December 16, 2017

Splendid Politics/ Hwa Jung

Starring: Lee Yeon-hee, Kim Jae-won, Seo Kang-jun, and Han Joo-wan

Episodes: 50

Running Time: 70 min

Airing: Mon-Tues 10:05 am

Synopsis

Princess Jungmyung was the only direct descendant of King Seonjo still alive and when she was born, her birth was celebrated around the palace. She had the sweetest smile a baby could have. Queen Inmok was relieved that she had a baby girl instead of a boy. According to the seer Nam Sa-go, the baby she carried would become the true ruler of the Joseon Dynasty, a king of kings and having a princess proved the prophecy to be wrong. But the turbulent times took a heavy toll on Princess Jungmyung. Upon the death of King Seonjo, Gwanghae ascended the throne and his first order of business was to eliminate Prince Yeongchang and banish Queen Inmok from the palace. Then his next target was Princess Jungmyung. When Inmok learned that her daughter’s life was in danger, she sent her into hiding. But assassins tracked Jungmyung down. Through the heroic sacrifice of her bodyguard, Jungmyung was put on a boat that sailed adrift in the sea. Meanwhile the bodyguard and nanny set their boat ablaze and died to fool the assassins. Jungmyung witnessed her nanny and bodyguard consumed by the flames. Adrift on the boat, Jungmyung lost consciousness and was picked up by a merchant boat crossing to Dejima (出島) in Japan. She was sold as slave.

To survive in the hostile environment she hid the fact that she was a princess. She also vanquished her memories of ever being a princess so that she could focus on how to get revenge. Posing as a boy, Jungmyung worked as a laborer in the sulfur mine. But she discovered hope in the depths of her despair. It was a friendship between Ja-gyeong that helped her cling to life. But she never lost her focus on returning to Joseon one day and brings the downfall of Gwanghae who had taken everything away from her. Then an opportunity arose. She began peddling information and secrets in the sulfur mines. Leveraging her strategic location, she followed the Joseon delegation visiting Japan back to Joseon. Finally, her dream to return to Joseon had come true…

Starring

Princess Jungmyung (貞明公主) – Played by Lee Yeon-hee
17th century Joseon. Princess Jungmyung protected the people and the royal family in a tumultuous period

Princess Jungmyung was the only princess borne by Kim Seonjo, the 14th ruler of the Joseon Dynasty.  But upon the death of King Seonjo, his half-brother, Prince Gwanghae became the next king and led to the death of Jungmyung’s brother, Prince Yeongchang while her mother, Queen Inmok was banished. She was suddenly relegated to the commoner’s class that brought immeasurable suffering…  When Inmok learned that Princess Jungmyung had a bounty on her head, she had her daughter sent into hiding. A nanny and bodyguard heroically saved Jungmyung from death by assassins, but she found herself having to fend for herself. She lost consciousness and got stranded on a boat sailing to nowhere. She was sold as slave in Dejima (present-day Japan).  After becoming an adult, Jungmyung learned how to handle brimstone better than most men and also a peddler in information in Dejima, a trade city. With help from Hong Joo-won, who was part of a Joseon delegation to Japan, she was able to return to Joseon. Upon returning to the kingdom, Jungmyung kept her identity as a secret and found her way into the Hwagidogam bureau, a vital royal ministry. She plotted her revenge against Gwanghae, who took away her loved ones. During this time, she also broke the hearts of Hong Joo-won, who serves Gwanghae, and Kang In-woo, who is loyal to King Injo…

King Injo (仁祖) – Played by Lee Jae-won

Ruling with an iron fist, Injo’s lust for power ultimately led to his ascension to the throne after a rebellion

The eldest son of Prince Jung-won who was the fifth son of King Seonjo, Injo led an uprising (反正) that resulted in him becoming the 16th Joseon king. He was involved in more plots than any other king in Joseon history. Ten years before the uprising he created, Gwanghae had taken control of the throne, a rumor that went “Saemundong, where Prince Jungwon resides, has an aura of royalty (王氣)” began to spread throughout the capital. The West faction decided to choose Prince Jung-won’s third son, Prince Neungchang to be the next king if their plot to overthrow the sitting king succeeded.  However, the plot was detected and Prince Neungchang was executed for his involvement. Prince Jungwon died soon after from the loss of his son. Meanwhile, Prince Neungyang wept openly in Gwanghwamun Square despite the danger of his actions. His crying was not meant to show his mourning for his dead brother, but an act to promote himself to the people.

