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Yet another Joseon Dynasty hero swoops into prime time slot

2008/06/09 | 300 views | Permalink | Source

Is it a time for heroes? SBS and KBS think so. Fast on the heels of SBS' masked marauder, "Iljimae", KBS' "Mighty Chil-woo", a veritable Joseon-style Batman, will swoop into the Monday and Tuesday night time slot on June 17.

Originally set to air tonight, the historical-action miniseries called "Choi Kang Chil Woo" ("Mighty Chil-woo") got pushed back a week. News reports indicate that the date was delayed to avoid direct competition with MBC's "Yi San", the final episode of which is set for June 16.

But "Yi San" is just one of the many challenges that hero Chil-woo faces. With SBS set to crush Chil-woo before he has a chance to put up a fight, KBS needs to pull out all the stops early on to have a chance of winning.

SBS' currently popular "Iljimae" and its upcoming blockbuster "Gourmet" ("Sikgaek") are formidable foes in the race to get high ratings. And Chil-woo may not have what it takes to beat its competitors.

But singer-turned-actor Eric Mun, who signed on to play the dark hero, disagrees. At last week's press conference, the 29-year old celebrity, also known as Moon Jeong-hyeok, said, "It is true; there are many similarities (to "Iljimae") ... Initial comparisons cannot be avoided, but, with time, that will change. And the two shows do not air on the same days".

As Eric pointed out, "Iljimae" plays on Wednesday and Thursday nights, and "Mighty Chil-woo" will play on Monday and Tuesday nights. But will viewers want to tune into these heroes four nights in a row?

After all, both heroes are out for revenge. They both wear masks, carry out their deeds in the night, and were raised by foster parents. Add to that the long-awaited gastronomical epic, "Gourmet" ("Sikgaek"), which is set to play on Monday and Tuesday nights starting June 16, and things are looking bleak for Chil-woo.

But the fight isn't over yet. Eric Mun's star power - this boy band rapper won audiences over in the hit MBC drama "Phoenix" (2004) - may draw in a few fans. As this is his first historical drama, Eric has the opportunity to prove he can pull off the complex role of Chil-woo.

This KBS hero is a low-ranking officer by day and an assassin by night. The jovial and happy-go-lucky commoner transforms into the head of an organization of assassins which is trained to punish the corrupt.

If "Iljimae" is a bit more of a super-powered Robin Hood, then Chil-woo is a medieval Batman. Donning the black eye-mask - which bears a striking resemblance to Batman's, minus the ears - this dark hero delivers vengeance with a bite.

Based on the actions of one Kang-byun Chil-woo from the "Annals of the Joseon Dynasty", this historical romance travels back 400 years to bring audiences a slightly comical but mainly serious epic.

"The characters are drawn from fun episodes from the 'Annals of the Joseon Dynasty', said director Park Man-yeong at a recent press conference. "This drama is not a fusion drama. Just the action sequences may seem a bit mixed because of the martial arts techniques used in place of more traditional swordfighting".

According to director Park, ordinary swordfighting techniques seemed too cruel, so they opted for less violent martial arts stunts.

But just how far will the hero's superpowers go? Will Chil-woo have some magical weapons, like Iljimae's invisible cloak?

Judging from the preview, this action romance looks more down-to-earth, but audiences will have to tune in to see for themselves.

"Mighty Chil-woo" airs on Monday and Tuesday nights on KBS 2 TV at 9:55 p.m. starting June 17.

By Jean Oh

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