Drama Reactions & Reviews
Iljimae: A review
by | September 15, 2008 | 86 Comments

[I’m happy to feature another review from guest blogger and kdrama watcher extraordinare, Dahee Fanel! Hope you enjoy as well. –javabeans]

Have you ever felt the urge to throw something at your T.V. screen? Something heavy, but that can still fit fairly comfortably in your hand? Something like, oh, say…A brick?

I have. Numerous times. In fact, I felt that urge just the other day, as I was watching Beethoven Virus (on my laptop though, as I unfortunately do not currently own a T.V.). Luckily, I stopped watching after about fifteen minutes, so that desire didn’t manage to overwhelm me, not quite. I really do like my laptop, after all, and I’d prefer if it didn’t get overly damaged.

But with some dramas, I manage to get hoodwinked long enough to sit through them until the bitter, bitter end. That metaphorical brick is always in my hand, mind you, scratching at my palm, but I’ve been blinded by something – an actor’s admirably well-developed abs, per se, or some lovely cinematography – and it’s that something that keeps my eyes focused. Well, focused enough, anyway.

Iljimae was a lot of things to a lot of different people. But to me, it was one of those dramas that conned me into watching it, and thus caused me an awful lot of (stomach) pain. Oh, and incidentally? I’m ready to throw that brick now.

SONG OF THE DAY

Iljimae OST – “hwa shin” by Park Hyo-shin [ Download ]

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Iljimae was one of this year’s three big “fusion sageuk” (it’ll be four once MBC’s version of Iljimae starring Jung Il Woo begins its run). There was KBS’s Hong Gil Dong before it, and a little later, KBS’s insanely insane (and strangely, inexplicably, very watchable) Strongest Chil Woo came along as well. Iljimae was SBS’s shot at the trend, and while it turned out to be something that I would actually start watching (miracle!), there were so many problems with it, it was almost as mind-boggling to see as the fake horses in Strongest Chil Woo.

First of all, let’s get this out into the open: I do not like this recent trend of “hero” fusion sageuk. Maybe if I hadn’t seen the 2007-2008 sageuk The King and I (which starred Oh Man Seok and Goo Hye Sun), I wouldn’t have minded as much. But as it is, for me personally, this was a bad time for them to come along. Because I’ve suddenly become a sageuk fan, and I do not enjoy seeing the genre being bastardized like this. I mean, what’s the point in portraying a past if you’re not going to say anything about it? Why not just move the time period to modern Seoul, for Pete’s sake, if you’re going to have the characters refrain from speaking in proper Joseon-era speech? What the hell makes a drama deserving of even distantly referring to the term “sageuk” if it doesn’t even resemble sageuk’s left butt cheek? If you’re trying to do new things with the genre (like the heartbreaking Damo did back in 2003), fine. I don’t mind that. But how can people like the Hong sisters, who obviously don’t know the first thing about sageuk, even attempt to do new things with it? It’s like watching Britney Spears trying to sing a traditional pansori song. It just doesn’t work.

Still, I gave Iljimae a chance (or several). Mostly, I admit, because I really like some of the cast – Lee Jun Ki for one, and the ever-wonderful Lee Moon Shik for another. Yes, this was another case of fangirliness gone horribly wrong. I admit it: I’m warm for Junki’s form. Not only is he a pretty good actor, especially for his age (and he’s improving!), but he also possesses some rather delectable facial features that, I admit, I have swooned over in the past. Which may or may not have been all that long ago.

 

 

And really, the acting in Iljimae wasn’t bad at all. In fact, it was rather on the good side. It had some great veterans who predictably pulled off lovely performances, such as the heart and soul of this show, Lee Moon Shik, or the tasty villain Kim Chang Wan, or scene-stealers Kim Sung Ryung, Lee Won Jong and my favourite gruffy bear-man, Ahn Gil Gang. Lee Young Ah continues to show her great potential as an actress (she certainly won over my approval), while Lee Jun Ki continued in the dual-personality character vein that he’d started with last year’s super-addictive The Time Between Dog and Wolf. And he puts in a good performance, managing to pull off the dual nature of his character pretty successfully, despite the mess that the script made of it. And when the time came for some tortured-soul, emotional bawling, he certainly hit the nail on the head.

As for Park Shi Hoo and Han Hyo Joo… Well. Let’s just say that the closest Park Shi Hoo ever got to dazzling me was whenever he took off his shirt. (Mmm…Bumpy.) Otherwise…All he ever did was look around with those gloomy eyes of his, and angst, angst, angst. Scene with Eun-chae? Angst. Scene with mother? Angst. Scene with him sitting alone? Angst. And whenever he had to change tack a little, and encountered some important moments that required more difficult acting, he was so awkward, it was laughable. I certainly laughed. Really, really hard.

 

 

Han Hyo Joo was a wee bit better, if you can even say that. She certainly had a moment or two that hinted at something a little more fiery hiding deep within, and I liked the way her character, Eun-chae, was portrayed as being something of a social activist. Still, when she was awkward, she was awkward like “Whoa there, is that stick of wood actually talking?”. It brought back (bad) memories of watching Joo Ji Hoon creaking around the set of Goong.

But the really smelly part of Iljimae was not the acting of some of its stars. No, the real stinker was the script. That crazy, doesn’t-know-where-the-hell-it’s-going, just-shoot-me-in-the-head-instead script. When I heard that this was writer Choi Ran’s first drama, I still felt pretty optimistic. I was willing to give her a chance. If you have no idea of the outcome, you might as well bet that the glass is half full, right? But unfortunately, there are times when the glass really is half empty, no matter what the optimists say. It’s enough to make a girl despair over the state of the world today. Or, y’know, of just the K-drama world in particular.

A loosely scattered plot with episodic events that did nothing but drag out airtime and pile on one misery upon the characters after another; cliche upon cliche, complete with generic family secrets and “No, it’s creepy, not romantic!” first love stories; unnecessary complications that were never fully resolved, and that never added anything to the show anyway; completely random leaps in logic and time; themes and ideas which were clearly there, but never formed or developed properly; a frantic and incredibly rushed finale, with one of the biggest K-drama ending cop-outs I’ve ever seen. Do I need to continue? As soon as I finished the twentieth and final episode, there was one thought really standing out in my brain: “I hope Choi Ran never writes another drama ever again.”

All this is a shame, really, because, as previously mentioned, this show had some pretty good acting (better than it deserved, really), and its production values were good, too. The PD manages to pull off some rather incredible visuals, such as that early scene on the icy lake, and there’s a rather unique and interesting atmosphere that pervades this show. It’s romantic, and a bit like a fairy tale, which went a long way in persuading me to forgive many of this show’s unrealistic elements. It’s not meant to be a realistic show, and the audience is clearly watching an entirely different world altogether, one which does not belong to ours. The PD helped show all that, and thus was able to camouflage some of the writer’s flaws, at least for the first couple of episodes. Too bad he couldn’t camouflage them for long.

 

 

This drama’s good points can be pretty much summed up in a short list:

1) The acting. For the most part. If you’re going to watch this for anyone, watch it for Lee Moon Shik.
2) The directing/production.
3) Some of the relationships between characters are really quite touching and believable – mostly, I suspect, due to the acting. Of course, these relationships inevitably get butchered by the script, but still…
4) It was pretty fun to watch Lee Jun Ki sneaking around in all-black in the noblemen’s houses (you get used to the weirdo mask eventually. Besides, he used a normal piece of black cloth for a good portion of the show). You can steal my heart anyday, mistah.
5) Park Shi Hoo has some really, really nice pecs. Which he shows off at pretty much any and every opportunity. Hey, I’m not complaining!

Iljimae is, in short, a drama that played with my last vestiges of hope and left it lying in tatters on the ground. Every time I raised that brick in my hand, poised to throw it at last, it would suddenly switch to a decent, sometimes even good, scene. And the brick would fall slowly to my side again. Some dramas I watch without even thinking about bricks, so busy am I in blessing the stars for the quality I am viewing. Some dramas I can’t watch for even ten minutes before that brick is hurtling through the air. Iljimae, unfortunately, wound up being one of those rare dramas in between, the kind that chafe at me the most: The brick is always there, waiting. But it refuses to give me a solid enough target to aim for. It’s only after the drama has ended that I’m able to look back objectively, and wonder to myself: “What exactly was ze point?”

If I could go back in time and take back all the hours I wasted watching this drama, I would. Now all I have to do is wait for some kind soul to invent a time machine for me…

Rating: 5 stars (out of ten)

 

 

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86 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. heeesooop

    lol I agree,,, that Iljimae wasn’t perfect.
    The ending was also not evidently clear.
    But again, the acting and the quality was pretty tolerable….

  2. bia423

    You summed it up pretty good! It wasn’t totally bad. The only thing that really stood out for me was the acting. The one thing that really irked me is how everything in the end seem so unresolved. That was it?! I felt I was a little bit cheated.

  3. belleza

    Actually I thought Iljimae was great. Acting? Character development? Plausibility? Emotional connection? Meaningful Dialogue? Haha — Iljimae dares to laugh at all those things!! Laugh!!!

    Teh Sageuk Batman was all about “the mission of the week”, about boyhood delusions of playing Robin Hood and being the Ultimate Ninja, about outsmarting the Big Bad Villain (who moonlights as a Coffee Prince) and starting a village-size fanclub, about having really cool toys in your little treehouse of cloaks and daggers (FUN!!) and sneaking in silly girls who’ve dedicated a tree to you (MORE FUN!!!) It’s the drama equivalent of weekday afternoon cartoons, 40s black and white serials, and make-believe action toys . . . and by God Iljimae was GLORIOUS STUPID FUN.

    “and my favourite gruffy bear-man, Ahn Gil Gang.”

    A world class bastard in East of Eden, BTW.

    Overall I thought Illjimae had all-around so-so to poor acting, but in the sense that most of the actors didn’t have much to work with. I thought the best performance actually went to Kim Chang Wan; he’s the most counterintuitive choice to play a king, but he was delightfully grumpy, grimy, and just kinda yuck. It worked!

    Lee Moon Shik is good, but as an ad-libbing color man Lee Moon Shik does variations of this in all the shows. He’s reliably delightful. The only emotional pull the show has was between the sons and their parents, and LMS should be good in that.

    “The PD manages to pull off some rather incredible visuals, such as that early scene on the icy lake, and there’s a rather unique and interesting atmosphere that pervades this show. I”

    Actually I felt the most overrated part of Iljimae was the production and the visuals. Way too obvious too much of it was done in soundrooms and such, and the action sequences weren’t shot as crisply as they usually are in big bling sageuks. The visual direction wasn’t bad per se, not in the way Hong Gil Dong was (from a visual direction standpoint, HGD was badly, badly done.)

    Or put it another way, the Wuxia-style martial arts in episode 2 of Kingdom of the Winds (which is starting to bear clearly its manhwa influences) is better shot and choreographed then almost all the scenes in Ilijimae. Now KotW is a gorgeous show, which knows how to allude to elements of fantasy (and to know where to play up the ham) in order to entertain and underlie pathos with thoughtful, tragic grandeur.

  4. invisibelle

    Girlfriend, I do not blame you one bit for sticking through to the end. I still plan to watch this whole thing, even after this review, for the Jun Ki eye candy. I’ll probably skip over all the times when he’s getting beaten up, which I’ve heard are frequent. As long as his hair remains pretty good during the whole thing, I’ll be satisfied. ;)

  5. asianromance

    i had only watched the first 6 episodes of Iljimae and I sort of know what you meant. It was interesting and there were definitely scenes that stole my heart, but I was always aware that nothing really fit or clicked. Great as those six episodes were, there didn’t seem to be any character or plot development (and what about that supposed romance between iljimae and eun-chae?) and it was only a 20-episode series. After 6 episodes, I can name a bunch of random things that happened, but at the same time, I can also say that nothing really happened. I read summaries of the next few episodes and read the ending. I found that this is a drama that could have been incredible if the writer had only got someone to edit and restructure her work (and remind her to give park shi hoo and han hyo joo’s characters some personality) before submitting it.

    I might continue the drama one day because I did enjoy it- especially the parts with Bong-soon and her adopted father. and as for this “Let’s just say that the closest Park Shi Hoo ever got to dazzling me was whenever he took off his shirt.”<—- almost swooned when I saw his body. Totally watched that part like 20 times.

  6. all4movies

    I’m glad I’m not the only one that struggled through Iljimae. I kept hoping it would get better but it didn’t. The few highlights for me were Lee Jun Ki (whom I’m not really that fond of) and his sister, whom I wished had more screen time. Oh, and Park Shi Hoo’s pecs had my heart racing too.

    I hope B Virus doesn’t turn out as bad as your first impression though, as I’m still looking forward to watching it.

  7. belleza

    “i had only watched the first 6 episodes of Iljimae and I sort of know what you meant. ”

    Yeah, Iljimae doesn’t really hit stride until Episode 7 or 8. And that’s also when the ratings started to pick up.

