Korea-Khitan War (2023) poster
8.0
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 341 users
# of Watchers: 2,453
Reviews: 11 users
Ranked #2120
Popularity #4705
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A historical drama that deals with the second and third periods of the Goryeo-Khitan War. King Hyeonjong of Goryeo and his political teacher, Commander-in-Chief Gang Gam Chan, united the people of Goryeo and led a war against Khitan. (Source: HanCinema, AsianWiki, NamuWiki; edited by MyDramaList) ~~ Adapted from the novel "Goryeo-Khitan War: Sweet Rain in The Winter" (고려거란전기: 겨울에 내리는 단비) by Gil Seung Soo (길승수). Edit Translation

  • English
  • 한국어
  • Español
  • Čeština
  • Country: South Korea
  • Type: Drama
  • Episodes: 32
  • Aired: Nov 11, 2023 - Mar 10, 2024
  • Aired On: Saturday, Sunday
  • Original Network: KBS2
  • Duration: 60 min.
  • Score: 8.0 (scored by 341 users)
  • Ranked: #2120
  • Popularity: #4705
  • Content Rating: 15+ - Teens 15 or older

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Korea-Khitan War (2023) photo
Korea-Khitan War (2023) photo
Korea-Khitan War (2023) photo
Korea-Khitan War (2023) photo
Korea-Khitan War (2023) photo
Korea-Khitan War (2023) photo

Reviews

Completed
unterwegsimkoreanischenD
34 people found this review helpful
Mar 11, 2024
32 of 32 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 9.5
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.5
Rewatch Value 7.0
This review may contain spoilers

KDrama sure can do historical drama. Goryeo-Khitan War is another prime example of this

"Goryeo Khitan War" is a historical epic intended to honor not only the historically exceptional achievements during the Goryeo-Khitan War, but also half a century of KBS (Korean Broadcasting System). And it does. Perfectly done in all instances and scales. What's even more fascinating is how it succeeds to fill ca. 1,000 years long bygone history with life in a gripping way - close to the facts and colorfully embedded within the midst of the political milieu surrounding the royal court.

If I hadn't accidentally stumbled into the filming set in the early summer of 2023, this thoroughly historical KDrama might have slipped a bit back on my list. But this personal connection eventually made me more curious. And now I'm full of praise.

32 hours long history lesson - history can be told so vividly… Complex personalities, an even more complex political context and a highly demanding challenge of war come very close to the audience. You don't have to be of Korean origin to be inspired - by its heart, intelligence, daring, perseverance and humanistic ethos. It is not about simply enumerating historic facts. It is colorful, complex, character driven – what happened about 1.000 years ago comes as close as it gets: Those years around the turn of the millennium at the beginning of the 11th century, when the 8th king of Goryeo - the then still quite young Hyeongjong of Goryeo - had to face the successive invasions of the numerically superior, Khitan of the Liao Dynasty.

What happened way back then obviously has happened a long time ago, but actually many policymakers today could be inspired and encouraged by the political attitude that is being exercised here. Even though facing the acute threat, this canny, courageous, responsible king isn´t willing to simply fly on sight, but rather acts cool-headed and with foresight. He is someone who does not shy away from complex, fundamental, unpopular, but far-reaching, forward-looking structural reforms... And then there is a government official, who not simply and opportunistically cares about himself, but about the cause - about the people, the country and the ´good´ (even if uncomfortable) decision.

The book "Sweet Rain in Winter" by Gil Seung-soo certainly contributed significantly to an excellent script. The historical greats, both large and small, impressively come to life. Romance is secondary, bromance is the theme here. By this I mean less the homosexuality of Mokjong, the 7th king of Goryeo. Rather, the intense struggle and relationship between King Hyeonjong and Gang Gam-chan, a scholar, government official, mentor of the king and crucial military commander during the third Goryeo invasion.

The KDrama offers a distinctively Korean (chapter of hi)story. One with a lot of pathos and even more ethos. One about people and their relationship dynamics, about their character strengths and weaknesses.

KDrama sure can do historical drama. Goryeo-Khitan War is another prime example of this.

