Saturday, March 10, 2012

Blood and politics

   No, not JYJ right now, although the title can be misleading. It's a short presentation of two currently airing period dramas that I'm afraid to classify. Technically speaking, they're taeha. It's been a while since I watched any of this kind lately, King Geunchogo disappointed me heavily, and I couldn't get into Gwanggaeto. Pity, because they describe almost exactly the same time span - first Geunchogo conquered some land, then in 399 Gwanggaeto reclaimed it as Goguryeo land. Perfect, isn't? This is why I decided to finish Gyebaek, and after some time, I found I'm quite enjoying it (fangirling over ajusshi Jun Nomin, sorry).
But this time, Mushin and Queen Insu.

I'm enjoying both for totally different reasons. 
Queen Insu is about Great Queen whose husband was never the king. A little bit sad, because Prince Dowon, portrayed in the drama by Baek Seonghyeon is totally different from his father, Prince Suyang. While watching him and his genuine love for Han Jeong (future Queen Insu, played by Ham Eunjeong as young one), I can't stop but wonder what kind of king would he made, had he not been taken by death so early. 

   But what's really threatening in this drama it's Han Jeong girly face and power-hungry heart. Second episode and she asks Suyang to make her into a Queen. Fearless girl with straight, clear goal in life.
Quite the bitch later on, when she ruled in place of her son (who was a psycho and mentally deranged person). Also a bit bitchy when she refused to marry Dowon too, rejecting him in his face. He was persistent enough to reach his small goal too.
This drama is not fast-paced, its construction is close to 8 Days Mystery of Jeongjo's Assassination in terms of richness and texture. It's not a rom-com, it's not funny. The only nice and heartwarming moments belong to Prince Dowon and his royal spouse.
Well, Kdrama wouldn't be Kdrama if it didn't feature some awesome child actor, this time Jin Jihee, playing the role of future Queen Yun (deposed and poisoned, she was the main character of drama The King And I). The girl is great, bright when she needs to be, ordering around in other times.

 Contrary to this, Mushin is full scaled taeha with battle scenes, blood and... more blood.
If people thought Princess' Man had gore scenes, this one won't be liked by them either. It's very raw in such scenes, intense and brutal. But hey, you know, life in 13th century Goryeo wasn't fairy land where all are dressed in flowing silks and consumme ambrosia from golden bowls.
That was really bloody and eventful time in Korean history, Mongols were just making their moves to destroy the peninsula over the next 60 years. And king... well, tradition has it King Gojong was very wise and benevolent ruler. His misfortune was coming from two sides - his advisors that occupied his court and Mongols' threat from the north. When the avalanche fell, obliterating all, the court hid on Ganghwa island doing absolutely nothing to help commoners in their struggles. Worse - they demanded taxes still from people that lost everything.

   Other issue - slaves. People were complaining that slaves life was depicted with too much realism and in a gruesome way. It's clear Mushin strives for reality, unlike usual taeha. And when dealing with dark reality - it shows it as a dark reality. I guess folks thought slaves' life was similar to that of pure-white, laboratory clean and neat Lee Dahae's character in Chuno. But guess what, slaves were laborers, not princes/princesses. Their life was hard.

   The other issue I have with this drama is time-span. It starts in 1217, and it's clear the main hero will be Kim Jun. But all I could find about him was a short note on some Korean website stating he died in 1268 not long after killing Choe Ui from the mighty military Choe clan that de facto ruled for 60 years. He was killed by Im Yeon, to just add. Choi U (played by well known Jeong Bo-Seok) was against any treaty with Mongols, and his politics was continued by his son, Choe Hang (after Choe U's death in 1249).
This way, I'm not convinced to the depiction that Kim Jun was the 'mightiest man' in Goryeo kingdom. It would be those of Choe clan. Although there is a passage on him in History of Goryeo (Goryeosa, 고려사) depicting him as loved by subordinates, good warrior and great man and ready to be the ruler. That's all.
Oh man, so many familiar faces in this drama, starting from the main character, so many known ones from QSD even (well, hello Baek Dobin playing Choe Hang!)

Those who like taeha/sageuk - watch those. Those who don't like it - don't bother, there is a lot of talking, politics and happenings.

Queen Insu:


And Mushin: