Betsy Speicher

Dae Jang Geum (2003-2005)

Rate this TV show   10 votes

  1. 1. Rate this TV show

    • 10
      6
    • 9
      3
    • 8
      1
    • 7
      0
    • 6
      0
    • 5
      0
    • 4
      0
    • 3
      0
    • 2
      0
    • 1
      0
    • 0
      0

Please sign in or register to vote in this poll.

95 posts in this topic

This is yet another Korean drama that I have put on my long list of things to watch.

My wife got me sucked into this genre of entertainment in spring 2006 when she was watching "Save Your Last Dance for Me". I was taking a break to eat dinner (I was in the middle of a major renovation project) and I made the mistake of sitting down in the same room with her as she was watching. I watched. Within minutes, I realized I was really enjoying to show. We ended up buying the whole series on DVD and watching it again.

Prior to that, I got sucked into Japanese animation in 1985, albeit, reluctantly. More than two decades later, I still struggle with the language, and now I find myself needing to learn a little Korean as well!

One thing striking about most Korean dramas I've seen: the sense of life is overwhelmingly positive, upbeat and filled with hope and goals. It's usually the girl from lower middle class family accidently meets the boy from the aristocracy and falls in love. The unusual and diverse circumstances make opportunities for a variety of humourous situations to arise, as the feminine protagonist persues both her career goal and the man she loves.

Just a wonderful and refreshing experience.

Korean drama is very popular among Filipinos, and my wife is no exception.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is yet another Korean drama that I have put on my long list of things to watch.

My wife got me sucked into this genre of entertainment in spring 2006 when she was watching "Save Your Last Dance for Me". I was taking a break to eat dinner (I was in the middle of a major renovation project) and I made the mistake of sitting down in the same room with her as she was watching. I watched. Within minutes, I realized I was really enjoying to show. We ended up buying the whole series on DVD and watching it again.

I agree, they are addicting. I think it has a lot to do with the stories being one continuous plot, with a beginning, middle, and end, rather than the disconnected episodes of most American programs. And the Korean dramas are very good at the cliffhanger ending for each episode.

One thing striking about most Korean dramas I've seen: the sense of life is overwhelmingly positive, upbeat and filled with hope and goals. It's usually the girl from lower middle class family accidently meets the boy from the aristocracy and falls in love. The unusual and diverse circumstances make opportunities for a variety of humourous situations to arise, as the feminine protagonist persues both her career goal and the man she loves.

Just a wonderful and refreshing experience.

Korean drama is very popular among Filipinos, and my wife is no exception.

That sounds like one I just finished watching, My Lovely Sam Soon. I've also watched H.I.T. (by the author of Dae Jang Geum), and am watching Jumong now. They all have their strong points, but none of them hold a candle to Dae Jang Geum. It's in a class of its own.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The only drawback to starting with the best is hoping to find its equal afterward.
That's for sure. I've also started watching Jumong, and it's looking strong, but The key difference between those others I've seen or read about is the profoundly this-worldly heroism of Jang Geum. She's an intellectual heroine. Jumong and others spend a lot more time with mystical portents and shows of martial arts prowess and crazy wire-work. I'm a big fan of Bruce Lee movies, but, even there, I preferred his to the later slug-fests because he actually was an intelligent, thoughtful man and there was clever humor and some interesting plot twists, on top of truly original thinking in his Jeet Kun Do system.

Dae Jang Geum is in a class of its own. I still feel exalted when I reflect on it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The only drawback to starting with the best is hoping to find its equal afterward.
That's for sure. I've also started watching Jumong, and it's looking strong, but The key difference between those others I've seen or read about is the profoundly this-worldly heroism of Jang Geum. She's an intellectual heroine. Jumong and others spend a lot more time with mystical portents and shows of martial arts prowess and crazy wire-work. I'm a big fan of Bruce Lee movies, but, even there, I preferred his to the later slug-fests because he actually was an intelligent, thoughtful man and there was clever humor and some interesting plot twists, on top of truly original thinking in his Jeet Kun Do system.

