This Episode aired on February 11, 2019. Spoiler Alert!
I watched Haechi episodes 1 & 2 (or 1 according to SBS) very late last night. Subtitles became available for it in both Kocowa and Viki Rakuten last night! And today I’ll be watching episode 2 (or 3 & 4!) Today they became available even faster! I checked at 6:00PM and they were already available!
Haechi exceeded my expectations! From that first scene of Jung Il-woo in bed… gosh! to all the fast scenes full of intrigue I was hooked! Yet, I found myself having difficulties in understanding the plot. In my head, a running questioning conversation ran along the lines of: Wait…who is that crown prince, and this is another prince, but that prince is not really a prince because… so yeah I was confused. Their last names don’t help as they are all different too. So I decided to read a bit about Lee Geum, A.K.A. Crown Prince Yeoning who eventually becomes King Yeongjo.
So here is what I read about. My sources were Wikipedia and New World Encyclopedia.
Of what I understood of the political climate, there was a lot of conflict in the government. You had opposing political factions: a Western Faction that opposed the Southern Faction. The Southern party lost and was purged from government and was driven out of politics with numerous executions and exiles.
Now in power, the Western faction split into the Noron (Old Learning) faction, led by Song Siyeol, and the Soron (New Learning) faction, led by Yun Jeung. After nine years in power, the Noron collapsed when Sukjong deposed Queen In-hyeon, who was supported by the Western faction, and named Consort Hui of Jang clan (also called Consort Jang or Jang Hui-bin) as the new queen. The Western faction angered Sukjong when it opposed the naming of Consort Jang’s son as crown prince. The Southern faction, who supported Consort Jang and her son, regained power and drove out Western faction, executing Song Siyeol in revenge. This is called Gisa hwanguk (기사환국).
To understand the son Lee Geum, I figured I’d go back and read about his father: King Sukjong. This is what he looks like in Haechi:
He was the 19th ruler of the Joseon Dynasty and boy did he get around with women. He had three Queens and six Concubines or Queen Consorts. Of the concubines I will mention only the ones relevant to Haechi’s plot.
Queen 1: Queen Kim In-Kyeong (仁敬王后; 1661-1680) No children. (Three daughters that died at childbirth.)
Queen 2: Queen Min In-hyeon (仁顕王后; 1667-1701) Became the second queen of King Sukjong at age 14! She had a son in 1688, he dies at a young age.
Queen 3: Queen Kim In-won (仁元王后1687-1757) She became Dowager Queen (Wangdaebi) after her husband’s death in 1720. She had no children and died in 1757 at age of 70. She favors Prince Yeonryeong Yi Hweon, born to Sukjong’s Third Concubine. This is what she looks like in Haechi:
Concubine Lady Jang Ok-jeong (hee-bin status) (1659-1701) (Hui-bin Jang, Royal Noble Consort Hui of the Indong Jang clan). Aligned with Soron faction.
After a visit with his step-great-grandmother Grand Dowager Queen Jaui (Three years after his first queen consort’s death, Injo of Joseon chose a new consort to be crowned as his queen, who was the fourteen-year old Queen Jangryeol. Her relationship with Injo was not good due to the fact that she could not bear a son. After Injo’s death, she was elevated to the rank of a dowager and formally addressed as Queen Dowager Jaui.), King Sukjong saw Lady Jang Ok-jeong and gave her the rank of favored sang-gung, which meant she had been favored for the king but since she and her family belonged to the contrary faction, Soron, the Queen Mother Hyeonryeol (mother of King Sukjong), who belonged to Noron, afraid of the influence she could have on the king, expelled her from the palace. She stayed out of the palace until 1683 when the Queen Mother died and Queen In-hyeon (Sukjong lawful wife) allowed her to come back.
In 1686, she became Sukjong’s concubine with the title of Suk-won (숙원, 淑媛). In 1688, she was elevated to So-eui (소의, 昭儀) after giving birth to a son (the future King Gyeongjong or Jang Mu Yeol) Sukjong had been relieved to have an heir to his throne; hence, Sukjong wanted to give Gyeongjong, his eldest and Jang Hui-bin’s son, the title of Crown Prince. However, this was impossible since Gyeongjong was born from a concubine. Sukjong therefore asked Queen In-hyeon to adopt Jang Hui-bin’s child, a common procedure at the time. Because Queen In-hyeon was still young at 21 years old at the time of Gyeongjong’s birth, this action was opposed by the court as being an inappropriate promotion.
Queen In-hyeon refused to adopt Gyeongjong as her own son and was demoted from her position due to the political machinations of the time. This dispute led to not only the queen’s removal, but also a purge, by banishment and poisoning, of government officials of the Seoin, the killing of the Noron leader, and the banishment and later death of the Queen’s father. This upheaval became known as the Gisa Sahwa. Consort Jang Hui-bin was promoted to the position of queen consort as a result of these changes and as the Soron faction came to power in the court. Her son became then the favored older son, Crown Prince with first shot to the throne when the king died.
