Drama Recaps
Hong Gil Dong: Behind-the-scenes special
by | March 28, 2008 | 39 Comments

Well, Hong Gil Dong is officially over. A “special” broadcast Thursday wrapped things up with the cast and director on the set of the series and ran through the usual dog and pony show — behind-the-scenes snippets, some outtakes, hosts asking the cast a bunch of soft questions about the experience.

As a source of information, the special was pretty thin on material, but as a wrap-up to the series, it may be a soothing balm for those who were gravely offended by the finale. I still maintain that the finale was a cut above the rest of the series (for me, the series had a tendency to wander), but whether or not you liked it, the special showed everyone in full goofball mode, all jokey and light-hearted, so therat was nice to see.

Oh, and speaking of the finale — I’ve changed my mind about what the opening sequence of Episode 1 means. I’m pretty sure now that the slick first action scene was really the story of Gil Dong as retold by Eun Hye in her written version of his life. I remember noting that Eun Hye had wondered if her feelings for Gil Dong may have enhanced her telling of the story, and made Gil Dong seem extra-cool. That goes a long way in explaining why the opening sequence resembles the Gil Dong and Hwal Bin Dang we’re familiar with, yet they all look more polished and put-together than we’ve seen them. Their personalities remain intact despite the exaggerated quality (the flying through the air, their clothing) because Eun Hye is acquainted with them and knows their personalities.

Anyway. Just thought I’d put that out there.

(Not to be repetitive, but I’ll reiterate anyway — these are my opinions, so you may disagree.)


Hong Gil Dong OST – “작은 배” (Small Boat) by Girls Generation [ Download ]

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The entire series spanned eight months of filming. In the director’s words, they started in relatively warm weather, suffered through bitterly cold filming conditions through the winter, and now are coming back round to a warmer season.

The cast gathered after filming concluded on the last episode, all still dressed in their standard costumes. Because of the way the stories divided up the cast members, some actors were just meeting for the first time — Jang Geun Seok and the actor playing Merchant Wang, for instance, as well as Merchant Wang and Jo Hee Bong (playing Kwang Whe).

Jang Geun Seok took the camera behind the scenes for a bit, looking through his costumes and delivering pizza to the actors on set. The special (seeing him in streetwear, for instance) only heightened the real-life age differences that are completely different from their drama ages — Jang Geun Seok is the youngest main cast member (20), Sung Yuri is 27, and Kang Ji Hwan is 31 (Korean age 32). In real life, Jang Geun Seok’s much more playful and immature (and I don’t mean that negatively — just that he’s got some growing up to do still, since he’s barely out of adolescence) than his character, while Sung Yuri seems rather self-aware and coy. Kang Ji Hwan speaks extremely well and strikes me as a very savvy sort of guy — he knows how to present himself confidently and comfortably. He conveys sincerity but I feel like we’re definitely not getting the whole picture, which is what I mean by savvy. It’s a mature-actor (or is it serious-actor?) trait, I think.

When asked about her character’s personality, Sung Yuri explained that she’d considered Enok her opposite, while others surprised her by saying she was just like the character. Apparently there was no consensus on what her “real” personality was — the actor playing Su Geun thought she was like Enok in that they both had a tough and “low-brow” quality to them (i.e., a salty sense of humor).


Notable was the extreme cold, made worse by wind. Kang Ji Hwan’s muscles were hidden, as a fan noted on the online message boards, by layers and layers of clothing — sometimes up to four layers of underclothes. It was just that cold (see Su Geun hiding behind Mal Nyeo; Kang Ji Hwan comes and takes cover behind both of them in a moment):


There were lots of action sequences, and wire work in particular for the more fantastical, comic-book elements. Kang Ji Hwan accidentally hit an actor for real and sent him to the hospital, and had his own troubles staying on his feet for his wire sequences.


There’s always time for the Tell Me dance:


The rapport between the actors seemed pretty friendly, more for some actors like Gom and Yeon. Jang Geun Seok joked that his “Yuri noona” would always come sit by him, no matter where he chose to sit (she answered that it was to steal his youthful energy).

When asked what the series Hong Gil Dong meant to them, Kang Ji Hwan answered that it was like bibimbap — that rice dish mixed with a hodgepodge of seasoned vegetables, sesame oil, hot bean paste, and whatever else you want to throw in. He explained the analogy by saying that he was reminded of bibimbap in the way that a lot of things were mixed in together — parody, sageuk, fusion elements. Sung Yuri answered that to her, it was like birthday cake — something you only get on select occasions and not very frequently, which gives a feeling of specialness. (That answer prompted the hosts to ask whether she’d prepared her answer in advance.)

