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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Saimdang: Light's Diary" Episode 12

2017/03/02 | 979 views | Permalink

Lee Gyum's investigation into the drama's backstory continues. It's a little impressive, after a certain point, how everything about this conspiracy keeps leading back to Saimdang somehow. Meanwhile, Saimdang herself is just left pondering the next steps of her colored paper empire while Lee Gyum charges forward heedlessly, ignorant of the danger to himself or his horses, to inform Saimdang that their initial separation was the result of malicious forces rather than a random quirk of fate. Swordfights are involved.

The plot in "Saimdang: Light's Diary" has reached yet another low in sheer goofiness. I know I'm writing that pretty much every single review at this point but good grief, this drama is just plain painful to watch. Even the comic relief involving Saimdang's family is of little help, juxtaposed as it is with Lee Gyum's sheer hopeless tragic desperation. Being reminded that Saimdang has five kids with her husband just, you know, kind of puts a damper on Lee Gyum's romanticism.

The set-up is so inherently implausible that there's absolutely no dramatic tension when it comes to the question of Lee Gyum and Saimdang getting back together again. Considering how their adult versions only ever seen to run into each other during high stress situations, it's equally hard to guess why they would even want to get together. Lee Gyum and Saimdang both have very busy personal and professional lives, so where would they even find the time for this?

...I am, admittedly, extrapolating that accomplished artists would be more busy, I don't know, creating art rather than running elaborate investigations or managing an indentured labor force. That's what really gets me- how little anything that happens in "Saimdang: Light's Diary" has anything to do with what Lee Gyum and Saimdang are actually famous for. Imagine if Italy made a biopic drama about the rivalry between Leonardo da Vinci and Michaelangelo, and the actual plot revolved around the gay love affair that bloomed while they were doing secret assassination work for the House of Medici.

The drama's especially frustrating to watch as a foreigner who would like to know more about the real Saimdang, but it's legitimately difficult to tell how much of it is completely made up versus what at least has the faint tinge of truthiness. That stuff with King Jungjong's alleged mental problems might be based on reality. Or it could just be an elaborate contrivance to give the conspiracy epic royalist pretensions. Who knows.

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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