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

Janggeum’s Dream: Episode 29 Commentary Redux

Hwan Yun the Young Warrior

Collage of Janggeum's Dream screenshots.

The title I had for this episode on my first viewing was “Occurrence at the Agricultural Festival“. The Korean is 선농제에서 생긴 일, or “seonnongjeeseo saenggin il”. The agricultural festival in the episode is called Seonnongje. I wonder why the title was rewritten as “Hwan Yun the Young Warrior” for the English subtitles.

The doctor who sees Yeongro at the beginning, it looks like her box’s contents consists of herbs, maybe some kind of nuts, various kinds of bandages, and acupuncture needles. The height of moderm medicine for about the year 515? I wonder which was used to help Yeongro. Being able to understand the dialogue this time around sure helps out to learn little things, like how it’s Yeongro’s own fault she’s sick, especially at something like trying to make herself look better.

Janggeum says that on Seonnongje, “his highness personally plows the field” as part of the festival. It’s nice to see this was something expected for viewers, but I still found it amusing to see happen back when I watched through without English subtitles.

The Wikipedia article for the Seolleongtang says:

In the Joseon dynasty, Koreans regularly made nationwide sacrifices to their ancestors … . The nationwide sacrifice was called Seonnongje (… Seonnong meaning “venerated farmer”), and the altar for the sacrifice was called Seonnong dan … . King Seongjong had visited the sacrifice himself, and had eaten a meal with the people of Joseon. In order to increase the food supply in Joseon, King Seongjong ordered them to invent dishes that could feed the maximum number of people using the least amount of ingredients, and seonnongtang (tang meaning “soup”) was one of these.

Seonnongtang is the soup Janggeum and the others prepared. Considering the meat they were cutting, the cooking method, the addition of salt, and the rice served alongside it, it seems it may line up with what Wikipedia says about the dish:

Seolleongtang is a Korean soup made from ox bones (mostly leg bones), brisket and other cuts. Seasoning is generally done at the table according to personal taste by adding salt, ground black pepper, red pepper, minced garlic, or minced spring onions. Seolleongtang is typically simmered over a low flame over a period of several hours to an entire day, to allow the flavor to be gradually extracted from the bones. It has a milky off-white, cloudy appearance and is normally eaten together with rice and several side dishes; the rice is sometimes added directly to the soup.

Seen elsewhere,

It is the most convincing view that seolleongtang and the name were originated from seonnongje, an agricultural ritual that had performed since the Silla dynasty. Koreans traditionally performed sacrificial rites for the god of agriculture and the god of grains. In the Joseon dynasty, the king and his officials offered rice, millet, a whole cow and a whole pig as sacrifices to the altar of agriculture.

According to Seongjongsillok (Annals of King Seongjong), King Seongjong performed a sacrificial rite in the sixth year of his reign. Then the king went to the field around the altar and plowed the field by himself. It was a performance to pray for a good harvest and to encourage farmers. Usually, ordinary people were not allowed to be close to the king. But on the day, farmers were allowed to get close to the king and watch him plow the field himself.

After the performance was over, soup was boiled with the cow offered to the god. In this case, no parts of the cow were abandoned since it was a sacred offering. When the soup was cooked, it was shared among the king, the officials attending at the event, old men over sixty in the neighborhood and slaves.

That last line gives a whole new view to my joke comment in my original commentary:

Who cares if [the soup is] a little watered down? The people waiting are all old people and hungry kids. Younger adults and well-fed kids were specifically not invited.

Apparently younger adults specifically weren’t invited!

When King Jungjong read from the book, there were two tables in front of him. Janggeum says one is for Seonnong, the god of agriculture, and the other for Hujik, the god of crops. If Seonnongje is “agricultural festival”, then is “Seonnong” the name of the agricultural god and the word used for “agriculture”?

I hadn’t realized it while watching the episode, but from reading the history of the event, it sounds that the bull Jungjong took out for a plowing is probably the one used for the meal. Suddenly a little bee string to the nose doesn’t seem to bad compared to what was in the animal’s near future.

Even though I don’t know the details behind Yun Hwan from my first watch of the series, I know enough about him to not feel the same as I did about him back then. That alone should make any scenes with him more interesting. This time around, I can sit back and admire his awesomeness in saving Yeonsaeng. Also, good to know he’s a Royal Guard. Even better, I never did understand the details to why he had his eye on Janggeum, adding another aspect that will be all new to me on this watch-through.

I think this is the first time Court Lady Han has given an order directly against what Janggeum wanted related to food. This leads to a learning experience for Janggeum, the realization that there are times when you need to water down soup, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work hard to keep a flavor to it.

At the tea party, it’s made clear that even though Geumyeong may have gone against her aunt for the cooking contest, she is firmly back in line, following her aunt’s every instruction. She doesn’t show any drive to achieve on her own.

Court Lady Han tells Janggeum to go to Soangwon, giving her a list of ingredients. I thought this place was mentioned in the first episode of the series, but maybe not. Wikipedia gives Songwon as the spelling for a location in Korea.

For the hot pot, Janggeum says she prepared the doenjang before adding honey. This food item is a fermented soybean paste traditional of Korea. The paste is made from meju, as seen in episode 22.

On my first viewing of the episode, I had commented on the background artwork being poorer than in the first season. I haven’t even noticed the background artwork much this timea around, as I’m putting more focus onto reading subtitles.

Until now, I hadn’t noticed the height difference between Janggeum and Geum-yeong. I know Geum-yeong is a year older than Janggeum, but the height difference never stood out to me before. This must be an effect of not having subtitles to read.

This line from my original commentary of this episode continues this line of thinking. I hadn’t even noticed anything like this on my present viewing of the episodes. It makes me wonder how much I’m missing with Japanese series I only watch with subtitles, although I’m able to better understand Japanese dialogue, and don’t have to view the subtitles as long as I do with a Korean series.

Putting the flower buds in the gelatin is cute. I like that. I’m not sure I would want to be served something like that, though. I’d be made to feel uncomfortable. “Do I eat the flower, or do I eat around the flower? Do I eat the gelatin touching the flower? How close to the flower can I eat?” Maybe Geum-yeong should add a “how to eat this meal” to all of her dishes, not just certain ones.

Of course, having English subtitles means knowing Geumyeong told the queen that the flowers are edible. Doesn’t help the rest of the royals and important people at the tea party if they didn’t hear it, though.

Poor Nain to have to take on the words of the unpleased two she served lunch to. I can just hear the guy in red now: “Hey, why is this food so watered down?” Actually, my guess would be related to the small size of the portion. Either way, when King Jungjong didn’t complain, it was a different story altogether.

Apparently, some ways of making a comment transcend language.

I may never know the significance of the different flowers in [the Queen and King’s] gelatins.

And sometimes, never is just under three years. I should have known it had something to do with medicinal purposes.

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