The actor playing Su Geun said “Hong Gil Dong was crazy,” but in a good way — in the way that one can put all one’s energy and passion into something. When the director was asked to react to that, he smiled and said, “It was crazy.” The actor playing Yeon said it was like a gag (comedian) contest — everyone had practiced hard on their own and brought their own talents and preparation to the table.


A few NG scenes — Kang Ji Hwan bursting into laughter when Sung Yuri feels him up, and repeatedly losing a hold on his weapon in a fight scene, and Jang Geun Seok delivering a convincingly serious line on “horseback” —


When asked if any of the actors had been particularly enamored with Jang Geun Seok at first (for being so pretty), Kim Jae Seung (In Hyung) immediately raised his hand and related a story about playing soccer together and being struck with his good-looking features. He tried to add that he didn’t mean it in a sexy sort of way, merely in appreciation of his looks, but naturally the rest of the cast teased him for the rest of the special.

Kim Rina (Eun Hye) seemed quite humble and well-spoken — she’d been quoted as being afraid of the director. The way she spoke, it seemed she was one of the least experienced actors and was very self-deprecating about her abilities (and lack of experience), but very praiseworthy to Kang Ji Hwan for taking time to teach her and guide her through.

Jo Hee Bong (Kwang Whe) seemed the most different of the others — the serious eccentric — and was teased for being long-winded. When the director commented on his ability to endure through the cold in his thin king’s costume (often open-chested), he admitted that he’d learned an important lesson: Always fasten the top button well. By which he meant, at first it wasn’t so bad, but the longer he had to act in that garment, the more painful the cold became. It was his mistake for leaving the front of the robe open in the first place, because then he was stuck for the rest of the series with that look. I don’t think he’s comfortable in these kinds of loud, jokey settings, and for whatever reason he had a separate one-on-one segment with one of the hosts.

Kang Ji Hwan was asked about the rumor that he’d agreed to do the series immediately upon hearing Sung Yuri was cast as his love interest. He clarified that he’d actually been the one to be cast first, but had mentioned at one point that if he had it his way, he’d like for Sung Yuri to be selected. Knowing that filming would cover months, he figured he might as well shoot for someone he always wanted to work with (sounds like he was a FinKL fan).

He was also teased for blushing in his kiss scene with Sung Yuri (in the final episode), suggesting that he’d enjoyed it overly. Kang Ji Hwan explained that he’d actually reddened from being angry — that the kiss was over too quickly, just when he’d been prepared to launch into a longer one.

And there you go.

By no means was this everything — there were some more questions and a five-clip collection of “best scenes” reshown, hosted by Tae Yeon (the Girls Generation member who sang the “If” song on the OST and who frankly comes off a bit like a happy idiot) — but I hope you enjoyed hearing some of the highlights of the special.


39 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. dariav-

    Thank you for giving a summary of the special, while I enjoyed watching it , didn’t get most of the exchange.

    Sounds like there’s strong rapport between the main cast 🙂

  2. candi

    thanks so much for this summary!
    This was a great series!!!! I actually liked the ending…but I’m still sad that its over. But I’m happy they did a special to wrap this series!!!!
    KJH and sung yuri would make a great couple in real life!

  3. snoopy

    How come no one commented yet?
    Thanks for this overview of the special!
    After this show (and your praise) I think Kang Ji Hwan has gained a big lot of new fans, me included.

  4. Linda

    yup yup i did. :] thanks javabeans!

  5. kamee

    i really do think that no matter how much i disliked the ending, i love this cast!

  6. ash

    Thanks for uploading the song!!!

    And I like this theory, about the 1st Episode sequence as being Eun Hye’s version of the Gil Dong Legend. I’ll buy that for sure!

    And I LOVE the cast too! I am scared to think of how the series would have gone if Joo Ji Hoon didn’t back out due to his greed. :oP

  7. julie

    hey! thanks for the overview of the behind the scene special! may i ask if anyone knows where i can watch this special? i really want too T_T.

    i admit i have not yet finished the series because i refuse to watch the remaining episodes (23, 24…) without subtitles. =D i keep hearing about the ending being really unexpected and dramatic so i look forward to it but am frightened at the same time. D:

    i’m going to miss this drama so much. i think that it’s one of my favorites of all time. and from this, i’m a TOTAL Kang Ji Hwan fan!! he’s so great!

    hong gil dong! goodbye! and jiayou!

  8. lyn

    thanks so much for your summaries.

    i think the 1st scene in the 1st episode was probably more like what the people told as a legend of HGD, like a spin off of the stories that GH told and maybe EH, but more of what the people thought since EH’s version had herself as YN’s role. i’d imagine villagers gathering talking about HGD and HBD, and that lasting for generations.

    KJH and SYR, and the rest of the cast and crew did such a great job.
    i love this drama, but i think the 1st half was probably better.

