Kdrama Podcast 59: Historical drama time with HAECHI!

Get drunk, solve some crimes and then become the king of Joseon, because this week on the show Lee Evie is discussing her feelings around the 2019 Korean historical drama HAECHI. Starring Jung Il-woo (who basically carries this entire show on his shoulders … wow!) and Go Ara, as well as a whole heap of stellar side character performances, this story is based on the true history of Prince Yeoning, a Korean prince born to a lowly court maid. This show is fast-paced, filled with edge of your seat plots and twisty conspiracies, and also features a wonderful performance from Jung Moon-Sung as a despot power craving prince. Lee Evie throughly enjoyed this wonderful sageuk! 

Listen to the podcast by searching on your favourite podcast streaming platform for THE LEE EVIE KOREAN DRAMA PODCAST, or listen by following the link below:


13 thoughts on “Kdrama Podcast 59: Historical drama time with HAECHI!

  1. Thank you for your podcast on this amazing drama. I just watched this a month ago but I am still suffering withdrawal symptoms and I keep on rewatching. This has become one of my favorite k dramas. And Jung Il Woo is my favorite actor now.

    Regarding Go Ara, she was hurt during fighting scenes. That’s why she was suddenly mia during the middle episodes. When she later returned, she was stiff (and maybe in pain?). I read she was still recovering, on wheelchair. Maybe that’s the reason for their lack of chemistry. I am sure this drama would have been different if she wasn’t injured. Scripts were changed after the accident.

    Regarding the historical background, the story of Yi Geum’s parents is also very well known in Korea (Dong Yi) I grew up watching K-dramas and I remember watching so many renditions, especially of the cunning Queen.

    Queen Inhyung was grateful and wise. Jang Ok Bin, very cunning and ambitious, tricks the king to dethrone the Queen in her favor, making her son Crown Prince.

    The Queen Inhyung’s older brother was decapitated and his followers destroyed. Minister Min Jin Hyeon was the younger brother who witnessed that. That’s why for him, politics was a power game. Win or die.

    King Sukjong then meets the water maid and she has a son (Prince Yeoning). The water maid starts opening the king’s eyes regarding Jang Ok Bin’s manipulations and the former Queen’s grace. Jang is demoted and Inhyung is brought back as Queen. But the Queen dies soon after.

    Some history books say that Jang Heebin hired shamans to kill the Queen. When the king finds out, he condemns Jang to die by injesting poison. And because of her vindictive nature, she maims her son (making him infertile).

    Another interesting history is that of Prince Milpoong’s great grandfather Crown Prince Sohyon. He was taken to China during the war, and his mind was emancipated. On his return, he wanted to open Joseon to foreign ideals, but his father was opposed. He was dethroned in favor of his younger brother (lineage changed).

    I loved Jung il Woo ever since watching THE RETURN OF ILJIMAE (Moon River). It’s a 2009 drama, which I watched soon after watching Lee Jun Ki’s ILJIMAE. I was a LJK fan, but his drama was too cartoonish for my taste. Jung il Woo’s ILJIMAE was a slow ride. Like a walk in the beach. More subdued, but full of poetry. This was JIW’s 2nd drama, but I was impressed.

    I just rewatched this, and SURPRISE! Jiw’s ILJIMAE meets (and helps) Crown Prince Sohyon in the drama. Boom!!!

    Anyhow, I love HAECHI so much, I could write an entire book! That’s why I was so happy to listen to your podcast. I hope you write a review too.

    Keep up the good work. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One more thing. You mentioned in the podcast that Prince Yeoning kept a low profile at the beginning because he was half low born. But also because he wanted to take himself out of the political game. He didn’t want anyone to consider him for the throne. That was well said.

    But I feel it was more than that. This is what I wrote elsewhere:

    SPOILER!!!

    The king has 3 sons. #1 Crown Prince is sterile so can’t have children. They need another Crown Prince.

    The strongest political faction wants Prince Milpoong, and pressures the king to allow that option (although he is a serial killer).

    Some political factions wants son #3, Prince Yeongryoung, to be the heir instead.

    And there is son#2, Prince Yeoning, the half-breed, wasting his life away. But suddenly, when he accidentally hears about Prince Milpoong’s crazy exploits and his death Diary, he wants to dig in. Why? It’s because of his younger brother, the only family member who treated him with respect.

    Prince Yeongryoung is one of the candidates for the throne. But he seems too nice, unable to manipulate anyone. Meaning, he isn’t very good in politics. That worries his brother. Because once you are a candidate, if you lose, there is a great chance you lose your head too (especially if serial killer Prince wins).

    This was the reason why he (in episode 5?) requests his own exile, so that Prince Milpoong could be judged and condemned by the same token (punishing royal princes). As long as his good younger brother can win and be safe on his throne, Yi Geum was happy to be in an island.

