Rating:
Average user rating 4.5
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The bloody battle for the people’s hearts begins in Rebel

I spent months only seeing Yoon Kyun-sang (Doctors) as a giant baby who loves fluffy kitties in Three Meals a Day, so it’s a little jarring to see him covered in blood and making battle cries. But given his experience as a warrior in sageuk epic Six Flying Dragons, I think he’ll be in his element in his first leading role as the legendary hero Hong Gil-dong in MBC’s new Monday-Tuesday drama Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People.

The new series from the PD of Kill Me, Heal Me and the writer of King’s Daughter Soo Baek-hyang is a reimagining of the famous folk hero Hong Gil-dong as a revolutionary hero of the people. In a deviation from the original tale, our hero is the son of a slave father, played by Kim Sang-joong (Jingbirok), a lowborn man who leads a group of rebel fighters and becomes a very real threat to the king. His son Hong Gil-dong is born with incredible physical strength (we see him toss a group of full-grown men with nothing but his bare hands in the new teaser), which is an advantage he’ll need when he steps up to fight against a tyrant king.

Kim Ji-suk (Oh Hae-young Again) plays the villain, Joseon’s infamous tyrant king Yeonsangun, who was responsible for bloody purges of scholars and turning Sungkyunkwan into a brothel. He’ll seethe with jealousy over the fact that Hong Gil-dong has the heart of his royal consort Jang No-suk, played by Honey Lee (Come Back, Ajusshi), and then again when Gil-dong gains the hearts of the people. Chae Soo-bin (Moonlight Drawn By Clouds) plays a young widower who is rescued by the hero and seeks revenge for the death of her husband.

The newest teaser opens with the line: “The scariest thing in the world is people.” Someone orders the deaths of everyone who follows Hong Gil-dong’s father, while we see his back covered in scars from torture. The caption asks, “What blood flows through them?” The king very pointedly tells his consort that Hong Gil-dong came to see him, and her eyes widen in alarm. As Hong Gil-dong fights a crowd of men on his own, he asks the king in voiceover, “You are the king, the son of heaven—so how did you become so low?” Dayum. Then we hear the order given: “Kill him in one blow so that he can’t speak nonsense.” Well, the stakes are certainly up! Here’s hoping you become Rebel: Thief Who Stole My Heart.

Rebel follows Night Light on Mondays and Tuesdays beginning January 30.

Via iMBC

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Welcome back, Musa Moo-Hyul!!

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Took the word out of my mouth, I was thinking the same thing:
Musaaaaaaa Moo Hyuuuuuuul!!!

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I will forever remember that scene whenever I see Yoon Kyun-sang. That scene sends shivers down my spine.

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A dark historical drama. Recently, I dropped a lot historical drama: Flower In Prison, Moonlight, Moon Lovers, Hwarang. I hope it will better.

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I don't know if it really will be a dark drama. The writer some weeks ago said it will be leighthearted. But as it is obviously influenced by the recent political events in Korea it will definitely be a more serious drama than the ones you mentioned. By the way, I dropped the same dramas. :) - Except Moon Lovers which I couldn't drop because I didn't even start it. ;)

I liked the changes they made to the classical Hong Gil-dong novel. Making Hong Gil-dong's dad a lowborn too, does take away the focus of the story from the halfborn noblemen's sons and their struggles. In accordance it was good to leave out the "Book of Changes" and just give Hong Gil-dong some extraordinairy strength he was born with. You can still use it to tell a tale about what to do with power and incorperate the elements of the story in which Hong Gil-dong's special powers were important.
As they wanted to tell a story about leadership, it was also good that they changed the time. The classical story takes place during the reign of King Sejong (it was written a little bit later though - there are different theories when and by whom it was written), who wouldn't have been a good example for a leader who is NOT a good leader of the people. King Yeonsan definitely isn't seen as a good leader and he still has a connection to Hong Gil-dong as he is the King during whos reign the historical robber Hong Gil-dong was active.

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So real life Hong Gil Dong was existed during the tyrant king era?

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He is a folktale hero. He did not exist in real life.

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The Korean Robin Hood in real life was Im Kkeokjeong. He existed during King Myeongjong’s reign. He is the inspiration for every fictional Hong Gil-dong out there.

Im Kkeokjeong was from the lowest class (butcher). There is 1996 sageuk based on his life.

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Yup, he is the "real" real life Hong Gil-dong influence.

