Tag Archive | Ye Soya/Jo Min-joo/Eun-go/queen of Goryeo/Jin-hee/Da-in

Baby Gook in Episode 16

[updated April 5, 2014 & includes until episode 21]

Happy weekend, everyone 🙂 It’s a good noon now where I am. I’m supposed to be doing my homework. I’d like to first put baby Gook of the ongoing South Korean medical-romantic-comedy drama Emergency Couple in my agenda. By episode 16 I don’t see him cry anymore. I appreciate how everyone around him takes care not to stress him out, most especially his daddy Kwangsoo in the story, the one who holds him most of the time in the scenes.

There are previous episodes where I was so disturbed as I saw him cry. Are babies filmed just when they are crying naturally, because they do cry normally, or do the adults around do something to make him cry? I have no answer to this question. What I do know is that I have to speak out against the taking advantage of pure innocence for the sake of consumer entertainment this is a general statement, and I’m not attacking this drama. I am a fan of this drama. ❤ Peace.

I love the way baby Gook makes me feel all peaceful and rejoicing whenever I see him on screen. I always pay attention whenever he’s on. I share with you some pictures I got while I was checking on his facial expressions (clicking on any plays the gallery/ enlarges the thumbnail) :

There, see? It’s a bit distressful scene for him, actually, because of the loud voice that Jin Hee’s younger sister uses in expressing to their mom how angry she is over the way Chang Min’s mom keeps being nasty to Jin Hee. In order not to alarm baby Gook daddy Kwangsoo rocks him gently and cuddles him close and safe.

I’m appreciative to the many baby Gook fans who share shots of him on the net. I have saved some of their uploaded captures on the previous episodes because I want to treasure the way baby Gook has brought me another reason to claim that life is beautiful. I put them here in turn in one page to share with other baby Gook fans. I notice that many are searching for information on him but since I’m not really happy that babies are “working” in this manner then I won’t add more to the information about him. I’ll just share these few pictures of his and that’s that. I wish for baby Gook and the likes of him, child actors/actresses around the world, to grow up and lead a life where they are free to move around, where they are not pressured to conform to a voiceless and choice-less life.

And speaking of choices, I’m happy to read from somewhere that Mr. Lee Pil-mo, the actor for the character of ER Chief Resident Dr. Gook, acts because he loves to do it, and not because of fame or money. Ah, I’m happy for him.

Here are baby Gooki’s other pictures now (again, many thanks to those who originally uploaded them) :

I like both Chang Min and Dr. Gook so I don’t mind too much about the ending for Jin Hee. I admire Jin Hee and her family, how supportive they are of one another despite the never-ending crises. Beyond my appreciation for the successful result of so much hard work by everyone involved in the making of this series, what I’m interested in are the statements that this drama can speak to me about living life with integrity. 🙂 Be healthy, everyone. Real life is the one outside the screen. Don’t get addicted to it. 🙂 And don’t forget what Antoine de Saint-Exupery said: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye. ❤ Kaja!

[note added 27March2014]:

A post directly related to this one, in case you’re interested, would be my Dear Actor/Actress, I Respect You. Kumapsumida. Also, this post was created because of a comment that I made in a previous post, about baby Gooki crying, here.

by episode 18, a baby Gooki looking  ready to sleep comes out with daddy Kwangsoo who joins mom’s and aunt’s conversation … and he doesn’t care much about the drama going on among his elders because there’s something more interesting outside the camera’s range … looking forward to seeing Chang Min hold you next episode, baby Gooki … good night …

 

🙂 Episode 19 next, Baby Gooki visits Uncle Chang Min, in Pictures

(they do not enlarge anymore) 🙂

baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19a baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19b baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19c baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19d baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19e baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19f baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19g baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19h baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19i baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19j baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19k   baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19l baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19m baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19n baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19o baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19p baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19q baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19r baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19s baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19t baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19u baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19v baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19w baby Gooki visits uncle Chang Min _ep 19x

baby Gooki pats uncle Chang Min’s hand as he is at last tucked into bed ❤ … babies are so sensitive and so responsive to stimuli … they upload gazillions of information all the time … good night baby Gooki ❤

[ I wonder what was happening while baby Gooki was crying … it wasn’t a frightened cry, it was more of like impatience, the usual sound babies give out when they want something asap 🙂 … I’m sure Choi Jin Hyuk enjoyed this episode 😉 ]

Two interns researching baby formula on the net. Pretty soon baby Gooki will know how to do that, too. click to enlarge

Two interns researching baby formula on the net. Pretty soon baby Gook will know how to do that, too. 😉 click on to enlarge

 … in Episode 20 next …baby Gooki is of course too young to understand the girl talk but he looks as if he senses that there’s something special going on 😉 just please click on any to zoom in a bit

 

 

. . . and by episode 21, the final episode, baby Gooki appears only at the end, during the credits roll, in a no-good scene taken that time he first came home to the family house … Auntie Jin-hee was a bit shocked at the happenings and as she was speaking baby Gooki suddenly cried, which made Jihyo horrified at what she had done to the baby ❤ … here …

no-good scene where Jihyo is horrified that baby Gook cries because of her tone of speaking

🙂 an NG scene, shown at the end of episode 21 (the final episode)

… now that I’m done watching it …

❤ then I say Choi Jin-hyuk has a very cool singing voice and a killer smile … Lee Pil-mo is a more respectable doctor here as Gook Chun-soo compared to his smart playboy pediatrician Song Dae-pung at My Too Perfect Sons … Jihyo as Nurse Da-in in Mandate of Heaven is more dignified than the intern that she is here … Jinhee is a bit like Jang-geum (Jewel in the Palace) because they both started with making healthy food and then became doctors … okay, I count this now as among my “comfort dramas”, too 😀 … in episode 20, Changmin’s advise to Kwangsoo: never win in an argument with your wife, because that’s how nature has made them … Jinhee’s advise to Jin-ae: men are simple creatures, so just focus on his trait that you like and don’t fret over the bad ones … !yep! makes sense! 😉

nicest characters: Ah-reum, Yong-gyu (and cute love story, too)

❤ coolest characters: Dr. Shim Ji-hye, Kim Gwang-soo (Kwangsoo)

 

❤ prettiest women: the mothers of Changmin and Jinhee

❤ my most admirable character: Changmin’s father

❤ OST to fall for: Choi Jin-hyuk’s Scent of a Flower that’s nearly acapella…

[added April 6:  …While I was listening to him singing Should I Say My Love To Her Again? at the end of episode 14 I suddenly came to a point-of-no-return feeling, and so the first time I listened to Choi Jin-hyuk sing is actually a life-marker for me — but the why of this would need a whole post, for next time. Halfway through that song his Scent of a Flower plays, and I thought that I haven’t heard a song as lovely as that for such a long time already — eherm, The King’s Daughter Su Baek Hyang‘s main OST is next in loveliness* 😉 — in this way I became attached to the timbre of his voice. About the time I finished the April 5 update to this post I was then listening to my stock of music and the 추노 OST = Chuno OST called 낙인 = nag-in = Stigma plays. I checked who the singer is, because I thought that the vocal timbre is similar to Choi Jin-hyuk’s. Could it be him? I don’t even know yet if he’s a professional singer, too. im jae bum Well, I saw that the song’s interpreter is 임재범 = 任載範 = imjaebeom or Im Jae Bum or Lim Jae-bum or Yim Jae-bum or Yim Jae Beom or Yim Jae beum. I looked for information on him and found out that he’s impressive, as well as very good-looking. His gorgeous longish hair is now among the most recent ones I fell for, like Yi Gwak’s (Jung Woo Sung in The Restless) and Koichi’s (Oguri Shun in The Woodsman and the Rain). Goodness. It seems that I have Choi Jin-hyuk to thank for at my having discovered one of the best singers anywhere! The timbre of their voices do sound similar. Oh, well, I don’t know that many Korean singers so I’m not an authority here. Still, when I get to make that point-of-no-return post I would have already listened to both Choi Jin-hyuk’s and Yim Jae-bum’s songs. I would certainly include pictures of these heads that have gorgeous tresses, including Choi Jin-hyuk’s if I can find one, and!… including No Min-woo‘s, who’s somebody I’ve always wanted to find out more about ever since his silent role in A Frozen Flower plus that I’ve recently discovered that he’s one good musician, too. Ayeee! Happy Sunday, everyone. Thanks for reading. Kamsahamnida ❤ halong! = ingat! = take care! 🙂

*… ooops … I have to change my mind, because I’m listening to it right now and I am moved by it in just the same way as when I first heard it 🙂 I don’t think I can compare them because they’re of different genres … so I say that they’re as lovely to me, in fact I like the three versions of that folktale song that is Su Baek Hyang’s mom’s favorite, which includes the acapella that Solnan did as she was secretly saying goodbye to Myeongnong If I can find more about that song then I’d be ready to compose a post about Su Baek Hyang and her two lovely fathers … ciao for now …

unforgettable, Dr. Gook

. ❤

. ❤

My Appreciation for Some Film/Drama Artists and Their Work

yisan poster

Yisan

This post is complementary to the post Dear Actor/Actress, I Respect You. This is a collection of my personal expressions of appreciation for some of the characters/artists and movies/‘dramas’ (here for now mostly South Korean) in the past year or so that I’ve started to turn to them for my vicarious learning-of-the-wider-world, and for entertainment, too. The fonts in pink are links to other posts in this blog. ❤

There has already been numerous “stories” I’ve wanted to speak about in this blog, to share my pleasure in them — also Japanese, Chinese/Hong Kong, Taiwanese, Filipino — but there isn’t time enough. In the mean time I decided to little by little pool some my thoughts related to them and post them here in order to reaffirm and say more of my appreciation for the hard work put in by writers, directors, staff, artists, and everyone who has put their sincerity in producing such quality work.

This little post of mine is a way of saying a BIG THANK YOU to the artists/musicians and visionaries working with the film industry who have contributed to the going-round-of-the-world, in the positive way, wherever they are and however they are doing in life now.

Every time I see a “film” I cannot help but be emotionally affected anew by the money-side of the business, just barely able to imagine for myself the financial difficulties that many of the workers/artists involved are experiencing. One “big” example that has made me very sad is the event involving the director of Taewangsasingi ( = The Legend, or The Story of the First King’s Four Gods). With that event this drama has become more valuable to me. Many a time has Taewansasingi lifted my spirits, what with the fantastic soundtracks by the superb Mr. Joe Hisaishi.

Jang-geum and her adoptive father Dukgu

(Dae Jang-Geum = Jewel in the Palace) Jang-geum and her Dukgu ahjussi (“uncle”)

I feel bad that “stories” and story-making is dealt with around the world like just any other mass-produced commodity. People keep imbibing these products, films and dramas, because the stories of our lives and the stories we see/hear about talk to each other. These stories are us, our lives (Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes has THE BOOK on this: Women Who Run With the Wolves). The way that greed takes advantage of our need for stories is one ugly reality. My wish for us all story-lovers is to be of help in propagating the pro-biotics, the good germs, the life-supporting elements that we pick up from these stories and anything associated in their making, and to identify those that kill the heart and so be able to deny their power in our lives.

[I hope to add more thoughts here, and pictures also, when I can have the time. Some pictures here enlarge when clicked on. Thank you to the original owners, the makers of these films. ❤ ]

 

Tree_With_Deep_Roots  (2-3).mp4_snapshot_17.00_[2013.10.16_23.39.51]

a young King Lee Do solves a giant sudoku

for:  Tree With Deep Roots

I’ve seen enough sageuk and I say this is among the top.

a young King Lee Do

young King Lee Do (Song Joong-ki)

It fills the sensibilities much more than it pulls at the heartstrings. I am grateful to those who were involved in making such a valuable treasure — I don’t care if it’s just mostly fiction. What matters is that it talks about humanity and is a champion of compassion, openness, and hope. The cinematography + music is refreshing, too. Congratulations to all who have worked hard on it, and it’s not only the actors/actresses but are also all those myriads of people not seen on screen. Banzai! Ganbei! Salud! Prost! Mabuhay! Long live 뿌리깊은 나무 ! Hooray!

radical King Lee Do

the adult King Lee Do

 ⇐for:  Han Suk-kyu

Sir, I fell in love with your King Lee Do / Sejong in Deep Rooted Tree ( = Tree with Deep Roots). I’m so inspired by the character you projected. Though he had much sorrow he was also surrounded by superb people, his friends. I said to myself, wow, a king who makes an impossible dream come true together with friends who in turn love him not as a king but as a person, not the least his son the prince. It’s out of this world yet I find it all realistic. I look forward to seeing more of you on screen, sir. I wish you the best, and much happiness.

Chuno_24 CLOSURE 23

Jang Hyuk as Dae-Gil in Chuno

 

for:  Jang Hyuk⇒

At first I thought you were just some show-off actor when I first saw you in Chuno. But seeing you in Tree with Deep Roots raised my respect for you into unprecedented heights.   🙂    Thank you for putting your heart into your work, Mr. Jang Hyuk. May the many people you inspire by the characters you play be blessings to you as well. I wish you the best.

 

Muhyul decides for Lee Do

Muhyul decides for Lee Do

for:  Cho Jin-Woong

I already admired Mr. Cho Jin Woong when I saw him in Chuno, with the role of an upright soldier ordered by his direct superior to betray the same. When I saw him again in Deep Rooted Tree in a yet another heroic role I decided that I’d like to watch more of his movies/dramas. Though all the actors/actresses in Deep Rooted Tree are superb, and I really fell in love with the king, !and I’m awed by the storyline, but I think Moohyul is among the most regal sageuk personas I have come across. Every time Moohyul appears on screen I would think ‘handsome’, ‘elegant’, ‘proper’, and he’s the best dressed in the drama, too. However, it’s his tiny facial expressions that qualify him as human enough to be the king’s buddy == their teamwork/friendship is impressive … (Sir, I wish you happiness in your work. Salud!)

 

for:  Kim Sung-hyun

… awesome character in Tree With Deep Roots  (as legendary mercenary Kareupaeyi) … wish you all the best!

 

for:  Painter of the Wind

Dan Won & Hye Won paint a mural

 Dan Won teaches Hye Won how to do a mural

 DanWon-HyeWon = the best love story. It’s comparable to the best of love stories there is out there. I believe it’s due largely to the very authentic acting. Their body language speak volumes and the music (Song of the Wind), especially in Episode 4 when they were doing that mural, is smack on the mood. I found myself wishing for a Sonsaengnim like Kim Hong Do  🙂   There’s so much to see and hear (wow lots of music) in here. 20 episodes is too short for me  🙂   I’d have loved to see Dan Won and Hye Won work together for a loooong time, make beautiful art together, make up for lost time, enjoy their special relationship with the king. They still have so much to learn from each other. I love it that their personalities match, and that’s why they always have fun when they’re together, and they understand each other without too much words. So much symbolism and parallelisms.. and I also love the art school guys’ support for Yun Bok and Sonsaengnim. I must mention Hyung/Orabeoni Young Bok as an ideal bff, and even lover…he’s the sweetest… Congratulations to the author, writer, artists/musicians, and directors for a story that will live on. I’m so happy for all the staff/workers and actors/actresses that were involved in this production — you’ve accomplished something very valuable and relevant…I’ve been so touched by its gravity and respect for the audience…thank you very much…I wish you all the best…blessings.

