A discussion occurs between opposing side between the King, Crown Prince, and the Second State Councilor. As usual, the latter insists on continuing the banquet to front that the Royal family is not affected by the issues plaguing them. The Crown Prince worries when he declares that he and his father should accept whatever happens to the Queen Dowager and Prince Lee Rim that day, but the Second State Councilor reminds them that it is because of him that they can be in their positions now. Unnerved and burdened, Crown Prince Lee Jin visits Sa Hui that night to ask her a question about the daily records. He doesn’t ask to see it but Sa Hui does not mind letting him read a copy of the actual text.

The Prince and Hae Ryung discuss their future, with the latter telling the former that she’ll follow him whereever he goes if things go south. In a role reversal, it is Prince Lee Rim who declines her offer saying that she shouldn’t move with him. It’s not a blatant rejection but he explains that he was never locked up in Nokseodang but rather, he was waiting for the right person, Hae Ryung, to come find him. If he ends up running away, he can get through anything knowing that they’ll meet again one day. He seals his promise with a kiss. Selfless and content, I think the Prince wouldn’t want Hae Ryung to have a hard time as they run away together and he understood what she meant when she said the exact same thing to him a few episodes ago.

Episode 40 (Last Episode)

It’s the day of reckoning as the banquet is held with officials, historians, eunuchs, and court ladies witnessing the event. Jae Kyung bravely walks to the middle of the place, on his knees, confessing to the King that the letter allegedly sent by the King was fabricated. He points to the Second State Councilor as the culprit and even presents evidence that the King did not believe in Catholicism and simply wanted Seoraewon to be a place where they can study different cultures. The King is unable to speak yet and the officers argue on whether or not to believe Jae Kyung or not.

In a heated exchange between the Queen Dowager and the Second State Councilor, Prince Lee Rim surpisingly marches inside and announces that he is the son of Prince Huiyeong. He bravely states that the reason why his Majesty hasn’t killed him after all this time is because he also thought deep down that stealing the throne and death of his own brother was unjustified. The King stands up in fury and orders the historians to stop writing or else they’ll be beheaded. They don’t listen though and continue to jot down history unraveling before their very eyes.

Side by side, Hae Ryung kneels beside Prince Lee Rim and unwaveringly speaks that killing them will be of no use because the truth will live and resonate in the hearts and minds of the people of Joseon. All the historians join in the protest, backing up Hae Ryung. The Second State Councilor brands them all as traitors and orders for their death but the Crown Prince orders the guard to drop his sword aimed at Hae Ryung’s neck. He walks down from the steps and gets down on his knees himself, pleading the King to investigate the truth of what happened before. Other officials bow down and in a majestic moment, they all simultaneously chant and ask their leader humbly to right the wrongs of the past and move forward with a just conscience.

The next scene shifts to the Second State Councilor telling Officer Min in his room to pour him a drink in his memorial ceremony yearly. This must signal our heroes’ success in persuading the King and our villain’s acceptance of his fate. His son asks how he could change from someone noble to becoming an insatiable man seeking power. The latter explains when he gained influence himself, it was hard for him to let go of it. He does stand by the decision he made to have killed the King before as he believes that Yi Gyeom violated the principles and pillar teachings of Joseon with the study of Western culture. Officer Min cries in disagreement saying that a new world will arise and pays his last respects to his father.

Mo Hwa and Hae Ryung visit Jae Kyung in prison and inform him that the special investigation will commence with every person involved in the dethronement process will be interrogated. Hae Ryung tells him that she is trying to keep it together despite everything and Jae Kyung assures her that he never took care of her out of guilt. They are each other’s brother and sister no matter what happens.

Meanwhile inside the Palace, the Crown Prince announces to the Queen Dowager that he will step down from his position once the investigation has finished. Suddenly, Prince Lee Rim goes inside her room and asks for his dethronement as a Prince because he wishes to live life as an ordinary and free man. The Queen Dowager does not accept his decision and convinces him otherwise. I know that she means well but like I said in the previous episode recaps, her forcing him to be King is annoying! He can always learn the ropes in governing a nation, yes, but he clearly doesn’t want to involve himself in politics.

*** 3 years later ***

It’s business as usual for our hardworking historians!✍🏻 Hae Ryung looks to have been promoted as she has her own table now while A Ran and In Im have also become a junior ninth rank. They aren’t as afraid to speak their minds when Officer Hyeon, who is no longer a historian but is the same rank as Officer Yang, barges in the Office and tries to bully the girls. Sa Hui is not a historian anymore and is teaching kids instead. Her father comes bearing books saying that someone from the Palace (*Ahem* Lee Jin *Ahem*) keeps sending these for her. She smiles and graciously accepts the gift.

We can assume that the Second State Councilor had been executed as Officer Min and the now single and annulled Crown Princess is in mourning clothes. All the historians visit Officer Min and asks him to come back and work as per the order of his Majesty. They all laugh in unison as Officer Min grins back at them. The Crown Prince is now King and he has taken on the task to introduce Western beliefs and practices to Joseon. He remains optimistic and vows that Seoraewon shouldn’t only be a dream that they cannot attain.

Lee Rim comes back from his travels and surprises Hae Ryung with a trail of flowers leading up to him on her mat. He expresses how amazing it was to see dolphins on his trip but doesn’t reveal anything more so she ought to buy the travel book he wrote instead. It seems that the book isn’t doing too well compared to his romance novels, haha, but at least he is doing what he loves for a living. Lee Rim pretends to leave to give Hae Ryung time to rest but she asks him to lock the door instead for some sexy time, haha!💋 They aren’t married yet but that’s okay as they are taking their time enjoying each other’s company.

The next morning, Hae Ryung is awakened by Lee Rim realizing that she is late for work. She gives him a morning kiss on the lips before running off to the Palace. Once inside, she stops for a moment and takes a deep breath to prepare herself for what would be another great and eventful day working as a historian.

Thoughts

A happy ending for our lovers and Joseon🎉 I thoroughly enjoyed watching Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung for its fresh story, plot twists, and girl power!🌸 In the end, the power of the people overruled the tyrant that is the Second State Councilor and the truth shined as bright as the sun. Timing is everything and perhaps it will still take time for the people of Joseon to accept another culture; but after 23 years and no other villain in sight, I’m sure the future of their country is headed toward a positive direction.

If I had to nitpick this kdrama, maybe it would be that I wished some of the side stories would be further explored or solved. Like the stipend corruption that was never mentioned again, what happened to the kid that Hae Ryung helped in the first few episodes, and that Jean Barthelemy was simply a passing foreigner who wished to bid farewell to his brother but was never a crucial part of the overall story. I guess these instances are just meant to be accepted for what they are, an experience that may not mean so much in the big picture, but individually helped shaped our characters’ development.

Cha Eun Woo, the actor playing Prince Lee Rim, could have displayed more facial expressions in some of the show’s more tense or dramatic moments. I read that he was criticized for his poor acting skills earlier when the show just premiered but there’s always room for improvement. His character was sweet and loyal but also didn’t give up even when he had to eventually escape if they did not convince the King of their cause.

Hae Ryung had her fair share of right and wrongs as a character but the fact that she was consistent in speaking the truth & doing what’s right is her best trait for me. She and the Prince never really had a major conflict except of course when he was forced to marry but other than that, their personalities and beliefs always complemented each other. I’m glad that they showed a unique angle where women were emphasized and given a bit of power in a male dominant time proving that women, just like men, are capable of doing work equally and have valid opinions as well.