Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Korean historical dramas (sa geuk) ~ Part I ~

“A different language is a different vision of life.”  Federico Fellini

  I had always had a soft spot for Korean dramas since I saw my first kdrama in 2009.  Korean dramas are fast-paced, the dialogues are witty and very natural, and the characters can be really engaging. K-dramas are like the express passport into Korea itself - thanks for kdramas I've gained such an appreciation for Korean culture.
  I love watching Korean dramas for the stories they’re able to tell. I love the romcoms, the melos, and the badass action sequences. Everytime I watch a k-drama, I get so caught up in them. If a scene is frustrating, I need to control myself not to yell. When it is a happy scene, I grin uncontrolably and if it is a sad scene, I cry so hard despite trying to hold it back.
  K-dramas are fantastic. It isn't a bad thing to like them, more like something great. ^^
Hwang Jin Yi (황진이) - GREAT DRAMA
Genre: Period-Traditional Drama

  This period drama captured my attention from the first episode. The drama has similar theme as the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha”, that is the theme about the struggle of a woman living in a world dictated by men and rising above the adversities. In the drama, Hwang Jin Yi is portrayed as not only a highly intelligent individual, but also a talented artist who if not for her sex and social status could’ve held high and powerful rank. The drama was very well done, from the sceneries to the elaborate costumes.
  Ha Ji Won is absolutely perfect in the role of Hwang Jin Yi, playing as a strong and vulnerable seductress. Every facial expressions that Ha Ji Won showed in this drama is subtle yet precise. From her inviting glance to her alluring smirk, all was done effortlessly and naturally. I love seeing the transformation of Hwang Jin Yi from a naive and lively kisaeng to an experienced and unemotional kisaeng. Not to mention, all the dances in this drama took my breath away, especially the Baekmu’s Crane Dance. This is a beautifully done drama that shouldn’t be missed.

P.S. The OST is truely amazing.

The Great Queen Seondeok (선덕여왕) - GREAT DRAMA
Genre: Historical Drama

  "The path ahead of you is arduous, but you must endure it. Endure it". These lines are the backbone of the movie Queen Seon Deok. This is a Korean Drama released in 2009 that would compel us to study, listen, fight, cry, and give suggestions to the protagonist.
  The script is outstanding, the acting is superb, the direction, the set designs are brilliantly coloured and conceived, the martial arts sequences are thrilling and the camera work is some of the best ever seen and the cast is very well chosen. The ending, though sad, is moving and truthful. On the road to power, one may lose the most precious thing in life, and love without trust only leads to disaster and sorrow.
   A unique film for it's beauty and subtle recipes of life. A parable about present in skin of past facts. A play in which the public is just actor. A smoke column in a late autumn evening.

P.S. The OST is amazing.


Chuno (추노) - GREAT DRAMA
Genre: Action, Drama, Period

  This drama is of a never-ending chase scene, filled with thrilling action, amazing martial arts choreography, and even more beautiful scenery. From the great abodes of the wealthy to the impoverished towns of the unfortunate, the drama captivates the viewers with its realistic portrayals of life in the era. The acting is beautiful and so are the actors. The soundtrack is perfectly selected to fit each scene and set of characters.
  This drama makes you grow as a person. Although they go through such hard times, they find time for friendship, bonding, love, loyalty, you even get lots of laughs. You laugh with them and you cry with them. You wonder if this happens in the real world. Dramas take you on some great voyages so... hop along. It’s one of the best!

Yi San (이산) - GREAT DRAMA
Genre: Historical

   At first glance, the drama might seem long and boring. Yes, 77 episodes will not be watched in one day – and yes, you might not be interested in politics - but let me tell you, your time will be worth every second you’ll spend in front of your screen.
   This is a stunning historical epic chronicling the life of Korea's greatest ruler, Yi San. Excellent acting and a beautifully written storyline created many emotional moving scenes for the memorable characters. A heartbreaking love story to go with suspenseful political intrigue. Great from start to finish and a good investment in time.

Dae Jang Geum  (대장금) - GREAT DRAMA

  Jang-geum's story is engrossing, for all sorts of people. Very inspiring for it's central moral drama, it is also full of great incidental historical and cultural information. It’s simply enthralling. It’s the story of a woman in Feudal Korea, her quest for revenge for the death of her family, her triumphs as a cook and a healer and the people that want to stop her. You won’t be able to put it down. A movie like a fall music. Picture of a universe. An Aladdin's carpet. To a place of a lost fragment of Asia.

Female Detective Damo (조선 여형사 다모) - GOOD DRAMA
Genre: Historical, Crime, Romance

  Damo flows like strokes of an ink brush as it tenderly scratches the surface of a blindingly white piece of paper. Each stroke is itself a movement of beauty, but once you step back to view the finished product, what remains is a cohesive masterpiece.
 Damo is about love in its purest form, as exhibited in various ways by many of the characters. The love story of the 3 leads hurts so much that with each episode you yearn for at least one of them to find happiness, but alas the writers of the story will not grant you that peace.
  The storyline is very deep and the great thing about it is that each subplots only add to the depth of the storyline. I love the action and the martial arts in this series, it's very fast paced.  All in all, a wonderful show!