Portrait_of_a_Beauty _fireflies Yunbok & Kangmu

fireflies Yunbok & Kangmu, in Portrait of a Beauty

for:  Portrait of a Beauty  (added 20Feb2014. This film was based on the same novel as Painter of the Wind, above, was. The story is, of course, treated differently here, but is just as haunting.)

Is the movie good? Yes. Is it worth discussing? Yes. Would adolescents understand it? No (they will flounder among the themes; the story’s sense will simply pass over their heads). Was it made just to make money? No. Is it credible? Yes. Where do the depths lie? 1) In Kim Hong-do’s confession of how he failed his student. 2) In Yun-bok’s integrity, in expressing into paper the contents of his/her mind and heart with full honesty. 3) In the film’s reliance on visuals rather than on verbal elaborations. 4) In showcasing the contents of a human’s heart: jealousy, greed, violence, generosity, openness, frailty, trust, courage, lasciviousness… How does the entire film strike you? It’s a fusion of a novel-storytelling (I feel like I’m watching in front of my eyes the words that I read that sound in my head) and a painting (I will never forget the golden sheen of the lovers’ skins, and the general lighting with which they were encased inside that building as they laughed/glowed in each others’ company) and an anthropological study (of a society where females have very limited range of freedom plus that they exist to cater to the needs of the males, where the males were like demi-gods, where royalty is as distant as the moon, where societal class was the measure of a person’s worth). What is the over-all mood? It has a cadence with which one won’t be disillusioned into expecting a happily-ever-after ending. One sits in front of the screen with gravity. For me, I was constantly feeling watchful, because of the constant threat of Yun-bok being uncovered. Then I felt protective of the love between Yun-bok and Kang-mu, where Kang-mu (by actor Kim Nam-gil) was freed from his class thereby becoming just another man reveling in his love for a woman, and Yun-bok’s true form was uncovered and she became a female just like any other human female. Then I felt disgust over the whole cannot-be-helped situation, in the weakness of the respected teacher, in the arrogance of traditions. If the darkness of the night is the context/environment within which Yun-bok’s art/”beauty” exists, then the fireflies are 1) Yun-bok being able to draw out from within herself and transfer onto paper her perception of life; 2) Yun-bok and Kang-mu’s love, where Kang-mu the mirror-maker is himself the mirror with which Yun-bok saw her real self.

 

Lee Bang-ji, warrior (musa), Ddolbok's teacher (sabunim)

Lee Bang-ji, warrior (musa), Ddolbok’s teacher (sabunim)

for:  Woo Hyeon

Sujini & Ahjussi, drinking buddies

drinking buddies, Sujini & ahjussi (Lee Ji-ah & Woo Hyeon)

Dear Mr. Woo Hyeon, I immediately became your fan the first time I saw you in Taewangsasingi. Now I’ve just seen you in Deep Rooted Tree and your character Lee Bang Ji is among my favorites ever. I’m looking forward to your character in The King and the Clown which I plan to watch next. Please stay healthy and thank you very much. Mabuhay po sila!

 

for:  Kim Sun-Kyung

Ma’am, I saw you first in Taewangsasingi interpreting a very strong character, though regrettably the storyline had to kill Ho Gae’s mom early in the drama. Crime Squad was where I saw you next and I really appreciated the way you incorporated being funny, scary, and cool into the character of a cop who is always ready for action. Crime Squad is among my favorite drama series. I look forward to watching your other roles. I wish you the best in life!

 

Gen. Go & Bason, in Taewangsasingi

Park Jung-hak & Kim Mi-Kyung, as Gen. Go & Bason, in Taewangsasingi

for:  Park Jung-hak

Sir, I really really love your role in The Restless  🙂   It was a superb projection — even as a woman myself I don’t think I could outshine your elegance and finesse in there — and it made me see that you’re among the best actors! I wish you the best, always!

for:  Kim Mi-Kyung

Ma’am, my hats-off to your Ba-Son character (Taewangsasingi), such a far contrast to your Dae Jang Geum (Fugitive of Joseon) … my respect …

 

for:   Crime Squad (Detectives in Trouble)

hungry, Sae-hyuk & Min-joo

hungry after the fall, Sae-hyuk & Min-joo

I rated this drama 100%. I like the personalities/roles of Song Il Guk and Song Ji Hyo here (plus the others in the main cast also). Despite that she calls him ‘Ahjussi’ still Park Se Hyuk and Jo Min Joo are right for each other, they’re funny together, not sticky sweet to each other, each passionate of their respective jobs, supportive of each other, accepted as a close-buddy-pair by everyone around them, and so their ‘romance’ wasn’t a source of ‘stress’ for me. Their bond, and the scenes where they are together, was a ‘comfort zone’ to me all throughout the drama, since the scenes have crimes for base stories. The crime-storylines cannot be underestimated also, especially the last case, on which I really gave my full attention to. I am relieved that Se Hyuk and his team are shown to be competent cops who sincerely care for people, and so for me this itself is the drama’s statement, that evil intentions does not pay. Wow, the actors/actresses here are among the best, including those who played small parts. I salute Mr. Jang Hang-Seon (as Retired Team Leader Kwon) and Mr. Kim Kyu-Cheol (as Jo Sung Tae) for roles that are unforgettable to me. This is among the dramas I am never tired of watching repeatedly, the music is good, there’s always something to laugh about, there are many very important life lessons to be picked up, though I do speed thru some gory scenes (!!ironically I learned a nice Korean phrase from one of them: “jal-hae-sseo-yo”, meaning “Well done!”) The bonding within Se Hyuk’s work team and the hilarity in Min Joo’s workplace also endear this drama to me (thank you Shocking.com!) !Park Se Hyuk and Jo Min Joo! Aja! You’re my favorite pair! Thank you ‘Crime Squad’!

 

for:  Chuno (The Slave Hunters)

Chuno_23_1. yangban-in-disguise converse with slave-rebel 12

Eop-bok

Chuno _Seolhwa (0)

Seolhwa

I’d still say NO NO NO to violence but in this series, notwithstanding, I see balance restored, demons vanquished, hope nurtured. My topmost favorite is the slave Eop Bok.  He’s as subdued as the foundation of a huge edifice, having learned to keep to himself that he used to hunt tigers. Of the females my favorites are the slave Cho Bok-yi (she projects an aura of hopefulness despite her dismal status and she neither looks down on slaves nor envy the nobles — she has an inner joy that shines through her ragged appearance, especially that she’s in love) & the silly entertainer/prostitute Seolhwa (her beauty lies in her “simpleness” and I’m happy that she falls in love with Dae Gil). The fast action-music is super! I’m infatuated with it as much as I am with the hot male leads. On a serious note, this series has been enlightening for me, on the way “slaves” and “nobles” see themselves and the world around them, on the distance of the “gap” between them so much so that it’s difficult for somebody of one class to connect with or to get across to the other. The friendship of the 3 buddies Daegil, Choi & Wangson is really admirable. I’m very glad I decided to watch this one not so much because I was entertained but because I learned much about human beings. My many thanks to all who worked hard in this drama. If you’re a fan of Mr. Jang Hyuk then I heartily recommend Tree with Deep Roots.

 

for:  Lee Han-Wi

Mr. Lee Han Wi is definitely one of my favorites. I’m always glad when I see his face on screen, like having that feeling of coming home. I first saw him in Damo, then in Chuno, then in Freeze, then in War of the Arrows — there’s always something ‘hard’ yet ‘soft’ about his character portrayals. I wish Mr. Lee Han Wi the best, and good health!

 

for:  Damo (The Legendary Policewoman)

Ah, Damo, you broke my heart, then you restored it, then broke it again, then offered to mend it. Millions love you already because of that, so what else can I say?   🙂   You’re one of the best romantic sageuks out there. I wish blessings to all who have been blessed in the struggle to get hold of what your story had to say. The struggles and the triumphs of the 4 main characters (for me they were Yoon, Ohk, Sung Baek, and Soo Myung) was awesome. The supporting cast did not lag behind in prominence, too. I greatly appreciate the presence of Mr. Lim Hyeon Shik in it even for the short time that it was. Ah, Damo, I’m still looking forward to analyzing the movement of your storyline.  🙂 As of now I’d say the Yoon-Ohk, Ohk-Sungbaek, and Sungbaek-Soomyung tandems, as well as the camaraderie in the Left Police Bureau, are worthy of envy. May the good influence of Damo live long!

 

for:  Kwon Oh-Jung

Sir, you’re definitely definitely hot in Damo  🙂   I wish you happiness, salud! [added 19March2014: At last, by Empress Ki episode 36 I got to see the whole of your face and it felt so right. I hope the hairstylists don’t pull your hair down over your face again…]

 

for:  The Restless

Jung Woo Sung _The Restless _2006I watched this movie because of Jung Woo Sung — his eyes mesmerize me. I got a very nice surprise when I saw Mr. Heo Jun Ho in here also — I’ve become a big fan of his since Jumong and so I always think of him as ‘Haemosu’ 🙂 I treasure this movie The Restless because of ‘Haemosu’ PLUS Mr. Park Jung Hak’s portrayal of his role — which is another very nice surprise. What impressed me most here is Ban-Chu’s regality, especially the effect of his hair. However, it’s Yi Gwak’s hair that I fell in love with  🙂   its ‘softness’ complements his eyes. I had a big laugh when somebody asked him of what he ate that made him so tall 🙂 ! The panoramic views, the lush grass, the petals, and the firefly-like lights are delightful…they echo the plot’s insistence that it’s love that changes the world.

 

for:  Ji Jin-Hee

It’s been almost a decade since I first saw you, Mr. Ji Jin Hee, and after so many dramas/sageuks that I’ve been through you remain a big favorite. I watched the movie Paradise because of you and afterwards I found myself so inspired by it. Thank you very much, to you and to everyone involved in its making. Your parents must be very happy to have you, indeed. Please continue to be in projects that will encourage the ordinary everyday person. May God bless you.

 

for:  Lim Hyeon-Shik

Sir, thank you for your portrayals in Dae Jang Geum (as Jang-geum’s Dukgu ahjussi, seen sitting with her at the second topmost picture in this post) and Yisan (the eccentric painter who teaches Songyeon). You’re one of the best! I wish you happiness and health 🙂

 

for:  Seo Beom-Sik     Seo Bum Sik

Just want to say a WARM HELLO to one of my favorite actors ever! Ever since I saw you in Jumong I’ve always looked for you whenever I’m into another sageuk/drama and always am happy whenever your face appears on screen regardless of your role. I wish you all the best, and blessings! [added 19March2014: I knew it! Since you are cast as antagonist to Goryo’s King Wangyu ( in Empress Ki) then most likely the character you play will be killed in battle. I was not wrong. Phew! Well at least I got to see that you’re doing as great as ever…]

 

for:  A Frozen Flower

I’m glad I watched this film. I looked at the struggles of the three main characters. I find it awesome, how they handled it. The three actors did very well, always a tug of war between suppressing or expressing emotions. A Frozen Flower 2008 _posterThe king is frightening, the queen is courageous, Hong Lim is true to himself, wonderful set design and costume, and music. I think the ‘flower’ also refers to the CAPABILITY of the queen and of Hong Lim TO LOVE AS PERSONS, as an individual, that would have remained ‘frozen’ had there been only the king as the object of that love (Hong Lim as lover and the queen as wife). Had it remained so then Hong Lim would not have known passion of the like that he had with the queen. And the queen would not have gotten pregnant (you know what I mean). Unfortunately for the king an un-freezing/thawing/warming happened between the two persons closest to him and, well, he just had to do something to re-freeze it, so to say. I agree with xxxxx, that “the interpretation of the ending will depend on the person.” For me I choose to see it as a happy ending for both the queen and Hong Lim because somehow, given the context vis-a-vis the capability/power of the king, both Hong Lim and the queen evolved into his/her “own person”, they became ‘persons’ and not just ‘bodyguard/subject’ and ‘queen’, and they also came to know how it is to truly/selflessly love another “person”.           

and also:

… yeah I’ve been wondering too about the flower that’s been “frozen” ..

sword dance, A Frozen Flower

sword dance, A Frozen Flower

It does make sense that the queen’s facial expressions have to be “frozen” and yet have to express emotions at the same time, and I think she has done it very well… she has to project coldness and distance because this is what’s expected of her in that setting…
Hong Lim was VERY COURAGEOUS when he sent the honeysuckle tea to her, and again when he gave her the necklace—a mere “servant” does not do that to his queen, because in this setting doing that is like shouting out your love, nevertheless the queen answered when she wore the necklace in public—it was a very safe way of shouting out her love, in which Hong Lim would only be the one to understand the message…

Hong Lim’s sexuality has also become “unfrozen” when he fell in love with the queen… instinctively he just kept mum about it when the king asked him how it was to become a “man” at last— he gave the king an evasive answer to protect all three of them, knowing that the king would be jealous of the queen and he didn’t want her to be a target of such ill-feelings, knowing that the king would be hurt and he didn’t want to betray the king even in that way, and for himself guarding that his newly found wonderful “freedom” isn’t “crushed” at its bud…

A Frozen Flower main cast _Jo In Sung _ Song Ji Hyo _  Joo Jin Mo

Jo In-sung, Song Ji-hyo, & Joo Jin-mo: the main cast having fun promoting their movie

What makes this story unforgettable for me is the portrayal of choices of victims of circumstance. I love it that Hong Lim and the queen did come to the point of being willing to die for each other’s sake—both had nothing at first, but eventually a self-sacrificing love blossomed, became unfrozen. Also, that Hong Lim might have felt betrayed by the king when he was ordered to father the queen’s child—I mean, he might have looked at sex as an expression of deep affection—and in a sense it would have bothered him that the king himself, the object of his affections then, would order him to a “betrayal” (one can’t simply switch affection on and off) …the saving grace is when he sees that the queen is alive, who with his growing baby inside her is the redemption of his castrated state, and so was willing to forgive the dead king, and be reconciled with him at his last breath for old time’s sake…

 

Hong Da-in's Do Mun Jipsanimfor:  Seong Woong

   🙂   if the doctor had not been there I really wished you for Da-in  🙂 but too bad the social stratification didn’t allow you to pursue her affections for you, because I saw that Da-in had a strong attachment to you also   🙂   — in The Fugitive of Joseon (Mandate of Heaven)…  anyway, your Do Mun character is unforgettable to me … I wish you the best!

