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The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 7 to 15

November 2, 2011 2 comments

This is a spoiler-rich discussion of what happens in these episodes so do not read this post if you want the experience of watching the serial unfold onscreen. Further, these episode numbers are based on the terrestrial broadcasts I have seen and not on downloaded or DVD episodes. It’s possible that these numbers do not match your experience.

The twins now seem destined to meet rather earlier in the plot than I expected. I had imagined the script would show parallel narratives until the two stars in the Big Dipper collided. So, here’s how it’s all going to happen. After being rescued in the desert by Cartman (Mametkulovs Mansur), Deokman (Nam Ji-Hyun) decides to head to Silla. She knows Moon No is involved. He may even be her father. So, when she arrives, our naive girl (hadn’t noticed this before in her dealings among the Uighur in Xinjiang) wanders round his home town asking for him and gets taken in by conmen Juk-bang (Lee Mun-Shik) (good to see him back from Iljimae) and Ko-Do (Ryu Dam). Meanwhile, time has been flashing by at an incredible rate for Princess Cheon-myeong (Shin Se-Kyung). Her husband was cut down just as a glorious victory was declared. So she disappears off into a convent to have her baby, Kim Chun-Chu. Her brother-in-law, Kim Yong-Chun (Do Lee-Seong) then brings news of Moon No’s presence in his home town so she leaves the enormous child in the arms of her retinue and starts off to find the man who can tell her the real story behind her birth.

Kim Yu-Sin (Lee Hyun-Woo) and his loyal troops

This is where Korean drama scores well. The script is like one of these watch mechanisms. When the conmen see Kim Yu-sin (Lee Hyun-Woo) they run. Deokman pursues and Juk-bang slips a stolen badge into Deokman’s coat. She berates Kim Yu-sin for falsely accusing the “priest” of stealing the badge. As a reward for rescuing her, Juk-bang sends Deokman to the camp of the rebels where he pulled off one of his cons — she’s a kind of peace offering. Crossing the river, the twins meet. The Princess is separated from her guards and the twins run off. They arrive in the village as directed and are locked up. Deokman gets free by praying longer and harder than the conman priest and also trying to dig a well while everyone else is asleep. Her can-do spirit earns her release. When troops attack, Deokman gets the Princess away but this time the Princess saves Deokman from drowning. Now Deokman gives her coat to the wet Princess to keep her warm (this still has the stolen badge in it). They get to the temple where they think Moon No is only to be attacked by a team of assassins led by Bo-Jong (Kwak Jung Wook). Unfortunately, government troops also get involved and the Princess and Bo-Jong are wounded as they all fall in the river. Now the Princess is rescued from the river by Kim Yu-sin who finds his lost badge. I could go on but you should all watch the skill with which these plots are put together.

Juk-Bang (Lee Mun-Shik) never happier than when hiding in the undergrowth

To cut a long story short, the conmen and Deokman save Bo-Jong’s life, and identify Mi-Sil (Ko Hyun-Jung) as directly involved. Not surprisingly, Deokman blunders her way in front of the King and all the courtiers and identifies both Bo-Jong and Mi-Sil as directly involved. As a reward, Deokman, the conmen, Kim Seo-Hyeon (Jeong Seong-Mo) and his son Kim Yu-sin are taken to the capital, and Mi-Sil is hopping mad her plans have been thwarted. Now Deokman is enrolled into the Hwarang Warriors and we get into the training regime. There are the usual intersquad rivalries with everyone contemptuous of the newbies from the provinces. The worst performers are Deokman, Juk-bang and Ko-Do, but there’s time for Deokman to confront Mi-Sil and make a deal with her for finding Moon No. Now we reach the first crisis. There’s an invasion just before the Hwarang are due to hold one of their intersquad competitions. The army must be sent out but Deokman is attacked by Bo-Jong and his squad and this may merit a private resolution. Except the war takes priority so the feud is put on hold as they march for the front line. Two brief asides. The twins are meeting on a regular basis with the Princess still appearing as a nun. Deokman has yet to realise who has befriended her. Secondly, the characters are suddenly switching actors as they age so it’s actually quite hard to keep track of who everyone is.

