Titles and ways to address others in Joseon society: Horse Doctor

While I was watching the historical drama Horse Doctor (MBC 2013) and trying to write recaps for each episode, one of the problems I had was trying to work out what the characters actual names were! And that’s because they are rarely called by their names! They are addressed by their title or relationship to the speaker. (This is still true for Korean society today)

Uh? What’s your name again? :?

And it can get very confusing with all the different titles people use to address each other. In the work place people are called by their surname plus job title and at home everyone has their own title which can change depending on who they are talking to. Relationship to the speaker, rank, age, or gender can all play a part.  Though only some of these terms are used in contemporary society I think it’s interesting to be able to recognize them when watching Horse Doctor since the terms will crop up again and again in other historical dramas. So here I’ve tried to give a breakdown of the characters and how they are addressed by others. :)

The King

The king’s subjects call him Your Majesty = jon-ha (전하 殿下) 
Everyone is lower than the king except the queen mother, so she uses a different title when she addresses him. She calls him chu-sang (주상  主上)

Continue reading “Titles and ways to address others in Joseon society: Horse Doctor” »

The new rooftop flat in ‘Rooftop Prince’

Last week in episode 8 of Rooftop Prince (SBS Wed/Thurs 21:55) ) we got to see the posh newly constructed flat that Chairman Yeo has had built for her ‘grandson’. Rooftop flats are usually the cheapest kind of accommodation in Korea – they look like a small box built on top of a flat roof. So when we see a character in a Korean drama (usually the heroine) going up the narrow rickety steps to the roof, we know straight away that she’s poor!

But I’ve never thought the rooftop flats looked that bad. At least they have some open space outside where people can sit or hang washing and there’s probably a good view of the city from up there too. On the other hand, they are small and cramped and look like they might be cold in the winter with all those thin external walls – even with ondol underfloor heating. And they are often up hilly roads away from bus stops and stations.

But in last week’s episode we really got to see the striking difference between a cheapo rooftop flat and luxury rooftop accommodation. If rooftop accommodation looked like this, everyone would want to live there (below). The old tiny flat where the characters were living has been knocked down and a new deluxe model built in its place. Apparently it took the crew only 4 days to build the new set. I read an article about this on the SBS website and I’ve tried to translate it here below. In this exercise I focused on highlighting vocabulary related to drama production.

[옥탑방 왕세자] 새로 태어난 옥탑방, 럭셔리 ‘옥탑궁’으로 변신

‘Rooftop Prince’ From a rooftop room, a new luxury ‘rooftop palace’ is born Continue reading “The new rooftop flat in ‘Rooftop Prince’” »

Study Korean Through Drama: DRT ep10 천륜 filial piety

Karion, the butcher in Banchon is arrested after his knife is found in a scholar’s room attached to a threatening letter. But everyone is shocked because Karion has gained the King’s trust and often comes and goes from the palace. Could he really have something to do with the murders that are happening in the palace? Chae Yoon believes he is innocent but is worried that Karion is being framed and will not get justice because he is only a lowly butcher. Meanwhile Jo Mal Seng (who has been trying to catch Milbon for years and is DETERMINED to find them) questions Karion in the prison cell. He starts off gently as though he sympathises with Karion, but even though his voice is soft there is a tense atmosphere throughout the scene. He sounds TOO soft and understanding, and so it feels like he could turn nasty at ANY second … (the Korean script has been checked by a native speaker)

Deep Rooted Tree, SBS, 2011, Karion the butcher is questioned by Jo Mal Seng.  Continue reading “Study Korean Through Drama: DRT ep10 천륜 filial piety” »

Study Korean Through Drama: Deep Rooted Tree ep09 역사를 거스르다 go against history

This is quite a difficult scene to understand as Song Sam Moon has some very long lines and he speaks quickly. (So I’ve broken the longer sections down to look at them one by one) But it’s an interesting scene and I wanted to understand it as here the scholars are putting forward their reasons for being against King Sejong creating a new alphabet (Hangul) for their country. (Up until this point they were using Chinese characters).

We can learn why they were so passionate about keeping Chinese characters – even though the Korean language had different sounds and so not all the sounds in Korean could be presented by the Chinese characters. Continue reading “Study Korean Through Drama: Deep Rooted Tree ep09 역사를 거스르다 go against history” »

Study Korean Through Drama: DRT ep08 아바마마의 말이 옳았어 Father Was Right

This is one of the best scenes in the drama. We find the mature King Sejong meeting and chastising his younger self. The King is stressed out and feeling guilty about the murders that are taking place at the palace. He knows that the rebel group Milbon are behind the murders. But even though his father warned him years ago about the group, he did nothing to try to find the traitors – he even tried to help the one who became the leader of the group: Jeong Gi Joon.

So here he tells his younger self that the rebel group Milbon really does exist – just as his father had warned him. And now Milbon are killing his men. He chastises his younger self for thinking that he could rule peacefully (unlike his father who ruthlessly murdered ANYONE who he thought might be a threat to his leadership). Continue reading “Study Korean Through Drama: DRT ep08 아바마마의 말이 옳았어 Father Was Right” »

Study Korean Through Drama: Deep Rooted Tree ep07 재가가 없다 no permission

Chae Yoon and the other guards realise that the assassin they have been searching for is in the library in 반촌 Banchon. In the Joseon period, Banchon was the name of the special area where the low class nobi servants lived. And this particular Banchon was for the nobi servants who served the scholars at the Sungkyunkwan Institute. Guards from the palace were not allowed to enter this area without the King’s permission. So now when Chae Yoon and the others go in to hunt for the assassin, the head of the servants, Do Dam Taek, demands to know what they are doing there. Do they have permission? They don’t, of course, and the servants want to protect Banchon and so clasping their makeshift weapons, they start to surround the guards …. Continue reading “Study Korean Through Drama: Deep Rooted Tree ep07 재가가 없다 no permission” »

Study Korean Through Drama: Deep Rooted Tree EO6 쇠팔찌metal bracelet

Chae Yoon is now in charge of the investigation to find who is murdering the scholars in the palace. In this scene from episode 6, he is questioning the court lady So Yi about what she was doing in the printing house right before the scholar was murdered. And he wants to know why the assassin let her live even though she saw his face. She says she doesn’t know. Chae Yoon is frustrated. He needs more information about the assassin but So Yi isn’t being very helpful. He doesn’t seem to trust her. Continue reading “Study Korean Through Drama: Deep Rooted Tree EO6 쇠팔찌metal bracelet” »