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Saimdang, Light’s Diary: Episode 1

Lee Young-ae’s highly anticipated comeback drama, Saimdang, Light’s Diary premiered today as a double header. We spend most of the episode in the present timeline navigating the cutthroat world of academic art history, but slowly the mystery of Saimdang comes to the forefront, and we begin to see the nexus where past meets present, and where time stands still.

 
BACKGROUND

For little context before we dive in: Shin Saimdang is widely considered as one of the most well-known female figures in Korean history. She lived during the Joseon period, and was an accomplished artist, calligraphist, and poet in her own right. As the oldest daughter of a scholar in a family with no sons, she received more education than was commonly given to women during that time.

However, despite her achievements, she more often is represented as an ideal woman or “Wise Mother” based on Confucian ideals, primarily through her son (renowned Confucian scholar Yi Yi’s) depictions of her through his writings. But this idea is also carried through her own poetry, where she frequently expresses her deep devotion to her parents.

Thus, the aim of Saimdang, Light’s Diary is likely an attempt to reconcile those two seemingly contradictory portrayals of Shin Saimdang, by going back and examining her early life. So without further ado, let’s get to it!

 
EPISODE 1 RECAP

Our story opens in Tuscany, Italy back in 1551, where a bevy of lords and ladies gather in an impressive manor for some dancing and socializing. Late into the night, a maid knocks on a door with a tray of food in hand, and calls out for “Mister Lee” to take his dinner. The calls go unanswered and eventually she leaves.

Inside, we see a haggard looking man, whose eyes are crazed as he paints–this is our hero, LEE GYEOM (Song Seung-heon). As his brush glides across the red lips of the woman in his painting, memories of her flash through his mind. The woman is, of course, the famous SHIN SAIMDANG (Lee Young-ae).

Haunted by the past, Gyeom races out of his room and out onto the balcony overlooking the great hall. The partygoers below look up in surprise when they hear Gyeom scream out like a deranged man, filled with regrets.

In the present, art history lecturer SEO JI-YOON (also Lee Young-ae) stares adoringly at a beautiful painting on the wall. A moment later, a man, Professor MIN JUNG-HAK (Choi Jong-hwan), and two other women arrive at the house.

The new arrivals greet Ji-yoon familiarly, and it becomes clear at some point that Ji-yoon is a protege of Professor Min. Her presence in his home, and the fact that she helps out around the house and brings the family large quantities of homemade dishes, showcases a close relationship between mentor and student, but also illustrates how much Ji-yoon’s career is tied to Professor Min’s opinion.

We see that all of Ji-yoon’s extra effort has paid off when Professor Min assigns her to write a research paper on a famous Joseon artist. More specifically, a paper on An Gyeon’s “Mount Geumgang,” a painting that has appeared again after five hundred years. Ji-yoon is overjoyed to receive the assignment, and the honor of the project isn’t lost on her. Professor Min’s wife hints that with the completion of her research, she will finally complete her PhD.

After thanking him profusely, Ji-yoon hurries over to see the painting for herself. Its beauty takes her breath away, and she revels at the history before her eyes. As she takes a few photos of the painting from several angles, something catches her notice, but she shakes it off.

Soon, her mother-in-law (Kim Hae-sook) calls to ask where she is, realizing she’s late for a family gathering, Ji-yoon rushes off.

Elsewhere, Professor Min meets with DIRECTOR SUN (Kim Mi-kyung), the owner of the new An Gyeon painting and the gallery where it will be showcased. They discuss the importance of the Mount Geumgang painting, since it is currently the talk of the town and is likely to become a national treasure. Their conversation is loaded with subtext, and ultimately, it becomes clear that Director Sun hopes the academic work done on the painting will help both their careers soar to new heights.

Ji-yoon arrives home and greets her elders, as her mother-in-law praises her recent and near-guaranteed position as a professor. She encourages Ji-yoon to not mind the guests and work on her thesis instead.

In her office, Jiyoon examines the photos she took of the painting with exacting precision. She notices that there are maple tree designs on the border, which was common during the Edo period, which conflicts with An Gyeon’s recorded lifetime.

The revelation troubles her greatly, but before she can contemplate the mystery further, she receives a call from a bank looking for her husband, JUNG MIN-SUK (Lee Hae-young). She asks what the call is about, but the man on the phone avoids going to details and asks that her husband call them back.

As if on cue, her husband returns home, so she immediately prepares a healthy drink for him before proceeding to tell him about the new painting. She buzzes about its importance, but then admits that something about feels off. She cites the frustration in the brushstrokes and how the texture of the silk canvas differs from the other known An Gyeon pieces, whose strokes are elegant and bold.

Her husband asks if she means to contradict Professor Min’s assessment of the painting as authentic. She denies it, so he advises her to go with the flow. Ji-yoon decides not to argue with him, then mentions the call from the bank, and thinks it strange for them to call so late.

He doesn’t say anything to her inquiry, but when she leaves, a troubled expression appears on his face.

As they settle into bed for the night, she tells Min-suk that she’s flying out to a conference on Saturday in Bologna, Italy. It takes him a moment to digest the information before he sits up, alarmed. He complains about the suddenness of her announcement, asking who will take care of their child while she is gone, but Ji-yoon argues that she told him a long time ago about it, and he clearly forgot.

Annoyed, the pair go to sleep with a huff.

At the university, Ji-yoon presents her research on the An Gyeon painting. She tells the audience (which includes Professor Min and Director Sun) about what a miracle it is to find another An Gyeon masterpiece after five hundred years.

Ji-yoon introduces Professor Min, who comes to the stage to speak on the discovery of the painting and its significance. Professor Min explains that An Gyeon’s most famous painting, “Dream Journey to the Peach Blossom Land,” represents a time during the Joseon period when Korean artists began painting idyllic landscapes as seen in Chinese arts.

Suddenly, a young man in the audience named HAN SANG-HYUN (Yang Se-jong) raises his hand to ask a question. We learn from some whisperers in the crowd that the young man is apparently someone who was fired by Professor Min for arguing against his opinions.

Sang-hyun begins pointing out the two discrepancies Ji-yoon had found earlier in her investigation to question the piece’s authenticity. Two security officers arrive to escort Sang-hyun out, but he fights them off and turns to ask Ji-yoon her opinion directly.

After a long and painful moment of hesitation, Ji-yoon confesses that she can’t be sure it’s the real thing. She explains that although the mounting of the painting is done in a style commonly found during the Edo period, she points out that paintings were commonly remounted throughout history.

Thus, she says, the mounting alone isn’t a correct method of evaluation, and against someone like Professor Min, who has studied An Gyeon’s art for over thirty years, Sang-hyun’s criticisms seem theatrical rather than objective. The audience then breaks out into laughter at Ji-yoon’s denouncement of the interrupter.

After the seminar, Professor Min tries to assuage Director Sun’s concerns by explaining that the art history world is full of doubters and critics. When she isn’t fully convinced, he promises that he is putting his entire career on the line for the project.

Ji-yoon also meets with Professor Min to apologize for the incident during the seminar. Although he’s agitated by the event, he calmly assures Ji-yoon not to mind it, and tells her to focus on her presentation in Bologna instead. As he turns away from her, he scowls.

Later, Ji-yoon calls her husband from a restaurant, where he’s a no-show. She complains into his voicemail that he was supposed to tell his mother about her upcoming trip.

