Sungkyunkwan Scandal - 2010 KBS2 Drama

Sungkyunkwan Scandal  courtesy KBS2
Sungkyunkwan Scandal courtesy KBS2

Another one great Korean Drama I've watched. After finishing a long and tiring MBC-Dong Yi, I landed on a Korean historical drama that I think it's shorter and lighter than the previous. But it's really surprised me, yes it's shorter, and lighter but not as light as I thought. It's deep, entertaining, hilarious, yet fascinating historical drama I have ever watched. With many beautiful and candy-eyes actors which surprisingly have a great acting.

Sungkyunkwan Scandal, maybe it's not the best drama of the year (2010), but I think it will be the most memorable drama I've ever watched. There is only one that make me disappointed, it's too short. Only 20 episodes and I feel it's not enough, I can take another 10 or 15, or make it 20 more episodes :)
Directed by Mr. Kim Won-seok, Screenplay by Ms. Kim Tae-heui and based on the novel by Jung Eun-gwol "The Lives of Sungkyunkwan Confucian Scholars 1 & 2" a drama of love, dream and hope begins.

Historical Background

During the reign of King Jeongjo the 22nd ruler of the Joseon dynasty of Korea. About three years before Hwaseong Fortress was built. King Jeongjo son of Crown Prince Sado, who was put to death by his own father, King Yeongjo (21st Joseon ruler). Jeongjo wanted to find the Geum Deung Ji Sa, a letter by King Yeongjo which stated his grief about the death of Crown Prince Sado and people behind his death.

Sungkyunkwan is a University in Korea that has a long history. Established in 1398 and had a motto : "Humanity, Righteousness, Propriety, and Wisdom" which reflects the basic spirit of Confucianism. In that time, Sungkyunkwan was more than a college, it's a site of political feuds where only limited people could enjoy it. People who graduated from Sungkyunkwan would become government officials and only men from noble families allowed to study there.

Sungkyunkwan Scandal

A drama set in Sungkyunkwan University during the reign of King Jeongjo. I think it's about the year 1791. These four young people met each other and learned about friendship, love, dream, hope, and life itself.

First, there is Kim Yoon Hee, a smart and brave girl from a poor family. She has to pretend as a boy, yes it's another girl in boy's disguise like Coffee Prince, You're Beautiful, and Painter of the Wind. Yoon Hee did this to get a life. She lost her father when she was only 12 years old, with sick younger brother who needs medication and helpless mom, Yoon Hee is the only hope in the family. So she picks up the transcription jobs from a book-store owner Mr. Hwang. Not only transcribing, she sometimes also become a surrogate attendee in a civil exam in Sungkyunkwan University. Yoon Hee did anything to maintain her family. Even risk her own life.

And then, she met Lee Sun Joon, the arrogant and upright man from the first class family, not just a mere rich family, but the only son of the Left State Minister Lee. Who intrigued with her boldness and her statement that challenged his mind. One statement that Lee Sun Joon will never imagine before, when Yoon Hee said : I don't think that Joseon is such a great nation. For Lee Sun joon's point of view, Joseon is a great one. But from Yoon Hee's, Joseon is a country which never treated its people fairly, not for a woman and Namin (A weak political faction) like her. Lee Sun Joon recognized her talent and made Yoon Hee enter the Sungkyunkwan University as a student.

There, she met with another two leading roles. Gu Yong Ha, the playboy and cynical student who always wears fancy and lavish materials to cover his real background, and Moon Jae Shin, the youngest son of Chief Inspector Moon who is a rebel but actually it's just a mask behind his anger and hopeless heart.

Kim Yoon Hee, disguised as a man under her brother's name Kim Yoon Shik and start to venture the Sungkyunkwan and she could die if she is caught, because at that time, there was a strict rule in society about man and woman.

The casts

All of the casts in Sungkyunkwan Scandal are beautiful. Not just the main casts, even the antagonist and supporting casts are beautiful too. And each character seems to grow and develop throughout the drama. Not a single character is put there for nothing.

Kim Yoon Hee (nickname : Daemul), played brilliantly by Park Min Young.
Lee Sun Joon (nickname : Garang), played by Micky Yoo Chun, he's a singer and this is his first drama and surprisingly, he's great in it.
Moon Jae Shin (nickname : Geol-oh), played by Yoo Ah In (He's so great and I believe he will be a first class Korean actor)
Gu Yong Ha (nickname : Yeorim), played by Song Joong Ki (He played the most interesting character in this drama, you have to see yourself. And Song Joong Ki has done very well.)

