Chuno: Is Daegil a likable character? – Contains spoilers


I only started my Chuno rewatch and I’m already overwhelmed with feelings and thoughts. This time around I am paying attention to all the stories and guess what? I’m not feeling compelled to fast forward at all! The interesting thing is, the more I like the secondaries, the more sense the main character’s journey makes to me and for some reason it makes me love Daegil (my initial reason for watching and rewatching) even more! I didn’t know this would be possible! I guess Daegil in context, is a better Daegil (to me)

I will try to touch on every character and plot on following posts, but now I wanted to capture and interesting exchange that took place on the comments section of my previous post. Reading the conversation in the comments has turned daunting so I decided to make it a post

The topic more or less is the following: “Is Daegil a likable character”?

First, let me tell you about my favorite Daegil. Since I watched ep1 recently, I found that the first Daegil we meet, the half naked, shmexy devil, the one with the killer swagger and panther gaze…

This one

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Call me crazy! But this is not the Daegil that made me fall in love. Sure, he makes me swoon! I mean did you look at him?

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But, my favorite Daegil is not that one, not even the one whose eyes light up with hope when he thinks he is close to finding Unnyun (although this one starts melting my cold cold heart!)

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HUGE SPOILERS AHEAD
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My favorite Daegil is the one that loves deeply, not just a woman, but his friends, his family. The one that cries in the middle of the street, like a wounded animal, or like a lost child, not just for a woman, but for the whole purpose of his life being destroyed, and still lets her go, because he prefers her happiness to his.

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My favorite Daegil is the one who cries like this for his love

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And his friends…

The man who was almost driven to madness when he thought he lost General Choi and Wangson, and who thought of securing their future before his, the man who cried for Cheon Ji Ho, until his tears dried up. Yup! Call me crazy but all of that makes me love him in spite of his tremendous flaws (and there is also the man who once wanted to change the world for the love of a woman, who lost everything but found a way to survive, who lost his faith but gained it back, etc etc).

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My favorite Daegil is the one who smiles like this

But not everyone shares this view. There are other interpretations of Daegil and that is quite fascinating to me. I think only a character so full of layers and so well interpreted can provoke so many different reactions. He almost feels real! So let me share some of the views that were presented in the comments of my previous post and then if you feel compelled to participate in the discussion please answer in the comments below. What do you think or feel about Daegil? Is he likable, is he horrible, does he scare you or do you love him?

It was DDee who prompted various responses with the following question:
“Please tell me Daegil gets redeemed though, right? Coz I dunno how long I can deal with him being…nasty”.

Let’s keep in mind that DDee has not finished watching Chuno yet but I’d say she is advanced enough, so I can venture to guess that while her impression might vary slightly after the end, Chuno has not been the most “pleasant” journey for her. But she is sticking with it like a pro! lol! Thanks DDee

I won’t repeat my answer which basically could be summarized with what I say above but I did remember feeling something similar about Daegil on my first watch, so part of me understands DDee (except I became fascinated by Daegil at some point).

However, here are some very interesting and eloquent answers. They are all different, some opposite, and strangely, I agree with everyone:

Georgia: (Three comments edited into one)
I remember thinking that Dae-gil was an utterly despicable person (and loving the show for making the main character a villain), until he said one little frase that just exploded in my head, I’m not going to spoil.

He descents deep into the darkness and we get to follow every step.

The first time, when I had no idea how it was going to end, I did think he was one horrible person. My heart was bleeding like a slaughtered pig for him while I felt the strongest resentment possible at the same time, because that is the power of this series. It was not the haggling, the roughness and the cursing (these were great character traits, I loved those), it was more the casual killing of random extras that happened to get in his way. And the slave hunting did result in much suffering, at least one of the people that he returned was beaten to death. Besides, the fact that he detests what he’s become is clear at times and because, thanks to Mr Jang Hyuk’s amazing performance, we all feel EXACTLY what he’s feeling in every detail (I have to say, I felt played like a musical instrument) we have to detest him too, there’s no helping it.

