🙂 updated 16th April 2014 ❤
still pending further editing and illustrations upload… The author of this essay is very grateful to all sites that have made available in the net all the illustrations shown here.)
Maybe it’s just me. There could be others like me out there who sometimes don’t go along with the crowd. I am seriously meditating on how to talk about the similarity between Kiha and Eun Go, both bad girls, but also wronged by circumstances. Both are characters of serious depth that the producers/writers have to ruin because of necessity. Kiha is simply superb though rationally I go with Sujini. Equally irrationally I go with Eun Go, all the way. I guess it’s not the fundamentalist-morals that I’m looking at here. That’s why I choose Yihwa, too. There’s got to be some X-factor, and I want to try hard to get my hands on it. If I can. I’ll try my best to be coherent.
The dramas mentioned here are primarily these three: Jumong, Gye Baek, Freeze. Though there are illustrations I hope they’re not spoilers—I don’t have summaries here. Then, in passing there’s, some more, some minimal: Dongyi, Yisan, Return of the Condor Heroes 2006, Damo, Kingdom of the Winds, Jang Geum, Crime Squad (Detectives in Trouble), The Legend (Taewang Sasingi), Mandate of Heaven (The Fugitive of Joseon), one very precious movie of 1997, Gattaca, and a couple of unforgettable series, The Thorn Birds and Highlander.
I must confess, though, that I have not seen that much Korean dramas. I watched what I already have only because of the actors/actresses appearing in them, and I don’t have a lot on my list. As a rule I find dramas emotionally exhausting to engage in. It so happens that there are characters that can cause me to engage more with life, even with the weighing of values, and these characters I do treasure. I believe that the soul of collective humanity can be discerned in the mass media, like a sort of a gauge. This essay isn’t that serious, though. This is just an indulgence.
A favorite character Chae Ohk I can’t include in the billing here because she doesn’t have a rival in her story. Same with Miss Long, the famous gugu who doesn’t age—the many girls surrounding Guo’er can’t really compete with her. As to Yeon, well, I like the character Hye Ap better. Much much better. And who would seriously want to rival with Jo Minjoo? She doesn’t care about such things. She doesn’t even know much about falling in love (as Sae Hyuk points out to her). She simply suspects she’s sick of some mysterious ailment.
Pictures zoom in when clicked on. A million thanks to the makers of these dramas. Here we go.
Soseono is Jumong’s number 1 supporter. She was never aggressive towards either Buyoung or Soya. She’s filial, pretty, smart, pro-active, generous, loyal to, and loves, Jumong, very much. The sacrifices she made for Jumong cannot be quantified. But somehow I find myself happier for Jumong when he had Buyoung with him, and then Soya later. For me Soseono has a flavor of just another Jumong but in female form, a character who manages to accomplish magnificent feats by will, someone who must be projected as larger than life on screen.
Eun Go, similar to Soseono, is filial, pretty, smart, pro-active, generous, loyal to, and loves, Gye Baek, very much. The sacrifices she made for Gye Baek cannot be quantified. Eun Go and Soseono are both rich merchants in their own right, with families influential to the crown. On the other hand, Choyeong is similar to Buyoung. They are both without riches, power and influence. They’re both commoners, servant/slave in fact. But since I side with Buyoung rather than Soseono, and with Eun Go rather than Choyeong, then it’s not the social standing that I’m looking at.
However, Jumong really pursued Buyoung. Whereas, Gye Baek gave personal attention to Choyeong only at the remaining 6 episodes of the series. It seems like Choyeong had to be kept in the series so that Gye Baek will have a respectable wife at the end of the story. Just like Wootae had to be there so that there’d be an acceptable husband for Soseono. This shows that Eun Go did not really need a female bodyguard, just like Soseono didn’t. If history hadn’t called for a wife for Gye Baek then Choyeong’s role is dispensable. The same with Wootae, as history calls for Soseono to marry someone before Jumong and she must have two sons by him. The difference between Choyeong and Wootae, however, is that early on in the story Wootae was already a bulwark to Soseono, a silent devotee. Like Seongyon’s Daesu, Da-in’s Domun, and Dongyi’s Orabeoni. Choyeong, on the other hand, just seemed to be there to provide a contrast to Eun Go’s regal demeanor.
If Soseono was pressured into leaving Jumong’s side, so was Eun Go. Both needed to survive. Granting that Soseono did not know that Jumong did not die and that marrying Wootae a.s.a.p. was the only solution. Granting that Eun Go had to choose, between staying alive — or die but remaining as Gye Baek’s. Soseono was initially sarcastic to Jumong. So was Eun Go to Gye Baek. When Jumong met her he was in the role of a good-for-nothing jerk. When Gye Baek met her he was the son of a drunkard. My preference, therefore, does not lie in these factors.