  8. Amber

    Great review. I’ve been toying with the idea of watching Iljimae(mostly for Lee Jun Ki:), but had picked up a few of the flaws you mentioned so I’ve been wary. Thanks for resolving that. Intermediate dramas such as you describe are the worst. I call them the Drama Vortex of Evil – you hate, but you can’t stop watching, it sucks you in and won’t let you go until the horrible, bitter ending.

  9. Sere

    Ouch! Ah well, one more kdrama to write off my to-watch list. :) It was growing wayyy too quickly for me to catch up on all of them, so I guess dropping this altogather is not bad.

    @belleza. Are you watching East of Eden? How’s it? Cos I’m strangely attracted to it. It’s one of those dramas that I know shouldn’t be my thing, but for some unknown reason I feel strangely compelled to watch. I don’t even know if it’s because of the cast…whatever it is, it feels more like a guilty pleasure than anything. Know what I mean?

    ETA I actually haven’t started watching EoE yet, but uh, it’s right on top of my things to watch.

  10. 10 doris p

    I totally agree with your lists of 5 good points why one should watch this show, though I would place Jun Ki on the top of my list as my reason for watching this show and for watching it again for the nth time! Just love him in those ‘tortured-soul, emotional bawling’ scenes. Am not a big fan of him before but after watching him in Time Between Dog and Wolf with this ‘tortured-soul’ scenes he totally win me over. As you said he’s a great actor considering his age and on top of that a really yummy eye candy!. And I think that Iljimae for all it flaws still shouldn’t be missed by anyone who consider herself/himself a K-drama addict.

  11. 11 pully

    Well said,

    Strangely how I went through Iljimae. Of course, the script sucks. It took me about 6 episodes to kinda get who related with who and how. And after that, nothing really happens included the wth endings. Anyways, I didn’t have anything to watch, I chose it, I won’t regret.

    Only a few comments
    – Lee Jun Ki is still bugging me with his overacting. But somehow I get used to it.
    – The first romance with Shi Hoo and Hyo Joo is …. I admit it IS creepy !

  12. 12 belleza

    @Sere,

    “Are you watching East of Eden? How’s it? Cos I’m strangely attracted to it. It’s one of those dramas that I know shouldn’t be my thing, but for some unknown reason I feel strangely compelled to watch.”

    Oh I’m totally loving East of Eden. All the misery and suffering is melodrama heaven for Belleza!! :D (Belleza will btw watch anything. If it’s Park Shi Hoo flexing his manboobs or Choi Ji Woo’s eyeballs flooding Eden, Belleza will watch!)

    The visual direction is kinda cheesy (personal thing with the director’s style, and I had similar issues with his Le Dolce Vita and Ireland), but I think he’s really good — maybe even among the best in Korean drama — at directing actors. He gets them to move out of “talking head” and he’s good at creating interpersonal tension through having his actors act out in space and such. What he does directing the prison gang in particular is really, really good stuff, and for the most part, he gets them to avoid mere macho posturing, which is often the case with young actors.

    I say all that, because the script itself is really rich with melodrama histrionics (and this makes it difficult for actors to relax in scenes as they know the big emotional scene is coming up.) For the most part, you can sense the director trying to create scene-to-scene plausibility.

    I love the backstory itself involving the coal mining town. If this were a serious daeha, the writers could do a knotty Allende or Marquez storyline where the coal mining town evolves from a beautiful valley unfettered by evil men into 40 years of madness, lust and blood money etc., and the eventual rise, fall, and disintegration of the coal mining town, as coal becomes obsolete. And I mean, the story already kinda flirts with that in evoking East of Eden to begin with, and alluding to that story’s “must I be my brother’s keeper” Cain and Abel dilemna.

    I don’t know. The most compelling thing about the East of Eden novel was the villain, who in Steinbeck’s sexist reduction, was an archetypal Lilith, the Queen Bitch. If they wrote Lee Dae Hae as such a “wicked” woman, East of Eden would be drama of the year candidate. They won’t though, and so I kinda resent that they namechecked the story as such.

    Bits of East of Eden makes me think of the recent Takuya Kimura drama “Karei naru Ichizoku”, which in that particular adaptation emphasizes the love/hate relationship between father and son and how it manifested between the steel and bank industries. And in that drama, a lot of the really powerful scenes was in the relationship between the “boss” (Kimura) and the hard working class; the writer carried a fundamental trust with the audience that they would find the details as emotionally moving as it was in the book. The “villain” of Karei is almost as mean and ruthless as Shin Tae Hwan, yet you could sense the largeness of his demons, the Darwinism of their industry, and that he struggled upon the shoulder of his own giants. He is a magnificent and tragic character. Shin Tae Hwan, on the other hand, is mere thug with hardly the time to introspect, and that hurts the themes in the story.

    East of Eden seems to betray a conflict between the director and the writer. The director is really most passionate in leveling back to the people of the town and their love-hate (and necessary) relationship between them and The Company, and he’s most accurate when portraying “education through pain” of one Lee Dong Chul. But the writer doesn’t actually believe their audience cares about any this, and so tries to distract the audience with chest-bumps to the sky and random bits of violence and pitiful women. There isn’t a lot of passion by the director in the actual fighting or the brutality, and he seems cloudy about how to transition those scenes. But he takes really strong glee in other tropes of the thriller genre: men on the run, illicit knifes and knife situations, the process of self-actualization within a typical, good revenge (i.e. become the monster that you despise) narrative. It’s cheesier but much, much grittier than Time of Dog and Wolf or Green Rose and its take on underworld and semi-legal gambling is better executed than All In.

    I’ve really taken to Kingdom of the Wind, partially because it’s so clean and assured in its approach. East of Eden seems the opposite of all that. It’s trashy and substantial, nervous to impress and yet has moments where it does asks the audience to patiently observe and accept. It rides on melodrama and gunplay, but its real melancholy comes from pervasive fear and loathing borne from class exploitation and hatred. And I really feed off that as a viewer.

    Really, the actor I’m more interested in is Park Hae Jin, whom I’ve totally marked as the next Hyun Bin. He’s barely in episode 6, but from the stuff they’ve shown, his character seems volatile.

    I have no idea if East of Eden is actually good. But I’m kinda addicted to the show. :D

  13. 13 Jo

    In sageuks, sometimes the actors cant really act either because of the script or because tradtitionally, in sageuks, actors dont really go all out. like…idk. But I watched a million sageuks before, and the acting style is very apparent after watching like at least five. (except Immortal Yi Soon Shin. THAT sageuk was amazing-I recommend you ditch these fusion whatever’s and really watch a great drama. )

  14. 14 jolee

    Poor writing and logic all around, but I admit I was pretty entertained. Its just one of those dramas that you don’t take really too seriously. While I do agree its not completely a sageuk, I kind of grew up with some (probably even worse) Chinese fusion dramas. I just love the sort of old atmosphere this entire drama had. Not to mention beautiful cinematography.