Meanwhile, at Min-suk’s office, it’s pandemonium as prosecutors arrive to seize company documents as their stock begins to plummet. After returning home from dinner, Ji-yoon is stunned to see her living room filled with angry people demanding to know where her husband is.

It turns out that those people are debt collectors, since her husband ran off without paying back his loans. Things get rowdy quickly as the group begins pushing the family around. Ji-yoon then receives a call from her husband, who tells her to take their family and leave town for a while.

She runs out of the house to try and find him, but the mob follows her and begins to assault her as her cowardly husband watches the chaos unfold from nearby.

Later, Ji-yoon takes her mother-in-law and young son to her friend, GO HYE-JUNG’s (Park Jun-myun) apartment for refuge. When her family is out of sight, in a moment of weakness and with tears in her eyes, Ji-yoon contemplates giving up her ambitions to be a professor. Hye-jung rightly tells her not to give up, promising that they’ll get through this somehow.

The next morning, the newly blended family adjusts to a morning routine, and Ji-yoon speaks with her shell-shocked mother-in-law, promising to become a professor no matter what so she can support their family until her husband returns.

On the airplane to Bologna, Ji-yoon shows Professor Min her presentation materials. He capriciously objects to the color and design of her slides, but then takes little interest in the changes she makes.

At their hotel, Ji-yoon runs into a famous art historian that she knows, and she asks for his autograph. He also recognizes her from a video taken of her seminar back in Korea about the Mount Geumgang painting. He tells her that he feels like the painting is strange and needs to be researched further. Oh boy.

Ji-yoon is stunned by his critique, but is unable to respond before Professor Min comes over to greet the man.

Separately, Ji-yoon and Professor Min both watch the video circulating online about the painting’s controversy, which questions its authenticity. Professor Min receives a call from Director Sun demanding that he take care of the video.

Ji-yoon tries to do her own damage control, mainly through Hye-jung’s connections, but she’s too overwhelmed by all the moving pieces in her life to give it too much attention.

A little later, Ji-yoon arrives at a cocktail event, but upon meeting Professor Min, he immediately demands she go out and purchase some toiletries for his personal use. She’s flustered by the command, but then eventually obliges.

She returns with his items in hand and waits on the side timidly as Professor Min takes his glory shots. They meet privately to the side, only for Professor Min to tell her to leave at once. He suggests she change her major and give up all hopes of becoming an art history professor, otherwise he’ll ruin her life permanently. Oh man, this guy is a piece of work.

Left with no other option, Ji-yoon heads back to her hotel room, only to discover all her luggage has been placed outside the door. She’s been forcibly checked out of the hotel, and she tries to complain to the front desk about it, but they aren’t helpful at all.

Soon, Ji-yoon is wandering the streets alone with nowhere to go. Hye-jung calls to ask what happened, because apparently Professor Min has manipulated the story to make it seem as if Ji-yoon irresponsibly blew off her presentation to go out shopping. Ugh! This guy!

Ji-yoon can’t believe her ears, but Hye-jung rightfully assesses the situation and understands that Professor Min had it all planned from the beginning, and that he selfishly decided to take credit for Ji-yoon’s work. Hye-jung warns Ji-yoon that the only way out is the prove that the painting is a fake, like she suspects it to be.

As Ji-yoon walks through the night, the wheels on one of her suitcases breaks, so she opens up her bag and begins throwing about all the books she has of Professor Min’s. She laments the fact that she wrote one of the books, but received no credit. She also laments that for five years she worked like a dog under him, but he still refused to give her a PhD.

She downs some boxed soju she brought with her, then stumbles half-drunk through the streets until she knocks over some displays of a used book stand. The owner insists that it’s fine (in Italian), but after she gives him some money, he hands her a few books he grabbed absentmindedly from the fallen pile.

Without much resistance, she takes the books and his well wishes, then walks around until she finds a cheap place to stay.

In her motel room, she receives a text from her husband informing her that their house has been given over as collateral. She throws her phone across the room in a fit of frustration, but then notices one of the books given to her for the first time.

Fatefully, she reads the words “Mount Geumgang” on the cover, and can’t believe it might be connected to her research. She finds an Italian phrase on the cover: “Siesta Di Luna,” which translates to “Moon’s Sleep.”

The next morning, an inspired Ji-yoon goes around town asking about the mysterious phrase, until she sees something in the window that leads her to Tuscany. Turns out, Siesta Di Luna is the name of an estate, the one Lee Gyeom was staying at in the top of the episode.

The owner of the estate greets her at the door to show her around. As she walks through the great hall, it is almost as if she can feel the lords and ladies dancing to the music back in 1551. Suddenly, she turns toward the balcony and hears Lee Gyeom cry out into the night.

Something takes hold of her from within, and soon she hurries through the grand building, climbing the stairs in search of something, in spite of the owner’s protests that there is nothing but empty rooms.

A mysterious breeze blows through the air, and though Ji-yoon doesn’t realize it, a phantom image of Lee Gyeom walks past her, linking them together.

Her search takes her to room, where the owner notes that the window has mysteriously opened on its own again. Sitting on the window sill is a dove, who curiously watches Ji-yoon scan the room.

As she looks around, images of the past fill her mind, until the mirror before her shatters in a thousand pieces, and the dove takes flight. To their surprise, hidden inside the mirror is a large, ornately painted cabinet.

When Ji-yoon opens the doors, inside is the painting of Shin Saimdang that Lee Gyeom painted nearly five hundred years ago at Siesta Di Luna, whose resemblance to Ji-yoon is uncanny. The owner, believing it to be fate, offers Ji-yoon all the ancient items stored in the cabinet. Whoa, pretty generous.

On her flight home, she reads over the booklets she found in the cabinet, part of which says: “Flowing and flowing. To feel regret for the death of an innocent. Letting go of this desperate sadness to the skies. The past memories must be written.”

She contacts a botanist to examine the seeds that she found in a pouch with the other items. Right away, the botanist remarks that the seeds are at least hundreds of years old.

After she leaves, she gets a text notifying her of her removal as a lecturer. She goes to the registrar to complain about having some time left on her contract with the school. The manager dismisses her and explains that the climate right now is strained, especially because there are other instructors protesting against the school.

Outside, Sang-hyun sits with the rest of the protestors, and when he sees her, he runs over to speak with her. She tries to brush him off, then accuses him of trying to recruit her to join his protest. Sang-hyun explains that he only wanted to apologize for dragging her into his conflict with Professor Min.

She’s outraged by his apology and asks how he can apologize after basically guaranteeing her demise. He thinks she’s being dramatic, and claims that she’ll be fine since she did kind of agree with him on the fact that the supposed An Gyeon painting was suspicious. His comments set her off, and she tells him not to assume he knows anything about her life, and to leave her alone.

Back at Hye-jung’s, Ji-yoon tries to mount her defense against Professor Min’s false claims in preparation for her upcoming disciplinary meeting, but it isn’t going very well. At that moment, her husband calls to meet, so she runs out to meet him at a train station.

He texts her the location of a certain locker and tells her the passcode. She spots him in the distance and chases after him, but he jumps on a train before she can catch him. In the locker is a large stack of money, and a note that simply tells her that he’ll call again.

The next day, Ji-yoon sits before the disciplinary committee and attempts to salvage her good name. She maintains that Professor Min and her have a misunderstanding of some kind, and that she has prepared some documents to support her story.

However, Professor Min is far more prepared that she is, and shows the committee photographic evidence of her holding a shopping bag filled with Professor Min’s requested toiletries, and a video of her drunken tirade on the streets.