 

Park Sae Hyuk_Jo Min Joo .Crime Squad. ep12  (6)

Jo Sang-tae under investigation

for:  Kim Kyu-Cheol

Sir, thank you for your Jo Sang-Tae role in Crime Squad … that has touched me, plus that he brought together all the main characters in the drama, at the finale … I’ll always remember your poignant scene with Jo Min-joo in front of her house   🙂   I wish you good health and the best!

 

for:  Jang Hang-Seon

Sir, I’ve seen you only twice — Taewangsasingi and Crime Squad — but you’re already one of my favorites   🙂   Please stay healthy for a long long time … !Ganbei!

 

for:  Strongest Chil Woo (Chilwu, the Mighty)Chil Woo ending

?who cares about the criteria of a “good” drama? For me this one’s so lovable with or without Eric and I’m counting it as among my favorites   🙂 The cast is super, many of my favorite actors/actresses are here. Even though for several their parts are small, still I will treasure this drama because of them. Personally I feel like for the 20 episodes I’m seeing the personality of Eric in drama form: serious depth and bursts of silliness   🙂

 

for:  A Werewolf Boy

This film is so human. I’d score it more than 100% if I could. It doesn’t matter that I had to depend on the translation. It’s not the fantasy or the scientific possibility part that attached me to this film but it’s the way the folks involved handled the situation. The mother, the neighbors, and the children are simply lovely people. Even a non-Korean like me can clearly appreciate that. This question plays in my head about it: what-if-it’s-true? If it’s indeed true then the story is simply beautiful, as beautiful as the lush garden that Chul-soo keeps in his home.

 

for:  Sungkyunkwan Scandal

Gul-oh!ahahaha umuulan ng kagwapuhan! ( = a raining of handsomeness)  🙂 this drama is so student-life, albeit set in sexist Joseon era, but that’s just how it was  🙂 I’ve had lots of laughs in here, it’s so entertaining as long as one can overlook the usual dragging dialogues. I’m in Lesson 7 now and I’m not gonna breathe until I finish this one, and then I’m gonna watch it again over vacation for in-depth analysis  !students rock!  🙂

 

for:   Tajomaru

It’s a fairytale — sort of, where the protagonists and antagonists keep switching. Beautiful scenic shots. Lovely lovely costumes. There’s tragedy all throughout but I like the ending, because it makes sense and it sets Naomitsu free from a horrible life under the shogun. I’m currently infatuated with Oguri Shun so any film that has him I’d definitely “like”.  🙂

 

for:  The Woodsman and the Rain

I have to write it in capitals: Oguri and the Woodsman _seatsTHIS IS A VERY GOOD MOVIE. This is my most memorable Oguri Shun character because this is where I first saw him and immediately I warmed up to him. Of course, Mr. Yakusho Koji is in his usual best. This movie is warm-hearted, funny, quirky, uncluttered, cozy to the heart. It reminds me of woodblock prints, seemingly monotonous but is actually rich and detailed if only one looks close enough. I’ve seen many other Oguri Shun characters after this but I love him most in here — and with his natural unruly hair! This is about family, friendships, authentic rural neighborliness, and film-making, too. If you love people, and if you also like anything Japanese, then this film is a treasure.

———————————————

A Sleeping Forest _poster

A Sleeping Forest

… that’s it for now … … I’d love to talk next of Kaneshiro Takeshi (Golden Bowl, & more), Kimura Takuya (A Sleeping Forest, & more), Eita (Toad’s Oil), Secretly Greatly, Ahjussi, Jun Matsumoto (Smile), The Men Who Tread on the Tiger’s Tail, Seven Samurai, Zatoichi (2003 film, especially on the geisha siblings and The Stripes tap dance at the end), Sakuran, Petal Dance, …  … currently re-enjoying the soundtracks of Return of the Condor Heroes 2006 … currently trying to watch Gu Am Heo Joon and Su Baek Hyang (theme song here is lovely) whenever I can … had just sped through the jewel Water Bloom and I highly recommend this old drama to anyone who loves the simple things in life or anything Korean or has Song Il Guk in it … set to watch old Keanu Reeves films plus his two newest, Man of Taichi and 47 Ronin  …

  … really want to find the time to make a nice post featuring Park Sae-hyuk, Jo Min-joo, Jumong, and Ye Soya  

  ♥

  ♥

  ♥ —————————————-

 

added 9January2014:

for:  Kisaragi

Kisaragi _posterAs usual, I wasn’t surprised at how this film ran, after watching several Japanese films already. It’s simplicity in complexity and complexity in simplicity, a constant harmonious motion from one point to the next, so artful, so tasteful, so subdued and successful in highlighting where it should — and great acting! I’d say the story borders on the absurd, but that’s storytelling for you. I was glued to the screen without meaning to, because I was skeptical at first and thought that I’d fast-forward. But then it just happened that didn’t realize I was mesmerized until the film’s almost over. If you’re an Oguri Shun fan it’s a must-watch. The heart of the story, though, is very realistic and should be taken with respect and gravity. It’s a statement on the personal lives of the faces in the entertainment industry.

 

added 16Feb2014:

for:  King’s Daughter, Su Baek-hyang

… (by Episode 89 –> ) … waaa! Kuchon dies! I don’t like this! waaa!

Kuchon says farewell to step-daughter Solnan

Kuchon says farewell to step-daughter Solnan

I really can’t comprehend how Solhi turns out like that when her parents were like angels. Solnan-Kuchon is the best step-father-daughter relationship I’ve ever encountered on screen. However, it’s the king and Jinmu that I worry most about, and on what effect it will be on Myongnong when he finds out that it’s for his and his father’s sakes that the king did all of these…I laughed loudly when I read somewhere that her blood boils whenever she sees Solhi on screen. Mine simmers. It’s unbelievable how twistedly selfish this character is. I really have no sympathy for her. Unlike many other sageuk antagonists, this spoiled brat has no excuse at all for her behavior. She’s just fortunate that Kuchon has not abandoned her, ever since then, despite seeing through her lies. In the real world there are indeed kids who end up that way despite being born in a nice and caring family. So, she better not have her cake and eat it, too, because I’m rooting for the happy endings for the nice people around her, including Jinmu. Would it be too much to hope that Solhi finds the right path somehow? Poor, poor, girl. She missed the opportunity of being good friends with one of the nicest queens I’ve seen on sageuk-land! As for Solnan and the nice prince, I really really wish for your happinesses 🙂 Please, let them end up together. [added 19March2014:  !ek! the smileys are now pudgy little faces 🙂 so kawaii! ah, I just finished the 108th episode, the final. well, what can I say of the ending?:everything was put into their places. it felt like I have just done reading a legend that will give me sweet dreams. I had thought that the way Solhi was resolved is rather the easiest way out. But then again I remember that in our class discussion in school me and my classmates rather saw that us humans actually have no free choices. It’s because there are factors affecting our behaviors of which we are not aware of, of which we have no control over. Still, I’d say Solhi had it really easy, lucky girl. But then if love is at work no power can go against it. subaekhyang. centennial fragrance. lovely story ❤ ❤ ❤ <– see I was right heheh the hearts are now available! ❤ nice WordPress, thanks 🙂

 

 

a very scared heir to the Yuan empire

a very scared heir to the Yuan empire

Anna taste-tests Bongi & Dong-hae's recipe

Anna taste-tests Bongi & Dong-hae’s recipe

for: Ji Chang-wook

hah… “Bakit ngayon ka lang dumating sa buhay ko?” ( = “Why is it that you’ve come into my life only just now?”, and it’s a nice song, too)  ahh… Ji Chang-wook-ssi, I like you now despite of your very pretty face 🙂 Baek Dong-soo didn’t convince me then; it’s this scared-ly Yuan emperor that did it, this adorably pale awkward spoilt rich kid, enough to make me go through Dong-hae’s life (Smile, Dong-hae) while waiting for the rest of the episodes (of Empress Ki), enough to make it fine for me that Sungnyang does not end up with the gorgeous Goryo king …

Dong-hae, Anna, & Bongi's family

Dong-hae, Anna, & Bongi’s family

 Bild 2014-07-06_14-07_003Mr. Ji Chang-wook, I wish you the strength to choose film-roles that will provide positive inspiration for the everyday person on the street, especially the youth 🙂 may you prosper in your choices and plans whatever they may be in the future … banzai! [Please see also about My Too Perfect Sons, below, after a bit of scrolling… thanks ❤ ]

 

 

Park Ki Woong _& Secretly Greatly co-stars

Secretly & Greatly co-stars

added 25Feb2014:

for:  Park Ki Woong

Hello Mr. Park, your character in Chuno Park Ki Woong _in Chunomade me think “Just another wannabe actor taking advantage of his good looks” because appearing as a villain like that shouldn’t be such a difficult job, and I especially detested how that character betrayed my favorite Eop Bok. But then I saw you as among the good guys in Secretly Greatly, in a subtle-multiple-layer character that you did very easily despite your pretty face, and so I thought I judged your face rather harshly. I am very sorry, Mr. Park. 🙂 Peace. I’m looking forward to appreciating your work again in Gaksital Park Ki Woong _sweetand I’m now preparing my heart and my mind before watching it, knowing that I will get involved in the story and I will not escape its effects on me 🙂 Mr. Park, please remain the sweet guy that I have found out you to be.Secretly and Greatly Kamsahamnida 🙂

 

… I will find time to write about Secretly and Greatly … I need to find a way to salvage it from the glaring violence that occupies much of its time … [added 23June2014]

 

 

added 2March2014:Donnie Yen - Tang Wei - Wu Xia - 2011

for:  Wu Xia (Dragon)  

… this 2011 movie, Wu Xia (or Dragon), says it is neither the past nor appearances nor parentage nor affiliation that makes a man … it has the stars Kaneshiro Takeshi, Tang Wei, and Donnie Yen set against the backdrop of an obscure Chinese village where life is simple and sweet … it features two kinds of family life: one is full of love and peace, the other is as gruesome as hell … Kaneshiro Takeshi _Wu Xia poster 2011if you plan to watch this movie then it’s best to find time for it because it deserves an undivided attention … it’s like a dish that has been richly flavored by subtle additions of an array of condiments and spices … what one can take out from it depends on how much of life one has already come across … it is neither shallow nor simply entertaining, because it remains as something to be pondered about long after you’ve seen it … this poster featuring Kaneshiro Takeshi’s face says the truth about it …

 

added 4March2014:

for: Emergency Couple

Baby Gooki

 (as of episode 11 15) !ahahaha I totally Emergency Couple- on the setunderstand why this drama is so beloved, coz it’s also making me grin with glee from ear to ear just witnessing the developments 🙂 I wonder how the story will end. Whether Jin-hee ends up with the awesome & handsome chief [ ❤ he is the actor Lee Pil-mo, more about him below, in for: My Too Perfect Sons] or gets back with cutiepie Chang-min I hope the other guy can end up happy, too (is that possible? !haha) Baby Gook _Emergency Couple _yawnI’m happy for Song Ji-hyo because she’s doing great here but I do hope she gets more rest …    Emergency Couple _Baby Gook _ ep15  I’m a bit worried that she looks like she’s not getting enough sleep … I really admire this actress 🙂 I can spot several events here that are similar to Crime Squad & I’m just delighted at the coincidences (having a meal together with Chief Gook/Park Saehyuk & where he secretly gets amused at her; she shops for a gift for Chief Gook/Saehyuk at a clothes store; Emergency Couple _Baby Gook  ep15she’s comfortable & nimble in footwear without heels; she has non-flamboyant but trendy/cool wardrobe; she’s struggling to prove her worth in her job) … I wish the best for whole team that’s making this series refreshing, intelligent, & fun to watch! And please don’t pressure Baby Gooki to work!  🙂  Emergency Couple _Baby Gook _ep15!NO NO NO NO! I just saw baby Gooki cry! Don’t put him in a situation where he’ll possibly cry! Or else remove him totally from the series! You can’t use a baby this way! Arrrgh!!! <– I’m sorry. Gooki visits Chief Gook_Emergency Couple ep15I think that was very strong language there. I still feel strongly against babies crying for no reason, but at the same time I understand the situation. [added 22March2014: By episode 16 baby Gooki is fine. I have a post on it, here, where I also share a few captures of him — has been updated and includes those until episode 21.]

 

for:  My Too Perfect Sons  (added 14March2014)

My Too Perfect Sons _castThis is a 54-episode family type drama. I’m in episode 13 now and its magic for me has not waned. This series has been cracking me up since the beginning. My Too Perfect Sons _ castI still don’t know how it ends but as of now I am convinced that I have found another jewel. I had no idea before I started watching it that it’s this good. I have already cried a load along the story but please don’t be put off by this. It’s a drama after all. I appreciate these tear-inducing parts because they help in making the characters more real-like. Also, many of these for-cry episodes act as removers of sting from the nasty characters. Harabuji Abuji MiranThus I am not stressed out by any one character here, making me appreciate more the unfolding of the story. So it’s not all silly laughs, and it’s not even an all-sweet-flow because there’s lots of nagging from all sides that personally I would be exasperated many times a day had I been living among them.

My Too Perfect Sons poster

this thumbnail zooms in greatly when clicked on

The story revolves around a family that has 4 adult single sons, of which the eldest 3 are professionals and are being nagged by their mother into marriage. I have put here photos of the main cast because I don’t have the time now for writing much about any and each. If you’ve been around quality K-dramas for a while you’d recognize that most of these faces are among the ablest in the industry. Names on the upper rows are the artists’ names, while those on the lower rows are their character names in this drama. I ended up here in my search for other Ji Chang-wook (the emperor in the current Empress Ki) and Lee Pil-mo (the ER chief resident in the current Emergency Couple) characters. If you like these two then My Too Perfect Sons is a must for you (incidentally, it’s Ji Chang-wook’s first drama). My Too Perfect Sons _mother Okhui & hers 4 sonsI already have lots of love for each of the main characters (except Choi Soo-hee, who has appeared only once so far hence the audience still has to get to know her). If, like me, you’d want to know more about ordinary folks’ lives in present-day South Korea then you’ll be charmed by this series. Don’t expect, though, that what you see here is an accurate description. Song Daepung & Kim BoksilIt is a tailored presentation, after all.     But I have warmed up to it this much because it’s near to the normal family situation where farts, burps, dog poops, and blowing of noses are part and parcel of living with loved ones within close proximity. My Too Perfect Sons _Song brothers + BoksilThere are lots of bond-drinking, too, but thankfully none has thrown up on another yet. I hope there’s none of this  here, hahaha. However, there was already something similar to this in one of the episodes. That one also cracked me up. The menfolk here are as crazy and as whacky as the womenfolk. This is among the rare K-dramas where I am not irritated by a bitch-type or a meek-type character. Yes, both types are here but somehow they manage to come across as bitch/meek with a substance.

