Tag Archives: sageuk

‘My Country’ Jang Hyuk Interview – Talks about Bangwon’s scar, his hair in new drama and more


Hi, I’m copying this interview translated by Prettysup and posted on the Soompi Jang Hyuk thread. Thank you Prettysup! This way we can always refer to it.

I also added some of my favorite images of beautiful (and terrible but awesome) Bangwon, for us to drool forever! #Bangwitched

As he enters his 23rd year of acting, Jang Hyuk has also shown off the special weight that he carries, capturing the agony of a humane Lee Bang-won in JTBC’s “My Country,” which ended on Sunday.

Jang’s relaxed smile at the interview did not make one feel that he is tired after finishing the work that had been shooting for about eight months. “I can’t cut my hair because it’s going to be used in the next drama,” he said with a big smile.

“I wanted to show you an emotional humane Lee Bang-won, not an ambitious blood lord. In fact, during the ‘Age of innocence’, I was always thinking about playing Lee Bang-won again. In ‘The Age of Innocence’ , Lee Bang-won feels like the background in the first strife of the princes. ‘My Country’ Lee Bang-won is a weighty villain, and he’s at the center of the story, so there’s a little bit of freedom and coolness.”

“My Country” is basically the story of fictional characters Seo Hwi (Yang Se-jong), Nam Seon-ho (Woo Do-hwan), and Han Hee-jae (Kim Seol-hyeon) who help Lee Bang-won revolt in the drama. However, the three-dimensional confrontations between Lee Bang-won (Jang Hyuk), Nam-jeon (Ahn Nae-sang) and Lee Seong-gye (Kim Young-chul) who contributed to the founding of the country showed off their existence as much as traditional historical dramas.

Among the past works dealing with Lee Bang-won, Jang was particularly attracted to ‘The Deep Rooted Tree’ which he also starred in. “I wanted to show everyone the Lee Bang-won who stood against his father. There was a scene in ‘The Deep Rooted Tree’ which Baek Yoon-sik senior told Ido (Song Joong-ki) to live. I was very impressed with that fascinating look.”

Actor Kim Young-chul, who plays Lee Seong-gye, had also portrayed Taejong two times previously through “The Great King Sejong” and “Jang Young-sil.” Kim Young-chul, however, rarely talked about his works because he feared it would have an unnecessary impact on Jang’s performance. On the synergy of their acting, Jang said, “We acted as father and son during ‘Iris 2’, and even if we don’t talk about it, we can immerse ourselves in real-life feelings. You just have to get the emotional intensity that your senior members are driving at and pour it out as it is,” he explained. These are words coming from an actor representing the acting class in the entertainment industry.

“Although it’s a work of fictional characters, stories beyond historical characters may not be convincing. Most people know how the Strife of the Princes went and what roles and actions Jeong Do-jeon, Lee Bang-gan, and Bakpo played. If you go too far-fetched, it’s going to be hard to accept. So instead of creating a new story, I wanted to reinterpret the feelings behind it, while keeping true to historical records. Did Lee Bang-won really think that he was going to be a king? Maybe he didn’t, but he was just swept away by the surging emotions and became the king. We only know the records but we didn’t see it and feel it personally, so I focused on capturing the inner thoughts of Lee Bang-won.”

As a result, “My Country” Lee Bang-won became Jang hyuk’s new life character. Lee Bang-won’s relentless confrontation with his father, Lee Seong-gye, excited viewers. “I’m grateful that you have enjoyed this drama because it’s so emotional,” Jang said with a smile.

Jang Hyuk also talked about being a senior among the cast. He said, “Although there were seniors on the set, but most of the other cast and crew were younger than me. There was only Tae-ryeong (Kim Jae-young), who is three years younger than me at the set and we talked a lot,” he said, confessing to his unexpected loneliness.

He reiterated that he learned a lot from young actors like Woo Do-hwan, Yang Se-jong and Seol Hyun. “One of the most regrettable works of my life is ‘Daemong’. They’re only a year or two older than me when I did ‘Daemong’, but are very well prepared. I was surprised that they can act so well at this age.”

Jang Hyuk’s choice of a master scene in ‘My Country’ is a question-and-answer session with Lee Sung-gye at the end of the drama. Jang recalled, “I fell in love with Kim Young-chul’s feelings. Would I answer as king or as father? The sixth, seventh and eighth are already dead, and the fifth, you will be king. He’s hitting the line. I’ve stopped feeling so much. Do you have any fingers that don’t hurt? It’s because I’m a royal family member. There was no line in the original script that said Lee Bang-won resembles Nam Seon-ho, but I added it on the spot because I felt that he resembled Nam Seon-ho.”

