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This is the first time I have written a comment on IMDb in all the years I have used it avidly to search for worthy videos to watch. I am writing it not because there is not enough comments already for this wonderful series, but to additionally help you decide if you should invest a whopping 54 hours of your life on watching one drama! Since this is aimed at convincing you why you should watch it, I will keep spoilers to a minimum.
So how did I get involved with it? I was searching for worthy Korean TV series to watch after having seen the more contemporary setting drama such as Stairway To Heaven, which is highly recommended. When I came across this, although rated highly by others, I shy-ed away from it for the same reason above ... I just couldn't imagine how this kind of drama can entice me. But...someone I know asked if I have it to lent them due to the fact I told people I watched Korean Drams. I did not in spite of my collection of top DVD titles. I decided to get it just to find out what it was all about. At the time, IMDb did not have this title rated to assist in my decision.
Episode one was interesting. Not hooked but enough interest to keep me going...same with the next one...and then when I finally got to the part when the little Jang Geum became orphaned and out-shone the other little girls in the palace in her determination and diligence, that is when I really got hooked, which brings me to a suggestion ... watch the first 3 episodes in their entirety. If you are still only on the sideline not sure to continue or not after watching episode 3, then you should probably stop watching (really unthinkable to me but I suppose it is possible). The actors/actresses are handsome/pretty, but that is not why I continued.
The first set of DVDs I purchased was made in China and had OK English translation. The problem with the English translation, while subtle, surfaced more in the second half, as one can tell they are not done by the same person(s). An anal movie-buff that I am, I sold it and bought the YesAsia edition, more expensive but has much better translation (a very prominent example would be: Palace Girl in the China Edition is Court Lady in the YesAsia edition -- while Palace Girl is the "literal" translation, the proper equivalent by title is Court Lady). The picture quality is also better. In fact, my wife commented that Jang-Geum (grown up) is not as pretty as in the China version now that she can see the imperfections on her face close up.... So I ended up spending yet another 54 hours re-watching...but it was worth it...because the translation clarified things that otherwise would have been lost as "cultural differences." This is the set that will remain in my library as one of the rare "worthy" TV dramas to collect in its original form. By the way, the China edition in the green box has bonus materials of interview with some of the cast members as well as the last 7 days of filming -- even though there is no English subtitle on the bonus materials, it was still quite enjoyable to see how the cast looked in "modern" attire and their reaction to the questions! :)
With so many TV programs trying to "buy" an audience with "sex, violence, and improper language (lack of respect)" screen time nowadays, it is truly refreshing to see something that not only serves to entertain but also educate at the same time without emphasis on sex and violence! It is little wonder that this series has swept away audiences all over and realigned some of the younger generation to the ideals that seem to be eroding away in the modern world.
In closing, none of the episodes disappointed and they were all enjoyable, but it is just a small few minutes here and there of extra details that seem to drag a bit in the first 10 episodes. In fact, I have a feeling that if you are KOREAN you will probably not feel the drag due to your ability to relate those details better than non-KOREANs like me.
The quality of research that has gone into making this production (the cuisines and the medicines) is impressive and educational. The music - excellent. Combined with the singular vision of one director and one writer for this drama, it is a COMPLETE experience that, in short, will enrich the lives of anyone who is open-minded and willing to invest the time to watch it.
Please let me know if my comment is helpful to you. Thanks!
P.S. Here are some additional research sites that has helped me to connect and enjoy the drama more:
* stillwatersca.blogspot. com/2005/04/dae-jang-geum-background-information. html (please take out the spaces for it to work)
* Lee Young Ae (lead actress) 2006 New Year Message to fans @ http://mydjg.blogspot.com/
Copy and past it into your browser.
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