Drama Recaps
Strongest Chil Woo: Episodes 1 & 2
by | June 18, 2008 | 41 Comments

As I briefly mentioned, when I saw the premiere of Strongest Chil Woo, I thought it was pretty bad. Not mediocre or a little uneven, but god-awful. Episode 1 was a mess of bad direction, bad pacing, weird transitions, sloppy storytelling, and laughably similar plotlines to some recent other dramas. (The first twenty minutes, wherein we establish the Requisite Childhood Trauma, is like a Frankenstein-ing of the beginning and end of Hong Gil Dong and Iljimae. Thankfully, those comparisons die pretty early on.)

There are two upsides, however, the first being that Episode 2 is much better. It’s still not good, but it’s more sure of its tone. (Episode 1 is unintentionally funny; at least the humor in Episode 2 is intentional.) But the second is the more important point: that Chil Woo may be bad — but it’s awesomely bad.

Competitor Gourmet is the better show, for sure, but I found Chil Woo more fun. Caveats, though, for enjoying Chil Woo: you’ll have to be able to forgo your need for historical authenticity; be willing to allow that a drama’s entertainment factor is as valuable as its artistic and literary merit; let your expectations go; and enjoy laughing at the ridiculous.

Plus, Chil Woo is almost-sorta-interestingly-possibly feminist. And that’s kinda awesome.


Napoleon Dynamite – “웃어” (Laugh). This song is unabashedly cheerful, and I particularly love how it starts out, “Go on and laugh, ha ha ha” (followed with, “Go on and cry, sob sob sob,” LOL). I find myself needing to chime in “Ha ha ha” every time the lyric comes up. [ Download ]

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“It is said that rather than being a person in turbulent times, it is better being born a dog in peaceful times. However… There are some who are born as dogs in turbulent times. This is their story.”
—Choi Chil Woo

(How pseudo-profound.)


This is CHOI CHIL WOO (Eric), living circa 1630, a lower-tier government official working in the department where accused criminals are interrogated. He’s not particularly good or bad at his job, just an average Joe.

He’s got a rascally charm masking his more earnest desires, which have been long-buried due to a turbulent early life. Speaking of which, let’s see how it started:

In his childhood, Chil Woo was upper-class until his father (cameo by Oh Man Seok) attempted to upset the social order by agitating for reform. He created a village where all were proclaimed equal — no master versus servant, “illegitimate” versus legitimate. To punctuate that point, he offers refuge for his former servant and his son HEUK SAN (adult version to be played by Yoo Ah In) and calls him his peer.

Alas, his father is considered a menace to society, and the king orders the destruction of their idyllic slice of Utopia. His father survives the initial attack and hides the children (Chil Woo, younger sis WOO YOUNG, and Heuk San) before facing the king’s officers. Heuk San notices with shock that the man’s betrayer is his own father — but Chil Woo and Woo Young are too traumatized at seeing their father mortally wounded to notice.

Chil Woo’s father tells him to take care of his sister — and that he must survive and change the world. And dies.

Now Chil Woo’s an adult, living a nondescript life. His adoptive father is a fellow officer; granny and Mom are on the right. His sister Woo Young has been adopted into another family, and her father is a newly appointed civil servant — something of an anomaly given his age. Chil Woo’s relationship with Woo Young is a little strained: she’s inherited their father’s idealism and accuses her brother for going a different way. What she doesn’t see — and what we only begin to see — is that Chil Woo has felt the burden of keeping his father’s first promise (to survive, and raise Woo Young) so keenly that he’s lost faith in the possibility of the second (to change the world). His early trauma has made him a cynic; he repeatedly tosses out the words of his father’s betrayer, “The world doesn’t change, people change.”

I suspect Chil Woo’s laid-back, laissez-faire attitude isn’t laziness (as those around him may presume) but rooted in self-preservation. It’s not that he’s incapable of greatness, but that his method of survival entails blending in to the background, unexceptional and unnoticed.