Jang Hyuk’s personal favourite acting scene is when he threw his crown after becoming the king. Unlike Lee Seong-gye or Nam Jeon, the throne was just a mean for Lee Bang-won to create his version of ‘my country’.

“I wanted to depict the feeling of cutting the opponent’s head off and throwing it. It’s my seat, I have went through a long way to reach there, but I don’t know what to do when I get there. I raised my sword not to make the abandoned, but the reality is that I abandoned everyone from Seo Geom (Yoo Oh-sung) to Seo Hwi and Nam Seon-ho. Lee Bang-won is just like the characters at the end of the movie ‘The Graduate’, where they ran away from the wedding, sat on a bus, like two pathetic, helpless, empty people.”

Jang Hyuk also confessed about the scar on Lee Bang-won’s face, which further sharpened his image in the drama. “It was a coincidence, I got hurt while working out. But then I found that it suited my character well. Doesn’t it feel like Lion King’s ‘Scar’?”

The most beloved historical character Jang Hyuk has ever played is Lee Dae-gil of ‘Chuno’. At one time, viewers commented that they see Lee Dae-gil in every character that he played. However, through ‘My Country’, Jang hyuk has completely shed the shadow of Lee Dae-gil, which had been hanging for more than a decade. Jang Hyuk said, “I forgot about Dae-gil a long time ago as I needed to move on to my next projects. It has already been 11 years and I’m grateful that there are so many fans who remembered Dae-gil for such a long time.”

When asked whether he would consider doing the TJ project as a gift for fans, Jang appeared embarrassed and said after coughing, “We have to take a look at the times when the TJ project took place. Back then, the music video was done to promote the movie ‘Volcano High’. I was not good at singing, hence I practiced rapping as it was similar to saying my lines.” he explained.

“I like listening to music very much. I always practice acting while listening to music. I’m very happy if I managed to find a song that fits the mood just like OST. But I don’t have the knowledge to work on music.”

“I’ve been asked several times to appear in ‘Sugar Man’ as a rapper TJ. But that’s not a joke, you have to decorate the stage. I’m sure not many people have seen TJ in person, and I think most of them know it through friends or the Internet. I don’t think it’s going to be easy to star in ‘Sugar Man’.”

Jang Hyuk’s new Sageuk: “My Country” (나의 나라)


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It’s been a long while since we’ve posted, and since Jang Hyuk’s starred in a drama! We’ve all missed him, and hopefully he’d gotten a well-deserved break after starring back-to-back in “Money Flower,” “Wok of Love,” and “Bad Papa.” Not to mention cameos here and there and a role in the Crime film, “Ordinary Person.”

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Jang Hyuk gives off Lee Daegil “Chuno” vibes here. Fans are thrilled he grew out his hair.

Jang Hyuk again takes on the mighty role of Joseon’s third King, Lee (Yi) Bang Won (The future King Taejong). He played the King in the 2015 film, “Empire of Lust.”

Jang Hyuk’s not the lead in “My Country” (JTBC Network) (To many fans’ disappointment) but he is listed as a Main role. Since it’s a multi-episode drama, it’ll be exciting to watch how he develops King Taejong’s personality with the distinct nuances he always brings to his performances.

Whatever happens, King Taejong’s presence will be influential to the story.

The drama’s main plot revolves around young best friends in a tumultuous time period – the fall of the Goryeo era into the early years of the long-standing Joseon era.

Seo Hwi (Yang Se-Jong) is a righteous warrior, the son of a powerful commander who goes through grievous trials. Nam Sun-Ho (Woo Do-Hwan) is an intelligent young man born from the lower class. His dream of joining the military is crushed when his father gets embroiled in corruption and his poor background becomes an obstacle. The best friends have misunderstandings and develop clashing opinions, leading them to become enemies.

This wouldn’t be a proper Kdrama without a love-triangle or a romantic entanglement. Enter the beautiful Seol Hyun (Han Hee-Jae). She’s described as a skilled martial artist and resourceful, intelligent woman ahead of her time who possibly holds classified information.

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Lee Bang Won was crowned King in Joseon’s 8th year. The political upheavals that got him to the throne could put the ex-best friends at greater odds while fighting for freedom and country.

