Category Archives: Interesting Facts

Historical background of Warrior Baek Dong Soo

SBS drama Warrior Baek Dong Soo is a historical, martial art drama with the background of 18th century in Korea.

Lee Dynasty’s 21th King Youngjo and his son, Sado Seja, Baek Dong Soo are all real historical characters but this drama is not an ordinary historical drama.

Warrior Baek Dong Soo is a fiction with lots of imagination based on real historic incidents.

In real history, Sado Seja is the saddest prince of the Lee Dynasty who was killed by his father because of a political power game.

At the reign of King Youngjo, there was bloody power game between political party. Nolon is one of the powerful political parties and they don’t like Sado Seja to become the next king. They blamed Sado Seja for lots of bad things that happen.

King Youngjo had to lock his son, Sado Seja in the wooden rice chest without water and food. Sado Seja died in that chest.

Even though Sado Seja died because of plot of treason, his son became a next king, Jungjo.

In the drama, Sado Seja escaped from the chest and one of his followers died in there instead. And Sado Seja secretly lived and did for what he wanted to do for the country.

Baek Dong Soo is a real person and he wrote a book, ”Moo Ye Do Bo Tong Ji” which is about Korea’s martial arts during the reign of King Jungjo.

Historical background of “Princess’s Man”

KBS drama Princess’s Man is a drama that is based on one of the saddest historical fact of the Lee Dynasty.

The 7th king of the Lee Dynasty, Sejo became a king and killed his nephew, King Danjong.
To become a king he had to kill Danjong’s great supporter, General Kim Jong Su.
This drama is a love story between King Sejo’s daughter, Selyung and General Kim Jong su’s son, Seungyoo. It is kind of like an old Korean version of Romeo and Juliet.

There is no record about King Sejo’s daughter in the official history. In the unofficial history book named Geumgyepildam, King Sejo’s daughter, Sehee expressed her strong opinion against her father about stealing the crown and she has to flee because of her father’s anger. Sehee happens to meet a man and falls in love without knowing he is a Kim Jong Su’s grandson. In Geumgyepildam Sejo regrets what he did after he gets old and tries to find Sehee. Sejo wanted to help so that Sehee and her husband could have a normal life but they hid in a cave and lived there.

In the drama Princess’s Man, Danjong’s sister Kyunghye and Jung Jong’s love story will also be featured. Princess Kyunghye lost her mother when her brother was born and lost her father at age 16. She had to endure the fact that her young brother lost his crown and died. After her husband Jung Jong was killed by Sejo after he tried to take Danjong’s crown back, Princess Kyunghye becomes a slave . Her story seems to be more sad.

A Quote from Thorn Tree Bird

In episode 14 of Thorn Tree Bird, Lee Young Jo talks about how his grandfather always told him…

시냇물에 독을 타도 사는 물고기는 산다
시장이 아무리 어려워도 좋은 물건은 팔리게 되있습니다.

Even if somebody puts poison into the brook, there are some fish to survive.
Even if economy is very low, good products will be sold.

Young Jo convinces the president of a clothing company to partner with him to make a new fashion line. The president said it was too much of a risk for the company and Young Jo uses this quote to change his decision!

Picasso Painting Seen in Secret Garden

Picasso Painting Seen in Secret Garden

In episode 17 of Secret Garden, Gil La Im and Yoon Seul go to the Picasso and Modern Art. They stand in front of Picasso’s Woman in a Green Hat (1947) and La Im talks about the lifestyle of Joo Won and Yoon Seul. She says that in their lives they have many things to display but in her life she has to hide them as a stunt woman. She says that they’re so different.

Although Picasso’s painting was mainly used to enter the conversation of the two women, this work of Picasso caught my attention.

Woman in a Green Hat

Queen of Reversals’ Romantic Run Down the Stretch

For some reason, it’s generally the case that the second male leads in many, if not most, Korean dramas end up winning a dominant chunk of the audience popularity vote and thus the male leads’ thunder. This almost never happens in Chinese, Japanese, Thai, or other comparable formatted dramas. Memorably and famously done by Won Bin in Autumn In My Heart back in the earlier crash of this Hallyu Wave, followed up Lee Jun Ki in My Girl, and more recently Yoon Sang Hyun in Queen of Housewives, (female) audiences also succumb to this infectious syndrome in Queen of Reversals, where the troublemaker, scene and heart stealer in question is played by Park Shi Ho. Park’s rendition of his character may have arguably saved this drama from its earlier disappointing initial responses indicated in industry reviews, mob postings, and tuned in viewer numbers. Not only has audience warmed up to the romantic comedy thanks to its improved storyline which includes finally injecting sweet ole romance, not just hints of it, but MBC has given it two extensions, first an additional ten episodes and now another two to wrap up whatever it has in mind for the last stretch, bringing the drama to a total of 32 episodes, herego another six weeks in the rat race.

The longer run will benefit the drama in the obvious ways- a shining moment on everyone’s resume, more work and thus more pay- but it will also benefit the follow-up drama, The Duo, allowing it more preproduction time to polish off the rough patches.

