Dae Jang Geum [대장금]
dae-jang-geum (Literally: The Great Jang-Geum)
Lee Young-Ae, Ji Jin-Hee, Hong Ri-Na, Yang Mi-Kyeong, Kyeon Mi-Ri
Lee Byeong-Hoon (Sang Do, Heo Joon, Song of Seo-Dong, etc.)
Kim Young-Hyeon (Shin Hwa Love Legend, Song of Seo-Dong, etc.)
September 15, 2003 to March 30, 2004
Mondays & Tuesdays 9:55 PM (Korea)
Loosely based on the true story of ‘Jang Geum’, whose triumph during the reign of Joong-Jong (1506-1544) during the Joseon period is recorded in the Korean history, this is a record-breaking drama that touched the lives of many, while topping the viewer ratings during its run in Korea. Jang-Geum’s (Lee Young-Ae) tale begins with a prophecy given to her father during his self-imposed exile from the palace while he was an officer carrying out death sentences. The monk prophet tells him that three women he meets; the first whom he kills, the second who saves him, and the third who will kill him but save thousands would control his destiny. The foretelling comes true and Jang-Geum, who loses her parents at a young age is soon brought into the palace to follow the footsteps of her mother who was once a royal kitchen maid. Through her intelligence and determination Jang-Geum, along with the help of her mentor Lady Han (Yang Mi-Kyeong), soon rises to be the most creative and skilled cook. When she gets caught up in the conspiracy of the Choi family, represented in the royal kitchen by Lady Choi (Kyeon Mi-Ri) and her niece Geum-Young (Hong Ri-Na), her fate seems destined to end tragically like her parents. Through her righteousness and courage however, and the love of Lady Han and Jang-Geum’s admirer captain Min (Ji Jin-Hee), she eventually gets noticed by King Joong-Jong (Lim Ho) and his queen. The Choi’s will not concede though, and continue their evil plans with Jang-Geum seemingly a target they must get rid of at all cost….
Chances are by now most people interested in Korean pop culture have heard about this drama, since the craze over it has been growing out of control since its debut in Korea in 2003, and I assure you the domestic and global fever over this drama is not unjustified. Dae Jang Geum is truly a gem of a drama that will inspire you, move you, and offer you one of the best entertainment money can buy; and the greatest part is that you can walk away with a deeper understanding and appreciation of Korean culture. The historical aspect of the drama is probably not 100% correct, in fact careful observers will notice a number of factual errors but the average viewer will definitely gain some new knowledge while being entertained. I have seen this three times, and each time I notice a new detail I missed previously. From the moment you start the drama you will realise that this drama is of a higher quality and you will understand why producer Lee Byeong-Hoon is a legend in this genre. Many people have praised the acting of Lee Young-Ae and Ji Jin-Hee, and I agree they were great, but I also want to mention that Kyeon Mi-Ri, who plays the villain Choi is really amazing to watch despite how evil the character is. Jang-Geum’s mentor, Han, played by Yang Mi-Kyeong is another unforgettable character. I have never seen anyone cry as beautifully as she does and her scenes are some of the best in here. Even if you don’t normally watch ‘historical’ dramas, I recommend you give this a try. This will also make the perfect gift for anyone on your list that might be hard to shop for. The drama has romance, conspiracy, mystery, vengeance, biography, and mouth-watering food recipes. It should cover most people’s interests. The drama gets a perfect 10 rating!
Did You Know?
Towards the end of ‘Dae Jang Geum’ when the viewer ratings were climbing up the charts, MBC production company announced they would pay for a trip for the entire team of actors and staff if the ratings got higher than 50%. The cast and crew of ‘Dae Jang Geum’ were awarded a vacation trip to south-east Asia after the completion of the drama to celebrate the drama’s viewer rating of 54% at its height.
Graphic by: mj07