  9. dyane

    thanks for the summary!

    one question though, was it not with Jang Geun Seok that Kim JaeSeung was “enamored?”

  10. 10 javabeans

    dyane — sorry, you’re totally right. i mistyped — fixed now! 🙂

  11. 11 all4movies

    Thanks for the recap on the wrap up. Sometimes there’s no english subs, so now at least I’ll have an idea of what they’re talking about.

  12. 12 jichuh

    Regarding your interpretation of the Ep1 opening sequence: Genius!
    Wish it just ended with that shown again, but then I also did like the youknowwho atop building shot..Still disappointed like most people, though =(

  13. 13 epyc

    I am yet to see HGD or other dramas in which KJH plays a lead role – but indeed he is savvy in catching your eyes (not least for his good look, of course). I recently watched two ‘old’ k-dramas: Summer Scent and Save the Last Dance for Me. In SS, he only appeared in one scene in the final episode with one line but still impressed you right away. He had more scenes in SLD though also a minor character whom you wonder why the scriptwriter doesn’t expand that role further. The gentleman way that he opens the car door for Eugene in their first date is quite a movement that you adore.

  14. 14 angie

    thank you, dramabeans~
    you even recapped this bts show,
    the crew looks funny and happy, eps on the “steal geun-suk’s youthful energy”
    they look sooo sweet, kinda sad this fun show has to come to an end

  15. 15 hachiko

    Thank you jaavbeans!
    Can’t wait to see the special. It is so nice to see they interact and in the real character ^^

  16. 16 choram

    Tae Yeon “a happy idiot” lol…..I always get that feeling too…..haha.

    And a Tell Me dance?! Wow….didn’t see that coming. Bunch of goof balls 😛

  17. 17 elisa

    i loved this series~
    but one thing struck me just now…
    whatever happend to grandfather ryu?
    if chang hwe killed his granddaughter, i’m sure that would’ve sparked something o_o…

  18. 18 Petra

    thanks for all your hard work javabeans! :o)
    I really love this serie and even though I don’t like sad ends, this one was great. I can’t imagine better one.
    thanks for all your summaries 🙂

  19. 19 sungjin

    thank you so much! sung yuri and kang ji hwan are soooo adorable!!!

  20. 20 Philippa

    Thanks! I’m gonna miss this drama!

  21. 21 Skina

    awww..it ended already..eventho i havent finish watching the drama yet..huhu gonna miss this drama so much later on..glad i still have 2weeks to drool over KJH..muahah indeed,he got me hooked to him and a lot more fans out there.GO GO KJH!!

  22. 22 Nonbirira

    Your theory about this opening scene of episode 1 is inspired! Was puzzling over it but your suggestion works perfectly for me! Thanks!

  23. 23 mj

    i really like this hong gil dong series,i fell in love with it since the first time I’ve watched…………….I got addicted!I watched it 15 times in a row and i just can stop…………..

  24. 24 Tippy

    I think you are spot on with your thoughts regarding the opening sequence…good deduction! I must say, I cried like a baby at the end of this series and although I love a happy, sappy ending, this one couldn’t have been done any other way (and I love that Gil Dong knew what ‘I love you’ meant the whole time….awwwww). Thanks!!

  25. 25 dark-angel-ann

    Hey,, I really like this film a lot.. I’ve already finish it last night. althou it was a sad ending, but i enjoy it so much …

  26. 26 cat

    T_T the drama so sad. the next half of the episodes are all teary. i like chang hwe so i cry more cuz he didnt end up with the stupid girl. hwaaaaaaaaaaa! but great drama i like it.

