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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jing Bi-rok" Episode 33

2015/06/06 | Permalink

Their main explicit offensive push having failed, the Japanese regroup to come up with more of a long-term strategy here- negotiation. At first glance this might seem incomprehensible. How exactly can they negotiate or compromise on an issue as loaded as the Japanese attempt to occupy the Korean peninsula for the sake of launching an attack on China? Well, from the Japanese perspective it's simple enough- they need time to come up with a new plan. But why would Korea want to negotiate on this?

Well they don't really. That task ends up falling to the Chinese, as "Jing Bi-rok" once again focuses on the awkward situation the Koreans are in here, as the indisputably weakest government. As has been clearly stated time and again, the Chinese really just want to go home. This isn't exactly unreasonable, given that they have no firsthand confirmation that this war is really about them anyway. Yet as long as this is an obvious motivation, the Chinese can't really be trusted to think about the long term.

In terms of modern political analogies, well, there's not much to go on this episode. You may note that the modern American government has the exact opposite foreign policy problem. They stubbornly refuse to withdraw troops from anywhere, under any circumstances, because there's this overriding assumption that the American military is a sort of magic rock that prevents wars from happening. In reality it's just because American culture is unwilling to acknowledge the possibility that the American military can't solve literally every political conflict everywhere.

The usual plot point of cultural conflict is a potent one. Paradoxically, Seong-ryong's competence nearly gets him killed here, because that's what competent people do. They speak their minds even when they should be keeping their mouths shut. On multiple occasions Seong-ryong has to be held back and saved by less egotistical characters, in what ultimately serves as another harsh reminder that the Koreans have a rather low political position in their own war.

This material is nothing new, as is the custom for "Jing Bi-rok". Even the opening hints that of course this apparently positive turn of events isn't going to go well. King Seonjo puts on a good face as often as he can, but every so often the smile slips as he has to admit to himself that this can't be good- even the King is only kept in the loop on a limited basis, and for good reason. Implicit threats are rather more insidious than the explicit ones.

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.

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