The Generations of Jang Hee Bin (장희빈)


I know that this has been done again and again, and I maybe, technically have already done it in my post about Jang Hee Bin 1961, but I just felt like I had to do it.

Consort Hui of the Jang Clan (희빈 장씨), also known as Jang Ok Jeong (장옥정), Jang Ok Nan (장옥난), Queen Bu-ok of the Jang Clan (부옥 중궁전 장씨), or just simply Jang Hee Bin (장희빈), was born to Jang Hyeong (장형) and Mrs Yun (윤씨) (Apparently, nobody bothered to record her name.). She was appointed as a court lady (궁녀) under Queen Jangryeol (장렬대비), Grand Queen Dowager (대왕대비) and grandmother of King Sukjong (숙종). Noted for her beauty in the Records of the Joseon Dynasty (조선왕조 실록), she was noticed by the King, and was promoted from a Na-in (나인) to a Sanggung (상궁). According to some records, while projecting a humble yet determined personality on the outside, she was a jealous, scheming court lady on the inside. Because of this, she was expelled from the palace by Sukjong’s mother, Queen Myeongseong (명성왕후) (Not to be confused with Empress Myeongseong (명성황후)) for breaking Palace Rules. However, Queen Inhyeon (인현왕후), Sukjong’s 2nd Queen, begged the King to bring her back, and the King agreed.
As Ok Jeong returned, she was promoted to Suk Won (숙원), So-ui (소의), and eventually Hui Bin (희빈). Her jealousy began to show, and she was involved in many conspiracies, including the death of Queen Myeongseong, and her general ferocity in court. She held political power that she used to control her political party, the Soron (소론) (a division of the Western faction), successfully expelling Queen Inhyeon from the palace. Lady Jang then ascended to the role of Queen.
Her short tenure came to an end when his new concubine, Choi Suk Bin (최숙빈), requested for her return, and reinstated her. Lady Jang, angry at her demotion, summoned shamans to kill and denounce the Queen. When Queen Inhyeon died of an unknown illness, the King had a dream of the late Queen in a bloodstained dang-ui (당의) (robe for Royal Ladies), who pointed towards Lady Jang’s chamber. Upon arriving there, he caught Lady Jang and her brother, Jang Hee Jae (장희재), striking figurines of the poor Queen with arrows! She was sentenced to death by poison (사약), and died in 1701.
She had 1 child; King Gyeongjong, and was given a title, although she died a criminal. Her title was Lady Oksan, Great Concubine of the Palace, Prefectural Great Concubine of the Indong Jang Clan (대빈궁옥산부대빈장씨).

Now that I’ve given you the history, let’s get to why I made this post in the first place. There’ve been 2 movies and 7 dramas about Lady Jang, which gives a total of 9 interpretations over 52 years. Lady Jang’s image has slowly changed from a jealous femme fatale, to an intelligent, scheming lady, to a cold, restrained political figure, and most recently, a fashion designer.
I judge a version of Jang Hee Bin by a lot of stuff, but the 2 most important ones are the arrow scene and the poison scene. Really selective when it comes to these 2.

1961 Movie – Jang Hee Bin (장희빈), featuring Kim Ji Mi (김지미), Ju Jeung Nyeo (주증녀) and Kim Jin Gyu (김진규)

Jeong Chang Hwa's 1961 movie: Jang Hee Bin

Jeong Chang Hwa’s 1961 movie: Jang Hee Bin

Release Date: 1961
Duration: 127 minutes
Original Story: Yi Min Gu (이민구)
Director: Jeong Chang Hwa (정창화)
Arrow scene: 5 stars
Poison scene: What poison scene?
Jang Hee Bin – Kim Ji Mi
King Sukjong – Kim Jin Gyu
Queen Inhyeon – Jo Mi Ryeong (조미령)
Queen Inkyeong – Ju Jeung Nyeo (주증녀)
Although it’s a bit lacking in the ‘epic’ area, the storyline is great, Kim Ji Mi’s acting is super, and a ton of other opinions, which you can read on my post on Jang Hee Bin 1961. Oh, I uploaded a video of the movie’s arrow scene, you can see it here: Jang Hee Bin 1961: Arrow Scene

