Dong Yi

official poster Dong-yi MBC source: hancinema

Good news –  Dong Yi, the latest historical drama by Dae Jang Geum director Lee Byeong-hoon is now airing on MBC (Mon/Tues 21:55) and this time Ji jin-hee is playing the King.

Like Dae Jang Geum, the main character , Dong Yi (Han Hyo-joo) is female and based on a real historical figure.

Every sageuk drama (set in the Joseon period, 1392 – 1910) I’ve watched by PD Lee Byeung-hoon has kept me absolutely hooked till the end (usually around 50 episodes). And I’m expecting the conspiracies of jealous court ladies to have me jumping off the sofa in frustration again. Smashing.


The drama revolves around Dong Yi a bright and courageous girl who was born as a house slave but was eventually sent to the palace as a court lady during the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910). After being framed by Jang Huibin, the notorious concubine of King Sukjong, she escapes the palace but returns as a palace maid. Her life takes a fortuitous turn when she is noticed by King Sukjong and finally becomes Royal Consort Sukbin Choi. The 50-episode series deals with Choi’s motherhood and lifelong journey to protect her son, who later becomes King Yeongjo (source – Korea Times)

Dong yi source- hancinema

Main Characters

Dong Yi is played by the 23-year-old Han Hyo-joo I enjoyed the light -hearted romantic comedy, Shining Inheritance, she was in previously, even with the seriously bad hair. She is very young for the lead role and there’s quite a age difference between her and 38-year old Ji Jin-hee though. (Lee Young-ae was 32 when she played Dae Jang geum, Jeon Kwang-ryeol who played Heujun was 40 at the time)

Han Hyo-joo in Shining Inheritance. source - hancinema

The King is played by Ji Jin-hee (also an official in Dae Jang Geum). This role is a far cry from the geeky, stuck-in-his-ways 40-year old in The Man Who Can’t Marry. (Loved him in that too though) It was great to see him in a comedy role for a change, but I must admit, he’s much more dashing as a king!

Ji Jin-hee in Dae Jang geum source: Hancinema

with Sang-gu the chihuahua in The Man Who Can't Marry

Bae Soo Bin as Cha Chun Soo. He played the best friend oppa role to Han Hyo-joo’s character in Shining Inheritance. I found his role in that drama TOO nice. Too drippy. Getting up to do her milk round at the crack of dawn when she was sick because he wants to help her? He was far too good to be true. Martial Arts moves and ninja-like climbing over rooftops suit him much better.

Lee So Yeon as Jang Hee Bin. She plays the villain, a scheming concubine. I haven’t seen her in anything else so I have to wait and see here.

Brief Outline of the childhood years. Episode 1-4

Four episodes have aired now and as in other historical dramas the first few episodes show the main character’s childhood, in this case played by 10-year-old Kim Yoo-jung. At first Dong-yi is an innocent child who comes from the servant class. When a local yangban family offers her a job greeting their guests during the Lunar New Year she is excited because she gets to wear a colourful hanbok. She doesn’t realize that her family is in danger and is being chased by government officials, so when she is told to stay indoors she disobeys because she doesn’t want to miss the opportunity of going to the yangban house and wearing pretty clothes and eating good food. She is enjoying playing dress-up at the house when she realizes that officials are looking for her and she has to hide. She’s confused as her father didn’t tell her that he is accused of murdering an official and wanted posters are up for both of them. Only when she sees her father an brother arrested and tied up being led away does she understand that there’s a problem.

The young Dong-yi

Things get really bad and her father and brother are killed by police and Dong-yi must go on the run. The guard Cha Chen-soo (Bae Soo-bin) who has been asked by her father to look after her, falls off a cliff during a fight trying to help her father escape and he disappears, so she seems to be all alone.

But then she gets some good luck. A lady who works at the court takes her in and she is accepted into the court too as a maid. The final childhood scene shows her dressed in court costume playing the Korean instrument, hae gum. This reminds her of her brother who also played the hae gum and the thought of him makes her sad. The camera shot moves to the King, who is outside walking nearby in the grounds. He stops to listen to the playing. In the next shot she is still playing the hae gum but now she is an adult.

To be continued…

Other work by PD Lee Byeoung-hoon

also watched Dae Jang Geum, Heojun, and Sangdo, directed by LBH.

What the other three dramas have in common is that the lead characters are based on real historical figures born in poverty but determined to become the best that they can be at their chosen professions.

Over the course of the 50 + episodes we see the life of the character from childhood till middle age +. And their lives are anything but easy. Enemies conspire against them all the way, but with determination and mentors to guide them they rise to the top and achieve a prominent place in society. Even when they succeed, they remain humble knowing that there is always more to learn even when they are at the top of their game.

Dae Jang Geum 2003 source: hancinema

Dae Jang Geum,  (Jewel in the Palace, starring Lee Young-ae) wants to become a great royal cook and then later becomes the King’s first female physician.

Watching this drama I started thinking more about what I was eating and how what we eat affects the mind and body. I became more aware of the ingredients I was using to cook with and concentrated more preparing the food.

Heojun 2000 source Hancinema

Heojun, (my favorite Kdrama of all time) is determined to become a natural medicine doctor.

I read when this drama was airing that the number of patients at the A and E at hospitals increased as viewers in the countryside went off to the mountains to find the concoctions that Heojun was using to cure patients in the dramas. Suffice to say the homemade versions did not have the same effects. So the message is, Don’t try this at home, folks.

Sangdo 2001 source: Hancinema

In Sangdo,( Merchant), Im Sang-ok decides to become a merchant although at first he wants to be an interpreter, a scholar of Chinese, which is a much more highly regarded profession, as merchants were seen as rather unsavoury business people with no morals who only cared about money. But he learns that it’s possible to be a merchant and have morals and treat others fairly and he becomes the most successful merchant in Korea.

I haven’t seen the drama Yisan yet, this but it’s on the list…

Leave a comment

Filed under Dong Yi, Kdrama reviews

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s