My Too Perfect Sons _Song brothers L-R _Daepung, Jinpung, Seonpung, MipungNo one’s paying me to say things here. I’m just sharing my joy with you 🙂 I’m going back to watching episode 13 now. Have a super day! (Thanks to asianwiki for the My Too Perfect Sons main cast photos.)

>added 19 March 2014. Superb. I have just finished the watching the drama. I relished every episode of it. I’m smiling like the Cheshire Cat right now as I’m writing this update. My Too Perfect Sons did not disappoint me until the end. I now confirm that this is among my favorites. My Too Perfect Sons _Song brothers L-R _Mipung, Seonpung, Daepung, JinpungThe story of the Song family, of their 4 handsome sons and of the people involved in their lives, was carefully crafted to showcase family related events so as to encourage the viewer with the message that no matter what the situation is living shouldn’t be taken too seriously. It’s because in life no matter what the situation is unexpected events could always turn up and they could lead us to paths we never thought we’d take. Ahh, I’m so sleepy now I can’t think much anymore. I’ll just describe the entire drama this way: it’s like a cuddly teddy bear, big, soft, cushy, and warm. My Too Perfect Sons _Song familyIf I have to choose a most favorite character then it would be Song Gwangho (by the great actor Mr. Baek Il-seob), the father of the 4 sons. Anyone who has a father like him can’t be anything but a happy child, and anyone who has a child like him can’t be anything but a happy parent. But the rest of the main characters are also lovable in their own unique ways, including Miran the boys’ cousin who’s not in the photos above.

I now count this as among my treasure of ‘comfort’ dramas, stress relievers without fail, the others being:

Golden Bowl (Japanese) [background theme: bowling],

Hana Kimi – Taiwan [background theme: a girl in a boys’ school],

Yankumi's class at play _Gokusen 1Gokusen-1 [Japan, whacky boys’ class + whackier teacher],

Crime Squad [police work & a journalist],

The Legend (The Story of the First King’s Four Gods or Taewangsasingi) fantasy-myth,

The 5 kids studying _God of StudyThe God of Study [down-to-earth teenage kids and their awesome school teachers],

Take Care of Us, Captain [aviation & admirable characters of the 4 leads],

Return of the Condor Heroes 2006 [wuxia-fantasy],

❤ and, hopefully Emergency Couple [medical] based on episode 15 so far.

Kaja! (let’s go!)

    

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Actor/Actress, I Respect You

tree with deep roots posterDear South Korean Actress/Actor,

A very warm hello from an admirer. Please stay a while and read what I have to say from my heart.

I have been watching your projects, dramas mostly, for quite a while now and you have never failed to solicit my admiration. Painter of the Wind posterI have always found you amazingly competent in your portrayals of the many faces of humanity. You have provided windows for me from where I could see glimpses of that part of living that I may have a blind spot on, or that I am barred from seeing by reason of points of perception.

Yes, I have not been drawn to your projects for the purpose of entertainment alone. You might say you don’t understand my point since, after all, entertainment is your business. But please understand that audiences do vary greatly. Not all of us are up for the sole purpose of being “entertained”.An official poster of the drama. From left to right: Bidam Sangdaedung, Mishil Seju, Deokman Paeha, Kim Yushin Chamgun, Princess Cheonmyong Besides, there are many other media for ‘entertainment’. Well, okay, your colorful clothes and your music accompaniments have entertained me, and many a time the funny portrayals, too, but they’re not really the meat of what I’m after. I’m really after the story of humanity.

Please take my present post with a bright perspective — chuno posterthe reason why I had the urgency to write this NOW is that I have just Googled “dark side of Korean film industry” and the first three entries that came up confirmed my suspicion. Of course these things do not happen in your country alone. I suspect that it’s worse with another actor/actress in another country. However, it’s you that appears on my screen most of the time nowadays that I feel compelled to do something about it.

dae jang geum posterYou see, for quite a while now I have marveled at the quantity and quality of dramas produced in your country. They are very good and there simply are so many of them. Then I noticed that you, dear actress/actor, appear in so many projects so that if your role was evil in a ‘previous’ project I had to re-program my perception of your face (not you as a person) as someone who is very likable in this ‘newer’ project that you are in.damo poster I am forced to adjust to your new persona fast, and it’s not really nice for my psyche. I have this feeling, therefore, that the projects you appear in are devalued as works of art —- instead of being rendered the proper respect as expressions of human creativity, like paintings and classical music/theater, your dramas/movies are being treated like mass-produced commodity, cheapened.

jumong poster  Actually it’s the historical stories that I’m more fond of. I do appreciate how difficult it is to make these. The costumes are heavy, or sometimes too thin for winter. In some there has to be rough horse action. In the fights you have to risk your bones and skin. Even the speech is not familiar to you. And even if you’re just a face in the background, without a speaking part, I really could see that you give a very convincing performance. crime squad posterAlthough I would forget your name I would still be able to remember you because I see you again and again as I watch another and yet another drama. And when I see you in a modern-day setting I will suddenly give a yelp of delight because your face will look different now that you don’t have a gat or a hanbok or a slave’s clothes on.

Honestly I value the stories that you appear in, that you act on, and I do spend time in digesting them. I analyze them. I think about the events. I reflect on them. dongyi posterI do so because they make me think about my life, about the life of my friends and acquaintances, about the lives of those who live similarly to the situations in the story that you appeared in, on screen. Your stories make me reflect on the human situation. As I said earlier, I do not value them for entertainment’s sake. I value them for what they can teach me about life.

Mandate of Heaven PosterSo, okay, what do I really want to say to you, dear actress/actor? I want to say to you that I really wish for you to take care of your well-being. I don’t want you to be pressured into ‘entertaining’ me so much so that you don’t get enough sleep anymore. It could happen that I would really start crying for you, as a person, even before your face is shown on screen on your next project because my suspicions were confirmed that you are being constrained by the business side of entertainment. Please, if it happens that you already have enough money to live a healthy lifestyle then don’t push yourself to overwork for my sake. Freeze posterI will not be happy if you do so. Just seeing that you are working hard to be a good performer is already inspiring for me. I would already appreciate it that you are someone who is serious about your job and your responsibilities. I respect you as you are, even if I saw you in one project only, and my respect and admiration for you will not lessen just because you did not have a good project this year, or because other fans did not like the way you looked in your last appearance.

Please understand that however your face is structured you are handsome/beautiful to me. phoenix posterYour original face is beautiful. I’m your fan, and I know that you are also a human being like me. I am your fan because I admire the way you could get into a character’s shoes after just reading about him/her merely days or hours before filming. I bet many of the roles you were able to excellently portray you did them without consulting encyclopedias or psychiatry journals or historical accounts.

kingdom of the winds posterPlease take care of yourself. Next time I see the eye bags heavy under your eyes I would know that it was not because you stayed out late drinking with friends, but it was because most likely you pushed yourself to work too hard, for me. Sometimes your paleness is obvious despite the make-up and lighting. I would really hate it if you got sick because you overworked for my sake. Instead of making me happy to see your face again, it would make me sad, even if your role is funny.

Thank you very much for all your hard work. taewangsasingi 4 guardiansYou have already given me so much. You have shown to me how beautiful Korea and its people is. Your drama stories have encouraged me. The goodness of heart that I could see in the characters you play have inspired me, in my living. I owe you so much, so I thought it’s my turn to extend my support for you. I wish for you to find real happiness in life. I wish for you to love yourself, too, much more than I love the characters that you bring to life on screen.

gye baek posterthe great seer posterIt’s gotten into a long message now, and it’s already midnight so I have to say goodnight. 🙂 Goodnight, dear beautiful person. Have a lovely new day tomorrow. May God bless you.

——————

added on 9March2014:

I felt that I needed to say more about this matter.

Running Man _coreThere are video clips readily available online about almost anything in the known universe. Among these I came across one that gave me a glimpse of a world that I did not suspect existed. It’s an in-house training establishment for entertainer wannabe’s. This particular one I found was of Eric Mun’s, which made me feel awed at the intensity of dedication he gives to these training periods. That’s the first time I became aware that behind Kpop’s glamour is also a world of sweat and tears.

Joong Ki + Ji Hyo + Kwang Soo _ep21

Joongki, Jihyo, Kwangsoo _ep21

Lately, which makes me quite late into the game, I discovered that aside from Song Ji Hyo there’s also Lee Kwang Soo (and Song Joong Ki in the past) in the South Korean variety show Running Man. I never bothered with variety shows because they always made me feel like I waste my enthusiasms in paying attention to them.  But since it’s these three, whom I belatedly discovered to be close friends, and who are favorites to me individually, that are in this show then I watched one episode. That was Episode 2. That was memorable because I had not been able to laugh that loud and long about anything for many years now. For a Filipino this phenomenon is unusual — not having laughed hard for a long time — since we always have opportunities to laugh our guts out with family and friends.

Running Man _by 2011In watching a bit more of that show I gradually found it irksome that the true personalities of the members are suppressed during the show. For instance I hate it that Lee Kwang Soo is being projected as inept and stupid, because he clearly isn’t. I hate it that Song Ji Hyo is being made the “female” to the “male” of whoever that will guarantee continuous high ratings to the show. I somehow feel that it’s a disrespect to Song Ji Hyo as a person because if she were not a female then she wouldn’t be paired off like this, just an object, to one guy or another. I am frustrated that she and the guys are not free to express themselves during the show. Somehow I feel cheated by the fact that though I’m anticipating to witness true camaraderie among personalities that, I’d like to believe, by now have become real friends in the real sense, (yet) what I see are faked interactions.

A show has to be scripted, obviously. But the question of to script or not to script, or how to script, is not what I’m touching on here.

Running Man ep3 (1)    I’ve become this affected (!hahaha) because I have come to like each of the members of Running Man. I do not see Kim Jong Kook as frightening. I can sense his finesse and gentleness. I do not see Haha as inept. He has a solid sense of responsibility and self confidence. Song Joong Ki comes across as an intellectual to me, a sort of an academician, someone who loves learning but just happens to have a beautiful face. Though Kang Gary is constantly teased of his looks he actually oozes of sexuality, and he is totally far from being ugly. Same with Lee Kwang Soo.

Ji Hyo + Kwang Soo _ep21

Jihyo & Kwangsoo

This guy is smart but he suppresses it. I saw him only once, in Dongyi, and I thought of how he amazingly could pull off that character. He’s just good at making silly faces but actually he’s handsome. (Whew… I am a bit disappointed with myself in having to use the handsome-ugly categorization here because I feel strongly against this mass media gauge that is used in the distortion of humanity’s sense of beauty, and hence all values that are related to this sense, like self-acceptance.)

Running Man ep3 (2)But the fact is that the entertainment industry is a reflection of humanity’s greed for sensual gratification. That is, involving the senses. The term is already mentioned: for entertainment. Since the market potential is huge then the greed for unprecedented profits is also boundless. That’s what humanity is like.

The reason why I felt the urgency to add to this post is because I found additional information relevant to the topic. If you’re interested at what is going on, at the real situation, the one that is hidden from those who are not willing to dig deep, then I would like to share these three links with you:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-13760064

http://xypherfarrell.hubpages.com/hub/KPop-JPop-Why-are-People-Hating-it

http://xypherfarrell.hubpages.com/hub/REAL-Bad-Boys-of-Korean-Entertainment

Running Man ep3 (3)(I’ve bookmarked the bad-boys page because I’m now ready to get acquainted with them, to see for myself these ones who are admirable for their courage. Also, Kang Gary is there.)

I’m sorry that it’s only these that I can share with you for now. I know that it’s as bad in other countries (e.g., USA, India), but I don’t have time yet to look for the specifics. I don’t exactly know how it goes in the Philippines but it’s safe to assume that it’s also messy and bloody. It’s a lucrative livelihood, after all. Where greed is great, corruption in corresponding levels is also present. Myself being a Filipino, I could easily imagine how it is plus allowing that fact could be stranger than fiction here.

Running Man ep3 (4)Though I will remain enthusiastic for film productions I will not stay blind on the struggles of the small people who are involved in it. They are the ones whose faces are peddled on screen. They are the ones who touch my life, even bring me needed courage at times. I will not be like a pimp for them, raving about their work and selling it to the world by my praises, without being aware that I as a fan am also responsible for the pressure that constantly hounds them. Only a few of them are lucky enough to be born or be granted with the privilege of choice, like Kaneshiro Takeshi and Lee Seo Jin. Most of them are just struggling artists. Most of them are just bread winners who are stuck in a job that is actually a prison to them.

Running Man ep3 (5)I’ve decided to just choose first the Running Man episodes where only the core members are interacting amongst themselves. I now see them as close friends.  — The Filipino equivalent is the barkada. One’s barkada are the people that one hangs out with, each one being an important part of the others’ lives, to share laughs and other emotions with, a venue for self-expression, to grow up with, to explore reality with, a quasi-family. — Of course, I will watch all episodes that has Song Joong Ki in it and I will especially cherish those where he, Song Ji Hyo, and Lee Kwang Soo are on the same team.When I’m done with all those episodes I’d choose again from the episodes where artists that I admire have come as guests, like Jackie Chan, Cha In Pyo, Eric Mun, and Ji Jin Hee.

Running Man ep21 (1) Running Man ep21 (2) Running Man ep21 (3)Each time I watch them I will especially be alert for spontaneous interactions, the ones that bring out their unguarded emotions. In this way I’d feel like I’m having fun with them, too. Because this is how it is among barkada — just being with each other’s company is a guarantee for an opportunity to celebrate life, a partaking of well-being.

Thus, I will not watch Running Man merely for my entertainment and doses of laughter. I will watch it because I want to celebrate life through friendship, though vicariously for now.

♥♥

many thanks to the sites that made these pictures here available for everyone; all enlarge, some much, some a bit, when clicked on

♥♥

[added April 3, 2014] Kwangsoo enthusiastically greets Jihyo upon seeing her as she joins the gang late in the games in episode 189, tired as she is after more than 10 hours’ travel to Melbourne. Much younger Kim Woobin, Kwangsoo’s teammate, respectfully looks on and laughs at his elders as they end up squabbling.

Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (1) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (2) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (3) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (4) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (5) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (6) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (7) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (8) Jihyo - Kwangsoo warm greeting _Running Man ep 189 _Melbourne (9)

Why I prefer Ye Soya and Buyoung over Soseono, Eun Go over Choyeong, and Yihwa over Jiwoo

🙂 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.

The King of Goguryeo, Jumong, and the queen, Soseono

The King of Goguryeo, Jumong, and the queen, Soseono

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.

"Best friends" Eun Go and Queen Sa Taek chatting.

“Best friends” Eun Go and Queen Sa Taek chatting.

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.

Jumong catches up with Buyoung after missing her for a year.

Jumong catches up with Buyoung after missing her for almost a year, he says.