Mi-Sil (Ko Hyun-Jung) so desperately wanting to be regal

Now we’re in the camp close to the target. Seol Won (Jeon No-Min) is in charge with Kim Seo-Hyeon as his second-in-command. Seol Won sets off with all but 3,000 men and Kim Yu-sin by his side. This leaves his father to guard the camp. At this point, I need to complain. Cross-dressing is a nice convention to play with for television purposes and, in the real world, we’ve had Joan of Arc (who admitted being female), Ann Mills, Hannah Snell and so on who all served on the battlefield. But here we have someone who looks like a girl and has the strength of a girl yet, although this excites comment, no-one detects the deception. Secondly, none of this group of young recruits learns how to fight properly. Frankly, they all fight like girls. That’s why all the other units treat them as a joke.

Anyway, once they are underway and enemy spies have reported their movements, Kim Seo-Hyeon opens secret orders and discovers he and his 3,000 are supposed to attack a near-by stronghold. Knowing this is doomed to fail unless reinforcements arrive, the diversionary force sets off. In a game of bluff, the enemy blinks and sends reinforcements to defend the second camp. This leaves Seol Won and his army to walk into the original target more or less unopposed.

Deokman (Lee Yo-Won) going commando-style to take out the archers

By one of these chances available in war, Seol Won has picked all the troops loyal to the Princess to be in the second attack. He refuses to send reinforcements leaving them all to be killed. You must remember the phrase, “cut the flesh to break the bone”. This is the military strategy at work. You sacrifice the few so the many may prevail. Or, in this case, so that Mi-Sil may prevail. This leaves Deokman and her buddies to fight their way out. We see Deokman actually step up in a command role, save some and kill many of the enemy in executing some of the military manoeuvres they have learned. Later she defies military convention by preventing the leader from killing the wounded. She thinks this is bad for morale and wasteful of trained men. She argues the army will ultimately be stronger if no man is left behind. Suk-Poom (Hong Kyoung-In) the ranking officer then decides Deokman and her troop must lead off the enemy while the wounded limp home. As we might expect, this is successful with all returning safely including Al-Chun (Lee Seung-Hyo) who’s obviously going to switch loyalties to the Deokman camp. Victory snatched from the jaws of defeat. Now all our heroes have to do is survive the peace.

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 1 to 6

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 7 to 15

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 16 to 25

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 26 to 32

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 33 to 40

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 41 to 50

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 51 to 62

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 63 to 68

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 69 to 74

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 75 to end

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 1 to 6

October 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Well, here we go with another of these interminable sageuks that have been taking the television world by storm. This time with The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang, we’re even earlier in Korean history to a time when these lucky people acquired their first Queen. This Korean drama was directed by Park Hong Kyun and Kim Keun-Hong, working to a script by Kim Young Hyun and Park Sang-Yeon. It was so popular when it started to screen in 2009 that, instead of running the originally projected fifty episodes, it was expanded to fill sixty-two episodes. Let joy be unconfined.

This is a spoiler-rich discussion of what happens in these episodes so do not read this post if you want the experience of watching the serial unfold onscreen. Further, these episode numbers are based on the terrestrial broadcasts I have seen and not on downloaded or DVD episodes. It’s possible that these numbers do not match your experience.

Ko Hyun-Jung as Mi-Sil leads the Hwarang Warriors on a suicide mission

When King Jin-heung of Silla (Lee Soon_Jae) is dying, he leaves a will appointing his grandson Prince Baek-jong (Kang San) (son of the first royal prince Dongryun) his heir and ordering Mi-Sil (Ko Hyun-Jung), his consort, not to play any part in the politics of his kingdom. He knows Mi-Sil will disobey the order so he orders Seol Won, the 7th leader of Hwarang Warriors, to assassinate her. When the King gives the order, he not know they are lovers. This provokes a coup in which Seol Won leads his troops into the royal compound and kills everyone loyal to the dying King. Fortunately the King dies of natural causes before Mi-Sil can offer him poison. Now she offers to change the will so that a better puppet, Geomryun (Lim Ho), can become King. Her condition is that she becomes Queen. So Geomryun ascends the throne as King Jinji as the 25th King of the emergent Korea, but then refuses to confirm Mi-Sil as his Queen. Now he’s in place, he rejects the blackmail of the original will. Mi-Sil prepares to fight for the throne. So she will not feel constrained, she abandons her baby son. What a hard-hearted woman she’s proving to be.

During the coup, Moon No (Jung Ho Bin), the 8th leader of Hwarang Warriors, is outside the city. He experiences a series of supernatural events as a stone shatters and winds blow unexpectedly. These events match what’s happening back in the city. He also foresees no-one can stand against Mi-Sil until an eighth star appears in the Big Dipper. When he returns, he gives notice to Seol Won he will stay neutral and not interfere.