    In other words, he stayed out of politics his entire life (out of frustration bu also in order to protect his brother). But then he gets involved in politics to harm his crazy cousin, voluntarily going into exile, also to protect his brother. Because the stakes are pretty high. It was the throne, or death.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, gosh I LOVED reading these comments! thank you for taking the time to listen and also to comment! Like you, I really adored this drama, and I love history, but gosh, I am so impressed by your historical knowledge, I loved reading all this to get a better understanding of the background of the drama too! (Also, I really like what you said about the reasons that Prince Yeonging stayed out of politics, but also why he then chose to get involved too!! That feels so accurate and on point, he is such a good man, complex and interesting and so clever, but ultimately very good!)

      Also, I totally didn’t know about Go Ara and her accident, how awful. That totally explains her character’s absence and really strange story choices the writers made for her character. I should have looked it up at the time, because it makes a lot more sense now. It felt weird to me because the rest of the writing was so utterly solid and good! So I should have trusted they had a reason, haha. Also, weirdly, I didn’t really love Go Ara in the past, but I feel like she has changed my mind these days. She was super amazing in her latest drama and it really changed my mind!

      So I was very fascinated by all the history you have mentioned in your first comment. I actually was also very recently reading a history book and came across the story of Crown Prince Sohyon and his time in China. It was so fascinating and his death so sad, and I had no idea how he fit in with Prince Milpoong in this drama. And I loved reading your comments about Jang Ok Bin and Queen Inhyung! I am so interested in Joseon history but still feel like such an amateur with so much to learn, that is why hearing all these historical notes is very exciting to me, so thank you!! I have gotten to know some of the famous names or moments in Joseon history through the dramas I watch, but I don’t always understand how they all connect to each other! I think I need to do some more reading 🙂

      Do you watch a lot of other historical dramas too? any other favourites?

      (Also, gosh, I love Jung Il Woo too, he is so good! I want to see him in more historicals now)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes!!! Please watch THE RETURN OF ILJIMAE (MOON RIVER). Jung Il Woo wasn’t as experienced as he is now. But I loved him there! That drama may be a little slow in today’s fast paced world. But it really feels like you are reading a novel. You are a writer, so you must know that feeling.

    I think you watched ILJIMAE (by Lee Jun Ki). I loved LJK because of TIME BETWEEN DOGS AND WOLVES. But his ILJIMAE was too over the top. There was no story, no character development. The OST and cinematography was GREAT though. Interestingly, that Iljimae was directed by the same person who directed HAECHI.

    MOON EMBRACING THE SUN was another super overrated drama, in my opinion. I like Kim Soo Hyun ( he is one of my favorites), he was very charismatic, like he was ‘discovered’ in that drama. But he was a terrible king, obsessed with a woman he loves. The one memorable scene is when his brother (JIW) … SPOILER … choose to die to protect the kingdom. What a waste of time and talents.

    JIW was in another historical drama (DIARY OF THE WATCHMAN). But reviews are sooo bad I refuse to go there.

    JIW is going to be in another historical drama soon. BOSSAM MAN??? That, I will watch. I can’t wait!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did watch the very start of Return of Iljimae many years ago, but I stopped watching because a sad thing happened to a character (the first love?)… but back then I really couldn’t handle anything sad at all, but these days I am very different in how I watch stories and my taste has changed a lot. I should go back and give it another go, as you definitely make it sound worth my time (and I would just like to see more with Jung Il Woo in it, haha).

      Yes, I did watch the Lee Jun Ki version of Iljimae, and though I watched the whole thing, I remember the start he was like a whiny goofy teen but it all settles down and got exciting later!. I am the same as you, I loved him in Time Between Dog and Wolf, that was such an excellent show!! I really loved it. But my first drama with him in it was Arang and the Magistrate, and I really love that show too!

      I keep wondering if I will go back and try Diary of the Watchmen … I tried it years ago but didn’t get very far … I feel like maybe the romance wasn’t up to scratch? But I feel like the show looked really nice!

      And what? Jung Il Woo has another historical soon? I am going to search it up right now, how exciting! Thank you for the tip 🙂

      Like

  4. I grew up in South America but being ethnically Korean, k drama was part of my childhood (way, WAY before Korean Wave). But after a while, so many shows seemed a recycled version of the same formula, so I became picky with what I watched.

    I also tend to get disappointed watching super popular/trendy dramas. I never understood the hype with shows like BOYS OVER FLOWER. (Hush- I did recently watch FLOWER BOY RAMYUN SHOP, just to watch my man sizzle with sexiness). Same goes with historical dramas. I didn’t understand the hype with QUEEN SEON DOCK. Too many coincidences and too many unbelievable scenes…

    But once in a while, there were some shows that really captured my heart and my imagination. Once that happened, I would go into a frenzy, rewatching and digging deeper into the characters… translate or even write.

    That happened with LOVE IN MY HEART (Ahn Jae Wook), THE LAST MARCH (Jang Dong Gun), LOVE LETTER (with Jo Hyun Jae), Lucifer (with Joo Ji Hoon), I AM SORRY I LOVE YOU (So Ji Sub).