Dae Jang Geum is in a class of its own. I still feel exalted when I reflect on it.

I was thinking of what I said as applying generally. It actually is the best Korean television show I've ever seen, but I suppose that it's also the worst (though I can't really think of it in that way), because it's the only Korean television show I've seen. Anyway, I can't judge it as part of a specifically Korean genre, but as a serial television drama it's certainly among the better ones I've seen, though I wouldn't be watching it at all if I hadn't seen such enthusiastic high ratings here. (I wouldn't normally have waited until the seventh hour to become interested in a serial drama, even though it is a long one).

With Netflix, my policy with regard to serials has always been to order one disk, which generally has anywhere from two and a half to four hours worth of episodes. If we like that much of it, I'll order the next. There are plenty of serials for which I never order a second disk, and we sometimes don't even watch all of the first disk.

With Dae Jang Geum, the first three episodes didn't grab me, but reviews were really good, and it was still the back-story (long back-story!), so I ordered disk two. After that, I came very close to giving up on it. One more try, due to the great reviews, but could not imagine that I would get to like it enough to justify 48 more hours. Disk three began with episode seven. Finally!

I can't know for sure what my final sense of the series will be until I've seen the entire thing, but so far, my sense is that it will have been worth the 54 hours, and if that is true, that will be saying a lot.

SPOILERS AHEAD.

And now... I want to gripe a little about the episode we just saw. What is this business about a rematch between Lady Han and Lady Choi? I don't know if this is fair of me, but it struck me as a lazy way of dragging out the story, without having to come up with some new plot elements, by repeating almost exactly the same plot we just saw for the past x number of episodes. Okay. End of gripe. Now I'll just have to wait and see...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SPOILERS AHEAD.

And now... I want to gripe a little about the episode we just saw. What is this business about a rematch between Lady Han and Lady Choi? I don't know if this is fair of me, but it struck me as a lazy way of dragging out the story, without having to come up with some new plot elements, by repeating almost exactly the same plot we just saw for the past x number of episodes. Okay. End of gripe. Now I'll just have to wait and see...

Wait until you see the insight this gives into the character of both Jang Geum and Lady Han and the consequences for their relationship.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SPOILERS AHEAD.

And now... I want to gripe a little about the episode we just saw. What is this business about a rematch between Lady Han and Lady Choi? I don't know if this is fair of me, but it struck me as a lazy way of dragging out the story, without having to come up with some new plot elements, by repeating almost exactly the same plot we just saw for the past x number of episodes. Okay. End of gripe. Now I'll just have to wait and see...

I thought the reason for the rematch was made pretty clear in the episode. The other ladies were not obeying Lady Han. By winning a rematch, Lady Han would eliminate their ostensible reason for disobedience --- that Lady Han hadn't won the competition herself, but Jang Geum did. In addition, she got the Queen and Queen Mother to promise to give her the authority to discipline the other ladies if they continued their disobedience. And also the reasons Betsy mentioned.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SPOILERS.

SPOILERS AHEAD.

And now... I want to gripe a little about the episode we just saw. What is this business about a rematch between Lady Han and Lady Choi? I don't know if this is fair of me, but it struck me as a lazy way of dragging out the story, without having to come up with some new plot elements, by repeating almost exactly the same plot we just saw for the past x number of episodes. Okay. End of gripe. Now I'll just have to wait and see...

I thought the reason for the rematch was made pretty clear in the episode. The other ladies were not obeying Lady Han. By winning a rematch, Lady Han would eliminate their ostensible reason for disobedience --- that Lady Han hadn't won the competition herself, but Jang Geum did. In addition, she got the Queen and Queen Mother to promise to give her the authority to discipline the other ladies if they continued their disobedience. And also the reasons Betsy mentioned.

It was not as I feared it would be, i.e. dragging out another competition over a few episodes. It was over within the first fifteen minutes of the next episode.

