Drama Casting & News
Kim Tae-hee tackles sageuk as famous villain
by | October 8, 2012 | 61 Comments

Kim Tae-hee has her next drama lined up, and she’s getting ambitious: It’s a sageuk for SBS, and it’s all about the life of a famous (notorious, rather) femme fatale in history who has been oft-portrayed in dramas before. The title is Jang Ok-jung, Living By Love, where Jang Ok-jung is the given name of the woman who would become concubine Jang heebin.

That name may sound familiar; she was the villain of Dong Yi (played by Lee So-yeon) and Queen In-hyun’s Man, among other projects, as the woman behind the deposition of Sukjong’s wife Queen In-hyun, allowing her to ascend to the throne. She was herself demoted when the former queen was restored to her position and is popularly believed to have then poisoned In-hyun. She was reportedly found by the king to be plotting more crimes, and executed via poison.

Since Jang heebin is the protagonist of this drama, the story will be a “reinterpretation” of the character with “a modern sensibility.” So while this is a sageuk production in the strict sense of the word, I’m thinking it’ll be a far cry from a conventional historical drama. This Jang Ok-jung character starts out in the palace as a court lady, becomes a “Joseon fashion designer,” and also makes cosmetics. So… less killing, more prettifying?

I’m all for well-known stories being reimagined, so as far as the plot goes I’m all onboard. I do worry a bit for Kim Tae-hee, who hasn’t done sageuk before, unless this can somehow channel the light-hearted frivolity of her My Princess character; she was so charming as feisty, bubbly Seol. That may be the ideal way to set this project apart (some of the actresses to have played the role include Kim Jimi, Yoon Yeo-jung, Lee Mi-sook, Jeon In-hwa, and Kim Hye-soo), and the production reports that the other characters of Sukjong and In-hyun will also be reimagined.

Still, Jang heebin is so famously… evil… that I wonder at how they can turn her into a proper heroine. ‘Cause at some point, you’ve got to explore the whole queen-deposition-and-poisoning bit, yeah?

In any case, color me intrigued. Jang Ok-jung is being planned as a 24-episode drama and will air in March 2013.

Via TV Report


61 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Arhazivory

    hmmm…..I think it would be nice to see her try for an evil role.

    • 1.1 maon

      > the story will be a “reinterpretation” of the character with “a modern sensibility.” So while this is a sageuk production in the strict sense of the word, I’m thinking it’ll be a far cry from a conventional historical drama.

      Oh PLEASE don’t make it a modern adaptation. This would be Kim Tae Hee’s first sageuk, something that a lot of us have been waiting for.

    • 1.2 zsa

      As long as it’s not the evil like she played in Stairway to Heaven…glaring and more glaring…I hope this one is more subtle and nuanced….or it’ll be disaster!

    • 1.3 Dominique

      I want her new role to portray a woman who knew what she wanted, how she might get it and the risks it entailed, but who decided to go for it. A transactional reinterpretation of the legendary femme fatale, in the vein of a modern day corporate takeover, will work for me very well.

      Along the way, if she turns out to be thoroughly and deliciously evil, it will be just gravy, so long as she is consistently evil and not hampered by female weaknesses or stupidity or mediocrity. We have had enough of that in the long line of Korean dramas that came befoe it.

  2. True2u

    I wonder, can she handle it? This should be interesting.

  3. sheils

    for me, she shined the most in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ where she played the villain, so I would love for her to take another evil role.

    • 3.1 asianromance

      I didn’t watch most of Stairway to Heaven, but from what I had seen, KTH was pretty scary as the crazy, despicable villain in that. It would be awesome for her to be evil again. However, I get this feeling that the drama will go for a “she wasn’t evil. she was misunderstood! it was an accident! she was at the wrong place at the wrong time!” route.

      • 3.1.1 sheils

        we’ll see how it pans out, but since she’s the lead, then you’re probably right….i still don’t see how they’re going to justify all her wrongdoings tho…she committed way too many for all of them to just be a “misunderstanding”…lol.

    • 3.2 belleza

      In Stairway, she used her glare to great effect. Perhaps its her model work, but because she’s always beaming, the villain role would work beautifully.