    And historical dramas like THE BALLAD OF SEO DONG (Jo Hyun Jae) and JE JUNG WON (Park Yong Woo).

    Most of these dramas you may not recognize. Some are from the 90’s. And I slowed down in my drama watching.

    I did enjoy MY LOVE FROM THE STAR (Kim Soo Hyun), MOON LOVERS (Lee Jun Ki) or CRASH LANDING ON YOU (Hyun Bin). But they didn’t inspire me to wrie.

    After covid, I started binge watching some old dramas. And I watched THE EMPEROR OWNER OF THE MASK. This is a 2017 historical drama by YOO SEUNG HO that was promoted a lot by MBC. But they used a new writer so the story didn’t deliver. However, after this drama, I totally fell for YOO SEUNG HO. He has soulful eyes, so I couldn’t get enough of him. So I watched most of his works. In retrospect, I liked him more than his dramas. I AM NOT A ROBOT was the only drama of his that did inspire me to write. That is, till I watched HAECHI. Then I rememberd: JUNG.IL.WOO.

    So to answer your question about which historical drama I would recommend, besides RETURN OF ILJIMAE?

    JE JUNG WON. A 2010 drama. Super underrated. But it had PAIN FOLLOWERS (obsessed fans). I remember writing soooo much about that drama. Let me know if you are interested to find more about this hard to find treasure…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh it is so interesting to hear about your kdrama story and heritage 🙂 So you have been watching kdrama since you were a child, wow! I have noticed so many people seem to either have found or reconnected with kdrama in 2020 due to all the lockdowns. So many people are now

      I like what you say about going into a frenzy when you find a show that connects with you, I am the same way. It is such an addictive feeling, I get so obsessed. I must admit I am not familiar with a lot of the dramas you mentioned you loved, so I will have to have a look! I am the same as you, I can be weird about hyped dramas and sometimes find myself avoiding them, though at other times I end up watching them and loving them too, so it can go either way! A few of my favourites are: Tamra the Island (historical), Save Me (modern cult thriller), Tale of Nokdu (cute historical), My Country: The New Age (historical), Flower Boy Next Door (romcom), Mr Sunshine was wonderful and I also recently loved the OCN parallel worlds thriller Train (with Yoon Si Yoon). I am sure I am forgetting a bunch too, haha.

      Je Jung won is another I don’t know, it looks super interesting and what a fascinating time period and setting! Oooh, thanks for the tip!

      Also .. I like Yoo Seung Ho as well! Did you see that movie he did with Go Ara (as it called The Magician?) I really enjoyed it a lot!

      Like

      1. JE JUNG WON doesn’t have the ingredients for high ratings. It doesn’t have super candy stars, there’s no action.

        But if you ever decide to watch this, I think it’s one of the more historically accurate dramas. You will learn so much about how KOREA, a country that did not allow foreigners in, opened its doors to missionary doctors. And how a Baekjung (butcher’s son, who belonged to the untouchable caste) became a doctor. Back then, butcher’s sons were considered less than human, less than slaves. Imagine how such a nobody becomes a doctor. And this is based on a true story.

        You will also get to watch how Korea’s Last Empress (who was known to be very wise) was murdered by Japanese and they hid the Queens body (burned?) so people couldn’t mourn for her properly. This is one of the most shameful part of Korean history. It left a deep wound. And so began the Japanese colonization.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oooh I am very interested as I do like learning about Korean history from the drama I watch, and I was reading a little bit about Baekjung recently, which is very interesting. It is incredible he rose to become a doctor from a beginning that was considered so lowly! I also know only a little bit about Korea’s last Empress but find that story so very tragic! I would love to learn more. I will add this drama to my (ever expanding!) list!! Thank you for your suggestion! 🙂

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  5. Hi Ms. Evie, thank you again for visiting my blog and liking my Random Ranting on HAECHI. I just wanted to highlight what I mentioned there: you can learn a lot by the type of speech they use towards each other, especially during the historical times. In modern days, many people use informal language as a way a feeling more comfortable to each other. But back in the old days, there was lots of other rules you had to follow. Especially in a Confucian society. Speech was another way of showing who was in the upper class of society.

    I say this because many times this gets lost in translation. Did you know that in many old fashioned couples, women speaks formally to the husband while the husband talks down to the wife? That’s changing now, but there are still couples who do this.

    Just my 2 cents…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So interesting! I can kind of tell sometimes … I learned Korean for a little while a long time ago (and I am thinking of maybe studying again this coming year if I can find the time!) but my Korean is not good at all (it is terrible!). So sometimes I can hear that people are speaking formally or down to each other, but I still think a lot of the nuance gets lost in translation and I don’t pick it up, so thank you so much for your comment, I find this so interesting! Especially about the married couples too! 🙂

      And I really like your Haechi posting! I think it is so cool when a story touches you enough to make you want to write! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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