1968 Movie – Femme Fatale, Jang Hee Bin (요화 장희빈), featuring Nam Jeong Im (남정임), Tae Hyeon Shil (태현실), and Kangshin Seong I’ll (강신성일), aka Shin Seong Il (신성일)

Im Kwon Taek's 1968 movie: Femme Fatale, Jang Hee Bin

Im Kwon Taek’s 1968 movie: Femme Fatale, Jang Hee Bin

Release Date: 1968
Director: Im Kwon Taek (임권택)
Arrow scene: 4 stars; that was some convincing cinematography
Poison scene: We didn’t get to see her take it; the king was too busy giving the Crown Prince a lecture
Jang Hee Bin – Nam Jeong Im
King Sukjong – Shin Seong Il
Queen Inhyeon – Tae Hyeon Shil
It was really good, actually. Nam Jeong I’m was really vicious (hence the movie title), delivering 4 intense slaps where 7 years before there’d be 1 bland slap with no reaction. As this had 1961’s storyline, there was also Chun Seon’s torture (involved a tree, a lot of hair-pulling, and the reason why the show was rated 18+; I think her underclothes were ripped too, but the camera angle didn’t make it clear.

MBC 1971 Drama – Jang Hee Bin (장희빈), featuring Yun Yeo Jeong and Park Geun Hyeong

MBC's 1971 Drama: Jang Hee Bin

MBC’s 1971 Drama: Jang Hee Bin

Start/End Date: July 18th, 1971 to January 31st, 1972
Episodes: 54
Arrow Scene: ?
Poison scene: ?
Jang Hee Bin – Yun Yeo Jeong (윤여정)
King Sukjong – Park Geun Hyeong (박근형)
Again, never seen it. It seems so rare, that I couldn’t even find a proper staff or cast: again, only a few pictures. But based on those pictures, I can tell that it seemed to be one of those dramas that stick directly to the book, like dramas at that time.

MBC 1981 Drama – Women of History: Jang Hee Bin (여인열전: 장희빈), featuring Yi Mi Suk (이미숙), Yu In Chon (유인촌), and Yi Hye Suk (이혜숙)

MBC's 1981 drama: Jang Hee Bin

MBC’s 1981 drama: Jang Hee Bin

Start/End Date: October 5th, 1981 to March 12th, 1982
Episodes: 62
Broadcasting Time: Monday and Tuesday, at 9:55 pm
Episode Duration: 1hr 10 minutes
Director: Im Chung (임충)
Arrow Scene; So good, it’s scary; 5 stars
Poison Scene: More funny than dramatic; 3 stars
Jang Hee Bin – Yi Mi Suk
King Sukjong – Park Geun Hyeong
Queen Inhyeon – Yi Hye Suk
Choi Suk Bin – Yi Mi Yeong (이미영)
MBC has like a few videos of this drama on Youtube integrated with their Variety Shows. Here’s one: Dong Yi Interview: Generations of Jang Hee Bin. I saw the poison scene, and although Yi Mi Suk did her best to look really sad, I kept wondering why she would have blue eye shadow on a sageuk, along with why she was rolling up and down the stairs afterwards. Anyway, she was really convincing, and the drama put a lot of stress on how evil Jang Hee Bin was and how good Queen Inhyeon was. There was a clip of Yi Hye Suk acting as Queen Inhyeon, and the way she speaks and moves her head tells me that she’s like a slightly frailer version of Park Ha Seon (박하선) on Dong Yi (동이). Really love the shade of blue on Hee Bin’s Dang-ui.

