Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ballad of Suh Dong


ballad-of-suh-dong poster 

This week I only finished one drama, the 55-episode, ‘Ballad of Suh Dong aka Seodong’s Song.’ Apart from that I was also watching six other on-going online dramas namely, Flame of Desire, Queen of Reversal, Dae Mul, Home Sweet Home, Secret Garden and King Geunchogo. Like I’ve said before, these ongoing dramas are very slow as they are only being uploaded 2 episodes each week. But then I have to follow them as they are the latest dramas or else I’ll be left behind in my quest for k-drama. So this week I shall be only telling you about one drama only.

"Sodongyo" is said to be one of Korea's oldest folk songs. According to the Samgukyusa (The Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms) from the Silla Kingdom, the song was written by Sodong, a commoner from the Baekje Kingdom. Hearing that Princess Sunhwa, a daughter of King Chinpyong of the Silla Kingdom was beautiful, he wrote a song saying that the princess visited his room every night and spread the song around. When her father heard the song, he sentenced the princess to be exiled. Sodong then rescued her and took her to Baekje, where they become the royal couple of the country.

Producer Lee Byung-Hun and writer Kim Young Hyun of "Jewel in the Palace (Dae Jang Geum)" fame have again teamed up for yet another great historical drama. The Ballad of Suh Dong is a sad but heart- warming love story between a princess and a commoner, a love that transcends social position.

jang (seo dong) and giru

Whilst "Jewel in the Palace" was set in the Choseon Kingdom (1392-1910), " Ballad of Suh Dong " took place during the Baekje Kingdom (18 B.C. - A.D 660).


You will observe that young and inexperienced actors like Lee Bo Young Jo Hyun Jae and Ryu Jin were cast as the main characters in this drama and they really performed well. Also instead of the usual conflict between Baekje and Shilla that we normally see in other historical dramas, we get something extra, in the melodrama of the young Seo Dong and the Shilla spy Satek Giru, not only over the future of Baekje’s throne but also over the love of the Shilla Princess Sunhwa.

Talk about the 21st century as being an era of information technology, wait till you see the fierce technology war that was going on some 1,500 years ago. The main background of this drama is focused on Taehaksa, Baekje's prestigious institute of science technology. As it was in possession of the most up-to-date technology at that time, the institute was always in danger of industrial espionage from other countries like the Koguryo Kingdom and the Silla Kingdom. So in this drama we not only get to see the splendidly rich culture of the Baekje Kingdom but also their ancestors' passion for the information technology. Various agricultural technologies considered the most up-to-date at that time, are shown in the drama, like how they released earthworms to solve the problems of excessive dryness of the land, and how they used ondol (hot floor) for the first time to decrease the humidity in homes. I was really amazed at how advanced they were then in the field of technology.

The drama also reveals the role of monks as industrial spies at that time, an aspect of monks in the past that is rarely focused on. At that time monks were the advance guards of intelligence war. The leaders of the three countries made the best use of the monks' mobility as they were allowed to move freely from country to country on sacred missions.

Princess Sunhwa

This drama unfolds the story surrounding Seo Dong’s painful experiences which stems from his roots. Seo Dong’s father was the King of Baekje but he was forced to escape in order to save his life. With a group of faithful followers Seo Dong ends up living his life in the Shilla province. While he is from a completely different background, his identity is kept from others and himself in order to survive. As Seo Dong grows up he becomes fast friends with the Shilla’s princess and the two eventually fall in love! But is this possible? Especially as Seo Dong learns of his roots and eventually becomes the King of Baekje?

Princess Sunhwa and Seodong

The first 28 episodes detail Seo Dong's childhood, his first meeting with Sunhwa, and his maturation at Taehaksa. The last 27 episodes sums up the ante in terms of intrigue, contains the thrilling conclusion to the series, with Seo Dong and Mokrasu fighting to keep the secret of Baekje's Crown Prince intact, and Satek Giru plotting with Buyeo Seon to disrupt their plans.

Don’t know whether you all have noticed but the more I watch historical dramas, I’m beginning to think that the Korean kings of yesteryears were all romantics at heart. Just look at the dramas like Dong Yi, Yi San, Jumong, Kindom of the Winds and Ballad of Suh Dong, it’s all there! Everybody loves romance stories and that this why these types of dramas draw all the crowds.

So if you still haven’t seen this drama I would like to urge you to watch this beautiful drama set in the historic times of the Baekjae and Shilla Dynasty and the exciting turn of events that follow Seo Dong’s life in his fight for the throne of Baekje. You won’t be disappointed!