    • 3.3 anna

      God, that ending still pisses me off. He died for nothing, but at least they get to reunite in heaven.. or whatever.

      • 3.3.1 sheils

        @anna: you mean the girl right?…i know!!…the show would have been perfect had it been a happy ending..but noooooooo…I was hoping that she was just pregnant when she threw up at the end…but of course typical melodrama mode kicked in and we got the typical tragic ending…*thud*

  4. OMG

    hmmmm… is all i can say for now…
    d storyline confuses me a little…i dont know where they r going with this…

  5. canxi

    Agreeing with OMG, it sounds like they’re trying to take the “evil” out of the character…unless it’s one of those “how they became a villian” stories where they start off nice enough and then something happens to make them EVIIIIIILL. That would be pretty cool.

    Kim Tae Hee hasn’t gotten me with her acting yet, though. I think she starts off well but then dwindles the more you go in. She’s pretty so-so to me, right now. So I wonder if she can pull this off? o.o

    • 5.1 OMG

      yea KTH’s acting is really not the best..i mean she’s d female equivalent of Hand towel…IMO…plus d storyline is a little confusing…Joseon fashion designer n not an evil bitch…*head scratch*

      • 5.1.1 Shiku

        I know right?

      • 5.1.2 canxi

        Pretty much.

      • 5.1.3 bd

        Based on what I had seen KTH do before “My Princess” – I would say that would have been accurate, but KTH’s acting in MP was spot on.

        Not only did she hit the comedic parts out of the ball-park (which, sometimes is harder to do), but KTH really did a good job with the emotional/crying scenes such as the one where Seol broke down when she had to sever legal ties with her adopted mother.

        Emotional/crying scenes if not done well start to become comedic (in a bad way) for me – and I got none of that from KTH’s performance in MP.

        It was superior to the lead female’s performance in K-dramas like “Secret Garden”, “Rooftop Prince” and “Big” where I didn’t buy the acting in the emotional scenes.

        Let’s hope it’s not a one-time thing for KTH but sageuks tend to have no mercy (still think KTH is perfect for romcoms).

  6. shirin-noona

    Kim Tae-hee as a villain?I don’t think it’s such a good idea.I loved her in my princess,where she played a cute bubbly princess.

  7. semutapi

    Big gamble for taking her to play heavy role (if really heavy though).

  8. Christy

    Crossing my fingers that this might be the proper femme fatale anti-heroine drama that Miss Ripley never was.

  9. kumi

    Yeah, her face’s ‘facture’ could be quite suitable for playing a villain.

    • 9.1 Kiara

      Really? She looks angelic to me. Maybe it’ll work. Jang Ok-jung started off as a low-born, she was beautiful and Sukjong favored her over Queen In-hyun then all hell broke loose.
      Its too bad Park Ha Sun played Queen In-hyun already. She was perfect and she’ll always be Queen In-hyun to me.

      • 9.1.1 kumi

        Those beautiful eyes are kind of prickly.

      • 9.1.2 bd

        Yep – Park Ha Sun was one of the few good things to come out of “Dong Yi.”

        Had so much grace and presence that I was shocked at how young she was.

  10. 10 Kiara

    Jang heebin done to death already. When it rains in sageuk-land it pours. We have King Gongmin’s era back to back and before that was Sukjong and sons lol. Geeeez can someone produce a drama from the 3 Kingdom era?. I’ll take Shilla, Goguryeo or Baekje for a change.

    Jang heebin is not a character for weak actresses. Kim Tae-hee was good in My Princess but dang Jang Heebin?. Thats a huge leap girl.

    • 10.1 Kiara

      err has been.

    • 10.2 dreamandwonder

      There is; Great King’s Dream is Shilla-centric and has been airing on KBS for the past month. There’s just not subs for it yet.

      • 10.2.1 Kiara

        I’ve heard of it but the 80+ episode is way too many :(.

        • Kiara

          I looked at all the characters and it’s very similar Queen Seon Deok but without Mishil and Bidam. More like continuing on with where QSD left off. The unification of the 3 kingdoms led by Kim Yushin and Chunchu.
          I think its based more on the history from Samguk Sagi and Samguk Yusa so it should be interesting.
          Ten episodes already and no Eng subs :(. I’ll have to check it out on KBS1 then. They showed King Gwanggaeto the Great with (92 eps) Eng subs.