I think it’s the factor of emotions coming from Jumong and Gye Baek whenever they direct them to Buyoung, Ye Soya, and Eun Go that caused me to prefer them over Soseono and Choyeong. It’s comparable to how Dam Duk treats Sujini. The viewer somehow knows that Dam Duk wants Sujini there, with him, in that scene. Like, it’s always clear to the viewer that regardless of Hwangbo Yoon’s mood at the moment his main concern is Chae Ohk’s welfare. Even Officer Park Sae Hyuk’s treatment of Jo Minjoo is (more) exciting despite that he is almost always care-less of her, and with a dynamite of an ex-wife-still-in-love-with-him to boot. I have the impresson that Jumong’s bland treatment of Soseono after their marriage is comparable to Gye Baek’s of Choyeong. Jumong values her but there’s a space surrounding him that she’s not allowed to enter. He keeps hoping that Ye Soya is still alive. Gye Baek values her because she’s there for him after Eun Go, has given him precious children, but she’s more like a friend than an inspiration.
Gye Baek has invested so much of his self with Eun Go. His investment in her is almost the same as Yoon’s in Ohk—it’s a lifetime’s investment and this kind doesn’t simply get blown off by the wind. It has roots. Although, Jumong’s in Soseono’s seems to be greater than in Soya’s, but a mere sense-of-duty shouldn’t have been able to sustain 18 years of painful hoping. Soya, after all, is Yuri’s mother. Though not as great as being a co-founder of Goguryeo as Soseono is, Ye Soya had no preparation whatsoever for the life she had to lead after leaving her village plus after marrying Jumong plus after escaping from the palace. She did not have the safety nets Soseono had but still she had to bring up the king’s firstborn, Yeohwa’s and the great Haemosu’s only grandchild.
Of course it was all bliss between Jumong and Soseono before Soya came into his life. They were an ideal couple. But did Jumong suddenly just up and killed his feelings for Soseono when she married Wootae? However, they eventually got married, too. That was opportunity enough for reviving the feelings. But these feelings that should have been revived between ex-lovers that got married anyway were referred to only at Soseono’s departure-meeting with Jumong, when she told him of her decision to uproot her clan and settle somewhere else away from his kingdom. That’s the only affectionate scene between them in their 15 years of marriage. There were no affectionate expressions anymore involving Jumong and Soseono in between the events of his mother’s death plus loss-of-Soya-Yuri up to the coming back of these two in his life. It’s as if Soseono is just there because she’s the deserving queen of the new kingdom, and that a heartfelt scene from Jumong had to be presented at her departure to justify that Soseono is billed as the main romantic interest of the hero in this drama series.
There was more engagement on Jumong’s part at that time Buyoung was still with him, even at the period overlapping with Soseono’s presence. He was a funny dork in his pursuit of Buyoung at the time when she was a temple acolyte. Buyoung, though having severely suffered because of him, still treated his fatal wound. Buyoung was his intermediary between his hide-out and the world-out-there during the time he was with Haemosu. Even though he was stripped of his princely status, thus left helpless in the dangerous world outside the palace, he still exerted his best for Buyoung’s redemption from slavery. That meant being patient, daily risking Buyoung’s safety, and saving up a huge sum through his own sweat. When he was kicked out of his comfortable world, seemingly abandoned even by his mother, it was Buyoung who constantly reminded him that he is a prince of Buyeo, someone with worth. So she prods him to take care of himself. She had nothing but she did not grasp at the chance to have an easier life with Ohyi. There was only Jumong for her. In fairness, when Buyoung was in danger Jumong went ballistic and thankfully succeeded in rescuing her, finally redeeming himself in everyone’s eyes over the matter with Buyoung, whom the series had to discard in preparation for the places Soseono and Soya had to take in the storyline.
Buyoung’s value lies in that she is the fulcrum on which the brotherhood Jumong-Mari-Ohyi-Hyeopbo solidified. These three became witnesses to Jumong’s personal journey from Buyoung to Soseono to Yesoya to Yuri. Also, the problem involving Buyoung was Jumong’s baptism into how to fight for survival in the political arena involving the two other princes. Prince Youngpo, who knows about her connection to Jumong, got her kidnapped a second time, to use her against Jumong in the race for the crown. The character Buyoung was taken out from the series at the 23rd episode. In preparation for that, Jumong frees her then from the burden of guilt by confiding in her that he’s really at the crossroads, what with his recent discovery of his true parentage and the responsibility he does not feel equal to, and so she’s not to be blamed at all. Buyoung resolves everything by leaving, refusing Ohyi’s offer, and providing a perspective as to why Ohyi remained unmarried till the end.