And then for his love life. He pines after SO YOON (Gu Hye Sun), his first love from childhood. Eight years ago, she was to be sent to China as a sort of offering to the emperor. (This is a recurring topic in the first two episodes, and I’m not familiar with the practice so correct me if I’m wrong. Apparently women were dragged off — married, single, didn’t matter — and forced to be concubines. Some would return home, but having been “shamed” with their loss of “honor,” they were shunned. The Joseon king attempted to remedy this by issuing a decree that bathing in the river would restore their honor, but societal norms were so deeply ingrained that the people didn’t accept it.)

So Yoon had gone to Chil Woo and begged him to run away with her. But while he waited for her, she never came. Now she’s a disgraced woman AND a slave to the state, performing servants’ tasks at the palace while Chil Woo stares at her longingly all day.

He tries to convince himself that he’s over her, while So Yoon seems resigned to her fate. She doesn’t explain herself or try to win Chil Woo’s favor back, but instead actively encourages his disdain — obviously she’s harboring some really, really good reason for betraying him, or at least she had better be. Still, it’s clear they’re both totally in love with each other. Chil Woo + So Yoon 4eva!



Once our premise is in place, we commence with our story. (The setup is laid out super-quickly, I might add. It’s like this drama has no pretensions of seriousness, and therefore zips through to bring us to Eric asap. It’s hard to connect with anything when it’s told so quickly and perfunctorily.)

Woo Young’s adoptive father falls into debt because of his new government post. Well, not the job itself but the initiation cruelties that come attached therewith (hazing! Not just for drunken frat boys). He is much older than the others, who are led by a particularly nasty Heo Won Do. Everyone wonders why the respected nobleman would put up with this, but he merely explains that he has his reasons. He seems like a good, decent man whose attachment to his idealistic beliefs causes his demise — not unlike Chil Woo’s biological father. With two such paternal authorities in her life, it’s no wonder Woo Young thinks Chil Woo has sold out for being realistic.

Chil Woo tries to think of ways to earn money to help Woo Young’s father, but before he can, the man’s body is found in the river and ruled a drunk drowning.

Woo Young (special appearance by Park Bo Young) finds a buried box at home and brings it to Chil Woo — inside are papers, written in complicated characters that neither can read. Woo Young is positive that her father took his position because of the documents — and was murdered because of it. Chil Woo promises to check it out, and Woo Young shows the first sign of approval in her brother.

But when Chil Woo takes the documents to a friend for deciphering, the friend freaks out. He barely stammers out that the documents confirm that the prince, the eldest son of the king, was murdered.

Chil Woo realizes how dangerous this information is, and worries over what to do. When Woo Young issues a grievance against Heo (the head hazer), she cites the papers as motive for murder, which Chil Woo hands over — but they’re dummy documents.

Accused of issuing false allegations, Woo Young is punished, and while Chil Woo is wrought with guilt, he believes it was the safe decision. Woo Young feels this as a betrayal and rails against her brother.

Chil Woo says that the documents have nothing to do with them. They have no obligation to die for the truth. She invokes their father, who would have done the right thing, but Chil Woo says their father was naive for thinking he could make a difference when he was just a political pawn: “Do the right thing? That’s nothing! The world doesn’t change, and even if it did, our lives wouldn’t!” The “right thing” for them is to survive.

Woo Young’s anger fizzles, and she thanks him for protecting her all her life. Chil Woo senses something ominous in her words, realizing she’s probably going to commit suicide.

Chil Woo grabs his sister and tries to formulate a plan, while So Yoon witnesses Chil Woo’s panic with compassion. But So Yoon loses Woo Young (worst babysitter ever), spurring a mad chase to find her.

Unfortunately, he’s too late. Heo finds her first, demanding the documents. Trembling in fear, Woo Young says nothing, and she’s dealt a mortal blow as he slashes her with his sword.

Chil Woo finds Woo Young in her last moments, desperate to save her. She knows she’s fading fast, and thanks him for everything.