  11. 11 Daisy

    Reminds me about of Cinderellas Sister. The evil one becomes the heroine. Then that means Kim Tae Hee is out for Level 7 servant then who will be the lead for that hmmm

    • 11.1 Annie

      I have a feeling she’ll regret missing out on that drama. A sageuk like this will expose her weaknesses.

  12. 12 saranga

    i always forget she started out her career as a villain in stairway to heaven! at least, i believe that was her first drama. and she was pretty convincing as a conniving, scheming bitch. but she has such an angelic image, i keep forgetting…

  13. 13 Annie

    When I read a synopsis of this elsewhere, I thought that the ‘modern twist’ literally meant that the story would be taking place in the present day. I wonder why that isn’t done more often in dramas – taking storylines and characters from history/myth and transplanting them to the modern day.

  14. 14 lovedramas

    I have watched Dong Yi probably 10 times already, and the other Queen In-hyun & Jang Ok-Jung dramas previously made at least once. I will have a tough time imagining JOK to be a good protagonist. Can you even do that? Wouldn’t she have to be a different person all together? (in a way). I’m not really a fan of reintereption of history. However, I do like KTH even though I think her acting skills are a bit lacking. So I will definitely give her a chance. 🙂

    I remember GHS also played a Queen that wasn’t too good either, but the drama sort of gave her a more positive light.

  15. 15 boobae

    KTH has been in a sageuk, but it was not a drama. It was a movie opposite Jung Woo Sung. Can’t remember the name of the movie because it wasn’t that good. But, Kim Tae Hee was flying around with a sword and chopping up all the bad guys.

    • 15.1 Kiara

      It’s called Breathless I think. I dont even remember what it was about lol. She was her usual beautiful self and nothing else.

      • 15.1.1 Fab

        It was The Restless. Didn’t watch it and I am not sure about this one either…

        • Kiara

          Thank you Fab :).

        • bd

          “The Restless” wasn’t a good film period and KTH kept doing the same annoying thing w/ her eyes.

  16. 16 Birdie

    Sooner or later these actresses/actors have to take on challenging roles which may expose their weakness. In spite of that, they will come out of it better actresses. It is part of the route to take if they want to improve. Yes , they know they will get criticism. Kudos to her for trying such a role. I hope the director is one who brings out the best out of them. Some directors are a little “lazy”- they just let the popularity and good looks do the work.

    • 16.1 canxi

      Or we hope they will come out better actors/actresses. It’s not always the case. 🙁 I think they need directors that really push them to nail the role/lines/emotions and not just look good standing in their mark with the correct lighting. Especially in longer dramas.

    • 16.2 eny

      agree with you,i will more appreciate actor/actress that brave to take different role even it fail than actor/actress that always stay in the same charracter. That’s why i don’t like yoochun and lee min ho acting

  17. 17 Hipployta

    Hmmm…her first role was a villain role…I HATED Stairway to Heaven (like the entire drama) but she was convincing.

    Perhaps she’ll pull a Park Shi Yeon…before Coffee House no one really thought she could act, then people said she needed to act in roles closer to her personality like Coffee House to be good, and then she turned out to be quite the effective villain in her role in Nice Guy which was kind of the same role she wasn’t so great at before as a Femme Fatale LOL

    • 17.1 bd

      Think KTH already did that w/ “My Princess.”

      Both roles were perfect for KTH and PSY.

  18. 18 EJ

    Jang Hee Bin was noted for her beauty and obviously it makes sense to cast “Korea’s Most Beautiful Woman.” A huge part of drama casting is about likability. However as much as I don’t wish to hate on KTH, it aggravates me that she gets cast in dramas at all. It’s just hard for me to accept her as a real actress because she seems to be doing dramas in between her CF projects instead of the other way around and all the publicity ever done to keep her relevant points to how pretty and how small her face is. But I think what’s really worse is that if she does a ‘passable’ job with this piece, meaning you don’t cringe at her line deliveries and the ratings are good, she will win an acting award at the end of the year. I am still not over the fact that she won over Kim So Yeon when they were nominated in the same category at the year end awards for IRIS. Ppl STILL talk about Kim So Yeon’s performance, in fact her performance has become somewhat of a measuring stick for actresses in badass roles and KTH won? I just want to see hard working good actresses get the good roles (I know the world does not work that way), but KTH being the superstar that she is just represents what is so f-ed up in the world of Korean Entertainment as a whole for me.

