Drama Casting & News
MBC’s Dong Yi off to solid start
by | March 23, 2010 | 34 Comments

Another Monday-Tuesday drama premiered this week, MBC’s historical series Dong Yi. It wasn’t able to top its competitors with its first outing, but its initial 11.4% held its own against SBS’s medical sageuk Jejoongwon (13.2%) and KBS’s comic trendy show Birth of the Rich (15.5%).

As is often the case in historical series, Dong Yi started off with its child actors, who earned praise for their performances. Drawing particular notice is 10-year-old Kim Yoo-jung, who is quickly becoming a fixture in historical dramas and, coincidentally, played Han Hyo-joo’s younger self in 2008’s Iljimae. (She also acted in period series Tamra the Island and Painter of the Wind.) Dong Yi is also being praised for its top-notch visuals and cinematography, earning the show the descriptor as a “premium” drama.

Because it’s slated for 50 episodes, it may take several episodes for the story to really get going, and we’ll have to wait a bit longer to come to a verdict on whether Han Hyo-joo has been able to rise to the pressure and carry off the biggest role of her career satisfactorily. Ji Jin-hee plays a king and Lee So-yeon his shrewd concubine, but it’s Han as the title character who will be the backbone of the drama.

Via Star News


34 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. BellaMafia

    Just a little request for any english subbers.. “Pleaseeeeee pleaseeeeee pick this one up… “

  2. Kiara

    Love Korean historical dramas and I hope you’ll like it enough to do recaps /wink. OK ok I’m begging you please <3.

  3. chasen8888

    @1 you echoed my thoughts exactly, it cannot be watched subbed on viikii or anywhere that I know of due to the licensing situation and the present fans out there are definitely going to suffer. Don’t they understand that more fans can be brought in this way, this is another form of increasing sales. For those into historical dramas there’s one that’s not being watched but should be as its interesting plus its 30 episodes only i.e. The Great Merchant Kim Man Deok. I like what I have seen so far.

  4. Biscuits

    @Kiara: Series over 30 episodes rarely get recapped.

    Ah, I need subs for this. Lately I’ve been in such moods for watching Sageuks..

    When I couldn’t find any newer ones, I ended up watching Atsu-Hime….. Ahh, Japanese historical dramas and Korean ones are really different. It was so interesting and fast paced, but I’m too used to Sageuks. So I’m happy that Dong-Yi finally aired!

  5. Biscuits

    @chasen8888: Try Dramafever. If I’m correct, they have permission to sub licensed dramas. They already have a good list of subbed historical dramas (all episodes available, weee~), so maybe they’ll take up Dong-Yi in the future.

  6. momosan

    I believe Dong Yi will be running on MBC America after Pasta finishes. Or at least I assume so. It’s generally about 6 weeks behind the Korean broadcasts.

  7. mie

    Kim Yoojung is adorable. My mom and I call her “little Song Hyegyo.”

    @3 chasen8888
    Well, it’ll only increase sales if DVDs are made and non-Koreans buy them. But like in most cases, people usually only watch it online with subs and don’t buy them.

  8. callisto

    I read on Soompi that PHAS has picked the drama up and will be released subs starting either next week or the week after! And I’m hoping Dong Yi will be recapped on this site as well 🙁

  9. tokyojesusfist

    I skimmed the first episode to see what it looks like (I didn’t actually watch it as I don’t understand Korean). The scene where the kids race through the city is really well-done, though I wouldn’t expect similiar setpieces to occur very often. But other than that, it seems to be the same old stuff. You could probably splice together footage from Dae Jang Geum, Yi San and Dong Yi completely seamlessly (well, except for DJG’s aspect ratio), because that’s how similiar they look. Having the same sets and costumes is inevitable, but when the cinematography and lighting are the same as well, who can tell the difference? Indoor sets still look as fake as ever because of the unnatural lighting. Even camera placement and angles are identical. Simply having different cinematography and better lighting would instantly make Dong Yi stand out from past dramas.