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.

Jumong happy to get Buyoung

Jumong and Buyoung. It could have been them.

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. jumong presents buyoung to the threeIt’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. Jumong makes everyone happyI 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.

12. Jumong traces Buyoung and goes to get her, alone

Jumong traces Buyoung and goes to get her

13. Jumong singlehandedly rescues Buyoung

Jumong singlehandedly rescues Buyoung

14. Jumong takes away Buyoung

Buyoung is safe for now

15. Jumong takes away Buyoung..

Success for now

16. Jumong has Buyoung

The prince rescues the slave

17. jumong surprises the three

Jumong surprises the three

18. Jumong happy to get Buyoung for all

Simply relieved and happy, Buyoung with Jumong

19. Jumong asks forgiveness for jeopardizing everyone

Jumong asks forgiveness for jeopardizing their brotherhood

20. Jumong and the sworn brothers make Buyoung happy

Precious Buyoung-rescue effect: brotherhood solidified

12. Buyoung was a pawn in the power struggle

Buyoung was a pawn in the power struggle.

13. Start of Younpo_s series of machinations _Ep_23

Youngpo’s evilness emerges. Ep.23.

14. Jumong_s reaction.

Jumong is on his way to mastering self control.

15. Youngpo gauding Jumong. Ep_23

Youngpo underestimates Jumong.

16. The value of Buyoung.

The value of Buyoung.

17. Heopbo again articulates their feelings.

Hyeopbo again articulates their feelings.

18. The self-effacing Buyoung caught in the chaos.

The self-effacing Buyoung caught in the chaos.

19. Of course Buyoung would rather sacrifice herself.

Of course Buyoung would rather sacrifice herself.

20. Soseono is jealous that Jumong withdraws from the competition because of Buyoung.

Jealous Soseono learning why Jumong withdrew.

21. Buyoung is freed.

Buyoung is indeed freed.

22. Buyoung is freed.

Disbelief at Jumong’s capitulation.

23. Jumong caught in the trap.

Jumong was caught in the trap.

24. Jumong and the guys caught in the trap.

Buyoung was not the only factor, though.

25. Heopbo articulates their feelings. Again.

Frustrating for everyone nonetheless.

26. Of course Buyoung would rather sacrifice herself. _1

Buyoung’s heavy burden.

27. Soseono overhears the 4s conversation.

Soseono overhears the four.

28. The self-effacing Buyoung.

Buyoung owns up to responsibility.

29. Jumong ever nice to Buyoung.

Jumong is ever nice to Buyoung.

30. Jumong ever nice to Buyoung.

Jumong frees Buyoung of guilt.

31. Ohyi proposes to Buyoung.

Ohyi proposes to Buyoung.

32. All in favor of Ohyi and Buyoung.

All are in favor of Ohyi for Buyoung.

33. Buyoung says goodbye to the series with a letter for Jumong, which he reads in sight of everyone.

Buyoung says goodbye with a letter for Jumong, which he reads here.

34. Buyoung is not allowed to love Jumong.

Buyoung is not allowed to love Jumong in the first place. Chincha.

35. Buyoung resolves her part of the story.

Buyoung resolves her part of the story by leaving.

 

Jumong  embraces  Buyoung_ep_11

Jumong and Buyoung. Ep-11.

Jumong embraces Buyoung_ep_11

Jumong kisses Buyoung’s forehead.

Jumong Buyoung under the open sky_ep_11

Jumong hugs Buyoung under the open sky.

Last glimpse of Buyoung_ep_23

Buyoung wishes Jumong farewell as she and her siblings walk away, along the mountain path

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.

Yihwa and Joongwon, 300 years ago.

Yihwa, Joongwon, 300 years ago.

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.

Jiwoo and her very lovable boyfriend.

Jiwoo and her sweet boyfriend

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.

Sae Hyuk refrains from touching his ex-wife. Ep.11. Sae Hyuk refrains from touching his ex-wife. Ep.11.a Sae Hyuk refrains from touching his ex-wife. Ep.11.b Sae Hyuk refrains from touching his ex-wife. Ep.11.c

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.

Dam Duk does not die by Jumong's sword.

Sujini catches Dam Duk before he falls flat on the temple floor. She sees him open his eyes again after Kiha stabbed him with Jumong’s sword.

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. 🙂

added 16.April.2014.

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.

Jumong ep 54 the Damul leaders visit BuyeoHere is General Jumong of the Damul Army and his officers, plus the king’s bodyguard, ascending the stairs to the main royal hall, to greet his foster father the king who is waiting for him there.

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.

For the Love of Lee Seo Jin: A Look Into Gye Baek and Eun Go

This is a personal take on the sad love story between General Gye Baek and Royal Consort/Queen Eun Go. First, let me say that all statements here are based on my impressions on the 2011 sageuk (S. Korean historical drama) series Gye Baek, which has my favorites Lee Seo Jin and Song Ji Hyo. Because normally I avoid delving into love stories (where I would say the plots are more often than not “nonsensical” and “mushy”), I won’t focus on the “mushy” side of their relationship. Instead I would try my best to look at the dynamics of how Gye Baek and Eun Go separated. The factual historical information on this great general’s life is said to be very little. I will be paying attention to their story as portrayed by the actors, looking at their faces while in dialogue, while keeping in mind also what little information available to me. (“Gye Baek” can also be presented as “Gye-baek” or “Gyebaek”, and is likewise with the Romanization of Korean names.)

As of March 2013 Wikipedia has this information on Gye Baek:   “The Baekje Dynasty flourished for six centuries from 18 BCE until it was defeated by Silla in 660. Baekje was established in the southwest corner of the Korean peninsula, close to the site of present-day Seoul by Onjo, the third son of King Dongmyeong, the first king of Goguryeo. It expanded southward and set up a trading relationship with China. …  In 660, Baekje was invaded by a force of 50,000 from Silla, supported by 144,000 Tang soldiers. Gyebaek, with only 5,000 troops under his command, met them in the battlefield of Hwangsanbeol. Before entering departing to the battlefield, Gyebaek reportedly killed his wife and children to boost the fallen morale and patriotism of his army, and to prevent the thought of them to influence his actions or to cause him to falter in battle.

His forces won four initial battles, causing severe casualties to Silla forces. However, in the end, exhausted and surrounded, Gyebaek’s army would be outnumbered and overwhelmed. Baekje’s forces would be all annihilated in battle, alongside with their leader Gyebaek.  … Baekje was destroyed after 678 years of rule, shortly after Gyebaek’s defeat and death at Hwangsanbeol.

As Neo-Confucian philosophy became more influential in the later Korean Dynasties, Gyebaek was recognized by historians and scholars are exemplifying the Confucian ideals of patriotism and devotion to his King and praised as such. Although not much else is known about Gyebaek’s life, his actions leading up to his last battle are well known to many Koreans.”

Yesterday I had a post on Gye Baek, looking a bit at how the happy days between Gye Baek and Eun Go were. This series is 36 episodes, which makes it 36 hours. I haven’t seen all the episodes but what I did was to hunt for those that will inform on my favorite characters’ story. So far I feel I have seen enough to make a statement on it—which basically is this: now I understand how they must separate, with Gye Baek having a wife, with Eun Go going the dark path.

The main point of the entire series is that Gye Baek has to be presented as a great and honorable hero. He must be protected from blemishes in the face that he is a man with lots of blood in his hands. Next, Eun Go must be portrayed as evil (I can’t retrieve now where I got this idea from, but somewhere in the net I read that history remembers her as someone evil. Chincha.) Finally, Gye Baek has to have a wife and children, because history says he killed them before going to his final battle. Also, since Gye Baek has to be “honorable”, it has to be portrayed so that he had valued his family despite what he did to them—and hence, jumping to the end episode here, it was portrayed that it was his wife who pressured him into such a grimy decision.

When I saw General Lee Seung Gye in “The Great Seer” I understood that a military man, very indispensable as he is to the monarchy, is nothing but a servant—meaning, he doesn’t own his life, his thoughts, his actions. He is not expected to be educated, is assumed to be rough-mannered, and is distanced from politics. Eun Go and Gye Baek had to be separated because she is the king’s wife, so the angle of them staying together is out—Gye Baek can’t be a criminal by way of taking for himself the king’s consort. King Ui Ja had always wanted her—when I saw “Dae Jang Geum” I understood that, as Min Jung Ho said, no-one can separate a king from the woman he wants (though Ui Ja was just the Crown Prince here). On the aside, Gye Baek did decide to take Eun Go away from the palace. Hand in hand they left Eun Go’s prison cell and it would have been possible for them to happily live ever after, hidden in the hills, had not Eun Go fainted and was found out to be with child assumed to be the future king’s.

❤ Here are some snapshots leading to this “separation”, after the bullet-ed quasi-descriptions to the events comprising them. This is in Episode 24, which at the start looks like the wedding night of Eun Go and Ui Ja. Eun Go had frozen in bed and Ui Ja had given up forcing her, otherwise it would have been rape.

  • Eun Go leaves the palace and seeks out Gye Baek. They share their anguish at Eun Go’s wedding. Eun Go asks him why he’s so heartbroken.
  • Gye Baek speaks to her of his heart.
  • She tries to give him a reason for keeping on. At this point both actually believed that Ui Ja was a savior. At the earlier episodes Eun Go had been caught in a situation involving her relatives and she’s expected to receive the death sentence. Ui Ja supposedly “saves” her by claiming that she’s carrying his child, and so becomes “immune” to punishment, so to speak.
  • The main point in their dialogue is that Baekje is more important than both their personal problems. Eun Go has no choice but to capitulate to Ui Ja’s plan if she has to stay alive. She hopes to stay alive until the day she can be with Gye Baek again.
  • He protests, saying he’s not strong enough…
  • It seems that Eun Go sleeps over because we see on Gye Baek’s waking up he is covered with Eun Go’s robe and Eun Go has left him with hot food. We see here Gye Baek still holding Eun Go’s white robe as he rushes to the door to look for her outside. We see also the breakfast Eun Go has lovingly prepared for him.
  • He’s disheartened that she’s left, she’s nowhere to be seen. Unknown to him she’s crying her heart out behind a tree.
  • She goes back to her husband, the ever jealous Ui Ja.

Picture galleries zoom in, and thumbnails enlarge, when clicked on. Thank you to the makers of Gye Baek.

 

Gye Baek Eun Go ep24_11  The king has Eun Go imprisoned at the Crown Princess’ instigation, that her pregnancy was just a made-up story (indeed). Gye Baek is enraged. He breaks her out of her cell, and she calmly lets him take her by the hand. Gye Baek Eun Go ep24_12But Ui Ja is there, alas.

I’m not sure if Eun Go here has decided to sacrifice herself so as not to jeopardize Gye Baek’s safety, and so proceeded to “faint” (Sa Taek Bi did this trick on everyone). Gye Baek Eun Go ep24_13She falls down while still holding Gye Baek’s hand. He’s surprised, throws off his sword, goes down and holds her. Or, that she did faint, because the next scene shows the doctor assuring both her “men” that she’s pregnant (the real thing now).

♦  ♦        ♦  ♦        ♦  ♦

The next captures show how the couple said goodbye to each other right before Gye Baek rides off. Immediately after that is a fading away of Eun Go’s face, followed by the scenes of their meeting again after the 7 years they were apart.

  • Both accept the separation while in full belief that Ui Ja has done his best in looking out for them.  Gye Baek leaves the castle. Eun Go appears and pays her respects to him as he was riding out. She solemnly bows. They communicate without speaking, giving each other tiny smiles of assurances. He goes out to the open world, among the mountains and fields, and the rough men of the ranks. She is left behind in the closed world of political machinations.
  • Eun Go’s face fades out and is slowly replaced by the next scene, which is a jump to 7 years later.
  • Gye Baek, who has grown in stature in front of the men’s eyes, projects an indifference to Eun Go when they meet again. Eun Go in turn has presumably grown more “calloused” amidst the power struggle in the palace. However, both still love each other as strongly as ever. This is Episode 25 now. Eun Go and Gye Baek meet by chance. By this time both still believe that Ui Ja has always been straight with them. As Eun Go hurries to leave the tent Gye Baek softly asks her if she’s happy.
  • She is sarcastic of her situation, and so musters an honest answer, that she’s still alive, at least.
  • He, however, laments her answer. He tells her that she should be happy, and that as for him he has forgotten “everything”…
  • It hurts her to hear him say that he has “forgotten everything”. But she rationalizes things, and tells him that he’s right…
  • However, he had only been fooling himself, because he has not forgotten everything. He staggers in pain as Eun Go leaves the tent.
  • He then sees the yellow parcel on the table, opens it, finds a letter, and reads of Eun Go’s feelings…
  • As he reads her letter we are shown how Eun Go herself made the clothes for him …
  • The letter finishes with “I hope that you’ll be safe in the war. This is my wish for you. (signed) Eun Go”…  The letter devastates him and releases much pent-up emotions. He clutches at his chest and cries…

Alas eventually Eun Go discovers that Ui Ja manipulated situations years ago to the effect that she will consequently be trapped into choosing to stay with him and leave Gye Baek —this for the sake of Gye Baek also, of course, since Ui Ja knows very well that Gye Baek is her weakness — Eun Go seems to be consistent in looking out for Gye Baek’s welfare till the end, and even her “betrayal” of him was not done in cold blood on her part but was a consequence of palace politics.

