Iljimae Drama Rant

December 22, 2012 at 12:28 am | Posted in Drama | Leave a comment
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Spoilers ahead, read at your own risk.

I just finished watching Iljimae, I planned to watch it a few years ago, but never really got around to it. I have to say, it was quite good. I think it had a good mix of everything, especially in the first few episodes. There was heaps of toilet humor, love lines and the plot was strong.


The twists were brilliant, too. The tension really kept you on the edge of your seat. I think one of the scenes that left the most impression to me was the reunion between the siblings. Though they were right next to each other, they didn’t know. That was quite heart-breaking because she went and got tortured to reveal his location. It was especially ironic how they literally had Iljimae in the palm of their hands but didn’t know. Though I already knew how the sister would recognize him (the daddy would call Yong’s name) I had no idea how the sister would reveal her identity. So I was really interested in finding that out. That sort of disappointed me because it was those “I heard gossipy villagers talk about something they heard” way, I wish it was something more epic. But anyway… the part which left the greatest impression to me was also one of the things that I enjoyed about this drama was the fact that people you thought wouldn’t die, died. At his sister’s hanging, it was really sad to see how Iljimae was smiling and giving his sister a thumb’s up. Why was he so happy? Cue the flashback to where he tests how to fray the rope with mice, he hung there for a few seconds before the rope gave way. That made me, the audience anticipate for the rope to break and his sister to be saved. Even mafia guy was ready to whisk her away. Then the soldiers pushed her off the block and she hung there. Then there were the same scene in different angles to increase dramatic tension, if I remember correctly, her falling off and hanging there was in slow motion, too. I was waiting, and waiting… for the rope to fray. Iljimae is waiting. The mafia guy was waiting. But after a time, it became clear that Iljimae’s plan did not work as he had hoped. Cue another flashback, this time, to right before the sister’s hanging. The official guard realized how frayed the rope was and promptly replaced the broken one with a new one for hanging.

That was something no one could anticipate. Coupled with the shocking turn of events, Lee Jun Ki’s muffled sobs and tears really really broke my heart. </3

Speaking of crying, I cried when Yong’s dad died. He was such a cutie-pie with his missing tooth and all. I think he is one of the most noble characters I’ve seen since he raised two sons that were not his own and cherished them a lot. He never gave up on either of them, and helped them both out. What made his demise even sadder was the fact that he wasn’t allowed a proper burial due to him pretending to be Iljimae to save Yong. That was really sad. It also reminded me of Ophelia from Hamlet’s funeral scene, too for some reason.

The love lines in the story were interesting. While both have met Yong/Iljimae/Geom in their childhood (so no one wins the childhood lovers brownie points) Both girls were quite the opposite spectrum of each other in terms of personality and status.

Top = BS = loud, cute, poor girl.

Bottom = EC = quiet, elegant, rich girl


In terms of character, I think BS was much more interesting and dynamic than EC who was kept acting like the perfect princess with a mind… oh lalalala, I think  I’m supposed to be impressed by her independence, kindness and sort of rebellious attitude, but I’m not. The reason why? I don’t think her character was very useful in the grand scheme of things. Sure, she was Iljimae’s primary love interest, but that went NO WHERE. And I’m going to dimiss her help with everything else. Just ’cause.

I guess I can understand why Iljimae chooses to be with EC, she was pretty and rich while BS; to him was unrefined and at the start, was more like a sister. But I think the chemistry between BS was much better because she actually knew more of Iljimae’s true-self while the richer girl only saw him for the idealized image she had in her brain.

Up until the end, EC still had absolutely no idea who Iljimae was. That sort of irked me because their relationship due to this was at a standstill, he would just romantically (or creepily, depending on which way you looked at it) appear in her garden at night. While they connected well to a certain extent, in order for their relationship to become stronger and deeper, I think Iljimae really did need to reveal his identity. Engima is exciting and fun but in order for their romance to really develop, a risk Iljimae wasn’t willing to take was needed. I think a good moment to reveal his true self was  when they kissed, but it didn’t happen.


The fangirl in me, screamed that it was wildly romantic, but the cynic in me labelled this as completely irresponsible. Heh. I think kissing someone you don’t know in say, a masquerade ball where both parties think it’s fun and games is all good… BUT!

I think it’s really unfair how Iljimae refuses to let the girl to find out who he is. And why doesn’t he reveal himself? I think, Yong  was scared that if EC did find out Iljimae’s true identity she would just avoid him, reject him, and be sad that her image of hero Iljimae was actually just Yong who she found on the most part annoying but cute. This is in contrast with BS who readily accepted Yoong as Iljimae and even sacrificed herself for him. (But to be honest, I think her sacrifice wasn’t really for anything despite her good-will.)

In the end, when Iljimae appears to start liking BS, probably distraught over the fact that EC’s dad was the perpetrator behind his dad’s murder, and he wasn’t fated to be with EC blah blah blah. He did a totally dick move. He asked BS to go away with him but told her that she wasn’t the one in his heart. What a douche. Seriously? What does that even mean? Expectedly, BS agreed. But dude, what the heck do you think you’re saying?


What really made me burn was the fact that he didn’t send for the girls AFTER everything happened. Wasn’t he supposedly in love with one if not both of them? EC comes back from Jeju four years later and we find out that she hasn’t heard from him at all. I know we’re supposed to be led to think that he’s dead. But really? I doubt anyone thought he was. I totally did not believe for one second that he was dead. Firstly, he’s the main character, but I guess the fact that it was the finale negates this point. But  he was struck down with his dull blade. Sure, master said that it could really kill someone if the wielder tried, but he didn’t have a dying speech.

While at the start of the series I might have thought this was possible that he would die with no parting speech, towards the end, everything was starting to be more predictable so I didn’t reallly believe that Iljimae would unceremoniously just die without some sort of epic dying scene.

BS comes back dressed as a boy with a strange limp. The limp I get, she fell off a cliff. But why as a boy, I guess it’s easier for travelling? t  It’s been four years and her hair is still exactly the same same shaggy cut she gave herself in order to fool the guards into believing that she was Iljimae. She probably hasn’t reconciled with her father and has caught a bit of his wanderlust. I’m disappointed with how angsty she turned out. I wish that the bond she and her dad shared over the years was strong enough to overcome her hatred for the person who killed her brother. Sure, it was her life goal, but when life throws you lemons, you should make lemonade. I was frustrated not because she didn’t kill him but the fact that she ran away. It seems a bit out of place with her character. I thought she would totally be confront.

The director could have done a lot better in addressing side stories (Iljimae’s love interests for one) a bit more thoroughly considering the fact that they were addressed quite often throughout the entire show.

So all in all, I think the first and middle parts of the series, even all the way up to the last episode was good. It was good at evoking emotions and didn’t drag on too much. But some parts, especially with the table of the ministers talking was not too entertaining.


Stole my heart. ❤

Other aspects as why he was still Iljimae when he exacted his revenge is questionable, too. I know it’s supposed to make the audience be like “wow, he’s still alive and well… being Iljimae.” But what did Iljimae stand for throughout the show? It was to find out who conspired to kill his father/family and make them beg for forgiveness. With that done, and the culprit gone bonkers, the original reason for Iljimae has been fulfilled. Why was he still running around stealing things? I think if the drama beforehand emphasized that he was becoming an ally of justice as well as avenging his family more, instead of just stealing things for people to mask his true intentions of going through storerooms, I would find the ending more acceptable. The continuation of his role as Iljimae leaves more questions left unanswered. If there was a second season which answered the questions then this ending would have been all right. But since there is no sequel, I don’t think it served as a good ending because MORE QUESTIONS are left unanswered.


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