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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Jing Bi-rok" Episode 30


As expected, the Korean and Chinese military forces continue to butt heads over the question of proper military sovereignty. Mostly they don't actually get along that poorly except when they have mutually conflicting cross-purposes. There's not really any way to resolve the question of whether or not to execute a presumed traitor when there's just too much inherent dispute over whether or not the person in question really is a question. Of course, some form of trial would probably be more appropriate than just letting the highest ranked person around solve the problem.

Bear in mind that while the Korean / Chinese conflict is an important one, ultimately, it's a luxury. The only reason why anyone's able to argue about this stuff is because the Korean / Chinese alliance is doing quite well. Even though the Japanese are still technically winning the war (going by overall quantity of territory), they're practically forced to an unwinnable standstill here. Paranoia carries the day. The Koreans and the Chinese might butt heads, but can at least cooperate.

Ironically, the fact that the Koreans and Chinese are noticeably different ethnics groups is probably what makes this practical. Consider the big gesture that Seong-ryong makes to smooth over relations. He's simultaneously asserting Korean independence while definitely acknowledging the extent to which Korea relies on its Chinese allies both for cultural influence and political support. From this vantage point, collaboration is a real possibility.

Slowly but surely the military situation is definitely improving. Even the fight sequences very nearly manage to have a genuine epic feel about them- the Koreans and the Chinese banding together to score important victories and make the situation all the more untenable for the Japanese. From the Japanese end the campaign has nearly become unsustainable, and it's no wonder they're cracking under the stress. In a more conventional drama, we'd be approaching the endpoint, the main conflict having been apparently solved.

That's just the problem with history, though. Even if King Seonjo and Prince Gwanghae appear to have come to an effective understanding, the fact remains that it's the military forces that are making serious accomplishments here. The bigger political issues regarding the diminished credibility of the Korean government aren't something that can just be tossed aside in the event of an impressive military turnaround. For the moment, though, things are going well. And knowing that more conflict brims just over the horizon doesn't do anything to seriously challenge that.

Review by William Schwartz

"Jing Bi-rok" is directed by Kim Sang-hwi and Kim Yeong-jo, written by Jeong Hyung-soo and Jeong Ji-yeon and features Kim Sang-joong, Kim Tae-woo, Im Dong-jin, Kim Hye-eun, Lee Kwang-ki and Lee Kwang-ki.

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