The end of this one was especially suspenseful. I sympathize with Alan, saying that he would watch the first part of the next episode, so as not to be left hanging. We always leave ourselves hanging, since we just barely have time to watch one episode before bedtime. In this one, at the end, Young-Ro (sp?) steals, and Lady Choi reads Jang Geum's mother's booklet. Yikes.

However, I could see from the bits they show of the next episode that Lady Han somehow gets a hold of it (they showed her opening it and starting to read it). That lets me know that at least Lady Choi either chose not to destroy it for some reason, or (more likely) was unable to do so. I don't suppose I'm the only Objectivist who was frustrated by Lady Jung's last words of advice to Lady Han (have pity, etc.) -- terrible advice for dealing with evil.

Anyway, much more importantly, that development means that the next episode contains the great revelation, for which I've been waiting for what seems like forever. Can't wait. They do throw a juicy bone to the viewers occasionally, to keep us from starving; periodically offering the resolution of an important sub-theme as a reward for hours (and hours!) of suspense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It was not as I feared it would be, i.e. dragging out another competition over a few episodes. It was over within the first fifteen minutes of the next episode.

The end of this one was especially suspenseful. I sympathize with Alan, saying that he would watch the first part of the next episode, so as not to be left hanging. We always leave ourselves hanging, since we just barely have time to watch one episode before bedtime. In this one, at the end, Young-Ro (sp?) steals, and Lady Choi reads Jang Geum's mother's booklet. Yikes.

However, I could see from the bits they show of the next episode that Lady Han somehow gets a hold of it (they showed her opening it and starting to read it). That lets me know that at least Lady Choi either chose not to destroy it for some reason, or (more likely) was unable to do so. I don't suppose I'm the only Objectivist who was frustrated by Lady Jung's last words of advice to Lady Han (have pity, etc.) -- terrible advice for dealing with evil.

Anyway, much more importantly, that development means that the next episode contains the great revelation, for which I've been waiting for what seems like forever. Can't wait. They do throw a juicy bone to the viewers occasionally, to keep us from starving; periodically offering the resolution of an important sub-theme as a reward for hours (and hours!) of suspense.

Young Ro, evil isn't she? Wait till you meet Yul Ye. I agree, certainly, about Lady Jung's advice. But that is what I meant when I said the story exemplifies what Ayn Rand said about Hugo's writing:

The emphasis he projects is not: 'What great values men are fighting for!' but: 'What greatness men are capable of, when they fight for their values!'

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Spoilers

One of the literary techniques used frequently by the author of Dae Jang Geum is parallelism.

For example, in one scene, Jang Geum rebukes Lady Han for giving up on herself when her subordinates were not obeying her:

Jang Geum: . . . [since I first came into the palace] I've served you as a mother and a teacher. But I don't want a mother who breaks her own will. I don't want a teacher who gives up on her own will! If you're going to leave this place and give up on yourself, then I won't ever serve you again.

Then, in a later scene, Lady Han rebukes Jang Geum for giving up on herself, when things are looking very black for both of them. Lady Han, in a clear parallel of the earlier scene, says:

Lady Han: Don't even call me Madam if you're going to say such things!

But a more obvious example is two scenes between Jang Geum and Sir Min Jeong Ho. In the first scene, Jang Geum has just been assigned as a physician lady in training in the Royal Palace. She is very happy, and she and Sir Min take a walk together in a snowy, wooded area, and have this dialogue:

Sir Min: Are you happy?

Jang Geum: I'm sad.

Sir Min: Are you sad?

Jang Geum: I'm happy.

Sir Min: Are you afraid?

Jang Geum: I'm fluttery.

Sir Min: Are you fluttery?

Jang Geum: I'm afraid.

And then they both laugh. Then, in a later scene, when circumstances inside the palace become completely impossible for her, Jang Geum asks Sir Min to take her away from there, to give up his life there also, without asking questions. Sir Min agrees to do so. Then, while they are passengers on a boat taking them away, in a snowfall, they return to the earlier conversation:

Sir Min: Are you afraid?

