There is so much to say about Ja Myung Go, the first of which must be that it is beautifully complex… and also rather narratively intricate at the beginning. The complexity is wonderful: it is in the characters, in the political intrigue, in the lost history of Naklang, in the legend of Prince Hodong’s tragic love(s). But the initial narrative intricacy can be disorienting, especially since the significance of what happens in the first couple of episodes is only clear in hindsight, after about a dozen or so subsequent episodes. I confess I had to watch the first episode more than twice in order to get my bearings. I am very glad that I did because, as I said, the complexity of content and execution in the telling of this story proved quite rewarding.
Although the title of the drama points to Princess Ja Myung and her ill-fated role in the defense of Naklang, the story is really at its core about the tragedy of Prince Hodong. I am reminded of how Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar is in reality “The Tragedy of Gaius Brutus.” Just as Brutus, despite his love for Caesar, betrayed the revered General and joined the conspirators in assassinating him— all the while believing that he was doing the right thing for the good of the Republic, thus Prince Hodong brings about the fall of Naklang in spite of his love for its priestess protector Princess Ja Myung, all for the good of his father’s kingdom, Goguryeo.
I started writing about Ja Myung Go when I started watching it back in May so I’ve just transferred those notes over here and I’ll develop this post gradually, hopeful that I can come up with something clear and consistent…