Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dong Yi

Dong Yi or Jewel in the Crown came to a close recently with the airing of its 60th episode thus ending another great historical drama. So today I thought I’d like to tell you about this drama.

During the period this drama was televised on air ‘Dong Yi’ was among the weekly list of the top10 dramas. Coincidently, the renowned director, Lee Byung Hoon, of this drama was also the director of another mega historical drama ‘Dae Jang Geum’ ‘or Jewel in The Palace’. The two ‘Jewels’ are a must see for Korean historical drama lovers.

Filled with pageantry, romance, adventure and action this drama is sure to please its audience. Like most historical dramas Dong Yi has its fair share of conspiracy, jealousy, rivalry, love, hate, betrayal, loyalty and the fight for power. Anyway it gave me many hours of enjoyment watching this drama but sometimes the wait for the following episodes to be uploaded each week was a real torture indeed. You see we had to depend on the translators for the English subtitles.

Dong Yi Poster

‘Dong Yi’ is a moving historical drama based on a true story, set in the Chosun Dynasty of old Korea, during the reign of King Sukjong.

During the Joseon Dynasty, Dong Yi has a peaceful and happy childhood until her father and brother are framed for killing nobles and executed. Determined to clear her family's name, she enters the palace as a servant to find a court lady who could be the key to finding out the truth.
With her resilience, persistence and strong sense of justice, she soon gains the favor of King Suk-jong and finds an ally in Queen In-hyeon as she battles the wiles of the devious Jang Hee-bin who will stop at nothing to be queen.

Dong Yi  06

The story focuses on the tumultuous life of Dong Yi,who gains the trust of Queen Inhyeon and later the favor of the king who takes her as a royal concubine with the rank of sook-bin and where she shone ever so brilliantly. It also depicts how Dong Yi cleverly maneuvers through the deadly political infighting in the royal courts in order to survive and protect her son, Yeongjo, fathered by the king and who was to become the 21st king of Joseon, . She raises her son into a well-balanced and educated person through her strict discipline. She becomes embroiled in a fierce battle against Queen Jang Hee-bin over whose son will ascend the throne.

DY 01

Jang Hee Bin is another royal concubine, much loved by King Sukjong but the Queen Mother detested her and had her exiled from the palace. She comes out of exile later on and returns to the palace, whereupon she bears a son to the king. She had this great ambition to become queen herself and plotted to depose of Queen Inhyeon with the help of her family members, namely her brother and mother and some of the high ranking court officials who supported her. Queen Inhyeon was framed by her for a crime she didn’t commit and the king removed her status and exiled her, after which she was crowned queen. But her greed, jealousy and hate was to bring her own downfall in the end. The conspiracies seem to be endless in this drama. She has a bitter rivalry against Dong Yi throughout the episodes and always opposes Dong Yi on every matter they confront.

DY 03

Dong Yi is also the story of King Sukjong who succeeds in reasserting the royal powers of the throne, which had been weakened by court politics. Ascending the throne at the tender age of 14, he grows into a charismatic and excellent leader. He has a strong will to get things done and strikes fear among his subjects. He is impressed with Dong Yi’s charming personality and intellect and later falls deeply in love with her.

Not to be outdone are the two princes born of different mothers but who were so friendly towards each other. I even shed a few tears, they were so touching in their roles.

DY 04

Then there is the sacrifice someone had to make in favor of the king. During the day, Cha Cheon-soo works at the royal police station, inspecting bodies suspected of dying from foul play, while at night, he assumes the identity of the leader of the underground Geomgye secret society that fights corruption and misdeeds. He dedicates himself to protecting Dong Yi, whom he loves dearly.

So now that Dong Yi has ended I will have to look for another historical drama to watch. I can’t make up my mind, there are so many on my waiting list. By the way are you all watching Sungkyunkwan Scandal? I love it! I’ll be so sad when it ends soon as there are only a few episodes left. So see you again next week.

