In-gyeom (played by Choi Jong-won) is the main antagonist of "Six Flying Dragons" for the foreseeable future. The pacing in this drama isn't as fast as I was expecting. Far from getting into the story of how Bang-won became the ruthless historical king of legend, "Six Flying Dragons" is still describing him mostly as kind of a dumb kid- a dumb kid who's only just now starting to realize how badly he screwed up.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. The main problem is scale. Consider Muhyul, who's also a dumb kid, except that he has barely any idea what's happening. That's actually his best protection- In-gyeom can't send his goons after Muhyul because he doesn't know who Muhyul is, and how could he? Muhyul doesn't even know who he is. The light humor and irony of Muhyul's main scene here is palpable compared to what's happening with Bang-won.
Aside from that it's more of the usual from "Six Flying Dragons"- the political maneuvering here is so complicated that you practically need a chart to keep all the characters straight. It's not just their allegiances that matter, it's how much they know. We've got Goryeo-aligned characters working under Joseon-aligned characters and vice-versa. The question of true loyalty never really comes up, though, because if any of the leaders made a point of questioning subordinate loyalty that's all they'd be able to do all day long.
It's another one of the subtle ways that "Six Flying Dragons" exposits Seong-gye as being the leader Korea needs. On some level, Do-jeon is actually really sick of playing multi-dimensional politics. When this much energy has to be devoted to undermining secret alliances, debriefing lieutenants, and coming up with new ever more complicated plans, that just leaves less time to discuss anything actually relevant to the successful operation of a nation state. Seong-gye's leadership style, compared to Do-jeon and In-gyeom, is refreshingly simple.
Note that as obviously intelligent as In-gyeom is, he never really stops to consider the possibility that these military maneuvers are actually a fantastically stupid idea. Do-jeon's entire motivation is that he wants to change the system because it's impossible to make meaningful arguments within the context of the system. In the end this is the real reason why Bang-won is dangerous. Bang-won has trouble considering the prospect that he could be wrong- that, I suspect, is the real reason why Do-jeon decides to help out. The young man may slowly be on the path to learning some humility.
Review by William Schwartz
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] "Six Flying Dragons" Episode 11"
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