For me three of among the most touching scenes in Jumong were when he hugged Buyoung under the open sky, when the ‘brothers’ knelt together in a covenant after Buyoung’s first rescue, and in her last scene where she turned around on the mountain path to silently say goodbye to Jumong for ever. She is among my favorite characters and this little discussion on her is a tribute.
Of course Soseono got Haemosu’s ring, the one Yeohwa gave to Jumong. That’s very symbolic, like Seongyon inheriting Dongyi’s ring through Geum before he died. Of course Soseono got to save Jumong’s life, fishing him out of the quicksand with the help of Wootae. That establishes a very strong connection between him and her. Soseono stakes her reputation and her business in her support of the fledgeling Jumong. She hands out her wealth to make a grand palace for him. Soseono goes to battle side by side with him. She supplies Jumong’s battle needs. She decimates assassins for him. She even banishes her relatives for him. She welcomes and protects Yuri and Ye Soya on their return to Jumong. She is never the capricious queen. She metes out justice and does not permit those closest to her to play out on power. She protects her sons from going over to the dark side. She can govern in place of Jumong. She is almost perfect.
Jumong’s and Ye Soya’s meeting was also “magical”, to borrow King Sukjong’s description of his first meeting with Dongyi and then with Geum — in the sense that it was similar to his parents’ meeting. Jumong and Haemosu were severely wounded unknowns and were treated back to life by pretty clan-chief daughters who live beside the river. But although this treating-back-to-life theme is romantic it didn’t endear Yeon at all to me for Muhyul. Instead, I felt that it’s Deojin and Yeon who should have been together — that scene where Yeon was sitting weak and still in prison and Deojin could only bottle up his anguish at the sight, while Park Wan-kyu’s For As Long As I Live starts to play softly, was really as touching as could be and made me embrace Deojin the way I embraced Kiha.
That Jumong and Soya were “fated” to be together as seen in how their meeting mirrored that of Haemosu and Yeohwa is again seen when images of escaping Yeohwa-with-baby-Jumong were flashed during escaping Soya-with-baby-Yuri. Although Jumong was definitely “going home” to Soseono, after being wounded in battle and abandoned to be swept away by the river, but now his buddies having searched for and saved him, and Soya as well, there was no instance where he neglects Soya. It’s heartwarming how he repeatedly rescues her against that very aggressive traitor orabeoni. It’s heartwarming how he introduces her to his mother. It’s heartwarming how Yeohwa welcomes Soya with understanding and enthusiasm—and she does not compare her with Soseono at all. It’s heartwarming how the king appreciates her and thinks fondly of her father. It’s like making it clear for all to see right from the start that Soya and Jumong are together. All interactions between them, from the first to the last, are harmonious, peaceful.
Jumong is visibly at rest and at home with Ye Soya—he made her a part of him and refused to sever their tie from the first day they met until he found her again. This is absolutely not the case with Choyeong and Gye Baek. He was indifferent to her until the time that the series had to marry them off. Choyeong was extremely rude to him and was disproportionately envious of his and Eun Go’s bond—hardly a respecting-the-person-Gye-Baek foundation material. Even the muddled Jo Minjoo gave this respecting-the-person to the more muddled Sae Hyuk the first time they crossed paths, when he crossed the road at the wrong time.
When Gye Baek had to be exiled off with Choyeong and the rest of the gang the series informed us of Eun Go’s “permission”. She accidentally overhears Choyeong’s confession of love to Gye Baek and so she “has to let him go”, towards a life without her. That’s why it was a relief for me when it wasn’t only Choyeong’s face present at Gye Baek’s last breath—more importantly his children were there. Children are representatives of “new life” and I had to give that to Gye Baek after he “died” when he lost Eun Go. The poor puppy of a victimized clean-hearted general has to be made to smile at his final scene. It is a must.
Although the buddies empathized with Soseono at Jumong’s marriage to Soya, they had nothing against the marriage itself. Daeso and Seolran were malicious in suggesting it, to hurt both Soseono and Jumong, but it served to “settle” the ex-couple, that eventually became a ‘couple’ again. Soseono becomes a good wife to Wootae the valiant, a good mother to their two sons, and a strong clan leader. Jumong devotes himself to Goguryeo, to his parents’ dream, and to reclaiming his family. With these being settled Jumong and Soseono became partners for the mutual benefit of their constituents. Their partnership was now on the business side and it showed thoughout the series. On the positve side of it, none can say that Soseono was unfaithful to Wootae nor that Jumong was unfaithful to Soya, even until the three boys have finally grown up. When Soseono was gently breaking the news to her two boys over Yuri’s sudden appearance, the three’s affection for Wootae was clearly put across in the dialogue. Soseono reminds them that their father gave them their names, Biryu and Onjo, and so they must live up to their parents’ wish for them, to be generous and welcoming.