When powerful men plotting to overthrow the king came to his family home, Prince Neungyang believed they were going to choose him to be their king. But they chose his brother instead, which left Prince Neungyang feeling dejected and humiliated.  It was Prince Neungyang who leaked the details of the plot and the identities of the plotters to the government. If his brother had become the next king, he knew he would be eliminated. Power cannot be shared and his actions were justified in that it was to ensure his survival.  After his public display of feigning mourning, Prince Neungyang became a frontrunner to be the next king and he rounded support from the West Faction, which did not know of his betrayal. But there was one obstacle in his path. It was Prince Jungmyung. She held great sway in public opinion. Prince Neungyang was furious whenever people talked about Jungmyung in lofty tones but he hid his anger. Since she was a princess, she could never become a king. But Princess Jungmyung was not following his plans. She would not resign herself to staying quite in the Gyubang as she spoke frequently with the ministers and politicians to voice her opinions that garnered support. This hurt Prince Neungyang’s pride and fueled his inferiority issues. So he decided to get rid of Princess Jungmyung…
Hong Joo-won (洪株元) – Played by Han Joo-won
He serves a king who is the sworn enemy of the woman he loved

Hailing from the Poongsan (豊山) Hong family clan, a prestigious house, he was the eldest son in the family (長子) and groomed for greatness. An expert in Sung Confucianism, he was cool-headed and measured. Among high ministers, he would boldly proclaim his opinions of dissent when required. This would appear to be arrogant, but he was regarded as a genius to which the royal courtesans gave him the nickname Naengminam (冷美男). He has a likeminded friend in Kang In-woo. They in no way resembled each other but they had a close friendship as if they were brothers. Then Princess Jungmyung entered their lives!

They both knew Princess Jungmyung when they were young boys and witnessed her grieving the death of her brother. At the time, Joo-won was just a helpless boy and all he could do was hug her and promise that he would protect her from harm. But Gwanghae sent assassins to kill Jungmyung and he thought she was dead, which left a hole in his heart…  Years later, Joo-won ironically found himself as a trusted royal subject to Gwanghae and serving him faithfully. His friend, In-woo, became hostile towards him for his about face. And the criticism stung. But Joo-won saw the precarious situation of the kingdom in a changing world. Although Gwanghae was a tyrannical ruler he was also very cunning. Joseon desperately needed to survive since it was surrounded by powerful neighbors waiting to pounce. Gwanghae was the only king who could push back the resistance from the ministers who wanted Joseon to take a neutral stance. Abandoning the philosophy that his family clan stood for, Joo-won oversaw the Hwagidogam ministry that held sway over the kingdom. Under secret orders, he went to Japan to smuggle brimstone material to make gunpowder and that is where he encountered Princess Jungmyung… Unable to recognize her, Joo-won helped her to return to Joseon by giving her papers as a skilled handler of brimstone. To put her to use, he had her given a position at the Hwagidogam. Nobody except Joo-won knew that she was his lover. Without knowing that Jungmyung was plotting revenge on Gwanghae, he began to fall deeper in love with her…
Kang In-woo (康仁祐) – Played by Seo Kang-jun
One beloved friend and one woman he loved. In-woo was Joseon’s most respectable bachelor (上美男)

If Hong Joo-won had honor, Kang In-woo’s family had wealth that even surpassed the king’s riches. Kang In-woo was the sole heir to the family fortune. Uninterested in politics, In-woo quickly disconnected himself from the political scene. He spent most of his time at the archery grounds where most young men without work would gather. Any new kisaeng house would warrant a visit by him, too. Nobody expected him to accomplish anything.  When he was a young boy, In-woo was a bright boy and his father had a lot of expectations for him. So he dreamed of succeeding and cultivated his ambition. But when he learned of the family secret about his real mother, he began to lose interest in succeeding. His mother was a house servant (女婢) who had a relation with his father, which made him a commoner. Whenever In-woo would see his slave half-brother, he would struggle with his identity. The hypocritical behavior of his foster mother, whom he thought was his real mother, turned him off and plunged him into a life of debauchery. Then he met Princess Jungmyung.

He found himself idolizing Princess Jungmyung who was as blue-blooded as they came, and that was unattainable to In-woo since his mother was a slave. When Jungmyung lost her brother and was relegated to the commoner’s class, he could relate to her plight like no one else could. After Gwanghae had Jungmyung assassinated, which unbeknownst to him she had survived, In-woo fell into despair…  Then years passed and In-woo met Jungmyung again at the Hwagidogam ministry. Joo-won introduced her as a boy he brought back from Japan, but In-woo instantly knew she was wearing a disguise but he did not tell anyone. He relished teasing Joo-won who kept up her act as posing as a boy. He especially found it pleasing to see her reactions when she was teased. He even flirted with her. But before long, he found out that she was actually Princess Jungmyung and this shocks him to his core…