Category Archives: history

登鸛雀樓 (Ascending Stork Tower)

白日依山盡 黃河入海流 欲窮千里目 更上一層樓

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Ikseongwan 익선관

For a long time I wondered why the bulbous hat worn in the Joseon court had what appeared to be Cicada wings in the back. Now I know! Thank you Arirang TV!

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자장가 – 신돈

신돈 – 자장가 어젯밤에 바라본 달님이 엄마얼굴 닮아서 오늘 밤도 하늘을 보지만 구름속에 가려져 작사 : 김태윤 작곡 : 노형우 ,황상준 편곡 : 노형우 Shin Don – Lullaby Last night the moon shone Recalling a mother’s face Tonight we see the sky Shrouded in the clouds Lyrics: Kim Tae-Yoon Music: Noh Hyeong-Woo, Hwang Sang Jun Arrangement: Noh Hyeong-Woo

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궁중잔혹사 – 꽃들의 전쟁 (Cruel Palace – War of Flowers)

Greed, betrayal, vengeance — all this and the casual brutality wrought in their service — are at the raw, bloody heart of 궁중잔혹사 – 꽃들의 전쟁 (Cruel Palace: War of the Flowers), where a veritable Pandemonium of malignant narcissists —essentially functional psychopaths, the lot of them!— has the run of King Injo of Joseon’s court. Joseon era sageuk are generally replete with a particularly acrid flavor of palace intrigue, but none more so than those … Continue reading

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성균관 스캔들 – ’tis not poetry

Without love for the people and concerns for the nation, ’tis not poetry. Without aching for our era and outrage at the world, ’tis not poetry. Without striving for good and guarding against evil, this too, is not poetry. attr. Jeong Yak Yong (Sungkyunkwan Scandal)

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주몽 (Jumong)

  “Trust is more important than life. Kill them all!” So declares Soseono (소서노) with admirable equanimity on her first outing as the leader of the trade troop owned by Yeontabal (연타발), Chief of Keru and Leader of the Jolbon (졸본) confederacy. Soseono is destined to inherit the troop from her father and this is her first opportunity to prove her mettle as a trader and to freely wield her authority as the troop leader. … Continue reading

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선덕여왕 (The Great Queen Seon Deok)

“Chess” may be the word best suited to conveying the drama of open-faced intrigue and gamesmanship that is 선덕여왕 (The Great Queen Seon Deok). The war between Princess Deokman (the future Queen Seon Deok) and the formidable Mi Shil for control of Silla is the stuff of epic. And perhaps because our contenders are both women, heroic prowess is here not framed in terms of brute force and naked aggression, but rather through strategic craft … Continue reading

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Notes on 근초고왕 (King Geunchogo)

Ah! What a relief – an historical saga that feels like an historical saga! After the foamy travesty that was Kim Soo Ro and the less-than-solid despite its beauty Ja Myung Go, it is refreshing to once again happen upon a Goguryeo-era sageuk drama that has some of the appealing traits of Jumong. It is becoming increasingly clear to me as I watch this that among the elements that makes Jumong so engaging is the spot on mix of political … Continue reading

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Curio in KDramaland… (or, Through the Sageuk Lens)

I have been contemplating the virtues of the well made sageuk and what its persistent appeal to me (and maybe even to other viewers) might mean. Surely, something… It turns out that while I apparently have watched only one third as many sageuks as contemporary fictions (from comedies to melodramas and everything in between), I am more disposed to want to collect historical dramas than I am contemporary fictions. When it comes … Continue reading

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The Praise of Men…

John Milton could not have said it better when he summed up the folly of vanity: all who in vain things Built their fond hopes of glory or lasting fame… Naught seeking but the praise of men, here find Fit retribution, empty as their deeds. (III 448-54) When the second edition of his epic poem Paradise Lost appeared in 1674, Milton had raised hell enough to call it a day. No doubt … Continue reading

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