It’s as if Wootae was to Soseono as Choyeong was to Gye Baek—second choice spouses with children to cement the connection. But even seen from this angle Wootae’s character still has much more substance than Choyeong’s. Wootae was a pillar to Soseono and I cried with Soseono when he died. Gye Baek’s future wife, on the other hand, could might as well have been anyone he met during his exile, just so the series could provide a family for him to… well… we already know what to, at the ending…
When Jumong was parted from Soya the hope of having her by his side again did not leave him. His constant passionate partner in this hope is Ohyi, the brother-friend who was the most mad at him over Buyoung. In fact, Ohyi later got to slap Daeso’s wife for her treatment of Soya at the palace. The hope intensified at Soya’s pregnancy, and then at Yuri’s birth. Perhaps this hope has the foundation on Haemosu’s instruction for him to not fail to protect “the one by his side”—which for Haemosu was Yeohwa, and now for Jumong it means the three: mother, wife, and child. That scene where Soya reads Jumong’s letter for Yeohwa and her is among the sweetest expressions of love I have come across.
It is these scenes, minuscule as they are, that solidifies my stand that Soya was not only there to serve as a mother for Yuri. Jumong felt more than duty towards Ye Soya. She healed him of his broken heart. She, in turn, didn’t feel insecure over the partnership of Jumong and Soseono. She gives to him whatever it takes for her to support his dream—for his parents and for the people—and this is her strength, that she gives even though she has nothing herself, and does not ask for anything in return. Yeohwa successfully transferred her strong will to her, to survive, but unlike Yeohwa she had nothing and no one to lean on to. Her only purpose for living was to bide for the right time to bring Yuri to Jumong.
Hyeopbo said the pain of losing mother and son has never left Jumong for one day. There were no more affectionate scenes between Soseono and Jumong after she got married to Wootae, that is, when Ye Soya appeared in the series. Sure, Jumong never abandoned his support for Soseono (and it’s heartwarming how he and Wootae appeared to be “friends”, never rivals), but it always had the flavor of “business”. Whereas with Soya and Yuri, even after his mother was gone, it was always deep-seated feelings, one that Soseono isn’t allowed to share. Jumong’s angst over his beloved three is shared only with his brother-friends: Mopalmo, Musong, Ohyi, Mari, Hyeopbo. There was that sweet scene among them drinking at a feast table, together with the later three Jaesa-Moogul-Mukguh, where Jumong was teased about being happy to see Soya again. Ah, that gave me a high. Then following that scene we are shown that Jumong sleeps at Soya’s chamber, like regular husband and wife and not monarchs who sleep separately, with Jumong mulling over a crucial decision over leaving Buyeo for ever while from time to time glancing at his peacefully sleeping pregnant puyin (wife).
Soseono may have loved Wootae the way Jumong loved Soya, but here’s the argument: Jumong did not transfer to Soseono the place he reserved for Soya in his heart even after he and Soseono got married, even after everyone else believed that his first wife and son are dead. He may have continued to love Soseono but she was not allowed to enter the home in his heart where Soya and Yuri are. Soseono was not able to take over that home in the same way that I suspect Choyeong wasn’t able to take over Eun Go — Gye Baek simply had to come to her prison cell and give her encouragement as he was about to go into battle. Despite everything that happened Gye Baek does not abandon Eun Go in the end. Eun Go did not deserve this faithfulness from him the way Chae Ohk deserved it from Hwangbo Yoon. As he himself said it to her, her sin is unforgiveable. Yet he stood by her side. Chae Ohk, on the other hand, got it relatively easier with Yoon.
It was horrific how Seolran, Daeso’s wife, treated the pregnant Soya. It was magnificent how both mother and child survived that treatment. It was magnificent how the pampered clan-chief’s-daughter Soya managed to rear a Yuri up worthy of a Jumong-son. It’s anti-climactic how Soya and Jumong across the crowd locked eyes for the briefest moment, during the contest-fight of Yuri and Biryu, and then she had to disappear fast — just because she does not want to give him problems. Still, he searched for her. It’s painful how he and Ohyi just didn’t give up on the search until Yuri was 18 years old. Sure Soseono gave so much to Jumong, but she was never alone in it. She had her clan, her family, her wealth, her self-confidence, her brains. Soya had only the innocent Yuri and nothing else. They did not have a safe place to stay, were always in hiding. Soya’s health just kept on worsening. They were ostracized because Yuri had no father to speak of to the world. The only treasures that Soya can give to Yuri were love, an upright upbringing, and literacy.
