Lee Byung-Hoon (director)

Discover kdrama Director Lee Byung-hoon: A Master of Historical Korean dramas

 Lee Byung-hoon is more than just a Korean director; he’s a storyteller, a magician who breathes life into the pages of history, transforming them into epic dramas that captivate Kdrama audiences worldwide. 

His name is synonymous with the golden age of Korean sageuks (historical dramas), and his Korean dramas have not only shaped the landscape of Korean television but also propelled the Korean Wave onto the global stage.

From Early Beginnings to Historical Reimagining

Lee’s journey began in 1970 at MBC, where his passion for storytelling blossomed. His solo directorial debut in 1974 was a mere stepping stone to the monumental achievement that was “500 Years of Joseon” (1983-1990). This eight-year-long saga wasn’t just a historical chronicle; it was a revolution. Lee broke away from the dry monotony of traditional sageuks, infusing them with emotional depth and relatable human stories. He breathed life into historical figures, making their struggles, triumphs, and tragedies resonate with viewers across generations.

Some of the most successful korean dramas by Director Lee Byung-hoon

The Flower in Prison (MBC, 2016)

Director of the Korean drama The Flower In Prison Lee Byung-Hoon
Source: asianwiki

“The Flower in Prison” is a captivating Korean drama set in the Joseon Dynasty, where Ok-Nyeo, portrayed by Jin Se-Yun, emerges into the world from the confines of a prison. Born into adversity, Ok-Nyeo becomes a member of weji-boo, an organization dedicated to navigating the intricacies of the law. 

With 51 episodes that aired from April 30 to November 6, 2016, the series, directed by Lee Byung-Hoon and Kim Sung-Yong, weaves a tale of resilience and justice in a historical backdrop. Under the pen of writer Choi Wan-Kyu, the drama unfolds with intrigue, offering a unique blend of historical storytelling and a protagonist’s journey from the shadows of incarceration to the pursuit of justice in the vibrant tapestry of the Joseon era.

Dong Yi (MBC, 2010)

Director of Korean drama Dong Yi Lee Byung-Hoon
Source: asianwiki

“Dong Yi” unfolds a historical tapestry steeped in intrigue and romance. The drama, directed by Lee Byung-Hoon and Kim Sang-Hyub, and penned by Kim Yi-Young, immerses viewers in the life of Dong-yi, later known as Choi Suk-bin, played by the talented Han Hyo-Joo. 

Set against the backdrop of the royal palace during the Joseon era, the series traces Dong-yi’s journey from a lowly water maid to the esteemed position of King Sok-jong’s concubine. As the narrative unfolds, Dong-yi gives birth to Yeong-jo, the future king, marking a pivotal moment in the historical chronicles. 

With 60 episodes that aired from March 22 to October 12, 2010, “Dong Yi” weaves a compelling tale based on true events, offering viewers a captivating blend of history, romance, and the intricate politics of the royal court.

Yi San/ Lee San, Wind of the Palace (MBC, 2007-2008)

Kdrama director of the drama Lee San, Wind of the Palace
Source: asianwiki

“Lee San, Wind of the Palace” is a captivating historical drama set in the late 18th century Joseon Dynasty. Directed by Lee Byung-Hoon and Keun-hong Kim, and written by Kim Yi-Young, the 76-episode series follows the life of Lee San, the 22nd king of Joseon. 

Known for his democratic values, Lee San navigates through political challenges, revives the economy, and leaves a lasting impact on the kingdom. The drama beautifully explores his triumphs, ordeals, regrets, and historical achievements, providing a rich portrayal of this transformative era. Against the backdrop of arts, architecture, and military advancements, “Lee San, Wind of the Palace” is a must-watch for its immersive storytelling and depiction of Joseon’s significant moments.

Jewel in the Palace/Dae Jang Geum (MBC, 2003-2004)

“A Jewel in the Palace” is a captivating Korean drama set 500 years ago during the Chosun Dynasty. Directed by Lee Byung-Hoon and written by Kim Young-Hyun, the 54-episode series follows the remarkable true story of Jang-Geum, who defied societal norms to become the first woman supreme royal physician. 

Despite facing discrimination, Jang-Geum rises from a royal cook to the king’s personal physician, earning the title “The Great Jang-Geum.” With a compelling plot and historical richness, the drama explores resilience and ambition in a male-dominated society, making it a must-watch for fans of historical dramas.

