Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung

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Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung
Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung.jpg
Promotional poster
신입사관 구해령
Revised Romanization Sin-ipsagwan Gu Hae-ryeong
Created bySohn Hyung-suk
Written byKim Ho-soo
Directed by
  • Kang Il-soo
  • Han Hyun-hee
Country of originSouth Korea
Original languageKorean
No. of episodes20 [note 1]
  • Kim Sang-heon
  • Cho Hyung-jin
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time35 minutes [note 1]
Production company Chorokbaem Media
Distributor MBC
Original network MBC TV
Audio format Dolby Digital
Original releaseJuly 17 (2019-07-17) 
September 26, 2019 (2019-09-26)

Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung (Korean : 신입사관 구해령) is a 2019 South Korean television series starring Shin Se-kyung, in the title role as a free-spirited female historian, and Cha Eun-woo, as a prince working underground as a romance novelist. It is also a fictionalisation of part of the story of the Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty and their right to be considered a true history.


The series aired on MBC's Wednesdays and Thursdays at 21:00 KST time slot from July 17 to September 26, 2019, with Netflix carrying the series internationally. [2]


The scenario intertwines two storylines. One of them occurs in a "nowadays" placed in the early 19th century [lower-alpha 1] of Joseon. The other occurred twenty years before (white horse year, 1810 [lower-alpha 2] ). The first one is treated lightly, in the Sungkyunkwan Scandal vein, with caricatures [lower-alpha 3] , jokes, gimmicks, students fights, etc. The second one, only depicted by short flash-backs, is about the unjust situation of the rank and file people [lower-alpha 4] , and the brutal suppression of anyone who dares to object.

Nowadays, Nokseodang

Lovers under the moon,
painted by Sin Yun-bok Hyewon-Wolha.jeongin-3.jpg
Lovers under the moon,
painted by Sin Yun-bok

In the Joseon Dynasty, women were objectified and undervalued. But free-spirited lady Goo Hae-ryung is brave enough to follow her own view of life. Still single at 26 years old, she focuses on studying and gaining knowledge, and in defending those who are wronged and abused.

Meanwhile, the young and handsome 20-year-old Prince Dowon has been living his life alone at the Nokseodang 綠嶼堂 (green island pavilion). Isolated inside the Huwon Garden [lower-alpha 5] , he has to stay away from the royal Court and finds comfort by writing hangul romance novels. Published under the pen name Maehwa 梅花 (plum blossom), these novels become famous all over Hanyang, especially to women readers.

The two main characters meet, and this first meeting sparks a war of preferences. But politics disturb the romance. Suddenly, Korean books and European translations are banned, confiscated and burned. All the beard bearing red robes at court are infuriated that "so many noble ladies ran away to find the love of their life after reading Maehwa's books" [lower-alpha 6] . But this is only a "just cause". The real target is "The Story of Hodam", a book about events that occurred twenty years earlier.

In their frenzy to search and destroy every single copy of this book, the king and councilor Min Ik-pyeong go so far as ask for the recruitment of female historians, with the intent of planting spies in each chamber of the Royal Palace. As a result, four female apprentices (Goo Hae-ryung among them) are selected and added to the existing eight recorders. They became part of the everyday collection of pieces 사책 that will be compiled into the Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty. Many gender stereotypes surface, only to be derided... and overcome. The twelve historians become embroiled in disputes with the Court, asserting their right under law to record all conversations between the royal family and courtiers, and even go on strike against the king. [lower-alpha 7]

A smallpox epidemic will be the event that reconnects the two storylines. On the one hand, members of the court speculate on traditional remedies, and even attempt to kill the Prince by sending him to the infested provinces. On the other hand, Dowon organizes the state answer, seizing and distributing food while applying the 牛痘種書, 瑛眼 (vaccination treaty, by Yeongan) that was provided by the mysterious Moh-wa. Hae-ryung remembers being vaccinated by her father in the past and convinces the Prince to prove the method by being the first patient to be inoculated.

Twenty years ago, Seoraewon

The corner stone, saying:
Ho Dam and Yeongan. This place will open the road Seoraewon Corner Stone.png
The corner stone, saying:
Ho Dam and Yeongan. This place will open the road

A set of flash-backs disseminated all across the episodes describes the events of "twenty years ago". The former King, Yi Gyeom, Prince Huiyeong, styled Hodam, founded Seoraewon, together with Seo Mun-jik, styled Yeongan. The later was the dean, while Hodam was one of the teachers. The leading team was completed by Barthelemy Dominique, a medicine teacher, who was sent by the Paris Foreign Missions Society. As a result, Seoraewon was a school of Western studies aimed at educating people regardless of social class or gender. The Seoraewon name 曙來院 itself has the meaning of "Where Dawn Arrives".

This is where Moh-wa learned vaccination and surgery.

A conservative reaction ensued, led by Min Ik-pyeong. A forged letter of the King, allegedly saying "send more priests, and turn Joseon into a Catholic country" [lower-alpha 9] served as "just cause" for a massacre. Among the rare escapees were Dowon, the newborn son of Hodam and the 6 year-old Hae-ryung, the daughter of Yeongan.