With the evidence stacked against her, Ji-yoon’s fate is sealed, and she is terminated.

After the meeting, Ji-yoon storms into Professor Min’s office, and then shockingly gets on her knees to tearfully beg for forgiveness. She pleads with him to save her, but Professor Min’s true personality shows itself, and he tells his underlings to get her out of his sight.

 
COMMENTS

I’m surprised we didn’t go back in time just yet, but I like the sweet, sweet vengeance being set up now. Things did move a little bit quickly in this episode for my taste, but on the other hand, I’m happy to get the setup out of the way if it means we can start to learn about Saimdang. The other good thing about the fast pacing is that I feel like we got a good grip on the main players in the present timeline. Right now, I don’t think these characters are interesting or new in any way, but I was entertained enough to keep going, which I suppose is the main thing.

I really didn’t expect Yang Se-jong’s character to be such a central part of the modern plot. I guess I’ve been conditioned to overlook the actors that play the main cast’s younger selves, because it’s really all about who has top billing in those cases. That said, I think it’s an interesting setup, and I liked all of Ji-yoon’s and Sang-hyun’s interactions so far, so I’m eager to see how it plays out, and if it’s successful.

There’s something about this drama that feels dated somehow, but I can’t really figure out what that is exactly. It might be the themes dealt with in this episode (everything’s pretty familiar), or I think it might be Ji-yoon’s character that I’m having a little trouble with. I like the components and trajectory of her story, but I didn’t feel that I ever really connected with her. But it’s only the first episode, so there’s time to explore her characterization a little more deeply, and perhaps through her research of Saimdang’s life.

But, we can’t talk about this episode without discussing Lee Young-ae. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve imagined her as Dae Jang Geum for so long, but every time I saw Lee Young-ae as Saimdang, I got so excited (even if it was a painting oddly enough), and I just felt like it was right. And then I would see her as Ji-yoon, but like I said before, I didn’t connect to her character or even her portrayal of the character as much as I wanted to.

To me, Lee Young-ae is like one of those people that was born in the wrong era. She just possesses this air that doesn’t feel modern somehow. Maybe I’ve fallen victim to overly romanticizing her, but I couldn’t shake the feeling while I was watching the episode. She just works for sageuk, so I can’t wait to see her in the past storyline.

Overall, I think this first episode did what it set out to do. The art history plotline could’ve easily fallen flat, but it managed to be engrossing. I don’t know that it was necessary to have that whole husband bankruptcy story thread, but it was used well enough as an impetus for Ji-yoon to ignore her instincts and continue with her presentation of the An Gyeon painting. That said, I would like a little less of those plot lines, because it’s distracting, and we’re all here for Saimdang, so more time spent on that the better, in my opinion.

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Yay!!! So happy this drama is being recapped. The first episode is beautiful and the show has great potential .

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To be honest, I watched the first two episodes and felt a bit...bored? Of course, I understand the story is set for Korean audiences, who have a much more deep insight into the life of Shin Saimdang, but I didn't feel much excitement, or enjoyment of the show itself.

The second episode was more interesting, because of it was primarily set in the past, but I still don't feel anything.

The only interesting line is how they would reconcile Ji Yoon and Sang-Hyun's obvious past connection and present. It would be interesting to see her fall for the younger man in the present. A nice plot twist.

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"I understand that the story is set for the Korean audience."

Not really. Saimdang is not exactly a favored historical character to dramatize at the moment. On top of it, the normal image of her an average Korean has and what is portrayed her are so at odds with each other that I think a lot of Koreans would find this drama distasteful. I think this is another example of money-hungry drama producers abusing Korean history and historical figures to sell to the Chinese market and too bad the THAAD ruined it for them.

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Interesting to hear this opinion. I thought she would be a famous figure considering her appearance on bank notes and all. Though I understand the China conundrum, I am curious as to why the Korean public won't like Saimdang.Do tell me.

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Yes, she is famous but considering the current political and social atmosphere in Korea, it's not a good time to be showing a drama about her. Especially when the fictionalized image of Saimdang is so different from what Koreans normally associate with her. I am all for depicting her more as an individual and a talented artist and poet rather than a wise mother and wife. But really, coming up with this fake extramarital romance plot and making her younger counterpart a skirt-shedding, wall-jumping tomboy the best way to go about it? At least, I am not sold.

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I wonder if the drama producers believed that Dae Jang Geum was popular in the Chinese market for its historical setting?

Having been introduced to Korean dramas through Dae Jang Geum by way of the Chinese market, I had the impression that everyone liked it so much because it was all about cooking and food. XD

And then she became a doctor, so that was even better (As in the perfect segway for parental comments such as, "See, daughter, you too should be a doctor.")

From a Chinese perspective, where perhaps Lee Young Ae is recognizable only in her character, and less as an actress name, would having her headline a drama be an automatic draw? I'm not sure. (Note: just speculating here)

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Not sure how the Chinese market is dragged into this because I don't think the drama or premise is going to appeal all that well with the Chinese market. The movie on Confucius (with Chow Yun Fat as Confucius) completely tanked in China lol and Chinese business insiders should probably know that. This is by and large a Korean drama catered to a Korean audience, I would say.

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Thanks, Salmon poke your comment was indeed the point of my rather long winded post, haha! :)

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Saimdang's production cost was approximately $20M and about half of that money came from a Chinese investor. Since Dae Jang Geum was a huge hit even in China, maybe they thought any Korean sageuk about a strong female main character would make them a lot of money especially if Lee Young Ae chose it as her come-back piece after 13 years.

What's more, they originally planned to air this simultaneously in Korea and China but because of the fall-out between the two countries over the THAAD issue, China refused to approve its airing. Instead of going ahead with airing it in Korea only, SBA put off even the Korean airing date by a few months while continuing to promote it heavily. This also ticked off many Korean viewers and many already feel fatigued by this drama. And so far what I have seen (ep 1-2) does not make me feel optimistic about this drama.

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Iiiiinteresting... thanks for the background information. I suspect that even without the THAAD matter complicating things, this drama would not have been as popular as the investors hoped. I suppose we'll find out!!

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Oh wow never knew this piece of information... I wish there wouldn't be this kind of Chinese-Korean business deals because it just means the production team has to try and tailor the drama to suit both countries' tastes...and more often than not failing both sides.

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Also agree with little cat, the whole thaaad mess aside, the drama probably won't do as well as anticipated in the Chinese market. Idk, marketing a drama about Confucianism and a female lead representing Confucian idealism just seem very at odds with the kind of frustrations (sexism, workplace inequality, in-law conflicts, etc.--some very rooted in Confucian teachings) that women in China (and I bet Korea too) face. Maybe the drama will try to reconcile this?

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*Sigh* I get what you mean about abusing Korean history in that manner. If it wasn't for the THAAD we would've seen more.
Even fans outside of Korea would rather watch Korean sageuks that are made for Koreans. That's what brought some of us here in the first place.

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SLVR: I suggest you check this too link to have some background about the story:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shin_Saimdang
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Gyeon
And by the way Shin Saimdang is the first woman to appear on a South Korean banknote, the 50,000 won note, first issued in June 2009. So I think she is well known by most SK people!

