Korean Drama Review by Jill,
I have to confess: I just
didn't care for Hong Gil Dong (2008) at all. (I somewhat
affectionately call it Hong Gil Ding Dong
instead). I'm not going to spend much time on this
review. It's not one of the better historical K-dramas
out there, and the only reason I continued watching it
was frankly ... for actor Jang Geun Suk, whom I love as
an actor and singer. He wasn't even the first male lead
in this, he was the second male lead, which greatly
disappointed me. He had far fewer scenes than the two
leading actors, who have never been top favorites of
mine, actress Yu Ri Sung from The
Snow Queen and Ji Hwan Kang from Lie
So already I was biased against this drama before I even
began it, and then on top of that Jang Geun Suk rarely
smiled even when he did have scenes because his
character was depressing, a Prince without a throne
doing underhanded things in order to get it back,
turning a blind eye to criminals helping him, and then
he didn't get the girl either (which might have been
best for him in the long run because she was a clown!
I am slightly amused by people who rave about this one,
especially because by the end of it ALMOST EVERYBODY
DIES! They stand there like idiots and let fire
bombs rain down on them instead of running away. I can't
abide such stupidity. It's not "artistic", it's sick!
One good thing about the drama:
the music was beautiful, especially the song "If". Bad
things, besides the facts already mentioned: the script
by the Hong Sisters (Master's
Sun) is definitely low on their totem pole
compared to other shows I've watched that they've
penned. The first episodes are all over the map
artistically with ludicrous situations going on, like
the "heroine" doing some bizarre martial arts dance to
rap music, and then proceeding to attempt an
assassination on the current King! Then assassins break in and start shooting
government officials with arrows who are there for
the show. She escapes! In reality a woman like that
would have been immediately killed.
The mood is frazzled in the beginning
in a vain attempt to be funny but I sat there watching
stone-faced. Yu Ri's
character sells cow dung balls to the people as
medicine, then she has to physically beat up men who
want to marry her, Ji Hwan's character wants to learn
Chinese from her and thinks she's an expert when she
only knows a few words, which makes her a liar when she
expects him to hand over money for "lessons". So our
leading lady character is an attempted assassin, a liar,
a thief, and yet everyone falls in love with her?
His talents badly used in this,
Jang Geun Suk is really the
Why are they yanking my chain with this
tomfoolery? I thought. Then, for whatever reason --
maybe the front office told the Hong Sisters it was a
sinking ship as a comedy -- as you reach episode 10 all
the humor goes out the window and we are treated to a
tragic melodrama all the way, a Robin Hood type of story
with a tragic ending that was so ludicrous I was
screaming at my TV "Enough already!"
only reason to even ATTEMPT to watch this!
This shot near the very end of
the drama sums the
So go into this one knowing your chain
is going to be yanked. Big time. And you're not going to
get your happy ending.
whole thing up: a DISASTER!
I have little patience with
renegade stories and characters who try to accomplish
supposedly lofty goals by illegal means: I don't care if the
person is a Prince who wants his throne back, or a Robin
Hood who justifies his thievery and deceptions because it
will help "the poor" or "the people"; what makes "the
people" so special anyway? Most of them in those days (and
maybe in these days too!) would cut your throat for a bag of
gold. Do things properly, through legal means, and get your
justice with good morals intact.
It was funny, but this Ding Dong story shows up in episode
22 of The
King's Face, where the writer of this story Heo Gyun is tortured by King Seonjo; he
considered it treasonous. I just laughed. "I hear ya, Kingy.
I didn't like this story either!" (although the actor who
played the writer WAS cute in his own way, although in real
life King Gwanghae had him executed for treason).
If you are only watching this for Jang Geun Suk, like I did,
I would strongly suggest you re-consider and watch him in Beethoven
Virus instead, which came out the same year. A
1000x better drama! He's superb in it. Skip Hong Gil Ding