Woo Young: “I’m sorry. I’m sorry for being so disagreeable. And I’m sorry… for dying.”

(FYI, this was the only scene in Episode 1 that I think worked, and not because of particularly good plotting or acting — rather, this is the first scene that feels like we earned the emotional response.)

Filled with wrath, Chil Woo is spurred into action.

He storms into Heo’s home (who’s about to assault a servant, just in case you weren’t sure he was evil) and kills the man to avenge his sister. And just then, he hears a sound behind the screen and pulls a Hamlet, stabbing at the hidden figure.

The assassin was lying in wait to kill Heo, and now both are confused as to the other’s presence. Chil Woo makes his getaway, and what ensues is a truly hilarious, absurd chase-fight-action sequence on horseback as White-Veiled Assassin chases Chil Woo.

After a short confrontation, Chil Woo dashes off on horseback and comes upon a household that leads us into our Episode 2 Plot.

Nutshell: Grandpa finds out his daughter-in-law is pregnant, calls her a depraved slutbag, and has her murdered. The woman’s young son witnesses his mother being strung up in a tree and hanged.

Chil Woo buries his sister by his father’s gravesite, overcome with emotion, asking, “What about me? How am I supposed to live now?”

So Yoon watches with tears in her eyes, remembering their halcyon childhood days. Chil Woo stares back with tears in his eyes. C’mon you two, just get it over with already.

Chil Woo and his officer pals receive their assignments for the day, which includes the case of the murdered Heo. Only, they’ve already found the culprit — the man’s wife turned herself in.

When it’s his turn for guard duty, Chil Woo tells the woman she’s free to go because he knows she didn’t kill the man. She’s skeptical, and he assures her he knows she’s innocent because he knows the real killer. The wife asks, surprised, “You know my son?” (She turned herself in thinking her son was guilty.) Just then, the prison is besieged by intruders.

Chil Woo and the woman come face to face with the bandits, led by her son, there to break her out of prison. Both mother and son watch bewilderedly as Chil Woo puts on a show for the benefit of the other officers.

It’s actually hysterical. He grabs the spear and fakes a struggle, while the son’s all, “Dude, that guy is CRAZY.”

They escape to safety, and the mother asks Chil Woo to convey her gratitude to the real killer for freeing them from Evil Heo. She gives her hairpin as a token of her thanks.

Chil Woo must cover his tracks, so he hobbles back to his division as his colleagues are all being punished for letting the criminals escape. Chil Woo fakes indignation, saying he did his best, but his officer buddies didn’t come through for him.

He’s dismissed for the day — and as he walks away, he pulls a Keyser Soze and straightens, ditching his props to reveal that he’s uninjured. I know this is such a ripoff of The Usual Suspects, but that’s why it’s so ridiculously funny. It’s like the producers know this isn’t an original show, so why bother trying to insist it is? Instead, they’re embracing the outlandishness, and that’s why I find it so damn funny.

Anyway. Chil Woo is again stalked by White Veiled Assassin, who is intrigued by Chil Woo’s fighting prowess and curious as to his identity. (I’m betting he wants to recruit him.)

Once again, they meet, and once again, they clash. This time it’s Crouching Tiger as they leap into the treetops — just as Chil Woo’s father wanders to the wishing pond below with the now-motherless little boy.

The little boy is morose, and although he’s probably too young to understand the finer points of vengeance and justice, he knows the situation with his momma’s not right and that something must be done to fix it. Chil Woo’s father tells the impressionable boy that if he makes a wish, the wishing god will grant it.

Just then, White Veiled Assassin ditches Chil Woo, who tries to chase him — and falls into the pool. Instant wishing well god!

(Seriously? It’s so silly, but again, stupidly hysterical.)

The boy assumes he’s the wish-granter, and unloads his complaint about his mother’s death. Chil Woo asks questions to glean details about the situation: The little boy is scared of his grandfather and recalls his mother’s hanging. His grandfather seemed to really like his mother, so he doesn’t understand why he would let her be killed.

