The Tale of Nokdu is about a man (Jang Dong Yoon) who disguises himself as a woman to live among a community of women in order to solve a mystery about his past.Β  He falls for a hot-tempered woman (Kim So Hyun) who is reluctantly training to be a gisaeng while seeking revenge on the king.

Jang Dong Yoon plays Jeon Nok Du. He grew up on a secluded island with his family, but after an attack on their lives, he sets out to find out who is after him. When his attacker enters a village of widows, he disguises himself as a woman to live in the village and gather information.

Kim So Hyun is Dong Dong Joo. She is a gisaeng in training who secretly has plans for revenge on the king. She encounters Nok Du in the city as a man and then again is the widows’ village believing he’s a woman. They develop an interesting relationship when they end up sharing a room and growing closer.

Then we have Kang Tae Oh as Cha Yool Mu. He has had longtime feelings for Dong Joo. He is very protective of her and tries to win her over, but that becomes a lot more difficult once Nok Du enters the picture.

Oh my! I have to say that I sure did love this drama! The Tale of Nokdu is one of those shows with a little a bit of everything: action, romance, intrigue, mystery, humor, angst, and heart. And that combination makes for a pretty terrific drama!

This was a fun opportunity to have a little role reversal with a guy cross dressing as a woman for a change. I thought that Jang Dong Yoon was a great choice for the role. Of course, I wouldn’t say I would ever actually believe he was a woman, but how often is the girl dressing as a guy actually believable either? Jang Dong Yoon did so well though and made a pretty decent woman. And he sure was pretty!


I loved all of the humor surrounding Nok Du pretending to be a woman. There are all kinds of fun shenanigans with him constantly having to avoid being caught while sharing a room, bathing, and during everyday interactions.

I always got a kick out of his terrified expression as well as some of his more “intimate” moments with our other male lead Yool Mu who was none too pleased with their encounters.

We also see a nice relationship develop between Nok Du and Dong Joo. She’s very feisty, and this made the bickering stage particularly fun. Plus, she believes him to be a woman for a while, so that made for an interesting relationship.

Of course, the pair slowly grow closer, and she eventually finds out he’s a man. They both have some big secrets remaining between them though, and their developing feelings for each other complicates their individual lives. They then have to face some serious challenges together.

The Tale of Nokdu is more lighthearted for the first third, but everything is clearly being set up for all of the intensity to come. I thought the story was established well with a mystery introduced early on concerning who Nok Du was and why people were trying to kill him.

This all builds up to some surprising reveals about him and those around him. SPOILERS: And count me as completely surprised that our seemingly sweet second lead Yool Mu turned out to be the big baddie! I wasn’t ready, lol END OF SPOILERS

Things get really intense in the second half of the drama as Nok Du finds answers about his past and has to figures out what to do with the information as well as protect himself and those he loves.

We get some very swoon-worthy as well as heart wrenching moments between Nok Du and Dong Joo during all of this. The build up of their relationship was done so well, and it piqued at just the right time with some extremely emotional confessions.

There was laughter, sorrow, tears, and so much more. I just ate all this up! This is the kind of star-crossed romance I live for. I was definitely feeling this relationship and enjoyed it very much.

The drama also has a plethora of amazing supporting characters that include Nok Du’s family and friends, palace people, and ladies at the widow village. Some provided lots of laughs while others brought some incredible intensity. It was a great cast for sure.


MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW

Another of my favorite relationships was the heartbreaking one between Nok Du and his father the King (Jung Joon Ho). Since the King tried to have him killed as a baby and was responsible for all of Nok Du’s suffering, it was more than understandable that he would have a lot of anger towards the King.

The King was an incredibly interesting villain because of how multi-dimensional he was. He was definitely a brutal man who acted rashly and violently out of fear, but he was also a lonely and tormented man who was quite miserable.

He and Nok Du start out unaware of who each other is, and they bond during that time. Nok Du became a calming and trustworthy presence for the King. And then when Nok Du learned the King was his father, he had a lot of conflicting feelings. He longed for his father to regret what he had done to him as a baby, especially as he saw what a pitiful man he was.

But sadly, the King continued to disappoint Nok Du, and Nok Du ultimately had to go against him. Every single conversation between these two was full of so much weight, and the emotions were just palpable. Such a tragic story for these two all the way to the end.

And whew, that ending! I couldn’t have been more satisfied with how things played out. On the surface, it might seem like it would have been better for the King to have been dethroned earlier as well as for Yool Mu to be exposed.

Instead, many years pass before any resolution comes as Yool Mu finally succeeds in overtaking throne. The King finally realizes Yool Mu was bad, and in a heartbreaking twist, we learn that Yool Mu was actually the baby spoken about in prophecy that would take the throne. This meant that all of the King’s fears were completely misdirected, and he cast out Nok Du for no reason. The irony!

And even though Yool Mu ultimately became King, it was clear that he too would suffer the extreme loneliness and paranoia that the previous King suffered. So not really that great of a fate.

And then we have Nok Du, Dong Joo, and all of their loved ones who were able to escape to the island and live out their lives happily together. Nok Du and Dong Joo were at peace with everything and found that revenge was not what was important in life. Instead, they found love and chose to focus on that. What a beautiful ending!

END OF SPOILERS

The Tale of Nokdu was a wonderful historical. It sets up a great story early on that blossoms into an intense drama. The pacing was great throughout with humor to make me laugh, and then it upped the stakes with some serious plot developments surrounding Nok Du as well as his relationship with Dong Joo.

I enjoyed the story, the romance, the action, and the intrigue. All of these elements blended together nicely to make for an entertaining watch all the way through. My heart was left feeling so full!

My Rating: 9/10

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19 responses to “The Tale of Nokdu Korean Drama Review”

  1. zthorn Avatar

    This is my favorite drama of 2019. It was delightful. For those who haven’t watched it, give it a try.

    1. Kay Avatar

      This was definitely one of the best dramas of 2019 πŸ™‚ It was just wonderful in every way. I agree, people who haven’t should really check it out.

  2. Kate Avatar
    Kate

    Oooooh a 9!! Well deserved. I’m sooo glad you liked it πŸ™‚ It is definitely one of my faves of all period pieces I’ve seen. Nice way to round out the year.

    1. Kay Avatar

      Oh yes! I was so happy to be able to give out a 9 after such a long time πŸ™‚ It’s one of my favorite dramas of 2019. It was just so good in every way, and I enjoyed it so much. I’m glad that you loved it so much too πŸ™‚ It really was a great way to finish off the year.

  3. […] The Tale of Nokdu was a wonderful historical. It set up a great story early on that blossomed into an intense drama. The pacing was great throughout with humor to make me laugh, and then it upped the stakes with some serious plot developments. All of the elements blended together nicely to make for an entertaining watch all the way through. My heart was left feeling very full! My Rating: 9/10 (The Tale of Nokdu Review) […]

  4. Snow Flower Avatar
    Snow Flower

    One of my 2019 favorites as well. I liked how the fluffy and the serious part were integrated. Definitely the best romance of 2019!

    1. Kay Avatar

      Glad it was a favorite of yours too πŸ™‚ I also liked how well they mixed the light and serious parts of the story. It was both fun and intense, heartwarming and emotional. Such a wonderful drama! πŸ™‚

  5. Snow Flower Avatar
    Snow Flower

    I liked every minute of this drama. Nokdu and Dongju were such a great couple! I also liked the actor who played the King. The little girl with big appetite was a scene stealer too.

    1. Kay Avatar

      I loved every minute too! I was never bored, and I laughed, cried, and experienced a full range of emotions. Absolutely loved Nok Du and Dong Joo as couple too. And yes, the King was fantastic. I was so impressed with him and what he did with that character. The little girl was perfect too. She really cracked me up. Such an amazing drama all around πŸ™‚

      1. Snow Flower Avatar
        Snow Flower

        My observation is that good sageuks need to have either a Tragic Swordsman, a Mad King, or a Scheming Concubine!

        1. Kay Avatar

          That they do! Even better if all three are in the same sageuk. Then things get really interesting πŸ˜‰

  6. […] The Tale of Nokdu won me over for best historical. It had an intriguing story, excellent production, action, romance, heart, and an amazing cast of talented actors. The pacing was great all the way through, and it left me feeling completely satisfied. […]

  7. […] The Tale of Nokdu was a wonderful historical. It set up a great story early on that blossomed into an intense drama. The pacing was great throughout with humor to make me laugh, and then it upped the stakes with some serious plot developments. All of the elements blended together nicely to make for an entertaining watch all the way through. My heart was left feeling very full! (The Tale of Nokdu Review) […]

  8. Levi Avatar
    Levi

    Tale of Nokdu was one of the Best Korean drama I ever watched. Every episodes was done perfectly. Been sleeping late at night in watching this beautiful, interesting drama. Everyone has portrayed their roles perfectly. 😍😍

    1. Kay Avatar

      I’m happy to hear that you loved this drama! I loved it too πŸ™‚ Yes, every episode was great with a wonderful cast and story. Engaging all the way through πŸ™‚

  9. Fred Avatar
    Fred

    Yay! First kdrama I finished in months! I kept skipping this before because the female lead wasn’t my type. Stupid reason. LOL. Finally watched it because you gave it a 9 and I needed to watch something. I was so bored.

    Like you, I also loved the ending. I thought he will become king or something. But I loved that he chose the simple life. Power is overrated. It really is lonely at the top. How I wish I chose a much simpler life. LOL. It was a 9 but the ending was a 10. This is how they should end kdramas! Love it!

    1. Kay Avatar

      Yay! Fred’s back! πŸ™‚ I’m thrilled to hear you finally finished a kdrama after such a long time, and it was this one, which was amazing! And I agree, this one really had a fantastic ending. A perfect way to end such a wonderful drama πŸ™‚ I’m so glad you loved it too!

  10. Tae mo Avatar

    The story line was horrible. Why did you have to kill the super handsome guard😭

    1. Kay Avatar

      Aww, sorry you didn’t enjoy this one. Hopefully, your next drama goes better for you πŸ™‚

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