oyceter: (dramas dramas dramas)
[personal profile] oyceter
This is a 2006 drama about the life of Hwang Jin-Yi, a Joseon period gisaeng who was famous for her poetry, art, music, and dancing. We begin with wee!Jin-Yi, who has been raised in a Buddhist monastery, as her mother, a gisaeng herself, wanted Jin-Yi to be able to escape gisaeng life. Unfortunately for the mother, Jin-Yi ends up watching the performance of a gisaeng troupe and immediately deciding that that is what she wants to do.

So far there are:
  • Dance training sequences involving being hung upside down by the foot

  • Steadfast friends who matchmake

  • A demanding taskmistress who feels that suffering pain will only make your art greater!!!, and whatever, what is life being married on a farm when you could be MARRIED TO YOUR ART?!

  • A rival troupe, lead of course by the old rival of Jin-Yi's troupe leader (aforementioned demanding taskmistress), who is determined that she will BEAT HER FINALLY! And if she can't do it, she will get in the way of anyone else who tries to!

  • A rivalry between the most promising girl of the rival troupe and Jin-Yi, in which the rival girl is horrified to hear that Jin-Yi is too sick for a competition because she wants to beat her fair and square as an accurate measure of their talent!!

  • Societally forbidden love with a yangban boy

  • The tragedies of gisaeng life and having to sleep with whatever man has enough to purchase you for the night

  • And I can't even describe how much costume porn

There is so much costume porn I would probably watch this solely for the costume and dance scenes even if the rest of it weren't good, but the rest of it is very good!

Jin-Yi herself is awesome and as stoic as only Ha Ji-Won can be and firmly within the shounen sports manga school of "I must perfect all the dance by any means necessary!" and I'm also enjoying how they're slowly fleshing out some of the other gisaeng as well.


So I have just stopped at the part where Jin-Yi swears to Baek-Moo that she will dance for her and be a gisaeng for her, but no matter what, she will never forgive or forget what Baek-Moo has done to her and one day she will bring Baek-Moo down! It was AWESOME.

I was pretty fond of Eun-Ho in the beginning, but I rolled my eyes a lot at his later lack of conviction. SIGH. Oh Eun-Ho. You could conceive of a life where you were a farmer but never quite believed that your parents wouldn't come to see your side. Obviously this isn't a surprise, given that he's nineteen and being raised in a time when filial piety was a huge deal, but it didn't make it any less irritating to watch! Also, I kept thinking he was going to keel over and die dramatically at various points, but he would just.... keep... going.... and look as terrible and pathetic as possible. I love that Jin-Yi returns his ring to him in the end and won't be swayed again, and even though I love that, I also love the scene where she covers his coffin with her jeogori.

My favorite, though, is that the show frames the romance not only as a huge sacrifice for Eun-Ho due to the obvious social class obstacles, but also for Jin-Yi. And it's not just the risk of being abandoned, it's having to give up her art that is most important to her. I love the moment when she cuts through the strings of her geomungo as a sign of her decision; you can tell she's thought about it! And is committed fully! (Which, er, sadly Eun-Ho is not so much.)

And on a totally random note, I am amused that a ton of stuff in this drama and in Arang (and possibly most sageuk?) is filmed at the 한국민속촌 and that it's always attributed as such!
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April 2017


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