But since the story is told in typical little-child fashion and comes out in a jumbled mess, Chil Woo dismisses it as fiction. Until he overhears the grandfather at a festival (celebrating a woman’s “virtue”) being consoled for his lovely daughter-in-law’s recent passing. Grandpa receives a tax exemption from the king because money makes grief go away. Chil Woo puts the details together, realizes the boy’s in danger, and takes off to save the day.

Chil Woo arrives just in time to save the boy from being strangled. He puts the final puzzle piece together, asking, “When you said your grandfather treated your mother very well, did you mean…?” And we see that yes, he did mean, because Grandpa raped the mother, then killed her upon learning she was pregnant.

He comforts the boy, but it’s almost like Chil Woo, shaking in anger at the injustice, needs the comforting just as much, as he comes to a Very Important Decision.

And this is how the legend is born, because Chil Woo decides that he will be average lowly officer Chil Woo by day, and midnight masked avenger by night. He shakes out his Jesus hair, dons an all-black outfit from the Zorro costume vault, and rides off on his trusty steed in the moonlight, brandishing a whip.

Seriously, it’s like every time you think they’ve gone and out-gayed themselves, they gay it up a little more. Actually, that’s probably unfair — all my gays have a ton more style sense than Chil Woo.

Zorro Chil Woo exacts some revenge and strings up the grandpa with his whip (I don’t think he kills him, just leaves him there).


The next day, Chil Woo trains with his father in the palace courtyard, until one man’s face catches his eye. He looks at him (a scholar, I believe), recognizing his White-Veiled foe, just as Mr. White Veil returns the look and comes to the same conclusion.


ACTING: It isn’t terrible — or at least, any more terrible than others of its kind. Que Sera Sera had changed my mind about Eric merely being a pretty face with mediocre skills, because he had some really great intense moments in that drama. I’d originally worried that he wouldn’t look the part of a historical hero, but I needn’t have worried; instead, I should have worried that he wouldn’t sound the part. As a sageuk (fusion or no), Eric seems starkly out of place — he speaks with a contemporary cadence while everyone else affects that familiar historical gravitas, but Eric barrels along at a modern clip like he’s in the trendiest of trendy dramas. To give you an idea of what I mean, it’s like everyone else is doing King Lear and he’s doing Our Town. This bothered me in Episode 1, but once Episode 2 rolled around and the intentionally farcical tone of the drama came out, I thought it was oddly apropos, since the entire drama is a big ol’ joke.

DIRECTING: To be fair, there are a few cringingly bad actor moments, but I blame those on director Park Man Young (also of Vineyard Man). I was thinking in one such painfully acted scene that the actual performance wasn’t so bad, if only the scene were edited differently. Which means that the director bears the brunt of the blame for putting together the pieces poorly. Thinking in terms of food, it’s like having perfectly adequate ingredients (though nothing luxurious) and misusing them all — bad combinations, unskilled seasoning — to come out with a botched soup. It’s the cook’s fault more than the ingredients’.

(I will say that the music director needs to be fired. Again, it’s not the music selections themselves that are bad — it’s that they’re used so willy-nilly, in odd arrangements at wrong moments.)

ORIGINALITY: As for the Hong Gil Dong and Iljimae comparisons… The first twenty minutes were a bad hodgepodge of things we’d seen before. But I was pleasantly surprised to see the story diverge from those models right away. While those other two focus on inherently good guys who become Robin Hood, Chil Woo deliberately wants to be unspecial, and then transforms into an avenger. At first glance the distinction may seem minor, but it’s actually really huge. Gil Dong and Iljimae stole from the corrupt to help the poor in general, over-arching terms. Gil Dong’s battle had no end, but he’d fight for a faceless crowd of people who represented his dream of equality.