MBC 1988 Drama – The 500 Years of Joseon: Queen Inhyeon (조선왕조 500년: 인현왕후), featuring Park Sun Ae (박순애), Kang Seok Wu (강석우), and Jeon In Hwa (전인화)
Start/End Date: January 13th, 1988, October 13th, 1988
Episodes: 71
Broadcasting Time: Wednesday and Thursday, at 9:50 pm
Episode Duration: 1hr 11 minutes
Director: Yi Byeong Hun (이병훈)
Arrow Scene: Unconvincing; 2 stars
Poison Scene: Made up for the arrow scene: 5 stars
Jang Hee Bin – Jeon In Hwa
King Sukjong – Kang Seok Wu
Queen Inhyeon – Park Sun Ae
Choi Suk Bin – Kyeon Mi Ri (견미리)
Jang Hee Jae – Yi Deok Hwa (이덕화)
Kim Chun Taek – Choi Sang Hun (최상훈)
Mrs Yun – Eom Yushin (엄유신)
Seeing as this was directed by Yi Byeong Hun (best director ever!), MBC made an entire summary video of it. It can be viewed here: Queen Inhyeon. A perfect balance of color and accuracy, along with a ton of my favorite actors/actresses, like Jeong Hye Seon (정혜선), Kyeon Mi Ri, Kim Hae Suk (김해숙), Jeon In Hwa, Yi Deok Hwa, and that actress that played Queen Jeongsun (정순왕후)’s court lady in Yi San (이산). The only reason why it’s not my favorite is for 1 small yet significant reason: the arrow scene wasn’t good enough.
Anyway, so things are a bit different from back in ’61. The storyline’s been modified a bit, the court ladies are wearing gache, and it’s no longer your average sageuk. Again, the poison scene was really dramatic and convincing, but nobody’s in their funeral clothes. That gets to me. It’s as if nobody cares about poor Inhyeon’s death, they’re too busy killing Jang Hee Bin. The door was a bit uncalled for, though. From the video, it seems like a typical Yi Byeong Hun drama, with a little of everything; melodrama, humor, and of course, history.

SBS 1995 drama – Jang Hee Bin (장희빈), featuring Jeong Seon Kyeong (정선경), Im Ho (임호), Kim Won Hui (김원희) and Kim Yeong Ae (김영애)

SBS's first major sageuk: Jang Hee Bin

SBS’s first major sageuk: Jang Hee Bin

Start/End Date: February 20th, 1995 to September 26th, 1995
Episodes: 63
Broadcasting Time: Monday and Tuesday, at 9:50 pm
Director: Yi Jong Su (이종수) – No, not Yi San’s Yi Jong Su
Episode Duration: 1hr 10 minutes
Screenwriter: Im Chung
Arrow Scene: Satisfactory; 4 stars
Poison Scene: Scary!; 5 stars
Jang Hee Bin – Jeong Seon Kyeong
King Sukjong – Im Ho
Queen Inhyeon – Kim Won Hui
Queen Myeongseong – Kyeon Mi Ri (견미리)
Queen Jangryeol – Kim Yeong Ae (김영애)
Choi Suk Bin – Nam Ju Hui (남주희)
Here’re 2 opening title screens for the show: Jang Hee Bin 1995 (1st title screen)Jang Hee Bin 1995 (2nd title screen)
By looking at the first title screen, my first thoughts were: “So, when does she become evil?” I thought it was a drama focusing on Jang Hee Bin and King Sukjong’s love alone. But after seeing this, my thoughts on the series were completely changed: Jang Hee Bin 1995 Montage. For a rookie actress at the time, Jeong Seon Kyeong did a good job. Still not as good as the Kims, though. This also marks Im Ho’s first of many historicals with Im Chung (who, BTW, is his dad). He seems to like acting as a king/crown prince, as he’s played King Sukjong, King Jungjong (중종), King Jinpyeong (진평) and Crown Prince Sado (사도세자).
Anyway, so again, I looked at the poison scene (yes, I’m into poison scenes, especially ones that’ve been remade over and over again), and I found this one scary. It’s the first one in which Hee Bin’s actually vomiting up the poison. It didn’t help that they kept zooming into her face while she was walking and dying at the same time, or that Im Ho’s face was messed up in that scene. But, that shot viewership ratings to >40%, so SBS can’t complain.

