This is a episode commentary. It is intended for someone who has seen this episode, and will contain episode spoilers.

Jewel in the Palace: Episode 3 Commentary

Collage of Jewel in the Palace screenshots.

It looks like putting Jang-Geum at age eight, the same as her actress would have been at the time of filming, was right. Two years later, Jang-Geum is remarked to be a 10 year old child. And yet her teeth haven’t grown in any over the past two years.

In one of the second series episodes of Janggeum’s Dream, Janggeum and Lady Han are meeting with a young queen (or similar royalty), and Janggeum does the most impressive bow I’ve ever seen. That same bow appears in this episode, and more than once. Actually, I think it might have been in the prior episode (or maybe early on in this episode; with the length of these episodes, it’s difficult to keep track of things). I wonder how such a complex bow came to be the common bowing, and I wonder if it’s mostly used by court ladies in the presence of royalty. This would explain the “insolence” of Jang-Geum bowing before the then-prince.

Recalling the animated series was inevitable upon seeing again the lady who sold the information, as the same cart of liquor is seen in the animation being delivered by Dong-I’s father, whose name happens the line up with the lady’s husband’s name: Gang Duk-Gu. I forgot the name for their child, but it was Il-something, which doesn’t match up with “Dong-I” at all.

Duk-Gu told Jang-Geum that becoming a court lady means she cannot marry. This is understandable, and even lead to trouble for Myeong back in the first episode. The animated series seems to ignore this completely, with Janggeum’s crush on Jeong-ho, Jeong-ho and Suro having crushes on Janggeum, Yeong-ro having a crush on Suro, and Yeonsaeng’s crush on Hwan. This adds a powerful sadness for the as-of-yet-unnamed Keum-Young, as she has to give up her first crush on an as-of-yet-introduced scholar Jung-ho, because the Choi family requires her to be a court lady.

When I first saw Young-ro in action, my first thought was, “Who is this, the 11 year old senior instructing the 10 year olds?” After seeing her taking the turtle, scenes from the animated series pointed out her self as Young-ro, and the turtle’s owner as, naturally, Yeun-Seng. That’s a spelling I’ll have to get used to, after using Yeonsaeng (which I think looks much better) from the subtitles in the animated series. Likewise, I’m used to the spelling Yeong-ro, which I think looks better. I’m going to try to stick with what the subtitles in Jewel in the Palace uses, so we’ll just see how long that lasts. After all, I started commenting on the animated series spelling “Geum-young”, and switched over to “Geum-yeong”. It’ll take some getting used to “Keum-young” as well, but the g-to-k shouldn’t be difficult.

I’m convinced by now that no events from this series have any relation with the animated series, save for those which happen in both. In the animated series, Janggeum’s mother was never a court lady. She didn’t know Lady Han. The girls met at an older age, and Jeong-ho was diverted from the path to becoming a scholar by meeting Suro, a character whom I’ve read does not appear in Jewel in the Palace.

It’s a struggle for me to tell all these kids apart. Again, same hairstyle, same outfit. Jang-Geum I can pick out in a crowd by now, and Yeun-Seng has that floppy-ear look going for her, as well as her face often being scrunched with some manner of expression. Young-ro is older, and in relation taller than the others. Keum-young has a similar hairstyle as her aunt. Also, Young-ro and Keum-young have very good actresses, the former having perfected the bossiness, and the later very convincing with her character’s softspoken maturity. If Jang-Geum and Yeun-Seng are 10 years old, and Young-ro perhaps is 11, I’m placing Keum-young at 12 years old.

My hangul is super-rusty, so I couldn’t read any of the on-screen names. I’m going to assume the characters preparing the food at the end of the episode are Han and Nain (seen since the first episode of the animated series assisting Han). Jang-Geum and Yeun-Seng have had their first “palace cooking lesson” now, and Jang-Geum’s face as positively lit up to see the ingredients worked with become a meal fit to serve to royalty and important guests. Yeng-Seng, on the other hand, looks like she just wants to not do anything to get in any more trouble (or maybe her arm’s still bothering her from the fall?)

By now it’s hard for me to say what my opinion of this series would have been had I not seen the animated series first. I’d have been pulled in by the customs and outfits and building designs, that’s for sure. I’d be more lost than I am on names and recognizing characters, that much I know. Thankfully all I have to keep track of this time is how to spell Yeun-Seng (a spelling which does match the pronunciation closely). That, and remembering to use “young” rather than “yeong” in the names for Keum-young and Young-ro.

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