In contrast, Gye Baek had actually betrayed Eun Go in not telling her back then about the issue with her blood relatives, which resulted in the annihilation of her clan. She is enraged, nearly killing the witness to the whole thing, and starts to totally freeze her heart towards Ui Ja. (I have skipped the episodes that dwell on this issue and so I don’t have the details to them yet.) She musters her protective powers onto Gye Baek now, in her quest for justice for her relatives and the survival of her little son. The bottom line of the plot that we now find ourselves in is that Ui Ja wants to go to war with Silla, whereas Gye Baek does not. Eun Go has figured out that Gye Baek must go, then proceeds to tell this to him, finishing her rationale with: “and so that I can return to your side”…   …which totally offsets his composure… he believes that he and Eun Go would be betraying the king if they become a couple again for the reason that (aside from the obvious adultery) he thinks Ui Ja once saved Eun Go’s life…   …by this time Gye Baek has no idea at all of what Eun Go has discovered about Ui Ja’s betrayal of them…She carries the burden alone…

King Ui Ja has constantly been making a fool of himself in front of his military officers. The last one was by riding off alone and falling from his horse, hitting his head against a rock, and had to be sneaked back into the palace to prevent public alarm. Eun Go is going desperate with her powerlessness to protect her son, whom the queen wants kicked out of the palace in favor of hers. From “Dong Yi” I learned that this “fight” for the position of Crown Prince can have fatal consequences, and so I can understand Eun Go’s position a bit. She is bitter against Ui Ja, she is heartbroken over Gye Baek, and now the intensely jealous queen is not leaving her and her son alone. How does a woman survive amidst all these? Ahh, Gye Baek, she thinks of him. She encourages him to take the position of “Great General” and so be the commander-in-chief in behalf of the comatose king. However, she also needs to ask for help from him, for the sake of her son’s safety (Prince Hyo). When they meet secretly Eun Go lets out a hint why she is in the middle of all this mess…which makes him seriously go out and find things out for himself…

… Gye Baek finds out the ugly truth, that the reason he and Eun Go got separated was nothing but a big lie … but Ui Ja was still in a coma… Gye Baek could only look at him frustratingly in a silent confrontation…

He next confronts the two hyungnim-advisors (who had already known about the whole thing since forever !!!) and expresses his intense disappointment over their bonding with Ui Ja, which he now sees as a sham… once again he loses the reason for going on with life…     After mulling it over some drinks outside the palace, where he heard common people talking about him, he makes a decision and seeks out Eun Go. (He had already made it clear that he doesn’t want to mess with politics.) He tells her that she can’t leave the king. In effect he says that he can’t help her. He tells her that in order for him to survive he must give himself to the people, to Baekje, just like what Eun Go told him all those many years before, that Gye Baek didn’t lose her to Ui Ja but to Baekje, to the people. Gye Baek Eun Go ep28_03He returns the necklace. She accepts it. She now feels abandoned again. Her defenses rise, and like the fighter that she always has been since a child, she lets anger rise within her—she must help herself and survive or her son will suffer… Gye Baek Eun Go ep28_04From this point onwards Eun Go musters her tactical prowess in her lone struggle for survival, which also entangles her and buries her deep in intrigues. …but he has made his choice… and she’s trapped in the palace life… and they go separate ways…

Gye Baek Eun Go ep35_02

Gye Baek defends Eun Go

Jumping to the last episodes, 35 and 36, and seeing how their last meetings went…  By this time it has been found out that the queen (Eun Go) herself gave out military tactics to Silla in exchange for Tang’s acknowledgement of hers and her son’s positions. This has resulted into the death of 8,000 soldiers plus the assassination of one of the hyungnim-advisors. She has gone to Silla, on a reason and which is not to flee, but upon knowing of the planned attack against Baekje she hurries back home in order to deliver this crucial information. Only Gye Baek defends her credibility and pushes for the postponement of the queen’s punishment…

The king (Ui Ja) does visit her in prison (not shown here), to ask why she returned. She answers that she wants to die by his hands. She says she didn’t return to ask for pardon but to make it so that her death eases the anger of the people against the royal family, thereby uplifting the overall morale and enabling the people to defend the country against the coming attackers (of hundreds of thousands of troops combined). Ui Ja tells her that he can’t protect her… (whereas Gye Baek will try to!!!)…

The pictures here show Gye Baek visiting her before he goes off to war. This is his second visit after that first one when he came to tell her that her punishment has been postponed. They had a bit of an argument then, because he felt frustrated that she opposes his defense of her against the royal court (with the help of the other hyungnim-advisor), frustrated that she wants to die the soonest possible time, and she’s frustrated that she can’t do it… …Gye Baek actually wants to save her… he hopes that after the war when things have turned out fine (meaning, he hopes to be successful, which is a healthy state of mind all together) he’ll work out for her pardon… and he encourages her to persevere… For the last time Eun Go opens to him her heart… that she wishes that no-one else had to undergo the things she had, and that she has always loved him…

He responds very kindly, but I can’t be sure how much of his love for her is still there… for sure, he is sincerely touched by her words… (on the other hand, making Gye Baek appear kind towards Eun Go like this in spite of her terrible crime could just be a plot-devise to preserve the image of noble-ness of Gye Baek. For me, though, since this couple has been given importance in this story then this last scene of theirs together says that Eun Go has remained important to Gye Baek until the very end, whether he admits it to himself or not… the way he turned around to respond to her for the last time is so pregnant with meaning, and he looks sad, and he is very still like he’s had a shock, which makes me recall how he cried in the tent after reading Eun Go’s letter telling of the clothes she made for him … if it was only pity that he felt for her then that should have been emphasized, but it was not…)     She bows her head to him, just like she had done before their 7 years’ parting, and he slowly turns around, to head for battle…

Gye Baek Eun Go ep36_05    …this is a snapshot of the general in the battlefield, facing the enemy troops, and we’re now very near the end of the story…   …Gye Baek Eun Go ep36_06where we see Eun Go standing alone on a cliff somewhere far from the battlefield, preparing to face death on such a seemingly very fine day … perhaps the panoramic scene is symbolic of the hope she has of leading a suffer-free life in the/her next “lifetime” where no filial duties would trap her, no trusted friend would betray her, and perhaps meet Gye Baek again — and this time at last be with him, “by his side”, living in that idyllic village of the outcasts where they started to really open their hearts to each other… her face is sad but hopeful, not crumpled with bitterness or regret, but merely “accepting”, and she looks at the sky, which seems like she is looking forward to “freedom”…  …whereas, on another scene is a still of Ui Ja sitting on the throne stone shock in the face of his fallen kingdom (ahhh… he deserved that, I thought to myself…)

I find myself crying at the end of my narration here. To think of the deaths Eun Go has caused should disable me to do so. But to look at the face of the woman above, side by side with her smile to Gye Baek telling him how she dreams to live in that ideal village (Episode 14), makes me suspect myself as just being biased towards my favorite pair (Eun Go and Gye Baek). Lady Choi (of “Dae Jang Geum”) also had that “teary-eyed sorry and tired” face in the end but I didn’t feel ambivalent towards her as I do towards Eun Go.

If only Ui Ja didn’t betray the two they would have lived a happy life together. If only their prison-break was successful they could have lived like Jang Geum and Min Jung Ho, on the run but happy. If only history didn’t demand that Gye Baek kills his family then the story could have run just as well without having to marry him off. If he didn’t have a wife then there wouldn’t have been that last scene with his family, implying that he loves Eun Go less. If he didn’t have a wife then the last scene with Eun Go would suffice as a renewed declaration of their living bond (Sujini and Dam Duk of “The Legend” didn’t even talk properly before they parted, but their actions sufficed). If he didn’t have a wife, and he came back safe from the war, Eun Go could have had a chance at pardon, exile maybe, and he could have gone with her… If only Eun Go wasn’t smart to start with in the first place, then she also wouldn’t have dreamt big for Gye Baek…

Gye Baek and Eun Go did dream of living a simple life together. Several times there were chances for them to run away, but it always fails. In her own way Eun Go’s passion for the people of Baekje is just as strong as Gye Baek’s and that’s why she toughens herself up in order to handle politics — even the two hyungnim-advisors agree with her in this. In contrast, Gye Baek’s getting married and living away from the capital has a touch of escapism. He was too much of a general, a subordinate of the crown, that he couldn’t put his faith in Eun Go who consistently puts herself in line at his defense. The character “Eun Go” is a tough one, always caught between damned-if-she-does and damned-if-she-doesn’t.

Now that I have assured myself that there are acceptable justifications as to why/how my favorite pair here separated I can calmly proceed to enjoy the entire story at a later time, when my schedule allows. I have to watch the entire series within a short span of time to get a clearer view of the consequent issues in the story. But I would still find that end part, of him killing his own family, difficult to handle, with the added burden of not wanting him as happy with another woman as he was with Eun Go.

My favorite Jumuchi of “The Legend” is, alas, a villain here, just as he was in “Shadowless Sword”. Jumong’s mom looks too gentle-soft to be a hardcore villain. Song Ji Hyo, though (obviously) looking washed-out in some parts (like Episode 24) looks to all the thinking-angel out to protect, the hurt-villain out to defend her interests, and in the end also the repentant-human who wants rest. Both kings are decidedly pathetic (that’s why the kingdom fell in the first place) but the actors are very convincing. As a military-general-character LeeSeoJin-GyeBaek isn’t as rough-behaving as JiJinHee-LeeSungGye (in The Great Seer)but their characters before their joining the military scene in their respective stories are comparable —they were as convincingly “manly” as anyone can be. The series has successfully projected “General Gye Baek” the historical hero as a very admirable character, upright and true—though I suspect that this is a very tall idealization.

Alas, I don’t get many Lee Seo Jin smiles here, just like in Damo. It doesn’t matter—I still like him to the max.

Thanks a million to the translators.

last edited 1 May 2014

For the Love of Lee Seo Jin: Spending Time for Gye Baek

For three reasons I am now spending precious time on the Korean sageuk (historical drama) Gye Baek:

  1. I want to see more of Lee Seo Jin [as well as Cha In-pyo and Lee Hyun-woo 🙂 ];
  2. Jumong’s gentle wife Ye Soya (my favorite also) is here as Eun Go (Song Ji Hyo);
  3. Gye Baek and Eun Go loved each other until the end.

[the non-gallery pictures enlarge a bit when clicked on, and pink fonts are links to related posts] 🙂 Welcome.

Gye Baek Eun Go ep10 _0Before Gye Baek disappeared Eun Go gave him a perfume/ scent-necklace  …hmm… in “A Frozen Flower” it was Hong Lim who gave a similar item to the queen…  . It’s sweet-smelling and is kept next to the heart …oops, on second thoughts, it looked like a jade pendant, not a potpourri… my assumption came from teen-age Eun Go’s statement that it should keep him alert, plus the fact that she’s an expert in herbs/spices…

Gye Baek Eun Go ep10 _1At Gye Baek’s reemergence, both being adults now, Eun Go hands to him the little wooden figure of a child that his father made for his mother while waiting for him to be born. The figure stands for him. Eun Go and Ui Ja have kept it despite the big possibility that he had died.

Gye Baek Eun Go ep11Here Eun Go accompanies Gye Baek to his father’s close friend ( 🙂 who is Jumong’s “Musong” heheh).

The next captures show a turning-point scene between the couple. Their status in life are going to be made farther apart by Eun Go’s adoption into Sa Taek Bi’s family. What at first seemed to be a threatening phase to their relationship turns out to be a re-forging of the old bond.

Gye Baek laments that Eun Go has to sacrifice herself by living as a Sa Taek adopted daughter. It pains him, he told her. He shared with her his resentment of their respective parents in the face of what they are going through in the name of filial duty. They reforge their attachment as Gye Baek re-accepts the necklace from Eun Go. This was the necklace that he held on to during his captive years by Silla, the very same one that Eun Go gave him seen on the first picture on top. He had previously returned it to Eun Go after they had a disagreement about him being included in hers and Ui Ja’s revenge plan. They didn’t want him to get involved and this exclusion made Gye Baek angry.

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Gye Baek Eun Go ep13 _01

❤ Eun Go constantly looks out for Gye Baek’s safety. It was dangerous for him, to be found out that he is alive and has come back, at the period when Sa Taek Bi still had power in court. [Episode 13]

Gye Baek Eun Go ep13 _02

Gye Baek Eun Go ep13 _03

Gye Baek Eun Go ep14 _01Gye Baek Eun Go ep14 _03Gye Baek Eun Go ep14 _02Gye Baek requests her to be his reason for staying alive from now on. She smiles and promises that she’d gladly do so when that “good day” comes, when they are already done with their immediate tasks at hand. By this time Gye Baek had been successfully hidden in the mountain village, a haven for the downtrodden, where the leaders are the two hyungnim-advisors. [Episode 14]

Gye Baek Eun Go ep18 _00Gye Baek becomes the queen’s bodyguard, and for the meantime both can see each other in the palace, but until there only. They needed to pretend that they don’t know each other for their survival’s sake. This situation for them goes on until Sa Taek Bi and her family were driven out from the palace, but not before she had the chance to put Eun Go in prison. Gye Baek had to come and save her. They hug as she sobs. [Episode 18]

Gye Baek Eun Go ep18 _01It was the happiest time for both after that. They could now openly show their affection for each other. This, however constantly stirs up the jealousy in Ui Ja, and that’s where the next batch of problems for the couple comes from.

Gye Baek Eun Go ep18 _02Gye Baek Eun Go ep19 _01Gye Baek Eun Go ep19 _02Gye Baek Eun Go ep21 _01Gye Baek Eun Go ep21 _02

❤ Since I know that they won’t end up with each other, and I also know that Eun Go will betray Gye Baek’s cause, I am intent on finding out for myself acceptable justifications for their love’s tragic end. I want to understand their story as much as I understood the triangle of the king, the queen, and Hong Lim in “A Frozen Flower“. Otherwise, “Gye Baek” won’t be as memorable to me as “Damo” is.

. . . Here’s hoping that Gye Baek’s and Eun Go’s separation is “sensible” . . . Kaja!

last edited 21 April 2014

🙂 I hope you enjoyed these captures as much as I did. Thank you. Ciao!

A Frozen Flower: a look at a story of how an honest love triangle turns into a struggle on personhood

1.  Frozen Flower 2008 _Han Baek gets caught

Han Baek, who was eloping with a palace maid, gets caught by his brother guards.

Hello everyone 🙂 Today is Mach 1, 2014 and I am set to put captures for this post. I don’t have spare time actually, meaning I’m stealing this opportunity hahaha, but I’ve noticed that many people drop by to look over this post. I therefore felt compelled to fix things up a bit here primarily for my peace of mind. I’ve never intended to leave this post bare of illustrations and so now that Ms. Song Ji Hyo is in a new drama, Emergency Couple, I thought it’s as good a time as any to put an effort here once and for all. This update also marks the time that I squealed of delight after finding out that these favorites of mine are connected by close friendship: Jo In Sung, Song Joong Ki, Lee Kwang Soo, and Song Ji Hyo. Also, Joo Jin Mo is currently doing Empress Ki (which I’ll have to tackle in a separate post another time, by the major reasons that it has the cast of Damo plus another favorite of mine, Ji Chang Wook 🙂 This post is just a little expression of support for professionals from whom I have benefited much by way of insight acquisition. The fonts in pink are links to my other two posts that have more to say on this.

2.  Frozen Flower 2008 _finding a way to save Han Baek

Hong Lim was very carefully trying to find a way to save Han Baek from being punished with death.

Many have commented a dislike over the sexual element in this film. I do not have any comment against them, and they are perfectly qualified to hold such opinions. For myself I would not want a minor younger than, say, 21 years old to view this film. That’s just a general gauge of how old an individual could be before s/he can handle well themes that s/he may have not experienced personally, such as homosexual relations and betrayal of close bonds. I believe that age is not a good marker for so-called maturity because there are youngsters who are able to process such “adult” issues with admirable capability, and there are adults who cannot see the forest because they’re focused on the individual trees.

My liking for this film does not reflect the entirety or the summary of my personal convictions, the major part of which I have not even put tabs on.

3.  Frozen Flower 2008 _Hong Lim's view of the queen singing Gashiri

How the queen looks to Hong Lim as she sings Gashiri.