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Thanks for the links! I did indeed read up about them, but somehow I found the start too..bland? Maybe its just that I am very used to the set of fast-paced sageuks that have aired in the past few years, where they quickly establish some sort of secret/action/injustice in the beginning (such as Dong Yi, Six Flying Dragons, Tree with Deep Roots, Dae Jang Geum) or some sort of Fluff/love story (Sungkyungkwan Scandal, Moonlight Drawn by the Clouds) or even Scarlet Heart with the similar time travel premise.

I think it's more a personal preference than anything else...

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Honesy, for me, I found the first episode to be intriguing. I am very excited for what's to come as well, and to hear that the ratings for the two episodes were 15% and 16%, respectively, shows the Lee Young Ae power everyone's heard at least once about. I've been waiting for this drama since 2015, too, so I can't say much either, heh ^^
Lee Young Ae made me forget that she is LYA for this episode. She just is the character itself for me at the moment, ha. I got mini jolts whenever I heard her voice because it's so... regal, I guess. Not the usual voice you hear these days in dramas at least. I am so excited for this!! :)

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I found the first two episodes very compelling! Beautiful and mysterious. For the first time modern and sageuk era connected for an important reason (not we fated to love in every time line LOTBS and Goblin, etc.)

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I'll persist with this for a few more episodes. It might not come out the gate in a grand way but it hints at greater things (hopefully). I'm also curious by SSH's acting. Can it be, possibly, after all these years, he finally steps up as an actor? The eternal optimist in me just want to give him one more chance.

I cringe at the Italian scenes where Ji-yoon interacts with locals, especially the owner of the manor *facepalm*. It is just illogical but yes let's go with the plot.

Lee Young Ae just glows in screen. She has that magnetic and delicate quality that draws you in.

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lol, I actually liked the Italian manor guy scenes. There's been much worse than that (the Heirs, even Legend of the Blue Sea). It was totally illogical that he let her just take that stuff though haha.

Skeptical about this one because I could not make it through Dae Jang Geum. I really want to see her to get revenge on that professor guy though, what a jerkface.

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Not the owner of the manor but an estate agent. The manor is for sale and that was how LYA knew about its whereabout when she passed the window of an estate agency. So it's logical for the agent to show her around, believing her to be a potential buyer.

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Oh, that's right! An estate agent. However the part where he gives her the buried treasures without even checking with the owner or finding out what those paintings are just... Scratching my head.

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Seriously, I don't know what going wrong with this drama. It's not strong enough after too much time I expected.
Kim Hae Sook's role.. It's all the same again.
Song Seung Heon, why you so handsome but your acting so lacking? At least, don't shout with us. How can his acting never improve after many years?

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I hadn't really delved too deeply into the intricacies of the storyline, so I was completely taken aback with the fate/fantasy element at the end. I was kinda disappointed that it wasn't just a straight up drama. Her magically being able to see images of the past etc. just felt out of place in the story that was being told.

That being said, I still really enjoyed it and plan to keep watching if all goes well.

As Murusakami said Lee Young-ae does saeguk so well. Everytime she appeared on screen in her Joseon attire I was spellbound. She is ethereally beautiful!! Simply stunning!!!! She does almost seem as if she was born into the wrong era, as she fit so perfectly in the historical setting.

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Ridiculous and boring from the very first episode. I just laughed hysterically when the mirror shattered (why? Was the pigeon possessed with Lee Gyeom's ghost or something?) to reveal her portrait. And she hangs up a picture that was sealed in the dark for hundreds of years out in the sun like some laundry? I know nothing about preserving old paintings but even I am pretty sure that the direct sunlight is the worst thing for such an artifact. And I know LYE is pretty, but what's up with all these Italian people calling her Beautiful One? The writer makes them look like blubbering idiots worshipping at the feet of the beautiful one, just giving her everything, even ancient (and probably extremely valuable) writings and picture just discovered at one's mansion. I am sorry but I smell a huge flop.

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Men commenting on a woman beauty (even average woman) is very common in itally! And the painting was under a mirror cabinet that reflects sunlight...

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That bad? Kind of miss her after rewatching Lady Vengeance.

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In my opinion, not that bad, Kiara. Maybe because this drama is big buget and hyped, so the expectation could be at the highest.

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The hype yes, even I have high expectation of it mainly because she is a big name in sageuks. I'm guessing since Kim Jae-hyung's "West Palace" (1995).

Oh well, I don't have time for a 30 eps drama right now but I'll try it later.

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Well it certainly doesn't feel like a big budget drama at all...has a very ordinary feel to me...

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And who would give away such antiques for free...

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Yes, indeed, it is going to be big flop.

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Thank you so much for the recap murasakimi. Loving every drama you've recapped so far.

I know Lee Young-ae doesn't pick crappy projects but I'm reluctant to watch it because of a certain actor.

Sounds intriguing so far so I'll definitely check it out soon.

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I will be happier if they casted someone like Ji Jin Hee beside Lee Young Ae rather than hmm.. At least JJH is more believeable and has more experiences in sageuk. I won't be surprised if rookie actor Yang Se Jong acts better than Song Seung Heon, though.

I love what I watched so far, especially on epi 2. Maybe most of times i was more captivated with LYA in hanbok, i dont know. lol.Park Hye Soo and Yang Se Jong both are OK playing the younger parts, although the pronounciation comes not so natural. Yang Se Jong probably served the country in the past, for his first two drama got to act with veteran actors like Han Suk Kyu and Lee Young Ae.

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Oh gosh Han Suk-kyu and Lee Young-ae together would be glorious sageuk pairing. I'd definitely make time for it.

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I think we have been so spoiled with talented child actors like Yeo Jin-goo, the 3 Kims (Yoo-jung, Sae-ron, So-hyun), Shim Eun-kyun, Park Eun-bin, Jin Ji-hee etc setting the standard so high and giving every sageuk a strong start that newer actors just seems so bland and uninspiring.
Anyway, they all need to start somewhere right?

(I think Kim Hyang-gi would be a perfect young Lee Young-ae (not necessarily for this drama) but she has been doing movies after Queen's Classroom).

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Thanks for recapping. Indeed this is one era/character that i haven't come across in 10 years of dramaland so it is good to have your recap as navigator. It is true, there is no connect to the character at the moment; it'll probably take some time. But academia intrigue seems to be as bad as medical politics. There have been hints of that in 20 Again. Can't believe though how a colleague or PhD student can have that 'near servitude' relationship with a professor. Wheww. hope they tone down on it and get us to the period narrative. How that plays out to the present gives some 'Goblin' feel.

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I do not know where you are from. I am from India. Here in some of the best universities the relationship between a professor and a PhD scholar is just like what has been shown in this series. In some cases it is even worse. My cousin told me this. He said both girl and boy PhD scholars are forced to be slaves to their professors. Do all their household chores and the girls are even sexually harassed. My cousin brother actually left the country after this experience. And believe it or not one of her female friends had to do the very similar things Lee young ae is doing in this series.

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I too felt that this drama felt strangely dated. The whole entire time I was watching this I had to remind myself I wasn't watching a show that was from a decade ago. I was a little disappointed. I had huge expectations because this was Lee Young-Ae's comeback drama. But I'm going to try to stick with it in hopes that it will improve

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I guess I'll watch the first few eps to decide..
But if it's that bad, I'll stick to rewatch Dae Jae Geum.

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I for one think Lee Young Ae was born in the right era. To make it even better, she even chose the perfect job that displays her regalness.

Both being on TV and having that air of magnificence that no one else can pull off for a period that no one can go back to cemented her place as precious and perfect and created a niche role for her.

