We finally get some action...in the previews. Yes, we're in for yet another episode of general political dysfunctionality. King Seonjo is still chronically depressed, Hideyoshi is still putting the last touches on the invasion plan of Korea, and the Chinese continue to be about as unhelpful as possible. In all fairness they're probably not taking Hideyoshi seriously because his plan is kind of impossible. Japan couldn't even take over China several hundred years later with modern weaponry after China had been reduced to a giant opium den by Western powers. The country's just too darn big.
There's one interesting comparison point this episode- the Japanese military training versus what the Koreans are capable of. The Japanese are clearly preparing for massive hand-to-hand combat- and their officers likewise are making a point of showing a good example to the men. The training sequence isn't all that flashy (they're just using sticks rather than real swords), but it does demonstrates some competence.
The Koreans, well, they don't look so impressive. And I'm honestly getting tired of watching them fail in the same general way again and again. The only real new information this time regards the famed turtle ships- given the history of the invasion, it would seem that we're going to have to wait for the Japanese to mostly destroy everything before we finally get a look at Korean naval forces, which appear to be the only ones with any idea how to deal with a serious existential threat.
There's not really that much to write about this episode because it's all stuff we've seen time and again. The political pieces all shift around slightly, but as has been established, the only thing likely to get the Korean and Chinese forces to take the situation seriously is an actual fully fledged violent invasion. Until that happens it's just the usual bickering as Seong-ryong tries his best to avoid making too many enemies.
In other words, it's life as usual for "Jing Bi-rok". Because of the drama's high focus on historical accuracy, it's hard to fault the production too much for giving us an in-depth look at 1591- the year that actually decided whether the war was going to happen at all. Even so, the accurate historical focus is at this point such as to really limit the drama's appeal to a wide audience. This is probably why "Jing Bi-rok" insists on constantly reminding us who all the characters are with subtitles- in the long run the production team might not actually be expecting anybody to watch the drama uncut.
Review by William Schwartz
"Jing Bi-rok" is directed by Kim Sang-hwi and Kim Yeong-jo, written by Jeong Hyung-soo and Jeong Ji-yeon and features Kim Sang-joong, Kim Tae-woo, Im Dong-jin, Kim Hye-eun, Lee Kwang-ki and Lee Kwang-ki.
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jing Bi-rok" Episode 11"
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