KBS 2002 Drama – Jang Hee Bin (장희빈), featuring Kim Hye Su (김혜수), Jeon Gwang Ryeol (전광렬), and Park Seon Yeong (박선영)

KBS' 2002 Drama: Jang Hee Bin

KBS’ 2002 Drama: Jang Hee Bin

Start/End Date: November 6th, 2002 to October 23rd, 2010
Episodes: 100
Broadcasting Time: Wednesday and Thursday, at 9:55 pm
Episode duration: 1hr 10minutes
Directors: Han Cheol Gyeong (한철경), Yi Yeong Guk (이영국)
Arrow Scene: Almost demonic; 5 stars
Poison Scene: Not all that; 3 stars
Jang Hee Bin – Kim Hye Su
King Sukjong – Jeon Gwang Ryeol
Queen Inhyeon – Park Seon Yeong
Queen Myeongseong – Kim Yeong Ae
Queen Jangryeol – Kang Bu Ja (강부자)
Choi Suk Bin – Park Ye Jin (박예진)
Kim Chun Taek (김춘택) – Song Il Guk (송일국)
Favorite Jang Hee Bin ever!! Kim Hye Su really put some excitement into this show. Her personality allowed Jang Hee Bin to come out of the TV and slap you silly. Her arrow scene was particularly convincing, almost creepy, and definitely evil with intent to kill. Here it is: Jang Hee Bin 2002 Arrow Scene.
The amount of kicking, smirking, shouting, shamanism and slapping this woman has done makes you wonder whether those were her hobbies. She’s probably slapped every single court lady under her rank. Japanese Advertisement for Jang Hee Bin 2002
The poison scene was okay, but it was like a failed copy of ‘Queen Inhyeon’s poison scene, door and all.

MBC 2010 Drama – Dong Yi (동이), featuring Han Hyo Ju (한효주), Ji Jin Hee (지진희) and Yi So Yeon (이소연)

MBC's 2010 Drama - Dong Yi

MBC’s 2010 Drama – Dong Yi

Start/End Date: March 22, 2010 to October 12, 2010
Episodes: 60
Broadcasting Time: Monday and Tuesday, from 9:55 pm
Episode Duration: 1hr
Directors: Yi Byeong Hun, Kim Sang Hyeop (김상협)
Arrow Scene: It’s been 3 years, and I’m still looking
Poison scene: Dignified, but weak. And she took it willingly; 3 stars
This drama is Yi Byeong Hun’s 2nd time directing a show with Jang Hee Bin (I say with because he never actually did a drama on Jang Hee Bin), and I think that this fusion sageuk is more inspirational than a historical. Mr Yi’s said that he wanted this version of Jang Hee Bin to be more restrained, with a sense of responsibility towards her family. Still, there’s no excuse for not using a bow and arrow to kill the queen. You know what she used? A match and the Queen’s ID tag. So much for dramatic, but impression achieved, Mr Yi.

SBS 2013 drama – Jang Ok Jeong (장옥정), featuring Kim Tae Hee (김태희), Yu Ah In (유아인) and Hong Su Hyeon (홍수현)