Special thanks and appreciation to the following:
Photos and articles © courtesy




Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Kingdom of the Winds

It’s a good thing that I saw ‘Jumong’ first because ‘The Kingdom of the Winds’ is the sequel to it. In this drama, King Jumong has already passed away whilst King Daeso is still alive. The drama is about the life of King Jumong's son, King Yuri and 3rd grandson, Muhyul, who later became King Daemusin of the Goguryeo Kingdom.

Poster Kingdom of the Winds

Coincidently, Song Il Gook, who played King Jumong in the drama of the same name, also plays Jumong's grandson Muhyul in this drama, ‘The Kingdom of the Winds.’ Of course I enjoyed both the dramas tremendously because Song Il Gook is one of my favorite actors.

King Yuri, Yeojin and Lady Miyu

The Kingdom Of The Winds drama is actually adapted from a manhwa (South Korean comics) by Kim Jin. The drama depicts Muhyul as a person who was born with a supposed curse that he would kill his parents, siblings, son and even destroy his own country. His father, King Yuri, feared that this prophecy would come true, but couldn't bring himself to kill his own son, so he asked his elder son Haemyeong to take the baby to Jolbon, to be raised as a commoner. The baby was named Muhyul for he no longer had a beating heart nor warm blood in his veins.

Hye Ap and the Crown Prince Hae-myeong 

So Haemyung took Muhyul to his Chief Decorator friend, Hye-Ap who worked in King Jumong's grave. Twenty years have passed and Muhyul had become a grown up man who didn't know anything about his true identity.

Gweyu, Hae-myeong, Muhyul and Maro

The drama focuses on Muhyul and his nefarious fate. In an attempt to kill King Daeso of Buyeo, Haemyung, Muhyul and their followers failed, leading to Haemyung giving up his own life to appease the wrath of King Daeso. Upon hearing this, the traumatized Muhyul (who thought that Yuri was behind Haemyung's death) was determined to seek revenge. So he joined forces with The Black Shadows secret army of Buyeo, where he met Dojin, an assassin in that army who was once a prince of Buyeo. He also met Yeon, a Buyeo Princess who was a physician. Dojin, who had been raised with Yeon since they were children, noticed the growing feelings between Muhyul and Yeon, so he held a grudge against Muhyul.

Poster Kingdom of the Winds 01

Throughout the course of 36 episodes, Muhyul goes through many trials and tribulations to defy his nefarious fate, and eventually emerges as a powerful king.

The Kingdom of the Winds features wonderful cinematography and beautiful music score as well as lots of grand battle scenes, conspiracies, political intrigue, and assassination plots.

Song Il Gook plays  Muhyul

I was quite impressed that the thirty-something actor, could play a teenaged Muhyul so convincingly. Song Il Gook managed to capture the mannerisms of a young brat even down to the way he stood and walked! By the way did you know that the portrait of Princess Yeon in Episode 4 was actually drawn by Song Il Gook himself?

Every episode was so exciting that I didn’t want it to end. I want to know what happened to his son, Hodong, that he had with Princess Yeon, whether he became king or not and also if Muhyul had any children with his queen.

The Kingdom of the Winds won multiple KBS drama awards in 2008:-

§ 2008 KBS Drama Awards: Best Couple Award Song Il Gook (Prince Moo Hyul) and Choi Jung Won (Princess Yeon)

§ 2008 KBS Drama Awards: Top Excellence – Actor Song Il Gook   

§ 2008 KBS Drama Awards: Mini Drama Excellence Award - Actor Jung Jin Young (King Yuri)

§ 2008 KBS Drama Awards: Mini Drama Excellence Award – Actress Choi Jung Won (Princess Yeon)

I would like to recommend this drama to all lovers of historical dramas. It’s an award winning drama, so it should be good. See you again with another drama to share with you.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Love is.....