    And I guess everything else is the same too. No change, no variation. Copy + paste. Having only watched DJG and YS, I don’t know if such an adherence to formula is simply standard in historical dramas, but there’s really no excuse for it. These dramas also have various problems and issues that I assume will still remain unaddressed. If Dong Yi had a very strong story and characters (like DJG) then it could still work despite all the repetition and problems, but I don’t think I’m interested (unless they bring in Lee Ip-sae. Heh).

    I guess they don’t alter anything because the formula has been proven to work. I don’t know much about the preferences of Korean audiences, but surely this should start boring people by now? On the other hand, soap operas do just fine in the West, even though they’re so repetitive and dull that a frontal lobotomy would be more fun than watching them.

  10. 10 all4movies

    @7 mie,

    Not true for me. I decide which DVD’s to buy by previewing them online.

    I now have a very large collection of kdramas, and I find that I am getting choosier in which ones I decide to pick up, as I have developed a sense of the ones I would enjoy watching over and over. Usually it to includes eye candy, good story/visuals, engaging music and humour thrown into the mix,

    So far, Dong Yi looks like a keeper and I have enjoyed most of the Director’s sageuk projects. beginning with the famous Jewel in the Palace, my first kdrama.

    It’s too bad that Queen Seon Duk lost steam after Mi Shil exited the drama. I also couldn’t watch the end because of the sad love story,

  11. 11 Kay

    omo, is this not picked up by any sub teams? *cries* I’ve been waiting to watch a saeguk for soooo long, esp with Han Hyo-joo! I really hope someone picks it up~!

  12. 12 Dodo

    yayyyy its outtt yay

  13. 13 helen

    Another flop ! flop! coming !!.!!

  14. 14 Asarako

    english sub please………….

  15. 15 lily

    I pass… This drama is simply not interesting plus I don’t like Han Hyo Joo.

  16. 16 gundam OO

    Hahaha, that article seemed to me just to respect senior PD Lee Byung Hoon. The ratings for 2 eps are incredibly low for MBC saeguks standard (don’t count Tamra please). I bet MBC’s people & Dong Yi team are now busy trying to understand the problem., especially after their grand success in Queen Seon Duk since 1st ep. I think Kor people maybe got bored with LBH already, his previous work Yi San didn’t do too well either.

  17. 17 e sonne

    i dont mind the same cinematography, lighting, costumes or whatsoever when those are the best we could get. whats there to expect?

    well, i was really curious since the last 3 months. which drama leads this time slot? i see almost all dramas that aired at this time slot wavered at 10-15%.. and pasta which was the 1st place are only at 22%.

  18. 18 javabeans

    I’m surprised at the negativity here. A flop because it premiered at 11.4%? Hardly.

    It may not be a killer start for Dong Yi, but it’s not a failure. Queen Seon-deok started with a 16% and rose to mid-40s. Pasta’s first episode was a 12%. Now, if it never rises from here, that’s a problem. But it’s not dead just because of its premiere numbers.

    Yi San didn’t do too well? Not sure where that sentiment comes from — the drama was extended 16 episodes and had 30% ratings.

  19. 19 vindy

    Hmmm… I’m surprised bout the ratings as well. I think DY can ranked in 2nd or 3rd place directly in it’s first week like all historical MBC Mon-Tue slot, but the result is, I must admit, quite discouraging ^^

    If you compare Yi San with other MBC historical like QSD, Legend, Jumong or all Lee Byung Hun previous works, it indeed a bit lower in ratings. But that maybe because Yi San has fierce competitors back then.

  20. 20 e sonne

    uhhhh.. what i mean was.. i always admire PD LBH’s work and his historical drama are the best one could ever get. if his work is at the best, what’s more to ask? i love DJG so much that i hope, there would be much more dramas similar like DJG. so i dont mind if he repeat the same formula for this Dong Yi.

    i’m also very surprised about the negativity here… 11.4% isnt considered bad at all since this time slot have so much competition. and i see that historical dramas always started off with small numbers but increased later on. anyway, anybody know which drama leads this time slot?