Loving the Dae-gil character is by no means an easy task and no dance on roses. Unless they are some kind of really thorny roses. Ep 15 is the hardest for me to watch and there are not enough hugs or chocolate in this world to make me feel better afterwards. Only the rest of the story can do that. The slap was bad enough, but then, when he very slowly leans into Seol-hwa and whispers ”go”, my soul just froze to burning ice and my mind shrank away in horror. I couldn’t bear to witness that. He was not human at that moment. He consciously decided to shed his humanity and step into the netherworld, because that was the only way to avenge his brothers I guess, and we get to freaking go through that too!
I feel like spoiled meat now, just from typing this.

Gasenadi

You know? I could never understand how some viewers saw Dae-Gil as “utterly despicable” (some called him a monster). Sure, he was foul-mouthed, hard, and haggled over the money due him for returning slaves. But! His actions (and his EYES) consistently belied what came out of his mouth. Especially after what he does with the mother/daughter slaves early in the series. I remember my surprise at that scene and joy for what it meant for his character. And, yes, his descents into darkness were heartbreaking. As equally heartbreaking as his redemption. The production team, writers, everybody are to be cherished always for making it so compelling to watch.

Gumi (in direct response to DDee’s comment about Daegil vow of revenge)

Daegil never showed intention to hurt Unnyun, and it was pretty obvious even from Ep1 that Daegil never ever intended to take a revenge on Unnyun. It was pretty obvious for me from Ep 1 but some people did think he wanted revenge, but by ep 10 it was pretty clear that revenge was absolutely not his emotional motive. **SPOILER** In Ep 10, the first word he says after finding out Unnyun is married to Song Taeha (well she’s not but he’s told that) is ‘You foolish girl, why Song Taeha? Out of all the people you could choose, why a runaway slave…?’ After learning that a girl he chased for ten years is alive and happily (well at least that’s what he’s told) married to another guy, the first response he shows is not anger, it’s concern. He is not mad that she is married to another guy, he is concerned that she is married to a runaway slave. He is not even mad at it being Song Taeha his nemesis. At that point his immediate concern is him being a runaway slave, cuz that means Unnyun’s life will be harder. ‘You ran away from being a slave, then u should at least live peacefully as a yangban, why do you marry a runaway slave and make your life dangerous…?’ That’s what his teary eyes are quietly asking, that’s his first emotional response and most honest to his own heart, before he starts yelling in pain and anger. It was clear at that point that in Daegil’s mind, really Unnyun’s happiness is on the top priority. There was a debate online during Chuno broadcast on whether Daegil’s emotion toward Unnyun is love or hatred or love&hatred, and after that episode pretty much everyone agreed that it was love, or maybe love and hatred but hatred<<<<<<<<<<<LOVE.

Zhaoul I agree Daegil’s intention was never revenge. This is one of the big reason’s I love Daegil so much; he is as selfless as humanly possible. He’s not only selfless when it comes to Unnyun, but also with his friends. No matter what Daegil says out loud, he cannot hide the true, pure intentions of his heart. He’s in inner turmoil, but he puts his love before him and cares more about her well being and safety than his own. **Spoiler** This also becomes crystal clear when his “bros” find out he paid for their land in full and that only some money was left owed on his own property. Omg Daegil…. I dunno if I’ll survive your re-watch DF, I’m ready to cry already.

Kfangurl

I never disliked Daegil nor thought of him as bad/inhuman, as imperfect as he was. Part of it is the storytelling, coz we get access into Daegil’s context. We see where he came from, why he might’ve become so hardened on the outside. Another big part of it is Jang Hyuk’s delivery. I agree with several other comments that his eyes belied his true feelings where his words and actions were harsh. With the benefit of hindsight, his good intentions and care for his friends became clear, if they hadn’t been clear before.

One thing was clear to me though (aside from his hotness, ha), and that is, up till the point he actually found Unnyun & realized she was marrying someone else, there was hope in his eyes. Despite the words that he might have spoken, about revenge etc, he was a man fueled by hope. It was when that hope was snuffed out that Daegil had to wrestle with himself, to find a reason to keep on living and moving forward. He eventually found it, and that’s all I’m gonna say about that, to remain as spoiler-free as possible.