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@Liina

Seems like they are going with the real life hero here with his origin as a lower class, his physical description and exceptional strength fits giant baby Yoon Kyun-sang.
I kind of like it.

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@Kiara: I hope they will take the ending from the folktale though! Hong Gil-dong is such a nice guy hero. He is helping everyone who is in need and then takes responsibility for each and everyone he has safed, subdued, is realted to, etc.. I don't want to watch him die! I'd be totally fine if he would just conquer some small fictional neighbour country and establish his own kingdom!

I also wonder what happened to the assassin character that was mentioned during all the early "eventually will be casted" news. Is he still in the drama? Because there was also a twist to it as the character doesn't seem to be killed literally but starting to question his lifestyle. It had reminded me on the friendship between chinese novelist Gu Long's character Chu Liu Xiang and his assassin friend (I forgot his name...), which is one of my favourite friendships.

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According to the Joseon Wangjo Sillok a bandit named Hong Gil-dong was executed in the year 1500. It was also listed as one of his crimes was that he dared to dress up as nobility.
He wasn't quite the hero as in the novel that was later written as he seemed to have been quite feared by the peasants.
The classic novel Hong Gil-dong has a variety of influences for its main charakter. The most prominent might be Sun Wukong from Chinese Classic "The Jounrney to the West".

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Thanks for the background information on the historic figure Hong Gil-dong. I haven't seen the 2008 fusion sageuk, and am wondering if it would be worth it to marathon it before watching this version. I enjoy watching different takes on stories. Having already seen THE KING AND THE CLOWN, I know what I'm in for.

I'm expecting REBEL will be good because the writer did such a great job on THE KING'S DAUGHTER, SU BAEK-HYANG. That story had plenty of tragedy deftly interwoven with romance, touching and luminous moments, great bromance, and comic relief. Righteous leadership figured strongly in it, too. I can imagine the oodles of underdog heart with which this drama will be imbued. And if the cinematography is even half as good as KDSBH's, I'll be a happy camper.

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I think you should give the 2008 one a try. Don't be too put off with the silliness of the first episode - I actually enjoyed it after I watched the drama through and saw it the second time. The first half of the drama is really fun, sometimes silly, the second half takes quite a dark turn. I actually enjoyed both halves but it did make me wonder if I was watching the same drama once the second half hit. Anyway, it's a really inconsistent drama but great fun for the most part. It's certainly one of my favorite sageuks, but then I do like fusion rather that straight up historical.

Now I've given my recommendation, can you tell me about The King's Daughter? I don't think I've even heard about it. Is it a drama or movie?

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King's Daughter Soo Baek-hyang was a MBC drama that aired in 2013/2014 and was quite well received. You probably haven't heard about it, because it was an 108 episode drama. It's set in the Era of the Three Kingdoms, during the reign of King Muryeong of Baekje.

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@Barbrey,

Just found your reply. Thanks so much for the info on HGD from 2008. Silliness in the first episode is fine. Considering how much I enjoyed the cheesy hijinks in ILJIMAE with Lee Joon-gi, it sounds like it would be right up my alley. I'll give it a shot before REBEL starts. ;-)

Rather than blather all over again, I'll give you a link to one of my recent raves about Seo Hyun-jin's performance in THE KING'S DAUGHTER, SU BAEK-HYANG. It mentions many other aspects of the show that made it my gateway sageuk, and the touchstone against which I measure casts, plots, character development, and heart. I could squee ad infinitum -- and did, over at Soompi, which was the only place I could find recaps and discussion while the show aired.

KDSBH isn't perfect, but in my book, it's close. Originally scheduled for 120 episodes of roughly half an hour, 12 of them were lost due to the doggone Sochi Olympics and end-of-year schedule changes. The Soompi forum habitues went bonkers awaiting 1 or 2 episodes a week instead of the usual 5. My first experience of Kdrama collective obsession and mania -- with a first-class bunch of folks. The ending was resolved okay, but I felt cheated by the loss of episodes. Oh, what could have been. ;-)

The subtitles by D. Bannon were supplied by MBC, and they were pretty good. I watched it on HULU.

