During the 1871 Shinmiyangyo- U.S. expedition to Korea, a young slave boy from Jeoson fled to America to escape his bitter fate from the hands of a noble family. When this boy grew up, he was sent back to Jeoson by the American government which he served as a soldier to be assigned as a commission officer and as a secret agent. From there he falls in love with a noble woman while harboring feelings of revenge for the family who was responsible for the loss of his parents.
Words from Me:
The setting of this drama was during the transition of Korea from Jeoson to the modern era and probably closing on to becoming a democratic nation. Story wise it was full of fictional characters and settings but was also somehow mixed with bits of truth here and there. I haven’t researched much about Korea’s history in regards with the drama’s time table because I didn’t want to compare fiction to reality. I have this thing about getting disappointed when I’ve set my expectations already. The drama was also filled with wit, thanks to the writer who seemed to enjoy on sneaking in a couple of funny moments using words to make a comical scene out of this serious drama, but a huge thanks should be given to the actors who were able to deliver these humorous lines. They were able to lighten the drama atmosphere by inserting some comic relief.
Setting that aside, I love the fact that this drama was dedicated to those who sacrificed their lives for their own nation. Though the drama summary seemed to revolve around two people who fell in love against all odds, there is a deeper meaning beyond the romance and that’s patriotism. Most of the lead characters in this drama weren’t keen in protecting their own country, except for one. They didn’t even want to get involved with anything that pertains to Jeoson, however, as time passed by and the situation got worse, these characters cross paths with each other and are eventually thrown into the chaos. The only lead character that was so sure of protecting Jeoson was Go Ae-Shin, a noble woman with a high status and was bound to marry a man with the same standing in life. This steadfast character was portrayed by Kim Tae-Ri which she gave so much justice for. Ae-Shin is a stubborn woman with an amusing personality at times. Due to her all-knowing attitude, she seems to put herself in a pinch and ends up embarrassing herself in the end. Despite this little quirk in her character, she’s a woman who can wield a gun and shoot anyone spot on, that’s why she was chosen by the rebels whom they call themselves “The Righteous Army” to become their sniper. Her counterpart in this drama was Yoo Jin Choi/Eugene Choi performed by the hallyu veteran actor Lee Byung Hun. He was the servant boy who ran away from his country to avoid being killed. He had his own sheer of bad luck and dire circumstances that he ended up being an American citizen only to return to his birth county as an American soldier with big responsibilities. Unfortunately he fell in love. Yoo Jin could have lived a peaceful life as an American commander stationed in Jeoson, but no… he didn’t choose that kind of life because he decided to fall in love and choose the sappy path of romance and bits of revenge. I won’t say more about his character because it would be a big spoiler if I do, but I’d like to add that Byung Hun nailed his character. He may not be my favorite in this drama nonetheless he did a perfect job as Eugene Choi, he was able to speak English fluently with very little Korean accent, also adding up the fact that he can converse in Japanese was another feat that made me like him more than Ae Shin.
I have listed three other characters in this drama that is worth mentioning. First is my most favorite character – Gu Dong Mae also known as Ishida Sho. He was acted by Yoo Yeon Seok, he’s also one of my favorite Korean actors. The reason why I love his character is that he’s a total ladies man! He has this nonchalant way of helping out ladies in distress in a very cool way. Dong Mae was a son of a butcher and back in Jeoson days, being a butcher means being in the lowest ranks of commoners and more like equal to a slave. He lived like a dog when he was a young boy and resented everyone even Ae Shin who tried to help him escape during a certain incident, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t grateful because he was. He also have this weird way of showing his love, he does hateful things to aggravate the person he likes so as she wouldn’t forget him and that his memory will embed in her mind forever. He’s the typical bad boy who can kill anyone with his shiny-sharp cherry blossom sword and yet go through an unrequited love. The second character in my list is the hotel owner Kudo Hina who was once called Lee Yang Hwa. When she was a young girl, she was sold off by her own father to marry a rich but old Japanese man. Her character is quite peculiar because she does things on her own pace and she also has all kinds of agenda in her plate, but one thing is for sure, she’s a strong willed woman who cares for other people despite how feisty she is. With the kind of personality she has, I’d bet she’d bite off anyone who would mess with her. Just the kind of woman I’d like to be friends with. The last character in my list is Kim Hui Seong and he was personified by Byun Yo Han in an epic way. Hui Seong has deep ties with Yoo Jin and Ae Shin, since his family was the one that made Yoo Jin’s life a living hell in Jeoson and he was pre-engaged by his grandfather to Ae Shin. I love how his character evolved up to the end. At first, he may seem like an easy go lucky like kind of person but underneath it all, he wanted to be of use in more ways than one. Another thing that I liked is how Yo Han was able to sparkle between the charismatic guys, Yoo Jin and Dong Mae. I find myself looking forward for the trio’s scenes together because they always end up with such witty and funny lines.
All in all, everything in this drama looked beautiful, the actors and the back ground setting was a highlight of its own. I also have this thing for cinematography and those back shots which looks so good in screen captures. The drama also didn’t shy on killing those seemingly important characters in the middle of the show which totally tore my heart into pieces and made me anticipate who’s going to die next. It may have a bittersweet ending but it’s not about that, because the drama is about the journey and the sacrifices one has to make for the bigger picture and for those they love. By the way, OST was so good I had it running inside my head days after I’ve finished the drama. I felt happy and sad every time I hear the songs. TvN once again made a popular drama that would stay in the hearts of people who’ve seen it. I’m definitely recommending this for those who love watching historical dramas with heroic tendencies.