Nov 18, 2008

Ballads of Seo Dong (5)

" Destiny is not the path that you can't avoid but the path you choose to take although you can choose to avoid it. But there is one path that I took because I could not avoid it; it was an unavoidable path - that path was you my princess" - Jang/ King Mu

Finally, I got to rewatched this favourite drama of mine (Really, really discipline myself not to drop by any cds shop). I wanted to skip the episodes before Jang was born and his childhood years, but with my 'excellent' memory, I already forget relevant information, sigh! so I do need to rewatched those episodes...
So to cut the story short, Jang was born from a forbidden liason of the King WI Deok of Baekje and a palace dancer Yeon Ga Mo. Knowing of Yeon Ga Mo preganancy, the King ordered her to flee and hide for her life. He gave her a pendant, a night glowing pearl, in which only the his sons could possessed, therefore if she gave birth to girl, he ordered her to throw the pendant to the deepest pond. Yeon Ga Mo raised Jang on her own till he was 10, when she couldn't rein in his 'inventiveness' anymore, she send him to Mok Ra So at the Taehaksa institute. [Taehaksa was Baekje’s prestigious institute of science technology located within the palace ground, it possessed and developed the most up-to-date technology at that time, and the institute was always in danger of industrial espionage from other countries like the Goguryo and the Silla]. Mok Ra So was the guy she was in love with and planning to marry before the king get in the way.
King Wi Deok, was a sorrowful king, oppressed by the nobles and his own nephew, Buyeo Sun who was after the throne. Apart from Jang, he had three other prince that was acknowledge, the eldest Crown Prince Ah Jwa, the second prince died at a young age and the third one was also very ill. Crown Prince Ah Jwa had to seek safety in Japan, after several attempts to eliminate him, and there were rumours that he was already dead. Buyeo Sun pressed the king to appoint his father, the king's brother, to be crowned as the next succession to the throne. However, on the night of the ceremony, strong storms came about, in which halted the ceremony to a stop. Buyeo Sun blames it on Taehaksa people, specifically Mok Ra So who was the strong supporter of Crown Prince Ah Jwa, and ordered them all to be killed. But thanks to Jang, Mok Ra So and several others managed to flee before the raid began. Hahaaha... it was funny to think that no matter how advanced our science and technology is right now, the possibilty for us to engineer desirable weather conditions at will???? let alone during that time period...
So anyway, Jang brought the runaways to his mother village before they all flee to Silla. He and Mok Ra So asked the identity of Jang's father, but she still keep the secret. She told Jang to come back to her when he was 20, then she would tell him who his father was, but alas she was killed by the soldiers who was pursuing them. They all took refuge in Silla, where they became tradesman supplying goods to the Silla's palace. There, while delivering the goods, Jang met Princess Seon Hwa for the first time...
The love story between Jang and Princess Seon Hwa was truly a better "Romeo and Juliet" story. Born to two different enemy states, at first Princess Seon Hwa thought that her royal title was nothing but a burden, separating her from Jang. She was willing to give it all up, her princess status, her parents, life of luxury, her country just to be with him, just a lowly peasant. I would call any real person who did this stupid and naive, but since this is just fiction...what-the-hell, it was touching to see a love so great, that there's nothing she would not do for him. It brought to mind the phrase, 'behind a successful man, stood a strong woman', it was true in this case, cause without Seon Hwa, it might not be possible for jang to raise to greatness. She was there to paved the way for him, always there when he needed her, when he's feeling lost and defeated, she pull him back up again and prod him to move. But what has he done for her?
The first time I watched this drama, I hate the character Satek Giru so much. But now, I can see him in a different perspective. Like he said, he might be a villain in Baekje but in Silla he was a hero, willing to risk his life and infiltrate enemy camp, to learn their tools. Like he said also, who in this world isn't selfish, willing to do something for personal gains? A much lesser man, would slunk into the corner after all he had worked hard to build gone in a blink of an eye. But not Giru, he lost everything, his country, his family and the woman he love. What else is there to lose apart form his life? He got nothing to live for anyway. Its either Everything or Nothing at all, he said. All I want is everything.
Jang said Giru mistake was betting his life on someone else while what he should have done was betting on himself. Blinded by his hatred towards Jang and driven by vengeance, he let himself be used and when he's no longer useful to that person, he was hunted down to be eliminated. But even in the end, he dont know what he had done wrong to deserve that fate, he still put the blame on Jang.

