Drama recommendation : Dae Jang Geum (aka Jewel in the Palace)

This drama is one of the oldest entry on my to-watch list.
I often watch variety shows and over the years I’ve seen many mentions of Dae Jang Geum when some authentic or hard/slow cooking were shown.
I decided to finally take time to watch this drama and wow that ride of 54 eps had many ups and downs for our lead.

I started this drama for the cooking scenes, I was curious about how they’d show cooking in the Palace during Joseon.
I was served on that part but how surprised was I when this drama turned out to be a revenge drama :
following a little girl entering the palace to revenge her mother’s death but many years later becoming the first lady physician in charge of the king !

Since this is a sageuk, there were villains and as you can expect they were a pain in the neck and gave me high-blood pressure many times 😖.
I enjoyed the episodes where the villains’fall finally started and I enjoyed even more that our female lead make them fight amongst themselves, without involving herself that much.
As for the people on our heroine’s side, I was glad there were quite many of them 🤗, from different background, also acting sometimes for the comic relief needed (more details in comments).
Regarding the love story, I kind of prevented myself from having hopes (Yanxi Palace left some scars) but as I watched the last eps, I started to think that maybe there was a chance 🥺…
I enjoyed how the drama ended, the fact that JangGeum was still trying to find more ways to heal and save people, the fact that she had a family, the fact that her friends in the palace were safe from palace politics during a new king reign 😌.

Me joining another site cut down some of my watching time, to keep up I watched some parts at x1.5speed 😅, it wasn’t that distorted since they talk quite slowly in sageuk.
I always returned to normal speed for the ending song though, loved it 🥰.
@peony and @bebeswtz thank you for checking on my progress and Peony thank you for the information shared 😘.

I wrote “Drama recommendation” since I gave it a perfect score, but at the same time, I know that considering its length, its age (it’s a 2003 drama) and the story itself (and well its flaws, nothing’s perfect) this drama isn’t for the majority of Beanies.
So if you’re a sageuk lover, if many long episodes do not scare you and if you’re curious about medicine or cooking during that time, then I’d recommend you to watch it.


    After 54 episodes, I need to write a few lines more to say goodbye to some characters :

    Jang Geum : a tough girl, she had many ups and downs but followed till the end hers and her teachers principle : do not use food for bad purpose. She would put her life on the line to save others or to stick to her principles. She broke down sometimes 😢 but had people who got her back 🤗.

    Min JungHo : a constant supporter for Jang Geum. He wasn’t only the love interest of Jang Geum but also a scholar who wanted to change things, someone who believed in her when she didn’t. He was ahead of his time like her 😎 “put the right people at the right place, no matter if they’re a male or a female”.

    Jang Geum’s adoptive parents : the two actors were familiar faces so I liked them from the start. As the story unfolded, I got attached to them, they might have seemed only focusing on money (esp. the mother), but it felt realistic, at the end of the day, you need something on the plate. The father afraid of his wife and so talkative was alway a comic relief 🤭, the mother nitpicking about every pence was also the first one to worry about Jang Geum entering the palace and then her love interest. She talked to her like a mother, reminding her of her conditions, preparing her to some heartache that could happen 🥺.

    Yeon Sang (Jang Geum’s best friend) : aw, ever since they were children, she was with Jang Geum. She had such a nice character and that even when she became a concubine. Her constant worries and prays for her friend, her full trust in her when she was pregnant , a strong friendship like sageuk knows how to depict them 🥰. When she almost died while giving birth , I just broke into tears, the 3rd time I cry due to that drama.

    Lady Jung : a little girl who thought the palace was a shiny place, then spent all of her life within its walls. Villains picked her to act as a puppet, but she had a stong character and put food first, it shouldn’t be used for palace politics. She was like a grandmother to Jang Geum and YeonSang 😌, a teacher to lady Han, her death made me cry .

    Lady Han (Jang Geum’s mother’s best friend) : her way of teaching wasn’t the smooth one, her personality wasn’t the best one to survive in the kitchen nor to be highest kitchen lady ,but she managed to save her friend, she managed to reach one of the highest position, she managed to guide and help her friend’s daughter, chose to give a false statement to save her 😟. Her death was the 2nd time I cry in the drama ,it hurt because Jang Geum lost a mother figure, but it also hurt because out of the characters, I relate the most to Lady Han’s personality and that made me care for her even more.


    Lady Min and Lady Min’s disciple (the one who ate often in the kitchen): their characters could be made only for comic relief purposes, but there were a bit more to it : during such times, the fact that they only wanted to live a quiet life was quite challenging. They did try to be well perceived by the different people in charge but they kept their personal judgement and never did bad things to gain favor. The scene where they stayed outside pleading for forgiveness followed by them taking some rest sums it up : let’s play along villains but not at our knees expense 😋.

    Jang Geum’s lady physician teacher : another familiar face that suprised me. A tough teacher and lady, she taught many things to Jang Geum regarding medicine of course but also how lady physician was treated. Her bickering with Jang Geum’s adoptive mother was one of my fav’ in the 2nd part of the show 🤭.

    Shin Bi (Han Ji Min) : was surprised to learn that Han Ji Min was in this drama, enjoyed seeing her and also her character who was a trustworthy colleague and friend for Jang Geum 😄.

    Head eunuch : his friendship with Lady Jung was adorable, we saw him here and there , he caught red-handed Jang Geum’s adoptive father a few times but let him go since he knew he wasn’t a real threat. He had quite a tricky position, the closest to the king, to the power but at the same time he couldn’t act when he knew what politics were played behind the scenes. He remained loyal to the king, he helped Jang Geum when he could, he stayed that character nodding with eyes smiling when he saw people genuine about their work 🥺.