Anyway, I hope this helps. It's a major commitment to watch 108 episodes. But it's so visually pleasing and emotionally satisfying, you might want to give it a shot. If in doubt, watch a couple of weeks. The story, which spans 4 reigns in Baekje, grabbed me right out of the gate, due in no small part to the romance between SBH's natural parents, and later her mother and stepfather. There are some mighty fine ahjussis in the cast. ;-)

http://www.dramabeans.com/2016/12/2016-year-in-review-part-7-editors-picks/

13.5 PakalanaPikake December 30th, 2016 at 10:17 AM

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@PakalanaPikake - thanks so much! I will definitely give this a try though normally 108 episodes would completely turn me off before watching the first episode. But you make a great case for watching it!

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The Hong Gil-dong from 2008 had a beautiful Scandinavian song in its OST. It was sung in Norwegian by Norwegian singer Sissel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0v158W2lI5Y

Lær meg å kjenne dine veie og gå dem trøstig skritt for skritt.
Jeg vet at hva jeg fikk i eie, er borget gods, og alt er ditt.
Men vil din sterke hånd meg lede, jeg aldri feil på målet ser,
Og for hvert håp som dør her nede, får jeg et håp i himlen mer.

Teach me to understand Your ways and walk them step by step.
I know that all I got as my possessions are borrowed goods and they are all Yours.
But if Your strong hand will guide me, I will never fail my goal.
And for every hope that dies down here, I will receive one more hope in heaven.

Beautiful song even for an agnostic person like myself.

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@Liina,

This is incredibly beautiful and uplifting. And the han makes it feel so Korean.

I cannot get over Sissel's voice. Truly heavenly.

I cannot thank you enough for the link and the lyrics in both Norwegian and English! What exquisite soul. I haven't heard much Norwegian before, but I can see and hear some of the cognates with German. The feeling and some of the phonemes remind me of Irish language and music, too. It must be my ancestral genes kicking in. My forebears came from an Viking area of Ireland. ;-)

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Kang Ji Hwan was such a fab Hong Gil Dong, I hope I will like Mr Cat-owner as much!

Kim Ji Suk is usually the idiot/assy second lead like in personal taste.... I think this is my first time seeing him in a villain role, I'm sure he will be good.

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Glad they're still remaking the Hong-gil Dong lore, the last one by the hong sisters was kinda meh, I hope I will like this one

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reasons why i am excited:

-the cast (yks and csb first leading roles!!)
-the story
-the (hopefully) epic fights
-i still have post six flying dragons withdrawals and am so glad to see moo hyul back in action all bloody

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This looks good and promising. All of them are very underrated actors. Kim Ji Suk is versatile actor. I really like him.

It's been a while to see Kyun Sang as an actor. I spent months enjoying him eating his Eric hyung food like no tomorrow.

I wish him all the best. More success means, more food for Kongie and Mongie.

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I've been looking forward to seeing Kim Ji-suk in another sageuk since his turn as the randy but goodhearted ladies' man Wang-Son in CHUNO. After his hilarious romantic misadventures in OH HAE-YOUNG AGAIN, seeing him morph into Yeonsangun will be a treat. He looks great in kingly raiment.

Still have yet to watch SIX FLYING DRAGONS, but got a kick out of Yoon Kyun-sang in THREE MEALS A DAY.

Aside from the righteous thieves in the two ILJIMAEs, and HYANGDAN, I haven't actually seen Hong Gil-dong portrayed yet, either. Might have time to sneak it in before REBEL premieres. The DB rating for the 2008 version makes me think I should give it a go. ;-)

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I'm rewatching Sassy Go Go so I remember Kim Ji Suk as the adorable and supportive Teacher. So weird seeing him as a villain. Will I be able to hate him?

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I think you will be able to see him as a villain. I saw him for the first time in Personal Taste and he did a great job as a smarmy asshole ex-fiance till he redeemed himself somewhat.

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He was brilliant in Cheongdamdong Alice too, acting as a calculative and cold fashion designer who had to give up his pride and dignity to enter the high society of Cheongdamdong

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I am very excited to see Baby Moo-Hyul back, and Chae Soo Bin was delightful in MDBC, so I am interested in this pairing.

However, I am looking forward more to Kim Ji Suk and Honey Lee taking on negative roles, because I have seen them only as fun supporting characters. They are both extremely versatile, and I can't wait to see them become two of the most hated figures in Korean History.

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Honey Lee was brilliant as Yeon Hwa in Shine or Go Crazy, probably the best character. I am really excited to see her in another historical drama.

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I find it odd that Chae Soo-bin is absent in all promos released so far. I wonder what she looks like in costume.