Basically, if she were in Joseon, her beauty and elegance would only be known by a few or may not even have been much of an issue, since there will be other ladies like her. But in the 21st century, she's the only one we all know who fits the bill the best.

I haven't watched the show yet, but from the recap, this looks interesting. (Minus comments about Song SeungHeon's terrible acting... that I fully believe in. He's not called the Hand Towel for so long for nothing. But, we'll see.)

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I really felt bored in the first 20 something minutes and didn't continue with the rest but I do agree with a few others who think the show feels dated. It seems as if I am watching a 2002/3 ish show with the whole direction and even the acting.

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I'm seriously happy with the fact that Yang Se Jong is casted here, after doing a great debut (that I know of) in Romantic Teacher.
Of course, I've been waiting for Lee Young Ae's comeback to dramaland since forever.
Saimdang hwaitiiiiing!

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Actually his debut is Saidam, just matter that Saidam show later than Doctor Kim

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I love his voice. At first was annoyed with him in RTDK but later, i started to like him better. Initially I thought he will just play a younger part of SSH in this drama, but little that I know he will have some major parts in modern setting too. I know he is a lot younger than LYA in this drama, but i already love his interaction with her so far. Maybe I will love to see their scenes more than LYA-SSH later.

Hopefully he will get more projects after this. After all, starting the career with two great drama with two A-listed veterans is the best thing to any newcomer.

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I've just started marathoning RDTK and I'm warming up to Yang Se Jong's character toward the end of the series. Yeah, hope he got some good tips and learning experiences from the veteran actors :)

Oh, I thought Yang Se Jong resembles another actor too! Perhaps Yeon Woo Jin?

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I agree with their interaction - it was sparky.
There was that brief moment when she hesitated on the podium after he asked the question, and without a word, they both knew the truth. He knew she knew he was right!!

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hmm i didn't think the show felt dated. i liked the first episode well enough. i didn't have high expectations for it either way, so i'm content. i did think all the stuff where she was kicked out of her hotel + creating a ruckus on the streets was quite unnecessary and melodramatic. only in a kdrama, but at this point in my kdrama career i'll just have to roll my eyes and move on.

but... the italian man at the estate. most annoying foreigner in a kdrama in recent memory. i don't know a word of italian, but i could just tell that he was a bad actor. so noisy and dramatic—i just wanted to tell him to shut up because he was so distracting! haha

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You know where the dated feeling might come from? The cinematography reminds me sometimes of older movies. Long shots with the camera being positioned at the far end of the room or above looking down like in the scene with her in the hotel room. Even the beginning when we got first introduced to her and she looks directly in the camera. That reminded me of Ozu somehow ^^maybe the director wanted to go for a classic feel. Oh, or when the mc is preparing drinks in the background while the lady of the house is talking to her, there is no cut to her even when she is speaking she is still in the background.
I personally like how it is filmed and I don't really mind of the coincidences because the show clearly suggests the idea of fate. Even stuff like the mirror breaking was okay to me because the story clearly has magic.

However, the illogical things like the way she treat the painting/ old artifacts, stuff like that did annoy me.

Still, I like this show right now and am curious how it's going to further develop.

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@murasakimi,

Thank you so much for recapping SAIMDANG! Yay! You just made my day!

What a great start to the Lunar New Year! -- Happy New Year to you and yours!

*off to read the recap*

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“Flowing and flowing. To feel regret for the death of an innocent. Letting go of this desperate sadness to the skies. The past memories must be written.”

Given that the action at Siesta di Luna takes place in 1551, I can't help but wonder if Signor Lee has just learned of her demise.

Thanks for the recap, commentary, and background, murasakimi.

I'm enjoying the first two episodes of my first Lee Young-ae production. So far, so good. ;-)

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I'm confused by the opening episodes of a lot of K-dramas where atmosphere and emotion are more important than clear storytelling. Same here. I enjoyed watching LYA again but kept wondering, Why are we in Italy? The bit with the Italian actor following her around the house talking and talking and talking while she ignores him was almost comical -- it just made it obvious to the viewer that the actress couldn't speak Italian.

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You think if the actress could speak Italian they would have written the character as someone who speaks it as well? Probably, I guess you would take advantage of that to show how well educated she is but than again, we don't really know do we? That scene wouldn't really have worked much differently though because she was supposed to be in a trance state and someone would hardly have a full fledged discussion in that kind of a mood.

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SSH is back! Will he

...brood?
...shower?
...brood AND shower?
...fly into a rage and hurl things about?
...fly into a rage and smash his fists into a mirror?

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YESSSSSS!

1..Check, if staring strangely out a window counts.
2..Yes, maybe not with modern plumbing but he can find a waterfall or pond. He is kinda like a human divining rod. He douses regularly.
3..Yes, of course, because if not, life has no meaning.
4..Check. Did you see his room? It wasn't like that before the help interrupted him while he was painting.
5..Check. In this episode, he smashed the mirror using the dove's wings flapping, which a clear signal of his long forgotten rage over being interrupted while painting.

I was not at first interested in watching this show until, YOBOSAYO, the Hand Towel. Then I thought, wow, I will write poems, and there will be YY, and VOILA here you are!
Thirty episodes? Are you kidding me? We will have so much fun. <3

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This is for you, jomo.

~Towel of Love~

(Sung to "Circle of Life'/ The Lion King)

From the day he arrived on the planet
He's been broodin' and showerin' every show
He's always angry, he's always angsty
He's gonna smash all those paint pots, I'm sure

He's the Towel of Love
And he moves us all
"He'll be great this time!"
"No more bug eyes, no more tilting, fetus begone!"
He will set the screen on fire
He will be the Best Bestest Actor
Hail Hand Towel
The Towel of Love

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My heart swells, eyes, too.
That's what The Towel can do.

Thank you for the morning song! :0)

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Oh you two! Miss you much!

I'm really anticipating what you both can do to 30 episode of lovely SSH. Bring back YOBOSEYO and the mesmerizing power of The Hand Towel to the limelight!

Who knows the extremely superbly awesome Don't Call Me Mr. Hand Towel would deign to grace us with his presence. Aja aja fighting!

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Hi, Pipit! Love you, miss you...so happy you're back, we have to thank the Towel for that.

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A thousand kisses for you YY. And lots of thanks to THT ^_^

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It could just be me but i feel Yang Se Jong's acting si better here in saimdang than in RDTK? Even though he filmed this first he feels better here!! As for the male lead which everyone is complaining about i have never seen any of his works but i don't have a good feeling about his acting skills based on what i've seen so far......

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It's strange, but every single new show seems a little "boring" to me. The only one I'm watching now is a new japanese one, for instance.

Let's wait and see...