Another point that I feel is worth taking into consideration, is that we live in very different times than Daegil. Which means that we can’t quite judge him based on our modern yardstick. Someone commented that Daegil’s killing of people made him inhuman. While I wouldn’t say I condone killing people, I can’t say it makes him inhuman. Daegil was a man who fought on the streets to make a living, in a manner of speaking, and that was his environment. In that context, people get hurt/killed along the way. It’s a sageuk norm, if I think about it. Given this context, I find it more telling, that Daegil goes out of his way to empower on the sly, slaves that have been returned to their masters. And it’s clear that he did that on multiple occasions too, since Mt Worak was full of ex-slaves whom he’d sent there.

In the end, Chuno is much more than a story of just one man. There are bigger issues that get the spotlight. But as far as Daegil goes, he is portrayed as one uniquely positioned (an educated slave hunter), imperfect man, who has to wrestle hard – with himself, with his ideals, with the norms & limitations of the world around him – in order to arrive at a place of peace, where his actions could finally be aligned with his beliefs.

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44 responses to “Chuno: Is Daegil a likable character? – Contains spoilers

  1. An enjoyable movie I will never forget this movie

  2. RIGHT ! It’s frustrating, but you took the words out of my mouth and even added a few. Lol hormones, although I did feel the pull with Unyun character. Although the girl has ruined her face for reason I can only assume are insanity. Korean actresses and there face surgery’s.

    Anyway still a good series, even if the ending didn’t workout the way I thought it should. Kinda like Lost lol anyway let me know what other series you’ve seen and what u think. I might not agree with you wholly but u bring up a lot of good points and questions 👌

  3. Ditto 👍 I like debating and analyzing too. No such thing as over analyzing for me tho 😉 Story’s are the best tools for debate because we care about them so much. We see a story unfold and either agree or disagree.

    So ill say this, who would a women really choose in reality? The man who loved her as she was and wanted to change the world for her. Killed for her and protected her and then after she left him to be burned. Forgave her and looked for her and sacrificed for her.

    Or choose the guy you only said yes to because he protected you but didn’t love who you really are and refused to speak about it?

    Don’t get me wrong, you make a great argument and i agree with 70% of what ur saying but I don’t see it. Cause I didn’t feel it, as I watched it unfold. Make sense ?

    • Totally makes sense! My heart and my head actually felt this way on first watch. It was later that I kind of started considering other “views” but certainly when it comes to what I “felt” I thought that if Daegil and Unnyun had talked she would’ve chosen him, why? Even if they rationally weren’t compatible? Because I “felt” their love or whatever connection they had personally as much more stronger than what she had with TaeHa. But I do wonder if this was intended or if it was because I felt no chemistry between Unnyun and Taeha but felt so many things only by the way Daegil and Unnyun looked at each other. And to answer your question, I think it’s kind of obvious but I’ll say it, I would’ve chosen Daegil ALWYAYS lol Not just the hormones speaking here haha but his love/obsession would’ve definitely moved me even while creeping me out at first 😀 And yes, there is much rationalizing we can do over the character’s actions and even the writer’s intentions but if we don’t “feel” it we just don’t see it. That is a fact.

  4. Realistic? I’d say “No” I’ve been to war and have seen death. It takes a lot for those who don’t enjoy it, to get through it. Daegil didn’t really enjoy it but he did it to find her. In real life if I’m selling my soul in order to find something or someone. I’m collecting in one way or another. I look for a girl for how many years? Killing, catching and selling piece of my sell along the way and in the end I leave it all unsaid? Lol no, ill concede that this is a Korean story and maybe that’s there style but really guys. Who goes through all of that and then let it all go unsaid and unquenched ? Plus in the end Daegil decided that ending slavery was more important then his life but really I just think he wanted to giver her a lasting gift.