    All around I think the acting is generally very good. The supporting cast is absolutely excellent!! TONs of wonderful veterans that steal the show and warm your hearts! Lee Jun Ki was watchable, still a little over the top at times but definitely improving (and hey, I rather watch animation over woodeness anytime!) I have to say I was impressed by Lee Young Ah’s vibrant portrayal. I saw her in some variety shows and she was rather awkward in them so I guess she didn’t really leave much of an imprint. But, she’s definitely someone to look out for!

    While I love Han Hyo Joo, I absolutely CRINGED every time I saw her. She looked AND sounded sooooo awkward in a sageuk!!! (and a fusion at that!). Not to mention she made the most lovely looking wooden stick ever. In addition, she really didn’t have much chemistry with LJK making the creepy childhood lovestory even more unbelievable than usual.

    The ending was slapped together last minute as dramabeans noted. It was really poorly done and nonsensical at times, leaving tons hanging. I have to say though, I loved it more than Hong Gil Dong (sorry Kang Ji Hwan…but I still <3 you). The production value, cinematography, good OST, and wonderful supporting cast did it for me. The plot may be poor at times but the pacing was fast enough and overall it was enjoyable enough a ride (with the exception of wanting to kill someone for such a poor ending)

  15. 15 ripgal

    ^ I totally agree with what you said.

    The flaws in the script were pretty obvious, but I enjoyed it thoroughly (even more than Hong Gil Dong; and I’m not even a Lee Jun Ki Fan!).

    I think ppl kind of gave up after 6 to 7 episodes because it was rather slow in the beginning. I too, stopped at 7 because it got so repetitive and then re-continued after 2 months just because I didn’t have anything to watch. Maybe I was touched by Iljimae’s plight and I enjoyed how he transformed into the Hero gradually. I thought the visuals were not really OTT, and I loved how they showed explanations on how Iljimae managed to steal the stuff later on. (flashbacks)

    I might as well just get kicked, but I didn’t think the acting by the main cast was really THAT great. Lee Jun Ki’s amazing when playing serious scenes, but sometimes he goes so OTT when it comes to comical scenes that I cringe a lot. However, I think he excels in comparison to the remaining 3. Lee Young Ah also falters when she cries.. and Han Hyo Joo’s just boring…expressions-wise, I just yawn everytime I see her. But again, she’s a pretty easy character to portray, so I cut her some slack. Park Shi Hoo.. no comment. I can’t say he’s good, neither can I say he didn’t really perform.. Maybe I also didn’t connect to his character.

    All in all, I thought the storyline was slightly better than the acting? I know for sure.. that I actually kept watching for the story and not for the acting. I guess we all see things differently..hehehe…

  16. 16 Hana

    Thanks for the great review!

    I couldn’t get into Iljimae at first… took me a while to get used to the overacting at times. Think the show only kicked off for me when Iljimae finally made his appearance. ^0^ Have to say though…Iljimae had a cooler costume than Chil Woo…

    The ending was disappointing but it didn’t bother me too much…probably because I never did get into the whole show. I admit the only reason I watched Iljimae in the first place was because of Lee Jun Ki…and later PArk Shi Hoo (those pecs are really to die for…)… pure eye candy. It was a little hard to think of it as a sageuk really.

    I’m loving Kingdom of the Wind though… it’s a refreshing change from all the fusion stuff that’s going around… shades of Jumong…

    I’d love to read your review on Chil Woo too if you do one!^0^

  17. 17 belleza

    “pure eye candy. It was a little hard to think of it as a sageuk really.”

    Yeah, I don’t see it is as a saguek at all. At all. Even Hong Gil Dong, the 2nd half of it played it fairly straight, tracking down the usual downfall of flawed men. Whereas this version of Iljimae is Batman in Hanbok. Lee Jung Ki was The Dark Emo. Lee Young Ah’s character was the girl Robin. Han Hyo Joo was Rachel. His master was Alfred. Why so serious? ;)

    “I might as well just get kicked, but I didn’t think the acting by the main cast was really THAT great”

    I think part of the problem was none was allowed to play straight man. The only really give-and-take between the four went on between LJK and LYA, but the problem there was both actors were competing for attention in their scenes. I liked their scenes, but it wasn’t until LJK started playing straightman did LYA and LJK actually seem like a charming couple.

    Most Koreans dramas, no matter how generic or wacky, are based on chemistry-building, adjacent-to-plot scenes. Iljimae mostly skipped that; if a scene between LJK and HHJ didn’t figure into a plot point, they didn’t interact in that scene. If LJK didn’t have an meaningful confrontation between PHS, they didn’t interact in that scene. The most rapport LJK had was with his buddies and his dad. Why? Because they were directly part of his missions.

    The narrative itself is pure boy’s comic stuff, which isn’t often done in Korean dramas, let alone fusions. The Girl. The Revenge. The Train in the Mountains Apprenticeship. Everything is a object of his desire and a substantiation of his need to become The Hero (and therefore finally accepted by society.) And in that kind of narrative, the past itself is meaningless and even the key deaths pretty much don’t stay with the character. Avenging his parents? That’s just to give him a bunch of missions. The revenge is just an excuse for the Hanbok Batman to do his thing.

  18. 18 JiHwan

    Iljimae was not my cup of tea and no matter how hard I tried I didn’t find myself liking it. I agree with you. The flaw lies in the script (I see alot of potential in Iljimae and its a shame that it wasn’t good). I understand that Iljimae is about ILJIMAE but it feels like its too much about him and too little about everyone else. Part of why Han Hyo Joo (well most of it was her own fault) and Park Shi Hoo were both so wooden is because the scriptwriter never bothered to give them much personality. Eun-Chae is extremely one dimensional. “Oh i’m good. I’m rightous. blah blah blah.” They should of developed the relationship between the two brothers Iljimae and Shi Hoo. But instead, they made Shi hoo into a heartless guard whose sole purpose in life was to catch iljimae. There were many characters that COULD of been better. I blame it on the scriptwriter.

  19. 19 ivanovie

    Hahaha..thanks for the review! you really cracked me up..well i couldn’t comment anything coz i haven’t had the time to watch it..while i never really gave much interest to saeguk drama, the top ratings of it has tempted me to watch..like i was tempted to watch Chil Woo for the eye candy of Eric! i’m curious how you would review Chil Woo for its, like you said, insanity!
    Perhaps i should just go for Iljimae though i might end up wishing the time machine invented..hehehe..