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Completed
latteholic
6 people found this review helpful
Mar 12, 2024
32 of 32 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 8.5
Story 9.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 7.0
This review may contain spoilers

A captivating look into the intricacies of war, wrapped in the charm of old-school sageuk

Plot/Story:
The Goryeo-Khitan War begins with the crucial Battle of Kwiju, a key conflict during the Third Goryeo-Khitan War in 1019. The narrative then rewinds a decade to provide context for the second war between the Khitan-led Liao dynasty and the Goryeo dynasty. Set against the backdrop of the Third Goryeo-Khitan War, the series meticulously explores the tensions throughout the Second and Third Khitan invasions. It also depicts the challenges Goryeo faced following the Second invasion and how the dynasty united to face the impending attacks from the Khitans.
The drama, despite containing some anachronisms, is still mindful of historical accuracy. These anachronisms enrich the narrative, emphasizing the importance of national unity and adding some edges to otherwise perfect characters. This approach can slow the pace, making it feel somewhat dragging. However, with patience, the payoff is quite satisfying. Even with these minor modifications, the series stays close to historical truth (based on my research on Wikipedia and Google) and kept me engrossed in a world of politics and impending conflicts, and even kept me at the edge of my seat despite knowing the outcome.
At its heart, the Goryeo Khitan War is about human strength during war. It deeply explores reactions to conflict and political plans linked to war. It shows power struggles, ambitions, alliances, and betrayals that affect the outcome of battles. It also focuses on how characters grow through these challenges and how this changes their perspectives on life and humanity.

Character and Relationship:
Just like in most traditional sageuks, politics, court intrigues, and epic battles take center stage in this drama. However, the true stars of the show for me were the characters and their very human stories. King Hyun Jong, who evolved from a naive figure into a powerful leader under the mentorship of Gang Gam-chan, is a character that I found endearing. Their bond forms the pulsing beat of the show, symbolizing the perfect dynamic between a king and his minister. It's all about loyalty, reciprocal appreciation, immense capability, and heaps of trust.
Yang Kyu's character strikingly portrayed the harsh realities of war and the steep price of victory, which deeply resonated with me. His struggle against adversity and his spirit in the face of overwhelming odds painted a vivid picture of the human cost of war and the sacrifices made for victory. One thing to note is that since this is a war drama, female characters mostly occupy peripheral roles, yet thanks to the superb performances and concise writing, they still resonate as vivid and authentic. I particularly appreciate the portrayal of the enduring marriage between Gang Gam Chan and his wife, and how, despite decades of marriage and constant bickering, her unwavering loyalty shines through.

Acting/Cast:
The cast, packed with familiar faces and veteran actors, brought their A-game to this sageuk. Choi Soo Joon's portrayal of Gang Gam-chan is impeccable, as expected from the King of Sageuk. His performance captured Gam-chan's essence in a way that was both captivating and genuine. I was also impressed by Kim Dong Jun's portrayal of King Hyun Jong. His transition from uncertainty to authority was smooth and convincing, embodying the regal air of a king as his character evolved. But the real standout for me was Ji Seung Hyun. His portrayal of Yang Gyu tugged at my heartstrings. He encapsulated the harsh realities and raw emotions associated with this historical event, painting a vivid picture of not just the physical struggles, but also the emotional turmoil faced by the characters.

In summary, to me, "Goryeo-Khitan War" is more than just a historical drama. It's a captivating exploration of personal growth, power struggles, and the intricacies of war and politics, all wrapped in the charm of old-school sageuk. Unlike many modern sageuks targeting younger audiences, or those blending with fusion sageuk subgenres, this drama is a refreshing change of pace. It stays true to its style and prioritizes historical accounts over romance or fantasy. If you're a fan of classic sageuk, this is one for your watchlist.

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Details

  • Drama: Korea-Khitan War
  • Country: South Korea
  • Episodes: 32
  • Aired: Nov 11, 2023 - Mar 10, 2024
  • Aired On: Saturday, Sunday
  • Original Network: KBS2
  • Duration: 60 min.
  • Content Rating: 15+ - Teens 15 or older

Statistics

  • Score: 8.0 (scored by 341 users)
  • Ranked: #2120
  • Popularity: #4705
  • Watchers: 2,453

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