Queen of Reversals stars Kim Nam Joo who also starred in its franchise wannabe predecessor Queen of Housewives, Jung Jun Ho, Park Shi Ho, and Chae Jung Ahn.

King Geunchogo, Mix of Historical Facts and Dramatic Fiction

KBS drama, King Geunchogo, which is based on the novel “Resentment of Continent” by Lee Moon Yul is getting a lots of interest from viewers these days. Mix of historical facts and dramatic fiction of royal succession of Baekje and war for the territorial expansion and conflicting destined love, all these element are inducing viewers’ curiosity and imagination. Japanese history book claims that King Geunchogo is the second son of King Bilyoo. In the drama, King Geunchoigo is described as the fourth son of King Bilyoo. King Geunchogo took the throne back from King Gye, 12th King of Baekje in the power struggle between factions and accomplished Baekje’s restoration.

An era of King Geunchogo is the period of prosperity for economy, political power even in the culture. He killed King Gogookwon of Goguryeo in the Pyungyangsung Battle and took the possesion of the land from Goguryeo. He also expanded Baekje’s land territory to the Jolla Area in the south. For the land territory, King Geunchogo’s era is accounted as the largest since the founding of Baekje. He also entered in the providence of China Liao, installed Baekjegoon there and made Baekje the center of the trade by securing the sea routes.

“Someone who gets the Han River, he is going to run the Han pennisula. And someone who gets the West Sea, he can dream about China.”

This is a quote that King Bilyoo told his son, Yugoo (King Geunchogo) when he decides to make his fourth son to be next king even though his first son was prepared to be a next king for a long time.

Cheomseongdae of Queen Seon Deok Still Stands Today

Who would have thought that the Cheomseongdae, the mysterious observatory shown in last year’s sageuk (historical drama) Queen Seon Deok, would be still standing today? Very recently, my family and I visited Korea. On our way down from Seoul to Busan, we stopped at the city of Gyeongju, which was the capital city of Shilla in the 7th century. Under clear skies, I was able to see the Cheomseongdae with my own two eyes and it was an extraordinary experience.

Cheomseongdae was built during the reign of Silla Queen Seondeok (r. 632-647), and is the oldest astronomical observatory in East Asia. The observatory is 5.17 meters in diameter and 9.4 meters in height. The bottle-shaped tower made of square granite stones stands on the square stone base. The length of the stone is 5.35 meters. Up to the 12th layer from the bottom, this hollow tower was filled with soil and pebbles. Between the 13th and the 15th layer, there is a square opening through which an observer can ascend to the top. Cheomseongdae gives a sense of balance, harmonizing straight lines with curves.

Cheomseongdae

Field of Flower Boys

A while back, I posted the MV of Korean boy group Super Junior’s “Sorry Sorry” on my Facebook page to celebrate SuJu’s end of year reign on top of the South Korean and other pan-Asian music charts. The comments and subsequent posts I received for it was completely not what I expected. Instead of “nice video,” “great song”, or “I like the dance choreography”, what poured in were “I enjoyed watching those girls dance…”and “what pretty faces…(and)…prettier frames they have” which pretty much sum up that post thread.

Growing up watching lots of Hong Kong and various other Asian dramas, I guess I got used to and became immune to the girlie boy stature of those East Asian men who paraded across my tv screen through the years. So it wasn’t a long stretch for me to accept this new breed of prettier than flower boys (translation: prettier than most females) who has saturated, been imitated, and drooled over in Korea, and then been exported to Japan, Southeast Asia , Hong Kong, and mainland China spawning, defining and dressing  a new breed of acceptable and celebrated men-looking-like-feminine-prepubescents preference.

In all seriousness, one has to wonder after gaping and awing at how these full grown twentysomething heterosexual men can look soooo pretty. The usual reflex reactions of admiring ‘so cute,’ ‘so hawt’, etc take a back seat to envying streams of ‘how could they have such beautiful pearly skin!’, ‘how could they be so slim!’, ‘I want his skin or at least the name of his aesthetician!’, and ‘look at those perfectly manicured nails and long fingers!’ Of course there  are also sufficient equilibriating eye-rollings and (shallow) critiques over the varying degrees of ridiculousness in these guys signature über coiffed hair of cascading waves or perfect ringlets, and ensembles of multi-graphic or flowing pastelly and bright colored tops complete with, more often than not, girlie legs touting skin tight pants.  As if people aren’t opionated enough as it is, if you walk out of the house dressed in that fashion, you’re just asking for the claws to come out.

Feminine looking men have always been around but never as celebrated and strong in numbers on screen as they are now. In fact, Korean audiences and Korean drama fans can’t seem to get enough of them. Almost every single trendy drama these recent years stars at least one flower boy. The ultimate one is probably the self-crown titled Boys Over Flowers 꽃보다 남자(2008) with not one, not two, but four prettier than flowers, heck, prettier than supermodels not-boys-but-not-yet-men male leads. Even discounting the fact that the female lead is suppose to be a below average plain Jane character, the juxtaposition of her and them are like comparing Apollo’s radiant charge on an August summer with a flickering incandescent light bulb. It was too sad to watch.

