Some much needed balance is struck here as "Jing Bi-rok" moves back to showing a wide variety of events that initially appear completely unrelated. My favorite of the bunch is the customs check that inevitably devolves into a claustrophobic fight scene. These days the airports and even the port authority all have pretty elaborate immigration checks. So it's pretty hard to imagine that once upon a time it was actually rather difficult to identify and apprehend random spies.
On the international political end, we finally get to see what the Chinese have been up to. And as it turns out, the current ruler's behavior doesn't exactly inspire a lot of confidence in the country's ability to adequately respond to Hideyoshi's insane plan to take over the world. The historical parallel is an interesting one- not just this particular example, but plenty of major conflicts could be accurately described as political leaders failing to keep the one obviously crazy guy in check.
In this context, it's no wonder King Seonjo is sufferring from such severe depression. "Jing Bi-rok" is rather determined to give the man a sympathetic line given his major failures throughout the conflict, and to date it's mostly successful. Much of this is simply to the credit of Kim Tae-woo. It can't be easy portraying, through acting, the visage of a man with no clear motivation who constantly hesitates. And yet Kim Tae-woo makes it quite easy to sympathize with the sad king.
Many of the production merits in "Jing Bi-rok" are quite good actually. I love the music, particularly the slowly building epic chord that comes up every time an episode is about to end. Directors Kim Sang-hwi and Kim Yeong-jo consistently make the historical context of the drama feel horribly ominous. I like to preserve the tension by not reading up on the actual history- but as noted before, English language sources regarding these invasions are in rather scarce supply.
All in all this episode is fairly solidly balanced, containing most of the strengths of the drama in clear enough proportions that the various historical and human messages don't outstay their welcome and become too dull. It's a tough act to balance but "Jing Bi-rok" does appear to have gained a sense of steadiness. Be that as it may, the pacing remains deliberately slow, so by all means be sure to watch the drama with a sense of patience. History doesn't get made in a day, after all.
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 email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jing Bi-rok" Episode 7"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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