We welcome the new year with a new drama, KBS’ 2016 daeha drama (or sageuk, if you prefer), Jang Yeong Shil. Headlined by Song Il Gook (best known as the adorable triplets Daehan, Mingook and Manse’s Dad on the popular variety Superman Returns), the titular character is touted as Joseon’s first scientist, astronomer and inventor, coming up with various instruments to help people understand the natural world better.
The first episode introduces us to Jang Yeong Shil’s childhood, although born into the prominent Jang family, he was born to a slave mother and he was destined to be a slave. Known as Eun-bok, he grew up by his mother’s side and has never seen his father before. Eun-bok is interested in the natural sciences since young, and like his father, a well-known astronomer in the late Goryeo era (he’s even a good friend of King Taejo of Joseon), he loves looking at the stars and even shares the same allergy as his father.
Eun-bok finally meets his father at the huge Jang household on the day of ancestral prayers, and his father gave him the name Yeong Shil, and even passes him his own almanac diaries. There’re a few moments of bonding sessions between Yeong Shil and his father, which are probably what further inspire Jang Yeong Shil to be the great scientist he grows up to be. There’re also scenes which depict how people in the past relate to natural phenomenons such as solar eclipses, when King Taejo was preparing for a prayer ceremony because eclipses were largely seen as ominous.
Show feels like a spinoff of the daeha drama several back, The Great King Sejong, because the production team actually managed to get Kim Young Chul and Kim Sang Kyung to reprise their roles as King Taejo and King Sejong respectively. I find Episode 1 of Show interesting, and it’s great that simple drawings are provided when some hypothesis or concepts brought up by the characters are shown on screen. Show can be inspiring if written correctly, and by the looks of Episode 1, I think we should be in safe hands (?). Onwards with Episode 2!