  20. 20 belleza

    I didn’t think Han Hyo Joo or Park Shi Hoo came off as badly as others mentioned. Anorexic, sure. Featuring major manboob jobs for a 16th(?) century character, sure. But they did well as their window dressing can reasonably be.

    “I understand that Iljimae is about ILJIMAE but it feels like its too much about him and too little about everyone else.”

    Yeah, but that’s the thing. None of the characters — not even his dad’s death — really matter in the greater scheme of Iljimae. The Iljimae character develops strictly from his adventures/missions, evolving only to complete a more difficult mission, until he meets the Boss. The hook of each episode isn’t development in character, but the trick that Iljimae pulls to complete the mission. In boy’s adventure fashion, it’s all thrill seek. His rescues and trysts with Eun-chae is a thrill seek. His childhood reminisce with Bong Soon is a thrill seek. His melee with his half brother is a thrill seek. And then the episode ends, the boy’s will and fighting spirit has prevailed, and it’s put away with the other toys. Onto the next adventure . . .

  21. 21 Artemis

    Thanks for writing this review! I laughed a lot reading it. :-) I too am amazed I actually stuck with the series until the end (I’ve given up on much better shows long before!)

    I don’t really know what the writer wanted to say with this version of Iljimae and the ending kind of left me hanging. Junki is a good actor though – he had a lot of LOL moments.

  22. 22 bjharm

    well I watched about ten minutes of the first episode and said to myself..let watch this another day when I am really really bored. It odd how some dramas simple do do grab you, maybe I was still hurting from Hong Gil Dong ending and was shy of the same sort of show, I can not tell you how p*issed I was at the ending of Hong Gil Dong, I will never watch it again with that ending, and that is my mark on a good drama, being able to watch it more than once.
    Maybe because I am a guy and thus more Lee Jun Ki proof, but I couldn’t get into this drama at all, one day I give it anther go..maybe, I always said there no such thing as bad drama, there has to be something in there to watch, so it will for now go on to my watch someday list .
    [note I really really do not like sad melodrama or sad endings, have enough of that in the real world without spending my time watching fictional ones]

  23. 23 Dahee Fanel

    belleza, I, too, thought Iljimae was “glorious stupid fun” for a good while. That’s why I even managed to finish it. But in the end? It totally just wasn’t worth it. There are shows that, like Strongest Chil Woo, are totally ridiculous and follow no semblance of logic whatsoever, but that still manage to work. Films with no character development or plot, and just oodles of gorgeous fun and visual power, but that are still masterpieces, like Duelist. But Iljimae? I felt that the writer actually WAS trying to say something, to do something other than just engaging in mindless entertainment, but that she failed utterly and miserably. And she had absolutely zero sense of how to use time properly. Compare Iljimae and Strongest Chil Woo, and I think it becomes pretty clear where the scripts differ, and where Chil Woo pretty much kicks Iljimae’s sorry behind.

    I felt that the veterans and Lee Jun Ki and Lee Young Ah did well, but everyone else? Yeah, mostly trash. Lee Moon Shik may have done this kind of thing before, but that doesn’t make his performance any the less touching. His is the only character I really loved, actually. And he’s the only one who actually managed to make me feel anything at all while watching this.

    Kim Chang Wan did a great job, of course, but this is by no means the best villain character he’s ever pulled off. I felt he oozed infinitely more charisma in “White Tower”. Here, there seemed to be a couple of missteps (felt that his acting was a little too “non-sageuky” at times), but I attribute that to the poor character development in the script.

    And I’m certainly not saying that Iljimae had perfect production or anything – far, far from it. It was just one of the better parts of the show, I felt. Of which, sadly, there wasn’t much. Better parts, that is.

    Incidentally, I’m enjoying Kingdom of the Winds as well. ;) Oh, and the PD of East of Eden, Kim Jin Man, is not the same PD as La Dolce Vita (Kim Jin Min). Their names are similar, but they’re not the same people. I made that mistake at first, too, but yeah. PD Kim Jin Min is infinitely more talented than Kim Jin Man. :P

    On a more general note: Lee Jun Ki’s acting is a good example of this show trying to achieve some themes. He’s basically acting three different characters: himself without memories of his childhood, himself with memories of his childhood, and Iljimae. The first one requires some OTT comedy and lightheartedness, to counter the gloomy angst and machismo of the other two characters. So it’s pretty clear why he made the choice to act as he does. HOWEVER, the script failed to really develop that set-up properly, so it became rather jarring and lacked flow far too much of the time. Luckily, it smoothed out a bit as the drama progressed and got a little darker, but overall? Choi Ran bit off far more than she could chew.

    And that’s my 2 cents. ;)

  24. 24 Sere

    @Belleza: wow, I really got you going! :) EoE, such as you reviewed it, sounds even more appealing now. I’m definately going to watch it, the sooner the better. Ha, that didn’t take much persuasion, did it? ;)

    “If they wrote Lee Dae Hae as such a “wicked” woman, East of Eden would be drama of the year candidate. They won’t though, and so I kinda resent that they namechecked the story as such.”
    Maybe they chickened out of it? Thought it might not appeal to most of their viewers? I like when writers and TPTB write their villains as such, bad and terrible and sneaky, characters you can tell from just one look they indeed *are* the villains. Sometimes, in movies or shows, the distinction of heroes/heroines and villains is much more subtle, and THAT I like even more. Maybe is that such a case?

    “yet has moments where it does asks the audience to patiently observe and accept. ”
    A LOT of dramas do that, don’t you think?

    “They should of developed the relationship between the two brothers Iljimae and Shi Hoo.”
    ACK! One of the things I love most in movies and shows or dramas are the relationships between siblings, I like them even more than love stories. If a sibling/sibling is well-written, well-thought-out, rich and life-like, then I’m most likely going to enjoy whatever I’m watching. The thing is, this kind of relationship can be much more complex -all kinds of emotions can be worked into it, from love to hate and every emotion inbetween, jealousy, friendship, loving “protection”, and so on- and much less one-dimentional than love, imho. Love stories are all about love and angst, UST and “does he/she? Doesn’t he/she?”, which, granted, is nice to look at and makes me go “awww” and “ahhh” (I’m a sap at heart, after all), but given the nature of the relationship between siblings, then I’m bound to be more attracted to that kind of thing. It’s such a shame when this kind of relationship is not explored or, worse yet, neglected.

    Whew! *wipes brow*

    I’m in a particular tough period of my life, in which *everything* is much too complicated, so I’m in a “me likes this/me doesn’t like this” phase, if you know what I mean? like I don’t have the energy to elaborate my love or hate for a particular drama, but I love reading other people’s opinions. Wish I had something more substatial and poignant to say about your review(s) (I thank you for them!), but unfortunately that’s how things are atm. :(

  25. 25 dc

    @Belleza

    I always totally agree with you. you make good comments.