    • But this is assuming Daegil’s “transformation” and his going “dark” was due to Unnyun or like his only pupose was to find her. On the surface it certainly looks like that, he acted like an obsessed haunted shell of a man who only existed to search for her and “sacrificed” or “neglected” his soul in order to reach that goal, but we can also see it as Daegil became bitter because he lost everything and we can assume that the naive boy had a hard time adapting to his new circumstances so he turned himself into a sort of a beast, to survive. Unnyun represented a happier time, a light, but along the way he found a bigger purpose than her? The way I see it, his sacrifice was to give Unnyun and Taeha a chance, to change the world and make it a more “livable” place. Daegil felt it was late for him but not for others. Also, its not like he was suicidal, after all he had been thinking of his future in a farm, with his friends. Part of him wanted to live and find happiness, but there was also this side of him that couldn’t picture happiness without Unnyun. So yeah he sacrificed for her but I also believe he sacrificed himself for the hope of a “better world”.

    • What I mean is, (sorry for the rambling) Daegil didn’t “choose” to go to war for Unnyun, he was thrown into “war” by the fact that he was a noble left with no family or possessions. In those circumstances and at the time it would’ve been easy for him to be turned into a slave, if he hadn’t become a slave hunter. He had nothing, so it wasn’t just about finding Unnyun. There are portions of the script that were left out but some of this backstory was mentioned in the drama. I believe some family member stole from Daegil, the title of his house and he lost his last money asking for help, the authorities scammed him so he asked Chun Ji Ho for help (his slave hunter mentor frenemy) or maybe he went first to Slanted ear? Anyway, the point is that that’s how his relationship with these guys started. I believe Slanted Ear alluded to this but I’d have to rewatch to remember exactly what he said. But it’s obvious that the young naive yangban must’ve gone through a lot to turn into the Daegil we knew later. It couldn’t have been an overnight transformation caused only by Unnyun’s betrayal.

    • And thanks for this little debate! I love overanalyzing Chuno 😀

  5. I didn’t know who Jang hyuk is until I watched Chuno. He wasn’t unlikeable to me at all ! In fact I adored him!!

    • I think ur right in a way, his character is the most likeable. On the other hand however. I think in the end his character and his main lady interest fall short.

      All that time looking for someone and you’re not even gonna TALK about how you feel or what you.ve gone through?

      Not to mention, she just finds out about her long lost master. Who’s been searching for her, because he loves her and what? Nothing that what lol

      I think the writes fell short along with the director and both helped slowly ruin what could have been one of the best Korean dramas of all time.

      • Actually, in the script they communicated less but actors and director added more contact between them. As much as many of us loved the love between Daegil and Unnyun it was supposed to be seen as something that was in the past already. I remember the frustration I felt the first time I watched thinking there was no closure but if you watch carefully, there certainly was. Daegil, the young master, was already dead. He was now a changed person who imo wasn’t at all compatible with the new Unnyun. It wouldn’t have worked and they both knew it but it was still painful. So painful that words were unnecessary. I now understand why Daegil didn’t accept her reaching out for a dialogue. It would’ve been too painful to bear and everything was already “said” between them. She was already married and in love with another man. But Chuno is much more than their love triangle, its about bigger things I think? Therefore I’m ok even if still sad with the direction the story took. It was a realistic approach that suited the overall story.

      • Oops I re-read our previous comments and realize I repeated myself a little! Sorry :p I understand the frustration about them not talking (although I now accept it) but where I disagree with you is that you think it was done for ratings? Wouldn’t it be the opposite? The most “popular” and “satisfying” approach would’ve been to have them talk, so if they chose the opposite weren’t they actually taking a risk in favor of telling the story they wanted? I think it is more consistent with Daegil especially to “talk by action” since that’s what he did from the beginning. This guy never really spoke directly about his deeper feelings and or POV. They were mostly expressed by sarcastic remarks, metaphors, his eyes or actions :p

  6. Just started watching Chuno. Daegil for me is likable. He shows compassion where it is needed, and contempt when it is deserved. I cannot get over the scene of his hanging. I am still crying. I am at episode 21. Cannot wait to get to 24.

  7. Well, Hye Won says ”don’t forgive me”, which means that she realizes and accepts that she will have to live with leaving him behind again for the rest of her days.

    I think that Chuno deals in absolutes and should be experienced with little or no demand of realism, like a greek tragedy. That’s how I see it, anyway.