Now times passes and Prince Baek-jong (Jo Min Ki) has grown up and married Ma Ya (Park Su-Jin). He gives a small dagger to his wife who’s pregnant. This is revered because it also saved the life of King Jin-heung. When Mi-Sil leads a second coup to oust King Jinji, she has Ma Ya kidnapped. When Moon No attempts to stop this, they are tied together and thrown off a cliff into the sea. Fortunately, Ma Ya pulls out the dagger and, between them, they cut the ropes and Moon No pulls her out of the sea. They decide to hide and observe events. As originally intended, Prince Baek-jeong is now appointed King Jinpyeong. Six months later, Mi-Sil convenes a gathering to have herself married to the King and so become Queen. With all the world watching, Moon No and Ma Ya walk back into view. The King is overjoyed. Mi-Sil and her conspirators are frustrated. Now we wait for the birth.

Young King Jinpyeong (Jo Min Ki) pleads with So-Hwa to take the twin and hide

The Queen is moved into the Shrine, but no men are allowed to enter during the birth. The midwife has already detected twins but only tells Mi-Sil. This will fit into ancient prophesy so that, if twins are born, the line of kings will end. The first baby has a birth mark behind her ear. All the midwives withdraw and the King is allowed in. The second baby then starts to appear. Fortunately a usually clumsy servant, So-Hwa (Seo Young-Hee) stays behind. The doors are locked. The maid now delivers the second baby. Predicting the King may try to hide the second birth, troops are stationed around the Shrine. Moon No sees the eight star appear in the Big Dipper and acknowledges that the new baby will defeat Mi-Sil. The King gives the second baby Princess the dagger. Moon Ho distracts the troops with a dummy, and So-Hwa runs away with the baby. Damned poor planning from Mi-Sil who should have had the court standing around the bed while the twins were born. Now there’s no evidence of the twins. Also seeing the stars change, Mi-Sil sends out Chil-Sook (Ahn Kil-Kang) to catch the maid and the baby. After a fight in local caves, Moon No rescues them and leaves with Chil-Sook in pursuit.

Nam Ji-Hyun as Deokman tries to save So-Hwa (Seo Young-Hee) in the desert

Fifteen years later finds So-Hwa and Princess Deokman (Nam Ji-Hyun) running an inn at a major trading centre in the Uigur region which overlaps with the Roman trading empire. Needless to say, the girl finds Chil-Sook in the desert and brings him to the inn. She’s helping the Roman Cartan (Mametkulovs Mansur) and other merchants avoid the local warlord’s prohibition on trading tea. As an act of kindness, she introduces Chil-Sook to them as a potential bodyguard. Unfortunately, they are arrested by the warlord’s troops. Fortunately, the girl saves everyone. Then there’s fighting and a fire in the inn as Chil-Sook tries to arrest the ladies to take them home. That magic dagger is back in action again, wounding Chil-Sook. Meanwhile, back in the Silla capital, the third baby boy dies at birth. King Jinpyeong and Queen Ma Ya are despondent at the lack of male heirs, but hope their surviving daughter, Princess Cheon-myeong (Shin Se-Kyung) will be able to stand up to Mi-Sil. Sadly, Mi-Sil is already undermining the confidence of the Princess. She’s now married to Kim Yong Soo (Park Jung Chul). This is King Jinji’s eldest son and so not very popular. When King Jinpyeong states his intention to name Yong Soo as his heir, there are protests. So, to prove he has the right heroic qualities, Yong Soo declares to will go off to fight in the next military campaign. Needless to say, Mi-Sil does not expect him to return safely.

Meanwhile, So-Hwa and Princess Deokman flee into the desert pursued by the wounded Chil-Sook. So-Hwa falls into quicksand and, to avoid being a further burden to Deokman, uses the magic dagger to cut the rope Deokman is using to pull her out. Chil-Sook comes up to them, still bleeding from the dagger wound in his side and his eyesight failing from the burns. Before he can do anything, they are overtaken by a sandstorm. When she pulls herself from the sand, Deokman tries to locate So-Hwa but only finds the blanket in which she was wrapped as a baby and the magic dagger. Fainting, she’s discovered by Cartan and the other merchants.

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 1 to 6

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 7 to 15

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 16 to 25

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 26 to 32

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 33 to 40

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 41 to 50

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 51 to 62

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 63 to 68

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 69 to 74

The Great Queen Seon Deok or Seondeok Yeo Wang — episodes 75 to end

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