Jang Geum: My heart flutters.

Sir Min: Is your heart fluttering?

Jang Geum doesn't answer, so Sir Min continues:

Sir Min: Are you afraid?

Jang Geum: I'm happy . . . my heart's overflowing with emotions. And I feel comfortable.

Sir Min: I'm afraid. I'm afraid that this might be a dream.

Parallel, but with alterations. Just one of the layers of art the author has built into her story, that increases the pleasure of viewing, and paying attention.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't suppose I'm the only Objectivist who was frustrated by Lady Jung's last words of advice to Lady Han (have pity, etc.) -- terrible advice for dealing with evil.
I refuse to spoil the pleasure of discovering the story as it unfolds, so all I can say to that is that, yes, it was terrible advice and that fact is not irrelevant in the telling of the story. Pity/mercy granted to evil has a terrible price and you will not be disappointed in Jang Geum's ability to learn important lessons. She certainly pays a high price for them. Ultimately, I think this story surpasses Hugo in it's vindication of reason and self-interest, even if they have to be fought for not just ferociously, but delicately, in the context of the stifling Confucian conventions of the time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The star of Dae Jang Geum will settle in the U.S.

Top actress Lee Young-ae married in U.S.

200908250044.jpg

Korean top actress Lee Young-ae tied the knot with a Korean-American businessman secretly in the United States on Monday, her legal consulting firm said on Tuesday.

Dongin Law Group said in a press release that Lee was married to Mr. Jeong who operates an IT firm in the United States. It said the wedding was held in the United States because the bridegroom’s family and relatives are living there.

News reports said Mr. Jeong, 54, studied at University of Illinois and is currently engaged in IT-related telecommunication business. Lee, 38, is planning to settle in the United States but will continue her activities as an actress in Korea, Dongin said.

(full story)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The star of Dae Jang Geum will settle in the U.S.
Top actress Lee Young-ae married in U.S.

200908250044.jpg

Korean top actress Lee Young-ae tied the knot with a Korean-American businessman secretly in the United States on Monday, her legal consulting firm said on Tuesday.

Dongin Law Group said in a press release that Lee was married to Mr. Jeong who operates an IT firm in the United States. It said the wedding was held in the United States because the bridegroom’s family and relatives are living there.

News reports said Mr. Jeong, 54, studied at University of Illinois and is currently engaged in IT-related telecommunication business. Lee, 38, is planning to settle in the United States but will continue her activities as an actress in Korea, Dongin said.

(full story)

The wedding was in Hawaii, and the article I read said her husband brought his pastor from Chicago. So, I'm guessinng Chicago is the lucky town. They seem to have a sizable Korean population there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for the info, KH. Some other words are (and I am going strictly by ear here) "Omamama," which the king uses to refer to his mother, and "morra" (or "worra") for "What?"

Another thing I noticed is that various people refer to Jang-Geum-mah in different ways. They may call her "Jang Geum-mika" or "Jang-Geum-miyo" depending on context.

There is nothing like great Romantic Realism to rejuvenate the soul. Why oh why do I have to leave Chosun....?

Yes, sometimes they say "mora?" and sometimes "moragu?" Another easy one to pick up is "ankora," meaning "have a seat."

Jang Geum's foster father, so to speak, Duk Gu, usually refers to her as Jang Geum-ee. It must depend on the context, somehow.

I really like listening to the spoken Korean, it's a beautiful language. I especially like listening to it in one particular scene, in which Jang Geum and Min Jeong Ho are seated in a doorway at night, snow is falling softly to the ground, and there's a sort of blue light outside. Jang Geum is speaking to Sir Min about what he has meant to her, and her voice is just unspeakably beautiful. I should say Lee Young-ae's voice. I love that scene, what a work of art visually and aurally.

