Jewel in the Palace (2003): An insight into Korean culture and history


Nine years after this worldwide hit Korean drama series  Jewel in the Palace  (Dae Jang Geum) was first shown in the Philippines in 2005 and was a phenomenal success among Filipinos, It is also a drama that my Korean intellectual friends know.  I finally watched the drama in July 2014.   I am not really a full-fledged drama addict; I do not like sad endings and tearjerkers and do not have the patience to watch dramas in installments.  I have a preference for light comedy-romance dramas that are usually between 10-20 episodes max, so I was hesitant to watch a 54-episode historical drama even when everybody was raving about it.  But after watching my first “serious” Korean historical drama, I was not disappointed.

Jewel in the Palace is a fictional drama based  on a  Korean historical figure  Seo Jang-geum  (played by Lee Young-ae)  during the reigns of King Seongjong (1457–1494), King Yeonsan (1494–1506) and King Jungjong(1506–1544).  It follows the story of Jang-geum,  an orphaned kitchen cook who went on to become the Joseon dynasty king’s first female royal physician. Min Jeong-ho (played by Ji Jin hee) is a goodlooking and intelligent  outstanding Korean scholar who became romantically involved with Jang geum.

Lee Young-ae’s portrayal of Jang-geum, marked by her warm smile despite all the challenges that came her way is very powerful.  The child actress who portrayed the little girl Jang geum was  really good; I liked the way she recited the memorized passages from the classics and the medicinal properties of herbs. Ji Jin-hee was really dashing and  one of the more good-looking Korean actors that I have encountered.

Jewel in the Palace sparked my interest in Korean historical dramas.   I thought Jewel in the Palace would be boring, but  this drama combined the elements of history, Korean culture (Korean royal court cuisine and traditional medicine), comedy, romance, tragedy, mystery and intrigue to make the plot interesting.   Moreover, Jang geum’s  perseverance  in a time when women’s status in society was low was truly inspiring.  The use of traditional Korean music in the theme song “Onara” also enhanced the drama.



Just finished the 25-episode Boys Over Flowers, the Korean version of Hana Yori Dango and I must say that it is the better version than the Japanese one.  Why–the plot is less absurd and appealing; F4 definitely hotter esp Gu Jun Pyo (Lee Min Ho) and Jan Di is cuter; OST is good.  The Korean version tried its best to piece together the missing links like the reasons for Yoon Ji Hoon’s loneliness, etc.  The K version also revised some scenes for the better such as the search for the Teen Princess and the bet placed with Domyouji’s mom; the staged suicide of the employee of the Domyouji group in the J-version which spurred Domyouji Tsukasa to intially turn his back on his promise to return to girlfriend, Tsukushi; bringing in the character of the former Korean President cum grandfather of Yoon; etc.  The F4 stars are “hot” esp Lee Min Ho whom I must say is very tall, handsome, (love it when he smiles); good actor (he reminds me of Prince Shin in Goong although after reviewing Goong, Lee Min Ho is far handsomer than Joo Ji Hoon.  Love the clothes of the guys too.  The K version tried to get the handsomer versions of the Japanese F4,  although Matsujun is a good actor and one of my favorites, Lee Min Ho was far more “macho” than Matsujun ; thought in the beginning that  Oguri Shun was good as Hanazawa Rui but now, I vote for the Korean guy.  The OST is better but having pop songs as OST is really less of a Japanese drama feature–J-dramas OST are really background music in the classical meaning of what OST should be, with a title song and on or two insert songs that are sung by  J pop singers.  I

I was so happy to be able to watch BOF and revived my sleepless night trying to finish the dramas.  Hope there would be BOF part 2.

Vic Zhou_Zhou Yu Min_Hot Star

I have been watching lately movies or T-dramas starring Vic Zhou (n1981) of F4 fame, although I have not completely watched Meteor Garden 1, his debut drama.  He starred here as HWa Zhi Lei, which in the Taiwan version is an autistic guy (??). He was supposed to be 19 years old then. 

I have finished watching Silence (2006)and Mars (2004). I have not finished watching Sweet Relationship (2007) and Love storm (2003) since I am awaiting the subs on Mysoju.  I find Vic hot, although I don’t understand why because the Filipino comedian whom he reminds me of (Vic Sotto) was never my idol, nor did I see any of his film or watched his TV shows continuously.  But there is something about the guy that appeals to me–maybe his soft voice, or his hairstyle, his eyes  or his smile (he has a dimple).  I thought he had lost weight in  Sweet Relationship (which I don’t find appealing at all) and had caused his cheeks to become sallow.  Fanblogs say that he had just broken off with Barbie Hsu last January 2008, whom he had dated for two and a half years, after filming Mars (Barbie was his co-star). I don’t know how popular he is in Taiwan, but he is one of the most prolific in terms of making dramas among the Asian stars whom I consider hot (think Mike He, Lee Dong Wook, Joo Ji Hoon, Lee Ji Hoon). On the average, he has at  least one drama a year;not to mention several recordings.  He has a recent drama (Wish to See You Again, 2008) which was recently subbed and uploaded on MYsoju (episode one, that is). 

Vic/Zaizai’s  (his nickname) profile from Wikipedia


  • Name: 周渝民 / Zhou Yu Min
  • English name: Vic Zhou
  • Nickname: 仔仔 (Zai Zai)
  • Profession: Actor, singer, model
  • Birthdate: 1981-June-09
  • Birthplace: Taiwan
  • Height: 180cm
  • Weight: 66kg
  • Star sign: Gemini
  • Blood type: O
  • Music Group: JVKV (formerly known as F4)

*photo of vic zhou from