A Crane Among Wolves author, June Hur, discusses how K-dramas changed her life

"Back then, my exposure to Korean history and heritage was limited to the dusty K-drama VHS tapes my parents borrowed from a local Korean Supermarket."

This post was written by June our, author of A Crane Among Wolves.

Growing up in Canada, I was captivated by BBC period dramas and the works of Jane Austen. I daydreamed about the sweeping moors and grand estates, and I’d wistfully sigh over top hats and empire-waisted dresses for hours at museums. Sadly, whenever I looked at the traditional outfit of Korea, I remember feeling embarrassed by how “strange” they looked. This was during the 90s, a time when Korean culture, or “K-culture”, had yet to gain widespread recognition. Back then, my exposure to Korean history and heritage was limited to the dusty K-drama VHS tapes my parents borrowed from a local Korean Supermarket.

So for many years, I didn’t feel that Korean culture was relevant to me, and I especially had no interest in Korean history. I remember a conversation with a friend about the Regency romances I was writing, and at that time, she asked if I would ever write a love story set in Korea’s past. In response, I—almost too vehemently—dismissed the idea. I was convinced that Asian history was too “exotic” and unrelatable for my taste, and also, that it would hold little appeal to readers in the west.

Then I got hooked on K-dramas.

I got a bit adventurous and even gave historical K-dramas a try.

That was when something shifted in me. I began to notice the beauty in hanbok dresses and robes, and grew a love for Korea’s landscape and traditional architecture. There was something about the customs, beliefs and values that I encountered in these dramas that felt almost like “home” yet I never really thought of why I felt this way. I’d lose sleep binge-watching these sweeping epics, sometimes even 60 episodes long. I watched all the iconic historicals, like “Jewel in the Palace,” “Dong Yi,” “Yi San,” “Queen Seon Deok,” “Jumong,” etc.

But for some strange reason, all these shows were just pure fantasies to me; I never connected them to my own Korean heritage. I know, it’s really strange. But there was just such a severe disconnect in my brain, a thought rooted in me since I was young that kept saying, “Korean history is not relevant to me.”


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I continued to watch historical K-dramas into my adult years, and around 2015, I was going through a major historical K-drama withdrawal. No matter how many hours I spent searching for the next historical K-drama to binge-watch, I couldn’t find any that hooked me, and I clearly remember thinking: maybe I can find books that read like historical K-dramas to fill this void in my soul? But when I searched online, I found barely any, and among the few I stumbled across was Ellen Oh’s PROPHECY series, which I devoured. I kept searching and kept questioning why there weren’t more books that read like historical K-dramas when K-dramas seemed to be on the rise, globally.

This curiosity is what led me to begin my research into Korean history.

Through my research, I was shocked to discover that all the historical K-dramas I had adored were based on actual Korean history, and that, despite my initial reservations, my heart had been silently drawn to it all along.

This newfound appreciation led me to study Korean history in earnest, and I ended up being deeply surprised, shaken to the core, to find that so much of who I am is rooted in Korea’s past. By studying the past, I learned more about myself and realized that I’m not as disconnected from Korea as I imagined myself to be.

The more I learned, the more madly I fell in love with Korea’s past. So in love that I’d read academic papers on Korean history with my hands shaking, my heart palpitating. That’s when I began writing my first Korean historical novel as a love letter to my homeland. Writing also became my way of sharing what I loved with others.

Through my books, I always aspire to transport readers back in time to a country I have come to cherish deeply, inviting them to experience the same sense of awe and wonder (and often even horror) that I have felt. Ultimately, my hope is to inspire others to embrace the richness of non-Western history and pass on the love of heritage to whomever decides to give my books a chance.

And all this wouldn’t have happened if not for K-dramas.

Get your copy of A Crane Among Wolves by June Hur here.

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