By Sa Eun-young
The long awaited drama, "Taewangsasingi" (The Four Guardian Gods of the King, "The Legend"), starring hallyu icon Bae Yong-joon
, finally met its audience on television Monday. A "Taewangsasingi Special" was aired with a sneak peek of highlights from the drama and behind-the-scenes interviews with the director and actors.
The special, aimed to give watchers a better understanding of the complicated storyline, sketched out an overall introduction to the drama and gave watchers a taste of the extravagant sets on Jeju Island and the vast planes of Kyrgyzstan, as well as the spectacular computer graphics that add a fantastical touch.
Scenes from the preview showed a striking resemblance to the highly credited graphics of the "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)", and the recent box office hit "D-War
", thanks to the drama's massive budget of 43 billion won.
Taking off from the mythical period, the special provided a detailed explanation of the king and the four guardian gods, including how the story unfolds into a love story between the hero and two heroines.
In the first ever Korean historical fantasy drama, Bae takes on two roles: as Hwanwoong, the father of Dangun, who is believed to be the son of God and founder of Korea's first kingdom Gojoseon (2,333-108 B.C.); and as Damdeok who grows up to become King Gwanggaeto, the 19th ruler of the Goguryeo Kingdom (37 B.C.-A.D. 668).
The drama marks Bae's return to television four years after the 2002 drama, "Winter Sonata
", which catapulted him to a leading Asian star.
Joining Bae, widely referred to as "Yonsama", are award-winning actress Moon So-ri
", 2002), talented fledgling actress Lee Ji-ah
and actors Choi Min-soo
and Park Sang-won
The show recorded a view rating of 14.1%, according to TNS Media Korea.
The blockbuster drama is already drawing heated debate _ like most high-budget, pioneering attempts do _ as watchers express mixed reactions on the drama's official Web site. A user with the ID JUNPH76, commented, "It may be because my expectations were too high, but the excessive special effects make the (historic) story appear made-up".
Still more people showed satisfaction saying the preview heightened expectations towards the drama, as one user "TITITI77", said, "The new attempt may cause people to turn away at first, but to watch a piece this big in scale without having to go to movie theatres is definitely something to look forward to".
Broadcaster MBC is airing the first three of the drama's 24 episodes during the first week, 9:55 p.m., Sept.11-13, followed by episodes every Wednesday and Thursday.