The characters in Chuno were more mesmerising than the story itself. And the acting of these characters was better than what the writer had in mind; I reckon. Some of the characters were either badly written or horrible in themselves. I’ll go through each character based on what impression it left on me.
The Intriguing Characters:
Lee Dae Gil (Jang Hyuk): The Weeping Tiger
I don’t know if it’s Lee Dae Gil or Jang Hyuk playing Lee Dae Gil but this character had left me gaping at the screen more than once; either in admiration or shock. The young noble who only knew books and the slave he liked transformed into a new being after the brother of that slave murdered his family, set the house on fire and left him with a big scar across the face. The new Dae Gil appears to be a merciless slave hunter only caring for money and never casting a look at the poor slaves he brings back. He’s so consistent in his goals while so innovative in his methods. The beastly man turns out to be only a broken shell of a man. He’s full of pity to those abandoned by the world like he was. He saves the slaves he captured and sends to a safe place where they can live. The miser who doesn’t give his friends big shares of the money collected is found to have bought them houses and lands. (I’m suddenly crying).
When it comes to his love, I don’t know how much of it was love and how much was revenge. Was it completely love or was it because he found himself one day deprived of everything and could not take it? He couldn’t let go of the past so lived his life chasing it? Was it his love for Un Nyun that led to his death or his lack of purpose after losing her once and for all?
How much of his actions were solely for the sake of a new world? Did he even believe such world would exist one day?
When I think of Dae Gil, I lose my mind. In my view, he wasted his life chasing an empty vision not being able to enjoy living. He was a mere shell of a man. He shut his heart away from the world and died without knowing why he lived. Was that purpose worth losing his life for?
The pain his eyes and smirk shouted in every scene. His cynical remarks and his scarred body gave out all which Dae Gil tried to conceal. The physically invincible man was just a hopeless lonely soul. He realised that but he was too deep into the pit he couldn’t come out.
Dae Gil will forever make me cry at the recollection of him; the recollection of a man destined to live a life not his own.
Song Tae Ha (Oh Ji Ho): The Master Slave
The noble who was forced into slavery after false accusations had never thought of himself as a slave. He was always preparing for the day he managed his escape and went back to chase his cause. While he preached of changing the world, he realised he was not ready for that as he found himself not accepting many of the ideas he preached.
There were two turning points which made Song Tae Ha an intriguing character for me. The first was when he ran after Hye Won/Un Nyung and asked her to give him time to accept the fact of her being a slave; which opened other realms to him and showed him the clearer way. And when he confessed to Dae Gil that he trusted him though he solemnly claimed otherwise before. That moment when he opened his heart to his ”enemy” and thought of him as a friend was the other turning point.
His last scene was the most emotional and touching of all his scenes and it boosted my regard for him ten folds.
Eop Bok (Gong Hyung Jin)
This slave spoke my heart and went through all the mental battles I went through. His meditation over everything before giving answers, questioning all the given questions and speaking his mind were so intricate. He never gave way just because he was a slave. He believed in his talent, in his right to dream and his power to change to the world. He was true to his heart and his cause till the end. When everyone else thought one way, he was free enough to find his own way. The mental struggle he experienced were engrossing and painful.
The Lovely Characters:
Sul Hwa (Kim Hae Eun): The Pleasant Surprise
This actress was the most pleasant surprise for me here. This was my first time watching her and I was amazed at her multiple talents. She secured my love and respect. Sul Hwa might be the most pathetic character after Dae Gil. After being forced to live a life she loathed she manged to escape. Though knowing she shouldn’t, she fell for the one man who treated her as a human being and who couldn’t love her back. She had his back throughout and was his only companion when death came.
I loved her careless and blunt attitude at the beginning. The scarred woman was always somewhere but she didn’t let Her come out until she gave her heart up completely. The woman in love was so touching. I didn’t consider her clingy for a second. She knew when to step out and give Dae Gil his space. She knew when she was and was not supposed to talk. She knew when to be there if he needed her. She gave her all to him, and he gave her pain to endure all her life.
Her voice and dances were so lovely. Her crying scenes tore my heart to pieces; especially when accompanied by a song.
General Choi (Han Jung Soo) : The Secret Man
This character was so adorable. Apart from his perfect body which melted girls’ hearts away, I loved his brotherly care towards Dae Gil and Wang Son. I believe his only reason for staying with them was that. He treated them like younger brothers, tolerating their mistakes, chiding them when they committed mistakes and defending them with his life when they were threatened. The moment when I thought he died I burst into crazy fit of crying. I would have loved to have such a brother.
