King Seonjo in the drama Jung Yi (2013) and why he chose Prince Gwang Hae to be the crown prince

During his reign King Seonjo (1567-1608) had two Queens, 9 official concubines, and lots of children. But we only see three sons in the drama Jung Yi, Goddess of Fire (MBC 2013) -  Gwang Hae who became the next king, his older brother, Im Hae, and his half-brother Sin Seong. The future of the three princes is uncertain at this point as the king refuses to choose who will be the next king. All three sons are born to concubines (Gwang Hae and Im Hae are sons of Gong Bin; Sin Seong is In Bin’s son) which is not ideal for a crown prince. As the oldest son, Im Hae feels that he is the obvious choice. But the drama suggests reasons why Prince Im Hae was never picked to be the future king.


Prince Im Hae (Lee Kwang Soo)  Prince Gwang Hae (Lee Sang Yoon) Prince Sin Seong  Continue reading “King Seonjo in the drama Jung Yi (2013) and why he chose Prince Gwang Hae to be the crown prince” »

Jung Yi Goddess of Fire Review (2013 MBC)

Jung-Yi,_The_Goddess_of_Fire-p1This is a light sageuk drama (32 episodes) set at the royal kilns of Pulmon during the reign of King Seonjo (r.1567-1608). I thought that having the story based around ceramics was an interesting angle. I did a bit of throwing on the wheel when I was at art college and I was quite interested in doing ceramics as my major until I discovered that it is really, really hard! Trying to centre the clay before you make your bowl just KILLS your wrists. Ow! :(  No wonder we only ever see our heroine when she’s putting the finishing touches to her pot, never doing the hard work at the beginning! (pics from MBC)

Continue reading “Jung Yi Goddess of Fire Review (2013 MBC)” »

How is King Seonjo (r.1567-1608) presented in sageuk drama Heo Jun?

heojun5602The court of King Seonjo (1567-1608) and his government of squabbling factions provides the main setting for the story of Heo Jun, the most famous doctor in Korean history who rises from a low class son of a concubine to take the most prestigious medical position in the country: Personal Physician to the King. (This post is about the MBC 2000 version of Heo Jun where the king is played by Park Chan-Hwan) Continue reading “How is King Seonjo (r.1567-1608) presented in sageuk drama Heo Jun?” »


baseball Korea

Went to watch the baseball at the weekend at the Mokdong Stadium to see Nexen Heroes vs. LG Twins. There was a large crowd for the home team Nexen Heroes. I don’t know much about baseball but I do know that Nexen lost 2-4. The atmosphere was a little more subdued than usual as there were no cheerleaders as a mark of respect for the victims of the Sewol Ferry Disaster.


Mourning the Victims of Sewol Ferry Disaster on Buddha’s Birthday

It was a subdued Children’s Day (May 5th) and Buddha’s Birthday (May 6th) this year as the country is still shocked, sad, and angry after the Sewol ferry disaster three weeks ago. A lot of anger is aimed at the government for the accident – a list of allegations including that the boat wasn’t seaworthy, had too much cargo onboard, and that the rescue operation was slow and ineffective suggest that Health and Safety has not been on top of the agenda.

Outside City Hall in Seoul people lined up to put a white Chrysanthemum on an alter in remembrance of those who died. There was a 40 minute wait from the end of the line to the alter where people could pay their respects. A large banner hangs across City Hall with an apology to the victims of the accident: 미안합니다 mi-an-hamnidasewol2

Children’s Day was especially sombre since most of the victims were high school students all from the same school. I heard that in some classes only one student survived. Many school trips go ahead in spring but after the disaster school trips across the country were cancelled. Bodies are still being recovered and one diver has died trying to retrieve the bodies from the wreckage under the sea.

On the grass outside City Hall there are yellow paper boats with messages to those that died on the ferry.


A sign on the grass in front of the paper boats invites people to stand here for quiet contemplation.


Yellow ribbons with messages for the victims are a symbol of mourningsewol6

The fact that the passengers were told to remain in their cabins to wait for further instructions when the boat was clearly sinking (not to mention the video footage of the captain being rescued in his underpants) has understandably caused outrage – the children who were trying to be good and doing as they were told by adults they trusted were the ones who didn’t survive. Here’s one message I saw on the noticeboards. It says “Korea, where people who follow the rules get hurt”. Very sad.




Heo Jun Recaps episodes 1-64

The thing with Heojun is that right from the word go, it’s intense. (No wonder it reached record-breaking viewing figures of over 60%!!) By the end of the first episode my stomach was in knots over the injustice of it all. Heojun, I feel your pain. Straight away we know that this is going to be all about overcoming the injustices of the class system and the social rules of Joseon society.

Heojun episode 1

heojun01It’s 1568 the first year of King Seonjo’s reign. Heojun is the son of a magistrate which should make him a yangban aristocrat, but his mother is a gisaeng, entertainer. And that puts him in a very difficult situation. He is not an aristocrat but not really a commoner. And he’s got a chip on his shoulder about that. (I KNEW I was going to get really into this again. But this time I am going to try to ration myself to one episode a day! )  Continue reading “Heo Jun Recaps episodes 1-64” »