  8. As for the character of Dae Gil well… Easily the the best character of the show. However I think what makes this series so unique. Is that every character got to express themselves and add there own story to the mix.

    I will say this however, it wasn’t believe about his conduct with Un-nyun. I believe he could let her go but like that ? No, no man is going to look for a women for 10 years and then leave so much unsaid.

    This is also my one critic of the series. Once they finally get to episode 14, it’s like the writers are purposely writing about everything BUT what people have been expecting to hear. Which makes for great TV BUT a bad story. Which honestly I think was there intent. “MONEY”

    Instead, they have Dae Gil and other characters throw pieces of that dialog at Un-nyun character. To which she barely has any reaction to and is ultimately hated by fans for it.

    The series could have been EPIC but fell short of entertaining. Note to you Korean directors: Don’t build something up on a promise and then purposely not follow through with that promise and then leave your actress as the fall guy. It’s pathetic and sad

    • I will not entirely disagree with you. Hye Won’s character has been given the driest of lines. She answers in slogans and clichés, like she citates out of some manifest.
      For example, when Seol Hwa was in her room, drunk and crying and pouring her soul out, all she had to say was something like ”yes, cry, everybody has their sorrows”. What? How can you miss a chance like that, writer? I can understand why people don’t like her, we seldom get to feel with her.
      I choose to think she does that because becoming a political thinker who has given up on sentiment is her way of coping with tragedy and NOT because of bad writing.
      I have to say that the actress is doing an amazing work with those lines she’s been given.

      About Dae Gil leaving things unsaid: I guess men are human beings too, everyone is different and they all react in different ways. This particullar fictional one, left almost everything unsaid, yes, but nothing undone. His actions speak for him. Of course I was expecting the great tet-a-tet as everybody else, but at the end I realized it was going on all the time. I’m totally satisfied with the ”yeah, I know” ”so you know” of the last episode.

      • A fair point but I also have to disagree. Un-Eun leaves the Young Master again ? This time to certain death and only has “I’m sorry to leave you behind again”? Umm… What? Lol I believe Dae Gil might have done what he did in the end ok. But really? Oh well, it was a great story with great characters don’t get me wrong. I just think it’s plain to see they sacrificed a good story in return for a 30% rating score or money.

        • Actually I believe Chuno was mostly pre-produced. Therefore there wasn’t much influence from the ratings on the script. I also believe the original script had this ending and in fact, it included almost no interaction between Daegil and Unnyun. Much of the interaction was added by the director and even actors. The way they looked at each other, etc. The scene of Daegil and Unnyun putting their heads together and him touching her face on that scene where TaeHa and Daegil rescue her was actor’s suggestion or so I heard. But my friend Gumi knows much more about this so I’ll ask her to clarify.

          • All fair points lol it’s just crazy I guess. I love watching Korean Dramas because even they stick to the soap opera recipe. They throw in a lot of reality and real personal emotion that’s easily felt. Even the story’s are very unique and original. Which is why I’m spoiled 😀

  9. just want to wrote this, the Chuno opening theme playing on my lappy. LOL.

    i never despised Daegil. LOL. even in the earlier episode. coz i’m a fan girl? hmmm, cannot sure. his eyes always betray his action so i couldn’t believe any of his harsh action (that’s how good JH potray the character). and when he save the slave girl i’m like ‘Yes! i’m not wrong’. that scene is like a turning point that confirm all my faith in his character.

    watchin this like a roller coaster to me. i don’t give a damn about all those politics coz it dizzy me but i love to watch Daegil. watch him in every emotion. couldn’t help worried when he’s getting hurt and angry when someone do that to him. LOL. i hate UN and TH character at first for make him suffer. LOL. and when he crying i think my tears is running fast than him. i just want him to smile even for a little bit.

    so, easy to say i just fall in love with Daegil in the first place. his action, his complex feeling and his vulnerable side even the dark side. 😉

  10. Oops, sorry, was finished with my comment! lol. Now I’m trying to remember when Daegil slapped Seoul Hwa. There is so much happening in that drama it demands countless re-watches.