That is, because although I am not familiar with so-called lesbians, indeed I am very much familiar with the male counterpart, the so-called gays. But, well, these are just labels so just so there are terms that can be used for discussions and conversations. I’m sure the issues involved go way much much deeper and wider than what is promoted in popular media. What I know is that, as a Filipino who grew up in a rural setting, I have not been so much isolated by norms and religion as to condemn per se that homosexuals will go to hell. I have a handsome cousin who leans towards the feminine of traits and although I had a catastrophic fight with him decades ago over that issue I have become a big fan of his right now, even after decades of separation and even not having seen him even once since then. I also had high school classmates, dearly beloved, whom we all respect sincerely despite their deviation from the accepted norms of manliness.

3a.  Frozen Flower 2008 _royal guards behind the thrones

The king and queen of Goryo seated on their thrones, the chief guard behind the queen, the sub-chief guard behind the king.

Now, for the issue on physical sexual relations with the same genders, that is a field that I personally withhold abstract speculations from because I hold the conviction that God is not trapped within conventions and norms. My gay friends love God as much as I do, and my case rests there for now.

Finally, I wanted to pretty up this post as an expression of appreciation to the three actors who made the film a success: Song Ji Hyo, Joo Jin Mo, and Jo In Sung. This is not to add pressure to their already stressful lives. I just want to say that, if ever I were a friend of any of them, to take good care of their personal health especially the emotional aspect, and that this film established my respect for them as persons. They are beautiful people and I wish them the happiness that they can identify as their own, one which is not dependent on wealth, fame, or reputation. This wish also goes for everyone in the world. I wish happiness for all of us. Kampei! 🙂  Thanks a million for dropping by and for allowing me to share some of my thoughts with you. The screen captures enlarge when clicked on. Peace ❤

… below now was the original post

4.  Frozen Flower 2008 _a fever ignites the trio's frozen state

The queen acquires a fever after the procreation ceremony. The king tends to her.

This king in our story, in ancient Goryeo, is like a god. He can do what he wants. His servants are his property. He has a retinue of eunuchs at his beck and call, all of them at a bent position in his presence. They never stand straight in his company.

This king bows down to only one person, to the emperor of Yuan whom we don’t see in the story. We see only a princess of Yuan, she who had been sent to the palace to be the king’s bride about a decade ago.

Though this king does not have a complete autonomy, still his word is law in his kingdom. This is what we understand when a violator was spared of beheading as per the king’s order.

4a.  Frozen Flower 2008 _first inkling of betrayal & jealousy

The first time that Hong Lim hides something from the king.

The king in his youth gathered 36 children to himself and reared them in the palace next to him to be his trusted companions. Their body, mind, and will were trained for only one purpose: to protect him and to always be available only for him.

At one session the king asks the seated children who the best warrior in the kingdom is. Of all the answers given to him his eyes particularly shone at one boy’s answer, that it is one who willingly gives up his life for the king. Thus the love affair between this king and this bodyguard began. The king cares for all the children but his affection begins to be centered to only one, on Hong Lim.

Hong Lim becomes the respected chief of the 36 bodyguards (though one, the sub-chief, does not show proper respect by remaining seated while the others stand up and bow as Hong Lim enters their quarters).

5.  Frozen Flower 2008 _there is now the problem of how Hong Lim & the queen can reach each other

Hong Lim and the queen are starting to realize that they want the communication line between them kept open.

In their close ties he is also “hyungnim”, big brother. When one of them, Han Baek, falls in love and tries to run away with one of the queen’s maids Hong Lim takes advantage of his closeness with the king to beg for Han Baek’s life. The crime entails beheading. It is a desertion of the king, a betrayal, treason (i.e., the guards are forbidden private lives). However, the king relents. Han Baek is returned to his comrades, who are greatly relieved. They hug him. They thank their chief. There is genuine affection amongst them. They are merely the king’s objects but as persons they are family. When the sub-chief sneers at Hong Lim’s accomplishment Hong Lim gives this justification: that Han Baek is one of them and hence could not possibly be left in the lurch for just a one-time offense, though this is not to be a precedence for further violations. Hong Lim subjugates the resentful sub-chief, defending the king’s honor from such snide remarks. Hong Lim is loyal to his brothers as well as to his king.

6.  Frozen Flower 2008 _resignation on her face

The queen here could be trying to find her way through the helpless situation, as she slightly tilts her head back to where Hong Lim could be situated by now.

The first hint of disaster manifests when Hong Lim glances at the queen on the king’s comment on her perfume-locket, during that beautiful spring day as the royal couple was relaxing outside the palace grounds. Hong Lim’s existence is supposedly solely for the king, for the king’s wishes and wants, to protect, please, and lay one’s life to at any time. This had been his mindset ever since he first came to the palace. This is what he has been programmed to live according to. The king’s pleasure and contentment is supposedly his pleasure and contentment as well, and nothing else. Would there have been in him an element of jealousy at the king’s interest in the queen? Or perhaps just an interest at what the king is interested in?

The day before the picnic, after the Han Baek incident, we see Hong Lim gently combing the king’s hair. The king asks Hong Lim if he would do that, too, run away and leave the palace in case something similar happens to him. Hong Lim replies that he doesn’t think he could, because the king is in the palace. This, then, is the king’s fear: that Hong Lim will desert him.

7.  Frozen Flower 2008 _resignation on his face

Hong Lim deliberates on whether to persist on reaching out to her. Does he or does he not give her the locket?

During the picnic the king smilingly insists to the queen on “that song of Goryeo that you usually sing”, saying that he’d like to hear her sing to them. He even solicits Hong Lim’s support in this request. (Here is an incident where the three of them are in harmony.) The surprised and flattered queen shyly obliges. We see a king who is not icy towards his queen. We could say that they are good friends, that they are comfortable with each other.

8.  Frozen Flower 2008 _the second daring act _he gives her a gift

The gamble. He gives her his second gift. She receives it.

Hong Lim, whether because of the beautiful voice or of the lovely song, glances at the queen again. From his view behind the king he can see her left profile. He has now glanced at the queen long enough to be established in the plot that he is able to later recall what the potpourri-locket looks like. However, was he already drawn a long time ago to the queen’s beauty? He and his brothers would have been blind if they did not appreciate their queen’s looks at all. But the queen sings beautifully. Perhaps it is only this that he appreciates at that point. However, her song’s theme alludes to the incident with Han Baek’s attempt to run away. We see the king covering his emotions by a sip of drink. (He insisted on her singing and he got a reminder of his fear. What a day.)

9.  Frozen Flower 2008 _a small gift but a big decision

She wonders at the developments, of how she has come to look at him with favor, of what to do with the gift.

Naturally, the king being outside of the palace’s protection, assassins take an attempt on him. The issue involved has something to do with the political struggle between the king and his court with the influence of Yuan on one side and the absence of an heir on the other. Yuan describes this as a “political instability”. Several members of the court, including the queen’s visiting older brother, became implicated at the attempt of the few in this assassination. At the first whiz of arrows the king lunges to his right and covers the queen with his body. (Hong Lim quickly flips the table, for shield.) Next the king asks Hong Lim if he is okay, then orders that the queen be taken away to safety. To the queen’s fright he demands for his sword and stays with his bodyguards in the fight. We see a king who has a superior skill in fencing.

Now the emperor of Yuan makes a move in the face that the king so far has not produced a progeny. The emperor now intends to crown somebody as next in line. This place belongs to the king’s son.

10.  Frozen Flower 2008 _confined in an impossibility

There, he has done it finally. Whatever happens to him at his rashness he is ready to face it. He has given her something that he was not willing to share with the king. He may die because of it but he had deliberated long over it. He wanted to give it to the queen and that’s all that matters for now.

But despite having had the queen and the concubines in the palace for many years now no royal children have been produced to the kingdom. As the emperor’s representative reads this edict up on the dais we see all the courtiers bowed down beneath, on the floor, with the king at their head. The queen, on the other hand, is seated up on the dais, on her throne, next to Yuan’s representative, and next to the king’s temporarily vacated one.

The king next gathers his court. Seated now next to the queen up on their dais, bodyguards behind, members of the court express that it would be wise to conform to the emperor’s wish. The king looks and sounds resigned as he asks the court for more opinions. The queen, barely controlling her anger, decides to speak out. She lashes at the surprised court for accepting Yuan’s edict, implying that they are looking forward to the day that the present king has no power anymore over the country. The king’s nostrils slightly flares at his queen’s defense of his honor, at her publicly owning up of the fault of their being childless, saying that it is not the “still young” king who is incapacitated. Hong Lim, of course, empathizes with the queen and is moved by her show of fierce loyalty to the king. In this incident the three characters are once more in harmony with each other.

11.  Frozen Flower 2008 _court dance

A court celebration as a way of imploring for a royal progeny. Shown is a drum dance.

By now it is clear that the king is protective of the queen, as a husband should be. That evening alone with her he tells her to go back to her native country now that his humiliation is inevitable. He does not want her to be humiliated as well. They now talk openly of the problem: he can’t “do it” with a woman. Even if she sleeps in his chambers tonight and at any other time they would still not be able to produce an heir. She in turn chooses to cling to him, to refuse to leave him and her adoptive country. She declares that this where she belongs now. The king then, perhaps encouraged by her clear support, tells her of an alternative. To beget a son for him through Hong Lim.

12.  Frozen Flower 2008 _Goryeo king & queen

The king and queen in full regalia.

Indeed, as the king and Hong Lim make love we see the passion in the king’s eyes as he holds Hong Lim’s face and looks at him. It’s a sort of a helplessly fiery openly honest passion. We see that Hong Lim is at ease with this relationship he has with the king. He accepts his place as being the object of his king’s passion and willingly responds to the king’s satisfaction. We do not see any problem between them in there. Albeit, I cannot see fire in Hong Lim’s eyes as he looks at the king. This fierce passion between them will be re-enacted the morning after Hong Lim spends a night with the queen. The king had then demanded of Hong Lim’s “heart”, that it should be given to him. It will be enacted again at the last tableau, with their final swordfight. In there, however, it will be a passion to subjugate and to eliminate each other.

13.  Frozen Flower 2008 _Hong Lim steals a look

Hong Lim directs a quick look at their majesties. Was he looking for something?

Disturbance is first seen in Hong Lim’s eyes when the king tells him what he wants to be done. Hong Lim bolts up in bed, passionately declaring to the king’s turned back that he can’t possibly do it. Perhaps to him it sounded like being commanded to desecrate the queen, or like being commanded to betray the king. The queen, alone in her chambers, has tearful eyes of emotions. She has long resented Hong Lim for taking away from her the rightful place as the king’s favored nurturing partner. She, a virgin, must consummate the marriage act with a person she sees as worse than a stranger. She who has wholeheartedly given her loyalty to her husband has been commanded by him to exert a very intimate effort at conceiving with a “servant”. She, a princess of the mighty Yuan, will be made equal to a mere “property” of a vassal country.

14.  Frozen Flower 2008 _the queen wears Hong Lim's gift

There, he sees it. She is wearing his gift to her.

To defy the king’s wish is to humiliate him, and she is not in the position nor does she have the will to do this. She is too good a country’s subject, wife, and woman. She is foremost the king’s property, the country’s subject next, and being her own self the least–if ever she indeed has that notion at all. Hong Lim, she knows, will surely not defy the king as well. She realizes that she is helpless.

The king, having totally believed that he can always get what he wants (except in the case of Yuan), did not anticipate that these “properties” that he manipulates could get out of his control. He does not see himself as deficient (except for being heirless). He can even beat the best of his bodyguards in a swordfight at any time of the day. What best for him to do other than have his most trustworthy confidant impregnate his very loyal wife? He must have felt he had the safety nets on all sides. At that point there was no reason to suspect that either of them is capable of betraying his trust.

15.  Frozen Flower 2008 _sword dance

The royal guards perform a sword dance.

On the first consummation night the king gently lays his agitated queen in bed and silently reassures her with a very tender kiss on her lips. He lets Hong Lim in after encouraging him with a brotherly pat on the shoulder. The queen quakes as Hong Lim approaches. He sees her anguished eyes full of tears. He gives up.

The morning after, the king, taking the failure in hand with an almost imperceptible smile, encourages him again. The next night the queen has mustered more courage–she volunteers to disrobe herself. Now, as the rhythm of Hong Lim’s breathing increases, he looks at the king’s shadow against the thin dividing wall as if asking for permission to leave the king and venture into a world without the latter.

The queen eventually accepts Hong Lim. A new knowledge can be read from her face. Hong Lim, finally, rests his head beside the queen’s. They have stepped onto a threshold of no return. Ahh, so, Hong Lim can, in fact, do it. The king at the next room, hearing of that exact moment, freezes and blots his ink painting. The king has started to lose his control over the matter.

17.  Frozen Flower 2008 _an embroidery gift

At the library, the queen hands over a gift to Hong Lim. It’s a head band that she herself had embroidered.

Hong Lim felt it. He excuses himself from the palace to distance himself from this overwhelming new force in his narrowly restricted existence. The queen felt it. She persistently prostrates herself in prayer to calm her confusion. Hong Lim cannot stop the force. He thinks of her in his sleeping time. He gets a new necklace to replace her lost one (during the assassins’ attempt at the picnic). He sneaks a peak at her at the palace, while she repeatedly bows in front of the altar, unbeknownst to all. He muses about her while his brothers play at the river. He hides the truth from the king whenever the latter asks of anything that might divulge a clue to his increasing attachment to the queen . She becomes sick and gets a fever.

At these times the king starts to re-establish his control over the two–he shows open affection to Hong Lim just like before, and he shows sincere concern for the queen just like before. Hong Lim will start to distance himself from the king. The king reaches out and tightens his hold against Hong Lim. These acts of insistence on control worsen, escalate, until even the sub-chief becomes horrified at the king’s madness—the first instance of which is the tragedy in the library during the night of the thunderstorm. In there the king had become like a hysterical woman scorned by her lover.

16.  Frozen Flower 2008 _the king sings magnificently

The king in his magnificent voice sings Ssanghwajeom. It means “A Frozen Flower”, itself the title of the doomed situation he will shortly find himself in together with the two persons closest to him.

We see in the queen’s eyes the switch of affections. Whereas before to the king she gives warmth and to Hong Lim she is uncaring, now she turns her face away from the king, perhaps shielding her true emotions from his gaze. Little by little she looks at Hong Lim with warmth (there is that deleted scene, of another secret meeting in the library, the queen wearing a palace maid’s attire and Hong Lim wearing the head band that she embroidered for him, where she in a playful mood surprises him with a hug from behind, erasing his anxious look, and then they talk briefly, and he tearfully cradles her head in a tight embrace–a mark that they eventually see each other as equals, and are now “self-less” in their regard for each other). As to Hong Lim, whenever he is not looking at the queen, his eyes are sad, touched with a resigned and helpless look. Though he is sure of his love for the queen, and eventually of the queen’s love for him, yet these are absolutely forbidden in their context.