  21. 21 tokyojesusfist

    17, Not sure what you mean by “best we could get.” The problem with the sets is that the indoor ones look too fake. The lighting is completely unnatural, especially at night, and the rooms are always shot from one or two spots. This repetitive and rigid adherence to formula is probably intended to speed up shoots, but quality suffers in the process. Outdoor scenes always looked a lot better in DJG and Yi San, and that seems to be the case here as well. They could go for more natural lighting and more diverse camera work, and at worst it would just take a little more time. But they shouldn’t even be having such a tight schedule.

    There’s just too much repetition everywhere. Same plot lines and devices, same storytelling methods, same setting, same camera angles, same lighting.

  22. 22 vindy


    Last year, Mon-Tue slot dominated by Queen Seon Deok with monster rating average 36%, then after it ends, God of Study reign this slot by average rating 24%. Now it’s between Jejoongwon & Birth of the Rich.

  23. 23 vindy

    Hmm…. sorry, I don’t agree that all Lee Byung Hun historical is the best. DJG certainly one of them, but not all. Jumong & QSD has set new era & record for historical drama despite it’s not from Lee Byung Hun.

  24. 24 e sonne


    no, i dont think so. both Jaejongwoon and Birth of The Rich are at 7th and 6th place with 13-15%.. i would like to know who’s leading.

    sure, u can agree and disagree on that. but i always love PD LBH’s story telling more than other. thats why, even after watching Jumong and QSD (i love those too), but still nothing can beat DJG for me.

    well, if u think so, its ur opinion. i havent seen any historical/sageuk drama that make the indoor setting looks not fake, even QSD and Jumong. I love both QSD and Jumong, but the setting and props to me, looks very fake.

  25. 25 vindy

    @e sonne:

    For the time slot of 22.00-23.00 pm Mon-Tue, there’s only 3 dramas now. So I already answered your question, the leading it’s between JJW & B.Rich. But for this week is JJW.

  26. 26 Kgrl

    I don’t think the starting ratings are indication of failure on Dong Yi’s part, but I do think the lower ratings could be the impact of the leading lady’s lack of experience. As a heavily touted female drama, the audience needs to have confidence and intrigue of it’s leading actress. HHJ’s relatively inexperienced acting repertoire/image may be the issue here.

    It’s still too early to stamp on a conclusion, but as far as I’m concerned the child actors often set up the drama too well that it leaves the adult actors shadowing in their footsteps. Will have to see if HHJ can carry the role.

  27. 27 vindy

    Oh I’m sorry I was wrong before. The leading Mon-Tue primetime dramas this week is Birth Rich, not JJW (based on average rating, not per each episode).

  28. 28 pabo ceo reom

    M/T ain’t cracking for me right now…I still have to check out Oh My Lady though.

  29. 29 belleza

    Dong Yi’s ratings are okay, but there’s been a saturation of sageuks in the primetime slot. Queen Seon Duk dominated last year. Chuno fever just abated, and Jejoongwon has found a niche audience. In addition, we’ve also had a run of “female-driven” sageuks like QSD, Iron Empress, and Merchant Kim Man Deok. Ratings for Dong Yi won’t really gain momentum until the child arc is over.

  30. 30 alex

    Hmm I see the disappointment QSD and Jumong both premiered around 16-17 and then dominated till the end of their runs…I havent seen it but the preview looked interesting…If Han Hyo Joo is able to pull it off, the drama will be interesting but at this point kind of skeptical, I like her so hopefully she does good. Lee So-yeon was great in ToA so that’s why i’ll probably watch. Maybe she’ll give Go Hyun Jung’s Mishil a run for her money if that happened it’d be awesome.

  31. 31 cathy

    i watch up to epi 8 , great drama ,solid casts , cute young actress , realistic ,rating is too low , need handsome actors to boost rating , this is K trend now , isn’t it ?

  32. 32 Patty K.

    I think the ratings are initially lower because people may start with the shorter epi shows and start to catch up if there isn’t anything better that comes along afterwards. I think Dong Yi is an excellent drama. I watch all kinds. You can download them from: http://tek1nn.wordpress.com/ and there are subs for them in English that come a little later for this drama.

  33. 33 YBisTOP

    Does anyone know where I can find all the ost of Dong Yi ?
    This drama is so good!

  34. 34 Antone Marian-Florin

    OST for Dong Yi?
    Where i can fiind?

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