Hi guys, I have been away for quite some time huh? Miahne. 😛
I blame the office workload and overwhelming amount of dramas premiering lately. 24-hours is definitely way beyond enough for a K-addict like me. Pathetic.
Bu still, I have managed to finish 2 dramas, Brilliant Legacy and City Hall (phew! Finally!). Both dramas were fairly impressive dramas, storyline and direction-wise for the former, and chemistry-wise for the latter. Not going to venture on a bout of nit-picking and criticisms on both dramas (where indeed there were some obvious flaws), as I know that would piss fans off. I surely don’t want to scare away readers. Hehehe.. On the other hand, Partner is coming to an end soon, which I kinda dread, because I’m gonna miss all my Wookie/Tae Jo moments. But Lady Castle is starting right after, so it’s not so bad…
So what do we have today?
Today, I’m going on a short rant on a sageuk Queen Seon Deok (QSD), which I have just started watching a few days ago. Mind you I’ve only seen up till Episode 5, which is just a fraction of the amount of episodes which have aired so far (I think they’re showing Ep 24 today?)… Therefore, without any doubt, my rant would most definitely be about Go Hyun Jung, who plays the Lady Mi-Shil who never grows old (envious!), and the actors who play the younger versions of QSD’s main characters. (The picture above really does not do any justice to what I’m gonna comment on about the drama later, but wth, I can’t find any nice pictures of the child versions…esp the amazing Nam Ji Hyun who literally nailed young Deok Man to a tee). I know I’m lagging behind about 20 episodes now, but this is a drama that I really want to enjoy slowly. ^_^
Okay, I’m not a historical whiz or anything, so I may go wrong wrong wrong in describing the whole historical background and setting in this drama. So if I make any dreadful mistake, please please bear with me. I’m just that lazy to research.
So in a nutshell, the drama is about Deuk Man (girl version played by Nam Ji Hyun, and adult version to be played by Lee Yeo Won) overcoming all obstacles and challenges to become the first female ruler of the Shilla Kingdom, Queen Seon Doek. Her path to glory and victory would prove to be a treacherous and difficult one (as you will see in the drama), as she has to go all out to battle against the evil and powerful Lady Mi-Shil (played by Go Hyun Jung), a royal consort (?)/ seductress who holds the utmost authority in the whole of Shilla (cos all of the guards, Hwarangs, ministers…you name it all are oddly charmed and subdued by her). Mi-Shil’s ultimate goal is to become the Queen of Shilla, and thus never ceases to wield her power and seductive charms to gain her way up the royal ladder. However, luck never sides with her, and having served 3 Kings, that particular throne, tho still in sight, is still beyond her reach.
(From left to right: Lady Mi-Shil, young King Jin Pyeong, Lady Maya)
Reigning in power as King at that point in time was King Jin Pyeong, grandson of the Great King Jin Hyeong. Albeit being the leader of the Shilla nation, he almost always had to bow down to Mi-Shil and her ppl (due to her overwhelming control of the administration), making him realize that he was no more than a puppet under her grip and control. The opportunity came for him to flex his power when Lady Maya, his Queen, returned safely (after having been kidnapped by Mi-Shil’s ppl when she was found to be pregnant with their child, the royal heir (ess) to be). It was a golden opportunity for King Jin Pyeong to prove his worthiness as a King and to subdue and subject Mi-Shil under his reign – UNTIL everything came crashing down upon him at one particular moment. The moment when his twin babies – Chun Myeong and Deuk Man were born. Which was also the exact same moment when the Seven Stars of the Northern Dipper became Eight. But why fret over such a happy and blissful moment? Well, we always know we can’t get away with the wrath of prophecies in sageuks, right? It is no different in QSD. It so happens that twin births are taboo in the Palace, especially if it happens to the leader of the nation. When such birth occurs, it is predicted that the royal seeds (heir) will dry up and as such, even if the babies survive to see the light, they will never be able to succeed the throne or bear royal heirs in future. King Jin Pyeong was in a dilemma. On one hand, he was delighted with the birth of his twins, but on the other, he knew Mi-Shil would trample over him any minute now if she knew his Queen had delivered twins. So he made a crucial decision. He sent the younger twin, Deuk Man away with his Queen’s closest servant, So Hwa. Least known to him that he had sent away the wrong baby. (2nd prophecy: When the Seven Stars of the Northern Dipper become Eight, Mi-Shil’s opponent will appear.)
