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Epic Dramas Continues to Boom This Year

2008/01/01 Source

By Kwon Mee-yoo
Staff Reporter

KBS starts the New Year with two new epic dramas, "Hong Gil Dong", a Korean Robin Hood story and "The Great King Sejong", another drama portraying the king of Joseon.

Both dramas are set back in the time of the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910). "Hong Gil Dong" is a comical remake of novel of the same name written by Heo Gyun under King Gwanghaegun's reign (1575-1641).

The rather young director Lee Jung-sub, 36, defines the soap opera as being a "totally new epic drama". He prepared for this drama for about a year with writers Hong Jeong-eun and Hong Mi-ran, also known as the "Hong Sisters" of "Sassy Girl, Chun-hyang" (2005) and "Fantastic Couple" (2006).

Scenes from the preview were rather shocking. The protagonist, Hong Gil-dong (played by actor Kang Ji-hwan) has curly hair and wears sunglasses while Heo I-nok (Sung Yu-ri), the heroine, looks like Chun-li, the tomboy character from the popular game "Street Fighter".

Lee Chang-hui (Jang Keun-suk), the known-to-be-dead crown prince who takes on a more serious character, balances out the drama by trying to take back the throne with flapping long hair and eyes of sorrow.

Gisaeng, or traditional Korean female entertainers, dance to techno music in modern versions of hanbok (traditional Korean dress), bringing to screen a kind of Joseon nightclub scene.

Kang interprets Gil-dong as a character just out of a comic strip. For two days he looked in every nook and cranny of vintage shops to find the perfect props for his character. He now has five pairs of sunglasses in different shades to express the uniqueness of Gil-dong. "I was just fascinated to the character of `Hong Gil-dong'. I set Stephen Chow as my role model and watched many of his movies", Kang said at a press conference last week.

A former member of girl group Fin.K.L., known for her sweet-face, Sung sees a change in both her looks and acting style. Sung could be described more as handsome than pretty. "I-nok is just like a third-grader boy, very simple and plain. I-nok is entirely different from myself but it's easy to act like her. The only problem I have is that I can't imagine how I-nok cries".

Jang shakes off his cuteness and is reborn as the unfortunate crown prince. "Chang-hui's life was threatened by his own brother and he has been hiding since then, waiting for revenge. He is the only serious character in the drama but later changes when he meets Hong Gil-dong", Jang said.

Premiering Jan. 5, "The Great King Sejong" depicts the life of the fourth king of Joseon, King Sejong. Written by Yoon Seon-joo of "Hwangjin-i" (2006) and directed by Kim Seong-geun of "Thank You, My Life" (2006), this drama will focus on how King Sejong acceded to the throne, stabilized the newly born country and gave rise to the blooming culture of Joseon.

Born as the third prince, Chungnyeong, or King Sejong, was far from ascending the throne. This drama shows the young Chungnyeong living in a private residence outside of the palace and experiencing the everyday life of commoners. Later he takes the throne and invents Hangeul, the Korean writing system.

Kim Sang-kyung, who plays this majestic king, expressed both confidence and anxiety at a press conference. "I have to act out King Sejong in a way that meets people's expectations since he was such a well-known and great king. However, I have to bring out a new aspect of King Sejong at the same time", said Kim.

Known for his role as Gungye in "King Taejo Wang Geon" (2000), Kim Young-chul plays King Taejong, the third king and father of Sejong, while Choi Myoung-gil, who already played the same role in another KBS epic drama "Tears of the Dragon" (1996), will play his wife, Queen Wongyeong.

Queen Soheon, the first spouse of Sejong, is played by Lee Yoon-ji and concubine Kim will be played by Lee Jung-hyun. "We will demonstrate different characters from traditional legitimate queen and concubine relationships. We will be good friends and supportive of each other even after I receive the Royal favor", said Lee Jung-hyun.

Genius scientist of the time, Jang Yeong-sil is played by model-turned-actor Lee Chun-hee.

"Hong Gil Dong" will start airing at 9:55 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays _ KBS2, and "The Great King Sejong" will start airing at 9:40 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays _ KBS1.

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