I’m entering this late, but better late than never, yes? Coming from the team which produced Queen Seon Deok (love) and Tree with Deep Roots (love), Six Flying Dragons feels more like the latter, with the crypticness and darker environment the child characters have to grow up in. For those who’d watched last year’s Jeong Do Jeon should be familiar with the settings which Show is set against, the final years of Goryeo.
The children counterparts of our main characters here are important because the childhoods are vital to how the characters will become in the future. I find this production team to be pretty daring in their script, including details of how cruel people in the past may be, just to have delicacies on their tables. The scene of young Lee Bang-won (adult played by Yoo Ah In), young Boon-yi (Shin Se Kyung) and Ddang-sae (Byun Yo Han) witnessing nursing mothers being forcefully taken and made to breastfeed suckling piglets, was a traumatizing experience for our young characters, which is the first of what is to come for them to realise that their home country is seriously corrupted and wrong.
Bang-won would further have his faith and admiration in his father, then General Lee Seong-gye (Chun Ho Jin), waver as he witness how General Lee was mocked by Minister Lee In-gyeom, who has the absolute power in Goryeo’s court. Here, I’d like to point out that I think Lee In-gyeom is modeled after the historical figure Lee In-im, who is largely regarded as the most corrupt minister in King Gongmin’s court in late Goryeo. Gil Tae-mi is also highly likely a fictional character.
We do have several historical characters pulling the strings, one of whom is Jeong Do Jeon, the architect of Joseon. I can’t help but compare Kim Myung Min‘s Jeong Do Jeon with Jo Jae Hyun‘s, although it’s kind of like comparing apples to oranges. Both versions of Jeong Do Jeon do not abide to social norms, but the Jeong Do Jeon here feels a tad more free-spirited. He doesn’t appear much here, but he does become Bang-won’s new idol at the end of Episode 2, where he tried to rally for support of driving out Yuan’s envoy.
Whatever it is, the stage set up for Show is intricate and every event that happens is linked both in the immediate front and in the bigger picture. Show is like a set of wheels of different sizes, where one turns to set the rest in action. It feels more like watching a fictional account than a proper sageuk, despite the number of historical characters present. Not that it’s a bad thing, because it creates more dramatic tension, which would probably make Show a more entertaining watch than Jeong Do Jeon, which tells the same story of the creation of Joseon Dynasty. I’ll definitely be sticking with this one, 50 episodes or not!