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Jumong Appeal

Posted May. 25, 2006 03:58,   


Damul’s arrow is god’s gift to Buyeo that the Buyeo founding father did not let go of to break the dawn of the new land.

“You must see the Damul arrow for yourself and get the spirit.”

In the MBC drama that airs on Mondays and Tuesdays at 9:55 p.m. titled “Jumong,” this is the mission that Jumong and his half-brothers Daeso and Yeongpo are given. The journey to find this mystic object is the main theme of the beginning of the drama.

Jumong recorded ratings of 25.3 percent (TNS Media Research) for its fourth episode that aired on May 23, making it the hottest drama right now.

Its popularity can be accredited to the actors’ excellent performances. Since the drama is set in ancient times with rare archives, there are less limitations to exploring imaginary plots.

The weak and wild-spirited Jumong embarks on a journey to find the Damul arrow with his half-brothers Daeso and Yeongpo. On their way, the two half-brothers would have died were it not for the head of Jolbonguk, Soseono (Han Hye-jin). The brothers find the Damul arrow and try to shoot it, but they fail and return. Jumong also barely find the Damul arrow and pulls it, but it snaps in two.

Viewers posted their opinions on this scene on the Internet, saying, “That only Jumong could fit it means that he will become King and that Buyeo will be ruined.”

The goddess of Buyeo, Yeomieul, also captivates the imagination. In the pilot episode, Yeomieul is telling the King of her dreams in which a three-legged bird perches on the sun. The King is taken aback and tells her that two legs indicates the King and prince and questions her on the third, but she only replies, “I do not know what to say as I have never seen nor heard of it.”

The writer, Choi Wan-gyu, says, “Since it’s hard to provide fantastic visuals for all 60 episodes with the resources Korean dramas are given, we depend on a strong plot. We’re planning to use some more fantasy myths.”

Another factor in Jumong’s favor is that the past trendy dramas dealing with love triangles that were targeted at women in their thirties to fifties were getting stale. Dramas in the past concentrated on abnormal relationships, which failed to draw other viewer segments.

Jumong, meanwhile, has a healthy mix of conflict and love. There’s the love triangle between the Buyeo prince Geumwa (Jeon Kwang-ryul) and Haemosu (Heo Jun-ho) over Yuhwa (Oh Yeon-su), as well as the conflict between Jumong and Daeso over the throne, and the independence movement to remove Hansagun. The ratings for women in their thirties to fifties is 12 to 15.2 percent, and for the same age group in men: 10.2 to 11.4 percent, showing an even distribution. The love story between Jumong and Soseono that is yet to come is expected to appeal to young women who are attracted to tragic love.

The senior producer of MBC Drama Division, Jeong Un-hyun, says, “Jumong satisfies middle-aged and older men who like period pieces, young men who like fantasy and action scenes, and women in their thirties to fifties who enjoy love melodramas. But it’s still a question mark as to whether we can stretch the density of the earlier episodes right to the end of the 60-episode series.”

Jung-Bo Suh suhchoi@donga.com