An unbridled imagination, it goes places. Just ask me.
So three days ago I was watching Episode 5 of Tree With Deep Roots. Rather listlessly, I confess, because I was still bummed about a certain someone’s exit the previous episode. Friends raved about Han Seok-kyu’s acting and how it was helping them to be, you know, more forward-looking about the drama. Backward-looking me, however, didn’t think his King Sejong was exceptional; he was solid as expected, nothing more and nothing less. I also found the characterization of the two Sejongs to be so disparate as to be jarring. Yawning even though the night was still early, my drowsy mind half-contemplated two thoughts: Bail now. Bail after Episode 6.
And then it happened. A flashback that jolted me awake.
Some TP readers think I have a hair fixation since I tend to harp on the subject in my recaps or reviews. But the truth is I don’t notice hairdos unless they are weird or downright awful.
Take Emperor of the Sea which I’ve been watching spellbound the last two days. Nine episodes in (and forty-two to go), I’m in love with the story and soundtrack, and awed by the production values. But then Choi Su-jong appears (and the guy has a lot of screen time since he’s the lead) and I’m once again distracted by that THING which is supposedly hair but looks more like shredded rags hastily stitched together.
I’m in sageuk heaven. First, there was The Princess’s Man, a story that got me reading into the night about King Munjong and his brother the Grand Prince Suyang.
Now there’s Tree With Deep Roots, a new and promising drama about Munjong and Suyang’s father, King Sejong the Great. Eight minutes into the opening episode and I immediately feel at home, the words “General Kim Jong-seo” and “Jiphyeonjeon” (Hall of Worthies) rekindling images from my beloved The Princess’s Man.
As double icing on the cake, guess who are the two actors playing the young Sejong and his father King Taejong, respectively?
Open Pack of Cards:
I like to think there is a loophole to political correctness. People turn a blind eye to potentially offensive stereotypical proclamations about an ethinic group if the negative blanket statement is made by someone about their own ethnicity. I’m not saying this should be condoned, merely that most people tend not to get their hackles up in these instances.
When I was a kid, my mother hated gambling. She hated it with a passion hotter than a thousand suns. It probably came from some sort of childhood trauma involving some family member that gambled away their life savings and ended up in a bad bad place. Or maybe not. Maybe my mom was just a goody two shoes.
Regardless of the reason, my mom would give anyone the stink eye if they asked her to play mahjong. She will tsk tsk at my father if he so much as touched a pack of cards. One day, my mom took me by the shoulder and told me: “Baby, no one likes to gamble as much as Chinese people like to gamble, and gambling will never ever end well. Promise me you’ll never gamble or marry a gambler.”
(thundie: I’m thrilled to introduce my second guest blogger, someone whose gifted writing I’ve long admired. Please welcome Serendipity!)
Hi, I’m Serendipity. Thundie made me an offer I couldn’t possibly refuse: an invitation to contribute to this fabulous blog. This is my first foray into the wonderful world of k-drama blogging, and to stay my nerves I am taking the advice I often dish out to drama writers – just write from the heart. So for my pilot review I’m attempting to articulate why I have been smitten by the 2007 k-drama Thank You (or TY in short). As I’ll be focusing more on the overall effect of the show than on plot, any spoilers there may be are quite mild.
So, come with me. Let us go on a journey.
Was it six years ago? A man and a woman at night, she bleeding from a wound on her shoulder, he tending so gently to the wound. Their voices are as soft as the breeze is light. As they walk home afterwards, cherry blossoms flutter around them, like a million pink and white lights aglow in the dark.
Even now, six years later, I can’t speak of my first sageuk (Korean historical or period drama) without a lump suddenly forming in my throat. Damo changed my life, literally flinging me over the edge into the depths of kdrama addiction. It marked the beginning of a love affair that has continued to grow; both my top movie and drama are period ones and I don’t see any other genre coming along to topple them, in the foreseeable future or otherwise.
Damo stayed at the top of my favorites list for a long time, but the day finally came when I had to sadly acknowledge that another drama would take its place. So it has been, this game of musical chairs, this rotation of faves and favored. I’m not alone. One of the contributors to this post sent me this note along with her picks: “I RESERVE THE RIGHT TO CHANGE MY MIND.” (See how passionate we sageuk fans are? Haha.)
So here we are, a special post on my favorite genre. Six dear friends, all familiar names in the Kdrama community, responded enthusiastically to my invitation to participate in this poll of sorts. Nine categories in all (because it’s obvious thundie can’t count; she thought she listed ten), with picks that I’m sure will delight or dismay you. Wrapping up the post is a hilarious and insightful look at how sageuk and wuxia stack up against each other.
Many thanks (and cups of coffee) to ockoala (who wrote the sageuk/wuxia piece), dahee, dramaok, hjkomo, javabeans and His Grumpiness misterX. All of you inspire me every day to be a more discerning viewer.
May we sit down for a chat? I really want to tell you what I think (and feel) about you.