Wang Son (Kim Ji Suk): The Most Adorable Immature
I never thought I’d actually like this actor; much less love him, after Personal Taste. But here I am checking him out and adding his works to my list. I usually don’t like womanizers, but this womanizer is ok. He’d be a great choice to flirt with. His childishness, quick temper and love for money made him the character he was. But he only acted such because he never doubted Dae Gil and General Choi being his family. He acted the spoiled child because he knew he had reliable brothers to have his back. I loved his love and attachment to them. It was so moving to look at. Wonder if they stayed close friends after the show!
The characters that gave me a break to breathe were Jakeun Jumo (Yoon Joo Hee), Jak Kwi (Ahn Kil Kang), Keun Jumo (Jo Mi Ryung), Cheon Ji Ho (Sung Dong Ill) and Bang Hwa Baek (Ahn Suk Hwan). I liked the latter for the first time in ages and Cheon Ji Ho ended up tearing my heart to shreds. Apart from Cheon Ji Ho’s last scene, all the scenes these actors were in brought me laughter and helped me breathe. Their simplicity but at the same time unwavering loyalty presented humans in their most normal daily life; human you can actually co-live with.
Cho Bok Yi (Min Jin Ah) : My Favourite Female Character
This lovely female slave posed two questions: why not and what if? These questions were sufficient to make her different. These questions raised her on the pedestal of people thinking for themselves; independent people. She was a slave yes. Her body was not hers, but her heart and mind were completely hers. She was true to her heart till the very end and lived up to her truth.
Han Seom (Cho Jin Woong): My Favourite Male Character
I have special regard for this actor, maybe because my first sageuk ever was Tree with Deep Roots (and who didn’t love him there?!) Anyhow, no matter what the role is, he always has the biggest share of my love. He always breaks my heart as well. He did here. As the loyal guard who lived in humiliation and loneliness for years for his cause, Han Seom was the most profound fulfillment of loyalty to comrades and cause. In his two big fight scenes I broke into fits of crying. He has so much control over my heart. The pain in his countenance as he left the woman he loved was too much to take.
Worth the Mention
Park Ki Woong
From the very first scene he appeared there was something suspicious about him but I never imagined him to turn out to be that kind of psycho. The disgust and hate his eyes showed were so scary. He has the potential of playing a psycho. Goosebumps!
Baek Ho (Danny Ahn)
I wish he had more episodes. With his long hair and uniform, Danny won over my heart -he always does; being my favourite g.o.d member-. I hated the look of love he gave Un Nyung but loved the intensity and depth of his loyalty.
Badly Written/Acted Characters:
Un Nyun/ Kim Hye Won (Lee Da Hae)
The character of Un Nyun as a fragile terrified slave-turned-noble was one of the worst characters I’ve ever watched. She hid behind every man she saw. She didn’t want to marry a man she didn’t love so fled without preparing anything. She got stuck into dangerous situations but only knew how to whine and scream. She had no self-worth and she couldn’t protect herself. Though she suffered so much because of women’s roles in society she was a living a perfect of example of all that she hated. She wasn’t true to her heart or mind.
As for acting, Lee Da Hae didn’t do anything in the drama except for whining and running while holding her hanbok up elegantly. She would be feverish and and unconscious but with a smile. Her tears were fake. She exerted no effort at all to put some life into the lifeless Un Nyung. Let aside the full makeup and clean dress on the run!
Hwang Cheol Woong (Lee Jong Hyuk)
This guy has the potential of turning any dead character into a living one. He did here. But his efforts were not enough. The character was just hopeless. No background information on how and why did he become a merciless murderer. We don’t know what happened between him and Tae Ha except for one scene and one line about some inferiority complex. We concluded it was him ambition but saw no inner struggle. He was too much of an empty character the redemption at the end made no sense. Apart from his love for his mother there were no signs of a human inside. I even doubted there were any reasons for his actions. This was a really badly-written villain character. I couldn’t even hate him as I wanted to.
The friendship between Dae Gil, General Choi and Wang Son, the love between Eop Bok and Bok Yi, Sul Hwa’s love for Dae Gil, slaves fighting for a better life and Dael Gil and Tae Ha’s bromance turned the drama into an epic. I don’t think I’ll watch the whole thing again; I will watch clips for what I mentioned just now though.