Chil Woo wants equality too, but his modus operandi is completely different — he’s fighting for specific people. And I find the conflict interesting, because he’s a vigilante, which always comes with a host of moral gray areas. Once Gil Dong decided to become Robin Hood, his conflict was all external — fight the government, fight oppression, fight injustice. But Chil Woo’s conflict has the potential to be just as internal as it is external — vengeance always invites opportunity to destroy the avenger just as much as the villain; he has to be careful not to let his anger overwhelm him.

FEMINISM? Okay, I don’t know that the series is necessarily a feminist show. But I did appreciate the digs in the first two episodes at the hypocrisy in judging women by their supposed sexual virtue when it’s the men who are robbing them of it. The mother was raped, then killed — what an immoral slut! Women are routinely abducted to act as sexual objects, then stamped with disgrace by the men who perpetrated their shame. How dare they think they’re fit for decent company after surviving our inhuman atrocities!

The show didn’t take out the horn and trumpet, “This is my message today! Abusing women is bad!” But it let its story speak its opinion, and I liked that. Chil Woo doesn’t seem like someone who’s overtly progressive or feminist, but he knows what’s right, and he feels damn strongly about the mistreatment of women, thanks to his sister, his childhood sweetheart, and now this stranger whose life he stumbled into avenging. So he’s the best kind of feminist — the kind who doesn’t care about what the word implies or the politics involved but just believes in human dignity.

Sorry, was that too deep for this show? Apologies. I’ll make sure my next string of comments are all fart jokes.


41 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. diane

    lmao. marvelous …i was not planning on watching this, but i just might kick it back and have some laughs ;). “I will say that the music director needs to be fired” hahaha… I sure laughed alot reading the summary, im just afraid some fans out there might be a little hurt lol
    Thanks for the wonderful summary!!

  2. Pickles

    Hahah! That was really funny! I loved how you made comparisons with King Lear and Our Town! Love your writing! 🙂

  3. soo

    I think I’ll enjoy this more than Iljimae. I need some entertainment after all. Thanks for the summary. Hope you can continue with this drama

  4. JiHwan

    *claps* Thank you Dramabeans. I’ve been refreshing the page all day waiting for this. Your reviews never fail to amuse me. What I find really interesting about Strongest Chil Woo is the relationship between Eric and Go Hye Sun. I’m eager to find out why she betrayed Chil Woo. I do hope you chose to continue this drama. Hopefully it will get better as the drama progresses.

  5. eevee

    just when i was about to BEG you for some drama summaries, i come to ur site and VOLAAAAAAAA u made one.

    i love u dramabeans and all, but i gotta tell u, i dont agree with u at all about chil woo. I LOVED the first 2 episodes. and i even watched it without the subs.

    just to be fair, i even watched gourmet before this came out. and i watched iljimae when THAT came out.

    i was actually so much more excited about gourmet cuz of kim rae won and nam sang mi.
    before i didnt care much for strongest chil woo except to see how eric’s acting have changed, since i already watched iljimae and im sorry to all the fans out there, but dude, iljimae is so SLOWWWWWWWWWW. i cant get into it. junki’s acting is pretty overrated. the other girl is kinda flat. and the plot is just boring. (i blame it on hong gil dong. :p )

    so i really thought chil woo would suck (sorry) as well, but it made me laugh, cry, and wanting for more

    im impressed with everyone’s acting. especially those child actors. u have to admit that those little dudes act so much better than hong gil dong’s and iljimae’s little kids. i ACTUALLY could FEEL for their sadness. and i understood why chil woo is the way he is. the other 2 dramas, i just felt sad for those kids that their lives are so pathetically tragic.

    and may i say that eric’s little sister actress can definitely act. she was sooooo great even if its only for one episode.

    and eric has improved too. no doubt about that

    i hope u give it a chance. i get the feeling that u rushed a little in this summary. i know u probably dont want to waste ur time with this drama, but u usually go into more depth and ur so much more funnier. altho this summary is hilarious too.

    i love the hamlet part. hahah, never thought of it….

    all im saying is that, PEOPLE give this drama a chance. it changed my mind when i watched it. so maybe it can change urs. 😛

    thanks again dramabeans

  6. eevee

    sorry for blabbing too much. this is the most i’ve written. 😛

  7. javabeans

    practically 4,000 words and it seemed rushed and not in-depth? Whew, tough crowd.

