Lee Joon Gi is a triple threat in the Korean entertainment scene because of his notable talent as a model, a dancer, and an actor. But it was on the small screen that he really made an indelible mark. He is the only actor in South Korea who owned the title, “King of Sageuk”, which translates to “King of Historical Dramas”.
However, beyond the time travelling aspect in most of his work, he also has some notable projects in different genres. If you’re interested to watch some of his work, here are 7 of his top dramas that should be worth your time!
1. Arang and the Magistrate (2012)
This drama is derived from the dark but fascinating folk tale, Legend of Arang, which was written in the Joseon era. But instead of following the story right down to the dot, the drama went on with more creative license in its retelling. It is historical fiction merged with fantasy to create an intriguing and unusual layered backdrop.
In this story, Lee Joon Gi plays the role of a nobleman’s son named Kim Eun Oh, who wanders around the country on a search for his mother’s whereabouts. His journey was made even more complicated by his ability to see ghosts—a gift which he chooses to ignore.
Meanwhile, Arang (Shin Min Ah) is the daughter of a magistrate who turned into a wandering ghost with no recollection of her life. She refuses to crossover to the afterlife until she can find the truth behind her death. She haunts every magistrate until such time where no one wants to fill in the position. Growing desperate to find an explanation, she realized that Eun Oh just might be the right person for the task. As a result, Eun Oh finds himself entangled with Arang’s affairs which led him to become an unwilling magistrate of the town of Miryang.
Eun Oh also went ahead with this plan having noticed a distinctive hairpin Arang was using which was similar to what he gave to his mother. He thought that if he helped her, Arang could regain her memories and give him information about his mom. So the pair teamed up to learn of the circumstances around her death only to find unexpected truths and revelations.
This story ended quite sadly, but showed a glimmer of hope for these two characters, which soon enough found love in the most unfortunate circumstance.
2. Two Weeks (2013)
In this drama, Lee Joon Gi transforms into Jang Tae San, a man who was orphaned at a young age when his father left and his mother took her own life. Without any parental guidance, he became a small-time gangster and worked for crime boss Moon Il Seok (Jo Min Ki).
One day, Tae San was asked to take the fall for a murder charge Il Seok committed along with the threat that it would cost his pregnant girlfriend’s life if he dare refuse. Tae San agrees to the plan and goes to prison, but he wants In Hye (Park Ha Sun) to abort the baby which confuses her.
Eight years later, Tae San is still part of Il Seok’s gang, and works at a pawn shop run by his gang. He came across his ex-girlfriend, In Hye one day and learned that she kept the baby, who is now an 8-year-old girl named Soo Jin (Lee Chae Mi). He learned that the little girl has leukemia and desperately needs a bone marrow transplant. When he went through some needed tests, Tae San found out that he is a match and that he can proceed with the operation in two weeks.
Unfortunately, before Tae San can even do anything about it. He was embroiled in a political intrigue when Il Seok conspired with a corrupt politician. Again, he was framed for murder of an undercover agent. But on the way to being booked, the police car he was in gets into an accident which allowed Tae San to escape. Now he runs away as a fugitive while also running against time to save the life of his daughter within the next two weeks.
3. Gunman In Joseon (2014)
This is a story of revenge set in the Joseon Era, which centers around the son of Joseon’s greatest swordsman, Park Yoon Kang (Lee Joon Gi). While he takes after his father’s skills, he goes through life with little ambition or direction, which his father always reprimanded him about. After Yoon Kang’s father was killed and falsely branded a traitor, he and his sister were not spared some punishment.
Yoon Kang’s sister was sold off to slavery, but he escapes arrest with the help of Jung Soo In (Nam Sang Mi). While on the boat, he gets shot and falls into the water and is presumed dead. But fate was on his side after being rescued by a group of men sailing for Japan. Three years later, he returns to Joseon as Hasegwa Hanjo with every intent to exact revenge not through the sword, but by rifle.
Fans would definitely appreciate seeing Lee Joon Gi in his element as he tends to pull off characters in sageuks pretty well. In this drama, in particular, Joon Gi gets to show off his skills as an actual marksman having bagged the sharpshooter award while in the military. It’s also cool to see Joon Gi speaking Japanese on several occasions in the show. Seeing all these elements together in the show is awesome and entertaining to watch, especially for fans.
