Friday, 28 June 2013

K-drama review on Dae Jang Geum (대장금)

 Note: I do not own any of the pictures posted on this post.


I promised at least 4 K-drama review before June end and I shall do it, even if it has me reaching out to bag of chips and brewing coffee in the ungodly hours of late night. My previous review, actually, all of my perious reviews of any K-drama has been from the romantic-comedy genre, a genre which may or may not appeal to many. They do, however, make other genres in television shows in Korea and I do watch them. So here is one.

Dae Jang Geum is perhaps the first Korean drama that I have ever watched. It is an extremely popular show, has been aired in India dubbed into Hindi in Doordarshan as Ghar ka Chirag (in fact, it was this Hindi version that my mother had introduced me to...somebody had told us it was a Japanese show but then I googled it and watched the dubbed version with subtitles and discovered that it is very much Korean...and then I got hooked to watching K-dramas), in fact I remember seeing a version dubbed in Oriya as well. You'll find this show under many names like Dae Jang Geum, The Great Jang Geum, The Jewel in the Palace, 대장금 and so on.

This is a historical drama with political intrigue. I won't even attempt to go into the entire plot detail simply because it is so intricately woven and also because I don't wish to spoil the mystery for you. But I shall give you the basics...however, before I venture on to that, I should perhaps give you an extremely rough sketch of the Korean history. Now, I am just summarizing in my own breezy manner so don't go around the world quoting me. I am simply giving the jist, please feel free to Google the rest. During the reign of Joseon Dynasty (which should be around the 15th century) in Korea, was the King Seongjong who had ordered his already exiled wife Queen Jeheon (also known as Deposed Lady Queen Yun), mother of the Crowned Prince, drink poison and die. This he had done because apparently the Queen was very much the rebel, highly jealous of the King's concubines and had even scratch the King's face. The Crowned Prince, unaware of the punishment his mother was made to go through grows up believing himself to be the son of his father's next wife until one day, after his father's death, he takes over the throne and becomes King Yeonsangun. After he becomes king, he learnt the truth about his mother and well, pretty much "lost it" as they say these days. He was so disturbed after learning about how and why his mother died, that he had ordered to kill anyone who had anything at all to do with his mother's death, becoming perhaps the worst tyrant in the history of Korea. Now, Jang Guem was the first and only female Royal Physician during the Joseon Era. 

The story of this TV show begins with some royal gaurds getting and carrying out the king's orders to poison the Deposed Queen Lady Yun, after which she curses them all. Shortly afterwards, one of the royal gaurds, Seo Cheon Soo runs into a mysterious monk who predicts that three women will surround his life: one who he will be forced to kill, one who he will save and one who will the cause of his death. Sure enough, he realises (and so do we) that the prophecy has already started coming true. He had been forced to kill the Deposed Queen. He later on rescues, falls in love with and marries a gungnyeo who has fled the palce after an attempt on her life has been made (because she accidentally stumbled upon the workings of some dirty palace politics). They both live away from the village, keeping their identities a secret until one day their little daughter, Jang Geum (played by Lee Young Ae as the adult Jang Geum and Jo Jung Eun as the child Jang Geum)lets slip their true identity, causing the death of her parents. 

Thus begins the struggle of Jang Geum to make ends meet in the world. She becomes a gungnyeo like her late mother and works in the kicten. As time goes by, she becomes the Royal Physician, enraging many. That's all I am going to reveal of the story. I will tell you though that this show is an exciting one to watch. 

Dae Jang Geum first introduced me to the world of Korean food.

Since Jang Geum is a Palace Woman/Gungnyeo who works in the royal kitchen, a lot of yummy looking food is shown. In fact, I remember watching a documentary once on Korean food that credited Dae Jang Geum for promoting the Korean royal court cuisine in the rest of the world in today's age.

Watch this show if you are at all interested in historical dramas and narratives about the political power play. I really enjoyed this show.

My other K-drama reviews include:

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