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Sorry, but I can't not comment about the Italy part, because I live there! The so-called Bologna part was filmed mostly in Florence - when they are on that terrace you can see the Duomo/Cathedral of Florence and Palazzo Vecchio in the distance (and the terrace is probably the rooftop of one of the posh-est hotels in town). The only things filmed in Bologna were the day scene after she left the hotel dragging the suitcases (when she talks to her friend in Korea), the hotel Paradise and the shop where she bought toiletries. When she cries on the bridge, in the background there is Ponte Vecchio, but it can't really be seen because it's very blurred. I don't know where is that villa, and I'm ashamed because it might be a very famous one, but I'll keep looking!
The Italians' way of speaking is quite true to life. As regards them addressing her as "Beautiful One", it is not an exaggeration, it's just a common way of greeting a woman here. A friend (including a female friend) might greet you with "Ciao, bellissima" (Hello beauty) or maybe an older shopkeeper might greet you like that (even the project managers who send me work e-mails use "Ciao Bellissima" sometimes, and they have never met me or seen me!).
The guy at the manor was not the owner, he even told her that finding those objects was a miracle, so he will give them to her as gifts, because he is not the owner ;-) (the translation of the Italian subtitles was quite off on the site where I watched it). He was probably tasked with selling the manor, so I didn't understand why he wouldn't let her see the other rooms, as long as he believed she was a buyer! The thing that irked me the most was the fact that he kept talking to her in Italian (he kept asking: Why don't you listen to me?), when she was clearly a foreigner - there is a lot of tourism in Italy, so people usually know a little bit of English and they don't automatically assume that you understand Italian! At most, they might try to explain you with lots of hand gestures.)
The only exaggeration were the 4 young men on the bridge - don't worry, if you come to Florence they don't really behave like this!
I'm thrilled that Lee Young Ae is in a drama again and I can't wait to see how the story unfolds. From Saimdang's biography on Wikipedia, I liked that she received the same education as a male heir would, and also the fact that she had an understanding husband. I suppose this was quite revolutionary for that era.
I suppose I am a feminist at heart and, in my opinion, girls should get an education and become strong and independent women, capable of taking care of themselves without waiting for a Prince Charming to come and save them. I can't wait to see how Ji-yoon grows a spine (we have already seen that she's intelligent and well prepared)and becomes strong enough to crush the evil Professor!

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Interesting Annie. Thanks for sharing.

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All in all the Italy part wasn't so bad than, that they didn't film it all in Bologna is a very common thing I guess, I mean, just think about Descendants of the Sun....I can see that ocean and those greek letters, well thank you. ^^'
I personally liked the parts that were filmed in Italy such a beautiful background. :)

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*then

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Thanks, Annie! We're pretty lucky you weighed in on those parts!

Heh. I think there were a couple of shows (I can't recall now) where the "foreigner" character was just some random caucasian who couldn't speak the language properly or with the right accent, so I'm glad that at least it is in Italy. And that in spite of all the bad acting, the Italians spoke as Italians do.

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Murasakimi ~

Thank you for the recap. I watched ep.1 and it was a bit rocky at the start. Hopefully the Joseon era story will be better. Will watch for another week and see if it improves.

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Here is hoping the Joseon story would be better. I'm not a fan of mixing both eras.

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Thanks for the recap, murasakimi! The background info is helpful. I don't see how being well educated is mutually exclusive from being a "Wise Mother" and filial daughter, though. I guess maybe her notable achievements were not as well documented as the fact that she was a nice lady?

So many over the top moments, BIG TEARS, LARGE ANGUISH. Completely unfair treatment to the beautiful but smart lady door mat. She WILL grow a backbone and will extract her revenge on Prof Min. I can't wait!

And SSH? I am going in with low expectations, as I have been hopeful in the past, and got Jinned. In When A Man Loves he was really kinduv adorable. That could happen again, right?

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Well, I watched the first scene, and sighed....he's overacting again. I don't know...he's so much better at comedy, remember My Princess? He was so handsome, funny and looked like he was having fun the first few episodes, until they switched the plot to heavy, and then, it went downhill very fast. Watched When A Man Loves, and he was just so BAD. Attempted to watch Dr Jin, gave up after the first episode, and continued with Heads' hilarious recaps. I remember her recaps with the screenshots of his bug eyes at different scenes of an entire episode...so hilarious, I laughed until I cried. But we had fun during the recaps, didn't we, jomo? LOLOL

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I'm a fearin' that young Painter Lee wlll get all the nice romcom-ish scenes and THT will be left to heft.

(Do these directors not watch his shows? Do they not know what he can and cannot do? Or is it that they get a phone call about their future in Hallyu if they refuse to cast him?)

SSH brings the fans, and I am one of them, so we can have fun again, tilts, EYEs and all!

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"I don’t see how being well educated is mutually exclusive from being a “Wise Mother” and filial daughter, though."

This was my first thought too. What's to reconcile? I've grown so averse to today's concept of feminism. Today it's become non-contemplative, arrogant, shrill, vulgar and undignified. I'm more aligned with the concept of feminist empowerment as it was defined in the past; celebrating women who expressed a high level of competence, quiet confidence, self-possessed restraint, thoughtfulness and dignity.

In particular, I love the definition of female virtue in ancient wisdom literature. Therein the feminine ideal was a woman who was a successful entrepreneur while simultaneously running her household well. She ensured that her household was well fed and well dressed. Her children were well educated and well mannered. She chose her husband well; and she enabled him to have a career that was better than he could have had if he wasn't married to her. Her competence, diligence and supportiveness brought him honor among his peers and in society. It's a picture of feminine dignity and tremendous strength. And celebrates our unique level of stamina and capacity for multi-tasking productiveness while simultaneously building relationships.

So if that's what this drama is set out to picture, I'm all for it.

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This show is garbage. I guess I set my expectations too high because of the quality of the teasers? The show is incredibly dated from the way it's filmed, to editing, to the direction. And the writing is positively ridiculous (I'm writing this after seeing both episodes; and tbh ep 2 is worse than ep 1). The modern plot especially is incredibly boring. I don't care about Ji Yoon at all, and when we did get to Saimdang, I was like why is she such a typical character? I thought the show would be more poignant and nuanced based on the teasers, but it ended up being one of the most basic pilots I've ever seen. Nothing about the show is fresh, and I basically predicted everything before it happened. It wasn't even predictable and fun like some shows, because the show itself was so bland. It was like a muffin that looks tasty, but then you eat it and its so dry you're like why did I buy it. WHY. You know what would have been awesome? If Ji Yoon was a professor doing research on An Gyeon's works, and while doing research she disvovers Saimdang's diaries or whatever hidden in some isolated part of the Korean countryside. Instead of being married, she could be widowed and this sad, lonely person because idk her husband and child died, and she had no family left, so she's alone and throws herself into her work, and her yearning for meaning leads her to Saimdang's diaries, and she gets caught up in trying to understand the connection between her and the famous Wise Mother, and somehow Saimdang's past influences her present and vice versa, plus the passionate affair Saimdang carried on in secret with Lee Gyeom for so many years. WHO WANTS TO SEE THAT SHOW?! That's the show I thought I was getting (or at least similar in tone). Also I remember Young Ae in Lady Vengeance, and she was so much better than she is in this. I feel like she isn't as good. When her character cries, I feel nothing. Maybe it's because her character is also a boring slab of chalk? There's only so much a pretty person with talent can do with a show that's determined to fail. Overall, I'm disappointed. I will not be watching.

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I would watch that show you described too.

This one feels so outdated with the makjang, the villain, the cliche, etc. The time where i endured the pain of watching the heroine in her sorrow or cursing the villain has already passed. I'm not really sold with this story.

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Well this could be totally wrong, but I have a theory of what they might be trying to achieve artistically. To me, the drama seems to employ existentialist motifs.

From it's use of a sickly yellow, green and grey color palette; to routinely showing the characters in some sort of shadow while a world of 'sunlight' only exists outside of the place/realm they inhabit. From an uncontrollable stream of highly dramatic misfortunes to the surrealistic/symbolic breaking of a mirror using the 'butterfly effect' from the wings of a dove.