I'll be checking this out for the leads. This looks like an action-y sageuk in the vein of Warrior Baek Dong-soo (minus the epic bromance). I hope it's good.

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I thought Chae Soo-bin was the girl that is bound to the pole in both of the teasers. I might be wrong about it, but the girl on the pole wears exactly the same clothes as Chae Soo-bin is wearing in the behind the scenes pictures.

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I don't think the lower face matches, but I could be wrong. It could be her.

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Yeah, I also remembered her features differently. It might be another person then. Or it's just the angle.

But don't be too concerned about missing promo material for her character. They just started filming with the adult cast recently.

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Chae Soo-bin's character is a widow - a woman whose husband has died - not a widower.

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They seem to keep making this mistake, I've seen it pointed out in other posts before.

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Maybe that's how Korean calls it. Widower regardless of gender.

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Sometimes I feel a bit guilty being so invested in sageuks, because it felt like I was neglecting my own country's history. I never really felt a pull towards my own country's background, though I do know the basic stuff. It just so happens that Korean history, with the beautiful clothing, the cultures and the social hierarchy, and UK's socio-political, 18th-century rules and norm attracts me more. I know there's a lot of people like me out there too, so I just wanted to say that enjoying shows like these are completely fine and you don't have to feel guilty! They're classified as entertainment after all, and learning about another country's vast culture and history is an opportunity, and one that's exciting. Thus I await Rebel Hong Gil-dong (and his oh-so-glorious mane of tremendous glory) with lots of anticipation!! Cheering for Yoon Kyun-sang in his first leading role!

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Me too! Though in my defence, my country seems more interested in adapting foreign movies and fake-ass Makjang epics than in making actual historicals or even period movies.

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My country's too new to have a very interesting history, and somehow paranoid kings, scheming queens, sassy princesses and handsome princes scoop my interest a lot more than a few hundred years of bureaucrats and prime ministers. I like deep histories and all the strange social systems they had in some of these countries. I know a lot about Korean history now, and I'm expanding that interest into China now. Places I had little interest in learning about before I started watching kdramas!

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You should try European history too. They are fun, if you don't mind a little bit of gore. I particularly enjoyed reading about how the hungarian jaw came about, Henry VIII and his wives, Marie Antoinette etc. Wikipedia is so handy when it comes to reading related topics.

China is fun, especially on their torturing methods. Cringe-worthy, but interesting read.

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Thanks transient, I do know quite a bit of European history - can even name all Henry's wives, and researched the Habsburg jaw years ago looking at all the incestuous relationships between European royals. But Asian history aside from some basics is really new to me. I am now off to look up Chinese torture methods! Thanks for the tip!

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Actually, looking up Chinese torture methods was a mistake as the first site had graphic real photos - they were still using these methods in more modern history - and now I feel really unsettled.

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No need to feel guilty. It actually gives you a broader perspective to then consider your own country's history. In fact, global history is one of the most exciting new developments (for me) in universities. I used to be interested in only European and American history, thinking that Asia was just too complex for me. Thanks to kdrama I've slowly started to learn about Korean and Chinese characters and dynasties. Actually, I'm going to a lecture on Ming pottery next week so in a way kdrama has broadened my academic horizons (I've just justified my drama procrastination syndrome too, yay!).

I love it when two dramas help me piece together bits of history. For example, I happened to watch Empress Ki and Faith one after the other. Neither were actually very 'historical', I realised after doing some research, but they made me look into China and the Korean peninsula more closely towards the end of the Yuan dynasty, 14th century.

And when my historical worlds collide, it's just amazing. I still remember a scene in Queen Seon Deok where merchants from Rome (would have been the Byzantine Empire by then, 7th century) were speaking in Latin with their Asian counterparts in the middle of the desert. I was dumstruck. We forget that there were global connections before the Internet. :D

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I'm really rooting for MBC this year. Fighting!!!

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skipped a whole sageuk in 2016, the last thing I watched only SFD. Glad this year I finally could get this drama bcs it's casted well, kinda bored with such a youthful cheesy pinky drama.
and ofc it's lee hanui here. I wonder when will she get the main role. is she still not good enough or less unpopular?
i've already bcme fan of her since pasta, well she always totally into every roles. sigh.

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It will be very interesting to watch Kim Ji Suk plays as the bad guy. I only saw him as fluffy second lead all these time. Can't wait.

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