  11. You know what, the whole thing about modern vs. historical realism/yard stick really didn’t come into play for me watching this. I just accepted it for what it was. It wasn’t a biopic or anything. The theme of slavery was very relevant to history, but the characters were made up. There IS an element of fantasy in historical fiction and no matter how much you research, a writer from today’s world is simply modern minded. So I agree to all that. And it’s okay, because the themes resonate with viewers, the fight for freedom, a new form of rule, etc. It’s human nature over and over again in every generation. You do have to think of your core audience anyway. They won’t have the patience for it, or the tolerance if they see the males slapping around the females. You know I started watching Thai drama, and if you thought K-drama was bad with the macho wrist grabbing, hair dragging, yelling at the women and all that, forget it! And this is a modern perspective. The shows are fluffy, cute, romantic, men are hot, women are make-up barbie beauties, but no depth, no lessons learned or moral core like many K and J-dramas. They truly are like soap operas. (Sorry to go off on tangents.)

    Anyway,

  12. I feel like my comments have been focusing on Dae-gils’ darker sides, so I want to make two things clear. 1. I totally and whole-heartedly agree with everything everyone wrote about all his other sides and 2. I love him.
    At this moment I actually consider him to be my most favourite fictional character ever. Heck, he dethroned Thorfinn from the manga Vinland Saga and I believed that was impossible!

    As you wrote in that other comment, Drama Fan, liking a fictional character and liking a RL person are two completely different things. I don’t need my fictional characters to be ”good” people. I only demand one virtue from them and that is consistency.

    PS. The first 2 pictures: ghaaaahh. This series LURED me with eye candy and took me for a ride that I can’t forget. I should be mad at you, Chuno. But I’m not, I’m in fact very, very happy.
    More PS. I want a ”Chuno saved me from Game of Thrones” shirt. And I want to learn corean tooooo.

  13. Kakaka an entire post inspired by moi??! Me and my big mouth!

    I wanna say though, that whether I “like” Dae Gil or not has no bearing on how I take to this drama, which is how you seem to feel it does, Drama Fan? I think for me what’s most important for a show is that its characters have some depth, and remain compelling and interesting for that reason. And Dae Gil certainly fits the bill. He’s obviously deeply flawed, and therefore very human. Whether this makes him likeable or not is moot to me. What’s most important is that he makes for a fascinating lead character, one that virtually carries the entire drama on his shoulders. I think it’s testimony to how well DG is written that the responses to some of things he’s done can be/have been so varied. I wrote that DG was “nasty” or rather does nasty things, but is that all he is? Of course not.

    What I am wary of, which I’ve seen and been guilty of many times, in how we respond to a character like this, is the tendency to gloss over some very problematic behaviour. The tortured soul trope is so seductive (at least to me!) especially when played with such sexy fire by Jang Hyuk, that I don’t want too get comfortable signing off on things I find troubling. So that’s where I’m coming from.

    I do want to say something about not judging a historical figure based on our modern yardstick. I think we can and it’s rather impossible not to, being who we are.This drama after all is a modern piece of entertainment, not a historical relic. It presents it’s own (very modern view) of a past world, or else it wouldn’t be so sympathetic to the plight of the salves who struggle for freedom and equality, which in itself is a modern idea. I think being true to the times (aka “realistic”) and being respectful in the treatment of the people/characters in that world is mutually exclusive.

    Anyway, I’ve gone on for too long, but love this post!

    • Oops, i mean ISN’T mutually exclusive (that second last sentence).

    • Yes DDee! and entire post inspired by you! 🙂 You make very valid points here. And I actually thought you were suffering a little lol! (I know it can’t be too much suffering otherwise you would drop it) but ok I’m so glad it’s not the case. I’m giving serious thought to your argument about being unable to ignore our modern sensibilities when watching a show that was written and produced in our times. It would be different if we were looking at something written during the Joseon era. It makes sense to me. This story was written from people of our times for a modern audience. While it has tried to recreate the past, the values and messages it carries are such that we will accept and identify with hmmm. Very interesting.