The most intense emotions coming out of Jumong’s face in the entire series were in these scenes: his first meeting with Yuri, finding Soya again, and witnessing the blacksmiths’ quarters burn while thinking that Yuri was inside. Seeing how Song Il Gook does not tend to over-react, these three scenes are not superfluous. These events deserve such emotions from Jumong. Soseono cried for Wootae but Jumong sobbed his heart out for Ye Soya and Yuri.
Granting, Jumong was really in pain over Soseono’s departure. That was intense, too. Still, it was because she chose to go. She could have stayed. King Sukjong had 3 wives all at once. Yisan had 3 also. Everyone in the kingdom wanted her to stay — and Soya has told her in their touching conversation that she will gladly depart from the palace once she gets strong enough. However, Soseono chose to be a mother first before being a queen. As I said, she’s almost perfect. It would break her heart to see her son Biryu wrestling over the crown with Yuri, whom Jumong clearly favors. However, Jumong has flatly stated to her that he wants Soya to stay with him for keeps. Meaning, keeping Soya with him was a priority. Soseono’s planned departure had no leverage on his giving up on how to treat Soya in the palace. He found her again and he intends to take care of her, as he should have always been doing, and as payback for the years she had to sacrifice herself, and Yuri’s childhood, for his and Soseono’s sakes.
Maybe it’s this constancy of intentions between Jumong and Ye Soya that makes them endearing to me. On the other hand, there was a time when Soseono was calculating her choices, between Daeso and Jumong. Sujini was money-greedy, yes, but her attachment to Dam Duk was without calculations even after he ridicules her and even after she discovers that he’s the prince, and then long after that until she decides to get as far away from him as possible. Chae Ohk and Hwangbo Yoon fought out their commitments to each other until the very end, amidst navigations along totally blind alleys. Yoon and Ohk momentarily let go of the reigns but they got right on back again — they simply couldn’t abandon each other. Whereas, Jumong and Soseono started out with calculating profits in mind and ended up with a political partnership, with just a bland friendship to show after the initial closeness.
Eun Go and Gye Baek, on the other hand, still managed to hug until the 29th episode — a military general doesn’t hug the queen unless he’s sure that it’s the right thing to do, which tells the viewers that in 29 out of the 36 episodes the bond between GyeBaek and Eun Go has remained. Until the very end there is only Gye Baek for Eun Go, a fact she made clear to him at their last conversation in the series, where she tells him that he’s the source of both her joy and her pain. Ui Ja did not come close to this — in fact she came to hate him. Gye Baek, too, has also told him that he will never forget how he separated, snatched away, Eun Go from from him, and that he refrained from revenge for the sake of Baekje.
If Eun Go had indeed “let go” of Gye Baek in the years they were turning into an adults then she could have married Ui Ja long before Gae Baek reappeared in their lives. Ui Ja’s in love with her and princes usually marry at a very young age (though, there’s the issue of the Crown Prince to look at, and I don’t know the mechanics on this, because when Geum was married off — before he was teen-aged at that — it was understood that he’s to live outside the palace as he’s not the crown prince). Eun Go stuck with Ui Ja for the sake of the joint revenge and of cleansing the country of corrupt nobles. When Gye Baek reappeared she’s all bent on protecting him. Ui Ja was with Eun Go in this, but it turned out later that Eun Go had to protect Gye Baek from Ui Ja even.
However, the story distorts: Eun Go exposed Gye Baek to danger when she gave out to Silla information on his battle plans. Whew. This part is very hard for me to accept. Chae Ohk’s and Jang Sung Baek’s saranghae to each other, in the cave, and Yoon’s engagement to Nan Hui, were easier for me to accept than this. In fairness, Eun Go could not forgive her own self for this. Fortunately she did an about-turn (there are so many U-turns in this drama and I haven’t fully pegged them out yet; it actually turns out that her trip to the “other side” was a self-appointed mission to avenge Baekje). She came back to Baekje, to pay out her sins, to give a very valuable information about the enemies’ plans, to give to Ui Ja the responsibility of meting out her death, to make it clear to Gye Baek that she does care more for the people than for her life.
Theirs is an ending sadder than Dam Duk and Kiha’s. Dam Duk got to walk towards Kiha’s direction at least. But still here’s the argument: Choyeong never got the passion that Gye Baek has always shown towards Eun Go. I’m still on my way to counting the number of hugs and handclasps Eun Go and Gye Baek made on the entire series — I think it exceeds those of Gou’er and his gugu-teacher-wife Miss Long’s (Return of the Condor Heroes 2006). Until Choyeong jumped on Ui Ja (and so deverved death) and spoke of her love for Gye Baek on her supposedly death bed, there has always been Eun Go for Gye Baek. It’s not that I’m against girls declaring of their love first — Jo Minjoo did this to Officer Park while dangling from a building (Crime Squad) — it’s just that it seems to turn out like, otoke, Gye Baek with Choyeong and the rest of the gang are exiled together and so it’s quite normal that they end up together. Although, I’m thinking of how come Min Jung Ho didn’t get married at all after his end-of-the-line separation from Jang Geum (maybe there are no girls there where he was exiled?).
As I reasoned out in another post Eun Go and Gae Baek had to be separated because he had to kill his wife (and kids) in the end, and this is not supposed to be Eun Go because she’s supposed to be a powerful political villain — all according to some historical account out there. Notwithstanding, the Gye Baek-Eun Go relationship is a main thread in the series and is intricately woven into Ui Ja’s life. It’s a major factor in this weak king’s decision making. It’s his downfall. He just had to separate Eun Go from Gae Baek, and he succeeded. I lament for my favorite pair. Theirs was not a perfectly magical bond even right at the start. Eun Go’s will is in fact stronger than Sa Taek Bi’s and so the gently-reared Gye Baek is no match for her during arguments. But Eun Go, just by her own volition, willingly lets her heart melt towards Gye Baek and not for the reason that at that time he was already adolescent-crazy over her. She just ups and decides to take care of his needs and supports him in her own way regardless of consequences to her. She simply decided to embrace him despite her adoptive clan’s objections. (I need to check again if General Mu Jin was the major factor in this).
It is endearing to consider that Gye Baek and Eun Go held on to each other despite years of separation (first while yet teen-agers and for ten years, and second for seven years after Eun Go’s survival-marriage to Ui Ja), and despite the distance of their social status. Eun Go is a very rich merchant and the best friend-turned-adopted sister of the queen. Gye Baek grew up with a one-armed drunkard of a father and waits on tables for a living. But Eun Go cooks twice for Gye Baek in the series. She rolls up her sleeves and helps him clean his old house. She launders for him at the stream. What’s big is that she spends her wedding night with him instead of with Ui Ja her husband. Then, even before she knows when she might meet Gye Baek again after years of separation, she makes winter clothing for him and carries it along with her for the chance of handing it over to him — and she was already Ui Ja’s concubine all this time.
At least three times in the series Gye Baek urges Eun Go to run away with him. But Eun Go is always held back by one thing or another. Foremost of this is the thought that once she gives in to Gye Baek he will never have the chance to fulfill his father’s dream, to rid the people of suffering, which is primarily due to the corruption of the powerful nobles. The two hyungnim-advisors, Seong Chung and Heung Su, were subsequently instrumental in showing to him this very point that Eun Go keeps on arguing with him about, that it’s his power as the General Gye Baek that makes things possible for him to accomplish. If Eun Go should be accused of being power hungry, I’d say that she’s not. I’d say that she was honest to Seong Chung when she told him, before she had him killed, that she will become a nun once Prince Hyo her son “ascends the throne”.
Ye Soya and Eun Go were similar in that they were both left to fend for themselves. They had none to depend on. It went on like this for Soya until Jumong found them again. It went on like this for Eun Go until Ui Ja decided to get out from his pretend-coma. But whereas Soya remained the angel, Eun Go went all out and really schemed, lying through her teeth and justifying her crime. Still, she went back to Gye Baek’s side like the way Chae Ohk went back to Hwangbo Yoon’s side. That’s the main point.
Many say that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Dam Duk became indifferent to Kiha (which makes me sympathize with her despite my happiness over the DamDuk-Sujini pair). Eun Go eventually hated Ui Ja, though I’m not happy about the way she shamelessly manipulates him, which incidentally is a strong expression of her indifference to whatever will be the effect on him. Nevertheless, Ui Ja deserves contempt. But Gye Baek did not become indifferent to nor hated Eun Go. He was about to face an impossible battle but, and despite of Eun Go’s depression, he still goes out of his way and talks gently to her. I find it redemptive how both had the chance to wish the best for each other during that final meeting they had. If history did not insist that Gye Baek had a family it would have been Eun Go’s face he sees with his last breath at the battlefield. If history didn’t insist that Gye Baek has to have a wife, he and Eun Go were almost like Chae Ohk and Yoon — circumstances pry them apart but they keep gravitating back towards each other. Their bond is simply strong, and elastic.