All the characters seem to live under the same cloud; an unfair social system in which talent dies and exploitation thrives. But in the midst of that chaos of futility there are similarly chaotic coincidences of fortune. An animal of symbolic of peace (dove) being used to shatter a centuries old mirror. Receiving 1/2 of the diary, then the other via the guidance of a vision. Moving next to the scholar who can help unravel the truth. The fact that it's all so overdramatic and coincidental makes me wonder if the director was actually aiming for stylized and symbolic.

In this theory I haven't quite settled on the core question the creative team is trying to address. It could be about feminism, or something broader. Like, we're all trapped by an unfair system but do we grab hold of the opportunities life gives us to break free of it; or do we become a part of the problem.

Or maybe there isn't a question and the whole existentialism theory is off base. But if true, it seems like a risky move for a mainstream broadcaster to take. It's a dark genre that not many people have a fondness for outside of the critics circle.

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I have watched Ep1 & 2, and have the following issues:7 g, g+ D6 a' @# G5 w% W9 b' |
(1) LYA's acting has deteriorated. I do not know why she has to use heavy breathing to demonstrate that she is extremely upset. She could have used subtle emotional expressions on her face to portray betrayal and extreme breach of trust. Heavy breathing is mere lazy acting;2 r- A9 s% U# \- t! X
(2) No logical flow of how the key male action turns out in an Italian castle;3 K j- ?! z; m2 P( S; D3 ?
(3) The objective of LYA attending the conference in Italy and the intricacy of how she obtains the manuscripts were completely out of logic. A street vendor in Italy will never give a drunken woman a few manuscripts, just because she has accidentally knocked herself onto his stall. I see no rational writing between the link of how she obtains the manuscripts and the subsequent flow of the story;
(4) ability of LYA to demonstrate that Saimsadang has the ability to paint, albeit poor colour mixing ability. Saimsadang was a botanical artist, and I do not see the rationale of why she is all of a sudden get so interested in landscape painting. Moreover, in the present life, she has evolved from a painter to become an art history assistant professor. 8 B! B8 ]$ y) J& q* Y, r. R
(5) The logical flow the story is also in serious trouble.

In conclusion, I doubt this drama will ever be able to penetrate viewing rate above 20%. It is more likely that it will be hovering around 12-15%. At worst, single digit i.e. major flop for LYA after 14 years of absence from small and big screen. Again, I re-iterate,LYA's acting did not see major breakthrough. She is stagnant or going backtrack to her days in Jewel in the Palace.

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Further to what I mentioned above.

it is a period drama based on historical figures. Hence, it should not be deviating too much from history. But from the 1st and 2nd episodes, the underlying story seems to be too far-fetched and did not follow the chronological order of history, and in particular the Korean art history.

An Gyeom was a landscape copied artist of China Northern Song Dynasty's Guo Xi landscape painting. He was a court artist who was employed to copy the art of Northern Song? Nothing to be proud of, really!! But, I wonder why Korean are so proud of An Gyeom. If you take Guo Xi's stature in Chinese art history, he would probably rank bottom of the pile among all the "giant" painters in China. But, in Korea, An Gyeom is considered as a painting saint, comparable to China Wu Daozhi...Hahaha.....

Now the story said Saimdang is getting very infatuated with An Gyeom's dream journey to the peach blossom land painting. She climbed the wall and met your beloved SSH. But, please bear in mind, the key painting that Saimdang got so infatuated, is in fact a copy piece of China's bottom of the pile artist's work.

Saimdang got married when she was 19 years old, and died in 1551. She died young at age 47 and produced 7 piglets with her soldier husband.

The year Saimdang passed on was the year your beloved SSH completed her portrait. This really puzzle me because I have never seen any portrait paintings of Korean man or woman until 18th century. Well, if the story went back to Tang Dynasty in 6th century, I can perhaps understand that he would have picked up the portrait painting techniques from Wu DaoZhi or Chou Fan. But, but, but, he was painting Saimdang in Italy in the year 1551 and he appears to have fallen in love with the mother of 7 piglets? (Note: I can understand how Lee Min Ho fell in love with a mermaid, but I could not understand how your beloved SSH could fall in love with a mother of 7 piglets? Please enlighten me.....)

The most laughable incidents in 1st episode is indeed our beloved heroin who is a professional art historian, and presumly has gone through rigorous training in the conservation and preservation of arts and antiquities. Hence, it is without excuse that having the knowledge and training, and yet knowingly took "her" portrait and hang it at the open air, exposing it to direct sunlight and wind. At the same time, she also exposed the seeds, the wooden box and fabrics in open air. What should we call this type of art historian? Should we call her quasi professional or Minnie mouse Saimdang reincarnate?

Italy has very strict rules and criminal procedures on historical artifacts theft . I am puzzle how Saimdang was able to smuggle the books and the painting out of Milan with such ease. What she brought back to Korea, is considered theft. Milan airport has very tight control on historical artifacts and antiquities. It is also impossible to smuggle anything out from other...

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its degrading to call children as piglets. you may not respect the person discussed, but please refrain from referring their children as piglets

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Ok, from your comments, it appears that you have little understanding about the Joseon era and the contemporary Korean society. Kids/children are normally referred to as piglets for easy raising. Even today, it is common for the parents to call their kids as piglets. The classic example being Song IL Kook calling the triplets as piglets.

It is nothing disrespect to the children. You are reading my comments in the light of a Western view. I am writing in English, but from a classic view. Understand?

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That portrait hanging also made me cringe :(

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The meta question posed by the first half of your post ignores the history between the two countries. China has a seemingly eternal practice of trying to dominate - if not appropriate - the cultural history, wealth and land of its neighbors. Starting with the many indigenous people/nations that now lie within China's borders; and extending into surrounding countries. And it has done so as though it has some inherent right to be the one nation that controls them all.

China, for centuries, carried off Korea's wealth and talent as forced "tribute". And it meddled in Korean court politics so it could keep its hands on the reins of power.

It's not surprising that the Korean court wanted to develop artists of it's own. All royal courts do that. And it's even less surprising that its artists painted in the popular styles of the day. Who knows if Korea's best artists worked in Korea or were appropriated to work in the Chinese court. In the world of art it's not uncommon for a teaching master to take credit for the works of their unknown students. There could have been several Korean 'greats' that went unattributed.

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Huh? Gidget. Ignore the history between China and Korea. Not sure what you mean. But, let me tell you, Korea is very much under China influence since Tang Dynasty. This entails importing wholesale Chinese surname, handwriting and painting styles, Confucius thinking, poems, lunar festive and dumpling eating habits, and the very design of hanbok (is in fact an adaptation of Tang Dynasty fashion), Buddhism enters Korea through China, national flag, etc etc...few years back, Korean changed the name of its capital from a Han City (i.e. Chinese city) to Seoul. In the Ming Dynasty, Korea was part of China. Hehe...similarly, Japanese did the same during Tang Dynasty. It is through the one road, one belt concepts i.e. modern Silk Road that China putting forward now that you have correctly pointed out to dominate the land and sea routes from Europe to the Pacific. However, this time, through capital and technology (rail, especially).

With the decreasing population growth in Japan in the next 50 years, it will be a peripheral economy by the turn of 22nd century. Korea may be the same too. History is a better judge than any of us.

Rather than trying to determine whether An Gyeom's painting is a genuine one, it is better for the Korean government to intervene to go to the international tribunal to retrieve the An Gyeom's paintings from the Japanese. Japan used to colonise Korea in the turn of last century and they stole many many paintings and artefacts from Korea. History is still fresh? Let's do it!!!

