And Heo Jun has its Heo Jun — Kim Joo-hyuk (God of War) has signed on to play the titular hero in the new MBC daily sageuk biopic called Gu-am Heo Jun (for Heo Jun’s pen name, Gu-am) about the life and career of legendary Joseon royal physician. He’s interestingly following in his father’s footsteps in taking on the role — Kim Joo-hyuk’s father, the late veteran actor Kim Mu-saeng, played Heo Jun way back in 1975.
There’s something so cool about that kind of legacy. Kim Mu-saeng, who passed away in 2005, was a dramaland veteran who was in every drama ever. (I just remember him as the dad/chairman in all the late ’90s dramas.) Heo Jun is a story that gets remade in every generation, and Kim Joo-hyuk said of the connection: “Heo Jun is my fate.”
This rendition is a direct remake of the 1999 drama, which starred Jeon Gwang-ryul in the title role and reached an insane 65% ratings peak. The 120-episode drama will be about the life and career of medical historian Heo Jun, who became a royal doctor during King Seonjo’s reign in the late 16th century. He went on to write the definitive text on traditional Korean medicine in Hangul so that even commoners could learn to practice medicine.
Han Chae-ah and Namgoong Min have been cast as the heroine and second lead, and veteran actors Baek Yoon-shik (Tree With Deep Roots) and Go Doo-shim (If Tomorrow Comes) have also joined the cast. Baek Yoon-shik will play Heo Jun’s teacher, Yoo Ui-tae, a central figure in the drama version of the Heo Jun tale. Go Doo-shim will play Heo Jun’s mother.
It seems like MBC’s putting a lot of eggs into the basket with this daily sageuk, and hoping that the remake will recreate the success of the original (on a sliding scale, of course — 65% is unheard of nowadays). It’ll be interesting to watch and see if bringing back the daily sageuk pans out for the network.
Gu-am Heo Jun premieres in March, and will have a six-month run on MBC.
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