Haarini Angappan Balasubramaniam, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu
Jewel in the Palace (Dae Jang Geum) is a 54-episode, historical fiction drama starring Lee Young-ae, Ji Jin-Hee, Hong Ri-na, and Lim Ho. The drama is based on the life of The Great Jang Geum. It aired on MBC from September 15, 2003, to March 23, 2004, and has been recognised as one of the highest-rated Korean dramas of all time. Jewel in the Palace is set in the 16th Century Joseon Dynasty. The Drama follows the life of Jang Geum (played by Lee Young-ae), a young orphan who tragically loses her parents. She enters the palace to fulfill her mother’s dying wish. This drama shows how Jang Geum, despite being a woman, goes from being a kitchen maid in the palace to becoming the King’s physician in one of the most hierarchical and patriarchal societies.
Apart from Jang Geum, the scene stealers of the show are the traditional Korean cuisine and traditional Medicine of the Joseon dynasty. The beauty of this drama lies in the secrets of Korean cooking, the colourful and festive food, and the attention paid to the setting of the royal cuisine. The flawless setting of the drama can transport us back to the Joseon period. Apart from giving the essence of time travel, this drama is a significant attraction to the rest of the world for Korean Tourism.
Besides drama, politics, and romance, the drama also gives an educational insight to the viewers. This drama shows cooking and food as a way of life. It reminds the viewers about the significance of living a healthy lifestyle. It is exactly what we need in this world of junk food that we live in. It can give a plethora of tips about healthy food.
The drama also shows the politics and conspiracies among the court ladies and in the royal kitchen reminding the patriarchal culture of domestic politics. On the brighter side, it is immensely heartwarming to see how the people around Jang Geum care for her and fight with her against those who try to harm her. The elegant acting and chemistry of the supporting cast improve the overall quality of the drama and bring a sense of emotional dimension to the trivia. Jewel in the Palace has one of the best OSTs. The theme song of the drama, Onara is a Korean classical song and is one of the immortal OSTs. Onara has several other versions in different languages such as Cantonese, Mandarin, Sinhalese, and Tamil. Jewel in the Palace has a piece of perfect music for every situation. The OST amplifies the emotions that the drama portrays. Most of the OSTs in the drama are instrumental. Few of the songs have been composed and sung by foreign artists like Eric Rigler and an Italian opera tenor, Alessandro Safina.
The writers have done a great job of keeping the viewers on their toes by including a passionate and forbidden love story between Jang Geum and Min Jeong-ho (played by Ji Jin-hee), an outstanding scholar and a brave government official. It is mesmerizing to watch Min Jeong-ho’s love for Jang Geum and how he would do just about anything for her. Jang Geum’s perseverance and good heart are what bring life to the drama. No matter how many times she’s pushed down, she always gets up and continues to thrive. She overcomes every difficulty and challenge that is put in front of her. This drama can spread goodness and positivity among its viewers. There’s only one word that can express this drama – a ‘masterpiece.’
Jewel in the Palace has a magic to it. There is something mysterious that captivates the viewers. It makes the viewers feel something that cannot be explained in words. It is guaranteed that watching this drama makes the viewers feel good and it is always a treat to see Ji Jin-hee in historical (Saguk) dramas. This drama is loved by people across the globe. It has been exported to almost 100 countries including India. It was broadcasted in DD National in Hindi named ‘Ghar Ka Chirag.’ It is a must-watch not just for the fans but for everyone out there. Let us know your thoughts if you have seen this K-drama!