After finishing two dramas which I enjoyed very much, Jumong and Phoenix, I would like to recommend them to those of you if you still haven’t seen them, especially if you are fans of Song Il Gook and Lee Seo Jin. One is a historical drama while the other is a modern day drama, but they both focus on the LOVE theme. Love does not necessarily mean only romance though, as you will see when you watch these two dramas.
Don’t let the 81 episodes of Jumong put you off as this drama is action packed and quite addictive once you’ve started on it. Playing the leading role of Jumong is the very popular actor Song Il Gook who has starred in dramas such as A Man Called God, The Kingdom of the Winds, Lobbyist, Emperor of the Sea, Terms of Endearment, Bodyguard and Did We Really Love. This drama portrays great emotions, you can feel the anguish, the rage, the sadness, the love, the rivalry, the jealousy, the hatred, the frustration, the agony and the pain. What I loved to see were the elaborate costumes and the accessories. Even the armored vests were so well designed. I just loved the wedding scene of Jumong and Lady So-seon (Han Hye Jin) looking so splendid in red with their golden crowns (which we can still see in the museums of Korea today.) Han Hye-jin has starred in dramas such as Terroir, Jejungwon, Be Strong, Geum-Soon, Romance  and 1% of Anything.
This is the story of Jumong who lived longing for the chance to meet his father, who was in fact his teacher, during a short period of time in his life, only that he didn’t know it then. He loved a woman but ended up marrying a different one and eventually broke up with her, but all these trials and sadness did not get in the way of his destiny. His legacy to the Korean people was the great historical triumph of winning back the skies of the Old Joseon and establishing the Goguryeo Dynasty.
It’s also the story of So Seo-no, a wise and strong queen, who had the intelligence and foresight to look out for the future generations but because she was a woman she could not live her dreams. She was not afraid of death but because she was from a weak nation, she had to bear a pain more painful than death. Although she couldn’t become the love of a lifetime to a certain man, she stands up to be a most powerful and wise leader. The first queen history remembers, in a time when love was lavished, yet not considered everything.
Then there’s Dae So, jealously itself, who as a child lost all his father’s love to Jumong. As an adult he bore a scar from not being able to be with the woman he loved. He brought Jumong’s father to his death and did everything he could to take Soo Seo-no away from Jumong. On the other hand there’s Geum Wa, an affectionate king of Bu-yeo who fought in a war against the Han Nation alongside Hae Mo-soo.  The two shared a friendship even thicker than blood but eventually surrendered to the Han nation after which he betrayed Hae Mo-soo. He later took in Hae Mo-soo’s wife, Lady Yu-hwa , a woman who lived every day longing for Hae Mo-soo, as his own wife, when Hae Mo-soo was presumed dead. He took care of Jumong, as his own with both love and hatred and a very heavy sense of guilt. Actually the King was also in love with Lady Yu-hwa long ago but he gave in when he knew that Hae Mo-soo was also in love with her. So Jumong grew up as the third prince inside the palace, hated by the queen, Queen Won-hu and his two older brothers, but loved by the king. One day, during a quest to find the legendary artifacts of the kingdom, Jumong’s brothers plotted against him and he nearly died, only to be saved by So Seo-no, a merchant's daughter whom he eventually fell in love with.  At the same time, Prince Dae-so, the elder son of the king also fell for her when he saw her. Love was in the air and that was when the rivalry and hatred first stemmed between Prince Dae-so and Jumong. It was obvious that So Seo-no loved Jumong which made Prince Dae-so even more jealous of Jumong. So the story develops from there. There was also the younger prince, Prince Yeong-po, a weakling and not that intelligent, who also harbored the idea of becoming the crown prince too. It was a well-known fact that Jumong was not good in martial arts and sword fighting, so his mother sent him for secret training under Musong (Head Guard of a Secret Prison) built in a cave outside the city. And that was where Jumong met his real father, the legendary Hae Mo-su, only that, he was unaware of the fact then.   
