Questions for Dae Jang Geum

August 15, 2009 § 1 Comment

I finished.

Hehehe.  Although finishing a Korean drama in three days may seem like a trivial and unworthy pursuit, it was not quite as easy as it sounds.  I still had to live my daily life and considering there are 54 one hour episodes, well… you do the math.  Hehehe…..

Anyway, I have a few things to gripe about.

  1. Since when are royals THAT benevolent?
  2. How come nobody visibly ages??
  3. Why do they  have so many over dramatic reaction shots?
  4. How is Jang Geum so good at everything?  She’s not human!

Although I enjoyed the drama, the overdrawn suspense made me insusceptible to threats on Jang Geum’s life.  She is the main character!  There is no way they will let her die.

I finally realized what made this drama so special.  On the surface, it is just another one of your ordinary Korean dramas.  It was one of the first of its kind and a definite pioneer of the Hallyu aka Hanryu wave.  However, the real reason behind its success is that there is a little bit of everything to ensure that it captivates all audiences.  Here is just a sampling of the plot subjects:

  • Food (lots of fascinating cooking demonstrations)
  • Martial arts (and action scenes)
  • Medicine (information about acupuncture and various herbs)
  • Comic relief (the married couple that takes Jang Geum in)
  • History (from daily court customs to outfits and customs, one can learn a lot about that time period from this drama)
  • Vocabulary (whenever there is a term used from that time, a definition appears on the screen)
  • Romance and Love (unrequited, passionate, painful, sweet, you name it)
  • Politics (among politicians and within the court ladies)

How can you not find something redeeming about this drama?  And even though 54 episodes was a little excessive (I feel like they had to force a lot of the medicine story lines just to fill up time), I feel like I learned a lot from the drama and am more thankful for the things that I have.  In other words, it gave me some more perspective.  I especially like the lesson Doctor Shin gave to Jang Geum about having to be humble to practice medicine.  I think that rings true for any profession.  Once someone lets their ego take over and stops asking questions and listening to differing opinions, progress rapidly declines.  Although I am not quite as inspired as I imagined I would be, I’m glad that I was able to watch this drama and will be able to discuss it with others in the future.  Last week I also finally watched Lady Vengeance (Chinjulhan Geumja shi), a movie about revenge that stars the lead actress from Dae Jang Geum (Lee Young Ae).  They are both worth watching.


§ One Response to Questions for Dae Jang Geum

  • Chuck says:

    I don’t think you have identified what made Dae Jang Geum exceptional. Yes, it had a little bit of everything. So do most other historical dramas. Which of them do not have comic elements, romance, martial arts, history, politics, etc? Just adding food to that list is surely not what made DJG special.

    What made it special is the character of Jang Geum herself—and certainly not her humility. That is a common trait. It is her intelligence, determination, courage, and most of all her spotless integrity that makes her special, makes her heroic. She is a character to compare with Cyrano de Bergerac, or Antigone. She stands up to anyone and everyone, regardless of risk. She is exceptional, larger than life—as you mistakenly say, she is “not human.” She is human, as human’s ought to be, a hero among men. She is an example of what men can be, if they make the most of their potential.

    That is what makes Dae Jang Geum special, and loved everywhere it is seen.

    Chuck Salvi

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