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To me this is a beautiful drama. In fact it is my "cup of tea" to be exact. So, I am looking forward very much to what happens next.

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thanks for recapping :)
I don't know why but I really like the moment between park hye soo and yang sejong as young saimdang and lee gyeom, in joseon era
wanna see their scene longeeeeer

lee young ae and yang se jong interaction in modern era also seems cute

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Watch 2 episodes and I like this drama even though quite predictable- hubby running away leaving her without a house and being bullied by the professor + flashback to the past. Lee young Ae is still so beautiful, just love looking at her face, will continue to watch for her

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Let me say this firstly, LYA is gorgeous!! She glows through the screen. I love her!!

That said, watching the whole 1st episode made me ill, like realy physically ill, my stomach hurt. I hate the kind of story where the main character has to go down in the gutter, with a supper villain pushing her even deeper. I hated it with my whole body. Yes, i understand this is a set up for a great comeback and revenge, and thanked god for her friend!

Maybe this is the reason why it feels outdated, because makjang is not in trend anymore (at least not for me). I hope the revenge will be sickenly sweet, and i need that prof. Evil to get what he deserves, that is eternal damnation. Eugh i hate him!!

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*super

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Is this a one time recap? I hope it will be recapped till the end since i don't have time to watch but am interested with the story and LYA's comeback.

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Lee Yong Ae looks gorgeous and that is about it. The first episode is underwhelming and didn't make me want to keep watching.
It was hard to watch her character being so subservient and grovelly to her professor at the beginning even when her family circumstances had not begun to deteriorate yet.

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Totally agree :(

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I quite like the 1st ep and the 2nd ep,
the proposition is clear, what is jiyoon's work, who is her family, what struggle does she has, how she is connected to Saimdang, even the Abella comment is actually true.

I don't have any idea of Saimdang before but as its own story, this drama manage to make their set up believable.
This drama has quiet tone and I think the fuss about artwork can't be explained that she doesn't have any money left.
It's all accidental and she gotta do what she can do, smuggling painting which hasn't been found, get found accidentally and more likely include fate (cause this has the reincarnation vibe) by an art professor/student can be easily done, as impossible as it sounds but they'll not search on your luggage cause it just a paper and nothing is missing, besides she didn't use the big cargo to smuggle it.

The Painting in here (as much the debate about the originality) is about finding a 500 years old artefact, that alone is a big deal. The story is about how someone infatuated with the past while looking a 500 years old artefact, I don't see how this is a questionable thing or downgrade the story.

I like how jiyoon is an actual person that need the history's clue because of her passion and her own job. Finding Saimdang's diary is what makes Jiyoon finds her life again and I like the setup so far.

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This drama has quiet tone and I think the fuss about artwork can'tcan be explained that she doesn’t have any money left.

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I'm surprised at all the negative comments here on the first two episodes. Idk maybe because I didn't have any expectations, did not feel the hype/and or angst of the actress' -seemingly- much anticipated return to the screen (did not know her - nvr saw her previous dramas/movies - I'm a Kdrama addict baby: only 3y/o *__*) or maybe because I have been missing sageuk for a while. I don't really see any issues with those 2 episodes, I don't see how it looks outdated, I think the acting is fine, I like the storyline so far, I am just very interested in the story. I know it's a 30 episodes drama, so I'm not really worried about the pace either. I'm looking forward to the next episodes. I think if everyone watches the show objectively, they would probably think the same. It's too late now I guess because of all the angst that has been built around it. Too bad -:(

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Wait, what? It's a 30 episodes drama? I ain't got time for that kind of commitment.

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Where is
Saimdang, Light’s Diary: Episode 2 recap? I wonder

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Lee was last seen in Park Chan-wook’s thriller flick, Sympathy Of Lady Vengeance (2005), but most audiences will remember her best for playing the king’s first woman physician in epic period drama Jewel In The Palace (2003).

The lavish 54-episode series, which was reportedly exported to about 90 countries, solidified the regional popularity of Korean television, which had early hits such as the 2000 melodrama, Autumn In My Heart.

Jewel In The Palace, about perseverance and triumph in the face of injustice, has become such a classic that it continues to be rerun on various TV channels today. Lee says: “I sometimes watch it with my kids because I think it contains good messages for young children. My kids know that I am in it and they love it.”

She will have no regrets if none of her future work eclipses the immensely successful Jewel In The Palace.

“As long as a drama has an interesting storyline, like in Saimdang, I will do it. Now that I have kids, I believe I tend to choose film and drama roles that can be watched by everyone from the young to the old.

“In the past, I didn’t think about those things. I used to think only about myself, but now, I have to think about my family as well.”

Still, there is something else about Saimdang that drew her to the project – the chance to work with South Korean heartthrob Song Seung Heon, 40. In the series, Song plays Lee Gyum, an aristocrat and painter who was Saimdang’s childhood sweetheart.

Lee says: “As we all know, Song is an actor who is loved by women across Asia. The female staff members on the show adored him so much. I believe that the love story between Saimdang and Lee Gyum in this series will touch viewers.” http://www.star2.com/entertainment/tv/2017/01/28/lee-young-ae-is-one-fussy-k-drama-star/

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Hoping it will get picked up for further recaps, as I hope to drop this and just read recaps... like others have said, it feels dated. The writing, directing, feels like the show is at least 10-15 years old. The Italian manor scenes with the breaking mirror, the husband with the debt collectors (gosh do these debt collectors seem to do good business in Korea??, even the 16th century story looks too predictable. Plus, I started to get confused between this story and Rebel while watching... LOL. I think Rebel is better between the two...with no "big name" stars

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"Big name' stars does not necessarily mean good acting :( Plus the first episodes were boring and the main actress very mediocre Wanted to check this recap to see if I missed something but apparently I haven't ....Won't even bother with the recaps lol

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I wanted so much for this to turn out great, as both Goblin and The Legend of the Blue Sea have finished. However, after watching 2 episodes,Yoojin's character (and the actress's acting) is such a turn off I am giving this a miss. Storyline is quite predictable and boring. Hwarang is so much better as an entertainment value. I want to be entertained, not frustrated and bored.

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Totally agree KC

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Here is a link to Guo Xi's painting (analysis in Chinese), the painting An Gyeom copied and Saimdang gets so excited and infatuated about.

https://youtu.be/lk3BeaoYKZw?list=PLEiZGlZDOy7nK7c6cZCCmkpU7Z1TSpNZ-

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Why there are no other recaps for Saimdang? It's already in Episode 6..I'm quite disappointed with you DRAMABEANS :(

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Dramabeans team.. We really need other recaps of Saimdang ..
Jaeball... listen to our request pleeeeease..

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Should have dramabeans had any decency to at least announce/explain bout its saimdang recaps discontinuity?

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Hi

So i was googling for written episodes of saimdang-lights diary

When I came across this site and i saw that the recap is exactly same as that of Javabeans.

http://dramacoffee.com/drama/saimdang-lights-diary-episode-1

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Where is the recap of episode 2.. give me the site please

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theres just ONE recaps of saimdang...?

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Why do you guys things this serious?? I don't know what THAAD is . But I am enjoying the serious the only problem I have is the way the writers want to make it tragedic (Saimdang refusing to devorce and refusing feelings for Gyeom) . Otherwise I love the love and song seung.
I can not understand why relations with china can affect a movie! Or actor's private life can do the same?

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I love the main character and I think this drama has a lot of depth to it.

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