Aha. This gives me now a concrete line of reasoning for preferring Yihwa over Jiwoo for Joongwon (Freeze). For 300 years Yihwa and he had been together. Why in the first place did he risk his life in rescuing her that first time they met? There must have been something in there between them. It was just Yihwa who knows of the monster in him. If he wanted to end everything so badly then he perfectly knew the very way to do it. It wasn’t a great unknown and could easily be done. Jerome Eugene Morrow did it the neatest way possible (self-immolation, in Gattaca). Yihwa would have already been there, at the other side of life and at rest, had he not interfered. But Joongwon had to brood it out all the while knowing that he has Yihwa to watch over his back. For 300 years this couple had together perfected sophistication that there was nothing left novel about life. Yihwa goes through it carelessly, breaking hearts along the way. Joongwon was dead bored with the material aspect of life that he has become a minimalist. With this same perennial boredom, his self-loathing could not be shaken off also. We had to be led to 300 years after their meeting so that we’d be able to witness two resolved vampires dying.
I wonder how many loves Connor MacLeod had over his 500+ years of life (The Highlander, with Christopher Lambert). He did love each one of them. With Joongwon we are informed of only Jiwoo, and her mother who was the most beloved mortal to him. Though this “little girl”, as Yihwa refers to her, was just a child when they first met, Meggie was also a child when she met Ralph de Bricassart (The Thorn Birds, 1983 TV series). But Meggie’s “What else have I ever done but pay for the great sin of loving Ralph de Bricassart?” could not possibly become Jiwoo’s line because she has another boyfriend, and he is so lovable and is of her generation. Besides, she has reconciled with her now very sober and loving father. The discovery that she and her mother had the same lovers should have been more shocking to her than losing Joongwon “in an accident”, or finding out that he’s a blood-imbibing living-dead. After all she worked really hard at seducing him, all the while believing that their parents were lovers, which to her puts a right-ness into it. Besides, Jiwoo would have been just a redemption for her mother, in view that he really was happy with “that little girl” but that he had to “hide” from her then so as not to endanger her to that which happened to his sister. “Declaring” himself to Jiwoo is tantamount to healing his pain with “that little girl”. Facing up his monster-ness to a valued mortal is tantamount to healing his pain over his sister. It’s like owning up to responsibility, a matter of integrity and honor.
This scene in Episode 5 confirmed my intuitive preference for the Joongwon-Yihwa couple. Joongwon gently gathers Yihwa to him.
I have no concrete reason in the lines of my arguments above why I root for Park Sae Hyuk and Jo Minjoo, because they can, after all, survive without each other. However, although Sae Hyuk and Eun Young, his ex-wife who was misinformed and manipulated by her father just to separate the two, still cared for each other…he stopped himself from even touching her shoulder.
She was mourning over their daughter Hye In but Sae Hyuk did not want to be misunderstood. He has decided to keep his distance from her and a simple touch would be a misstep. This non-act from Park Sae Hyuk’s banished my fear over his bond with Jo Minjoo, hazy as it may be till the end. The significance lies in this: that at that same time Jo Minjoo stayed where he left her earlier, and waiting for him to come back to the restaurant like he said he would.
But Joongwon gave it to Yihwa. He collects her close in a gesture that looks like they have always been at home with it. He relates more than just concern in this act. It’s similar to how Yoon or Sung Baek would touch Ohk’s face. Yihwa clears him of blame. He acts as her pillar now. They have always had this understanding between them. This is their most restful stance in their shared long lives. Granting that they were both starved at this time, still we were already shown that there is a way out of that starvation. This “coming together” has more than just physical hunger for a reason. And so I ask myself, what about Jiwoo and her mother? Where do their values lie for Joongwon? I’d say they were bursts of life in a long-dead existence, and so they are precious. Life is always precious. Love is always precious.
Joongwon has always cared for Yihwa. I can’t push that it’s the “infatuation” type, but “being there” all the time nonetheless, else he could have abandoned her long ago. The impression is that he doesn’t let her into it because we have to be shown the brooding side of him. He was just broody over the long years of constancy in their lives but he was not contemptuous of Yihwa. If any, he has taken her for granted. But he depends on her. The series is clear about this. She is literally his lifeblood. Joongwon can barely manage without her.
Although Sujini is not a “lifeblood” to Dam Duk (just nearly), Joongwon is just like Dam Duk who doesn’t explicitly inform Sujini of her value to him (until he finds her again), because maybe that’s how the “ideal” goes. Maybe it’s a “male” thing. I don’t know. And the reason why Yihwa has stayed alive?—because he is alive. Ah. So like Yoon and Ohk. Except Yoon and Ohk are articulate about this to each other — surprise!