    This is the show that was my gateway to Kdramas. I remember it being super popular in my country; literally everyone was talking about it. It was dubbed and broadcasted in one of the main channels and it was a talk of the town that year.

    Seeing this brings back so many good memories. I didn’t know I would miss it this much. 🥺


    A classic.


    So glad I got to know another bean who watched and loved DJG🎉🎉🎉🤗🤗🤗
    Really, not enough compelling long sageuks like that these days.
    Gaah if I start I won’t be able to stop..but here we go haha
    This holds a special sweet spot in my heart because it was the first ever long Kdrama and also Sageuk I properly watched.
    The 1st thing that hooked me in to Korean history and in extension: sageuks was…the palace uniforms lol! All color coded! I had never seen anything like that before and it appealed a LOT to my ocd, and it lead me to finding out more about the meticulous 5S ranking systems of East Asia which still impresses me to this day. I found and started following lots of history meta blogs because of this and as a result ended up learning loads more…so in short, as you can see, DJG put the base to the Mega Asian period drama fangirl Peony you see today 😁.
    Jang geum- Utterly human, realistic character. Flawed, had a hard time sometimes following her principles but never stooped to the villain’s level and ultimately stayed true to herself and her beliefs. Remember that scene where she was *thisclose* to accupointing Lady Choi on neck? And gave the most threatening foot massage ever to Geum-young? I still remember those scenes vividly.
    Min Jun-ho- Do you know he was the hearthrob across all the hallyu wave-d countries back then? He was just the perfect supportive, understanding, kind and always loving partner that anyone would dream of. Sometimes our Lan Wangji from TU reminds me of him haha. It’s one of the best character types out there that sadly seems to be reserved only for the second male lead that dies too early in the Kdramaland, more often than not. (Thankfully Cdramaland seems to have them as their MLs comparatively more often, a reason I got attracted to Cdramas despite me disliking lots of factors like the slow pacing)
    Do you know they filmed a kiss but Lee Young-ae asked the pds to remove it because it’s simply unnecessary? That to believe their mutual admiration and respect to each other we don’t need to witness a kiss. Hearing this in the early days of kdramawatching was quite the impression on me, and to this day, I’m the rare type of fangirl that absolutely do not require seeing kisses to believe in intimacy😄 I do not mind whether there are kisses or not, talented actors and well matched characters will always conjure chemistry out of thin air.
    Lady Choi- Kyeon Miri is a queen of killer glares and eye-acting. Wow. I really liked her as a villain and even felt sympathy at times, compared to Geum-young.
    Lady Min and Chang- They had hearts of gold that were always in the right place even though they had to do what they had to for surviving.
    The Queen- I loved her. Smart and sensible and I also thought she was beautiful in an unusual way😊
    The two male doctor-teachers and also the Jang-deuk(?) Nurse- Jang geum was so lucky to have such fair and level headed teachers in her life. Loved all 3 of them.


      And Kudo? Play the cooking sound track as background music when you cook! Speedy and lots more enjoyable and looking cool guaranteed! 😆


        I love sageuk for the ost and the costumes. Like you said, I liked the numerous palace uniforms, it changed from sageuk where they don’t focus on palace life and uniforms seemed like the same 😆.
        I read about the kiss scene deleted and it wasn’t necessary, their hugs felt so real, touching and raw, I’d rather see their hugs scenes than a kiss scene.
        Also I like more time spent on their family life and their little girl, than slow mo kiss scene with cliffhanger when kiss don’t happen😒.

        Her accupointing Lady Choi was stressful, glad she did nothing harmful.
        Min JungHo at times seems unreal, too good to be true that’s part of why I thought they weren’t going to end up together.

        The two male doctors were nice , but I kinda didn’t like when her teacher was so against her willing to take revenge (ok I know , it’s bad, but he didn’t say there was an exam…).
        I remember he was the one who got her taste back though.
        The Queen was a nice character but her trying to kill the other prince and using JG for it was a big no 😬 ,she redeemed herself afterwards but at least wasn’t such a pain like the king’s mother *sigh*

        “Lady Choi- Kyeon Miri is a queen of killer glares and eye-acting” so true !

        oh I should try that next time, cooking while listening to the song , thanks for the idea 😄

        (and wow such a reply, you love it a lot 😋)


          I always love me some palace Sageuk where they put actual thought and effort to even the most unimportant things like servant uniforms😍 Korea doesn’t seem to do this often unless the story is focused on a palace servant (Jang Ok jung live by love did this but the costumes were the only good thing about the drama lol)
          I’d like to think naturally kind people like Min Jun ho exist somewhere in the world rather than cold hearted rude Rich boys who suddenly to a 360° after meeting the love of their lives haha🤣 I have seen such women. I sure do hope there are men too. The world needs more of them🙏
          I was ok with the teachers. It’s the classic traditional asian “observe, fail this moment and learn life lessons” teaching style haha. Certainly rage inducing and hard to understand at times but under wise teachers who know what they are doing might produce excellent students.
          Oh yeah the Queen did that right? I’ve forgotten that part. Well, at least looking at all the selfish, too annoying or too soft and candy, 1 dimensional Queens we often see in Sageuks, this lady certainly was a welcome change. She felt like an actual real queen who would’ve existed back then. At least she was in desperation to save her own child, and in the end turned away from the evil.
          Oh yeah Queen Dowager became pure pest towards the end!
          Lol I certainly love it a lot! I don’t watch many dramas but the ones I do I only watch if they offer me longlasting memories, otherwise not worth the time.
          Sorry for writing essays on your post lol😆


    “Onara onara aju onaaaaa”

    The sad slow version of this always made me emotional.

    Glad you enjoyed the drama! I certainly had high blood pressure at some points too.