Jumong (주몽) - GREAT DRAMA
Genre: Historical

   A period piece chronicling the life and death of Jumong, the founder of Goguryeo, one of the ancient three kingdoms of Korea. It’s a massive, eighty episode program that’s truly epic in scope. Jumong is same legend with same pieces like many other films. The difference is the courage to define an era. And it's heart - a spectacular man. Love, hate, survey, fights and wars, beauty and feelings are present, but it is not a another play about old ages. In fact, it is a lesson. Yes, a history lesson, but a values lesson and more that. A speech about a roots time, but a seductive way to define a nation.

The Kingdom of the Winds (바람의 나라) - GOOD DRAMA
Genre: Period, Fantasy

  This is the story of Jumong’s grandson who was supposedly born with the fate of killing his parents, brothers and even his own son and eventually causing the downfall of Goguryo.
A story about how Muhyul overcame his ill fate and became the third king of Goguryo, later to be known as King Daemushin (Great God of War).
  This drama is featuring beautiful cinematography and score as well as lots of grand battle scenes, conspiracies, political intrigue, and assassination plots.


Dong Yi (동이) - GREAT DRAMA
Genre: Historical

  This drama is just as much about the King and his trials/suffering as it is about Dong Yi. The characters are well developed, storyline is infused with drama and intrigue, and the acting is well done on all levels. There was light hearted humor to round out the edges and mystery to keep the content interesting. I was rooting for the good, hating the bad, wanting to know what would happen next and it was never predictable which gave it a true enjoyment factor. They worked very hard to stay true to the facts and at the same time took responsibility for altering appropriately when necessary.
  I would say that this drama is all about sacrifices for the good of everyone and how you must not belittle people who are of low birth for they might become someone great! So overall, this drama it's a great story all around. Pungsan, fighting! ^^

The Princess' Man (공주의 남자) - GREAT DRAMA
Genre: Period, romance

  The Princess’ Man it's a beautiful fusion of history and fiction, very touching story, and of course the effort made by the actors to present a very convincing acting.
   Everything about the drama was alluring – the costume detail, the actors’ expressiveness, the perfect music score and a happy ending! ^_^

Emperor of the Sea (해신) - GOOD DRAMA

  'Emperor of the Sea' is 50-episode  drama based on the Choi In-ho's novel of the same title. The drama depicts the life of Jang Bo-go, who dominated the sea of the East Asia and international trade during the Unified Shilla Dynasty. Jang Bo-go also eliminated pirates by installing Cheong-Hae-Jin on Wando, which is a geographically important sea route.
  Drama 'Emperor of the Sea' will show historical figure Jang Bo-go's growth, the emerging as Emperor of the Sea and love, and add artificial figures madam Jami and Jeong-hwa to add more spices. There is lots of intigue, betrayal, and double-dealing.
   Overall, a good drama, beautifully shot, with well develop characters and an engaging storyline.

King Geunchogo (근초고왕) - GOOD DRAMA
Genre: Historical

  This drama tells of political intrigue, lust for power, strength and weakness of the men seeking the dragon seat. The story moves at a good pace, not too slow and that fast either, striking a good balance.
  So, if you enjoy political in-fighting, back stabbing, men and women being consumed by their lust for power and one man’s ultimate rise to power to become the greatest warrior King of his era this drama is for you.

1 comment:

  1. ...I don't know how to start....you wrote amazing :) I've seen almost all of them, but the last one, King Geunchogo wasn't my cup of tea...I'm going to start with the first, Hwang Jin Yi, really an amazing drama, with an amazing actress (which is btw my favourite korean actress) that made it into a masterpiece. I have watched it 4 times, and even know I didn't have enough of it...AMAZING is the word to describe it. Queen Seondeok was amongst my first korean dramas, and I liked it very much. The story was very realistic.
    Chuno is another masterpiece, starring my favourite korean actor this time, Jang Hyuk. I've seen it 4 times, just like HJY, and I can describe it with the word MASTERPIECE. The music is the BEST.
    Yi San was my second kdrama, I loved it, I loved the actors and the characters, I loved the plot and the storyline, a great part of history.
    Nowww, Dae JangGeum, my very 1st korean drama. This one introduced me the kdrama world, it was so catchy, being my first one, I watched it so feverishly, and even rewatched it 2 times more.
    Damo is a great mini-series, it has such good music, and the main actors are great...it's a must see for a kdrama lover.
    Jumong and Kingdom of The Winds seemed to me pretty much alike, they aren't among my favourite dramas, but I did watched them till the end. I think Jumong was a bit to long, and the think I liked most from it was (I may seem ironic, but I'm not) the end.
    Dong Yi and her funny king made me watch them 2 times, it was a very beautiful story, amazing costumes, a great villain and a suitable end.
    The Princess's Man is a love story that catches you immediately, the lovers are great togheter, fighting against all odds for their love...beautiful music too.
    Finally Emperor of The Sea, not so great, but a good drama.
    Thanks for the sageuk review, I'm off to modern dramas :)