Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Review on Korean Drama: Queen Seon Duk (2009)

Title:  Queen Seon Duk
Genre: Period Drama, Action, Romance
Duration:  62 episodes
Lee Yo Won as Princess Duk Man/Queen Seon Duk
Ko Hyun Jung as Mi Shil
Jo Min Ki as King Jinpyeong
Uhm Tae Woong as Kim Yoo Shin
Park Ye Jin as Princess Chun Myung
Kim Nam Gil as Bi Dam
Yoo Seung Ho as Kim Chun Chu
Lee Seung Hyo as Alcheon
Seo Young Hee as So Hwa

Synopsis: Was anyone born to become a hero? Was it not for every hero, circumstances and his abilities, aided with blessings from heaven that would make an ordinary person become legendary?
This is such a story.  It’s about a little girl who grew up in the desert, surrounded by merchants and travellers who thought she was abandoned by his father but nevertheless was leading a happy and carefree life.  She lives with her mother who has become sickly because she saved her when there was fire when she was little.  Deokman (Lee Yo Won) was naturally curious, witty, charming, naive and intensely loyal to the people she loves.  She led a simple and quiet life in the tavern with her mother unaware of her troubled past and the real reason why she lives in desert, so far away from the land from which she was born. 
She was only made aware that her life was threatened when a man came to kill both her and her mother and told her that he has been looking for them for the past 15 years.  Surprised to hear of someone so dedicated to look for her and kill her that she decided, after seeing her mother die in the desert, to get to the root of all these and look for the man who might have a clue to her true identity, Chunno.
It was a tumultuous era where King Jinpyeong (Jo Min Ki) is a mere puppet of Mi Shil who controls everything in the royal court.  Mi Shil is an ambitious, power-hungry woman who’s feared and at the same time revered by the people for her power to be able to control the heavens and accept revelations from the heavens.
Scheming to become the Queen, Mi Shil ordered to have the queen killed, but fortunately, she was able to make it alive with the help of Munno and also realizing that she’s pregnant. On day she gave birth, the king fearing Mi Shil will use the prophesy that giving birth to twins will result to the male lineage dying to depose the queen, he sent one of the newly born twins with the queen’s maid, So Hwa, to take away from the palace.  However, it was also written in the stars that the baby would be the one to contend with Mi Shil and accomplish great things. 
So Hwa took the baby away from the palace with the aid of Munno, a highly respected Hwarang whose martial arts skills are legendary.  Choksil who was the trusted aid of Mi Shil ardently pursued them for more than 15 years finally finding them in the desert of China.  Deokman(Lee Yo Won) grew up in the desert believeing So Hwa as her mother and that her father abandoned them.  Away from the pressure of the palace, she was able to learn many languages and read many books since different types of merchants travel for trading in China.  She grew up cheerful, resourceful, and brave, not afraid to put her life on the line to save others.
She simply want to live a quiet life with his mother.  All these were put to end when Choksil tried to kill them again in the desert and her mother, wanting to save her chose to die in the quicksand and severed the rope that tie her and Deokman.  Thereafter, a sandstorm appears and puts an end to all her hope of still finding her mother alive.  She then made a resolve to go back to her hometown and find out why she was abandoned by her father and why someone has been actively pursuing them even after all these years.  Her biggest clue is finding Munno who seemed to have traveled quite a lot and no one seemed to exactly find out where he is.  
At the time she went to the island where Munno was said to live, Princess Chun Myung( Park Ye Jin) has made a resolution to fight Mishil after her husband died in battle trying to pursue some glory to make him deserving to get the throne.  In order to escape the evil schemes of Mishil, she pretends to give-up and retire in the buddhist temple where she safely gives birth to Prince Chunchu (Yoo Seung Ho).  Thereafter, she sends people to investigate where Munno could be, believing he holds the key in fulfilling the prophecy of overthrowing Mishil.  Unfortunately, while boarding a ship, they were ambushed and all the men who were guarding her were killed leaving only her and Deokman alive.  Not knowing how to fend for herself, she follows Deokman ordering her to become her bodyguard and that becomes the beginning of their lifelong friendship.
The two eventually arrives at the temple only to find bodies scattered everywhere and assassins sent to kill them.  They were able to evade the assassins with the help of Kim Yoo Shin’s group, Uhm Tae Woo.  Princess Chun Myung was brought to their training camp not knowing her real identity.  She was impressed on how serious Yoo Shin tackles his training and not losing focus.  When he realized her real identity, she invites him to stay in the palace and serve her.  He pledges his undying loyalty.  She also asks that Deokman be allowed to join his group of huwarang so she could also keep her close.  Mishil didn’t have a choice but to allow them to come to the palace especially when there Deokman presented evidence that it was her son who tried to kill the princess.