These are just speculations, we’ll all have to watch and learn together!

“My Country” began filming back in March, 2019. Pre-produced dramas are on the rise. This system allows for better and compelling stories and acting, as the writers, cast, and crew don’t fall prey to the whims of Producers and fickle audiences necessitating last-minute plot changes. Just from the trailers, we can expect high production values and beautiful cinematography.

Having the talented Jang Hyuk in a major role will surely elevate what promises to be an exciting historical drama of friendships, enmity, love, and war as Korea pushes through the birth pangs of a new, astounding era in their legendary history.

“My Country” (나의 나라) premieres Friday, October 4th, 2019.

***Note to Fans – “My Country” is a Netflix Exclusive that will launch globally on that date.  They are the only streaming site with Korean Language content to air it. For those of us without Netflix, hopefully we won’t have to wait too long to watch it elsewhere.

Enjoy the Official Trailers:

Gaekju – 7 minute trailer explained – sort of 


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Gaekju is coming guyssssss! It starts on September 23rd at 10pm in Korea. It’ll also be available with english subs through KBS World (starting on September 30th) and on Viki.

My enthusiasm level for this drama has increased with each trailer. The 7 minute trailer sent it through the roof! I hope it has the same effect on you my friends!

We already saw the good quality of filming and acting in previous trailers but we didn’t know much about the story itself. The 7 minute trailer reveals some of the background of our characters, especially the conflict that triggers the personal struggle of Bongsam (Jang Hyuk) and Gil So Gae (Yu Oh Seong) and the nature of their relationship. A lot of pain and guilt in these men past! Gaekju will show us how both of them deal with it.

Below is how Gumi summarized the trailer for me. WARNING! She did fill in the blanks so the actual story might turn out slightly different. The trailer, after all, only showed isolated scenes with revealing facts and Gumi sort of connected dots.

Chun (Bongsam’s father) and Gil (So Gae’s father) worked together. They were friends and colleagues. At some point Gil needs money, desperately so he gets involved in opium trade.

Chun Bongsam’s father, as leader of Chun’s gaekju, had to punish Gil and according to the law, an opium trader should be sentenced to death. Chun gives poison to Gil. Gil drinks it and dies. His son Gil So Gae screams and cries “No, please don’t drink it father!” Gil’s father dies leaving these as his last words “You should become rich, you should become the leader of all those merchants”

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Gil So Gae is now traumatized and he hates Chun Bongsam’s father. So Gae seems to become involved with opium as well. Now someone had to be responsible for that opium and Chun says he will take the blame so he is executed. This way Gil So Gae caused Bongsam’s father death as well 😦 Oh the pain already!

The now enemies, share a past where they were raised almost as a family.Chun and Gil were friends so their kids were like cousins and there was  even a promise that Bongsam’s sister would marry Gil So Gae. This should make for some amazing inner conflicts and angsty bromantic frenemy situation between Chun Bongsam and Gil So Gae. Can’t wait!

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We all know how serious and hard working Jang Hyuk is, so its no surprise that he is once again giving his all to this project. But the spirit that can be perceived from interviews and the press conference is that every single person involved in this production is extremely passionate about it! The PD is a serious, earnest man who was responsible for very successful sageuk, such as the series Wang Gun. To create the background of Bongsam in this series (something that had not been dealt with in the novel), he actually consulted the writer of the original novel and asked him what he thought his past would’ve been like.  Now that’s what I call dedication! Given the love, effort and talent that is surrounding this drama I really wish it much success, and not only because my favorite actor is in it. GAEKJU FIGHTING! 

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Shine or Go Crazy – New stills, BTS and interview


New stills of Wang So cred. Jang Hyuk DC Gallery/MBC.

It seems our Goryeo prince will endure some harsh times, cause we often see stills of him dressed more as a common citizen than as a prince. I suppose it comes with the territory when you are a “cursed prince fated to bring blood to your country” awww. He looks gorgeous as a commoner, however (in fact, it is my favorite look so far)

Also, from what we can see in this video, the drama will definitely be infused with some comical action sequences, as it was mentioned before 🙂 but then again so was Chuno and TWDR.

Video from MBC/Thanks to Zoi

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On the other hand, Honey Lee looks absolutely stunning as the princess who will eventually marry Wang So. She is definitely rocking the sageuk garments. I’m fangirling a little here! but I do have a weakness for Goryeo/Silla or whatever it is royal wardrobe. It’s the colors! the pretty colors!

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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.

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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.