  8. gailT

    ah, an awesomely bad show. i’ll be sure to tune in to your recaps. thank you for the LOL comments.

  9. mzpakipot

    “Seriously, it’s like every time you think they’ve gone and out-gayed themselves, they gay it up a little more. Actually, that’s probably unfair — all my gays have a ton more style sense than Chil Woo.” I think this line will change my mind about ChilWo. I will give it a try to watch it.

    *clap*clap* bravo dramabeans.!! really love your writing. You should write a novel.

  10. 10 aufff

    whomg, hilarious and wonderful review i say.
    this makes me want to watch the first two episodes of chil woo just to see what’s so hilarious bout it.. haha

  11. 11 aya

    Well,.. it does seems like a very short/simple summary compared to the other summaries.. but might be becoz 2 episode in one.. anyway, knowing the plot of story is already good for me.. i want to watch the drama myself for the laugh.. 🙂
    thanks a lot javabeans.. as always i love how you express you personal view on it

  12. 12 Dahee Fanel

    Haha, I was nodding my head off, reading your comments…Only, for me, this show wasn’t entertaining at all. I was actually bored stiff watching episode one, and was thisclose to giving up halfway. I did manage to finish it, though (probably because of Goo Hye Sun and Park Bo Young), and…I sort of hate it.

    Still, I’m glad you’re finding it hilarious (because it IS unintentionally hilarious), because that means we’ll probably be getting more summaries from you. 😀 Am I right, or am I right?

  13. 13 jinkzz

    thanks for the recap javabeans…looking forward to future episodes’ recap.

  14. 14 ladychick

    I actually was waiting to see Chil Woo…..as I like fushion drama….BUT I guess I wont be bother then…..

  15. 15 Orangehaji

    Maybe because i’m not korean that i enjoyed d first 2 eps…it seems like a new concept in kdrama.(d messup, i mean).maybe the the unintentional hilarity actually intentional..hahahah..i do noticed that Chilwoo conversed differently from others..nya~i’m just a shallow audience..thanks verymuch 4 d caps, now i know for what reason i laugh n cried yesterday…

  16. 16 whaleatape

    Now I actually want to watch this ^O^
    Maybe I’ve missed it but there’re no subs right?

  17. 17 Hana

    I sort of stumbled on your page so this is the first of your reviews I’ve read but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It cracked me up. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. I totally enjoyed Chil Woo because it doesn’t seem to take itself so seriously. And I don’t think people should compare this drama to the traditional sangeuk dramas because I don’t think it has ever aspired to BE anything but a tongue in cheek, entertaining romp through history.:)

    I am biased of course, being an Eric fan, but I think he really stretched his acting muscles in the forst 2 episodes alone… not being Korean, I really can’t tell a modern accent from a historical one, but I kind of find that Eric’s accent fits the drama…I’d actually find it weird if he attempted to be all serious and sober.

    Compared to Iljimae, which up to now I still cannot appreciate, I think Chil Woo is a lot more entertaining and the acting from the whole cast is way better. I judge based on that fact that I could feel Chil Woo’s emotion and the show was fast paced enough that I didn’t get bored. Iljimae is at Ep 8 and it’s still going nowhere…

    Eric vs Lee Junki? Eric is a more natural, understated sort of actor. His eyes speak volumes and that smirk just cracks me up. Lee Junki on the other hand is over the top. I find Iljimae so exaggerated that it makes me cringe.

    Totally agree that Chil Woo is hilarious, whether intentionally or unintentionally. The Zorro look is ridiculous and that scene with Zorro chil woo illuminated by the moon made me howl with laughter…it was that cheesy.