    I don’t understand Korean, usually I have to wait for the dvd or watch a few eps on youtube with subs (mostly only a few have subs not the whole dreams) but for Iljimae I’m very greatful some one uploaded each ep with subs on the next day till the last ep. I enjoyed watching Iljimae because I like Lee Jun Ki and the whole cast. Jun Ki is pure eye candy!!!!!!
    I am a so K-drama addict, I did not watch much regular TV, may be this fall I’ll give it more time with the big elections (USA and Canada) going on.

  26. 26 belleza

    @Dahee Fanel

    Oh I forgot to ask you sometime before. Is “Dahee Fanel” a wink at Escaflowne? I saw Sakamoto Maaya perform some years back, and got to talk with her a little the day after. Really vibrant persona.

    “On a more general note: Lee Jun Ki’s acting is a good example of this show trying to achieve some themes. He’s basically acting three different characters: himself without memories of his childhood, himself with memories of his childhood, and Iljimae. ”

    That’s the blueprint for the character, but that’s not really how Lee Jung Ki was playing the character. There was maybe one or two scenes early on where Yong-ee introspects (i.e. “LJK emotes like Leonardo Dicaprio circa Romeo and Juliet “) upon his terrible past. But, all the revelation really does is alleviate the fact that Yong-ee was originally presented as a kind of farcicial (and slightly sneaky) side character. Lee Jung Ki used to play these kind of smarmy brats before King and I, but the problem was that again, with the lack of a straight man in the first 5-7 episodes, you literally have a show of side characters running around like loons in the hospital, with no reference point to distinguish “broad” from “normal.” It was tedious to watch, but I always felt Iljimae really started through Episode 6 or 7 anyway. At that point, the Iljimae storyline is reshaped into its mission-oriented structure, where Lee Jung Ki gets to play “superhero in disguise.” Like all superheros in disguise, there is a past that justifies his duality, but to me it doesn’t inform LJK’s performance at all. And it doesn’t really need to be, because it is just the facilitator for the superhero transformation. He could have become Iljimae because a genie in a bottle told him so, or if Jumong came to him in dream, but I think his performance, and the texture of his moral dilemnas, would have been all the same. It’s not that he couldn’t tell his parents that he remembered because it would ruin his family. It’s that, well, superheros don’t tell anybody anything, and they like to brood about not telling anybody anything, unless it’s That Special Girl (hello Bong Soong!) Iljimae follows the comic book tropes faithfully, and in that sense I thought it was interesting. There’s never a sufficiently valid reason for people to be Superheroes. It’s different with sageuks because “pauper to prince” storylines often presume that the order of society has been misshapened and that the character must claim their proper place in society, so that the full order can be restored — Jacobean bloodbath if need be — and that peace may be attained. Hong Gil Dong qualified as a saguek because it at least subscribed to that storyline through its ending. And if Iljimae were such a storyline, then Yong-ee would have attemped to reclaim his position as a nobleman and the truth about his father would have been righted. There’s no such attempt there. It’s just a means to get him into a suit.

    “Luckily, it smoothed out a bit as the drama progressed and got a little darker, but overall? Choi Ran bit off far more than she could chew.”

    Honestly, it piqued my interest in Choi Ran’s future work.

    “Kim Chang Wan did a great job, of course, but this is by no means the best villain character he’s ever pulled off.”

    I think the thing is, seeing KCW play a villain king is wacky comedy in itself, because to most domestic viewers, KCW is still that singer of seminal folk-rock band Sanulrim. He’s built a career playing various comic and dramatic roles, but it’s still like watching the equivalent of Robert Plant or Roger Daltry play King of England, or Gackt “acting” in a taiga (OMG that was awesome lol.) It’s just so incongruous, and KCW doesn’t even really attempt to play it seriously. You can tell he’s having a blast. :D

    @Sere,

    “Maybe they chickened out of it? Thought it might not appeal to most of their viewers?”

    Oh, it turns out that they came up with an awesome way to introduce Lee Dae Hee. They used the Gwangju Massacre (see May 18th and Sandglass) to set up how they the younger brother and LDH’s character meets. I’ve seen enacments of the student crackdown a few times now, but everytime it’s still terrifying, still a visceral response. And this was done pretty effectively in a psuedo-Greengrass (see Bourne Supremacy and especially Sunday Bloody Sunday) style, where you have a jittery handicam track students running for their lives from the military crashing in through the university windos and smashing the limbs of the kids. It’s horrible. And it’s kinda romantic! ;)

    “A LOT of dramas do that, don’t you think? ”

    Mmm not so much in K-dramas and J-dramas. The former tends to default into mini-speeches of hate, love, whatevers (again the “talking head” syndrome that you also see in WB/CW teen soaps), and the latter tends to have the director “balloon” the emotions. If the drama is written better with better acting, then you don’t see this so much.

    Now I have to take back a lot after seeing Episode 7. Episode 7 was pure cheese, and some of it was the grade A stuff. Hear Dennis Oh actually say “she is my Queen!! (Bawooo!! Bawooo!! Bawoo!)” Hear Lee Yeong Hee say “he saved your ass” in English. Hear Lee Dong Chul say “H to the Izzo, V to the Izzay” in Cantonese. (Kidding . . or am I? ;) ) And there’s this really “emotive” tollbooth scene that even Choi Ji Woo would say no. I loved it! More cheesecake for Belleza mister director!! :D

    “between siblings, I like them even more than love stories. ”

    Very much so. Like Taegueki or for me Women in the Sun. Yeah, even the trailer for Crying Fist (great movie BTW) gets me bawling. Or when Gong Yoo was crazy in love with his sister-but-not-really-but-still-eww Sung Yuri. Oh wait, I didn’t mean that . . . okay I’m really weak. :(

    “If a sibling/sibling is well-written, well-thought-out, rich and life-like, then I’m most likely going to enjoy whatever I’m watching. The thing is, this kind of relationship can be much more complex -all kinds of emotions can be worked into it, from love to hate and every emotion inbetween, jealousy, friendship, loving “protection”, and so on- and much less one-dimentional than love, imho. ”

    Mm hmm!! Preach on sista!! :D

    “like I don’t have the energy to elaborate my love or hate for a particular drama, but I love reading other people’s opinions”

    Yeah I think I feel that way too. I’m more interested in sharing and hearing love of drama. Even if it is just Kobe and his blatant love of K-drama strictly for hot Korean women saying “oppa! oppa!” “OPPA!!” See, I just made Kobe quietly squeal with glee. Hee! ;)

    @dc,

    “I enjoyed watching Iljimae because I like Lee Jun Ki and the whole cast. Jun Ki is pure eye candy!!!!!!”