So Seo-no knew that she could not refuse Prince Dae-so’s request that she become his concubine, so she married one of her father’s trusted employees who was actually in love with her. He knew about her love for Jumong and yet he was willing to wait until she could forget about Jumong. They eventually had two sons but he died in a war with another tribe. So Seo-no was very intelligent, wise and courageous and was not afraid to speak her mind which made her a lot of enemies.
Jumong was very heartbroken when he learnt of So Seo-no’s marriage but he didn’t know of the great sacrifice she had made, as she was still very much in love with Jumong, just to avoid becoming the concubine of Prince Dae-so, whom she disliked. So he got married to Ye-so-ya, someone whom he saved and brought back with him. As Jumong was living outside the palace most of the time fighting one war or other in trying to fulfill his father’s dream of uniting the whole of Korea as one strong unified nation, he never even saw his son Yuri being born. It was Jumong’s destiny to marry his first love, So Seo-no, although it was more of a marriage of convenience so to speak. The alliance of So Seo-no’s and Jumong’s armies brought them victory but in order to stop the division of allegiance as both parties wanted their respective leaders to be king, So Seo-no agreed to marry Jumong though she knew that Jumong was pining and looking for his wife and child who had escaped from the palace without any trace. As fate would have it, his wife, Ye-so-ya and son, Yuri, did manage to find him during his wedding to So Seo-no but they left without meeting Jumong because Ye-so-ya felt that it was more important that Jumong fulfill and realize his and his father’s dreams to build a new country.
One thing that I loved the most about this drama is the theme of sacrifice and true love. The women in this drama truly give their all to their loved ones without expecting anything in return. The love that is portrayed in this drama is even bigger than the history itself. ‘Love’ seems to be the one common denominator across people of all generations and nations. ‘Love’ gets swept away with the waves of time and also gets hurt with biased views in societies, but it also creates a new kind of history by wrestling against adversity and the trials of time. True love, which is uncommonly seen in history, is re-drawn through this drama of Korea’s once forgotten history. Here we see the sacrifices two women had to make for the sake of one man, Jumong. The first one was when So Seo-no got married to someone else instead of Jumong, the second, when Ye-so-ya left after seeing her husband being married to So Seo-no and the third when So Seo-no left after Ye-so-ya and Yuri were reunited with Jumong again so that they could be in their rightful place beside Jumong. Isn’t this what love is all about, the giving.
And now for the other drama ‘Phoenix’ also on the LOVE theme.  Perhaps my judging of this drama may be a bit biased since my heart-throb, Lee Seo Jin, is acting in it. Who doesn’t like to see dramas with nice looking actors and actresses?
Love is timing. Love needs just the "right time". It's not because you loved him or her less that you parted. Heaven brings you your soul mate when the time is just "right". "Phoenix" shows you this heaven's work.
There is a young couple who desperately fell in love but who couldn't be together because the time wasn't just right for them. Years pass by and these two meet again. And the trick of fortune switches their situation and environment. A daughter of a millionaire has now become a dometic helper suffering from the grim realities of life. On the other hand, an orphan self-supporting student is now an accomplished wealthy businessman. Now these two people are looking at the world with different eyes. The childlike girl has finally learned the harshness of the world and the guy with once twisted mind has learned to enjoy the latitude of the mind. In the end, these two start to understand each other, thus arriving at the "right time".