    I don’t think Chil Woo is a bad drama at all! It’s lighthearted fluff that will keep you entertained week after week, no matter how old you are. At least I now have something to look forward to each week coz I know I’ll be guaranteed a side splitting, good time.

    I do hope you keep the reviews coming and that you keep watching… looking forward to your next review! Sorry for my long post…

  18. 18 JJ

    i’m sorry to say, but eric does not look good at all in the promotional pictures! he doesn’t gey any better either from what i’ve seen!

  19. 19 ginnie

    Hmm.. I read about women being presented to Emperors as diplomatic gifts but never knew they could be returned afterwards. When I was younger, I heard of a story about a beautiful princess from a South East Asian country..how she was separated from her own richness and given away to a foreign Emperor. Her story was sad but at the same time, the story hinted that she served a very good purpose because the diplomatic ties between the two countries was improved.

    But….to be returned afterwards, feels like a rejected gift.
    That’s awful.

    Sigh. Not sure what to do with this series. To watch or not to watch? Is it going to focus on one victims’s story per episode and we’ll wait for Zorro to save their lives? Hopefully they will have more interesting storylines.

  20. 20 giddygirl108

    Zorro + Jesus Hair + Whip + Horse = Chil Woo

    Hehe I got a crack out of the formula that you produced above 🙂 Where did that horse come from? That’s what I wanna know.

    I do hope you continue writing summaries for this series. I feel a bit guilty that I’ve read your complete summaries for a few dramas already but haven’t watched them. I’m working on Que Sera Sera right now and I really do like Eric in it. Not to say that I wasn’t already smitten with him through his dance clips uploaded on youtube.

  21. 21 Jo II

    Hey Java,

    Thanks for the summaries. This seems like a silly show that might help to pass my Summer time freedom. Woo!

    Also, is the wishing well boy in Ep.2, the ‘Tell Me’ dance boy from Star King? Or is my eyesight failing me? LOL.


  22. 22 soyboy

    Although I also enjoy your fart jokes, it was a pleasure reading your very poignant analysis (please don’t hesitate to continue). I totally agree with the director and background music not doing a good job. There were too many recurring scenes that had great acting but pitiful editing. I liked Eric from Shinhwa, but it’s my first time watching him in a drama…he’s good. I love his smirk and his chocolate bar abs (sexy). And I agree that this drama has feminist tones, especially at the end of the 2nd episode, which kind of surprised me.

    Thanks for the summary and commentary. You made my day!

  23. 23 X

    Ginnie, you’re probably thinking about 龢親 (heqin, peace marriage), which started with the Han and Xiongnu. Featured all over Asia for centuries. Was quite common as a diplomatic tool.

    Man… first 20 minutes, not bad at all, although Oh! Fortuna is a little too famous to screw it up like that with stupid editing (visuals were good at least). Then, well. As expected. Enjoyed the King & I alumni party, though. Still, in terms of script it’s the closest to a sageuk all three hero-themed ones got so far (not much competition anyway). Started well with the whole Injo-Crown Prince Sohyeon affair. Of course Eric acts like an actor in a trendy drama playing an actor starring in a sageuk, but then again not too far from expectations.

  24. 24 Miki

    I understand your review…There’s been many shows where it’s so horribly wrong that you can’t help but enjoy it! And Strongest Chil Woo doesn’t take itself too seriously, unlike SOME series where they suck and yet can’t understand that and try to be all philosophical.

  25. 25 Anonymous

    I’m in the mood for fun. i think i’ll watch it. Oh isn’t young chil woo the same guy who played the young prince in Hong gil dong?

  26. 26 epyc

    Dear Javabeans, I think your writing is way more hiliarious than the show. What a great piece of fart joke writing!

  27. 27 phiphi

    Your summary answer so many questions for me while watching it without sub.

    Ha, ha, not a Korean myself, I had no idea Eric sounds a bit of out place for a sageuk drama. Phew, it’s a relief to know that it oddly becomes appropriate in episode 2 where the comical tone of the drama is defined. I don’t think this one will be entirely a comedy sageuk but it sure has many funny scenes so far.