Joongwon is clear about how he blames Yihwa for his condition. What we have in the end is therefore a closure, a coming into full circle. He rescued her and she is happy she met him, and she tells him so. She stuck with him till the end, owning up the responsibility of reviving him into a life of struggle. Yihwa’s life, in essence, was already complete at his arrival into her life. She was just only waiting out until he is healed of the damage she caused him, until finally we have two multiple-lifetime companions meeting up with the heavens in smiling anticipation.
If my arguments have not been logical at all then I rest my case. Perception being relative cannot be over-emphasized. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Etc. 🙂
Good evening. How are you? Welcome again. At last I can put some of Lady Ye Soya’s captures here. Instead of including just her I decided to get some also from Episode 54. In here Jumong has been invited by King Geumwa back to Buyeo. Jumong arrives with the king’s personal bodyguard and the Damul’s six leaders under General Jumong: Mari, Hyeopbo, Ohyi, Jessa, Mugol, and Mukgo. This is the first time Jumong sets foot again inside the palace after that attempt to get out Yeohwa and Soya in Episode 50, that time when Yeohwa couldn’t go because she was so sick and already pregnant Soya met Jumong at the temple where he broke off half of the short sword for her to keep for their child as proof of his fatherhood.
After greeting the king the 6 companions are ushered into a room for refreshments, to be warmly welcomed as guests of the king’s adopted son. Jumong shortly goes to his mother’s house, where his pregnant wife waits with her for him.
The 7 men are already relaxed with their banter, food, and wine. The king’s bodyguard was originally at the head of the table but he gets called out by a messenger. In a little while General Jumong arrives. They continue with the merriment at this small banquet, one they never had together because of their life as founders of Damul. Then Jumong gets teased by Hyeopbo, who in turn gets teased by Mari and Ohyi, as the other three just laugh along.
When the royal bodyguard went out it was to meet a general of Buyeo. The secret talk was about eradicating Jumong for the sake of Buyeo, which is the Prime Minister’s action-response for King Geumwa’s wish for a peaceful Buyeo. Jumong and the king has talked about this surprising change of heart in Geumwa’s case. Discouraged, he talks to his mother about this in her chambers. Her consistent response to him is that his duty is to carry out his father Haemosu’s dream, which is to gather their displaced and suffering people and re-form their lost nation against the might of the Han.
Jumong has to decide once and for all, of whether to continue with his father’s dream and disappoint his foster father, or to please Geumwa and to abandon everything that his family and many loyal friends and supporters have worked so hard for. He retires to Soya’s chambers. He now wears his sleeping robes and pregnant Soya is already resting though without her blankets on. Thus in this scene there is only Jumong’s face to look at, at the change from deliberation to an arrival at a decision after taking into consideration everything, including the risks to their unborn child.
The following day Jumong and Soya head for their mother’s house, to speak of his decision to leave Buyeo. As they round a corner they are seen by Soseono and her father from a distance. The father and daughter wish to speak with the king today, and so they have entered the palace. Jumong and Soya seem to be in a conversation as they walk. As is proper, Soya shows deference to her husband while in public, by walking slightly behind him. This might be just for the camera angle here, or it may not be so in Korea, but in Japan this is certainly the norm, and thus this is how I take it here to be, too.
Yeohwa fully agrees with him, as expected. She suggests to Soya that she leaves with her husband. This, I think, is one of those unfortunate decisions made by this family — but otherwise the ensuing drama out of this decision wouldn’t have materialized, which is, the losing and the finding of Jumong’s family. Soya should have said “yes” to her mother-in-law’s suggestion but since they have no idea of the brewing evil plan against Jumong the ladies decided for the common sense that the baby’s birth can be more attended to while Soya is in the safety of the palace, in the company of the soon-to-be grandmother of the baby. Though they knew that King Geumwa will be disappointed by Jumong’s decision still they had the confidence that no mishap will ensure, especially that Jumong’s decision is what Geumwa had hoped to accomplish also since in his youth together with Jumong’s father.
Jumong, though primarily a narration about a hero’s life, has many subplots that are in themselves complete stories. There’s the life of Geumwa and his troubled family, of Soseono’s growth into a mother and a strong leader, of the tragedy that is Ye Soya since her tribe was betrayed by one of their own, of the happy-sad love triangle that is Haemosu-Yeohwa-Geumwa, of Wootae’s life as a servant’s son who became the master’s son-in-law as well as the leader’s husband, of Daeso’s triumphs and failures both in his public and personal lives, of Youngpo’s misadventures, of Yuri’s coming out into his own… Jumong isn’t called a drama for nothing, and it has stayed as one of the best.