There are four main actors/actresses in this drama, namely, Jang, Sae-Hoon, Lee Ji-Eun, Yoon, Mi-Ran, and Suh, Jung-Min.
Our hero, Jang, Sae-Hoon (Acted by Lee Seo-Jin) was raised by his father and grew up with great ambitions for success and fame. Then he lost his father in a car accident and started working part-time job at a gas station to make his living. His life was a hard one indeed but he's a natural born genius who has never missed a scholarship in school. One day out of the blue, a girl, Ji-Eun came storming into his life, a girl of a completely different background and character from himself. Knowing just too well of the harsh reality and of what awaits them ahead, he pushes her away. Ji-Eun however, is keen to get his heart and in the end, they get married. But as he expected, their marriage life was not a rosy one and Ji-Eun soon leaves him.
After signing the divorce papers, he got on a plane heading for New York and a "new life". After a series of all kinds of ups and downs, he accomplishes the "American Dream" and becomes a newly polished person, William Jang.
10 years have passed and he returns to Korea. Maybe it's a twist of fate, He finds himself standing in front of her once again, only this time, he has someone, beside him, a girl named Mi-Ran who used to study   together with Ji-Eun in Boston. Ten years ago, he had nothing to offer Ji-Eun but he loved her with all of his heart. Can he really let her go now that she's come back into his life again?
Then there’s our heroine, Lee Ji-Eun who had grown up doing everything she liked,  in other words, she was a spoilt brat  Her father was the successful CEO of a textile group while her mother was a hopeless and immature lady who only knows to live luxuriously.
She comes home from Boston for holidays and as usual, she goes around acting like a spoiled little brat. One day, suddenly Sae-Hoon comes into her life and she desperately falls for him. But naturally, her parents are not too happy  about it. Ji-Eun doesn't give up here and purposely gets pregnant. She leaves her parents and her luxurious life behind and starts her life with Sae-Hoon in a tiny weeny room. But very soon, she wakes up to  reality and starts to get tired of her life of destitution. As misery loves company, she gets a miscarriage and realizes she can't die for love. She gives a point-blank "no" and leaves Sae-Hoon. After divorce, upon hearing that Sae-Hoon is leaving Korea, she drives like crazy to the airport thinking it'd be her last chance to get him back. But again fate is still cruel to her and takes her father away in a car accident. With her father's sudden death and the fall of her family, hopeless Ji-Eun picks up the phone and calls Sae-Hoon who, without knowing her situation, coldly turns her down. She bites hard towards the harsh world and to Sae-Hoon as well.
10 years have also passed for her. Now a 32 year old divorcee, Ji-Eun is a completely different person. With a maniac-depressive mother and trouble maker sister, she has now become the bread winner of her family, totally different from the reckless little brat she was.
And another love comes knocking on her door. Jung Min is no doubt the perfect prince charming every girl would die for. Then, again she finds someone whom she desperately wanted to get off her mind but whom she just couldn't forget. Now her so-called ex-husband Sae-Hoon turns up in front of her. And the twist of their fates makes them meet as client and worker.
Yoon, Mi-Ran (Acted by Jeong Hae-Yeong,) daughter of a rich real estate agent, she grew up in a wealthy, carefree environment. Somehow, she has always felt somewhat inferior to Ji-Eun. Without knowing Sae-Hoon was once married to Ji-Eun, she gets to know Sae-Hoon at one Christmas donation party. She also desperately falls for him and decides to make him hers doing everything possible. She did manage to get Sae-Hoon to be with her but this was due to a car accident. The accident makes her live in a wheel chair. Feeling guilty and responsible for the accident, Sae-Hoon decides to marry her. Things get more complicated when Mi-Ran learns of Sae-Hoon's ex-wife. She then becomes more obsessed with Sae-hoon in order not to lose him to her lifetime rival Ji-Eun. She even hides that she can now walk again...
Then there’s Suh, Jung-Min (Acted by Eric Moon)  the prince charming of Suh-Rin group. The term "Prince Charming" always comes with his name. He seems to have everything: the colorful background as the heir of Suh-Rin, perfectly good-looking face, gentleman-like manners, talents in every sports. Maybe it could even be said that the word "perfect" is made for this kind of person.
When he graduated from a prestigious university in Boston with honors, people were putting highest hopes on him. However even to him was a twisted fate...
He can never forget the day when he lost his twin brother. Only if he had not shouted out to his brother..".Come on, you can do better than that. Beat me!" He has been feeling guilty for the accident ever since as if to revenge himself on his twisted fate, he just goes on enjoying living a life of a debauchee. He's got everything but himself. Then fate brings him Ji-Eun...
So in this drama we have 2 men fighting for the same lady and 1 very obsessive and jealous lady fighting for one of the men. Which one will the lady choose, the man from her past or the present?  I won’t tell you, so you’d better watch this drama if you want to know the ending. One thing I want to say is that I certainly learnt a lot about love from this drama.
Will tell you about The Kingdom of the Wind in my next posting..