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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Goddess of Fire Jeongi" Episode 10

2013/08/01

"Goddess Of Fire Jeongi" likes to center each episode around an object of contention. And by center, I mean that everything and everyone in the entire episode eats, sleeps and breathes that object. While I understand that the show is about a ceramicist and there will be a lot of focus on ceramics, pottery and goods, revolving the welfare of Joseon around a teacup is too much. But let's go with it because we're not getting anything else.

Jung

Last episode, the envoy from the Ming Empire challenged the Joseon king to replicate a Ming teacup that keeps the tea warm, kind of like a coffee mug of the 15th-century. Kang-chun's son, Yook-do, agreed to create the teacup in his father's stead because failure could mean death and Yook-do can't bear to watch his father face such peril. For the first time, Kang-chun acts against Lady In-bin's wishes and struggles to protect his son. Although we've seen glimpses of fatherly affection towards Yook-do in the past, the immense outward display of concern this episode was a big step forward for Kang-chun's character. He is the most interesting villain of the show and the added depth made him even more so. Even Jung is shocked to see her father's enemy show affection and that adds another layer of intricacy to the relationship between her and Kang-chun.

Also, the story finally re-addressed the issue of women ceramicists. It had touched on it briefly in the early episodes when Jung's mother was not allowed to do much in the shop because of her gender. However, the way that the issue is introduced in this episode is clunky and unconvincing. A female glaze maker is forbidden from helping to prepare the glaze for the Ming teacup challenge because she will bring bad luck. Kang-chun has the strongest prejudice against women and won't let them near the kiln during the firing. He blames the glaze maker for ruining the teacup by angering the kiln gods.

It would've been better had the prejudices against female artisans had been an ongoing concept in the behavior and dialogue of the characters. The prejudice was implied, but the implication did not follow through. The lack of follow through is a general failure in the drama. Character traits and plot points are introduced only to propel the story forward and lack proper integration into the drama as a whole.

On the romance front, things are developing quite nicely. Gwanghae had befriended Jung as a man and felt comfortable with her. After discovering that she is female, he likes her even more. The interest is seen by the others in Punwon Kiln, including his troublesome hyung, Imhae. Naturally, a rumor spreads that Gwanghae likes men and Imhae fans it into a flame. This time, however, Imhae's meddling helps Gwanghae realize that Jung is someone special to him. The chemistry between the characters and between Lee Sang-yoon and Moon Geun-yeong is natural and rather adorable. If only Jung's characters wasn't so ridiculously upright and honest. It is possible for her to be a bit more selfish (and realistic) and still have Gwanghae love her for her good qualities.

Tae-do

There is one character that I feel is the most settled, and that is Tae-do played by Kim Beom. Tae-do's love is the only one that feels truly sincere. It felt the most organic when he was a child as well. His friendship with Jung grew naturally into love. Now he selfishly wants to protect her and begs her to listen to his advice because it will keep her safe. He is the only character who really uses any amount of rational. He is the most realistic character and the most relatable because of it. Yes, the romance between Jung and Gwanghae is cute, but it only has the cute factor. I was something substantial in their characters to really make me root for them like I root for Tae-do.

He tries to keep Jung from revealing the fact that she disguised herself as a man to get into Punwon Kiln. It's a good idea considering the fact that Kang-chun is ready to kill any woman who goes near the kiln. But Jung doesn't listen and he's left to pick up the pieces. I pity him.

I did love the scenes where Yook-do was molding clay on the potter's wheel. It was beautiful and graceful. It was also interesting watching him and Jung build a kiln to fire a Ming style teacup. It was near the end of the episode when Kang-chun decided that making the teacup was a hopeless cause and that Yook-do needing to go into hiding to save his life. Instead, Yook-do decides to listen to Jung's idea and during the scene where they fired the ceramics, they were educating the viewer on the kind of fire necessary for ceramics and going against Kang-chun's mandate that no woman is allowed near the kiln. It'd be nice if the writer could weave more of these scenes in. We get art and story development. Imagine that.

"Goddess Of Fire Jeongi" really can't be watched with too much intellectual involvement. It's generally very episodic and requires an empty mind and a bag of potato chips to enjoy.

Written by Raine from Raine's Dichotomy

"Goddess Of Fire Jeongi" is directed by Park Seong-sook and written by Kwon Soon-gyoo and features Moon Geun-yeong, Lee Sang-yoon, Kim Beom and Park Gun-hyung.
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