SBS 2013 Drama: Jang Ok Jeong, Living in Love

Broadcasting Date: April 8th, 2013 to June 27th, 2013
Episodes: 24 (seriously?)
Broadcasting Time: Monday and Tuesday, from 10:00pm
Episode Duration: 1hr 10 minutes
Director: Bu Seong Cheol (부성철)
Arrow Scene: She’s a good guy here, there’s no need for it (-_-)
Poison Scene: A real tearjerker, even though it was weak and bloodless – 3 stars
Jang Hee Bin – Kim Tae Hee
King Sukjong – Yu Ah In
Queen Inhyeon – Hong Su Hyeon
Choi Suk Bin – Han Seung Yeon
The sad ending seems incomplete. It’s not like other versions, where they try to make up for Hee Bin’s death by showing her son’s ascension or anything, no! Just a minute after she dies, the show’s over! Sukjong looks as though he’s not going to make it through this, and I think that it’s Ok Jeong’s fault here. Yes, I understand that she wants the best for him, but still, you had the chance to be a fashion designer in China, Ok Jeong! Wasn’t that your dream?! Hyeon Chisu (He has unrequited love for Ok Jeong), although very reliable, probably shouldn’t have tried to take care of Ok Jeong alone; Hyeon Mu should’ve supervized the entire evacuation until the end. Oh, well.
Like most others, my favorite part was Episode 8’s kissing scene between the King and Ok Jeong (which is strange, because usually it would have been the one where she caused the Queen Myeongseong’s death). They mightn’t have the best chemistry, but it was just enough. And of course, all the slaps, schemes and shouting were appreciated. My favorite slap was when Ok Jeong (Jang Suk Won at the time) slapped Queen Myeongseong’s court lady Ju Sanggung (Sanggung: Court Lady Rank – 6th level, I think) for not properly taking care of her mother.
Of course, the Hanbok (traditional clothes) were great. Highly inaccurate at times (high heels in 17th century Joseon? Sure.), but really appealing. Ok Jeong had the best clothes of course, while everyone else was being plain in accordance with Joseon’s customs.
All in all, a good show, but I simply can’t watch it again for a long while (How’s 2 years sound?).

Kim Ji Mi. Nam Jeong Im. Yun Yeo Jeong. Yi Mi Suk. Jeon In Hwa. Jeong Seon Kyeong. Kim Hye Su. Yi So Yeon. Kim Tae Hee. These 9 actresses have brought this enigma to life, from the days when Wonsams (traditional Royal Lady clothing for special occasions) were the norm in sageuk, to the mainstream dang-ui and hairpin, to the rediscovered dang-ui and gache (traditional wig), to the trendy Hanbok infiltrating slowly into contemporary historicals. They’ve taught us Joseon history, while providing us with the controversies and tragedy that seem to be required in a drama. As to why there’re 9 versions of this show, that’s probably something everyone has different reasons for. Will we ever find another concubine in Joseon history as evil alluring as Jang Hee Bin? We may never know, although Kim Hyeon Ju’s putting up a good fight in Cruel Palace, War of the Flowers.

The Generations of Heo Jun (허준)


So, MBC’s new drama ‘Guam Heo Jun’ (구암 허준) is premiering tomorrow, starring Kim Ju Hyeok (김주혁), Park Jin Hui (박진희), and Nam Gung Min (남궁민). Heo Jun was a famous doctor of the Joseon (조선) dynasty in the 17th century, during King Seonjo (선조) and Prince Gwanghae (광해군)’s reign. He also wrote “The Mirror of Eastern Medicine (동의보감)”, a famous medicinal manual that’s still being used today. Many of us would be familiar with Yi Byeong Hun (이병훈)’s famous 1999 drama ‘Heo Jun’, featuring Jeon Gwang Ryeol (전광렬), Yi Sun Jae (이순재) and Hwang Su Jeong (황수정), but do you know there were actually 2 dramas and 1 movie before this? MBC got the rights from Yi Eun Seong to make all 5 dramas.

MBC 1975 Drama – Tenacity (집념), featuring Kim Mu Saeng (김무생), Yi Sun Jae (이순재) and Jeon Yang Ja (전양자)

MBC's 1975 drama: Tenacity

MBC’s 1975 drama: Tenacity

Original Story: Yi Eun Seong (이은성)
Director: Pyo Jae Sun (표재순)
Heo Jun – Kim Mu Saeng
There’s not much to say on this drama, seeing as nobody might even remember seeing it, but it’s been rediscovered ever since Kim Ju Hyeok took the role of Heo Jun, as the main role of ‘Tenacity’ was played by Kim Mu Saeng, famed for his role in ‘His Majesty of Chudong Palace (추동궁 마마)’ and ‘The Dragon’s Tears (용의 눈물)’ as Yi Seong Gye (이성계). He’s also Kim Ju Hyeok’s father.