I'm not familiar with the language they use in the show because I haven't got a chance to see it yet, however I know a bit of Korean. If they say Jang Geum imnikka, or Jang Geum iaeyo that simply means "Is Jang Geum" in different politeness levels. Note that the verb goes at the end of the sentence in Korean, so "is" is typically ending many sentences. Using "ah" at the end of someones name just makes it sound better and more intimate, it isn't actually part of their name.

The romanizations for some words you made don't exactly fit with what I know to be used in present day Korean language, but there's the possibility the series uses some old fashioned accents and words. For example, people typically say "anjusayo" for "have a seat" today.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's quite an eye-opening experience, isn't it? That televison can be that good. A heroic character who never compromises her principles, pursues her goals relentlessly, and won't tolerate injustice.

There's a website called DramaFever at which you can watch Dae Jang Geum, and many other Korean tv dramas, including at least one other by the writer of Dae Jang Geum.

Are you sure these type of sites are fine to use? I know for a fact that Koreans use them all the time, and have basically all of their dramas online (mysoju.com) but I don't know the legality or morality of it. I'm pretty sure almost nobody respects intellectual property rights there. Even my university professors in graduate school there would just print whole books for us at the copy center and distribute them to the class (these men thought nothing of it and they make their living through publishing papers). That's probably why the show is available online.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems like DramaFever is totally legal and moral, at least at first glance. They indicate that they get permission to stream the content:

Why is DramaFever only available in the US and Canada?

As you know, one of our missions at DramaFever is to play by the rules. We currently don’t have permission from our content partners to stream outside of US/Canada. We're working hard to change this but it will take some time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It seems like DramaFever is totally legal and moral, at least at first glance. They indicate that they get permission to stream the content:
Why is DramaFever only available in the US and Canada?

As you know, one of our missions at DramaFever is to play by the rules. We currently don’t have permission from our content partners to stream outside of US/Canada. We're working hard to change this but it will take some time.

Sorry I haven't answered, it's been a while since I've been here. DramaFever is definitely legal. They have permission to distribute all three main Korean networks. There's another site, called Viikii, that might be legal, since they show commercials with the dramas they have. But I'm not sure about that one.

'people typically say "anjusayo" for "have a seat" today.'

Yes, I've heard that also. But they also use something that sounds to me like "ankora." But sometimes k's sound like g's, and r's sound like l's, so I'm not really sure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The other drama by the writer of Dae Jang Geum available at DramaFever is Queen Seon Duk. I didn't like it nearly as much as DJG, though. It was more about politics, but it still has lots of good value conflicts and a good plot.

Another drama by the same wrtier and producer is Sodongyo, which is quite good. It's about a scientist/inventor and his struggles. Another great plot with strong value conflicts.

Two that I want to see, but which aren't available on Region 1 dvd's, or on DramaFever, are Hur Jun (also spelled Heo Joon), and Sangdo. Hur Jun is about a male version of Jang Geum, evidently, and is by the same producer, but a different writer. It was from 1999, and was said to have revitalized the historical drama in Korea. The other, Sangdo, is about a merchant, and is also by the same producer.

I recently read that Google is having some kind of video on demand service, and it is hosting two Korean dramas: Dae Jang Geum, and Hotelier.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Yes, I've heard that also. But they also use something that sounds to me like "ankora." But sometimes k's sound like g's, and r's sound like l's, so I'm not really sure.

Well, I started watching the show. Actually, I've been madly consuming it.

Yep, "kora" is an informal, impolite verb ending that is not really used anymore today--it's old fashioned. I had never heard it before because this is my first time watching a Korean historical drama. If you want to be intimate and informal today, you can just say "anja" to tell a close friend to sit down.

I'll be sure to check out the set of the drama, which is now a little theme park, next time I'm there. And thank you for the rest of your recommendations--I'll check them out. You haven't perhaps come across any of these drama DVD's or websites that have region 1 coding but also Korean subtitles? The reason is that I like to read words that I misheard underneath to help with learning Korean.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites