Jewel in the Palace — Afterwards

Posting my Jewel in the Palace commentary a good five months after I started watching the series makes me want to watch through it again. Being 54 one-hour episodes makes this prohibitive, however.

This post contains major spoilers for Jewel in the Palace.

If I wrote episode commentaries for all 54 episodes, I could easily jump around through them and relive my experiences of first watching the series. It also would have wreaked havoc on my viewing, making my five-hour/five-episode watching sessions impossible. That’s an abolutely horrible trade-off. To that end, what I do have written for this series is very precious to me, a combination of recalling episode and the nostaligia linked with my first impressions of events.

I’d like to rewatch the series (and its animated counterpart) very much, but finding the time is just difficult. With another Korean historic drama waiting for some time now to be watched, Disney cartoons (TaleSpin, etc.) on my to-watch list, and a cabinet full of anime DVDs to watch (Kamichu!, Last Exile, Princess Nine, as so on), it’s impossible to find the time to re-watch a series that’s more than five hours long in total.

So, it’s been some four months since I finished Jewel in the Palace. What did I think of it overall?

It was awesome.

There were some parts early on where I wasn’t certain about the direction the show was heading, but overall the writing was done right. Jang-Geum and the Choi family keep taking turns being in the lead. It was a wonderful execution of something good happening only to have something bad happen, then something bad being turned into something good. Each good for Jang-Geum was a strike agsinst the Choi family. Each strike against the Choi family caused them to rise up, and strike back at Lady Han and Jang-Geum

The back and forth did start to wear a little in execution, and things were mixed up from there, taking the series even further along with Jang-Geum’s interactions with Jung-Ho, and her time on the island.

There’s simply no way I could watch all of Jang-Geum’s trials without feeling inspired each time she inspired the people around her. Even when she failed to do so, it was only a matter of time that her hard work would come to be noticed, and appreciated, and joined in by those who had felt their lives were without hope.

The biggest surprise for me was losing Han. It took me completely off guard, and had me feeling the effect of it for a while yet. Not only that, but what happened to Young-Ro had me in denial for a couple of episodes before I finally was willing to accept it. I kept telling myself, “She’s not dead. She wasn’t killed. She wanted to do the right thing for once in her life. Jung-Ho or someone had to have saved her. It’s all a trick that she’s dead.” Finally, I’m glad Lady Choi was able to reconcile things at Myeong’s grave. It’s a bittersweet ending for her to have finally decided to stand up to the negatives of the Choi family that she felt she could do nothing be embrace for all these years, only to lose her life with everyone thinking she either committed suicide or died trying to run away from justice. Finally, Lady Jung’d death was expected, but sad considering it was hurried along by the Choi family. She is missed.

The “drama” series doesn’t interest me, but Jewel in the Palace was so well written and so well played out that I couldn’t put it down. It’s really too bad that its length makes it hard to recommend to others. Well, that and it being subtitled. I’m not asking for a dub here, but depending on who’s looking for something to watch, having to read along can be a negative factor.

Did I like the live action Yeun-Seng as much as her animated self? No, not really. It’s all right, though. I really liked the portrayal of Young-Ro. I didn’t care for Keum-young as much, either, but her feelings for Jung-Ho felt very strong compared with the animation. And Jung-Ho is made of many layers of wonderful and awesome intertwined in Jewel in the Palace. I forget the name of the Court Lady who becomes the next Highest Kitchen Lady (was it Jo-Bang?), but I loved her and Chang-Yee’s personalities, and they both had cute actresses. Were I to re-watch the series, I’d pay more attention to who they are early on, during episodes where I couldn’t keep track of one character from another very well.

It’s a bit long, but the story is very well written and the characters are nicely developed. Everything has an overall feel be being done right.

Maybe I’ll re-watch episodes three through five sometime. Three hours, following young Jang-Geum’s story. Skipping past the death of her mother, this gets right into the mini-era of “feel sorry for the bad things happening to Jang-Geum, a girl who is only a little child”, that makes it all the more fun to see the good that happens for her. The only problem is it would leave me watching even more to re-watch the entire series. Still, it’d be worth it to see the “soldier in the fire and light department” guy again!

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