I wonder if Ji Jin-hee has an explicit career strategy to alternate sageuk with contemporary, since that’s basically what he’s been doing the past decade. There was Joseon-era Dae Jang Geum, then modern dramas Spotlight and The Man Who Can’t Marry, then back to sageuk for Dong Yi, back to the future for Take Care of Us, Captain, and now back to the past.
The project is set in the late Goryeo period and is called The Great Seer, aka Dae Poong Soo; I’ve also seen it translated as Great Geomancer, but that just sounds weird. I would have called it Great Prophet, but that conveys a religious overtone that isn’t in the meaning; the word refers to those gurus in advisory positions to court officials, who would counsel rulers and seek auspicious signs. Basically, they had a lot of sway over those in power.
In this drama, set in Goryeo’s twilight years, these seers put their support behind a new hero and back him as he works to establish a new nation. That hero is Lee Sung-gye (also written Yi Seong-gye), and will be played by Ji Jin-hee. He’s a real historical figure, but this drama will be departing from trufax (so, like any other sageuk, then?) as it explores the transition from Goryeo to Joseon in what Korean media calls — to my deep chagrin — “faction.” You know, “fact” plus “fiction.” (Groaaaaan. These smug wordsmiths really ought to consult their dictionaries to make sure their new creations don’t actually mean something else.)
But I digress. In real life, Yi Seong-gye was a key figure in the overthrow of the Goryeo dynasty in the late 14th century. He was the founder of the Joseon state, bringing to power the Yi (Lee) dynasty that would rule for the next 500 years. Posthumously known as Taejo, first Joseon king, he was father to Taejong and grandfather to Sejong. Names you probably recognize if you’ve seen a lot of sageuks, such as Tree With Deep Roots.
Ji Jin-hee’s version of the character is described as a man who could enjoy bawdy talk with gisaengs — unlike the high-ranking officials who emphasized honor and dignity — and is called a “light-hearted general,” though once on the battlefield he turns fierce and charismatic. Well, yeah, it’s Ji Jin-hee; the man is fierce and charismatic. (Caveat: He hasn’t signed contracts, he’s probably going to do it, he’s tentatively agreed — the usual cautious doublespeak abounds. But it sounds like Ji is a lock.)
Directing is Lee Yong-seok, who has some prior fusion-sageuk experience; he’s the PD who did Lee Jun-ki’s Iljimae. The drama had initially been rumored to be casting Joo Ji-hoon in his drama comeback (along with New Gisaeng Story’s Im Soo-hyang, who, bleh), but this casting change seems like a big step up. Nothing wrong with Joo, but Ji Jin-hee’s got more gravitas to carry a large-scale sageuk. The project was initially planned as a 50-episode series, but has settled on 36 instead.
The Great Seer / Dae Poong Soo plans to begin filming in April or May and will be a Monday-Tuesday SBS show.
Via TV Report
- Ji Jin-hee’s playful charm in High Cut
- Take Care of Us, Captain releases its first poster
- Pilot-photographer Ji Jin-hee for Take Care of Us, Captain
- Ji Jin-hee joins Gu Hye-sun in aviation drama
- Ji Jin-hee’s Parallel Life
- The cast of Dong Yi gets into character
- The Man Who Can’t Get Married: Episode 1