I’m still crying. I have just finished it obviously. Well, I actually cried watching every episode. Such a tearjerker. If it was not for some badly written and acted characters, this would have been the best after Queen Seon Duk.
I’ll discuss the story here and the characters in a separate article.
Be it chasing one woman for 10 years or chasing a cause for the same period; it’s an insanity only humans are capable of. The problem is that I understand fully and I cannot belittle the journey. But when the journey proves fruitless and you realise you’d wasted your life for nothing! That emptiness! And that ray of hope you can’t let go of! Humans are really; pitiful.
”There’s nothing more harrowing than slavery.”
It’s a period of time when the nobles; specially the politicians of them, controlled the king, politics and therefore other classes’ lives. The commoners has it hard but the slaves has it the worse. They have no control whatsoever over their lives. They get sold, raped, sent to marriage and killed with no consent. They are treated worse than animals. When they can’t take it and try to break away, they’d be caught by slave hunters and get branded on the face so they could never live like a human being if ever got the chance. Years and years of such treatment brainwashed them. They are tamed and scared to think for themselves anymore. But hope has always its way to get through. What I love about the slave movements here is their eagerness to learn and master new things. Some of them did master somethings. Some have an independent mind and never despair. That hope would kill them. The hope for a new life kills in many situations. But to know there’s a chance to live differently and get out of the bottomless pit you’re in and not pursue it is death by itself. To die while trying would leave you with no regrets.
The relationship between the master and the slave is so complicated. Even if the master feels for his slaves, he can do nothing about it because society follows strictly a class system. The master can exploit his slaves all he wants but is not allowed to share a table with them or say a nice word. As long as the master has the slave register, he can chase the slave to the end of the world and act according to their whims.
The drama also presents the two types of slavery; being born as a slave and becoming a slave after punishment. What makes you a slave and what makes you a noble?! Is it the garments? Or the heart?
When the slave movement was going on and despite the truth behind it, I kept asking the question Eop Eok was asking: ”if we inflict on them what was inflicted on us; how are we then any different?” But if we don’t, will people really change? If we change, will the world really change?
The role of women is stressed here with some moments I really hated. I’m a woman so I cannot be unbiased. Women in Joseon were the less sex, for nobles, common people and slaves. They had no say whatsoever. Their place was at home; sewing, cooking, doing laundry and ”serving” the male master. Even if they had thoughts of their own, they just couldn’t express them because they were too weak to. What drove me crazy in the drama is how that role was emphasised positively. Like the female lead insisting that a man shouldn’t enter the kitchen, help in the household or the child. She’d say that that was what she was taught and she wished to change the world then go and act according to what she hated; with present mind. Even the courageous and carefree second lead ended up only dreaming of becoming a ”proper” lady because that was what men in her society wanted to see. The moment a woman would follow her own willpower, society would turn her into a slut.
Love, friendship and Loyalty
What is love? Sacrificing everything? Chasing someone for years? Defying the world for someone? Or changing the world to make it a better place for that person?! I’m not sure about love myself but in this drama it was presented in so many ways.
Someone tries to change the world for his beloved which makes him lose his family and lose her. He looks for her for 10 years. He finds her married to whom he considers an enemy. He joins hands with that enemy to help her live a better life. He dies trying to. WOW!
Another person loses his family in the war because he of his cause. He keeps chasing it but a woman gets involved. He gives his heart to the woman despite his beliefs. He compromises some of those beliefs for her and gets her to join his cause. To stay by her side, he uses other people.
Two slaves love each other. They cannot be together. The girl is sold so the guy kills the master and tries to run away with her. He goes back for the sake of the better world they both have been dreaming of. He dies for the cause and leaves her behind. Brilliant!
Friendship is portrayed most beautifully here. Though I came to believe there’s no such thing as loyal companions, watching the drama sends me to the days when I used to. What’s a friend? If you don’t belong to the same class or social status, can you still be friends? In a society where age matters a lot, can two people with a wide gap of years between them be friends? Would you stake your life for a friend? What would life be without them?
What’s loyalty? Who should we be loyal to? What does it mean to be loyal? What if ambition gets in the way? What if your life gets in the way? Will you still be able defend someone or something?
Who’s got the right to love and be loved? Don’t women, ‘honorable” or ”geishas” have the the right to love and be loved? What about the disabled? The slaves? Just because they were born this way, we go add to their pain and leave them to endure their lot? What becomes of their lives?
What I liked the most
I loved the scenery. It was a hard task to take my eyes of the aesthetic view to look at the intriguing and banging fight scenes. How beautiful Korea is! I wonder how hard it was for them to shoot at such steep hills!
The sword fight and fist fight scenes were dreamy and well done. I don’t normally like it when they drag the fighting scenes but I did here. The cinematic shooting and the camera angles were awesome. It was so well directed and produced.
The music was insanely fitting. The OSTs were more than great. No way the drama would have been the same without such music.
The first few episodes with the bare chests scenes were the best. I enjoyed them completely. If only the weather didn’t get colder and they stayed just like that throughout! Their bodies and abs were no joke!
I loved the old vocabulary they used and had such a hard time following along -I try not to read the subtitles-.
I will discuss the characters in a separate article.