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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" Episode 6

2016/01/17 | 977 views |  | Permalink

We start out with kidnapping and a swordfight, as I slowly resign myself to the fact that "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" really does seem committed to telling a standard political Korean drama story only the main character is a scientist for some reason. It's really bad timing for that, because "Six Flying Dragons" is already telling a fairly similar story, with several of the same historical characters, and "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" can't really measure up in comparison. Yeong-sil being a peripheral character to the action just makes it too hard to get invested.

The palace scenes are also just confusing enough that I'm left scratching my head as to what's going on. King Taejong and King Saejong wear the exact same outfits, and are addressed the exact same way by subordinate characters. In this episode that actually manages to happen even in the context of the same scene. I think, upon further reflection, that King Saejong is still just the crown prince although I'm not totally sure. King Taejong is definitely calling the shots though, whatever the official titles are.

There are still some good points, buried though they are amidst all the political plot. Yeong-sil finally meets So-hyeon again, and impresses her with his scientific power of whittling. For the record I don't think whittling is actually a skill that has anything to do with science but whatever. Anything that gives Yeong-sil an excuse to hang around with palace characters is a move in the right direction, because it's a move toward making Yeong-sil more relevant in the overall story. Right now he's just a backup character.

Although on another level, I'm going to be a little annoyed if Yeong-sil moves up through the ranks solely by making the right political connections. All the scientists and officials Yeong-sil has been fighting with up until now gained their positions through promotional systems based on social class and family status rather than actual qualifications. What makes Yeong-sil an interesting historical personage is that he was of the first group of people to gain access a high government rank by virtue of earned merit.

More and more I find myself unsure of what kind of story "Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" is trying to tell. Although the real issue is more likely that the story elements I do recognize feel completely out of place in a story that started out with a young boy getting all glassy and moon-eyed over science. Yeong-sil is a man whose head is constantly turned toward the sky- so why is the focus on what's happening on Earth?

Review by William Schwartz

"Jang Yeong-sil - Drama" is directed by Kim Yeong-jo, written by Lee Myeong-hee, Ma Chang-joon and features Song Il-gook, Kim Sang-kyung, Kim Young-chul, Park Sun-young, Kim Do-hyun, Son Byung-ho,...

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