Category Archives: Dong Yi

Did Dong Yi and King Sukjong really have a long romance?

Did Dong Yi and King Sukjong really have a long romance?

Well, the answer is – we don’t know.  Because there’s very little information to be found about Dong Yi in the history books. All that’s known about her is that she came from the cheonin, servant class, then was noticed by the king, became a concubine, and eventually received the title Bin – the top rank for a royal concubine – when she gave birth to King Sukjong’s son. She was given the name Sukbin and her son became King Yeongjo who reined for 52 years and was the longest reigning king in Joseon history.

Dong Yi and King Sukjong blend in with the crowd, Dong Yi, MBC

One of the reasons there is so little information about her in the history books is that she came from the servant class. In the introduction to the novel Dong Yi, I read that Continue reading


Filed under Dong Yi

Is Dong Yi too slow?

I’ve just come back from a few weeks in the UK for a holiday and there was a pile of recorded Dong Yi episodes waiting for me. Normally I’d sit down and keep watching one episode after another, but this time I watched a couple of episodes and then took a few days break. This means that this drama is still not gripping me as much as Lee Byeong Hoon’s previous ones did. It’s slower and not as exciting and I was asking myself why.


King Sukjong at the daily meeting, Dong Yi, MBC

Continue reading


Filed under Dong Yi

The Romanization of Korean Names

hi, i have a question about the romanization of korean.

for han hyo joo, on wikipedia it lists:
revised romanization: han hyoju
mccune-reischauer: han hyo-ju

hmm, that is not so different. consider also ji jin hee.
revised romanization: ji jin-heui
mccune-reischauer: chi chin-hŭi

specifically, what is the romanization that is often seen, the form han hyo joo and ji jin hee?


Thanks for the question. I’ll take this opportunity to try to tackle the complicated and confusing world of romanizing Korean names. Over the years there have been several systems created to romanize Hangul, but since 2000 the Revised Romanization system became the official system taking over from McCune-Reischauer. BUT still, names and place names don’t always follow the new (or old) rules, so I’ve been trying to work out the best way to spell names too. For example, I’ve used the spelling “Jang Hee Bin” in my blog but elsewhere I’ve also seen her name spelt “Jang Hui-bin” or “Chang Huibin”. Where to use capital letters and when to hyphenate or not to hyphenate are more problems. On Wikipedia Ji Jin Hee is written as Ji Jin-hee and Ji Jin Hee.I know this is only a minor difference but still….(sigh)

Ji Jin Hee as King Sukjong, Dong Yi, MBC

As you’ve pointed out, Ji Jin Hee should technically be written as Ji jin-heui in Revised Romanization and I can’t find any rule in any romanization system (see this chart) that suggests that 희 should be written as Hee! The same is true for Han Hyo-joo which would be Han Hyo-ju in Revised Romanization.

According to my Korean friend, Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Dong Yi

Dong Yi, court lady sang-gung

So if all goes well, Dong Yi will soon move up the ranks to become a concubine.

Dong Yi, MBC

At the moment she is a court lady, sang-gung, rank 5, (top rank for a court lady but below the concubines). But of course she is different to the other sang-gung. First of all, she’s different because she hasn’t worked her way up the ranks like the other court ladies have had to do. Dong Yi has gone from no rank to sang-gung thanks to her relationship with the king and so her title is not just sang-gung but sung-un sang-gung 승은 상궁 承恩尙宮. This is a special title for sang-gung who are intimate with the king and are likely to move up to concubine status. Jang Hee bin (currently the queen) was this level at the beginning of the drama and we saw her ceremony when she became a concubine, hu-gung 후궁 後宮, rank 4 Sook-won.

Lady Jang becomes concubine Jang Sook-won, episode 17, Dong Yi, MBC source

Because of this special status, the sung-ung sang-gung doesn’t have to work  like the other sang-gung do. The regular sang-gung have jobs to do around the palace – in the drama we see sang-gung leading the court lady investigation bureau. It seems that all that the sung-un sang-gung has to do is look nice and wait for the king!


Filed under Dong Yi

Searching for original portraits of King Sukjong

This post was inspired by a question I was asked about where we can find portraits of King Sukjong and Dong Yi. I began a search, although I was not too hopeful as I had heard that a lot of Joseon royal portraits were damaged during wars and natural disasters over the years. I didn’t find anything on King Sukjong but I did find a portrait of Choi Dong Yi’s son, King Yeongjo, (see further below) along with several other kings. In this post I’ll take a quick look at the process of portrait painting in the Joseon court and the reasons for portrait painting and which royal portraits are still around.

King drinking coffee. OK so I couldn’t find an original portrait of King Sukjong but here’s a more contemporary image. Source: MBC Dong Yi blog

Continue reading


Filed under Dong Yi

Dong Yi Actor Quits Drama

Choi Chol-ho as Oh Yoon in Dong Yi, MBC

Dong Yi actor, Choi Chul-ho (40) who plays Oh Yoon, (the nephew of the leader of the southern faction Oh Tae Suk)  held a press conference on the 11th and voluntarily quit the drama in response to public criticism over an incident he was involved in one evening last week. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Dong Yi

Who is Watching Dong Yi?

According to this article about the viewer ratings of Dong Yi in Korea, there was a lot of interest in Dong Yi when it first aired because it is directed by Lee Byung hoon who as we know also directed the hit palace kitchen drama Dae Jang Geum, (Jewel in the Palace). However, although Dong Yi has a loyal following, it has not been able to keep the interest of many other viewers. So why is this?

It seems that due to the leisurely pace of the plot and lack of thorough historical research the drama has not been able to keep the interest of middle aged men and younger viewers in their 20s. According to TNS Media Research, the drama is mainly watched by female viewers in their 30s and 40s. Followed by ladies in their 50s and 60s and then men in their 40s.

Seo Jang geum (Lee Young-ae) with her cooking teacher Han Baek young (Yang Mi kyung) in the 2003 MBC drama Dae Jang Geum (Jewel in the Palace)

Dae Jang Geum also had a female lead and was popular with women in the same age group as Dong Yi viewers. However Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Dong Yi