4. The Scholar Who Walks The Night (2015)
In this drama, Lee Joon Gi becomes the “Night Scholar,” Kim Sung Yeol, during the Joseon era who happens to be a close friend with the Crown Prince Lee Yoon (Shim Chang Min). He soon uncovers the truth about a vampire conspiracy in the kingdom. This brought the Crown Prince on a hunt to take down the evil Gwi (Lee Soo Hyuk), a centuries-old vampire who lives in dungeons inside the royal palaces and controls the place. With the help of another powerful vampire, a plan was hatched, but it gets thwarted when Gwi finds out about it. The only way to get things back on track is for Sung Yeol to be transformed into a vampire. He is given a magical black cloak which allows him to go out in the sun.
Over a century later, Sung Yeol is still on mission to take down Gwi by searching for the book which held the Prince’s original plan. In this journey, he meets Jo Yang Sun (Lee Yu Bi), a girl who is dressed as a boy and masquerades as a bookseller. With a penchant for stories, she’s also gifted at telling them, an expert at finding rare books, and selling banned publications. With these skills in mind, she proved to be a helpful ally to the vampire scholar in his search for the only copy of that Prince’s plan.
Yang Sun agrees to take on the search with determination and optimism, without knowing that this man is a vampire and the “Night Scholar.” Along their journey, Sung Yeol realized that the bookseller is not a boy, but a young woman. For the first time in a hundred years, he starts to give into his human feelings as he has grown fond of Yang Sun, only to come across a doppelganger of his dead first love.
5. Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016)
Lee Joon Gi finds himself in another epic saguek alongside superstart IU, in what could be referred to as a one of Kdrama’s underrated but tragic tale. This series is based on the Chinese novel Bu Bu Jing Xin by Tong Hua.
The story starts during a total solar eclipse when the 25-year-old Go Ha Jin (Lee Ji Eun or IU) falls into a lake and is transported back in time to the Goryeo dynasty. She comes out of the water only to find herself in the body of Hae Soo, who is the cousin of the wife of the 8th Prince Wang Wook (Kang Ha Neul).
In her new life, she gets to meet the royal princes of the ruling Wang family. She sets her eyes on Wang Wook for his warm and gentle presence. But later on, she starts to fall for the intimidating 4th prince Wang So (Lee Joon Gi), who hides his face behind a mask and is given the derogatory label, “wolf dog.”
Wang began to change because of Hae Soo, who also realized that his coldness was merely a front to conceal his pain.
While Hae Soo is aware that she shouldn’t meddle with palace intrigues over the succession to the throne. She inadvertently becomes a pawn in this competition as some of the other princes start to fall in love with her.
6. Lawless Lawyer (2018)
In this legal action thriller, Lee Joon Gi becomes Bong Sang Pil, a gangster who became a lawyer to avenge his mother’s murder. He takes over a loan shark business and converts it into the “Lawless Law Firm.” It is dubbed as such because of his unusual methods. He uses loopholes in the law, the power of the fist, and his old gang connections when it was necessary for the case.
He meets Ha Jae Yi (Seo Ye Ji), who is a woman of integrity and a lawyer herself, who got suspended when she went after a corrupt judge. She soon ends up working for Sang Pil, who eventually became his partner after her license was reinstated. However, she gathers a different reason to pursue justice after having learned that she is also fighting the same injustice as Sang Pil.
The two came after Cha Moon Sook (Lee Hye Young), a highly respected judge who lives a double life. She has orchestrated murders, rigged trials, run a corrupt charity for her own gain, and chosen city leaders favorable to her cause. Along with her associates, they use underhanded tactics, including murdering Dae Woong (Ahn Nae Sang) who is Sang Pil’s uncle and then pinned it on him.
With all these seemingly insurmountable challenges, Sang Pil and Jae Yi fought hard even if it meant going after the big fish. Along the way, the struggle they had to endure together brought them closer together. Will they be able to fix the system and end up happy at the same time? Check out how this courtroom drama unfolds.
7. Flower Of Evil (2020)
In this romance crime thriller, Lee Joon Gi is Do Hyun Soo, the son of a psychopathic killer. He has been wrongly accused that he also had a hand in his father’s evil deeds. This pushed him and his sister to flee town and be separated from then on.
At present, Hyun Soo becomes Baek Hee Sung and is now happily married to Cha Ji Won (Moon Chae Won), a detective who was unaware that her husband lives a double life. On the outset, they looked like the perfect family, along with their beautiful daughter who adores them both.
However, things started to unravel when Ji Won and her colleagues launched an investigation into some unexplained murders. As they went further into finding out the truth, Ji Won realized that her seemingly perfect husband, whom she loves deeply, may not have been so up front about a lot of things.
Ji Won hid her suspicions from her husband and her colleagues. But, as the investigation continued, revelations brought to light a lot of unexpected truths and bigger crimes in the background. Can these heal or hurt the relationship?