  27. 27 faye

    so sad….. i will always think of this drama(sounds like the line of Sir Moonlight Black Hat) i loved the whole drama and there is always a favorite scene in each episode…. Woah!!! I have so many favorite scenes:
    1. When Gil Dong and Yi Nok first met at the bridge during the fight show or propaganda of Yi Nok with his old man…hahaha
    2. When Gil Dong and Yi Nok had a fight about ghosts…hahaha
    3. When Gil Dong saw Yi Nok bidding him farewell when he’s about to go to China..
    4. When Gil Dong saw Yi Nok washing the chamber pot which was given by Young Master Chang Hui in the stream..
    5. When Gil Dong knew that at least one person is happy that he didn’t go, and that’s Yi Nok…
    6. When Gil Dong felt the comfort of Yi Nok…
    7. When they both caught wild animals…
    8. When Yi Nok tries to stop Gil Dong from leaving…so sweet…
    9. When Yi Nok posted a secret message into the wanted posters of Gil Dong..
    10. When they met at their emergency resuscitation site…so sweet..
    11. When Gil Dong is so surprised that there is still a person who believes that he didn’t commit a crime…hahaha…so touching…
    12. When Gil Dong promised Yi Nok that after he finished some business, he will come to Yi Nok…so touching…
    13. When Yi Nok tries to confront Gil Dong… And Gil Dong asked her if she can go with him in catching two tigers and go to China…
    14. When Yi Nok gave a pouch with grave soil to Gil Dong…so sweet..
    15. When Yi Nok told Gil Dong that it is alright to cry….huhuhu
    16. When Yi Nok asked Gil Dong to run far away so that the soldiers will not catch him…huhuhuhu…
    17. When Gil Dong saw Yi Nok crying because she believed that Gil Dong was really dead after seeing the pouch she gave to him…
    18. During the Sir Moonlight Black Hat…
    19. When Yi Nok saw Su Geun was the Sir Moonlight Black Hat and talked about Gil Dong…
    20. When Yi Nok and Gil Dong finally met each other….
    21. When Yi Nok joined the Hwal Bin Dang by being the gisaeng to share a bed with the king…
    22. When Yi Nok and Gil Dong entered and exited the Secret Chamber…
    23. When Yi Nok and Gil Dong was inside the palanquin provided by the Yangmun Organization…
    24. When Yi Nok went to Hwal Bin Dang Hideout
    25. When Gil Dong was slightly irritated when Yi Nok says that he only respects him and nothing more than that..
    26. When Gil Dong assures Yi Nok that they can stay beside each other…
    27. When Gil Dong kissed Yi Nok!!!!
    28. When Yi Nok searched the pouch that she gave to Gil Dong by doing a hand search in the upper body of Gil Dong…hahahaha
    30. When Gil Dong gave Yi Nok a new sunglasses
    31. When Gil Dong gave Yi Nok a kiss on her cheek….funny
    32. When Hwal Bin Dang and Yongmun started to have a coup inside the palace…
    33. When Yi Nok disguised herself as a soldier to enter the exorcism site, but she was blocked, and she saw Gil Dong but she cannot call him by his name so she tried to use a secret message by shouting ‘I love You” “I Love You”
    34. When Yi Nok and Gil Dong reunited again and Yi Nok asked Gil Dong that if he could not stop her being beside him and staying beside him because she wants to, and Gil Dong replied by giving her a tight hug and they both cried…
    35. During the wedding of Mal Nyeo and Su Geun, and the people teased Gil Dong and Yi Nok to kiss…Gil Dong blushed and gave a smile and a weak punch on Yi Nok’s shoulder… hahaha

  28. 28 tha

    ohh.. I like this movie, sometime I want to go to korea to see actor in this film..
    yeahh.. I know it’s only in my dream..Just hoping that miracle come true..amieenn
    This is my 1st korea film I saw, that I very..very like it..
    Especialy 4 Jang Geun Seok..he’s very cool, but deep inside I like it,, hee..
    So Lucky become Sung Yu Ri!! I wanna be like that!!
    hahaha…”it’s only in my dream”..
    thank’s 4 information

  29. 29 jane

    honestly, i don’t like the ending. well, for the fact that i like the character of sung yuri and jang geun seok. I like them both a lot. they have better chemistry than kjw and syr. Sadly, this drama series is much focus on the love between hong gildong and yinok. hoping that sung yuri and jang geun seok team up in a drama series together in the near future.

  30. 30 Sevenses

    Fweeeeeee! Little Boat uploaded here.

  31. 31 penguine

    jang geun seok is so damn handsome lol..

  32. 32 Diane Yang

    I love this movie (hong gil dong) but then why do both of them have to die at last. ehhhh, but i still lalalove it ! all the characters in their are cuute. i meant, the mains one. (:

  33. 33 straubi

    now i have see this “hong gil dong”.

    and i love it.

    the actor and actress are perfect in her/his role.

    i have never notice kang ji hwan in any role but now i think he is really sweet.

    i hope i see him in more dramas.

    does anyone knows whetever there is a 2. season because the end was terrible and sad.

    greetings from germany

    cu =^.^=

  34. 34 Nancii


    i can’t believe ChangHwi and Enok didn’t get together in the end 🙁

    i luved them two together….and ChangHwi is just soo hot! 😛

  35. 35 turk kızı

    jang oppa seni çok seviyoruzzzzz lütfen türkiye ye gelllllllllllllllllllll!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  36. 36 Renata

    Just out of curiosity, where did you watch the special? I can’t find it. And I need it in English subtitles, too… Unless you can understand Korean…

  37. 37 A-M


    Me too! I’d love to see this to get a bit of happy fizz after the poignant ending… It was great but I totally was in the mood for something else. :/

  38. 38 Sajen

    hosted by Tae Yeon (the Girls Generation member who sang the “If” song on the OST and who frankly comes off a bit like a happy idiot

    if you’re going to be an idiot happy is the way to go

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