1977 Movie – Tenacity (집념), featuring Yi Sun Jae, Kim Chang Suk (김창숙) and Park Byeong Ho (박병호)

Choi Inhyeon's 1977 movie: Tenacity

Choi Inhyeon’s 1977 movie: Tenacity

Release Date: June 25th, 1977
Duration: 125 minutes
Original Story: Yi Eun Seong
Director: Choi Inhyeon (최인현)
Heo Jun – Yi Sun Jae
Again, not much to say, but it seems as though this movie was made because of how successful the drama was.

MBC 1991 Drama – The Mirror of Eastern Medicine (동의보감), featuring Seo In Seok (서인석) and Yi Sun Jae (이순재)
Start/End Date: November 4th, 1991 to December 17th, 1991
Episodes: 14
Broadcasting Time: Monday and Tuesday, at 9:55 pm
Episode Duration: 1hr 5mins
Original Story: Yi Eun Seong
Director: Yi Jae Kap (이재갑)
Heo Jun – Seo In Seok (서인석)
Yu Ui Tae (유의태) – Yi Sun Jae
Heo Jun’s Mother (허준 모)- Kim Yong Rim (김용림)
Dahui (다희) – Yi Eung Kyeong (이응경)
Heo Jun’s Wife (허준의 처) – Yi Kyeong Jin (이경진)
Monk Samjeok (삼적 스님) – Yi Chi Wu (이치우)
This 14 episode drama more resembles the 1999 version of the show rather than previous versions, and was shown in Japan as well. It’s just strange that in this version, Dahui isn’t Heo Jun’s wife. Here’s an advertisement (in Japanese) of the show: The Mirror of Eastern Medicine

MBC 1999 Drama – Heo Jun, featuring Jeon Gwang Ryeol, Yi Sun Jae and Hwang Su Jeong

Yi Byeong Hun's 1999 drama - Heo Jun

Yi Byeong Hun’s 1999 drama – Heo Jun

Start/End Date: November 29th, 1999 to June 27th, 2000
Episodes: 64
Broadcasting Time: Monday and Tuesday, at 9:50 pm
Episode Duration: Around 1 hour
Original Story: Yi Eun Seong
Director: Yi Byeong Hun (이병훈)
Heo Jun – Jeon Gwang Ryeol
Yu Ui Tae – Yi Sun Jae
Lady Yejin (예진 아씨) – Hwang Su Jeong (황수정)
Dahui – Hong Chung Min (홍충민)
Yu Doji (유도지) – Kim Byeong Se (김병세)
Yang Yesu (양예수) – Jo Kyeong Hwan (조경환)
Mrs Oh (오씨) – Park Jeong Su (박정수)
Mrs Son 손씨 (Heo Jun’s Mother 허준 모) – Jeong Hye Seon (정혜선)
Kim Min Se 김민세 (Monk Samjeok 삼적 스님) – Jeong Uk (정욱)
This drama marked Yi Byeong Hun’s return to directing historicals, after his tenure in the 80’s with ‘Undercover Agent (암행어사)’ and the 500 Years of Joseon Series (조선왕조 500년). This also marked the 1st of 7 dramas directed by Mr Yi in recent times. However, he’s said that Horse Doctor (마의) would be his last drama before he retires. Never said anything about retiring directly after the drama was finished, though, so let’s hope for at least a movie before he retires, shall we?

