It’s been quite a while since I’ve been actually talked about looking forward to something on this blog, but I think KBS‘s Sword and Flower has certainly garnered my interest despite being burned by Big 3 sageuks recently. I was actually pretty skeptical when I first heard about the drama, which was, admittedly, mostly because I was perturbed by the fact that Uhm Tae-woong would not be starring in the final revenge series drama, which includes Resurrection and The Devil (Mawang). Now that I’ve seen some of the teasers and stills from the drama I have to say that I have high hopes for the return of quality sageuks in public sector drama-land. Not to mention that I’m totally digging Uhm Tae-woong’s disheveled look.
(No, this post is not an excuse to put up lots of pretty pictures, I swear!)
But I’m not going to lie, this poster is the thing that got me interested in the drama, not the Uhm-force:
First of all, this poster is ridiculously pretty. I love everything about it. The lighting, the colors, the petals floating around. It’s restored my faith in drama posters after the likes of…well, there have been a lot of terrible posters as of late.
The sad thing is, this poster is not only gorgeous, it’s also grossly inaccurate.
There are a lot of different sites that cover Joseon clothing (one of which is A Talking Cupboard‘s Joseon Culture Series) but there is not a lot out there on Goguryeo (Three Kingdoms, 37 B.C.E. — 668 C.E.) Era and times previous that are covered in blog sites and such. The logical reason for the lack-thereof is that Goguryeo isn’t covered all that often in Korean Media, at least not to the extent of the Joseon Era. I don’t know of too many blogs solely dedicated to Korean history, as opposed to K-drama sites that also cover Korean history and the drama representations of that history.
Sword and Flower just so happens to be one of the few dramas that is covering a story from the less popular era, more specifically, during the reign of King Young-ryu of the Go Dynasty. To put into perspective how uncommon Goguryeo related dramas are, the most recent drama I can remember that is set in Goguryeo is Lee Minho and Kim Hee-sun‘s Faith.
Edit: I lied. Faith is from the Goryeo Era when Korea is quasi-unified. It’s rather ironic that I confused the two eras when I explicitly mention not to later on…
Another one would be Jumong, and after that I really can’t come up with anything off the top of my head. There is also an obvious cause for the dearth of pre-Joseon representation in Korean media: Joseon history is probably the best recorded history in Korea and covers what one could consider the golden age for a unified Korea. Therefore, a lot of history worth covering in dramas most likely occurred in the Joseon period.
But I digress.
As for the poster, it is out of period because the clothing depicted did not exist at the Goguryeo era. It’s actually a Joseon female hanbok (which you can read about here). The biggest giveaway for this is the inaccuracy is the short top component, known as the jeogori. The “jeogori” component of Korean clothing was actually not designed to be short until the infusion of Mongolian styles into Korean Palace clothing (disregarding royalty themselves) during the Mongolian Invasions of the Goryeo period (not to be confused with Goguryeo mentioned here). Hanboks that we see today are actually the product of the late-Joseon period.
Female clothing at the Goguryeo period actually looked more like this:
The tops were actually very long, as you can see in the picture here—ironically, also from Sword and Flower. (As to why KBS wanted to release a initial poster that is totally not like the others and out of period is beyond me.)
So after a bit of research into all of this, I got interested in Pre-Joseon Korea and inspired to write up on it. Like I said before, finding a concise and casual resource for the pre-Joeson world (i.e. the comfort of blog resources) is pretty difficult, so I decided that I might as well do become it myself. Let me know if any of you are interested in a rough “anthology” or “time line” for the Unified Shilla/Goguryeo Era and previous. I’m no expert right now, but I’ll do my research provided that there’s enough interest.
But to leave you with a bit of perspective on how we perceive history, this is the time frame of Joseon Korea:
When I think of Joseon, I often get the ancient history vibe. When people talk about the era, at least in the international community, we sort place in the pre-major globalization landscape in terms of history, when it’s really not the case. A lot of this sentiment comes from how dramas portray the time period, and our “bias” towards histories we do know. I’m admittedly a person who is more versed in European history than I am Asian history, and often times, my sense of time is put into context of Western History because that’s what I studied in school. My own perception of Indian history, which is probably more relevant to me is just as skewed as the that of Korean history. It’s a sad state of affairs, but I can’t change the fact that it’s true.
Anyhow, what I was trying to get at is that Joseon isn’t Ancient Korea—it’s lived through the Industrial Revolution, the middle ages, and the beginnings of imperialism. Joseon lasted for a whopping 500 years, and has seen the world change immensely during that time. 500 years doesn’t sound like much in say, 2000 B.C.E., but in the years that Joseon did reside in, five hundred years is A LOT. The world changed drastically at that time, even if dramas don’t seem to convey that very well.
So yeah, just some food for thought.
After all that serious talk, I need to sneak in some “K-pop,” right?
Volia, CNBlue‘s Lee Jung-shin working the mane of glory, though he looks like he jumped in one of those time machines from last year’s time traveling K-drama bonanza. He’s way too modern looking.
Update: Here’s the long teaser!
(KBS, Images Via: Dramabeans)