Other flower boy drama show pieces include You’re Beautiful 미남이시네요(2009), Baker King, Kim Tak Goo 제빵왕 김탁구 (2010), Tamra, the Island 탐나는 도다(2010), Sungkyunkwan Scandal 성균관 스캔들(2010), Playful Kiss 장난스런 키스(2010), and Mary Stayed Out All Night 장난스런 키스 (2010). The general stew of reigning and rising flower boys include Lee Jun Ki (The King and the Clown 왕의 남자 2005, My Girl 마이걸2005), Kim Hyun Joong and his cohorts of SS501, Jung Il Woo (Return of Iljimae 돌아온 일지매2009, Take Care of the Young Lady 아가씨를 부탁해 2009), Jang Geun Seok (Beethoven’s Virus, You’re Beautiful 미남이시네요2009), Song Joong Ki (Sungkyunkwan Scandal 성균관 스캔들 2010, Will It Snow At Christmas 크리스마스에 눈이 올까요 2009), and Noh Min Woo (My Girlfriend is a Gumiho 내 여자친구는 구미호 2010).

There are so many more eligible for this list, but since the subject is on looks, I reckon it’ll be more effective for my point to post pictures of these pretty, dainty looking boys/men. You can be sure that there are plenty of other candidates I haven’t mentioned or missed.

Prettier than flowers (plus most females) boys

Why do so many Korean girls and Korean drama fans like or accept this traditionally ridiculed look so much? Although I no longer have the one-note aesthetic and perspective of some of my western raised friends and emote shock, giggles, and sarcasm at the sight of these boys, personally I’m not attractive to them either per se, being steeped too many impressionable years in the school of it’s unmasculine, wimpy, and it’s-wrong-that-the boy-is-prettier-than-the-girl thoughts. I can’t even offer a non-statistical, unscientific guess on the mass attraction. Noticeably bizarre is that the younger generations of Korean girls (in Korea) are getting taller, bigger boned, and more statuesque these days right in stride with the guys. Could be all the mineral enriched and extra-amped up products they’ve regularly been feeding on since birth i.e DHA omega fortified dairy, well-being foods. One would think they would prefer men with even bigger not slighter stature than them. I can understand the attraction to the characters some of these pretty boys portray in their movies or dramas, but the look itself- no, not really.

Just to follow up on the Super Junior “Sorry Sorry” post story, I posted a comparatively more masculine looking MV of “Mirotic” by TVXQ/DBSK/Tohoshinki/東方神起 (the group goes by so many different monikers) to man and muscle up the Korean men’s image and offer some balance. Yeah, that calmed the giggles.

Gumiho’s Final Cameo

Halfway through the finale episode, there wasn’t much expectation left on seeing anymore cameo appearances. But then there he was sporting his You’re Beautiful hairstyle recolored to plum purple instead of its former sunny blonde shade. If that’s not a dead giveaway hint, then what is?

The scene was a photoshoot with clearly a female and male model or actor/actress.  The first shot was a long shot, so the audience had a few seconds to get suspicious and set mental preparation as the camera swayed and grooved to the beat of the soundtrack until it finally zoomed clearly onto the characters’ faces- Park Soon Jin’s sly character Eun Hye In, an aspiring actress, and Lee Hong Ki’s Jeremy. That’s right. The Hong Sister gave his cameo character the same name from his You’re Beautiful character. They are so great creating these little fun coincidences, puns, kismet, and other tie-ins from their previous dramas that have become their hallmark.

This Jeremy is the object of Hye In’s crush. Here she is trying to decide whether to put her pride aside and make a move on him or continue her usual high and mighty act and risk losing the chance with another guy as she did with Dae Woong, whom she lost to the aggressive, forthright, and lovable gumiho.

Cameo Countdown on ‘Gumiho’

Notoriously famous for filing the cast from their previous drama through their current one, the Hong Sisters have already got the girls, UEE and Park Shin Hye, from their last trendy cult-hit drama, You’re Beautiful, in cameos in their running SBS drama My Girlfriend is a Gumiho. It was a hoot seeing UEE get her hamburger meat stolen by the gumiho and left with only her buns and veggies. It was no less shocking seeing Park Shin-hye relatively girly hitting on her sonbae and intimated to scram by the gumiho.

Now the boys. Will schedule permit the boys of fictional band A.N.JELL in the drama to show their pretty faces in some form or another before Gumiho says goodbye to make way for Daemul? As all three actors have enthusiastically and readily agreed to an appearance, all that is in question is the time availibility in their activities.

Cameo is a particulary fun devise in any drama or movie because it never fails to elicit a ‘huh, is that who I think it is!’ moment. Following that begs the question from the viewers, ‘oh, did I miss any other?’ and a curious desire to review through previous episodes. Simply, cameo is an entertainment bonus. There will be many Hong sisters, You’re Beautiful, and Gumiho fans anticipating a turn from Lee Hong Gi, Jang Geun Seok, Jung Yong Hwa for their cameos. 

 

You're Beautiful Cast Cameos in MGIAG