MBC 2013 Drama – Guam Heo Jun, featuring Kim Ju Hyeok, Nam Gung Min, Baek Yun Shik and Park Jin Hui

MBC's new drama to be premiered this Monday: Guam Heo Jun (2013)

MBC’s new drama to be premiered this Monday: Guam Heo Jun (2013)

Start Date: Monday 18th March, 2013
Episodes: 120
Broadcasting Time: Monday-Friday, at 8:50 pm
Episode duration: Around an hour
Original Story: Yi Eun Seong
Director: Kim Geum Hong (김근홍)
Heo Jun – Kim Ju Hyeok (김주혁)
Lady Yejin – Park Jin Hui (박진희)
Yu Uitae – Baek Yun Shik (백윤식)
Mrs Son, Heo Jun’s mother – Go Du Shim (고두심)
Mrs Oh, Dr Yu’s wife – Kim Mi Suk (김미숙)
This’ll be the first time I’ve seen a drama where Kim Geun Hong’s directing by himself. The last show I saw where he was a co-director was Yi San (이산), where he directed with Yi Byeong Hun. Also, MBC decided to experiment with the broadcasting format for this drama, to test viewer ratings. Personally, I feel that for a 120-episode drama, this format is necessary. Also, I’ll be seeing 5 episodes per week, instead of the usual 2, so the story line will pass just as fast as the 1999 version.
With regard as to how Mr Kim will play the role of Heo Jun, he said that unlike Jeon Gwang Ryeol, Kim Ju Hyeok will play a less “innocent’ version, to stress on his life before he took interest in medicine. I know the cast of this show’ll be under a lot of pressure, with everyone scrutinizing them and comparing them to previous versions. But I know this drama will shine new light on Heo Jun’s life, and will definitely bring out a different side of him, while still keeping “to the record’.

장희빈 Jang Hee Bin (1961)


Jang Hee Bin (Kim Ji Mi 김지미)

This was unexpected, but I actually found the 1961 version of Jang Hee Bin featuring Kim Ji Mi (김지미) and Jo Mi Ryeong (조미령) with English subtitles! From what I’ve seen so far, Kim Ji Mi seems to be the best out the 9 Jang Hee Bins so far! However, you can tell that they hadn’t done their research. Here are some examples:
By the way, this contains tons of spoilers, so if you want to be surprized, click the link here: Jang Hee Bin 1961.
If not, continue on………

Also, I might reference some Korean history. If there are any faults in my explanations, comments are appreciated!