Years after, Deokman maintained her friendship with the princess not realizing her true identity and still in search of her truth and wary of Mishil and her followers.  Mishil continued her control of the kingdom while the king continued his reign without any real powers. 
Everything was turned upside down when Mishil’s faction realized Deokman’s real identity and assassins were sent to kill her while she planning to escape with Yoo Shin.  The assassin believing Deokman was wearing the princess’ attire killed Princess Chun Myung instead which led Deokman to abandon the thought of running away and of living peacefully as a woman.  She decided to avenge her sister’s death and her family’s demise against Mishil head on.  On the process, she met Bi Dam (Kim Nam Gil) who is a man not afraid of anyone and unconfined by society’s mores and rules who could kill an entire village without any remorse. 
Together with Deokman and Yoo Shin, they decided to fight with Mishil to gain her identity back as a princess and to eventually become the ruling monarch.  They tried to outwit, and thwart her plans and in the process realize how power is gained and Deokman taking it further by ensuring that the people would benefit from everything she learned. 
Yoo Shin and Deokman’s love story though ended when Yoo Shin was forced to marry to save his people.  Although she already acknowledged that becoming the next ruler ends their love story, it still broke her heart when he got married to Mishil’s niece.  His marriage however did not make his loyalty wane since in his heart, he could only love Princess Deokman. 
After Princess Chun Myung’s death, her son, Kim Chun Chu was brought to the palace.  Prince Chun Chu (Yoo Seung Ho) distraught by his mother’s death but believing she betrayed him by never fulfilling her promise of being together rebelled against Princess Deokman.  He pretended to be a weakling and dim-witted whilst planning to avenge himself and his mother against everyone.  He dared to even marry Mishil’s niece and used Mishil to declare him qualified to become the next ruler.  The fight between Princess Deokman and Prince Chun Chu however made Mishil realize that her mistake was only wanting to become the queen when she could have set her goal to become the ruler.  She then decided to abandon all the principles she previously adhered to and declared an all-out war against the monarchy and took the king as prisoner with the goal of becoming the next ruler.
Amidst all this, Bi Dam begun to realize that he is more than ready to do anything and everything for Deokman not only because he believes her goal but because he begun to fall in love with her.  Although Yoo Shin is already married, he is still jealous that Princess Deokman seemed to trust him the most and gives him important tasks while he is given mundane errands.  He confesses his feelings to Princess Deokman but she repeatedly refuses him.  He is torn knowing he loves Deokman but also knowing that he has the potential of doing great evil since he knows he is the abandoned son of Mishil. 
In the end, will Deokman be able to overcome her great adversary Mishil as the prophesy revealed or will Bi Dam cause her downfall?  Will Prince Chun Chu realize who his real adversaries are? What will become of the great Mishil?
Review: If you dare to love someone great, is the love bound to fail? I can’t help but noticed that too many of these historical dramas end with tragic love stories.  The greater the goal, the bigger the pain for the people involved.
The story was indeed interesting enough that when the dvd I bought did not play, I frantically searched the net for the succeeding episodes.  There were some episodes I can’t find but I try my hardest to follow the story with the succeeding ones.
Of all the characters in the story, the one that made the biggest impact on me is the character of Bidam.  I mean the guy is super hot with his hair down, has excellent martial arts skills, smart, funny, brave, loyal but unfortunately slightly wacko at times like when he killed all the people just so they won’t be able to see his book.  It of course must have been the bad blood he got from his mother but he’s so cute when he’s childish.  Unfortunately, it was already set from the beginning that they would not be together. However, I wonder if the writers’ intent from the beginning was a love between the queen and Bidam or did they switch to him to become lead because he was drawing more attention that the male protagonist?
I like the acting of the female lead at times specially when she smiles, she’s really pretty.  But I can’t help feeling that sometimes, she is overdoing it and at the latter part of the show, all she seems to be doing is glaring at people even when the situation does not call for it.  I felt that her acting was very weak sometimes specially when her nanny died and she was supposed to act distraught in private but wasn’t able to deliver the emotions.
What kept me watching? It was because Bi Dam literally lit the screen whenever he is on.  I loved his smile.  Prince Chun Chu also looked so adorable even when he was being naughty and was trying to manipulate Mishil’s faction. 
I give this show 8 out of 10 stars because I love the costumes, I love Bi Dam and Chun Chu and I love how the females were depicted strong and powerful instead of the usual damsels in distress.

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