Scenes from SBS’s Monday and Tuesday prime time series “Jang Ok Jeong.” [SBS]

Scenes from SBS’s Monday and Tuesday prime time series “Jang Ok Jeong.” [SBS]

SBS Mon/Tue Drama “Jang Ok Jeong” – Episode 24

In brief>

Jang Ok-jeong (Kim Tae-hee), who gets accused of having cursed the late Queen Inhyeon (Hong Soo-hyeon), is handed the death sentence by poison. Because of his love for her, King Sukjong (Yu A-in) tries to save her life, deciding that he will pretend to have carried out the sentence but sneak her out to Qing with the help of Chi-soo (Jae-hee). If it does not go well, he would abdicate from the throne. But Ok-jeong, not wanting to be a cowardly lover, disobeys the King and drinks the poison. The King, left all alone, weeps in sadness.

Review>

What had originally been interesting was the drama’s intention to depict on Jang Ok-jeong as one who achieves her dreams as a designer of the Chosun Dynasty, instead of as the most evil woman of the century as has been done so in the numerous past dramas that have been about her. Well, producers definitely have nothing to say in this regard. The woman who had said she would protect her dream was non-existant and from the very start the show failed to find a direction it would go in.

But instead, what did exist in the drama was a reinterpretation of King Sukjong’s story. Sukjong, who had always been portrayed as a King who is swayed by the women in his palace, started to have a place in the show by showing the process of how he as a disadvantaged crown prince becomes king. And actor Yu A-in, with his stable vocalization skills and abundance of expressions, ended up playing a big role. In the latter half of the show, King Sukjong fell victim to the loose plot but Yu’s acting continued to hold a presence that kept viewers watching. Therefore, through this drama he proved his potential to play the sole main character for his future projects.

Unfortunately, no other character in the drama stood out. And of course there is nothing to expect of the supporting actors when there was nothing from all other main actors. Hyun Chi-soo or Dong Pyung Goon (Lee Sang-yeob), who were expected to have weighty roles in the drama as the King’s rivals in love, merely ended up as presences that fill up the gaps brought about by the lax development of the story. Suk-won (Han Seung-yeon) too ended up as a evil woman whose actions were not explained due to Ok-jeong who had no identity.

And there was definitely no thematic consciousness to the drama. Even till the very end, it was impossible to figure out what the drama wanted to say. Jang Ok-jeong, who had vowed to protect her dream despite her lowly status (which she changed to love instead of dream), advised Suk-won, “The Chosun Dynasty may allow us lowly people to become concubine but not the Queen’s throne. I realized that all too late. You will pay for whatever you desire beyond that.” So then, was the drama trying to tell people not to covet what they can never achieve? If so, the conclusion is completely opposite of what it first intended to say.

For chitchat>

– Hyun Chi-soo probably feels the most wronged. Because of the lax development of the story, nonsensical scenes appeared in the last episode as well.

Scene 1. When Hyun becomes outraged upon hearing that King Sukjong has ordered poison on Ok-jeong as a death penalty. He explodes and says the King “is not human” but wasn’t it actually he who started on the plot to dethrone Ok-jeong? It was because of him! Dear writer, what happened?

Scene 2. Hyun handed over even a promissory note to save Ok-jeong who is on the brink of death. King Sukjong ends up ordering him to leave to Qing with her. But when she convinces Hyun that she will protect her love instead, he says, “Okay,” and takes her to the palace. Why did you come all the way from Qing if you were going to give up on her so easily?

Reporter. Bae Sun Young sypova@tenasia.co.kr
Translator. Jessica Kim