Apparently, back then, someone mistook the characters 張玉貞 (장옥정 Jang Ok Jeong) in the Joseon Annals for 張玉蘭 (장옥난 Jang Ok Nan), so I’m forever hearing ‘Isn’t that Jang Ok Nan?’. Another thing: the chronology. According to the Jang Hee Bin 1961 movie, Jang Ok Nan/Jeong met Sukjong (숙종 왕) back when he was Crown Prince, in King Hyeonjong’s reign, so Lady Jang has an apparently justified reason for killing the Queen, and she somehow gets to meet Queen Inkyeong (인경왕후).
Although the greyscale doesn’t show it, Sukjong’s gown is actually gold, not red, like in every other Jang Hee Bin related series I’ve ever seen. This historically inaccurate mode of dress suggests that Sukjong was an emperor, not a King. This is inaccurate because at the time, Joseon (조선) was still under the sadae (사대) system (where China ‘takes care’ of them, in return for alliegiance to China, and consent from China on certain matters). Maybe it’s because King Gojong (고종 왕), after declaring independence from China, elevated all the past Kings (even Crown Prince Sado 사도세자) to Emperors. This was, of course, overturned when the Japanese claimed Korea for their own.
In the movie, the narrator keeps talking about ‘Consort Kim’ (김비) and ‘Consort Min’. (민비) After doing the research, I found that they actually meant Queens Inkyeong and Inhyeon (인현왕후) respectively. The Kims were highly preferable to the court for consorts, and the Mins apparently only had 3 famous queens from their family: Queens Wonkyeong 원경왕후 (King Taejong’s queen), Inhyeon and Empress Myeongseong (명성황후). Strange how both Inhyeon and Myeongseong died horrible deaths, isn’t it?
Back to the narrator. Although the mode of address to the Queens isn’t wrong, it was more used when addressing the concubines of the Chinese emperor and Goryeo Kings before the subjugation of the Yuan, like Emperor Taejo’s concubine, Consort Kang (To those who’ve watched ‘Taejo Wang Geon’, this is Wang Geon’s love Yeonhwa.)
Another thing that annoyed me was the fact that everyone in the movie always had on their special costumes, like what they would wear at ascensions and designations. Along with their funny accents in comparison to modern Korean Sageuk. The show was only court intrigue, with almost no officials and barely any action (one battle scene, with 1 guy to kill). But at least the sound effects weren’t as cheesy as those from other dramas like Ladies in the Palace (여인천하) and Age of Warriors (무인시대), and I think that court lady conflicts (like when Jang Hee Bin summoned all her court ladies to slap an old enemy on the left cheek) might count.
Musuri (Water Girl) of the Choi clan (무수리 최씨), newly named Dong Yi (동이). Her name was never recorded in the Annals, so it didn’t surprize me when I saw ‘Chun-seon’ (춘선) instead of ‘Dong Yi’ in the subtitles, but what did surprize me was that the King never promoted her from Musuri to Sanggung (상궁) or Suk-ui (숙의) (Court Lady titles) even after she got pregnant. It was also appalling when Lady Jang kidnapped her, stripped off her jacket and began beating her, then stuffing her into a vase, and expecting the King not to notice!
What was outrageous though, was the complete lack of a poison scene! I mean, that’s like a trademark of Hee Bin shows! After the guard said: ‘Jang Hee Bin will now kill herself’, she just got up and walked to some dark, smokefilled room! (To anyone who saw this, can you explain where this is?)

Jang Hee Bin walking who-knows-where

Jang Hee Bin walking who-knows-where after receiving the order to kill herself

But in the end (not literally), the movie was legendary. Kim Ji Mi is second only to Kim Hye Su (김혜수) when acting as Jang Hee Bin, and Jeon In Hwa (전인화), Lee Mi Suk (이미숙), Lee So Yeon (이소연) and especially Jeong Seon Kyeong (정선경) are no match for her. However, I think Jeon In Hwa came the closest to these 2 legends in acting. She usually does a convincingly well job in her roles (loved her in Ladies in the Palace and the King and I (왕과 나). I’ve heard she was in Baker King Kim Tak Gu (제빵왕 김탁구), but I’m not into modern dramas.)
Jeong Seon Kyeong in SBS's Jang Hee Bin 1995

Jeong Seon Kyeong in Jang Hee Bin 1995

Lee Mi Suk in MBC's Jang Hee Bin 1981

Lee Mi Suk in MBC’s Jang Hee Bin 1981

One of MBC’s many portrayals of Jang Hee Bin: Jeon In Hwa in ‘500 Years of Joseon: Queen Inhyeon’ (1988)

KBS’ interpretation of Queen Inhyeon’s murder

First Class Acting: Kim Hye Su’s evil smile

Never mind the lack of color, CGI or poor video quality, this movie is a must-see. I think that those limitations made it even better, as it shows that if a movie can be legendary with those limitations, then all Jang Hee Bins must live up to or exceed that standard.

KJM for the win!

Lee Young Ae –West Palace (KBS) – 1995

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been here, but Now that I’ve finally figured out WordPress, it may be that you’ll be seeing me reblog stuff and occasionally make original posts. For Now, I’m back~

Talking About Sageuks

In 1995, Lee Young Ae starred in her first historical drama: “West Palace” (서궁 ) as the evil Court Lady Kim Gae Shi (? – 1623), she was Seonjo and Gwanghae’s concubine.

According to some historians, she wasn’t a beautiful woman, but she had many other talents and Gwanghae favored her greatly.


Lee Young Ae – Kim Gae Shi

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