    You’re SO RIGHT about the music director. I love the music selections here but it’s true that the music placement and timing sometimes are out of whack. Hope he/she read your blog and correct it pronto.

    Thanks again and hope to read more of your summary on Chil Woo.

  28. 28 ginnie

    X, that’s it.
    That sure sounds romantic “Peace Marriage”….

  29. 29 chuppers

    I think what really got me was the terrible choice of Italian classic opera as the background for the destruction of utopia village. I was absolutely howling with laughter, that was such a WEIRD choice IMHO.

    Anyway, the show so far to me seems to be about whoring out Eric. I mean, check out the scene where he changes into Zorro. He goes to some random shed, flips some secret door/shelf that comes from god knows where, we see a headshot with bare shoulders and then a close up of his abs (WTH??!!??) and then he rides of into the moonlight with the requisite horse-rearing-on-a-cliff-silhouetted-by-moon-shot.

    What I really like though was that Greek chorus like commentary by Chil Woo’s adopted mother and grandmother during the virtuous women ceremony. “Killing myself because I can’t live without my husband! Virtuous woman! How revolting!”

    I think I’ll keep with this. At least unlike Iljimae and that ham Lee Junki, this is far more enjoyable

  30. 30 ivanovie

    Wow..thank’s for your review..i’ve always found your review very interesting!..in fact i’ve been curious of how you would see Chil Woo before it aired..well, i think i’m looking for some fun..really don’t mind if there are some lacks here and there as long as i’m enjoying..hopefully the subbing team would work on it fast..or else praying for the kbs world would put hard sub on it ^^ oh, from the pics i can tell Eric has done his job quite well, i can feel his sad expression..the eyes speak for themselves…

  31. 31 Baby

  32. 32 Baby

    Oh my, I’m in love with ChilWoo..and the story itself is amazing…i love the tragedy and comedy both. One of d drawbacks tho (besides d directing) is Eric is too beautiful.>_.But this is an idol drama, isnt it?–> actually, are there such term in kdrama?? Thanks alot 4 d caps Sar, witty as always..

  33. 33 aufff

    I just finished the first two episodes and i must say, i quite enjoy it, with the little hilarious antics they inject into the show.. haha.
    Frankly speaking, , i found this a lot easier to sit through and enjoy as compared to iljimae. I’ll probably be following this series, i kinda dropped ijimae cause i found the beginning really boring.. Haha.

  34. 34 Di

    lol Javabeans, I love you, I really do.
    This show is actually pretty funny the way you present it. Makes me almost want to watch it.
    And that boy whose mother was killed is just so UBER CUTE. If he weren’t just a fictional character or if I were character in the drama I would so adopt him. XD Aww look at his pudgy lil cheeks. ;.;

  35. 35 whalau

    Thanks for your summary/review. Always interesting and amusing. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  36. 36 greenteacrepes

    song link
    Napolean Dynamite – laugh

  37. 37 muhnoi

    thank you

  38. 38 theebby01

    Is the sister Sandara PArk?
    Who is she?

  39. 39 moonrisemun

    it’s the first time i’m watching a historical drama and it’s only because i can’t wait for eric’s future projects. i did notice that eric was kind of out of place. nevertheless, i’m enjoying this drama very much, probably because of my bias and the fact that i don’t know what to expect from this kind of drama. anyway, i enjoyed reading your recaps, helps me understand the plot. thanks! 🙂

  40. 40 Deeno

    Thank you for the recap. It was a nice refresher for all the points I missed. I probably shouldn’t start dramas at 1am. Your recap is hilarious and the first two episodes of this drama are so ridiculously silly that it makes me smile. I haven’t had this much fun with a drama in a long time and your recap made it much better. I hope the silly tone can continue.

  41. 41 kaede

    “…all my gays have a ton more style sense than Chil Woo.”

    That will be Goo Yong Ha, then. <3

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