    I sometimes think Lee Jung Ki was born in the wrong country. If he were raised up Johnny Boy, he’d probably never play a guy in any role he was given! :D

  27. 27 dc

    @Belleza

    All I can say is: Korean actors are so good looking and Korean actresses are so pretty, and I am all for eye candy.

    I hope there will be a *Mr. Roper* too if Yoon Eun Hye and Joo Ji Hoon team up again in that new drama.

  28. 28 Anonymous

    “Warm for his form” LOL. Omg I’m stealing that.

    I agree. crap script- fairly good acting.

    I kept waiting for it to get better. What a FOOL I was.

    but…..Lee Jun Ki, was as always, the bee’s knees.

  29. 29 belleza

    @dc,

    “I hope there will be a *Mr. Roper* too if Yoon Eun Hye and Joo Ji Hoon team up again in that new drama.”

    The story’s too much like Coffee Prince, I think. In CP, she already played a character who look liked a dude who fell in love with a dude while pretending to be another dude. YEH probably wants to tackle a proper drama now.

    Personally, I’d have loved for YEH to do a sports-themed K-drama, emphasizing her warrior girl persona. Like a remake of “Forever the Moment.” Or to make a truly meta-Hallyu event and cast YEH and JJH in the Korean Hana Yori Dango, where JJH *ISN’T* Douymoji (ergo, she ends up with someone else. Booya Goong fans!! :P )

  30. 30 ivip_me

    Sorry but I dont agree with Your opinion..
    I found Iljimae really interesting and also the perfomance of the actors were brilliant^^ I love lee junki <3 100 on 100 from my side

  31. 31 Felicity

    @belleza

    “Very much so. Like Taegueki or for me Women in the Sun. Yeah, even the trailer for Crying Fist (great movie BTW) gets me bawling. ”

    Word! Ain’t nuthin stronger than sibling lurvveee. Taegueki made me weep my eyes out, or my eyeballs overheated from the overload of male beauty onscreen *fans self*…c’,mon….admit it….Jang Dong Gun and Wonbin are the sweetest brothers EVA! :)

    “Or when Gong Yoo was crazy in love with his sister-but-not-really-but-still-eww Sung Yuri. Oh wait, I didn’t mean that . . . okay I’m really weak. ”

    LoL. I agree on the eww factor. As far as kdrama incestous love stories goes, One Fine Day was pretty boring and hardly as tear-duct inducing as Autumn Love story (ah, time flies….my innocent Moon Guen Yang, can’t believe she’s a fully grown adult now).

    “Personally, I’d have loved for YEH to do a sports-themed K-drama, emphasizing her warrior girl persona. Like a remake of “Forever the Moment.” Or to make a truly meta-Hallyu event and cast YEH and JJH in the Korean Hana Yori Dango, where JJH *ISN’T* Douymoji (ergo, she ends up with someone else. Booya Goong fans!! )”

    I like both ideas of yours. :) But YEH should be in a wrestling themed drama really. It’s just screaming to be made. And the ONLY way I’d watch the Korean HYD if they casted YEH as Makino (No YEH! Don’t do it! You can resist the idol curse!) would be to see her act opposite Jo In Sung’s Dyomouji. lol.

  32. 32 belleza

    @Felicity,

    “Jang Dong Gun and Wonbin are the sweetest brothers EVA!”

    I’d love to see their dressing room rehearsal, each looking at the same mirror, feeling vaguely threatened. And physically attracted. :D

    Won Bin: I can’t quit you JDG!!
    JDG: I know. I can’t quit myself. I’m so hot!
    Song Hye Kyo: Oppa!
    JDG: Does she always do that?
    Won Bin: Yeah. I get depressed a lot so it makes me feel better. Have you seen my pictures lately? I need a hug!!

    “As far as kdrama incestous love stories goes, One Fine Day was pretty boring and hardly as tear-duct inducing as Autumn Love story”

    There’s just something about incest that brings a tear to my eye, I guess. Especially when your brother is watching it with you and starts getting all grossed out! :D :D

    “But YEH should be in a wrestling themed drama really”

    It would be totally sweet if YEH, Chae Yeon, and Kim Jong Kook were to do a wrestling drama together. It would be called “Oppa is Mine Unni-atch!!”

    The final battle between Da Young Girl Warrior and Chae Yeon for the affections of the Mike Tyson of K-pop. (Special guest apperance: Eric Mun playing Eric Mun.) Oh it’s on Unni!! Bring it and your fake boob job!!

  33. 33 Dahee Fanel

    @belleza

    “Oh I forgot to ask you sometime before. Is “Dahee Fanel” a wink at Escaflowne? I saw Sakamoto Maaya perform some years back, and got to talk with her a little the day after. Really vibrant persona.”

    Yes, it is! :D I made it up when I was like, thirteen and supremely in love with Escaflowne. Wow, you met Sakamoto Maaya?? I am super jealous. I always got a really nice vibe from her.

    “That’s the blueprint for the character, but that’s not really how Lee Jung Ki was playing the character.”

    Well, I was basing some of my thoughts on an interview I saw him in, in which he shortly discussed how he was playing three different characters in “Iljimae”, and how his previous role in “Time Between Dog and Wolf” had helped him hone those skills, so that it was easier for him this time around. *shrugs*

  34. 34 belleza

    “and how his previous role in “Time Between Dog and Wolf” had helped him hone those skills, so that it was easier for him this time around. *shrugs*”

    I didn’t like a lot of Lee Jung Ki’s performance in TODAW (felt the acting of the leads overall was a touch poor for the crackling story they were trying to do . . . mostly watched the show to watch Choi Jae Sung and the Godlike Kim Gab Soo prod on the dogs and wolves), but I enjoyed how he shifted his character’s personality depending on the company he kept. The smarmier he’s allowed to play, the better Jung Ki gets.

    “I made it up when I was like, thirteen and supremely in love with Escaflowne. ”

    Yeah, it was one of my favorite shows back then. On a different occasion, I saw Kanno Yoko (pre-Bebop) perform the theme song to that and Voices. Very sweet. God I feel like such a geek!! :D

  35. 35 vieny

    hey guys, may be i’m not fully agree with you. i think iljimae it’s not that bad.who cares about usual plot…i dont want to see movie which is not entertaint me at all (or makes me sleepy)!
    and ILJIMAE is one of my fav “saeguk” drama. lee jun ki acting is great. he can improve his acting step by step. and collaboration with lee moon shik it’s just great! i love them both here!