      • Suffering? Really?? How on earth did I do that? Was it my eye-rolling at Lee Da Hae’s perfect white hanbok & makeup (which i still do but i’m used to it)? Or prolly the hand-wringing over DG. I eye roll at DG’s angst too ;P!

        • Ok sorry but I’m not sure how to interpret the eye rolling cause I sort of do it when I’m bored or frustrated? And there is a lot of DG angst so if you are eye rolling at that my conclusion was you might be getting bored? At some point you mentioned you didn’t care much about Taeha, only about Daegil and his friends. But then Daegil and Seolhwa were frustrating you so I was left with the impression that you had nothing to like. You are not interested in the political intrigue. So who are you watching for Eop Bok? 😦

          • Oh I see! I do snark a lot! And I hv a tendency to talk more bout the things that bother me which gives the impression that I’m not liking something. But LOLLL DF I keep forgetting that everything that comes out of my mouth has the potential to keep you up at night!! Psst, just take everything I say, especially in the middle of the nite, with a pinch of salt ok?

            I do all sorts of things at DG–I eye roll, I facepalm, I laugh, I even tear up!! I’m watching for many reasons, but mostly at this point I wanna know how it ends, and what ultimately this drama has to say bout some of the questions it’s raised.

            Lordy, Taeha is well, Taeha, in that these noble (supposedly) types always seem a shade bland, especially next to the likes of DG! It’s fine, and he’s come along some ways. Seolhwa has largely disappeared frm the drama so I don’t know what to say/think bout that. I like Eop Bok and i’m invested in that plot largely coz of him and the girl!

        • I mean! by no means I’m saying that you shouldn’t rant, but yeah I think I might’ve gotten the wrong impression? I think I’ll take that out of the post cause in a way I put words in your mouth. Sorry about that.

        • Ok fixed 🙂 And Ive been thinking about the point you made about modern sensibilities. I agree to a great extent, that this is a modern story etc, but shouldn’t the context and background be taken in consideration when we judge them? They are written in the present but set in the past for a reason, right? In a way is to present these characters in extreme situations, show us human nature when taken to the edge for example. Chuno times were extreme times. On the other hand, our visceral reaction is unavoidable. The slap Daegil gave Seolhwa gave me a visceral reaction. No matter how much a character is “justified” by his context and circumstances we will have a reaction to actions and behaviour that repell us. I think I understand that. One example is the lead in the chinese drama Bu Bu Jing Xin. He was the lead, had a romantic story, and many people wanted him to end up with the female lead. To me he was a cruel, ruthless, paranoid King, who destroyed anyone who stood on his path, including his siblings and who punished his many enemies, real or imaginary, cause he was paranoid, by boling them to death etc. A product of his time? Yeah whatever! I still hated him! His only redeeming qualities were that “he was in love with the female”. This didn’t stop him from making her life miserable btw! ughh Anyway, where was I going with this? Ah yeah, that no matter how historically accurate or justified by his times a character is, we won’t like them if we don’t 😛

    • I totally agree with what you say about our modern jardstick. This is created by modern people, to be consumed by modern people. Even our perception of what makes a piece of historical fiction ”realistic” is tainted by our modern ideas. Personally, I treat historical fiction the same way I treat fantasy and judge it using the same criteria: believable world buildning, being true to its own premises etc.

      And I agree about the glossing. I mean, a broken neck (one that could have been avoided) remains broken no matter how many Seol-hwas are rescued from evil dancers, right?

      I want to say this about the slap, though. It did bother me as an act of uncalled for violence, but I don’t think he did it to bully her, to gain power over her.
      Still, it was hard to swollow. Loving Dae-gil is no easy task.

  14. Aigoo! Whoops! To actually answer the question…YES. Daegil is a likeable character. Not loveable, but likeable, once you understand his intentions and motivations and start peeling back those layers. (Layers that wouldn’t have been there if anyone else but Jang Hyuk played this role!)

  15. I also swooned when we first see Daegil and his amazing martial arts and too cool for school demeanor. But I didn’t judge him so harshly right away. In the back of mind I thought, “This is K-drama, he’s the leading man, he will have some redeeming qualities that will become more apparent later.”

