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[Hancinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 10

2017/02/23 | Permalink

The entirity of the plot this episode rests on a scam designed by Headmistress Choi to humiliate Saimdang. But the plucky Saimdang, to her credit, is able to enlist the help of a large gang of pathetic street bums to complete the supposedly impossible task. It also helps that Lee Gyum, bless his heart, is able to secretly help Saimdang in the night, like those little elves in fairy tales that help good-hearted souls through the difficult privations of life.

"Saimdang: Light's Diary" has progressed from merely being a bad drama to one that is actively difficult to watch because it is just so embarrassingly corny. I actually kind of miss the academic storyline, impossible thought that would have been to believe yesterday, because helping to give her son a good education was at least one of the historical Saimdang's verifiable accomplishments. Producing and selling large amounts of colored paper is just...I don't even know what that's supposed to be.

The one-dimensionality of the characters is another sore point. Every time Headmistress Choi is on screen I just think to myself, geez lady, don't you have anything better to do? How is she still this mad over a romantic tuffle that happened decades ago? What's even more ridiculous is that Headmistress Choi is supposedly a noblewoman of much more impressive rank than Saimdang, which rather begs the question, has she always been this petty? It's a wonder Headmistress Choi doesn't have more enemies.

Based on the historical record I assumed "Saimdang: Light's Diary" would be focusing a lot more Saimdang's actual accomplishments. Bear in mind that she died relatively young, so it seems like Saimdang should already be reasonably famous at this point. If Saimdang does become famous, it will almost certainly be through the patronage off Lee Gyeom and wow, one of the most famous women in Korean history owing her position to the actions of a man. That is a decidedly less than feminist portrayal.

Eagle-eyed viewers may note that this is the second straight episode which doesn't deal with the modern day framing device at all, even though it does find time to have King Jungjong do tangentially related political stuff. "Saimdang: Light's Diary" really is an exercise in goofy abstract plotting. At this rate it wouldn't surprise me if Headmistress Choi conspires to have Saimdang run into a tiger but is outwitted when Saimdang kindly removes a thorn from the tiger's paw.

Review by William Schwartz

"Saimdang: Light's Diary" is directed by Yoon Sang-ho, written by Park Eun-ryeong and features Lee Young-ae, Song Seung-heon, Oh Yoon-ah, Park Hye-soo, Yoon Ye-joo, Yoon Da-hoon and Kim Hae-sook.

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