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Korean Drama "Hong Gil Dong"

Updated on December 29, 2016

Korean Drama - Hong Gil Dong

The Prince of Sorrow

Recently, I am watching a Korean Drama “Hong Gil Dong” (2008) also called “Sharp Blade Hong Gil Dong” (airing on WMBC 64.5 in NJ 6am/6pm, speaking language Chinese/Mandarin with English and Chinese subtitles). The story is a little similar to “the Return of Iljimae”. Both drama mini-series are dealing with a man fighting against the selfish and corrupt government to save the ordinary peasants (a kind of hero we also need in today’s world). The difference is that Hong Gil Dong is the leader of gang of righteous thieves, more like the Robin Hood, while Iljimae is a loner, always acts by himself and makes his own decisions. Hong Gil Dong is a drama half-comedy, half-action and romance, while the Return of Iljimae is a serious drama with a few light moments in between. However, both mini-series (24 episodes each) are beautifully done, with exceptional script, excellent acting, gorgeous scenery, and haunting music.

Unlike the Return of Iljimae, the one that catches my eyes in this drama is not the male lead who plays Hong Gil Dong, but rather the secondary male lead, a young actor (20 years of age at the time), who plays the Prince, Jang Geun Seok. Comparing to Hong Gil Dong’s bright, outgoing, sunny personality, his character is rather a complicated one, dark and mournful, full of emotions. He can’t display his feelings publicly because of his social status. He has no close friends to share his pain and sorrow. Even though he is surrounded by people, he constantly feels loneliness.

At the beginning of the drama, the prince appears to be cold and calculating. He trusts no one but very few of his closest royal subjects, a nanny, who risks her life for him on many occasions. He regards her as a mother figure, and a bodyguard, who protects him. Despite of his noble standing, the prince suffers a painful past. His older brother, the illegitimate son of the king tries to murder him and takes over the throne. The queen dies while protecting the son.

Motherless and in exile, the young prince travels to China to gather strength. Years later, he returns to Korea, planning on a revolution that will overthrow the king and regain the crown. He coincidently bumps into Hong Gil Dong, the illegitimate son of a minister, who was told that he could accomplish nothing in the world due to his illegitimate status, and a young girl, Heo Yi Nok, upbeat, naïve and carefree. Little does he know, their lives are intertwined, and very soon, the secrets of the past will come back to haunt them.

Truth be told, Hong Gil Dong’s father is the one who assisted the present king to assassinate the queen and the prince. To cover up his crime, he also murdered his best friend, Heo Yi Nok’s parents. Fate plays a cruel joke on the three families that are involved. The prince falls in love with Yi Nok, however, Yi Nok’s eyes always follow Hong Gil Dong, who later on becomes a hero, helping the poor. To gain people’s trust, the prince needs Hong Gil Dong’s support, but that also means he must give up his love.

Prince Lee Chang Hui

Jang Geun Seok’s portrait of a sorrowful prince outshines the rest of the cast. All the character’s emotions are expressed accurately through his eyes. Just one glance of his face you can see his loneliness and feel the heavy burden he carries. It’s not easy to be the leader of a nation. Although in the end he becomes the king as he wishes. With all the power he has, one thing he can’t grasp but needs the most is LOVE.

In real life, we often sacrifice our true desire to fulfill certain needs, but are we really happy when the goal is finally reached, or everything we desperately try to pursue is merely a mirage of a beautiful dream?

Below is a link to one of the songs from "Hong Gil Dong", with some beautiful clips featuring the prince. Hope you enjoy it!

Jang Geun Seok

Final Words from the Author

I love complicated emotional stories that explore the dark side of human nature. Everything happens for a reason. People act the way they are because of the personal experiences they suffer thru life. Some find their way to the light, and some wander in darkness, mourning for the loss. My Fantasy Adventure Novel “The Promise” is a story about love, revenge, self-sacrifice and forgiveness. To read sample chapters, please follow the link below.


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    • Dreamlin profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      Thank you so much for your generous comment. This is a very good drama series, entertaining, action packed, suspenseful, funny at times and yet brings you to tears as well. I enjoy it very much.

    • visionandfocus profile image


      7 years ago from North York, Canada

      My parents are avid Korean drama fans. I wonder if they've watched this one yet. If not, I'm sure they'll enjoy it. Thanks for sharing! Voted useful, awesome and up!


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