By Park Chung-a
Four big-budget historical TV dramas set in the Koguryo Kingdom (37 B.C. - A.D. 668) _ one of three Kingdoms of ancient Korea _ are concurrently in production. The last TV drama depicting the Koguryo Kingdom was made in 1964.
Different from most historical TV dramas that, up to now, focused on portraying everyday heroes from the Choson Kingdom (1392-1910), the four dramas center on portraying leaders' patriotic deeds and territorial victories set in the Koguryo Kingdom.
The first is MBC's 60-episode drama titled "Jumong
", depicting the founding myth of the ancient Kingdom. It will premiere on May 8.
SBS' historical drama "Yongaesomun" is about the heroic general of the Koguryo Kingdom who successfully defeated the Chinese army. KBS' "Taejoyoung" depicts the founding process of the Palhae Kingdom led by Taejoyoung, a general from the Koguryo Kingdom. The dramas will debut in July and August respectively and both will air 100 episodes.The Palhae Kingdom (698-926) controlled much of what is now northern China.
Production is in the process of making the 20-episode drama "Taewangsashingi" ("The Legend"
), which deals with the dynamic history of the Koguryo Kingdom, from its founding to the achievements of King Kwanggaeto, who expanded the territory to its largest size during his reign. The production is aiming to air later this year. It features hallyu star Bae Yong-june as King Kwanggaeto and has already been garnering a great deal of attention both in and out of Korea.
The average production cost for each drama ranges from 3.4 to 4 billion won.
Experts have said such a boom of Koguryo-related dramas reflects people's increased interest toward the kingdom _ an interest resulting from a territorial dispute sparked two years ago between Korea and China over the Koguryo Kingdom which, at one point, dominated the northern part of the Korean Peninsula and much of what is today Manchuria, China. Some Chinese scholars have been trying to incorporate the history of the ancient kingdom into that of their own country.
, a writer for "Yongaesomun" said the meaning of his work lies in restoring the lost history. Likewise, both "Yongaesomun" and "Taejoyoung" feature the famous battle of An Shi Fort in 644 in which the Koguryo army beat the Chinese army numbering more than 300,000 led by Tai Zong, King of the Tang.
"Production of such dramas is very meaningful as they will raise people's awareness and will put a new light on the history of Koguryo and Palhae", Yoon Myong-chol, a professor and historical scholar said.
Others also say producers should be careful about causing another distortion of history when they fill in the blanks of historical facts with fiction and fantasy
"Although it may be natural that the dramas will show an interpretation of history from Koreans' viewpoints, still producers should always be aware not to gear them toward excessive nationalism or chauvinism", said Han Kyu-chol, a professor of Kyongsong University and president of the Koguryo Research Association.
While the fantasy-oriented historical dramas "Taewangsasingi" and "Jumong
" portray the kingdom based on imagination combined with basic historical research, "Yongaesomun" and "Taejoyoung" aim to recreate the Koguryo Kingdom as realistically as possible, based on thorough historical research.