18.  Frozen Flower 2008 _king's guards like his song

The clueless guards go on loving their king, enjoying his song. Can you see Song Joong-Ki in front? ❤ ❤ ❤

So Hong Lim continues to hide truths from the king. The sub-chief consistently works out his way into snatching for himself the affection that the king has for Hong Lim. The queen responds to Hong Lim’s signals. In the very constrained situation that they are in, where the king always finds ways to know about truths they hide from him, Hong Lim and the queen nurture their newly found world. They communicate through little gifts, and glances, and meetings whenever they can snatch them.

But Hong Lim calculates their chances of survival before the queen does. He realizes that he has no power to protect the queen from the king. He tries to put a stop to the danger when he sees that only disaster awaits him, and the queen especially, should they continue with their attachment, where they are persons of mutual high worth plus without a demand to sacrifice their personhood.

19.  Frozen Flower 2008 _Hong Lim starts to distance

The morning after. Hong Lim begins to withdraw from the king’s advances.

The king has been persistently hounding him, enough to assure him that surrender is his only safety net. The king has had all traitors killed, all the high officials and even the queen’s brother. He knows of the king’s capabilities. He cuts his happiness short by surrendering to the king. His eyes now look almost lifeless.

The queen, on the other hand, did not have the understanding by this time enough for her to agree with Hong Lim. She begs him to run away with her anywhere, to “take her away”, even to the hills. He tells her of his powerlessness. She is saved from a suicide attempt. She discovers she is with child. She accepts Hong Lim’s departure (him being assigned by the king to the border stations for the purpose of “forgetting”) but has to tell him of her fear, that their child might not be safe with the king.

20.  Frozen Flower 2008 _the flower unfreezes & blooms

When she thought he had left her he came looking for her. When he thought she might leave him he came looking for her.

Alas, their love for each other cannot be constrained. The king, with the help of the sub-chief, finds them despite the thunderstorm. Both, with hands tied and kneeling before the king, alternately defend each other at the cost of their lives. When Hong Lim declares twice that he loves the queen the king snaps. He makes a shocked sub-chief castrate a superior brother. The queen faints. The royal physician congratulates the king on the queen’s conception. The madness in the king’s eyes that started when Hong Lim lied about sending honeysuckle tea to the queen now grows into crazy proportions–he commands the sub-chief that all subjects private to the fatherhood of the queen’s pregnancy be killed. Except Hong Lim. The king goes to him in prison and bargains at the back turned to him, to return to how they were before, and that all would be forgotten. (Whoa! You cruelly deprive a man of an essential part of his personhood and you bargain your kingdom with him! Too late, king! Hong Lim has finally discovered that a person can live outside of your gilded cage.)

21.  A Frozen Flower 2008 _self-made rice cakes declare love

She makes him rice cakes according to her home country’s customs. She tells him she loves him.

The queen, in danger to her own safety, sends brothers loyal to Hong Lim to take him away from the palace. The baby, she says, cannot have two fathers. (I guess she has projected how their lives would be in the future when the child grows up and Hong Lim is forced to live in the pain of not even be allowed to have his child call him “father”. The secret of the true fatherhood is bound to eventually leak out. Perhaps she has a good idea that Hong Lim will not be willing to be reconciled to the king anymore. Perhaps she did not anticipate that the king has gone crazy enough to ask Hong Lim for a reconciliation–she did not anticipate the king’s level of obsession with Hong Lim. She miscalculated that the king would put Hong Lim first before self-honor. Ahh, but this is a drama movie–the more angst the better.)

22.  Frozen Flower 2008 _she asks if he likes the rice cake

Tearfully she asks how the rice cake tastes to him.

The king guesses right that it was the queen who has sent Hong Lim away. She denies his accusations without turning her head to answer him. When she finally does so she gives him a venomous glare.Her child is threatened yet still she insists on Hong Lim’s safety. Hong Lim, successfully spirited out of the palace, turns back against his brothers wishes in order to get the queen, and his child, out of the king’s clutches. His brothers say he has nothing to give the queen anymore. He rides fast alone. The queen’s song plays. He stops. He is resigned. He goes back to a ransacked temple-hideout, his comrades missing.

23.  Frozen Flower 2008 _he admits that the rice cake is exquisite

He solemnly answers her that the taste is exquisite.

But then, how would I say anything about a king who has known the virtue of being in control all his life? Can his acts be justified in view of his insecurity and humiliation at not being capable of producing an heir? That, him being in this state, Hong Lim shouldn’t have spurned him? Did he really love Hong Lim? How many legitimate dimensions of love can one possibly talk about? He has lavished Hong Lim with gifts and attention—is this a proof of love? Whereas, Hong Lim, who has not had the privilege of choices at all, and who has been indoctrinated since childhood that his life belongs to the king, has only his integrity to give to the king—and this he did until the king initiated the triangle. Were the king’s consistent intents at forgiving Hong Lim’s betrayals proofs of love? Crazy.

24.  Frozen Flower 2008 _deleted library scene _the queen in servant's dress

A deleted scene, at the library. Hong Lim is wearing the queen’s embroidered head band. She sneaks out to meet him wearing her maid’s clothing. He is worried for her and she tries to comfort him.

Crazy to torture and kill the four brothers that protected Hong Lim, thereby supporting him and the queen in their quest for freedom from the king. Crazy to bait Hong Lim back by putting up the queen’s head along with the brothers’ on stakes at the palace wall. As Hong Lim declares at their swordfight, the king has “cut him to his roots”. The king is a bad loser. It happens to people. From where I am coming I hesitate at blaming the king here. I only know the story based on the characters’ faces and voices and on the dialogues translated into English (hehehe). I can only understand the story based on where I’m “coming from”, which is not of the ancient Goryeo worldview. Besides, the king can sing beautifully, too (it’s the actor’s own singing voice) 🙂 His song is as haunting and poignant as the queen’s.

If Hong Lim’s sword had not become broken at that precise instance then he and the king would have thrust at each other simultaneously. As the king impales Hong Lim he asks if he was, even for one instance in the past, an object of Hong Lim’s “love”. The latter answers “no” and “never”, and drives himself forward through the length of the king’s sword in order to thrust his own halved sword into the demoralized king’s torso. Thus, the king dies open-eyed, gazing at Hong Lim’s back.

The queen did the only way she could to ensure Hong Lim’s protection, and also perhaps avenge the deaths of so many people including her brother and her personal maid (whose head on the stake with the queen’s necklace Hong Lim mistook as hers): instigate the sub-chief at killing the maddened king, to “put him out of his pains” she tells him.

Fortunately for the sub-chief, Hong Lim is already on the process of doing the deed for him. The king is having a late night snack in his bedroom as Hong Lim enters and bows his final respects, which basically is a request for the king to get hold of his sword. (Hong Lim then unsheathes his sword—from some Japanese story I read I learned that this act is an indication of an intent to strike. Swords are valued and are not supposed to be drawn out unless they are intended for use.) He’s on his last mission at freeing himself from the king’s shackles. He’s about to perform the exact opposite of what he was programmed to do all his life: take the king’s life. His anger at the king is magnificent but subtly expressed.

24a.  Frozen Flower 2008 _the king says she'll have another man instead of Hong Lim

The queen is horrified at the king’s decision that another partner will be found for her. Rightly so. But by this time the king is now desperate to put a stop at whatever connection Hong Lim and the queen have.

He declares to the arrogant king (who shouts “castrated fool!” at him) that he has no fears anymore. Still, years of programming emerges as he feels a loss at having finally struck down the king. There is also that element of horror at having struck at a helpless man (this is against a warrior’s honor code), because the king, after hearing from the impaled Hong Lim that he had never been loved for even once by him, seemed to have let go of life itself simultaneous to his slightly slackened hold on the jade sword handle.

The sub-chief, aside from personal grudges, had to kill Hong Lim. His brothers behind him witnessed the treason: a trusted guard wanted for high treason has killed the king.

25.  Frozen Flower 2008 _Hong Lim protects her by denying her plea

This, then, is the queen’s solution: that she and Hong Lim simply run away.

If during that meeting with the bodyguards moments ago the chief was not yet a “traitor” to them, now he clearly is. Moreover, they are not willing to put their lives in “unjustified” danger, though their faces looked unanimously aghast at the summary execution of Hong Lim by the sub-chief. (In fairness to them, the ones outside the building urged Hong Lim to leave the palace before anyone sees him. That is, they were still protecting him in his state of being wanted for high treason.) Would Hong Lim have lived even without that torso thrust?

26.  Frozen Flower 2008 _Hong Lim is now the queen's all

Hong Lim, unlike the queen, knows that the king is capable of tracking them down. Moreover, something holds Hong Lim back from totally breaking out. Guilt, maybe, or the sense of honor, or responsibility. He is the trusted chief guard, after all, the most trusted by the person who is considered as equivalent to the kingdom, to the people. Many things hang on his neck and so he chooses to forsake his personal happiness.

The king had slashed at him several times before that final strike to the left breast, impaling him. That final hit was intended by the king to be a death blow, after all. Would his brothers have put aside the law and embraced him nevertheless at that hour of crisis? As Hong Lim staggered towards them his eyes seemed to say that he wanted to explain to them his side of the story, the reason why he did all this. It seemed he was asking the sub-chief to listen to him. When he was finally hit and was already falling his eyes seemed to say that he forgives the sub-chief, that he understands him and is without grudges against him, and that he accepts his fate.

The queen barges into the death tableau. She spots the king first and calls out “chonha”, perhaps not realizing yet that he’s already dead. Hong Lim’s resigned eyes light up at the sound of her voice. Her gaze shifts to him, already lying on his stomach and shaking in his last breaths.

27.  Frozen Flower 2008 _that thunderstorm night

This is the result of desperation. She nearly died. They were saying goodbye. The thunderstorm begins to rage. His feelings for her are too strong for him.

She screams his name repeatedly and struggles to go to him against the guards who are restraining her. As she is being forced away Hong Lim looks at her direction, silently saying that he would have very much liked to spring up and rush to her. The sub-chief commands that she be ushered out. Her voice fades as she disappears from Hong Lim’s view. His eyes briefly show elements of regret that, perhaps, they will be parted permanently now, and that, perhaps, a sadness that he cannot stay with her and their child anymore. Perhaps also an apology that he was not able to protect her, and won’t have the chance to do so anymore. When her screams are not heard anymore Hong Lim forcibly turns his head to the direction of the king, whose eyes already had that same dead look even before he died.

28.  Frozen Flower 2008 _the crucial library scene, thunderstorm raging

When reality catches up there are only two things possible, either to run away from it or to face it. They, each, decide to face it.

Did that turning of the head say that he loved the king after all? I don’t think so. He was already prepared to die before he discovered that the queen is still alive. He was already on the act of dying with his face turned towards the brothers that he grew up with, his family. When he sees that the queen is alive, what could have gone through his mind? Ultimate relief perhaps, for a treasure thought lost but is found again, and not only for this beloved woman but also for their child she carries.

But what about the last scenes of him and the king in the bliss of the olden days? As youngsters they had virtually pledged to each other that they would be together all through their lives. Ahh, but young children are highly impressionable and may be bound to change their preferences as they grow up. What about that dream of the king’s where Hong Lim as well was getting ready to shoot with the bow, in the manner that he requested for the king to re-depict in his painting? Well, the king was shocked when Hong Lim had slashed that painting. Whereas, Hong Lim wasn’t thinking about it at all, him being intent at just their sword fight.

29.  Frozen Flower 2008 _the queen & Hong Lim try to save the other

She does her utmost to save him.

The king, in between strikes, demands from him if love was really that important to him. Aha. The king has come to see that there is something that he wanted from Hong Lim but was not given to him.

30.  Frozen Flower 2008 _Hong Lim declares it clearly

He does his utmost to save her.

 Hong Lim heatedly replies that he is thankful enough for the king in leading him to feel that same love. (Okay, so, in this context as he speaks, would this love have been for the king or for the queen? I was confused about the whole issue of who loved whom and so I tried to understand the story again. Based on this dialogue it’s clear that both meant that love which Hong Lim declared for the queen—this is based on his confession in the library, the one that made the king snap. Hong Lim had slightly straightened from his kneeling position and had fiercely reiterated, explicitly into the king’s eyes, that he loves the queen.)

31.  Frozen Flower 2008 _the king's madness starts

The king felt he was dying, and he chose survival. He embraces rage.

Hong Lim experiences something worse than death (he was shouting that he’d rather be killed). Though castrated and betrayed by the one he devoted his life to, Hong Lim was freed in his sexuality and in his personhood, even in just a short period of time for him to enjoy it all. Thus it is not only the king that controls a bow, as what the king at first depicted in the painting. He, too, has now a chance to shoot with his own bow, a freedom of choice and of decision making all by himself.

32.  Frozen Flower 2008 _Hong Lim begs for death instead

Not even once does Hong Lim beg for his life.

  Indeed, that happy scene with the king will forever remain as a dream because in reality the king will never consent to him a freedom of equal level. The king kept on trying to keep Hong Lim by his side until right before the time he impales him.

33.  Frozen Flower 2008 _the queen begs to punish her instead

The queen shares Hong Lim’s agony and is about to lose consciousness.

Hong Lim in his death is at peace with the thought that he will soon have a child who will carry life on for him. I think his last glance and tears for the king was a goodbye as well as an expression of gratitude for all that the king has given him–for the care, friendship, attention, generosity–, for having led him to find a kind self-affirming love with the queen and hence a sort of freedom, and most of all for not killing her and his child. It might also have been an apology for a misplaced rage that is supposedly the last straw for his decision at revenge, and a sadness at killing a person that he had for so long looked up to.

A deleted scene. Hong Lim forges a sword for his encounter with the king.

Perhaps there is also sadness at the pain that came to the three of them and at the senseless waste of many lives, of his brothers and the servants privy to the secret. It also seemed to say, “Ah, you’re also just a man, a powerless one, and what a pity that it all ends like this… I did wish you happiness but not the one that you kept forcing me into… at least now I’m free…”–I thought on this after noticing that his eyes had vitality until the queen was dragged away but after he turns to the right his eyes had dullness, peace, and resignation. I think he had started to cry as the sub-chief hit him. He would have died in his fallen position and not turned to the right had the queen not appeared. It seems like this last tableau brought harmony to the three of them for the last time.

35.  Frozen Flower 2008 _betrayals

As passionate their love for each other was so deadly their final clash was also.

Alas, the queen sees her beloved dying, and thankfully he sees her, only by forcing herself against the controlling power at that final moment: that event was only within the bond between the king and his 36 bodyguards. That’s why the sub-chief had to wrap up everything fast with everyone: it must be told that it was an assassin, and that they have eliminated him. The queen is not included in this bond. Howev