First Impressions: Jang Ok Jeong

JOJ poster

This, I did not expect to like or love. But it turns out the writing does have its certain merits, at least substance and plot-wise. It’s not all about cheesy glossy visuals, not just about romance, but has a lot more to tell.  There’s a deepening sense of plot behind the veil, politics come into play, and the characters are actually well thought out.

I had my qualms about this drama (obviously Kim Tae Hee being one the of main reasons we all know). The first ep didn’t leave with me a very good impression, the editing was sloppy, acting made me uncomfortable (I nearly considered Yoo Ah In and Sang Yeob miscasts because of their somewhat forceful expressions in certain scenes) and I just couldn’t get into the characters or story at all. Kim Tae Hee was surprisingly least of my gripes and concern. She isn’t entirely convincing in her sageuk performance, and still has her eye-bulging to annoy when she goes overboard, but she’s generally still watchable. Yes, she’s watchable. In a sageuk.


Ep 2/3 changed the course of things a bit, and credit no doubt goes to these 2 young kids Kang Min Ah and Chae Sang Woo who played young Ok Jeong and Suk Jong. Their backstory hooked me right off the bat, with acting and chemistry that clicked. Suk Jong was written in such broad strokes and played so adorably and lovely by the young boy (he impressed me a lot as the young king in Queen In Soo as well), and Ok Jeong, her perseverance and strength intensified by an endearing performance given by Kang Min Ah. How often do the kiddies part make me want more in a drama? I usually commend the Korean kids for their above par acting compared to most of their age outside the country, but unless you’re Yeo Jin Goo, I generally want them off quick to make way for the adults. Here I wanted more of the them. Their encounter, though brief and predictable, packed emotional punches, more effectively than let’s say Moon Sun’s or even the recent IOM’s.

Ep 4 marks a good turn for the drama (at least for me), and I say it owes that a lot to the tight writing and the gradual settling in of the actors (especially Yoo Ah In). It’s still not a sageuk of fine quality, and the somewhat jumpy editing still bothers me. But the characters start to emit distinctive and unique charms, their motivations and thoughts more so reflected through their actions. I’m starting to dig the whole political play between Suk Jong and the King’s ministers, his ambitious aims to make a better Joseon, and even his flirtatious manipulative ways around Ok Jeong. His character is richly structured, with such broad characterisation, that can either go both ways good or bad. A calm front with a storm burning inside and urging to break out.

Drama is definitely for Ok Jung, but I dare say Suk Jong is already or rather, has already stolen her thunder. Yoo Ah In is settling better and better into his character, and has already shown some gripping and heart-rendering moments thru out in Ep 4 alone. I still feel uncomfortable with some of his over-stretched “sugary” expressions, if you get what I mean, but when he explodes or implodes, you see it and you get it. He’s got the right poise for this character, I already love him by the end of Ep 4, hook sink and liner.

I’m still not all that invested in Suk Jong and Ok Jeong’s romance, but I can’t deny the chemistry between them. It’s like watching young SJ and OJ all over again, their interactions, the bouncing of ideas and opinions between them, the actors actually click each other pretty well (which is why I never take the noona-doongsaeng OTP pairing for granted now, you can still look like a baby next to noona and still rawk that OTP chemistry together). Now I’m hoping for more of Suk Jong and In Hyun’s scenes, just to see how she’ll fit into the story. She intrigues me a tad more than OJ because she doesn’t seem to be all black or white, but rather grey with intentions of her own. I can’t seem to like her because of her somewhat ignorant attitude, but I don’t hate her either for she does show empathy in certain scenes. Her relationship with Suk Jong is also something I’m really looking forward to because of the political play behind the scenes. No hope for her getting the man in drama, but at least give me the fire and bitch in her, the actress rawks it better than anyone.

And last, what better than to have the legendary Im Jae Bum sing for drama?

I’m so on board for now.

credits: poster/pics credits / youtube


10 thoughts on “First Impressions: Jang Ok Jeong”

  1. I like OK Jung character. So far a Korean heroine who doesn’t make me cringe. I love her interactions with her uncle -best actor in the show with Yoo Ah In. Kim Tae Hee so far does a decent job at times her character reminds me RuoXi from BBJX. I also love some funny scenes here too. And Yoo Ah In and Kim Tae Hee have good chemistry I especially loved their scene in the forest when she broke down 🙂

    1. Ok Jeong is steadfast and opinionated, that I like about her. One of the reasons why her interactions and scenes with Suk Jong are interesting, they have the same wavelength and communicate with each other on the same level, regardless of class and divide. I’m a bit disappointed that drama’s already making her fall so in love with Suk Jong (and already suffering so much because of his alleged and unintentional ignorance of her background), because hell I’d love to see her grow to understand him a lil bit more as a person.

      Strangely drama or character doesn’t remind me of BBJX or RX at all.

  2. Didn’t expect you would make a first impression about this drama instead..
    I want to know your thought about Gu family book ( Lee SUng Gi) and all about my romance (shin Ha Kyun!) ?
    But I’m glad you write about Jang ok JUng instead..
    I haven’t completely fallin in love with it yet….. But I already hook!
    It’s visually pretty and the writing actually has substance…
    I particularly love their childhood days… when they are Still more innocent… I especially love Lee Soon in childhood days ( the child days it’s too short!! ) … he is not a “prince in shining armor” hero type… when he has mature, Lee SOon’s way of thinking and vision is idealistic, but still realistic knowing the circumstance around him.. I can’t wait to see his conflict unfold…

    actually, I am too, abit dissapoint Ok JUng already has feeling for Lee Soon..

    1. Actually I didn’t too, just went with the flow. I did plan to do up a general rambling post about all the dramas I’ve been watching, just look at my list, it’s HUGE! But sadly I have no time to put thoughts down one by one. ;(

      Yes, Lee Soon is my favourite character! When he was a boy he’d already exhibited a mindset and vision of his own, and I’m happy that carried all the way down to the adult part. He’s got the full package, intellect, vision and ambition, and not to mention the charm and flirts of a casanova. I don’t think he’ll be a womaniser, but it’s kinda sad to see how many women actually be vie to be with him. He’s just like OJ, everyone loves her but she loves only Suk Jong. And Suk Jong, loved by many but heart’s with JOJ only. Aren’t they so meant for each other LOL.

      1. LOL
        talk about multiple love triangle..LMAO
        I wonder about King SukJong potrayal on this drama …. I Heard in history he has many wife and concubines?
        I can’t wait to see how this thing will be played out

  3. Hi Ripgal, I visit your blog at least once a day hoping to take a peek at your thoughts and insights. Thanks for sharing your impression on JOJ, it is my current crack together with The Best Of Lee Soo Shin (have you watched it yet?). I love the chemistry between JOJ and LS, beautiful costumes and the second leads, with Jae Hee coming on next ep, oooo……., Monday come sooner please.

    1. Thanks for the read and support, it means a lot to me. 😀 Yes I am watching TBLSS, following it on KBSW so I’m a lil behind. It’s not crack to me yet but I’m enjoying most of the characters and their stories. JJS’s adorable and I love love the 2nd ChanWoo-Yoo Shin OTP the most.. hehehe..

      As for JOJ, I hope Jae Hee’s role will be good. I used to love him a lot (post DGCH and 3 Iron days) but he doesn’t seem to have luck nowadays, having been relegated to 3rd down the cast list. Bodyguard roles usually evoke some sympathy from me in dramas LOL let’s hope this time it’ll work.

      1. Funny, how Yoo Ah In played “the bodyguard role” in Sungkyungkwan Scandal, and fans, including myself, were shipping hard for him to get the girl. Now it’s the opposite.
        Jae Hee will probably be loved as well, for his role, but I am already so invested in the main OTP, that I don’t know if I will jump ship or not when Jae Hee appears in the upcoming episodes. It’s surprising for me to actually like Kim Tae Hee in this drama. I have never liked her in anything else that she’s done. Like you mentioned, Yoo Ah In (or rather, his character) is really stealing her thunder right now. She is not bad entirely, but there could be room for improvement.
        Another factor that lead me to watching Jang Ok Jung is the horrible mess that is called TheGu Family book. I don’t really get Suzy’s appeal or acting, so that was an immediate turn off for me, and as much as I adore Lee Seung Gi and his performance in last year’s King2Hearts…I will not watch him with bad saguek hair (that thing is a like a mop on his head). I really don’t understand why that drama has ratings higher than JOJ. Maybe just not MY cup of tea.
        I read in soompi’s forum that one reason that contributed to the low rating is maybe viewers are not used to JOJ being the kind, sweet heroine because in history,she’s evil and calculating. I thought that was an interesting opinion, but I hope the ratings picks up because this re-teling of Jang Ok Jung (or Jang Hee Bin) is surprising and strangely good.

      2. Oops, I was a deadset Lee Sun Joon supporter in SKKS back then, though Gul Roh made me heart swoony too. Don’t think Jae Hee will have as much importance in here, but don’t mind if he gets to play a part in the triangle/square love.

        I’m surprisingly quite OK with GFB, obviously Seung Gi being the main reason of my indifference towards the negative reviews. Wasn’t a Suzy fan before so I’m still OK. At least she’s more watchable than the horrendous mess that was of Lee Yeon Hee, I can now watch anything which is remotely better than what she’d done in the first 2 episodes.

        I’m not a ratings follower so it’s not much of a concern for me. hehe..

  4. i like kang min ah! i really like jang ok jeong. she’s the best actress who’s nice and simple like kang min ah. the story tells us that she fell in love with the magistrate right? 🙂 so i love also jang ok jeong!

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