    I pitied the slaves, but then when Daegil rescued the mother and daughter I liked him much more. As K-Fan girl and others said, this was his way of life. He was a lost soul after losing Unnyun and his family in those raids. And for me, it made sense that his hatred of slaves would grow so deep he decided to become a slave catcher. I feel that was one of his reasons. Most others think it was simply to find Unnyun. Not debating that. It’s true, he carried her image everywhere. But there had to be more to his decision. Daegil went from a most-likely spoiled Noble to a street-rat all because of a disgruntled slave. I can understand why he’d carry resentment. But then we also see that he pitied their plight and gave them a chance at freedom. Because he once believed in a free world.

    And I also say we can’t judge the past by our modern yardstick. Many works of fiction do that and then the product is less realistic. You can’t put your modern sensibilities on everything when trying to tell a story from the past. Men acted a certain way, women were treated this way and that, of course you had those who broke the mold, but not everyone. People ‘knew their place.’ So to speak.

    Dae Gil DID have a heart, despite treating Seol Hwa harshly. That treatment showed he was a man of his time. Seol Hwa was also a street rat. If the guys had let her, I believe she would have robbed them blind and left them high and dry. They were on to her tricks. The girl got game! But she was also lonely and desperate for normalcy. Daegil again proved his good heart when he returned to rescue her from the wicked troupe.

    Later on, I hated to see how broken and bent he became over all the obstacles faced. I still liked him, but I just couldn’t bear to watch him half the time. To me, Jang Hyuk’s brilliant performance showed us that by that point, Daegil had nothing to lose. He was a shell of a man all caught up in the politics of the day and forced to pick a side.

    I feel like he never truly understood what exactly all the fighting and subterfuge was about, or he really didn’t care much because his heart was broken. It wasn’t his fight. It was Tae Ha’s. But Daegil loved a good fight and his ultimate goal was to protect Unnyun to the end even though she was married to a master swordsman/warrior.

    • First of all, I love everything you said. Second of all, Aha! good point about this being a kdrama. I was very new when I watched Chuno for the first time. Prior to Daegil, I had been in love with Bidam, who was not first lead but sort of a tragic/lovable/second lead/villain/romantic character so I actually thought “These korean love their characters so grey” hehe. So I wasn’t sure what to expect and also there have been many characters that are the leads and are such jerks who are “supposed” to have redeeming qualities but this doesn’t stop me from hating them. But very good point about expectations. I had not thought about that 🙂

      • Thank you. I know I wrote a book. lol. I’m glad I watched Chuno a 2nd time recently. It helped me understand and dissect the characters more. I also think it depends on the subtitles. I love how Gumi noted what Daegil said about Unnyun marrying a slave. I don’t even remember that ‘line.’ Probably because of the subtitling. It’s great she can understand the story and dialogue the way it was meant to be understood. I first watched this on Netflix and then later on Viki because NF took it down. boo on them. I really don’t like Drama Fever’s ‘ye olde English’ subs. I have a decent vocabulary, but I felt like I needed a dictionary. Nobody wants to read ‘explanations’ of every old word either. It just breaks the flow of the story and you miss everything.

        • Oh I’m now watching DramaFever’s subs which I think are the WS2 subs. At first I thought they were hard but I guess I got used to them because I’m enjoying my rewatch more than my previous watches. I also think its because, since I already know what they are saying, I can understand better and also focus on the amazing facial expressions. Apparently Chuno used old korean so the old english was trying to emulate it. At this rate, next time I watch I might not need subs 😀 Also, I hope Gumi can help if there is ever a dialogue that gets too complex and we can all understand the drama a little better 🙂 We do, however, need to learn korean Lady G, we must!

          • That’s good if you can understand and allow yourself to focus on other aspects of the drama. I’m just being lazy too, I’m sure I can get through it. But to me it felt like reading Shakespeare all over again. lol. I’m trying to learn. I need a tutor. Right now I’m almost done with Pimsleur Basic Korean 1. I know it’s formal speech, but I don’t mind learning that first. Because it’s best not to learn slang and then risk offending someone.

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