The series ends three years after "nowadays". Min Ik-pyeong and his proxy king are gone and Seoraewon is reinstated. Prince Yi Jin is in charge of the throne. Dowon can live in leisure outside of the Palace, wandering across the world, while Hae-ryung becomes a full-ranked member of the Yemungwan. Prince Yi Rim (Dowon) and Hae-ryung are still in a relationship but not married. They find time to travel together.


(Goo Hae-ryung). "Even if you slash my throat, our brushes will not stop writing. If I die, another historian will take my place; if you kill that historian, another will take their place. Even if you kill every historian in this land, and take away all the paper and brushes, you won't be able to stop us. From mouth to mouth, teacher to student, elder to child, history will be told. That is the power of truth." [lower-alpha 10]



In the Netflix release, the following three characters are put forward in the opening sequence of each episode:

A noble lady who becomes one of the four female historians of the royal court. She is the daughter of Seo Moon-jik, the deceased dean of Seoraewon, and has been living with her guardian Jae-kyeong whom she regards as her older brother. She is among those Joseon women wanting to enforce their independence, moral and material as well, and to voice their ideas and opinions. As an historian, she is recognized as someone brave who does not fear anyone, even the King himself. She often cracks jokes even in the most dire circumstances, for example when she is locked in jail.
The first son of the dethroned King Huiyeong Yi Gyeom and the real heir to the throne. Not knowing his true lineage, he secretly works as a romance novelist under his nom de plume "Maehwa,". He does not involve himself in political matters, and regards his uncle King Yi Tae as his father and his cousin Crown Prince Yi Jin as his older brother. Spelled 島遠 [lower-alpha 11] , Dowon means "Remote Island". Until he meets Hae-ryung, Yi Rim leads a pathologically lonely existence. She is his first and only friend.
According to the credits, more than two hundred actors were involved. At the end of each episode, a recurring set of 34 actors is listed first, followed by a list specific to the episode. Moreover, the Korean subtitles embedded in the Netflix release attribute each sentence to the corresponding character.

People around Hae-ryung

Hae-ryung's guardian; former student of medicine and Mo-hwa's classmate in the Seoraewon. He forged the letter used as a "just cause" for the Seorawon's massacre. Later, his remorse made him write the banned book The Story of Hodam.
Hae-ryung's caretaker and confidant. She is a servant girl who lives vicariously through Hae-ryung's romantic adventures.

Royal household and court

He reluctantly let Yi Rim live but is threatened by Yi Rim's superior claim to the throne. From the beginning the King tries to neutralize Yi Rim as a rival, through sheer neglect.

People from the Office of Royal Decrees (Yemun-gwan)

The elders

  • Lee Ji-hoon as Min Woo-won [6]
  • Heo Jeong-do as Yang Si-haeng
  • Kang Hoon as Hyeon Kyeong-mook
  • Nam Tae-woo as Son Gil-seung
  • Yoon Jung-sub as Hwang Jang-goon
  • Ji Gun-woo as Seong Seo-kwon
  • Oh Hee-joon as Ahn Hong-ik
  • Lee Jung-ha as Kimchi Guuk

The other three female apprentices

  • Park Ji-hyun as Song Sa-hee [7]
  • Lee Ye-rim as Oh Eun-im
  • Jang Yoo-bin as Heo Ah-ran


Special appearances

The dethroned King and Prince Yi Rim's biological father
Hae-ryung's biological father who was executed for treason charges 20 years ago. He was the dean of Seoraewon


The drama's entire 13 billion won budget was financed by Netflix. [8] Yeolhwajeong Pavilion—located in Ganggol Village, Deungnyang-myeon, Boseong County—is one of the filming locations of the series. [9] [10]

Original soundtrack

Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung OST Special Album
Soundtrack album by
Various artists
RecordedJune 2019
Genre Soundtrack
Label Pan Entertainment

Part 1

Released on July 17, 2019 (2019-07-17)
1."Fall in Luv"
  • Lee Na-young
Henry 03:38
2."Fall in Luv" (Inst.) 
  • KZ
  • Taebongie
  • Nam Woo-hyun
Total length:07:16

Part 2

Released on August 7, 2019 (2019-08-07)
1."My Dream"
  • Lee Na-young
  • Kanasus brew
  • Na Eun
Yoon Mi-rae 03:54
2."My Dream" (Inst.) 
  • Kanasus brew
  • Na Eun
Total length:07:48

Part 3

Released on August 21, 2019 (2019-08-21)
1."Come" (어서와)
  • GamDongis
  • Kim Young-sung
  • Seo Jae-ha
  • Kim Young-sung
  • Do Hoon
Lee Seok-hoon (SG Wannabe)04:02
2."Come" (Inst.) 
  • Seo Jae-ha
  • Kim Young-sung
  • Do Hoon
Total length:08:04