All Korean Dramas Directed by Lee Byung-hoon

  1. The Flower in Prison (MBC, 2016)
  2. The King’s Doctor (MBC, 2012-2013)
  3. Dong Yi (MBC, 2010)
  4. Yi San (MBC, 2007-2008)
  5. Ballad of Seodong (SBS, 2005-2006)
  6. Dae Jang Geum (MBC, 2003-2004)
  7. Sangdo (MBC, 2001-2002)
  8. Hur Jun (MBC, 1999-2000)
  9. The Third Man (MBC, 1997)
  10. My Mother’s Sea (MBC, 1993)
  11. 500 Years of Joseon: Daewongun (MBC, 1990)
  12. 500 Years of Joseon: Pa Mun (MBC, 1989)
  13. 500 Years of Joseon: The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyeong (MBC, 1988-1989)
  14. 500 Years of Joseon: Queen Inhyeon (MBC, 1988)
  15. 500 Years of Joseon: Namhan Mountain Castle (MBC, 1986-1987)
  16. 500 Years of Joseon: The Hoechun Gate (MBC, 1986)
  17. 500 Years of Joseon: The Imjin War (MBC, 1985-1986)
  18. 500 Years of Joseon: The Wind Orchid (MBC, 1985)
  19. 500 Years of Joseon: The Ume Tree in the Midst of the Snow (MBC, 1984-1985)
  20. 500 Years of Joseon: Tree With Deep Roots (MBC, 1983)
  21. 500 Years of Joseon: The King of Chudong Palace (MBC, 1983)
  22. Namgang Lee Seung-hun (MBC, 1982)

The Sageuk (Historical korean drama) Master

But Lee’s true genius lay in his ability to make history accessible. He masterfully blended historical accuracy with creative license, weaving captivating narratives that were both informative and entertaining. 

Dramas like “Hur Jun” (1999) defied conventions by focusing on a commoner, a talented physician who defied societal norms to become a royal doctor. 

This shift in perspective not only resonated with viewers but also shattered viewership records, proving that sageuks could be more than just tales of kings and queens.

From “Jewel in the Palace” to Global Icon:

Lee’s crowning achievement, however, was undoubtedly “Dae Jang Geum” (2003). This epic tale of Jang Geum, a young woman who rises from being a lowly court kitchen maid to become the king’s physician, transcended geographical and cultural boundaries. It became a global phenomenon, captivating audiences worldwide with its inspiring story of resilience,打破了韩国电视剧收视率纪录,将韩流推向了国际舞台。

Beyond Historical Grandeur:

Lee’s versatility extends beyond sageuks. He has dabbled in contemporary dramas like “My Mother’s Sea” (1993) and even ventured into fantasy with “The Third Man” (1997). But his true calling lies in historical narratives, where he seamlessly blends fact and fiction to create worlds that are both believable and captivating.

All the Awards of Director Lee Byung-hoon

  1. 2015 10th Seoul International Drama Awards: 10th Anniversary Hallyu Achievement Award
  2. 2010 3rd Korea Drama Awards: Achievement Award (Dong Yi)
  3. 2008 3rd 좋은 방송 프로그램상 (Yi San)
  4. 2008 44th Baeksang Arts Awards: Best TV Director (Yi San)
  5. 2006 Ok-gwan Order of Cultural Merit
  6. 2005 6th 방송인상 방송제작 부문 개인 수상 (Yeouido Club)
  7. 2004 자랑스러운 한양언론인상 (한양언론인회)
  8. 2004 40th Baeksang Arts Awards: Best TV Director (Dae Jang Geum)
  9. 2002 Korean Broadcasters Association’s Broadcasting Awards: Recipient, Drama category (Sangdo)
  10. 2000 Korean Producers & Directors’ Association: Producer of the Year (Hur Jun)
  11. 2000 Congressional Pop Culture Media Award (Hur Jun)
  12. 2000 Korean Broadcasters Association’s Broadcasting Awards: Excellence Award for Best Drama (Hur Jun)
  13. 1986 Korea Broadcasting Awards: Best Producer, TV category (The Imjin War)
  14. 1982 Minister’s Award from the Korean Culture and Information Service (Namgang Lee Seung-hun)
  15. 1975 Broadcasting Ethics Award (제3교실)

A Glimpse Behind the Scenes

Lee’s meticulousness extends beyond the screen. He is known for his collaborative spirit, working closely with writers and actors to bring his vision to life. His sets are renowned for their authenticity, and his attention to detail is legendary. Every frame of his dramas is a testament to his dedication and passion for storytelling.

A Look to the Future

Lee Byung-hoon’s story is far from over. With his dedication to his craft and his unwavering passion for history, he continues to weave captivating narratives that will undoubtedly leave their mark on the world. His legacy is not just in the awards he has won or the records he has broken, but in the hearts and minds of the millions he has touched with his timeless tales.

So, the next time you settle in to watch a Korean drama, take a moment to appreciate the magic of Lee Byung-hoon. He is the master weaver of history’s tapestry, the storyteller who reminds us that even the most distant past holds lessons and inspiration for the present.