So there goes, when it all started. Deuk Man was sent away with the maid by King Jin Pyeong, with Mi-Shil’s men (hot at their heels) pursuing them (but funny, they never managed to catch them albeit how agile and fast they were compared to a clumsy klutzy maid and a baby). And in a blink of an eye, 15 years passed – Deuk Man the baby became Deuk Man the teenager played by Nam Ji Hyun. (I guess ageism is never really emphasised in sageuks, cos after 15 years, Lady Mi-Shil and her men still look the SAME!!! Save for King Jin Pyeong and his Queen, who now look SO MUCH older than Mi-Shil or her husband or any of her ministers!)
That was seriously, a LONG rant right? Sorry I just can’t help it. I will now turn stuff I liked about the drama instead for a change. If I were to elaborate on the storyline again, I think ya all will be in slumber land.
Go Hyun Jung as Lady Mi-Shil
I have always liked Go Hyun Jung as an actress. She may not be the pretty oh so gorgeous type, but she exudes loads of charisma whenever she’s on screen. Likewise in QSD, she’s doing a very impressive job as the power hungry Lady Mi-Shil. A performance so intriguing that even the slightest smirk or smile from her can send chills down my spine. She’s just so good here.
What I like about GHJ’s portrayal of Mi-Shil is none other than the subtle flickers of human in her eye expressions despite her innate evil nature. I’m not sure if I’m the only one, but I find it extremely extremely difficult to hate her character, no matter how despicable and heartless she is or can be. Is it incompetence or just pure refined acting on her part? Because I think I’m supposed to hate her to the core of her bone, but yet I find myself wanting to see her more. The irony is kinda bothering me because on one hand I think she’s the embodiment of pure evil ; on the other hand, she exudes a very strange sense of compassion in her eyes. It’s like whenever I see her grate on others’ nerves with her smile, her eyes show flickers of passion and softness at the same time. Tears sort of fill her eyes and I can’t make it out whether she’s really genuinely harboring disregard/apathy for others, or whether she’s just trying to hide her insecurities despite her brave front. Most antagonists in Kdramas are kinda one-dimensional in conveying evil-ness, that is, their expressions are self-explanatory of what their intentions are most of the time. i.e. it’s all written on their faces that they’re the EVIL person. But for Mi-Shil, albeit knowing of her malicious and bad intentions all this while, she does not look evil to me (save for the times when she flashes her glares or stares). In fact, she has this really calm and sensual grace about her that makes me feel for her. (Look at that picture up there, do you see evilness? No way man.) No wonder all the men are just dead-set head over heels for her, so much so that they can go to any extent just to please her, even, to die for her.
So there I said it, Go Hyun Jung is one of the many, but main reasons I’m liking this drama so far. Her charisma, aura and even the way she speaks command in every scene she appears in. She may not be drop dead gorgeous or seductive enough for many to have many men lust for her, but indeed her poise and elegance make a difference when she’s on screen. A pretty impressive feat for the actress I’d say, who has never done a sageuk before.
Nam Ji Hyun as young Deuk Man
I really think Koreans have some special milk formula or food formula for their kids. Because seriously, how can all if not most of them act SO FREAKING GOOD??!!! I’m really really baffled by this strange phenomenon. I’ve seen countless dramas, with countless kids playing younger versions of countless popular main leads.. and I remember, I always always end up loving the younger actors. Not because they’re cute and all, but because they can really act.