Part 4

Released on September 4, 2019 (2019-09-04)
1."You Are My Love" (처음부터 내 사랑)
  • Lee Na-young
  • Chae-ul
  • Lee Na-young
  • Cha Gil-wan
2."You Are My Love" (Inst.) 
  • Lee Na-young
  • Cha Gil-wan
Total length:07:56

Part 5

Released on September 11, 2019 (2019-09-11)
1."Forever" (영원토록)
  • Park Soo-jin
  • Kwon Bin-gi
Park Soo-jin03:01
2."Forever" (Inst.) 
  • Kwon Bin-gi
Total length:06:02

Part 6

Released on September 18, 2019 (2019-09-18)
1."Please Remember" (기억해줘요)
  • Ha Na
  • Seo Jae-ha
  • Kim Young-sung
Cha Eun-woo (Astro)03:33
2."Please Remember" (Inst.) 
  • Seo Jae-ha
  • Kim Young-sung
Total length:07:06
Disc 2:
1."Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung" (Opening Title)Kim Ji-eun1:20
2."Blossom"Lee Sa-ya2:19
4."On a Dazzling Day"Lee Sa-ya2:31
5."Be a Flower"Park Jong-mi4:02
6."Hanbang Romance"Na Won-hye2:01
7."My Dear"Park Jong-mi2:48
9."History on Records"Lee Sa-ya1:43
10."A Moonlit"Im Na-rae2:50
12."Behind Story"Yoon Yoo-jin2:31
13."Las Estrellas"Supersound3:36
14."Four Notes"Im Na-rae2:18
15."Dawn of War"Supersound2:45
17."Solitude"Im Na-rae2:22
18."Swaying Lanterns"Kim Ji-eun3:35
19."Longing"Kim Ji-eun3:39
20."The Secret place in your heart"Dacapo3:50
Total length:43:36


Rookie Historian Goo Hae-ryung: South Korea viewers per episode (thousands)
EpisodesEpisode number
Source: Audience measurement performed nationwide by Nielsen Media Research. [11]
Ep.Original broadcast dateAverage audience share
AGB Nielsen [12]
Nationwide Seoul
1July 17, 20194.0% (NR)
26.0% (14th)6.7% (9th)
3July 18, 20193.7%(NR)
45.0% (18th)5.1% (19th)
5July 24, 20194.5% (NR)
66.4% (14th)6.4% (12th)
7July 25, 20195.6% (17th)5.8% (13th)
86.8% (11th)7.3% (10th)
9July 31, 20194.4% (NR)
11August 1, 20194.7% (18th)5.1% (17th)
126.9% (8th)7.2% (6th)
13August 7, 20195.1% (19th)5.2% (19th)
146.8% (13th)7.0% (10th)
15August 8, 20194.7% (19th)4.9% (17th)
166.4% (12th)6.5% (9th)
17August 14, 20194.1% (NR)
186.2% (12th)6.8% (9th)
19August 15, 20194.2% (NR)
206.5% (11th)6.4% (10th)
21August 21, 20194.3% (NR)
226.2% (12th)6.3% (11th)
23August 22, 20194.9% (20th)5.2% (17th)
247.1% (9th)7.6%(8th)
25August 28, 20193.8% (NR)
265.9% (14th)6.1% (9th)
27August 29, 20194.4% (NR)4.8%(19th)
286.9% (8th)7.4% (7th)
29September 4, 20193.7%(NR)
305.5% (16th)5.5% (17th)
31September 5, 20194.0% (NR)
325.4% (16th)5.6% (15th)
33September 18, 20194.0% (NR)
346.0% (14th)6.0% (13th)
35September 19, 20193.8% (NR)
365.0% (17th)5.2% (14th)
37September 25, 20194.0% (NR)
386.2% (13th)6.2% (11th)
39September 26, 20194.5% (NR)4.7% (19th)
406.6% (10th)6.6% (10th)
Average5.3% [note 2]

Awards and nominations

2019 MBC Drama Awards Grand Prize (Daesang) Shin Se-kyung Nominated [13] [14]
Drama of the YearRookie Historian Goo Hae-ryungNominated
Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Wednesday-Thursday Drama Shin Se-kyung Won
Excellence Award, Actor in a Wednesday-Thursday Drama Cha Eun-woo Won
Park Ki-woong Nominated
Excellence Award, Actress in a Wednesday-Thursday Drama Park Ji-hyun Nominated
Best Supporting Cast in a Wednesday-Thursday Drama Lee Ji-hoon Won
Best Couple Award Cha Eun-woo and Shin Se-kyung Won


  1. 1 2 In order to circumvent Korean laws that prevent commercial breaks in the middle of an episode, what would previously have been aired as single 70 minute episodes are now being repackaged as two 35 minute episodes, with two episodes being shown each night with a commercial break between the two. [1]
  2. Due to some ratings not recorded, the exact average rating is unknown.
  1. E01-00:45
  2. E17-09:55
  3. bridal lessons E01-14:48
  4. E04-44:58
  5. E07-04:48
  6. E02-08:30
  7. E11-15:44
  8. E19-41:05
  9. E20-02:38
  10. E20-17:55
  11. E17-23:39

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