And the evil student President Ha In soo, played by the rising star Jun Tae soo.

Supporting casts that really have big influences in the drama

King Jeongjo, played by Cho Sung Ha who has talent to portray the fatherly King and the King who trust and love his people. He's so charming.

Prof Jung Yak Yong, played by Ahn Nae Sang.
Jung Yak Yong was a real person and the architect of Hwaseong fortress. He adopted Silhak or western learning, that's why he defended Kim Yoon Hee when she found out to be a girl. He believed that people are equal and have the same right to pursue knowledge.

Left State Minister Lee, played by Kim Gab Soo
War Minister Ha, played by Lee Jae Yong
Chief Inspector Moon, played by Choi Dong Joon.
And Cho Sun, played by Kim Min Seo

Main Casts

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Micky Yoo ChunPark Min YoungYoo Ah InSong Joong KiJun Tae Soo
Micky Yoo Chun
Micky Yoo Chun
Park Min Young
Park Min Young
Yoo Ah In
Yoo Ah In
Song Joong Ki
Song Joong Ki
Jun Tae Soo
Jun Tae Soo

Supporting Casts

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Jo Sung Hwa as King JeongjoAhn Nae Sang as Prof Jung Yak Yong
Jo Sung Hwa as King Jeongjo
Jo Sung Hwa as King Jeongjo
Ahn Nae Sang as Prof Jung Yak Yong
Ahn Nae Sang as Prof Jung Yak Yong
Gu Yong Ha
Gu Yong Ha

What I love about the drama

1. The line
The script is awesome. For me, who just depend on the English sub and not understand Korean, the lines are awesome. I can't imagine how beautiful the real lines were in their own language.

For instance, What Sun Joon's told Yoon Hee : "If it is a miracle you need, then I will make one." It's a promise from Lee Sun Joon that there is hope for her.

Sun joon's line in Ep 18 when he asked forgiveness from Yoon Hee : "I wanted your forgiveness. In order to buy medicine for your sick brother, you dressed up as a male to find work in the marketplace in place of your father. I wanted to beg forgiveness for those cold and hungry and lonely times. Oblivious to your hard times, I was reading in a warm room, and I cannot forgive myself for that. I want to say I’m sorry. If I could, I would turn back time and give you everything that I had. So I wanted to ask you to forgive me."

Sun joon's line in Ep 19 when he answered his dad : "I'm just taking the path you taught me Father. Seek not of personal gain, but pursue justice. Gain friends through loyalty. Do not hesitate to sacrifice even one's own life, for righteousness' sake. This is the mark of a great and noble man."

Moon Jae shin's line when he advised Bok Soo (a petty thief) : "Eavesdropping can become a habit, as can running away. Little brothers watch their older brothers from behind and follow in their ways. Do you want your little brother become a petty thief too? You still has the chance to live as a decent human being."

And Gu Yong Ha's line when he complained about the student President who broke Sungkyunkwan's law by brought soldiers inside the campus and his confession that he's not a real nobleman : "I am not a noble. My family came from a long line of merchants. I never had a grandfather who served as an official of the Ministry of Justice and Punishment. My father wanted to give his son a noble family’s privileges and bought a noble’s genealogy. To be precise, he bought the pretense of a noble. The person you see before your eyes is that person. The reason why we are here is to set up a student protest for the offense of the Ministry of War and clear Lee Sun Joon. I’m going to pass on the work I was going to do to Kim Yoon Shik. The reason why I don’t have the right isn’t because I’m not a noble, but because I am ashamed of myself. So from now on, I don’t want to live like that. I'm telling you now that your threats won't work on me anymore, Ha In soo. This is Sungkyunkwan, and I am Gu Yong Ha."

and so many other poignant and brilliant lines. I know, you perhaps don't understand what's all about, so just watch the episode and you'll know.

2. The friendship and understanding among friends.
All the main four characters are very different. They are divided by political factions, family backgrounds, and mindsets. Sun Joon is from Noron Byeokpa family, Yoon Hee from Namin faction family, Moon Jae Shin is a son of Soron and worse, whose big-brother was killed by the Noron and Gu Yong Ha who is not belong to any faction.