Another pityful figure, Princess Woo Young. At first she was a hateful character, just another one of her brother, Buyeo Sun's henchman. But then, she realised that after all those challenges that Jang had faced and overcome, she had come to admired him and fall in love with him. She sacrificed a lot for Jang and save his life countless time, but she can't make him love her. The joy on her face, when painstakingly finished handsewing a garment for Jang and then to have it rejected. I know it is better that way, for Jang to make her known where she stood, break her heart and be done with it, rather than show her kindness and giving her false hope - there are times you gotta be cruel to be kind, but still...sigh!

Then, after she also helped him with the nobles, Jang gave her the most precious thing he had, th night glowing pearl, to show her his appreciation for all her helps that he could never pay back - she rejected it. She said, if he wants to thank her, then promise her that in his next life, he'll be her man. If not them, then the next life, or the next life...sob! sob!

Another woman who was in love with Jang, was Eun Jin, the girl he grew up with at Haneul Jae. But although she truly loves Jang also, she always shows her merry and supportive face. I truly like Koo Hye Sun character here (dying to see her serious side in The King and I).

Will it make that lasting impression for me before if the last episode was not a tear-jerker romantic? I don't know...cause the last episode was the one I remembered the most, but now after rewatching it again I believe there were other scenes between Jang and Seon Hwa that are more touching. Lee Bo Young was beautiful as Seon Hwa, but she just don't have the chemistry on screen with Jo Hyun Jae. And when she tries to be playful and mischievous, it just isnt the same class as Lee Da Hee and Yoon Eun Hye.

Jo Hyun Jae - what else is there to say, he's perfect. His strong gaze shows his stubborness when he believes he was right. His troubled face, when he was thinking too much. I just wished that Ryu Jin was a bit on the smaller stature as Hyun Jae, so that he does not steals the scene with his taller big frame...

In one of the website, found this....

In an interview Hyun Jae was asked what he thought of Jang. He answered, "In my opinion, he is like God. He is too good to be true, like no human. He always thought about others before himself ". He went on to say, "While portraying him, I thought, 'If I were him, I would have done this'. To be honest, my personality is nothing like Jang. He is very generous. No matter how others treat him, he always accepted and was willing to forgive, which is not possible for me. I think no one in this world would be like that."

Jo Hyun Jae as Jang /Suh Dong (King Mu of Baekje)
Lee Bo Young as Princess Sun-hwa of Shilla / Ladi Jin Ga Gyeong
Ryu Jin as Sa Taek Gi Ru / Kim Do Ham
Koo Hye Sun as Eun Jin
Im Hyun Sik as Bumro's dad
Lee Chang Hoon as Mok Rasoo
Jung Sun Kyung as Mo Jin (Eun Jin's mother)

Kim Yeong Ho as Buyeo Sun

History Lesson:

During King Mu reign, the Three Kingdoms (Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla) were at war with each other, as alliances shifted and the neighboring China also experienced a change of dynasties.
Because reliable historical sources are hard to find for the
Three Kingdoms period, the specifics of Mu's policies are not known.
Early in his reign, Mu attacked Silla several times. He also requested assistance from
Sui Dynasty of China to attack Goguryeo. Following the Goguryeo-Sui War, the Sui was replaced by the Tang Dynasty in China in 618.
In 627, he attempted to recover land lost to Silla, but stopped when Tang intervened diplomatically. The same year, he sent the Buddhist monk
Gwalleuk to Japan with texts on Buddhism, astronomy, history, and geography.
He formally established the
Mireuksa temple in 602. He is also said to have ordered the repair of Baekje's Sabi Palace in 630, and the construction near his palace of the earliest known artificial lake in Korea [2]. His policies in the latter half of his reign, which emphasized construction projects at the expense of national defence, are often thought to have contributed to the fall of Baekje which took place twenty years after his death.
There is reason to believe that he moved the capital of Baekje from
Sabi in Buyeo County to Iksan, at least briefly. Archaeological evidence in Iksan, including tombs attributed to Mu and his wife Queen Seonhwa, appears to confirm this. [3]
Mu retained close ties with Tang China, but Tang later allied with
Silla in the wars that ultimately unified the Korean Peninsula under Silla's rule by 668.

Samguk Yusa relates a legend regarding Mu's marriage to a princess of Silla, although historians consider it unlikely to be true, given the hostilities between the rival kingdoms. In this story, the young Seodong (Mu's childhood name) falls in love with a Silla princess, and intentionally spreads a song about the princess and himself among the people. Thanks to this song ("Seodong-yo," or "Seodong's Song") the Silla king banishes the princess, and Mu marries her and becomes the king of Baekje.

If you watched Jumong, then Jang was the great, great great.... grandson of him. One of Jumong's son founded Baekjae.

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