Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung is about 19th century women who faced prejudice for being writers of historical records. One historian (Shin Se Kyung) works to establish her place and meets a lonely prince (Cha Eun Woo) who lives a double life as a romance novelist.
Shin Se Kyung plays our female historian Goo Hae Ryung. She is a free-spirited and intelligent woman who longs to make something of her life. She doesn’t want to be forced into the traditional role of a woman, so when the opportunity arises for her to become a historian, she jumps at the chance. This was another fantastic role for Shin Se Kyung, and I really loved her performance.
Cha Eun Woo is Prince Do Won. He lives a sheltered life that has left him quite lonely. He greatly enjoys books and writes romance novels under the pseudonym Maehwa. Little does he expect to fall head over heels for Hae Ryung. Cha Eun Woo had a great outing here with a role that I thought really suited him. He had a lovable charm with a smile that just lights up the room.
Park Ki Woong plays the Crown Prince Yi Jin. He is a strong, kind, and wise man. He is Do Won’s older brother and really adores him.
Finally, Lee Ji Hoon is Officer Min Woo Won who is one of the historians. He is excellent at his job with a strong sense of justice, and he is one of the few who is open to having female historians.
Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung is a somewhat lighter historical that was super easy to watch. It definitely still has big life and death stakes involved at times, but much of the plot centers around female historians trying to overcome obstacles in their journey to be historians.
Then there is a romantic plot line involving Hae Ryung and Prince Do Won. So the drama is kind of like a historical romantic comedy workplace drama with a side of intrigue. An interesting combination for sure!
We watch as Hae Ryung and the other women face difficulties and prejudice at their jobs. They are intelligent women who want to learn and work hard, but many still see them as inadequate. It’s sad to see them looked down upon time and again, but it’s also joyful to see them rise to the challenge and prove their worth. They deserve to be historians just like the men do.
It was very interesting to get to go more in depth with the job of historians. We see people in this job in the background of many historicals, but we don’t usually get to see in detail what they do. I loved getting to see all that went into it and just how important of a job it was.
Then there’s our lonely Prince Do Won. He’s been hidden away most of his life which leads him to having a double life as a writer of romance novels. It gives him an outlet and is one of the few things he truly enjoys. That is until he meets Hae Ryung.
I thoroughly enjoyed Cha Eun Woo and Shin Se Kyung as a couple. They are both absolutely beautiful and just look amazing together. Then they have such an adorable relationship. It starts out with them engaging in some cute bickering and then progresses into such a lovely romance.
There was also a nice brother relationship between Prince Do Won and his older brother the Crown Prince. This was one of those rare occurrences where the brothers actually adore one another rather than wanting to kill each other in a battle for throne. It was great to see how much they loved each other and to watch all of their thoughtful conversations.
The drama wasn’t particularly focused on one story but rather several of them. At times, this caused it to feel a bit all over the place. And though a lot of the story lines were very enjoyable to watch, they did lack some punch.
The last third of the drama does bring more angst though as Do Won and Hae Ryung’s relationship is put to the test. My heart broke watching Do Won’s tears. The pain on his face was tangible as was his love for Hae Ryung. Cha Eun Woo really delivered the emotions here with a great performance.
Hae Ryung’s reactions were a bit more subdued, but her conflict over her feelings for Do Won were just as evident. Shin Se Kyung was perfect at delivering her more complex reactions to the couple’s difficult situation.
We also get a nice chunk of palace intrigue during this time. We had a mystery that was slowly touched upon throughout the series that really comes to a head with secrets being revealed, power plays, and dealing with the aftermath. So everything was pulled together quite well in the end.
Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung was a pleasant and easy watch overall. It wasn’t exactly riveting, but I quite enjoyed it. It felt fairly unique with its workplace focus on the lives of female historians and all of the challenges they faced that was mixed in with a lovely romance as well as some palace intrigue. The humor was balanced well with the heavier themes, and it was a nice drama to just relax to and enjoy the story it had to tell.
My Rating: 7.5/10
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I’m a big fan of Shin Se Kyung and her playing Goo Hae Ryung made me love her a whole lot more. It was well written and consistent all throughout. I honestly can’t imagine any other actress playing Hae Ryung aside from her, she was exceptionally good in this one. She really hasn’t failed me in any of her historical dramas. She’s so natural in sageuk,and I especially admire her impecabble speech and diction. It’s nice to see her do a lighter/fusion amongst all her intense historical productions. I can’t wait to watch her as a queen/empress in a sageuk in the years to come though, it would probably look so great on her.
But for now, I am absolutely waiting patiently for her next modern drama first. I still couldn’t get over from her beauty in Black Knight.
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So glad to meet another Shin Se Kyung fan! I love her too 🙂 She really is wonderful in everything she does, especially historicals. I too thought she was absolutely perfect to play Hae Ryung in every way, and I agree, it was fun to see her in a lighter sageuk. It was such a joy to watch her performance. I’ll be anxiously awaiting her next project too 🙂
Really glad to meet you too. 🤗 Just discovered your blog, and I enjoy how well written your reviews are. How I wish I’d seen this sooner. Looks like I have lots of backreading to do. Keep it up,love your reviews dear 👍❤
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Aww, thank you so much for saying that! 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoy the reviews and that you found your way here. I hope you have fun working through the back log. I’ll look forward to hearing some of your thoughts 🙂
This drama was like strawberry ice cream on a hot summer day. I enjoyed the lighter tone too. I thought that the different story lines could have been better integrated, but it was still an enjoyable watch. My favorite characters were Officer Min and the Crown Prince. Prince Dowon was cool too, bur I kind of thought that Hae Ryung should have ended up with Officer Min. He deserved happiness after all the heartbreak.
I thought that Prince Dowon residence was great! I imagine that my dream house will look like it (with indoor plumbing and fast internet!)
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That’s a great way to describe this drama 🙂 Yes, the story lines definitely could have been put together in a smoother way, but they were all still enjoyable to watch.
I also particularly like the Crown Prince. Park Sung Woong is one of those actors I really enjoy who usually gets cast in second lead roles. But he always delivers such memorable performances, and it was nice to see him as such a wonderful character here 🙂
I also liked Do Won’s residence. And I’m with you! I need that house in my life along with a few modern conveniences of course 🙂
Thanks for the wonderful review. I agree with Martha: the characters of Officer Min and the Crown Prince were crafted in a way that were more suitable to Hae Ryung. Loved the performance of Shin Se Kyung, looking forward to seeing her in other dramas. The settings used in this serial were simply superb. A question for Kay: Is there a historical basis for this drama?
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I’m happy you enjoyed the review 🙂 Shin Se Kyung truly gave a wonderful performance here. This character suited her so well. And I too really loved the settings. I haven’t heard of there being a historical basis for this show or came across any history of actual female historians. Someone far more knowledgeable than me might know better if there were any hiding somewhere in Joseon history though 🙂
Enjoyed this series as well. Very well acted and solid plot throughout. I’m not a huge fan of the genre because they’re usually so heavy on the politics but this one had a lovely balance of romance, bromance, workplace, family, & intrigue. And it was all done in a light enough manner that made it appealing for me. Your review was spot on as usual 🙂
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Glad you enjoyed this one too 🙂 I too was happy this one wasn’t heavy on the politics and enjoyed the interesting mixture of genres. It was just super easy and pleasant to watch, and I liked all the little stories going on. And Cha Eun Woo and Shin Se Kyung were a lot of fun together 🙂
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