But they are develop their friendship throughout the drama. How Sun Joon defends Kim Yoon Shik and Jae Shin, how Jae Shin begs his father to save Sun Joon, how Yong Ha defend Sun Joon, and how Sun Joon begs his father to save Kim Yoon Shik. It's very touching. All of them portray a loyal and trust to their buddy.

3. Father and child relationship.
Most of the characters had a misunderstanding time with their fathers, but they're all had their reconciliation. I think the relation between father and son or daughter is become the main-theme of this drama.

Like one in Ep. 18, when Yoon Hee told her brother Yoon shik that whenever Father taught you, my place was always outside (in their cold porch). And her brother said : "But, sister, do you not know? Father always read in the loudest voice he could, right in front of the door. I never understood a word of the difficult texts he read to me, because Father, he was really reading to you."

And Yoon Hee's dad voice over : "It pains me to see my daughter’s knowledge flourish. As a teacher, the child’s talent should fill my heart with joy. But for a daughter who has no possibility of progressing in this world, is it right to teach her such ambition and passion? As the helpless father who is unable to give his prodigious child that opportunity, holding my breath as I listen to the voice of my daughter reading, I can only weep silently in my heart" That scene and the revelation that unfold is the essence of this drama, how a woman in that time has to struggle in a society for recognition.

4. The humor
I really love how Korean put the humors in this drama. All the bed-scenes humors are the best. Not that kind of "bed-scene", but the scenes are like these :
a. It's Yoon hee's first night in the dormitory full of men and she found out that she had to share her bedroom with two other guys, Sun Joon and Jae shin. So, Yoon Hee had to sleep with her dagger in her hand :)

b. The first time when Jae shin realized that Kim Yoon Shik was a girl. He got his hiccup-panic attack (His hiccup is really uncontrollable, cute guy.).

c. Jae Shin tried so hard to put Yoon Hee away from Sun Joon.

d. Both men finally knew the real gender of Kim Yoon Shik and engaged in a bed-fight for Kim Yoon Shik and interrupted or saved by Gu Yong Ha (ep 16). It's hilarious.

5. The dream and hope
First, it's the late Crown Prince Sado's dream and soon become King Jeongjo's dream. And the King passed his dream to the four youngmen, who were idealistic, smart, loyal, and brave to start a new Joseon, a place of hope for his people. Because the King was so in love with his people, including the Noron. A dream about a place that won't divided his people by nobility, by political background, by their wealth, etc A place of harmony like what Sungkyunkwan literally means "an institution for building a harmonious society of perfected human beings".

It's a worth drama to watch, beside their story, their breathtaking cinematography, and their music scores, this is really unforgettable drama.

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Comments 7 comments

lilian_sg profile image

lilian_sg 5 years ago from Singapore

I voted this up! Love the drama and love the quotes you chose. They were very memorable. Love the 4 characters especially Yong Ha =D


febriedethan profile image

febriedethan 5 years ago from Indonesia Author

Hi Lilian! I love this drama too, it's been a long time I never see such kind of drama. Gu Yong Ha is the most interesting character in SKKS I think. Is he really in love with Jae shin? hahahaha...thank you for visiting!


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Thank you for your splendid hub about a country we only hear or see when there is trouble. I never knew about the long history. Please write some more. It is really interesting.


agusfanani profile image

agusfanani 5 years ago from Indonesia

That looks like a cool movie, I hope there are a lot of conflicts and actions in it.


febriedethan profile image

febriedethan 5 years ago from Indonesia Author

Hi Hanna, you're welcome! It's my pleasure, I will write about Korean again later. It's so sad to hear about the attack last Tuesday. Thank you for visiting! have a great day!

@agus, yes, this is quite a cool movie, well don't hope about the action too much, but it worth trying.

Thank's for visiting my friend :)


cheerfulnuts profile image

cheerfulnuts 5 years ago from Manila, Philippines

I've watched this drama recently and I really love it! At first I thought this was going to be boring because of the story's setting. But on episode 5 or 6, I got hooked by the series. I love Jae Shin and Yong Ha. Everything is perfect, until the latter part of the series. It got boring after Sun Joon found out about Yoon Hee's secret. And I got disappointed with the ending. Still, this is a drama worth watching! I agree that although it's not the best drama in 2010, it's still a very memorable one! The OST is awesome!

Voted up for this great review.:)


Ingenira profile image

Ingenira 4 years ago

Excellent writeup and review. You've convinced me to watch !

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