    • 18.1 canxi


    • 18.2 Kiara

      I dont even watch any drama awards anymore. I used to have a bit of respect for the PaekSang Awards until last year. Kim Soo-Hyu winning the Daesang best actor award over Han Suk Kyu and even Shin Ha -Kyun was unbelievable. I have to admit that he did well in Moon/Sun but he was nowhere near Han’s performance In Tree With Deep Roots or Shin in Brain.

      • 18.2.1 canxi

        Well, at least Shin Ha Kyun won the Daesang which is the “Grand Prize” pretty much meaning he was the best of the best in dramas for that year. So I don’t think they have quite lost it just yet,lol. I’m interested in this years awards though. I’m really wondering what wil go down.

        • canxi

          And I think we’re both talking about the Drama Awards?? or am I confused? o___o
          Han Suk Kyu did win the Daesang for Tree With Deep Roots. I think Kim Soo Hyun just won the Best newcomer award for Dream High

          • Kiara

            Sorry I’m talking about the 2012 (48th) PaekSang Arts Awards.

          • eny

            award in korea mostly didn’ get by the best person but the most popular, esp when you are popular among teenager, that’s why many idol singer win award beating better actor/actress

          • canxi


            Wow, I didn’t even see that one. Yeah wow…hard to believe. I like Kim Soo Hyun too, but it is too early for him, given that competition.

          • bd


            KSH getting the Daesang over HSK for TWDP was a complete joke.

            As for KTH, thought she did a really good job in “My Princess” w/ both the comedic and emotional scenes – so we’ll see if that was a one-time thing or if she has really grown as an actress (altho sageuks are esp. tough).

  19. 19 Sajen

    at this point sounds like something I’ll pass on but if they keep her evil while being the main character and Kim Tae Hee does even a passable job, count me in

  20. 20 asiandaddict

    This sounds good. Kim Tae Hee in first sageuk and portraying Lady Jang who has caught my attention so much this year. Dong Yi just recently ended here in the Philippines and I haven’t forgot Lady Jang in this. So with this, I got intrigued and interested in Queen In-hyun’s Man and become hooked with this.

    KTH is one of my ultimate favorite Korean stars and I cant wait to see her in another drama this year plus portraying the most famous historical character!!!

    Thanks JB for this great news!!!

  21. 21 ND

    If it is going to be a kind of modernized version….i can give it a try….
    And why are all dramas having more than 16….even over 20 episodes??

    • 21.1 canxi

      I also wonder about the longer episode count for some dramas. There are some that I feel could have been shorter. I feel like it’s just to set up more background and then get into a longer climax (since that is where all the excitement is). It can go right or it could go wrong,lol.

  22. 22 Lila

    She evils up again! Hehe she’s gorgeous but I’ve never really liked it when she played nice main characters. This should be interesting.

  23. 23 rain

    wow! that would be interesting! the first time i saw kim tae hee was in stairway to heaven where she portrayed as an antagonist.. So i think, any role whether an evil one or a bubbly girl like in my princess would be portrayed well be taehee since she’s a talented actress.. I’m so excited about it..

  24. 24 pokepoke.monster

    I really, really like reinterpretations, but I really don’t see how the drama is going to end well (except maybe she didn’t get executed in the end or something, who knows). Still, I am definitely going to watch it if Kim Taehee is heading the drama. Her first Sageuk! Woohoo! I really liked Lee Soyeon’s version too (and Park Hasun as the weak yet strong-willed Queen Inhyun).

  25. 25 zeek

    When I watched Dong Yi, Lee So Yeon played greatly the role of Jang Hee Bin as less evil character. They showed her light side and Lee So Yeon effectively interpreted it.
    I believe Kim Tae Hee will do well this role, too. These two korean actresses are both amazing and it’s good to see them playing the same character.

Add a Comment

Stay civil, don't spoil, and don't feed the trolls! Read the commenting policy here.

 characters available. Comments will be truncated at the word limit.