In 1694, Lady Jang was demoted to Hee-bin, when Queen In-Hyeon was reinstated. In 1701, Queen In-Hyeon died of an unknown disease and Lady Jang was discovered by King Sukjong in her chambers, with her brother Jang Hui-jae and a shaman priestess, praying for Queen In-hyeon’s death and her reinstatement. Lady Jang, her brother, and everyone involved were arrested and sentenced to death by poisoning—she was 43. Following the ruling, Lady Jang begged to see her son, the Crown Prince Gyeongjong or Jang Mu Yeol ). As she dashed towards him to greet him, she inflicted a severe injury to the Crown Prince’s lower abdomen that left him sterile and unable to produce an heir.
This is the scene that Haechi starts with. This is that Crown Prince Gyeongjong who is unable to procreate after being hurt by his mother. He is also known as Jang Mu Yeol, or Crown Prince Yun from the Namin party.
Concubine Lady Choi (Sook-bin) There are no records of her life before she became King Sukjong’s concubine. She was a water maid in the palace. One night, she was praying in her chamber for Queen In-hyeon’s health when King Sukjong, who was passing by after a trip outside of the palace, heard her and, moved by her kindness towards the queen towards whom he regretted being so harsh, made her his concubine. She is the mother of Jung Il-woo’s character, the future King Yeongjo and also had two daughter princesses.
Concubine Myeong of the Miryang Park clan (? – 15 July 1703). She has a son, Yi Hwon, Prince Yeon Ryeong or Yeonryeong (13 June 1699 – 2 October 1719) (이훤 연령군). He is the younger brother of Lee Geum:
Now onto Mil Pung-kun. Who is this guy? Where does he fit in this story and how does he have a shot for the throne too?
Of what I found out, in his character description, he is known as Prince Gyeongan (1644-1665) or Yi Tan, and he was the 3rd Son of Crown Prince Sohyeon. Sohyeon was selected as the crown prince of the Joseon Dynasty in 1625 when his father King Injo took the throne through insurrection in 1623.
King Injo persecuted Prince Sohyeon for attempting to modernize Korea by bringing in Catholicism and Western science. Sokyeong is found mysteriously dead (believed to be by the hand of his father.) and his three sons are exiled to Jeju Island (from which only the youngest son, Prince Yi Tan was the only one that returned to mainland alive). This is Prince Mil Pung-kun Yi Tan.
So Lee Geum or Crown Prince Yeoning has a shot for the throne as he is the son of King Sukjong even if from a lowly mother. So does his younger half brother Yi Hweon, or Crown Prince Yeonryeong, born to a concubine. He has even more of a shot as a his mother is of a higher class. An then Mil Pung-kun who was adopted by Jung Il-woo’s older half brother: Crown Prince Gyeongjong, Jang Mu Yeol (who lost his chance for the crown as he can’t produce an heir.) has a shot too, but he is not a blood son of Sukjong, which is why Jung Il-woo’s character tells him “don’t call me brother” and treats him like dirt:
This map can help to visually understand better what I tried to explain:
Phew… that took a while to understand.
If you are interested there are more dramas related to Jung Il-woo’s character Lee Geum.
Jung Il-woo mentioned in an Interview that prepared for this role reading and watching other dramas and movies related to his character. One movie that he mentioned was “The Throne” available in Netflix. It is about King Yeongjo. In it there are flashbacks of his past as Lee Geum.
I also found that there is Don Yi, that is a story about the mother of Lee Geum. This drama is available in Viki-Rakuten and Amazon Prime.
Now here are some photos I found plus my screen captures and videos I found in YouTube. They are really doing a great job so we can completely delight!
Behind the Scenes. Cr. SBS, Dispatch:
Behind the Scenes. Cr. SBS, Dispatch:
Update March 1: HERE is a “Making” video that shows the filming of this part! You can see the actors warming up their mouths!
Preview EP 2
WITAT (What I Think About This)
I thought it was superb! What a way to come back…!!! I think the plot is set up really well (now that I understand what is going on a bit more.) It will be interesting to see how the two political factions fight each other both clean and dirty. Do they even fight clean? Jung Il-woo played his character Lee Geum with great emotional range. I don’t know if it’s just me because I love him, but I could not take my eyes off him when he was on screen, to the point I had to go back various times to read what he was saying. So annoying having to read those darn subtitles!
Another character that I enjoyed was Mil Pung-kun, he is a great evil character…has the crazy look and everything! I loved Go Ara’s character too, she is a ‘kick ass’ woman, smart and beautiful and it still doesn’t get old to see a woman in a more aggressive character.
I checked the ratings and it is was number 1!!! Bravo Jung Il-woo Ssi! You did it!!! I’m so happy and proud of you! And I’m not your mom, I can only imagine how she must feel!
HERE is an article that talks about the ratings in Soompi. And this is from Wikipedia: