While historical dramas or sageuk are not usually the way most non-Koreans are introduced to kdramas, there are many well worth watching. And there won't be a quiz on the history later.
There are, however, some things you should know about sageuk before you sample one.
First, watching them can require commitment. While most kdramas span between 16 and 20 episodes, historical dramas can have 50 to 100 episodes in a single season. Since each episode is a single hour, that is a serious investment of time. As a rule, the more accurately they attempt to portray history, the longer they are.
Second, if you think you are beginning to understand even a little bit of Korean, the formal language in historical dramas may confuse you.
Third, those crazy mesh hats worn by men in the Joseon era might make you giggle at first, but all it takes is a few dashing male leads and you will soon find them flattering.
And lastly, don't confuse sageuk with actual history. Some of them are inspired by real events (and may still alter them), while others are purely fiction. That said, these dramas offer hours of pure entertainment with plenty of visual appeal. Here are a few to start on:
At 54 episodes, "Dae Jang Geum" tells the story of an orphaned cook that becomes a king's physician. It is based on the true story of Jang Geum, the first female doctor of the Joseon era.
At 62 episodes, "Queen Seondeok," follows the events in the life of a real queen, Seondeok of the Korean kingdom of Silla. She was the nation's first female ruler.
With only 20 picture-perfect episodes, the heartbreaking "Moon Embracing the Sun" is based on a novel about the romance between a fictional Joseon king and a shaman.
Based on the novel of the same, "Painter of the Wind," supposes that the Joseon era painter Shin Yun Bok was really a woman who disguised herself as a boy.
The 28-episode series "Bridal Mask" is set in 1930s Korea during the Japanese invasion. It concerns a Robin Hood type figure that stands up against the injustices of the invaders.
The 20-episode "Sungkyunkwan Scandal" is a fictional historical drama about a woman who pretends to be a boy so she can attend prestigious Sungkyunkwan University. If she's caught, she risks execution.
So, if you are in the mood for some lavish costumes, beautiful sets, stories of star-crossed lovers and some entertaining martial arts action, you may want to check these out.