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History gets an SNS makeover in webtoon-adapted cable drama

There’s another (of course!) new webtoon-based drama adaptation on the books, but this one has me particularly interested because it’s based on such a novel idea: Depicting snippets from the royal historical records of the Joseon Dynasty… in modernized text-message format. It’s hilarious!

The records, known as the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty, are called the sillok, and the popular webtoon has cleverly punned the word into siltok, or sil-talk, where “talk” refers to mobile messaging (such as Kakao Talk). The full webtoon title, then, translates to something like Annals of the Joseon Dynasty Talk, which isn’t nearly as catchy in English but gets the point across. The drama is being prepped for a run on cable channel MBC Every1, and has lined up Lee Shi-un (Falling For Innocence, Answer Me 1997) to play a lead role.

It’s not clear what role he’d play, or even what kind of drama you could make out of this concept, since the Joseon Talk webtoon doesn’t really have a narrative. Every chapter takes something out of the actual annals and depicts it in a funny text exchange, and as the annals span four centuries (from 1413 to 1865), it’s not about a single set of characters. So the challenge of a drama is to take this idea and find a narrative to carry it. It’ll be a challenge, but I think one that could be really rewarding, because it’s such a hilarious concept.

It could be a great opportunity for a drama to get experimental, because rather than finding one central story to base the series around, this could be a fabulous way to go episodic. I’m thinking SNL, composed of short skits — they wouldn’t have to be connected so you could portray one-off jokes, while also leaving room for long-running bits with recurring appearances. (Do it, MBC Every1! Dooooo eeeet.)

I’ve been reading the webtoon, and it’s pretty laugh-out-loud funny; I can definitely see how it picked up an enthusiastic fanbase. It’s funnier if you already know the history being referenced, but the humor can still be appreciated if you don’t; each chapter ends with a “real facts” list telling us what exactly came from the annals so that we can get in on the joke. (Something like that could come in super-handy in a drama, come to think of it, if you had a segment or narrator clarifying with humorous insight about which parts are actually fact-based.)

For example, it was recorded in the annals that King Sejong always had meat for his meals, so the Talk strip shows text exchanges between him and his servants discussing menu options for the day. Sejong is always demanding meat, while the harried servants try to persuade him to ingest some vegetables, and he makes them facepalm by snapping a cell phone picture of his barbecue sauce that lists “onion” as an ingredient.

In the first exchange below, you have a teenage Sejo (aka Grand Prince Suyang), who was recorded in the annals as often wearing clothing that was very large on him. So the Talk version reimagines that detail as a teenage Suyang uploading a selfie with hashtags like #XXL #fashion #royalfamily, and the court ladies gossipping, “So cute, gotta make that my wallpaper,” “Why does the prince only wear oversize clothing?” and “He must just be going through puberty.”

The second exchange takes place after King Sukjong has deposed Queen Inhyun for the scheming concubine Lady Jang, only to realize he’d made a mistake, and is now groveling to his queen: “Phew, what a relief, you haven’t changed your number,” “Lady Jang is a psychopath,” “You were right, I was really wrong, let’s start over.”

Annals of Joseon Dynasty Talk plans to begin filming in mid-June.

Via OBS

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This looks funny. I'd love to read this webtoon in English. Gonna see if it Line has it.

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This is love. Sign me up!

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I'm pretty sure you mean "four centuries", not "four decades.

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HA. That I did.

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This sounds really fun. And yay for Lee Shi-un getting a lead role in a comedy.

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Please tell me there is an english version of it ^^

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I would love to read the English version for this! It sounds way too funny. Hope it translates well into narrative form :D

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Lol almost every kdrama is a webtoon adaptation these days. This one sounds hilarious! Yeah, I'm sure how they'll adapt this either.

They should make an adaptation of 10th Delusional Boys for cable. It'll be freaking hilarious.

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Hee, the webtoon looks hilarious! Glad to see Lee Shi-un getting a lead role. He's fabulous in funny roles.

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This sounds hilarious, I'm curious as to how they will adapt it. This leaves lots of room for creativity and makes me excited, I love how dramaland is getting a bit more experimental.

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Hahaha...this does look funny.
The first text exchange is even funnier because I'm marathoning TWDR right now and I cannot unsee Han Suk-kyu's face in the display pict...... Lol.

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I'm certainly curious as to how they will adapt this. It feels more like it should be a cartoon or like those youtube videos that teach history (with cartoons). I'm not sure if I'll watch but that's mostly just because I can't wrap my head around how they'll do this.

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i'm wondering too. but it certainly sounds cute!

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It looks like Line though, not KaTalk. Ha!

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Doing it like SNL would be a hoot.

And what fun potential to eventually spin it off into an ongoing variety type show patterned after SNL or it's own brand of sketch comedy like Monte Python's Flying Circus. So much raw material to work with.

The individual plot points (like queen in-hyun banishment and reinstatement).

Mining through-lines like the ongoing machinations of the various political factions, clans and foreign dynasties. Turning the tedious plot points we've had to suffer through in dramas into running gags.

Using guest appearances to capture the 'I-can't-keep-track-of-who-this-character-is-because-this-same-actor-has-played-so-many-roles phenomena. Having recurring appearances or having the same actor play different roles within the same vignette.

And royal performances with girl groups dancing to pop tunes played on Joseon era instruments (like they did in Three Musketeers).

(And how fun would it be to see a NaPD do a slice-of-life offshoot called something like 'Return to Joseon'; with his favorite princely flower boy living in 15th century palace conditions. Of course mimicking the threats of palace life could be done through unexpected pranks from the show's resident evil genius NaPrimeMinister.)

Gah, I'm so excited to see what they do.

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Return to joseon! Hahahaha sounds like an awesome idea! I'd totally watch that

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He finally gets to be a lead, Yay !
The webtoon sounds hilarious.

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I know! I'm really happy for him too!!! I think it's about time. He has proven himself a really good actor.

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I'm just worried as an international viewer that I wouldn't get the joke cuz I don't know their history. I'm not sure if I want the facts first before the jokes or after.

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And that's why there's Dramabeans.... ?

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Hahaha this webtoon is hilarious. The text messages alone are already cracking me up, but the selfies and stickers step it up to a whole new level! Will definitely check this out!

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Where can I read the webtoon in english? Line doesn't have it :(

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Daebak!

What an awesome idea. And I love Lee Shi-un too from his character in AM97.

I would love an SNL-skit like drama. Dunno, if that's quite what they have in mind.

Hope it's good.

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Great, he is always so funny! Yes, MBC, doooo eeeeeeet.

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I'm giving up my age here but this kind of reminds me of the old cartoon Hysteria! where the same cast of characters re-enacts various hystorical events in funny ways. That would be a great format because they jumped all through history but the continuity was kept because the character retained their own distinctive personalities regardless of the historical figure they were representing.

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Well deserved, Lee Shi Un!

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sounds hillarious. please make it happen.

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Suyang and Sukjong ones arw hilarious!!
I read a webtoon few months ago based on sillok too, but the webtoon is more like comic, not like Line or Kakaotalk. I wonder if it's the same webtoon or not.

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The source material sounds hilarious :D

I wish I knew enough Hangul+KR history to fully get the jokes.

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