  36. 36 junkilove

    well i got to say at first i really wasn’t interested in the drama at all
    but the only reason y i started to watch iljimae was because of junki
    i just wanted to support him all that i can =]
    the drama turned out great though but the ending was sucky..
    sarange junki ur AMAZING!!

  37. 37 r_l1n

    illjimae is the best series i’ve ever watched…two thumbs up..ILLJIMAE is one of my fav saeguk drama..lee joon ki’s acting is very brilliant..the plot is very unpredictable..

  38. 38 lord_jedi

    I’m currently dowloading Iljimae and couldn’t say anything about it. But this is the first bad review that I read from many excellent reviews out there for this drama.

    Being a ‘sageuk’ fan and only God knows how I love to watch this kind of drama. I think the Hong sisters did a wonderful job with Hong Gil Dong. Since the first time, you got a period drama with a comedy element in it. And, if you actually observing the drama carefully, it did defer itself from other period dramas. Plus, the themes in that drama cover many things from friendship, betrayal, love, sacrifices, and etc… Although the ending gives you a mixed feeeling, what the writers wanted to make a point is that although Gil Dong is gone, but his view and attempt to make the world a better place lives forever. It is a pretty good ending if you think about it.

  39. 39 What?

    This was one of the best dramas I’ve seen!
    I don’t get it… How could you not like… love this series? It’s about a hero who decides to live quietly until he finds his long lost sister and she gets killed. This had everything… Revenge, family bond, plots, action, etc.
    Maybe things got lost in translation? As a Korean, I loved this series.

  40. 40 MichH

    I loved this show a lot. After so many Kdramas ist my favorite now. I don’t understand your review, but its your review.

  41. 41 ")

    hhaha… story line of this drama was bad… but the actors save it all…

    too long character development for Iljimae which is a total waste… and they film the ending of the show, on the day they air it?? what was quite risky isnt – maybe coz Junki was sick ? (cold)…

    anyways… tolerable coz of the actors, storyline sucks..

  42. 42 sweetmochi

    i agree with you there. lee jun ki and park shi hoo: yumminess. at the end i really did feel like throwing a brick at someone. i couldn’t believe that i spent all that time for THAT. the acting was pretty great. i admit that i did cry at some parts. but still it wasn’t a drama that i’ll be in a hurry to watch. ever. again.

  43. 43 Shota

    actaully, i only watched 4eps.
    but i am curious about the ending, so i went to skip all the way to ep20.
    it wasn’t at all great…..zzz. intolerable. i won’t watch it any longer.
    first i watched because there are romance and i find that it might have some kinda historical genre that i like. but all in all, i just can’t stand it, when the girl who are swindler wasn’t the main actress, cause i find her more interesting then those POLITE girl which are so common to be main character…
    and iljimae simply rocks. too bad the storyline just sucks.
    :P??

  44. 44 bernadette

    two words: true dat.
    Though, I would have to disagree with you thinking it was a waste of time. At least you got to see good acting(and watched lee jun ki =]), and now you know.. not to watch these kind of things again-well…maybe.
    and the hard work that was put in all this… i think deserves a better rating.. maybe 6 out of ten?… lol..

  45. 45 mel

    I loved Iljimae. I don’t usually watch historical dramas, but this was more first one that caught my attention. The acting was good (well yeah Lee Moon Shik was awesome). There was just enough action to keep me interested. I love the fact that the romance is relatively non existent. The “bad guys” aren’t really fake either.Park Shi Hoo was a bit cardboardish in his expression and serveral times I did feel like “man they should have killed each other when they had the opportunity” but I still loved it. It’s not that open ended… It’s one of my favourite dramas.

  46. 46 ella

    The script was a big down… but thank to the cast and maybe the PD.. its turn out ok. I think Lee Moon Shik was the real star in the show, when the scriptwriter decided that the father died, the drama turn a bit dull and plus a very horrible and irritating ending.

    Iljimae is worth watching if you can ignore the bad script and just focus on the actors performance which i think wa brilliant

  47. 47 ellle

    Good review! I also felt that there was something missing in Iljimae. But I couldn’t bear to classify this drama as bad, cause there are many good points that overwhelm those parts I felt as missing. I keep on using the term ‘missing parts’ cause I couldn’t describe what they are. But I guess your review kind of articulates them well enough. Overall, not great (there are other better dramas), but I still consider it good and watchable and would still recommend it to others.

    Agree that the some actors are good! I watched in Youtube the shooting when LJK was in prison and Lee Moon Shik was hitting him (father trying to educate his son). Then, when the Director said “Cut”, Lee Moon Shik still kept on hitting LJK. Hahahaha poor LJK but LMS was good, he was so into the role.

  48. 48 momo

    well i just finished watching all 20 eps….. and I agree with Dahee that I want to throw a brick and the main let down was the script…. what was supposedly a reasonable concept was basically ruined. People argue that this drama has everything to offer in terms of character development, complex relationships etc but honestly so do other dramas… people will say that ok well you shouldnt poke holes in everything and I agree and hell i watch anything and everything but this one really was disappointing for me. I was going rant on and point out how bad this drama is but I wont waste my time as if you are a Junki fan then your gonna watch it anyways and well as the review mentions above the acting was actually good too bad the script was horrible.

  49. 49 sophia lin

    i love this song and the drama so much ! It so touching

  50. 50 spycat

    Flabbergasted when i read this review and the comments following this. Iljimae has been the best period drama shown ever! The script was fantastically fabulous! The storyline just captivates the audience and one is kept to the edge of their seat as to what’s going to happen next. Will he reunite with his family? What drove him to climb the walls of noblemen’s houses? Will he be able to avenge his father’s wrongful death? Strong moral values of fighting for justice and filial piety are portrayed throughout the series. Jun Ki was the best person to act this character out. We all know that he can grasp the laidback, comical aspect very well. However, in this show he’s also shown that he can handle roles that require more maturity. This helped to balance out the tone of the show – while the storyline had a sad background, there were many humourous scenes which helped relax the audience’s emotions. Though Iljimae was the main character, the storyline was also able to explore the roles of the supporting characters as well. We were able to learn of each character’s story and how their lives intertwined with Iljimae’s. Finally, the soundtrack was amazing. The usage of traditional instruments to create such beautiful melodies was so apt as this is a period drama.Each scene was accompanied with background music that enhanced the entire series even more.

    Having said that, the ending was quite disappointing as it was rather ambiguous. The romance relationship between the 4 characters didn’t have a proper closure as well. However, it leaves the audience to their own interpretation.

    It’s definitely not a show for the lighthearted. Why? Because, it’s Iljimae.

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