Nam Ji Hyun is no different. In fact she’s one of the better ones I’ve seen so far. I first saw her in Lobbyist, and I already knew she was one actress to look out for. And she certainly did not disappoint. I loved loved loved how she played Deok Man. A character so endearing that NJM brought so much more color to her. DM was young at 15, but was smart, witty, charming and lovable. At the age of 15, she mastered 3 (or more) languages, managed her mom (So Hwa the maid)’s merchants’ lodge as if she was the owner, and was friends with every single merchant that passed by her place. Regardless of her shabby and dilapidated living environment, she was content with life and never uttered a single word of complaint. She lived life to the fullest.
The thing about NJH is that you can see that she put a lot of effort into embodying the crux and essence of Deok Man. She’s feisty, strong-willed, determined and tough and NJH nailed every single trait brilliantly. She’s a girly girl at times, especially when she flashes that sunny smile of hers, but yet sometimes, she can also be so boyishly attractive and charming. She can puddle thru mud, toil thru dirt, and yet still appear pure and innocent as an angel. She can scream hard all she wants and not irritate me a bit. And the best thing about this young actress is that she can switch from bright and cheerful to being sad and really emotional in an instant. I know a lot of Korean actresses who can cry well, but not many are capable of pulling your and twinging your heartstrings with their tears. NJH was and still is one amongst the very few in this drama who managed to make me bawl and cry along with her. I know crying does not automatically dictate talent and how good one’s acting is, but it definitely makes a difference. At least I did not tear up whenever the actress who played Lady Maya or young Princess Chun Myung cried. Nor did I actually feel the pain they were going thru despite the hardship they have been enduring thru out the episodes. They just failed to move or touch me as much as NJH did, and were not even close. NJH dong-saeng is just one notch above them. Word.
Deuk Man and So Hwa
I’m watching this via viikii and I just can’t fathom why ppl would hate on So Hwa’s character. Sure she was clumsy, klutzy, and troublesome all the time. And sometimes just downright OTT. But I didn’t think it warranted all the flaming and bashing on her character. At least I thought she was a great mother figure to Deuk Man despite her incapabilities. She raised Deuk Man into a bright and cheerful teenager, gave her all the mother love she needed, hid her away from potential harm…etc. And most of all, she fulfilled what King Jin Pyeong and Lady Maya had entrusted upon her.
I loved how Deuk Man always strived hard to protect her mother. It’s like a breathe of fresh air to me because normally in dramas, especially sageuks (not that I’ve seen that many hehe), the parents almost always have to fight or sacrifice themselves to save their kids. Here we have a young teenager, going all out to save and protect her mother relentlessly, without any hesitation. So Hwa was the parent, but DM’s maturity was more apparent. Maybe that’s why I liked their dynamics together. One was strong on the outset and weak on the inside (SH), and the other, a young kid on the outside, but a fighter and protector inside. Both sort of reversed roles and it made their interactions all the more moving and touching.
If anything, their scenes were the most heart-wrenching and heartbreaking ones. When Deok Man assured So Hwa that she would never leave her alone, when Deok Man cried and wailed seeing her mother drown in the sinking sand…all of that broke my heart into pieces. Everything DM did, and strived hard for went in vain as her mother vanished right before her eyes. Everything DM had, her mother, was gone. T.T
So there goes my so called “short rant” on Queen Seon Deok. Granted that I have only seen 5 episodes, my rant may seem pointless to fans or avid viewers out there. I guess I just needed to say something about NJH before she leaves the show. If anything, she ‘s left me with the deepest impression in this show, even more than Go Hyun Jung. Here’s me hoping that she’d venture on to do solid stuff like QSD after her departure. She’s definitely going to come up BIG!
Lastly, gotta say I’m looking forward to Lee Yoh Won and Uhm Tae Woong’s grand entrance into the drama. I’m not a fan of LYW, and I’ve read comments on her lacklustre acting in the drama. So tho I’m eager to see her play out the adult Deok Man, expectations are not high up the radar. As for UTW, I love him a lot as an actor. So here’s me hoping that he’d not disappoint. ^_^ And even if he ends up doing so, I guess I’d have other guys to look upon or swoon at by then. hehehe.. *winks at hwarangs!* 😛