Special thanks and appreciation to the following:                                            

Articles and Photos © courtesy



Monday, November 15, 2010

Star in my Heart Sungkyunkwan Scandal

Some friends from out of state came for a visit the last week-end of October and we had a good time painting the town red. Lucky me, this year I had two birthday parties, one on the actual date with family and the other, a belated one from the visitors and friends..
For the past two weeks I could not make use of my Microsoft Word, I woke up last Monday morning to find the software missing. I certainly did not remove it from my computer, I don’t know how it just vanished into thin air. Unfortunately my friend, the computer wizard was away on a holiday so I had to wait till he came back to reinstall it for me.
Well it’s working now and time for me to get started on the much delayed post of mine. Today I’m going to tell you about two good dramas I saw lately, Star in my Heart and Sungkyunkwan Scandal.
01 Star in my Heart
Star in my Heart is an old drama from the nineties whereas the latter is a recent one. Why the oldies you may ask, you see I have finished almost all of the newer dramas so I have no choice but to start on the oldies. I picked it because of the cast namely Ahn clip_image001Jae Wook, Cha In Pyo, the late Choi Jin Shil (if you remember, she committed suicide) clip_image001[1]and Jun clip_image001[3]Do Yun. Ahn clip_image001[4]Jae Wook sang some very lovely songs in this drama.
02 Star in my Heart
This is a classic Korean drama, the evergreen Cinderella story but with an added twist. This Cinderella is not a stepchild, but an adopted one. When the man who adopted her passed away, his wife and two children a son and a daughter, made life difficult for her but our Cinderella here will not take all the bullying hands down and fights back. She even has two Prince Charming on her side, to help transform her life.
Star in my Heart Ahn  Jae Wook
Yun Hee, the adopted daughter becomes friends with Min Hee, from a wealthy family who aspires to be a singer despite his father's objections. They eventually fell in love with each other but the spoilt ‘wicked sister’ also had her eyes on Min Hee and tried her best to separate the two lovers.
Star in my Heart
Through Min Hee, Yun Hee meets his friend, Joon Hee, also wealthy, a top fashion design executive. Joon Hee is attracted to her because she resembles his ex-girlfriend. But being friends with Min-Hee, Joon-Hee will not compete with his friend openly and he leaves it to Yun Hee to make her choice as to who will be her Prince Charming. So the plot weaves around these three lives. If you want to know the ending you’ll have to watch the drama for yourself, to find out, as I’m not telling.
Star in my Heart Ahn  Jae Wook and Choi Jin Shil
"Wish Upon a Star” has it all – great story, wonderful cast, unforgettable music, fashion, love, hate, dreams, laughter, tears and many memorable moments. That’s why I love this drama though it may be an oldie.
I have enclosed a video of the lovely song ‘Forever’ sung by Ahn clip_image001[5]Jae Wook from this drama. Enjoy it!
kkot seonbis (pretty-boy Confucian scholars) The airing of the 20th episode of Sungkyunkwan Scandal recently saw the finale of this charming drama. Being a lover of period dramas, it was only natural that I would follow it. Especially for those of you who have seen ‘Yisan’ you will understand the storyline better. Surprisingly this drama managed to attract even those who were non lovers of period drama. I’m sure that you all must know the reason why? Yes, it’s because of Micky Yoochun  the popular singer, who plays one of the leading roles, Lee Seon-joon. Another reason might have been that this drama was different from other historical dramas in that it was all about the younger generation thus catching the attention of the younger viewers. This drama was adapted from an original novel by Jung Eun-gwol, a bestseller which has sold over 500,000 copies since being published in 2007.
SS 09

Sungkyunkwan Scandal is set in Sungkyunkwan University in the late Joseon era during the reign of King Jeongjo, revolving around the exploits and love stories of four youths. When her younger brother’s illness worsens and their family is in danger of being evicted from their house due to lack of money, Kim Yoon Hee enters the school under his name, disguised as a boy in her desperation to cure his sickness. There, she becomes friends with the intelligent and upright Lee Sun Joon, the playboy Goo Yong Ha and the rebellious Moon Jae Shin.
  Micky Yoochun
Everyone was full of praise for the wonderful acting skills of Micky Yoochun. He may be a big star where singing is concerned but he’s still a rookie when it comes to acting and yet he managed to pull it off. It had been different in the beginning; when he was first selected for the part, there was great concern regarding it and numerous simulations regarding the casting floated on the Internet that he who has almost no acting experience whatsoever was chosen to play a leading role in this drama. Well, judging from the very good reception of this drama, looks like he has proven his critics wrong. Let’s hope we get to see more of him as an actor in more dramas to come.
SS 01 kkot seonbis (pretty-boy Confucian scholars)
I found the Sungkyunkwan‘s story refreshing and entertaining. What could have been just a mediocre drama about the social, cultural and political issues at that time, turned out to be above average and even managed to come in the top 10 dramas during the time it was aired on TV. Not only that, the track (Found You) also managed to top the charts on Soribada, Daum, and Cyworld. We must also not forget about the rest of the supporting cast as they also played a big part towards the success of Sungkyunkwan Scandal. Song Joong-ki, perfectly reenacted his role as the rich playboy Goo Yong-ha, Park Min-yeong, also pulled off her role as a woman in the disguise of a man easily and here we see her as a bright boy rather than a beautiful lady. Then there’s also Yoo Ah In as the rebellious Moon Jae Shin. They were wonderful in their respective roles.
Park Min-young Micky_Yoochun
The romance has been woven into the drama in keeping with the original novel and it sort of makes this drama more inviting and attractive to the non historical/period lovers. Don’t know about you all but I just love this drama! For those of you non historical/period drama lovers, don’t let the setting put you off from watching it. The characters sort of grow on you! If you still haven’t seen it I encourage you to watch it, you won’t regret it!

Special thanks and appreciation to the following:                                             Photos © courtesy